In the wake of the Chattanooga massacre a January quote from Louisiana’s governor and long-shot presidential candidate Bobby Jindal resurfaced in a Breitbart piece about Jindal’s reaction to yesterday’s events…
“They join our military, they start companies, they work to create a better community. And that’s wonderful. What’s not acceptable is people that want to come and conquer us. That’s not immigration, by the way, that’s colonization. If someone wants to come here and change our fundamental culture and our values. If they want to come here and they want to set up their own culture and values that’s not immigration, that’s really invasion — if you’re honest about it. Of course, the politically correct crowd when you say things like they’ll call you racist — but this is a particular threat we face. And if we’re not serious about this we’re going to see more lone wolf actors.”
He’s correct in that characterization, of course, and he’s touching on an issue which has affected him before – particularly in light of that awful rebuke of his cultural embrace of America by a leftist website demanding he show more fealty to his Indian ancestry a couple of weeks ago. Ellen Carmichael debunked that idiocy nicely here at the site and elsewhere, but the Left isn’t going to go away in attempting to attach a hyphen next to Jindal’s name whether he’ll accept it or not.
Jindal’s point of view is that we are better off if we require that immigrants to this country fully immerse and assimilate themselves into American culture, as he and his family have done. That’s the traditional expectation America has had, after all – during a previous major wave of immigration a relatively well-regarded (overrated, we would argue, but that’s for another post) president had this to say…
We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.
Roosevelt’s point of view, expressed in a letter to the president of the American Defense Society just days before his death in 1919, was anything but an extreme one – it was a reflection of how America saw its immigrants.
As such, you could go to a Chinatown or Little Italy in any major American city and yes, you’d see the ethnicity reflected in the neighborhood but you would also clearly recognize that you’re in an American city. That seems less true today in a place like Lewiston, Maine or Minneapolis, or Islamberg, New York.
The traditional American response to something like La Raza, for example, would be utter revulsion – and demands for deportations of the people who were agitating against American social and political culture among the immigrants. After all, Democrat president Woodrow Wilson’s administration was vicious in its work to deport foreign-born anarchist and communist radicals like Emma Goldman and the Italian Galleanists, who not only preached the violent overthrow of American capitalism and democratic government but engaged in a bombing campaign beginning in 1919.
Up until the point in which the Left managed to destroy Joe McCarthy, it was fairly commonplace in this country to see a suspicion of foreign ideologies alongside an embrace of large numbers of immigrants. The people we would gladly have, but their culture and ideology we weren’t interested in. You came to America to be an American; anything less, and you had better stay home.
That’s the attitude Jindal is offering. Daniel Greenfield shares it, and perhaps articulates it even more eloquently than does the Governor…
If we really want to stop terrorism, the place to start is at the airport. Not with TSA groping and scanners, but by ending the constant flood of terror populations into the country. The attacks of September 11 would never have happened if the United States hadn’t gotten into the habit of allowing in Saudis who couldn’t even be bothered to produce plausible paperwork. The World Trade Center bombing would not have happened if we hadn’t gotten into the habit of setting illegal immigrants loose.
The United States of America faces a simple choice. We can fill our towns and cities with populations from terror zones and then act surprised when they kill us, or we can shut the doors on them.
Inviting in the world’s terrorists to live here is not an act of kindness. Both Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood killer, and Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the Chattanooga terrorist, were born to Palestinian Arabs. Their background was in a culture where terrorism is so widely accepted that it has become a way of life. The Americans they murdered would be alive today if we had a pro-American immigration policy.
It’s not just the people who send checks to terrorist groups who should be called terrorist supporters. Those who support the migration of terrorists into this country are the biggest terrorist supporters because without them most of the attacks we have experienced would not even be possible.
No war can be won as long as the enemy continues to gain fresh recruits. Every immigrant from a terror zone to this country is a potential terrorist making the War on Terror completely unwinnable.
As we’ve noted, this is not a radical position. It’s a perfectly rational one. It rests on a quite reasonable presumption that American culture and society is preferable and superior to that of the places immigrants come here from – were it not so, why would they be coming here? – and the following presumption that we’re better off if we act to preserve and strengthen that culture and society by taking in immigrants committed to adding to it rather than detracting from it.
Somehow, to the Left, this is “racist,” or “Islamophobic.” And here was how the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, who styles himself a Republican but tends to present the Left’s arguments better than the Left does, reacted to Jindal’s characterization of unassimilable Muslims as colonists back in January…
By all means, let’s lay all the cards on the table. Jindal is talking about a Muslim fifth column, intent on establishing sharia law in unassimilated enclaves and eventually subverting the Constitution and conquering the country. A pretty serious charge against some portion of the several thousand Muslims living in Louisiana, for instance.
The proof? During a recent trip to Great Britain, Jindal was pressed for evidence of Muslim “no-go zones,” the supposed beachheads of the Islamist invasion. “I’ve heard from folks here,” he responded, “that there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils.”
I can’t imagine that “heard from folks” would be a sufficient footnote in a paper at Oxford University (where Jindal studied as a Rhodes scholar). Yet it is apparently enough for a sitting governor making accusations of subversion. Jindal could have used his platform as a prospective presidential candidate to make points about the (very real) dangers of radicalization. Instead, he talks of invasion, colonization and conquest.
This is both appalling and symptomatic. In our politics, ideological assertions tend to gain an immediate, massive velocity. It is not enough to raise questions about global warming; it must be, according to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” It is not sufficient to call for improved control of the border; immigrant children may be carriers of Ebola, as Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) once asserted. It is zero to 100 in no time flat.
The use of apocalyptic language is often a form of self-elevation. It allows a politician to embrace the role of lonely truth-seeker. “Of course,” Jindal said, “the politically correct crowd — when you say things like that, they’ll call you racist.” Only the honest and brave are willing to risk such opprobrium. Political figures who perceive the hidden threat are not only Diogenes searching for truth, they are Horatius defending the bridge against subversive Muslims, climate scientists, disease-ridden children or whatever.
This rhetorical strategy is a disaster for democratic discourse. It creates a cartoon version of reality in which actual problems are obscured or misdiagnosed. It avoids the hard work of drawing careful distinctions and offering nuanced judgments. It leaves some people on constant high alert; others are exhausted by an endless series of supposedly existential threats and unable to distinguish the real ones.
Gerson should probably revisit his remarks and explain how his mentality holds up in the wake of Chattanooga, when Jindal’s “cartoon version of reality” emerged, Roger Rabbit-style, into those two military facilities in that Tennessee city.
And his Democrat friends on the DC cocktail circuit might consider asking themselves whether America is better off with its immigrant families producing a Bobby Jindal who decries hyphenation and eschews foreign heritage, or a Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, who holds to foreign ideas and culture so tightly as to attack members of the very military who freed his country from Saddam Hussein in the year of his birth.
The old way was better. That seems pretty clear today.