Friday, July 4, 2014

The New Colossus, This Time with Improved DNA

The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life ... It is in our DNA. We believe our diversity, our differences, makes us stronger by a common set of ideals.”
- President Obama
You know, that second sentence doesn't really make sense.  It appears that our eloquent president got lost somewhere between the beginning and end of his thought, very much as George W. Bush used to do.

But what riled me about this quotation in the first place was "It is in our DNA."  No, it's not in our DNA.  Even giving Obama the benefit of the doubt and supposing he was speaking metaphorically, he's wrong historically.  If anything, what is central to the American way of life is Europeans invading the continent and displacing, enslaving, and killing the people who already lived there.  And each wave of immigrants tries to turn away the next wave, vilifying its successors as dirty subhumans who are congenitally incapable of grasping our Anglo-Saxon heritage of freedom.  Even if "the basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores" could be encoded in one's DNA, American history shows abundantly that it's not encoded in Americans' DNA or (metaphorically speaking) in that of our government.