The Corner

Recovering the Melting Pot

I hope you didn’t miss the weekend essay in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. It was NR’s own Reihan Salam offering a preview of his utterly extraordinary new book, which will be published tomorrow and you can order today. (He even got the Journal to publish baby pictures of himself, which must have involved a peculiar conversation.)

I’m sure that part of the reason I like the book is that my view of immigration is very much like Reihan’s, and has been influenced by his over the years. We’ve even written about it together, including here at NR. But I don’t just recommend his book because it makes an argument I agree with. I recommend it because it makes a kind of argument that our society needs more of: an argument genuinely intended to persuade, and therefore one that begins from the assumption that everyone on all sides of the immigration debate is basically well intentioned and moved by serious concerns, and that proceeds to offer ideas and reasons for supporting those ideas that treat readers seriously and that acknowledge the unavoidable need for accommodation in a free society.

A book like this can move the needle, but not so much by persuading a mass audience and moving elections or persuading just the right politicians and moving policy. It can move the needle by redefining the boundaries of legitimacy in a public debate that suffers from excessively narrow bounds on all sides. Reihan is extremely well suited to performing this tough task, and the book he has written is a model of how.

You really ought to read it.

Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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