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Americans are constantly being lectured—correctly, I believe—that good citizenship isn’t contingent on skin color, faith, or ethnicity, but a set of beliefs. Yet whenever anyone is critical of the ugly things someone like Ilhan Omar says, they are immediately battered for being xenophobes and racists. You can’t have it both ways.
I mean, you can try. Nearly the entire contemporary progressive argument is girded by identity grievances. So when Fox News’s Tucker Carlson gives a monologue, in which he concludes that Omar was “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country,” the reaction is predictable.
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As philosophical matter, though, Omar isn’t the kind of immigrant we should want. That’s not because she is Muslim or black, but because she doesn’t believe in the traditional ideas that define American life. And she shouldn’t be immune from criticism merely because of her background.
When my parents came to the United States as refugees in 1968, for instance, they were asked to renounce communism—because collectivism, like Islamism or fascism or any authoritarianism, is antithetical to American principles. Any newcomers in 1968 who believed the United States was guilty of crimes against the proletariat, and praised Pol Pot or Castro, would not have been a quality immigrant.
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This is one reason we still give newcomers citizenship tests. We want them not only to comprehend our foundational ideas, but to adopt them. Whether or not this nation consistently lives up to those values (far from it) is irrelevant. There’s no country in human history born without sin. Yet only Americans are asked to engage in daily acts of contrition for their past.
Notwithstanding the pathetic self-flagellation we see from historical revisionists like Beto O’Rourke and Omar, most immigrants surely understand that our mitzvahs outweigh our sins, and then some. Most wouldn’t be here otherwise.
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