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I’m genuinely sorry, fellow Ricochet readers. I lost control of myself today and read a Dana Milbank column. What’s worse, he sparked a discussible idea (not deliberately on his part, of course).
His argument is that immigrants improve America, by bringing their culture to ours. Each immigrant wave brings new wisdom from their culture to teach our culture. The world is improving us:
This is not merely about a fresh labor supply but about the fresh blood needed to cure what ails us. To benefit from such a transfusion, we not only need to welcome more immigrants but also to adopt pieces of their culture lacking in our own — just as we have done with other (mostly European) cultures for centuries.
Of course, I say he’s got it backward (as usual). They’re not improving us, we’re improving them. As each culture comes to America, they benefit from the individual freedom and range of opportunities in this country.
But it seems clear that Milbank, like most Leftists, assumes that each wave of immigrants improves us and that America is only great because we’ve enjoyed so many immigrant waves, each one improving us all the more. The Leftist attitude is that America constantly needs a shot in the arm, provided by new people from different cultures. The rhetoric is that immigration, really, is what makes America great. That pretty much implies that America is really a stale place, and we only survive by the rejuvenation of new blood. Call it the “vampire theory” of culture.
This is, of course, ridiculous. If immigrants’ cultural diversity sparks American success, why haven’t those same immigrants sparked the same success in other countries? Or sparked it in their own? Why do they come here in the first place? What makes America attractive is not that it gives them a chance to improve us; it’s that we give them a chance to succeed as individuals.
At least, that’s what I argue. What do you say? Does the immigrant make America, or is it America who makes the immigrant?
Photo Credit: Flickr user NIAID.