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Immigration: A History Lesson

“The United States is a nation of immigrants” is a meaningless statement, but that is not to say that it has no meaning.  It is one of the lead lines for the Democratic/liberal/progressive agenda, and has been ever since Israel Zangwill used the mythic term “melting pot” as the title of his thankfully forgotten play of 1908.

First, the United States is not, in any way but juridical, a nation.  And second, at one time or another every country, nation or not, was made up of people who came there from someplace else.  Having made those premises clear, let us move on to the real reasons the myths of the melting pot and the nation of immigrants are so useful (and necessary) to the agenda of the left.  This requires a history lesson.

The period from about 1870 (as the Late Unpleasantness was ending) to 1914 (the beginning of the Great War) was arguably the period of the most concentrated and far-reaching change in all of human history.  Manufacturing and finance moved decisively ahead of agriculture as the backbone of the economy in many regions.  We “conquered” the limits of geography with bicycles, automobiles, trains, and airplanes—not to mention the telephone.  We vanquished the very night with electricity (and therefore potentially eliminated thousands of years of darkness metaphors).  In fact, it is not too much to say that we changed the fundamental relation...

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