Covenants Without the Sword

Conor Friedersdorf fancies himself The Atlantic’s resident ethnic White Knight, galloping in to the aid of minorities terrorized by the handful of genuinely conservative pundits yet standing.

Naturally, Friedersdorf entered the fray on behalf of Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after she found herself in the crosshairs of one of Tucker Carlson’s recent monologues, which simply pointed out the obvious: Omar hates America. In her words: “We must confront that our nation was founded by genocide and we maintain global power through neocolonialism.”

Friedersdorf, armed with an interpretive decoder ring, explains that Omar is only innocently savaging “what she regards as the country’s failure to live up to its lofty values.”

Whether America has lived up to some “lofty values,” based on an entirely arbitrary definition of them by a naturalized foreigner, is irrelevant—Omar attacks America as it is, she therefore hates America as it is, and she will continue to hate it until, as Friedersdorf suggests, it conforms with the values she wants America to adopt. These may be summarized as: “This is not going to be the country of white people.”

According to Friedersdorf, Omar is merely fighting for supposed American principles such as equality and social justice; but how amazing is it that those principles are congruent with and adaptable to the political, economic, and social interests of her own particular ethno-cultural group, and that these interests conflict necessarily, as Omar suggests, with those of whites. She does not want peaceful coexistence, much less a melting pot. What she wants is submission.

But perhaps the most disheartening aspect of the Omar-Friedersdorf-Carlson debacle has developed on the Right, rather than on the Left.

Writing in defense of Tucker, David Harsanyi at The Federalist concedes that Omar, as a “philosophical matter,” is not the kind of immigrant “we” should want. But though Harsanyi defends Tucker, he actually favors high levels of immigration and writes of Tucker, “he’s wrong about immigration.”

“When my parents came to the United States as refugees in 1968, for instance, they were asked to renounce communism—because collectivism, like Islamism or fascism or any authoritarianism, is antithetical to American principles,” writes Harsanyi. “This is one reason we still give newcomers citizenship tests. We want them not only to comprehend our foundational ideas, but to adopt them.”

That’s all well and good. But how can a nation that has convinced itself it is purely propositional—that is, where membership is given to all comers based strictly on their supposed adoption (or, most commonly, lip service given to) “foundational ideas” or “principles”—maintain itself against the whims of those who manage to power their way in and rise to power in spite of them? They, not “we,” will come to define citizenship, and define it out of existence. In questions of immigration, size matters. The numbers we admit—either legally or illegally—matter.

But who are we kidding? A nation that countenances the presence of some 22 million illegal aliens has effectively lost the will to live. Of course, I do not mean to suggest that there are no uniquely American ideas; but if, as America becomes increasingly “diverse” due to immigration, enough people can be convinced that those “foundational ideas” and “principles” include open borders, what good is the truth? The “philosophical matter” that defines membership in our national community, our very way of life, is gradually being redefined by the new “we.” Propositions will not hold against a wave of willful ignorance.

Moreover, and though it might turn the stomachs of well-meaning liberals—so, to be clear, that includes contemporary “conservatives”—discrimination is a vital and natural process that facilitates both peace and assimilation; that is, the adoption of the foundational Anglo-Saxon-Protestant fashions, customs, and habits that once made up the basis of our national fabric—the vestiges of those evil “white people” Omar wants to uproot.

But today discrimination has been outlawed in every concievable form. There is no natural mechanism to make the Omars among us adopt our way of life, and it is becoming increasingly difficult even to remove those who are here illegally—those who, by their rejection of our national sovereignty, essentially spit in our faces.

“Covenants without the sword,” wrote Thomas Hobbes, “are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.” There was a time when people like Omar would have been denaturalized and deported, just as the subversive Emma Goldman was, and that would be the right thing to do. But it is not hard to imagine the bipartisan support that Omar—or even Goldman—would enjoy today from the “Right” and Left if such action even were suggested.

Incredibly, the best take on Omar and other militant practitioners of identity politics, the only take in keeping with sanity, came from President Trump. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” or from which their parents or ancestors came, if they hate America so much? Trump is on target here, and a people reasonably concerned with their own survival will see that he is.

No one, least of all Omar, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), or Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), has a right to demand America undergo fundamental transformation to become the more “diverse,” un-American union of their dreams. They are not within their rights to demand America more closely resemble the backwaters from which they or their parents came. Republicans and Democrats entertain this fundamental transformation at the hands of foreigners and their ungrateful progeny, unworthy of their incidental citizenship. Why?

America wants to have its immigration cake and eat it, too, even as it chokes on every bite. A society that is only inviting is self-destructive, while a society that is only closed off looks like North Sentinel Island, where the odd Christian missionary is greeted with a volley of arrows. A civilized people who are too much one thing or the other cannot for long survive, for they will be consumed by foreign atavists or become themselves atavistic.

Immigrants who have come here legally and with the proper spirit thrive in America and are welcomed when they do. But identifying which immigrants are likely to do that and how many of them we can successfully assimilate is not something Americans can afford to take lightly.

Tucker Carlson, then, reminds us not only of how dangerous individuals like Omar are, but how dangerous it is to allow everyone from Conor Friedersdorf to David Harsanyi constantly to define and redefine the “philosophical matter” of membership in our society—even as we cannot bring ourselves to enforce existing laws or to assert one fundamental way of life over the many “diverse” options presented by newcomers.

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About Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez is associate editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He publishes the weekly Contra newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @emeriticus.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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