The Hillsdale College lectures that arrive regularly in my mailbox almost always offer a new way to look at a vexing public problem.
Edward J. Erler's talk on immigration is no exception. Erler is coauthor of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration and a visiting distinguished professor of politics this fall at Hillsdale.
Erler examines the question of why so many Western leaders are willing to risk the safety of their citizens rather than impose limits on immigration or strenuous vetting for those who come from countries that support terror.
The U.S. has always famously welcomed immigrants but immigration by people who, for example, come from parts of the world where women are treated badly and who have no intention of assimilating pose a threat. The Cologne attacks on women earlier this year by men from the Middle East and North African countries remind us of this.
Nevertheless, German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains an advocate of more immigration from Syria, and Hillary Clinton, a Merkel admirer, "has frequently indicated that acceptance of refugees is an important reaffirmation of America’s commitment to diversity. It is a reaffirmation of 'who we are as Americans,' she has said, as if the American character is defined by its unlimited openness to diversity."
The cultural value of diversity, Erler argues, has replaced earlier values and made us unwilling to exercise what would once have been regarded as commonsense. He writes:
With respect to the commitment to diversity, the tolerance of those who are willing to tolerate you does not earn you much credit—it doesn’t require much of a commitment or sacrifice. If, however, you are willing to tolerate those who are pledged to kill you and destroy your way of life, tolerance represents a genuine commitment. Only such a deadly commitment confirms that tolerance is the highest value in a universe of otherwise equal values. Only such a deadly commitment signals a nation’s single-minded devotion to tolerance as the highest value by its willingness to sacrifice its sovereignty as proof of its commitment.
The common-sense citizen is forgiven for thinking this train of thought insane. But what other explanation could there be for the insistence of so many of our political leaders on risking the nation’s security—in light of what we see in Europe, one might even say their willingness to commit national suicide—by admitting refugees without regard to their hostility to our way of life and their wish to destroy us as a nation?
Note that these leaders show no such enthusiasm for admitting Christian refugees from Middle Eastern violence, or even Yazidis, who have suffered horribly from the ravages of Islamic terror. These refugees, of course, represent no danger to America. Only by admitting those who do represent a danger can we display to the world “who we are as a people”—a people willing to sacrifice ourselves to vouchsafe our commitment to tolerance.
A rational concern for our liberties as well as for national security weighs in against such reckless policies. Security experts warn that we don’t have enough homeland security agents to monitor suspected terrorists who are already in our country. If we increase the number of refugees from terrorist-supporting nations, greater security can only be provided by closer cooperation between the various security agencies and closer monitoring of the private lives of all Americans. The consequent loss of liberty will be extensive and will impact all areas of American life. This, we are told, will become the “new reality” or the “new normal,” and Americans will have to develop a “new mind-set” to deal with it. Europeans are well on their way to accepting terrorism as a daily part of their lives—surely Americans, we are told, can adapt as well. But Europeans are used to sacrificing liberties to the administrative state represented by the EU.
Will Americans acquiesce so easily?
The administrative state has not yet extinguished America’s love of liberty, although it surely has made significant inroads over the years as Americans have become inured to being bullied by bureaucrats of all stripes. The constant monitoring of citizens in the name of detecting terrorism will, if allowed, turn the nation into a security state where liberties will be easily and casually sacrificed to the constant threat of terrorism. Sacrificing liberty will be the price Americans pay to accommodate refugees—in other words, it is the sacrifice we must make on the altar of political correctness.
Read the entire speech.