Preserving Freedom Can Mean Restricting Immigration
March 29, 2013 6 Comments
Rose Wilder Lane, who is said to have coined the term ‘libertarian movement’, makes an interesting point in The Discovery of Freedom that could well enlighten today’s immigration policy.
Like all good commentators, Rose Wilder Lane does not expatiate on the West and the rise of freedom without extensive reference to its roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Lane credits Abraham with the insight that “God does not control any man… a man controls himself, he is free to do good or evil in the sight of God”. She points to the important breaks the Israelites made with the surrounding pagan cultures, including their decentralized, even anarchic, governing structure. However, she also points out that the Israelites were a small group surrounded by powerful pagan empires: “The most promising young Israelites were always falling in love with pagan girls… They would have melted humbly into those pagan multitudes if their strong men had not stood in the way and driven them back with threats, telling them that they were like no other people, that they were set apart, chosen to know the truth and hold to it. They wanted to be “like all the other nations”. But to be like any other people, they must forget that men are free. That is the truth that they held”.
For much of history, America preserved a culture of liberty not found anywhere else. When facing a flood of immigrants from places without this culture, huge efforts were put into the Americanization of these people, through schools and other outlets. This was not only an initiative of the American government. The Ford Motor Company’s absorption classes for new arrivals are legendary. Americans knew they possessed something unique, that was vulnerable, and that had to be preserved with the maintenance of a national character. Friedrich Hayek says in the Constitution of Liberty that the experiment of the United States in having such high levels of immigration would have utterly failed without such efforts. I find it ominous that this emphasis does not exist today.
My motive in raising this is simply to say that when a nation happens to be a repository of liberal ideas, yet surrounded by illiberal cultures, it is not necessarily a liberal policy to allow vast numbers of those from illiberal cultures to infiltrate the nation and perhaps alter its character entirely. Consider this point when you see Muslim vigilante patrols harassing people on the streets of London, or Arab teens beating a visiting left-wing Israeli filmmaker in France.