Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Becoming American

Real Estate is not a significant defining attribute of America. People may be awed by the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Coast, Pikes Peak, and the Great Plains, but none of these geographical locations have played a part in making America great. However, the freedom, liberty, and justice as defined in the United States Constitution, codified into American law, and practiced by generations of Americans are the most significant defining attributes of America and are the reasons for American greatness.

When Americans view their heritage as pieces of property, and when Americans consider land to be the defining attribute of their country, the concepts of freedom, liberty, and justice, become restricted and sometimes even unattainable for non-Americans who desire to live the American life because fewer immigrants are legally allowed to migrate to America.

There is more than enough land in America for everyone in Canada and everyone in Mexico to migrate to America if migrating to America is their choice. Let’s be clear, when Americans vote to limit immigration, Americans are voting to limit freedom, liberty, and justice for others. Is that the kind of country America wants to become? It’s not the kind of country I want America to become.


Anonymous said...


Real estate is as irrelevant a defining attribute of "American" as is a brown face a defining attribute of our current issue over illegal immigration. "This land is our land from California to the New York island" is not a statement(or lyric) of ownership as much as it is a statement of self-identification: a sort of "here I stand, I can do no other." I agree: it is not the real estate that makes us who we are. Nor is it a fixed mix of black, brown, yellow, white and red faces--to borrow from another lyric.

But to suggest that "American" is a borderless concept is false and easily provable: take yourself and your family--with all your talents and riches and embodiedness of "American", and move to Mexico. I think even your intellectual and emotional aversion to such a suggestion demonstrates the "hereness" of "American." I don't know how to say it without it sounding pejoritive, but to assert that we have an infinite capacity to create Americans by open borders without losing the attributes that you say--and I agree--are defining ones, is monumentally erroneous. There is clearly a "tipping point" at which instead of "them" becoming us, we become "them." And since we agree that real estate is not the issue--then there must be something Mexican that is different from and incompatible with American. Read that carefully: I am talking culture, NOT the acculturated. I am talking group, NOT individuals. I am NOT talking brown v. white, for surely you know many who are American and do not look like you. Or me. And so do I

Give me any historic example that even suggests that one culture can infinitely absorb another without itself changing the characteristics that defined it. You give me one example, and I give you Huntington's tome "THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS" as a starting point in refutation.
Derek Simmons

David M. Smith said...

Hi Derek,

I fully agree with you. My family would not be the same in Mexico as we are in America because the culture, laws, and heritage are different in Mexico than America. You are also correct that to blend American culture with the Mexican culture would end up something other than American culture.

However, I do believe in freedom, even if many Americans nowadays do not believe in my kind of freedom and I do believe there are many, many, Mexicans who also want a chance to live a life where they have control over their own destiny. I want an America where effort is rewarded and I want Americans who make an effort even if they were born in Mexico or Canada.

I know there are practical realities that make this difficult. Perhaps a few Democrats would consider moving to Mexico.

gunnar said...

Until we understand that there are no "others" or "them" we fall far short of any ideals worthy of holding.

By the way, I miss the barbeques, the cold beer, the joy of our children playing and laughing nearby. Thank you for your friendship during those amazing early years of our childrens lives and for the open invitation into the future.



David M. Smith said...

Hi Gunnar,

You made my day. I always wondered if you ever read any of my pieces. I figured you didn’t read any because I didn’t know how you could read some without leaving a comment. : -)

I like what you said. I don’t ever want to think of any human as being more or less human than me. I think America needs to solve immigration without a guest worker designation.

I have a feeling Sarah and Camille will be lifelong friends. Why don’t you plan on bringing Camille and Evan over for a barbeque soon? I would love to renew old times.

Hammertime said...

You falsely frame the question. Of course there is enough land.
Who pays for their schooling? Health care? Criminal incarceration?

While we may vary on on the level of government and private provision of these things, we can certainly agree that those who are paying for these things, in large part, have no desire to.

Furthermore we can agree that the states that have large numbers of illegal immigrants are not going to deny these services (although incarceration is a service to the citizens as well!), ever.

Thus, with the added reality of taxpayer funded social services for non-taxpayers, why do you still choose the freedom of one group to choose where they can reside over another's freedom to choose who resides in thier country? Are you a believer in liberty, or only the liberty of certain groups?

Of course, that question is charged, but it remains a problem - why can one group force it's freedom on another in such a decidely un-democratic way as illegal immigration? Does the citizenry have the right to freely chose the requirements for citizenship?

David M. Smith said...

Hi Hammer,

I did intentionally change the way the question is normally framed. I’m not sure it is a false frame, but I will acknowledge that available land is only part of the story. I wish others would be as honest about how their framing of the problem is as incomplete as my framing of the problem.

Who pays? If immigrants want to become American, they pay, just like you and me. Part of being American is paying your own way. The gravy train in America nowadays is not just illegal immigrants. The gravy train for everyone who doesn’t want to pay their own way needs to stop. I do believe in liberty for everyone. Everyone should have the right to not go to work, but they should also be required to suffer the consequences without assistance from those who choose to work. Country of birth is irrelevant to me.

Everyone in America who gets up and goes to work 5 or 6 days a week is paying their own way regardless of their immigration status. I just want to see it all done without breaking any laws. I do wish some of the laws would change though.

Yes, the citizens of America have every right to make laws, including immigration laws, which restrict the ability of non-citizens to move to America. My argument is that we should not make laws that limit those who want to come to America to work from coming to America and becoming American.

Good to see you are back to your old self. : -)