An Irish Reader Is Puzzled About The “Historic American Nation”
From: Michael Kenny [Email Him]
I’d love to know what exactly Peter Brimelow means by expressions like “Historic Nation of America” and “generic Americans”. They sound like formulations which mean “me and anybody else I like”.
What is clear, though, is that he could not possibly belong to either category himself, since he wasn’t born in the US! And that’s to say nothing of the fact that none of the countries of the American continent are “nations”.
See previous letters (lots of previous letters) from Michael Kenny.
James Fulford writes: In Alien Nation, Peter Brimelow quoted John O’Sullivan in a speech at Boston University, March 31, 1993 “It is commonly said that America is more than a nation; it is an idea. My thesis today is the precise opposite: America is more than an idea; it is a nation. “
As to who exactly that means, it might mean the “Old Stock” Americans, who as I said of Neil Gorsuch’s ancestors, were already present in the US, meeting the boats that came in to Ellis Island in the 1890s, but we usually use it to mean “the Historic American Nation as it had evolved up to 1960“–I. E. the “Old Stock” plus the Ellis Island contingent, who the Great Pause had encouraged to assimilate.
It would be easier to say who it doesn’t mean–people like Filipino illegal immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, the Arab taxi drivers who shut down JFK recently, people like that.
And while Mr. Kenny is right that none of the countries of North America is properly a nation in the sense that France, Britain, or his native Ireland are, there actually is “nation” in North America–the Province of Quebec, whose French-descended inhabitants have a political culture more nationalistic than anything allowed in Europe.