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Below, a bigthink question for that finest of bigthinkers, Ricochet’s own Paul Rahe. First, though, a couple of words of background.
In his post below, Paul Rahe notices something peculiar—but, I think, terribly important: All the arguments against restricting travel to the United States from countries such as Nigeria and Liberia, where Ebola is already rampant, note that such restrictions would interfere with treating the disease in Africa. Those making these arguments thus display the same implicit assumption, placing all humans on the same moral plane. They ignore or treat as irrelevant the distinction between their fellow Americans and everyone else.
A lot of those in favor of immigration reform, I’ve noticed, make the same implicit assumption. When I interviewed Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles for Uncommon Knowledge, for instance, I asked if he could name a single reason for excluding Mexicans from this country that he would consider legitimate. Refusing to do so—from the look on his face, I could see that that good man found the very question itself perplexing—the Archbishop argued that “we’re all God’s children.” We have no good reason, he seemed to be saying, to distinguish between Americans and Mexicans. If the poor of Mexico want to come here, what right have we to exclude them?
Which brings me to my bigthink question for Paul—and for anyone else here at Ricochet who’d like to take a crack at it:
What, exactly, is the philosophical case—the moral case—for distinguishing between our fellow citizens and everyone else?
If forced to choose between the two, why should we prefer protecting our fellow Americans from Ebola to protecting citizens of Nigeria or Liberia from the disease? f the poor of Mexico do indeed want to come to this country, what right do we have to exclude them?
Previous generations took it for granted that their countrymen had a claim on them that the citizens of no other country could make. They were right to do so—we all sense that, don’t we? But why?