Wall Street Journal : Independence Day Means Immigration!

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VDARE: It Means Independence!

Four score and seven years after the Declaration of Independence, the first Republican president made a speech in which he stated that the forefathers of America had dedicated it to a proposition: that all men are created equal.

(Maybe the origin of the "Proposition Nation" that you hear so much about.)

In a metaphysical sense, this statement is perfectly true. St. Paul said it in Galatians 3:28.

Of course, the signers didn't mean that everyone had equal talents. It would be no news to any of them that some people are taller than others or brighter, or even that some nations had different characteristics than others. They were talking about equal justice before the law, and equality before God.

However, the proposition behind the Declaration was different from, and simpler than that. It was that the American people had a right to govern themselves, and not to be governed by foreigners.

Their "decent respect for the opinions of mankind" meant only that they wanted to explain themselves, not that they were offering the world in general a veto on their actions. (Not everyone has a "decent respect" for the opinions of foreigners. When Eddie Condon met a French jazz critic, he asked, "Who does that Frog think he is to come over here and try to tell us how to play? We don't go over there and tell them how to jump on a grape.")

You frequently hear nowadays about loss of sovereignty to supranational organizations such as the UN, WTO, or European Union. In 1776 there was a large, supranational organization that claimed the right to control the lives of Americans. It was called the British Empire.

No one liked it. The Ministry in London was arrogant, stupid, and useless as their modern counterparts in Brussels or The Hague, and Americans wanted to be independent of that, to run their own lives.

Governments were said to "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." This consent was based on a basic idea of community - that everyone was part of the same nation.

Here are some of the things that people today think should be done in the name of being created equal:

  • Taxes. The rich should be taxed for the benefit of the poor, and thus the productive for the unproductive. It isn't fair that people earn unequal amounts of money.

  • Land reform. It isn't fair that people have unequal amounts of land.

  • More immigration.  It isn't fair that some people have to live outside the US.

Which of those forms of "Creating Equal" do you think Jefferson would have voted for?

Which brings me back to my VDARE-specific point. Self-determination, it's called. Lincoln thought of it as "Government of the People, by the People." At least, he said he thought of it that way. Mencken was dubious:

Concerning Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, it is generally stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination - 'that government of the people, by the people, for the people,' should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the states, i.e., of the people of the States?

--H.L. Mencken, 1920  

Just as the Americans wanted to run their own country, without a lot of interference from the British, the people of the Southern states wanted to govern themselves, and not be governed by Northerners. During reconstruction, they showed a marked lack of enthusiasm for being governed by freedmen.

During the debates over the Chinese Exclusion Act in the nineteenth century, Charles Sumner, who had made himself so unpopular in the South during Reconstruction, once again appealed to the Declaration's statement that all men were created equal, to justify the importation of Chinese labor. Cecil Chesterton, in his History Of The United States, points out how ludicrous this is. The Chinese were certainly equal in humanity, rights, dignity, et cetera. But that was in China, where they lived. In America, which had a completely different civilization, they were dangerous.

But the one of the main currents driving the debate was a desire not to offend China. American immigration policy has frequently been affected by foreign policy. And foreign policy affected by immigration.

Self-government in a nation means that it runs itself, without having to kowtow to the UN (or its Human Rights Commission.)

When the UN becomes really intolerable, perhaps the American people will remember George the Third and warn them … of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us, remind… them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. and dissolve the political bands.

Perhaps they will do the same to Mexico.

That will be Fourth of July to remember. 

July 3, 2001