No Irish Need Apply
In commenting on the United States' illegal immigration "problem," Dobbs has said that he resents people "celebrating a distant history". In his own words, Lou Dobbs doesn't "think there should be a St. Patrick's Day."
This is not a post about immigration policy, but I'll pass on two quotes. Fareed Zakaria, on The Daily Show last week, wonders why "we do immigration very well, and we're looking to the French on this one issue for a solution."
The other quote comes from my local bar. A contractor was having a drink and looking at the news. He set down his beer, took a drag on his cigarette, glared at the TV, and said "Lou Dobbs wouldn't know competitive advantage if it bit him on the ass."
But this is far bigger than a policy debate. This goes to the core of what we believe about these United States. It appears to me that Dobbs clings to the "melting pot" theory of America, where "individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men." (Crevecoeur, 1782.)
But it's instructive to check the Oxford English Dictionary on this one, where we find that a "melting pot" is also "a situation in which things are constantly changing and the outcome is uncertain", a home for things "in a process of flux or change."
That sounds a lot more American to me than Crevecoeur's stable amalgam. Our nation is more than the dirt we're born on, more than our mixing bloodlines. The Constitution is our nation, a complex experiment which we have promised to keep trying to figure out.
We are the people of flux and change. The First Amendment guarantees us the right to assemble peaceably, which is to say, to be whom we like. It's part of our national mythology that, in America, you can always move west and start over - only as proud of your past, or as shackled to it, as you choose. In fact, you can pick and choose from as many parts of your past as you like, without monarch or caste to stop you.
And the First Amendment also guarantees us the right to tell you about it. How sad that Dobbs can't even see that. Racial or religious, ethnic or sexual, based on our geography or our interests, every pride gathering says the same thing. We came here. We chose this. We commit to it.
And that's what we need our Dash-American pride for. Not to remember where we came from, as much to remember that we all came from somewhere. Every festival is a little Independence Day.
Dobbs hasn't actually called for a ban on the sale of other nations' flags, as far as I know, or for the governments to shut down the parades on St. Pat's or Columbus Day or Puerto Rican Pride day. So it would be wrong, or at least premature, to write this off as Know-Nothing Bill The Butcher nativism.
Which is a shame, because that would be fun. Kind of like the fun I'm having imagining some of New York's proud Irish-American finest taking the time to check that Mr. Dobbs' auto is in perfect working order. Or some upstanding Italian-Americans inviting him down to their social club for a frank exchange of views.
Or just hordes of proud Dash-Americans turning CNN off at the same time.
I'm really enjoying that one.