President Obama left no cliché unturned in his much-touted July 1 speech on immigration, and it's impossible to read the transcript without laughing.There were also a number of straight historical errors. The blog The Audacious Epigone, noting that
In the July 2nd broadcast of Radio Derb, John Derbyshire delivers a beautiful cliché-by-cliché refutation…(VDARE.com: transcript here) of the speech, decided to test the veracity of the President’s assertion:
we’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrantsAE did this by surveying the New York Times online archive which go back to 1851.
Granted, that only gets us two-thirds of the way to our nation's founding, but if it traces that far back in time, I'm willing to give Obama credit for his assertion.(Actually, as Peter Brimelow points out in chapter 2 of Alien Nation, the 80 years prior to the 1840s were what he called the “First Great Lull”with immigration down to a trickle. America was demonstrably not a nation of immigrants prior to the European social upheavals which occurred then, so the NY Times archive is a pretty good test.)
Turns out the Derb was on the money in noting that the phrase certainly has not been commonplace throughout most of the country's history and Obama is simply incorrect. It makes its first appearance in the NYT in 1923 ahead of the Immigration Act of 1924 that was followed by a four-decade long lull in immigration into the US, and pops up a few more times throughout the latter half of the twenties…In short, the phrase is a sugary lie, developed to charm a sentimental and uninformed host community.
For the duration of the Great Depression, it does not make a single appearance–it's difficult to get people to support admitting more competition for work into the country when one-in-four current residents are unemployed. “Nation of immigrants” returns in 1940 at the behest of immigrant leaders concerned about perceived injustices facing the foreign-born as the US moved towards entry into WWII.
It wasn't until the late sixties, when the massive demographic transition we're still experiencing today had begun, that the phrase might be deemed recognizable
Audacious Epigone and Derbyshire also deal with the somewhat different claim that the Americans present at the Revolutionary War were themselves immigrants. Apart from the fact that many had been in the country 5 or 6 generations
The four waves of settlers chronicled in David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed and their cohorts who found their way onto American soil prior to 1776–constituting the ancestry of close to half of all US citizens today–were settlers, not immigrants. One might ask Native Americans how that turned out for them. I sure as hell don't want Mexican settlers staking out territory in my country.Settlers, that is, in the sense of bringing their own state with them. Assimilating with the “Native Americans” was not an option.
Neither is absorbing the current flood of aliens—at least for those Americans who want their country to survive.