My trending-left local paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune (SDUT), sometimes known in the past as the U-T San Diego, recently made a point of selecting syndicated editorials that insist on interpreting all support for physical barriers at the border, and all suggestions that unlimited and uncontrolled immigration might have drawbacks, as racially motivated. I felt obligated to write letters to this paper, unnatural though it is for me to express my thoughts in just 150 words (the paper’s limit). Alas, it seems the two letters I sent them on the topic did not make it past the screeners, at least not for the print edition (as I’ve noted before, I don’t monitor the paper’s online edition). I’m reproducing those letters below, with some commentary. As well, I’m reproducing a much-less-recent letter, my much-modified version of an American Family Association (AFA) action-alert letter to my far-left U.S. Senators on the border-wall topic.
First Letter, Emailed 11 March 2019: It’s Not About the Browning
My first SDUT letter took issue with columnist Navarette’s identification of concerns about border security as arising solely from white anxiety over “the browning of America” that is taking place due to what he called, to paraphrase from memory, “the natural movement of people from one place to another.” Like other open-border types, Navarette insisted on reading everything through a racial lens, an annoying—I would say racist—way to look at things.
Re Navarette’s “What Kind of Crisis?” (March 11): My DNA says I’m even more “white” than Elizabeth Warren. [Actually, as I look at the results I’ve linked to, I think I might be less purely European in my ancestry than Warren, at least if any of my low-confidence-region results are correct.] Still, I’m unconcerned about the average skin pigmentation of citizens and legal residents, and I don’t care how much melanin resides in the skin of people here illegally. I don’t worry about “the browning of America.” Yet, I still support good physical barriers along the border.
Though it lets him impute bad motives to his opponents (supporters of border security just fear brown people) rather than answer their arguments (our insecure border is exacerbating specifically identified problems [human trafficking, drugs, gangs, crime]), Navarette’s focus on pigmentation misses the point. Can unlimited immigration of people from cultures different from our own, with languages different from the English that unifies us, fail to create problems? Too many such immigrants entering too quickly can’t be assimilated. To avoid balkanization, we must limit immigration to manageable levels. This requires secure borders.
This particular letter had resisted 150-word expression. My first draft included the following paragraph. I believe it was my second paragraph before I thought of the one I use above.
That said, some are rightly concerned that unlimited immigration of people from cultures greatly different from our own, with languages different from the one that unifies our people, could create problems. The problem isn’t that superficial characteristics like skin color differ from the European norm (this is irrelevant), nor is the problem that immigration of non-English-speakers from alien cultures is bad in itself (it isn’t). The problem is that too many immigrants entering too quickly prevents effective assimilation. If our nation wants to maintain any degree of cultural continuity, if there is to be a shared American culture, immigration must be controlled, possibly even put on hold from time to time. The alternative, uncontrolled immigration, means fragmentation, balkanization.
That paragraph alone totals 118 words, so it had to go. Thanks to the World Wide Web, it lives again!
Second Letter, Emailed 13 March 2019: Choosing Neither Multiculturalism nor White Nationalism
The next letter I sent to the SDUT took issue with a 13 March editorial entitled “Tension in San Diego.” The editorial’s central focus, if I recall correctly, was on tensions between Republican leaders and rank-and-file Republicans in San Diego county. The tensions in view were said to result from the efforts of Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other San Diego Republican Party insiders to create a California-style GOP more welcoming to all immigrants, and more tolerant and accepting of things that are anathema to social conservatives. The insiders’ California-style vision, it seems, doesn’t sit well with many rank-and-file Republicans, a high percentage of whom voted for Trump and poll as highly supportive of his border policies. This is especially true of Republicans in San Diego’s East County. No longer a member of the GOP, I’m not much interested in how well one group of Republicans here is getting along with another, so the overall focus of the article didn’t greatly interest me. Within the article, however, the columnist used the term “white nationalism” to describe what motivated people opposed to the “multiculturalism” favored by Mayor Faulconer, California-style Republicans, and the columnist. Not only did I think it ridiculous to suggest that the only alternative to multiculturalism was white nationalism, but I also thought neither of these alternatives was a very good one if one thought through their practical implications.
Concerning the simple-minded multiculturalism / white nationalism dichotomy in “Tension in San Diego” (March 13): Americanism chooses none of the above.
Melting-pot America, unlike multicultural America, was a single culture, greatly influenced by the “white” culture of the Protestant British commonwealth, but increasingly complex over time as it added to itself, in accord with the practical-mindedness of its source culture, the best it found in immigrants’ cultures.
In that America, immigration was a controlled process where there were not more new immigrants than could be well assimilated. Assimilation never meant immigrants giving up all aspects of their original cultures, but it did mean giving up aspects of those cultures at odds with American culture. It meant that one’s old affiliations had to become mere subcultures and secondary allegiances; they could no longer be primary. [Since my primary allegiance is to the Triune God, of whom one Person is Jesus Christ, and to Scripture, the words of this God, and to my Bible-believing Christian faith, this God’s gift, I wasn’t perfectly comfortable with how I put this, but I could think of no way to improve it that didn’t require more words. I suppose the clarification I wanted to make but couldn’t fit in was that my focus here was on allegiances solely within the spheres of earthly, common-grace culture and human government. Too great a concern for precision can hamper brevity.]
Wanting to go back to the melting-pot isn’t white nationalism; it’s Americanism.
While I don’t know if my use of “Americanism” precisely matches what other people mean when they use the term, it seemed to me a good way to put my “neither of these options is a good one” viewpoint into the form of an ism. All the points made in this letter, as well as in the preceding letter and the draft text I had to excise from it, seem quite obvious to me. But if they were really obvious surely syndicated columnists would not be presupposing their exact opposite, would they? The following long paragraph, excluded from the present letter as prolix, also expresses points that seem obvious to me but are apparently not obvious to leaders and pundits who should know better:
People with significantly different cultures are scarcely able to get along when divided from one another by national borders and only interacting at carefully regulated international events. Believing that such people can remain adherents of different cultures, even speaking different languages, while residing in a shared nation, without that nation ultimately disintegrating, should strike even the most heavy users of marijuana and antidepressant medications as too absurd to consider. One reason separate nations have always existed is that some differences between groups of people are just too great to permit close affiliation without significant change in one, the other, or both groups.
An Older Letter, Submitted through the AFA Site on 16 January 2019
The following letter is my rewrite of an AFA take-action letter focused on the border-security issue. As is often the case, I changed so much of the letter that little of the original may remain. (Said original may be viewed by following the link in the preceding sentence; the take-action campaign was still active when I checked on 19 March 2019). I assigned my rewrite the new subject line of “Support: Border Barrier. Oppose: Foreign Aid, Paying Furloughed.” Foreign aid and the payment of workers furloughed during the government shutdown were not addressed by the AFA letter, but were topics I was concerned about at the time. Since the take-action form did not support italicization, I emphasized words using all capitals; in the reproduction, however, I have used italics. I’ve also corrected a few typos, and I hope I’ve not introduced too many new ones.
While I admit that President Trump’s ridiculous campaign promise that Mexico would fund his wall, and his equally ridiculous claims that Mexico has paid for it through a new trade deal, make it difficult to support him personally, physical barriers on the border are proper and necessary.
Unlike “aid given by the United States to other countries [at taxpayer expense and incurring additional debt] to [purportedly] support global peace, security, and development efforts, and provide humanitarian relief during times of crisis,” for which nearly $30 billion is requested for fiscal year 2019 (per foreign-aid-supporting https://www.foreignassistance.gov/, accessed 16 January 2019), funding for physical barriers along the U.S. border is justified, even mandated, by the U.S. Constitution. That document, in Article Four, Section Four, states the “United States shall guarantee to every State a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion.”
The Constitution, thus, makes border security a responsibility of the federal government, and congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle have long claimed to care about the border problem and called (and sometimes voted) for the construction of a physical barrier. I therefore urge you to pass President Trump’s border security plan for a “wall” on the southern border. Doing so need not be seen as an endorsement of the man and his self-serving reimagining of a campaign promise; it is simply the proper action to take for the good of the nation.
While I’m writing, I would also like to note my disappointment that Congress has chosen not to take advantage of this shutdown to reduce federal spending. My understanding is that a bill has been passed that guarantees full post-shutdown payment, not only to the essential employees now being forced (illegitimately) to work without pay, but also to all the furloughed non-essential employees (who, in addition, of course, will be authorized to work costly overtime to catch up on their backlog after they return to work). A government that can’t live within its means doesn’t need to be paying people for bonus vacations, which is what the furloughs have now been turned into (if the bill passed, which President Trump has promised to sign, says what news stories indicate). Rather than consider eliminating these non-essential federal positions, and thus bringing the U.S. government a bit closer to fiscal balance, you congresspeople have ensured that the shutdown will ultimately result in more federal spending. Thanks for nothing.
Too harsh? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I just couldn’t get over how Trump and Congress had managed to agree to an arrangement that turned a shutdown into a spending increase. I hope my socialist Senators’ interns were helped in some way by reading my letter (Senator Feinstein, at least, claims that all letters emailed to her get read, though I assume not by her), since surely the Senators themselves are beyond hope or help.
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