But then I came to the conclusion that no, while there may be an immigration problem, it isn't really a serious problem. The really serious problem is assimilation.
Mexican immigration poses challenges to our policies and to our identity in a way nothing else has in the past.
Thus, biologically speaking the American people are literally only half an immigrant people.
The other aspect of American identity worth focusing on is the concept of America as a nation of immigrants. That certainly is a partial truth. But it is often assumed to be the total truth.
Partial truths or half-truths are often more insidious than total falsehoods.
In 1920, the West ruled huge amounts of the world.
I think clearly the United States, as well as other western nations, should stand by their commitments to human rights and democracy and should try to influence other countries to move in that direction.
Well, I think the United States first of all has to recognize the world for what it is.
The West hasn't reached its universal state as yet, although its close to it, but it certainly has evolved out of its warring state phase, which it was in for a couple of centuries.
And the big question for the West, of course, and to the Europeans is, what other countries, which were formerly part of the Soviet bloc, should be incorporated into western institutions?
And so in terms of territorial control, in terms of economic preeminence, the western share of the gross world product is declining as Asian societies in particular develop economically.
It will take a long time, and certainly the West will remain the dominant civilization well into the next century, but the decline is occurring.
The great problem there is we have to have the cooperation of those other Asian countries.
It was one thing to contain the Soviet Union in Europe because Britain, France, and Germany were all willing to join in. But will Japan and other Asian countries be willing to join in the containment of China?
Total falsehoods can be easily exposed for what they are by citing exceptions to their claims. Hence, they are less likely to be accepted as the total truth.
We really only came around to accepting and integrating the propositional dimension of identity into a concept of ourselves at the time of the American Revolution.
We also thought of ourselves in racial and largely ethnic terms.
Also, of course, for most of this time most Americans thought of America as a white country with, at best, only a very segregated and subordinate role for blacks.
The British were white, English, and Protestant, just as we were. They had to have some other basis on which to justify independence, and happily they were able to formulate the inalienable truths set forth in the Declaration.
Immigrants are people who leave one country, one society, and move to another society. But there has to be a recipient society to which the immigrants move.
They weren't immigrating to some existing society; indeed, they often did whatever they could do to destroy whatever existed here in the way of Indian society.
It was this society and culture that among other things - including economic opportunities here and repression in Europe - attracted subsequent generations of immigrants to this country.
First of all, we haven't always welcomed immigrants.
Finally, in my critique of the immigration image of America, it is also important to know that we're not only a nation of immigrants, but we are in some part a nation of emigrants, which often gets neglected.