Vital Signs

Citizens, Then and Now

There was a time, within living memory, when the label American was highly respected—perhaps the most respected term of nationality in the world.  Probably most Americans have yet to take note, but that is no longer the case.  A libertarian writer complains that the Boston bombers are referred to by government and media as Chechens.  No, he says, they are Americans—citizens of the United States.  I rather think the media more often err in the opposite direction, as when they refer to a swarthy Muslim terrorist as British because he holds a U.K. passport.  Chechnya is not responsible for the bombings, our writer declares; America is, and he proceeds to catalog U.S. government atrocities in the Islamic regions of the world that have created the blowback of such terrorism.  So far, so good.  In fact, he lists every crime of the federal government except the one that is most pertinent: failure to enforce sane immigration restrictions—that is, failure in the most basic function of the federal government, which is to see to the safety of the people from foreign attack.  (And that failure is a result of our rulers’ criminal cowardice in refusing to acknowledge the true nature of jihad.)

The problem is not so much that terrorists who have obtained U.S. citizenship are being labeled by their foreign origins, but that the categories...

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