American Exceptionalism: my response to Wim de Vriend

I couldn’t help but notice a pattern in de Vriend’s social strife stories: none of them carried any rational relation to the history and experience of immigration in America. We could also point to all manner of religious conflict in human history such as the Thirty-Years War, but would this serve as a valid argument against religious freedom in the United States?

Similarly, why suggest that ideological conflict in the ethnically homogeneous French Revolution implies we should abandon America’s proven ability to absorb vast sums of immigrants? Why make the invalid comparison of the Belgian Revolution’s conflict between Walloons and Flemings in a war against occupation by the Kingdom of the Netherlands with a country like our own which followed a bloody revolution with our successful policy of open borders?

We’ve got something special here, and immigration is central to American exceptionalism. Take that away, and we’d eventually devolve into the mundane druthers of the old world. By arbitrarily cutting our legal immigration in half, that’s exactly what the RAISE Act would do. 

He mentioned the US Civil War but failed to include any analysis as to how the immigration policy at the time caused it. Perhaps in the Alt-Right imagination, it did. People of that persuasion are also so quick to believe silly stories of “no-go zones” in Brussels.

I’m not sure if de Vriend is fully of that persuasion, but I’ve met American Muslims who are more devoted to the American tradition than de Vriend is. This emergent nationalism is a greater threat to our liberty than the folks he seems to fear.

De Vriend seems to uphold Japan and China as anti-immigration success stories, but Japan’s history of closed borders is one reason why its standard of living is well below ours and has suffered a great deal of stagnation in the past quarter century. China’s insularity has deprived this once promising civilization of success for a long time now. Chinese nationalism now threatens its post-Deng reforms. Let’s not make the same mistakes.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change.