(Centennial Fellow) Roger Kimball’s exceptional new book, The Fortunes of Permanence, touches on many important topics concerning culture, education, society, and our intellectual inheritance, centering heavily on the concept of cultural relativism. It includes a chapter entitled: “Institutionalizing Our Demise: America vs. Multiculturalism,” and I thought while reading of how well that applied to many of our current immigration contentions.
Immigration reform is, once again, front and center on the nation’s public consciousness. And, once again, the debate seems to skirt the most important questions posed by immigration. For years, American immigration policy has been more about more emotional, tertiary concerns, than the pressing ones; namely how much immigration does the society need, how much can the existing culture handle, and what are the security implications for the nation?
Unfortunately, whatever else it may or may not offer, the Senate’s latest attempt hardly even grazes these questions. The Executive Branch will prove no help – the appetite among the current White House for cultural leveling prohibits any examination of the first two questions, and the current administration can hardly be counted on to apply a national security focus to the immigration issue – it cannot even seem to apply a national security focus to international events involving weapons, allies, and strategic threats, for Heaven’s sake. Remember President Obama’s “Red Line” vis a vis Syria’s use of chemical weapons? Well, the line was blithely pranced across, and now what?
It would seem incredible that the administration would have proceeded with that bit of diplomatic tough-talk without considering for a moment that such an eventuality could occur, and that some response might be demanded by the world power issuing the ultimatum; but such foreign policy blunders are so de rigueur for the Obama White House that one now expects them in much the same manner as one expects the proverbial crazy relative to say something inappropriately embarrassing at a family gathering – you hope furtively for the best, but know in your heart of hearts that the awkward moment is inevitable. The problem of course, in terms of foreign policy, is that everyone else knows it too… including Assad, which is why he displayed little hesitancy in the face of what recent evidence suggested was an empty American warning.
But circling back to immigration – if the administration cannot bring itself to develop a workable policy to deal with threats in the foreign arena, it is not about to incorporate one in an immigration arena where the application of such concerns would soon be assailed by a withering barrage of accusations of xenophobia or racism.
So what criteria ARE referred to in the crystallization of an immigration policy? Despite certain verbiage designed to convince otherwise, the driving force behind immigration reform would appear to be a fanatical desire to not appear in any way (a) xenophobic, or (B) unwelcoming of any immigration. This application of radical equality, aversion to national identity, and multiculturalist fantasy to the immigration question has resulted in a system that places greater concern on avoiding offense to the sensibilities of any detectable cultural group (including 20-something-year-old Muslim males from corners of the world renowned mostly for incubating fundamentalist tendencies) than on avoiding the importation of carnage.
The question admittedly remains of what to do with the nearly 2 million illegals already in the county – resources simply do not exist to incarcerate them all, nor to track each one down and send them back to whence they came. It is a question complicated, of course, by the commercial element; the continuing reliance on cheaper immigrant labor by a significant number of industries and Democratic Congresspeople. The current effort makes a nod to attracting and retaining certain highly skilled individuals and entrepreneurs, but let’s face it, immigration reform debate is not centering on the legal disposition of a few thousand doctors, engineers, and university graduates. Meeting the market demand for certain classes of labor ought not, however, to be intrinsically at odds with ensuring that that the system permitting entry of those laborers does not also permit the entry of people intent on placing explosives in populated areas.
The question of immigration reform is an undoubtedly touchy one, but surely we can agree that its resolution should not preempt legitimate national security concerns, nor accept that being a welcoming society includes the path to citizenship being strewn with homemade bombs.