"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe
— Emma Lazarus, inscription on the Statue of Liberty
In my ideal world, only Americans would live in the United States of
People who are not real Americans, but who are presently residing here,
would be sent, not necessarily to their country of national origin, but
to a country that fits their view of what a country should be. For
example, much of Hollywood would relocate to Sweden, which never goes to
war for any reason, having got all that out of its system when its men
were Vikings, pillaging the coasts of Europe.
We should be able to define a real American. Most of us grew up knowing
what that was.
There have apparently been some changes that crept in without us
noticing. But since I never voted for a new definition, I'm going back
America is a melting pot, and its citizens speak English — perhaps with
a heavy accent, but without complaint.
People who do not want to melt, who prefer to keep their culture and
language of origin as their primary culture and language, should go back
to the country of origin and stay there.
You've heard of "cafeteria Catholics" who want to call themselves
Catholic, but don't want to follow the rules of the Catholic Church, the
ones I would call "Protestants." Apparently there are "cafeteria
immigrants" who just want the benefits of living in the United States,
but don't want to follow our rules: I would call them "illegal aliens."
The poem by Emma Lazarus reflects the American dream. However, the
Statue of Liberty is on Ellis Island, which was set up to process the
tired, poor and huddled who yearned to breathe free. While immigrants no
longer have to stop there, the law about being checked in was never
repealed, and the poem was never carved in stone along the Rio Grande.
The illegal and legal immigrants and others who were demonstrating in
favor of unrestricted immigration apparently prefer a country that
welcomes anyone from anywhere at any time. I doubt they can find one;
countries, by definition, have borders, which implies some selectivity.
Real Americans really do yearn to breathe free, except for those of us
who have been here a while and take that for granted. Immigrants from
many countries arrive yearning just like earlier American immigrants,
and their grateful presence should remind the rest of us why we are
here. Many of them are more American than the ungrateful wretches who
constantly put America down, who don't seem to have a clue what this
country is all about.
We need more immigrants like our grandparents, who came here to work, to
earn the American dream. We need fewer people who think they are somehow
entitled to that American dream with no effort on their part. A lot of
them have been here for a generation or two.
I don't think we should have to remember all 10 items in the Bill of
Rights to be real Americans and stay here. While newer citizens may have
learned them recently, the rest of us are a long way from high school
civics class. We should, however, still recall the basic principles —
free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, right to bear
arms, freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. Uh-oh.
People who want to substitute politically correct speech for free speech
and prohibition of religion for freedom of religion might want to move
to some of our college campuses or "progressive" communities, and then
secede from the United States. Those who want gun control will have no
problem finding a country that does not allow its citizens to arm
themselves. Some of these countries are run by dictators, so they should
do some research before moving, talk with some recent immigrants from
that hellhole. Maybe they can do a house swap.
Certainly people who value safety and security more than liberty can
find a better country than ours, though they might want to consider that
safety is more an illusion than liberty is.
I wouldn't argue that citizens who protest the war in Iraq should leave;
protesting is American. But they should at least support the war on
terrorism, and the need to defend our way of life.
Those who argue that we can't send soldiers to save every human being
who lives in a country that isn't free should also note that we can't
take in every human being who wants to escape from these places. We must
consider both affordability and logistics.
But those who argue that we are an evil nation shouldn't hang around in
the midst of this alleged evil any longer; they'd probably be happier in
some other United Nations country.
In my ideal world, only people who share traditional American values
would live here. I suspect that when the others have cleared out, there
will lots of room for prospective Americans — of all races, creeds and
colors — to apply for United States citizenship and make this a better
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence
Journal and other newspapers.