As luck would have it, we Chronicles editors were thinking about immigration, the theme of the January issue, when the President issued his marching orders on Univision. I was not especially interested in the details drawn up by the President’s clueless policy advisors: One way or another, he and they are bound and determined to tear down the last vestiges of the traditions that made America whatever it was. The only interesting aspect to his tedious recital of platitudes is the overtly revolutionary rhetoric.
For aging college radicals, America is a Jekyll and Hyde character, alternately good and evil. When they have some minority “right” to whine about, they talk about the dark side of American history, when white men whipped slaves, beat their wives and children, and burned down peaceful indian villages. But when they have some revolutionary initiative to advance, they speak of America as an experiment or, to use a term favored by my late colleague Dick Neuhaus, as a “propositional nation.”
So, at the very opening of his speech, the President waxes inarticulate on the theme of revolutionary transformation:
For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities – people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.
You see, America owes little or nothing to the courage of frontiersman or the wisdom of Adams and Jefferson or even the “genius” of Lincoln. We are what we are because we are not “trapped by our past”—which is how he chooses to characterize respect for one’s ancestors and a country’s traditions. We are great precisely because there is no “we” to speak of, only an endless flood of people who did not like where they were and wanted something different.
This means, today, that we should have no concern for the welfare or future of the traditional European population of the United States. Our only concern must be for the most recent immigrants, legal or illegal.
Tender-hearted humanitarians, whether Catholic bishops or American politicos generous with other people’s money, find it easier to sympathize with criminals and illegal immigrants than with ordinary hardworking people who wish to hang onto the fruits of their labors, their homes, and the cultural and moral principles that have made it possible for them to rear their children in comparative comfort. It is the old story of the rabbits and the hedgehog told in one of Florian’s verse fables. An ill-tempered hedgehog quarrels with his own peoples and, claiming to be a refugee from persecution, moves in with a clan of overly generous rabbits. When the hedgehog begins shooting quills at some of the rabbit children, a father complains, only to be told that the hedgehog cannot repress his nature. The chief of the rabbits informs the troublemaker, if he cannot mind his manners, to go away and have his quills clipped.
The rabbit president had one great advantage over the President of the United States: Unlike Mr. Obama, the head rabbit knew it was his duty to protect his own people first before worrying about giving protection to strangers. If one had had any doubts about Obama in the past, his Diktat on immigration “reform” should have removed them. Apart from a few weaseling words on border enforcement, which no one will possibly believe because he refuses to protect the border under current law,, the President’s only—not just primary—concern is for non-American immigrants. His duplicity is manifest in virtually every sentence. He throws down the border and calls it “immigration reform”; he proposes to amnesty 5 million illegal aliens, but claims “It’s not amnesty. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today.”
I know the poor fellow is not a native English speaker, but he’s been in this country long enough to acquire a dictionary. If he could not afford one, I feel sure there was a government grant program for children brought up in Indonesia. Amnesty, as someone ought to explain to him, means an act of deliberate forgetting and thus a pardon. What he wants to do is, sensu stricto, amnesty, while his steadfast refusal to enforce the law is dereliction of duty and, I should say, a violation of his oath of office. Mr. Obama does not care about any of this, because English is not his language, obviously, and America is not his country in any sense other than legal. It does not matter where he was born, but what does matter is his loathing of the European Americans who made this country and are, for a very short time to come, the majority element in the population. He has met the enemy, and it is us.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.