Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Not Really O/T -- Alexander Hamilton, Intentionally-Misunderstood, On Immigration: Historical Context Matters

Since I have tended to quote him approvingly of late, as to the dangers of tyrants (see masthead) -- and of latter day wanna'-be kings -- I will take just a moment, right before the turkey is blessed, and passed. . . to make one salient point plain(er) than many alt-right pundits would have you believe.

Some would say that Alexander Hamilton's argument (penned under a pseudonym, in the New York Post, circa January of 1802) against Mr. Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia" -- was purely an argument to reduce and/or limit immigration. They would also say that the same points to the soundness of Mr. Trump's views. I disagree.

Messrs. Hamilton and Jefferson had their argument (by polite proxy of course) nearly 220 years ago. Our "nation". . . was not really even a nation yet. We were all new immigrants [save for the native peoples we were by then already abusing, of course].

Hamilton is best understood as advocating that those who'd arrived to form, and found, this nation -- by escaping largely British rule, be careful to work out their own distinct identity -- distinct, from the British (and to a lesser extent, the French, Spanish and Dutch). His central notion was that we didn't yet have a national. . . identity.

Now, roll the clock forward some nearly 220 years. We are a vastly resourceful, and unified nation -- perhaps the most powerful, in the entire recorded history of this planet.

We know who we are. And we know the engine of our greatness has been wave upon wave of immigrants (and stolen labor -- from slavery, as well, to a large extent). But for the purpose of this discussion, we must admit that Hamilton was only right for his particular moment in history (as to his thoughts, on immigration -- at least). Over the longer course of our nation's rise to greatness, clearly Jefferson's view was both correct -- and it prevailed.

It prevailed to great success. We certainly are guilty of our manifold sins -- but stopping the arrival of people yearning to breathe free air -- without fear of a religious test (or worse) -- will certainly not cure the very small things that ail us.

Mr. Trump, and the alt-right pundits -- as well as Rush Limbaugh -- are simply. . . wrong. On all counts.


No comments: