We as a nation have succeeded in very large part because our forefathers threw away much of the culture and orthodoxy of the countries from which they came, and because we have always been one of the most forward-thinking societies the planet has ever seen.
We may deem history as important and use it to inform decisions, but as a rule we do not hold it as sacrosanct and allow it to narrow our options. We sometimes make rash mistakes, but we move forward.
These are qualities that allowed this country to be a leader in many world-changing fields, from landing a man on the moon to being the birthplace of the Internet, Google, Amazon and Facebook.
What we did as a nation relied heavily on who we were, and that’s the part people so often seem to forget. It was, after all, a country for the adventurous, the enterprising, the dreamer who could envision a new chance.
In short, unless you are Native American, you’re origins as a United States citizen invariably started with an immigrant, regardless of how long your family has resided here.
From George Washington and George Washington Carver, from Eli Whitney to Henry Ford, from Thomas Edison to Albert Einstein to Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, our country has been home to people whose ancestors called another country home.
Which is why people who claim to be saving America by restricting who can be American hurt the country they claim to love.
This is not about illegal immigration, a real problem that for too long has been treated as a catch phrase, used by many politicians as a caricature suitable for scapegoating, rather than an issue that needs to be addressed comprehensively and compassionately.
The sad truth is that true bipartisan immigration reform may never come simply because a solution would leave many politicians, conservative and liberal, without fuel to inflame their supporters.
This is about racial or ethnic supremacy, the notion that one group is better than the other. The most recent reminder of such hate: Signs popping up in Wilkes-Barre that apparently originated from Keystone United, a self-described “group of skinheads” formed in 2001 “with the initial goal of uniting all racially aware skinheads in the state of Pennsylvania.”
One such sign read “Diversity = White Genocide.”
City officials should be praised for removing such signs found on city streets. It’s not a free-speech issue; the city has a sensible policy barring placement of political signs on city thoroughfares — a policy that should probably be enforced more rigorously every time an election nears.
There are no legitimate arguments for claims of white supremacy, or for supremacy of any sort based on ethnicity or race, particularly in this country. The proof from our own history is incontrovertible: We thrive precisely because we abandoned the notion that only a homogeneous people can make a successful nation.
The day such beliefs take hold in most Americans is the day we stop being America.