Tamar Jacoby: "The Point About The American National Identity Is That It`s Minimal"
October 05, 2004, 05:00 AM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF

[Previously by Joyce Mucci: Bleeding Kansas City]

Tamar Jacoby's September 14th Wall Street Journal commentary "Flawed Proposition" was an urgent warning about the social, economic and political perils of Arizona's Proposition 200—which merely requires proof of citizenship to register to vote, photo ID to vote, and proof of eligibility for non-federally mandated public benefits among other things.

Jacoby's mother-hen concern about the dire consequences that will result for President Bush, members of Congress, and the public employees of Arizona if Proposition 200 passes was uncharacteristically desperate in its tone.

And, interestingly, Jacoby's sentiments in the Wall Street Journal were at odds with remarks she delivered in Brussels the day before, about the robust American spirit, immigrants and the rule of law before the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on "Tolerance and the Fight Against Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination." [VDARE.COM note: Neoconservatives sure get a lot of Bush Administration boondoggles! Our friend David Frum is currently on a State Department speaking tour in Spain.]

In her remarks before the OSCE member States, Jacoby noted that new immigrants are welcome to America only "as long as you accept that creed and play by those rules, we accept you as one of us." Further, she reminded them, "We expect newcomers to stand loyally by the United States." Jacoby also shared what she considers the "best practice" that has helped America become great, "…the key," she said, "is our naturalization law."

She added: "The point about the American national identity is that it's minimal."

[Full Text, PDF]

Brussels, of course, is a long way from Arizona.

Ms. Jacoby's musings about America were no doubt helpful to those member States who are confused about the rule of law and matters of citizenship.

But no such confusion exists among the American citizens in the state of Arizona. Prop. 200 is the fullest expression of the body politic at work.

Ms. Jacoby accurately stated that living in America has a "transformative" effect on people. She noted also, "The very fact of living in a free society with plentiful and equal opportunity breeds a certain kind of character in Americans—we're proud of that."

But why didn't Ms. Jacoby include the characterful Americans of Arizona in this statement?

Jacoby frets over whether Arizona might be perceived as "off-puttingly xenophobic" if Proposition 200 passes.

I can assure her that her fears are misplaced. In my own state of Missouri, we determined last month that marriage between a man and woman is the only arrangement our state will recognize. Has our decision caused us to be perceived as "off-puttingly homophobic"?

Maybe. But, frankly, we don't care.  

To her credit, Jacoby did concede that Arizonans are "justifiably angry" about the illegal alien problem. However, she is dissatisfied with the conclusion that Arizonians have come to regarding their anger. In fact, she attributes Arizonans implacable resistance to a lack of sophistication about the "reality of global labor markets" and the other equally lofty tenets of free trade.

Jacoby laments that it can be difficult "to explain this logic to voters struggling with the consequences of illegal immigration." This is an inexcusable slighting of her fellow Americans.

While in Brussels did she also assume that it would be difficult for her international audience of European leaders—struggling with issues of democracy—to mentally grasp the "great paradox at the heart of what makes America work as a nation"?

I think not.

The bottom line is this: If Proposition 200 is successful—as polls suggest it will be— the blame (= credit) can be squarely placed on that "certain kind of character in Americans" that we're all are so proud of.

I can reassure Ms. Jacoby that passage of Proposition 200 will be positively "transformative" for all concerned.

Joyce Mucci [email her] is a writer in Missouri.