Back in spring of 2006 I began my first blog by writing about the question of American identity. Who are we? What does it mean to be an American?
Immigration was the one issue that started me on this journey, and over the past decade I have re-thought a great many things, things that most of us take for granted and never really question because our society would have us believe that certain things just ”are”, and should not be questioned.
As I began to notice that the city I lived in then was increasingly full of people from the Third World, as I began to notice neighborhoods changing (for the worse), as I began, at times, to find myself apparently the only person of European descent in the immediate vicinity in certain places — I began to wonder how America had morphed into something else while I wasn’t paying attention.
Immigrants are implicitly assumed to be ”victims”; after all, the vast majority are non-White, and thanks to cultural Marxism, therefore said to be victims (of Whitey), most people assume that immigrants are entitled — they are entitled, first of all, to our sympathy. They are entitled to charity from us; not just kind treatment, but tangible charity: social services, handouts, special assistance. Above all, they’re entitled to a place in our country. After all, goes the story, we are so rich; they are poor. We have a vast country with wide-open spaces; they live in crowded, overpopulated hellholes. How dare we not give them a place in our country? Are we heartless? And aren’t we all immigrants? This is a ”nation of immigrants”, is it not?
Actually, no, it is not.
I finally realized: no, my ancestors were not ”immigrants.” They resembled today’s immigrants in very few respects. They came here, to this continent, knowing it to be mostly uncharted wilderness, full of wild animals and hostile native peoples. They knew that the climate could be harsh, especially compared to their native England.But they were not ‘immigrants’ coming to an established country or civilization. There were only scattered tribal groups, often at war with each other. There was no organized government to whom they could make a petition for entry or for residence. There were no immigration laws because there was no civilization in our sense of the word.
Their situation was not analogous to today’s illegal immigrants, or even to the sainted ‘legal immigrants’ so beloved of the right-liberals. They were also not like the ‘refugees’ now swarming over Europe. They were people who fully expected to be self-sufficient. They were independent and resourceful people. They were not beggars. They were not looking to live parasitically off others. They were certainly not looking to ‘exterminate’ the natives, as the leftists would tell us. They wanted only to live freely and to worship freely without the dictates of a government opposed to their brand of religion.
They were not immigrants. They were settlers. They were colonists. They were trailblazers. Explorers. Pioneers. Some were missionaries.
None were ”immigrants”. None.
And they were mostly English, these early colonists. And their colonies formed the basis for the country which we call the United States of America. The English language, the Protestant religion and ethic, the English common law, English custom and lore, all of this played a part in the formation of our nation.
There were other colonists; some of the Dutch and Huguenot colonists were my ancestors — through intermarriage with my English forebears. But those other colonies adapted to the incipient Anglo-American ethos and culture, not the other way around.
So America was not begun by ‘immigrants’. The phrase ‘A Nation of Immigrants’ came from John F. Kennedy (or his ghost-writer) in the book of that name. It was a way of usurping the place of the original colonist stock and making the sainted Ellis Island immigrant the central figure in American history. Now we find ourselves being flooded with immigrants from the four corners of the globe — immigrants who brazenly tell us — tell us, the heirs of the colonists! — that this country is ”for everybody”, that it belongs to everybody, as much, or more, to them as to us. Imagine the gall. But this is ‘America’, or what remains of it, in 2016. Look at the picture at the top of this post.
Here you will find a blog post on the topic of “who is an American?” It’s an interesting discussion, somewhat meandering, but with some very good comments and some that will vex you if you are a ‘generational American’ or a ‘heritage American.’
Read the blog post and read of how one immigrant blogger regards her ‘Americanness’; typical of how some 21st century immigrants believe that they understand what being an American means better than those of us whose ancestors made all this come into being. This country and whatever is good about it is all to be credited to the original colonists, the English (or Anglo-Normans, as my Southron ancestors described themselves). Instead, immigrants have assumed a central position in the ”narrative.’ The immigrant ‘built’ America, or ”immigrants made America great”, so we are now told. Just as we hear from other quarters that ‘slaves built America.’ Everybody built America but Americans.
No. The truth matters.
This country was great long before the waves of immigrants came a-begging on our shores back in the first part of the 19th century. This country was not simply waiting for the ‘magic touch’ of immigrants to ‘make it great’; the original colonists supplied the raw material: the people. A people make or break a country. Propositions and ideologies don’t make a country. A country is only as good as the people who constitute its inhabitants.
Bringing in multitudes of unrelated, often mutually hostile peoples, often peoples from failed or despotic countries, would hardly seem the recipe for ”making a country great”, yet that is what this country misguidedly did in the 19th century and afterward, intermittently, and is doing now. And now the mix of peoples is bringing not ‘enrichment’ but conflict, strife, bad feeling, crime, budget problems, public health crises, and countless other woes.
And if we read old history books, those not compromised by political correctness, we can see that even the early waves of immigration brought all those things albeit on a lesser scale than today. Immigration must not be sentimentalized and seen through a gauzy lens anymore.
Our country, founded by English colonists and for much of its history, based on English ways, should have been allowed to remain as it was, true to itself, with the ‘corn all one sheaf, and the grapes all of one vine’ as Kipling said. But it was not. And now America is unrecognizable, becoming more so.
But because America has been sold out from underneath our feet and is being transformed against the collective will into something else, that does not change who we are. Americans are born, not made. Documents and propositions do not a people make. Nor can they ever. “American” is a matter of blood and heritage as well as culture. One cannot be American just by declaring oneself to be, any more than I can declare myself Queen.