Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teddy Roosevelt on Immigration

There is an e-mail spreading around the Internet that most of you have probably seen. It purports to give a quote from Teddy Roosevelt about immigration.

The e-mail gets some of the wording wrong... and the date of the quote wrong... but it gets the essence of Roosevelt's position essentially correct.

Here is the correct quote, from a letter by then former president Roosevelt on January 3, 1919 to the president of the American Defense Society. It was read publicly at a meeting on January 5, 1919. Roosevelt died the next day, on January 6, 1919.

"We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.

But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.

This seems like a very sensible position to me. I think there are things in it that both the far left (one language) and the far right (perhaps too open on allowing immigration) may disagree with... but it seems like a good, high-level statement to me.


John Galt said...

Can't argue with any of that...


When Ted wrote this letter Mexicans weren't what he was speaking of; it was Europeans, mainly southern Europeans, and these peoples were generally coming here to stay.

In the immigration situation today, most of the illegals here aren't really interested in becoming Americans, they want to earn enough money here to go back and start businesses or retire in their home country and because it is so fucking hard to go back and forth these "visitors" stay longer than they normally would. But they generally DON'T want to become citizens, some do, but most don't.

This is what pisses me off the most; the arrogance of our citizens who think anybody who comes to this country wants to stay and join our special club because it is such a great fucking country. It is great, but our arrogance isn't the reason why. Freedom is, but we blunt that greatness with our myopia.

verification word: poxaz(a pox on Arizona?)

G said...

If you took those words from T.R. today and anonymously injected them into a campaign, it would instantly be declare racist. That's exactly what happened when Californians debated propositions to make English the state's official language and to deny social welfare benefits to those who are in the country illegally.

csm said...

Of course, this has NEVER happened. Doesn't matter if the Status of Liberty is inscribed with our acceptance of the huddled masses, once they hit our shores we treat 'em like dirt.

Things have changed a bit since Teddy's day, too. Bawdy makes a good point about folks wanting to come here to work, but not become Americans. I think we need some sort of mechanism to allow for this to happen legally. I do not necessarily think it needs to be completely fair to those who do not want to assimilate. For example, they should have to pay taxes (including Social Security) but they should not necessarily get all the benefits of those taxes (and should not be allowed to collect SS benefits). I'm sure it is more complicated than this but...

G said...

We already have that mechanism. It's called a work visa. And anyone in the world can apply for one. There are rules, of course. And the person typically has to have an employer specifically choose them.

In fact, the U.S. Govt even has a green card lottery program available in some countries. People submit their applications and hope to be randomly chosen.