The Corner

Re: House of Race Cards

Ramesh: I take your point about not playing the race card, and I hope that’s not what I was doing in my post yesterday. As one reader wrote me, “Both sides like to use blacks as mascots for their ideologies,” and that kind of objectification is wrong in moral terms, in addition to being “dreary.”

But … First of all, the story I was commenting on put the issue explicitly in Hispanic-vs.-black terms, and that’s often the way it plays out in big cities. Secondly, the preference for immigrants over black Americans is not some fringe phenomenon; indeed, as the Douglass quote suggests, it’s been one of the driving forces of immigration all along (and an important tool of assimilation for non-black immigrants going back at least to the Irish).

Finally, my broader point isn’t limited to race at all. Rather, it’s a question of where one’s fellow countrymen fall on one’s hierarchy of obligations — is there a greater moral obligation to one’s fellow Americans than to foreigners? And my point here is that much of support for mass immigration, particularly from business (which is what I was referring to by “those on the right” — perhaps I should have been clearer), is premised on answering that question in the negative. In other words, foreigners are simply better than Americans, harder workers (if you’re looking at it from a business perspective), more “colorful” with better cuisine (if you’re a leftist), and just generally more desirable all around. Back when business, even at its upper reaches, was still patriotic, this sentiment was more muted; but now that big business has become broadly post-American, it can (and has, to me, repeatedly) be expressed more explicitly.

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