What It Means to Be American
Posted by Tony Listi on April 20, 2008
In discussing the issue of illegal immigration with a liberal friend of mine, a very interesting and important question was posed to me: what is your definition of “American”?
True conservatives recognize that America is more an idea, a creed, than anything else. For practical purposes, America is also a place, a distinct area of territory. But even those who live within its physical boundaries as legally recognized citizens may be less American, in a sense, than those outside its borders who share the American creed. America is more than a place or a government certification of citizenship.
Thus, subscribing to a specific set of beliefs is what makes an American at the deepest level. What are these beliefs? They are embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as originally intended and interpreted by the Founding Fathers who framed these documents (and their Christian roots). And because conservatism, by definition, seeks to preserve the principles of America’s founding, the American creed is the conservative creed.
One of the most important of these beliefs is the rule of law (yes, even immigration laws). Two other important beliefs are the right to the fruits of one’s labor and to minimal taxation used only for public interests that cannot be satisfied any other way (both of which go together). Therefore, certain government run services and wealth redistribution, which illegal immigrants often take advantage of, are not American in a very profound sense. Another important tenet of the American credo is suspicion of government and government interference. The corollary and logical outgrowth of this is a belief in very limited government. And the logical implication of that is a belief in freedom, including the free market.
Therefore, those immigrants, legal and illegal, who do not accept this creed are a threat to America. This is why the English language must be preserved, assimilation must be a top priority, and multiculturalism should be opposed.
Of course, the implications of my definition of “American,” automatically implies that liberals are in some sense un-American because they do not hold to this creed as it has been written and passed down through the generations. They are opposed to limited government, the free market, etc. And they have already hurt America because of the semi-welfare state that they have created over the past century or so. Therefore, one might say that liberals’ un-American activities (creating the welfare state and insisting on multiculturalism) are really at the heart of what is wrong with the situation of illegal immigration. If government were more limited, illegal immigrants would not be able strain and/or drain public treasuries. If government were more limited, then government employees would be less able to socially engineer the country away from its roots.