The Corner

Nation of Immigrants?

A reader who is not taken in by the “nation of immigrants” flapdoodle:

Derb—I’m kinda with you here.  … I’m a bit tired of talking about being a nation of immigrants.  I’m not an immigrant.  Neither are my parents, or their parents.  I’m an American, and that’s the part of this country being undermined.  We can’t simply be Americans, we all have to be immigrants.  Best I can tell most of my family came from Germany well over a century ago.  But I’m not a German, never been there, don’t really want to go.  I’m an American.  Let’s start calling ourselves that instead of this ridiculous Nation of Immigrants nonsense.

And I don’t buy Andy McCarthy’s saying we have a ‘”nation of immigrants’ self image.’  I certainly don’t.  I don’t know anyone who does.  It’s what we’re told, we’re expected to believe it, but I know nothing of having an immigrant past, and know only one person … who does.  We’re ceding too much of the argument when we give in to this ‘nation of immigrants’ notion.  We need to be talking about being Americans.

That’s a point of view we don’t hear half enough of.  My own impression from readings in American history and literature is that (a) in most times and regions, Americans have hardly thought about immigration at all, and (b) when they did so, it was mainly to wish for less of it–as 66 percent did in the April ‘06 Zogby poll quoted here.