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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Arrival, Aspiration, Achievement

At The American, Henry Olson reflects on immigrant groups gaining acceptance in the United States:

This process seems so natural that it’s worth recalling just how exceptional it is. European nations, based as they are on a community of blood rather than one of ideas, find it difficult to make immigrants full citizens. It’s impossible to think of a German of Turkish descent or a Swede from Bosnia or Kurdistan becoming prime minister. Even France, a nation that proclaims its fidelity to the international ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité, finds it difficult to make immigrants full citizens. When Nicolas Sarkozy ran for president of France, the fact that he is descended from Hungarian immigrants was an issue; was he truly French?

The recent gubernatorial nomination of Nikki Haley, daughter of Indian Sikhs, in South Carolina shows that this American phenomenon of arrival, aspiration, and achievement continues apace. As we celebrate our nation and our republic this weekend, let us also celebrate the political miracle that our revolution has wrought. And let us celebrate the foundation of American citizenship that makes that miracle possible, the principle of individual freedom that flows from the Declaration’s assertion “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” and that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”