President Obama hit Republican upside the head with the unAmerican stick yesterday.
They certainly deserved it.
“This whole anti-immigrant sentiment that’s out there in our politics right now is contrary to who we are. Because unless you are a Native American, your family came from someplace else,” Obama said. “Don’t pretend that somehow 100 years ago the immigration process was all smooth and strict. That’s not how it worked.” The grandparents and great-grandparents of politicians taking a hard line on immigration, he said, were also “somehow considered unworthy or uneducated or unwashed.”
“When I hear folks talking as if somehow these kids are different from my kids or less worthy in the eyes of God, that somehow they are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care, I think that’s un-American,” Obama said.
Nativism is unAmerican.
There have always been nativist fringers…but that’s what they are, the fringe.
Before Hispanics and Asians, their targets were the Irish, the Italians, the Jews.
Nativism is a sucker bet in American politics. You could ask Patrick Buchanan.
The forces of reaction always lose here, because this is a country founded not on common blood lines or common cultural ties but on a shared commitment to an optimistic vision of the future that sees more freedom for more people as the inevitable path forward.
The party of pessimism doesn’t win in the U.S.
When I heard Donald Trump arguing to “Make America Great Again,” my first thought is “America is already great.” And it’s greater now than it was 10 years ago or 50 years ago or 100 years ago. Because the American Dream is within reach of more people.
We’re not perfect. We haven’t achieved “justice for all.” But the strength of America, the real exceptionalism of America is that we keep trying and getting closer. They say that “the arc of history bends towards justice.” That’s truer here than it anywhere else, despite those who want go back rather than forward and would like to strip America of everything that makes it exceptional in the name of nativism.