Pondering Immigration and the Future of the Nation

If there’s any one thing the United States might be remembered for, in future centuries or millennia long after the country has been superseded by newer, more advanced societies, it will be that it was a place for immigrants and refugees from less-advanced, more oppressive, countries around the globe. The entire country consisted of immigrants — the ones from Europe, beginning in the 15th century, who steadily exterminated most of the ‘native’ populations, themselves immigrants from Asia thousands of years before — immigrants who came in waves, one after another, claiming their refuge and then resenting, after a generation or less, the next wave who came after them.

Despite the ideals of this nation, these waves of immigrants have not been and are not immune to base human nature. Human nature is subject to xenophobia, to fear and demonization of strangers, of foreigners. Social contracts and rules of law are designed to overcome those base fears. But they do not always succeed.

Today on NPR I heard some man in Montana who seemed genuinely afraid that the Muslim hordes are about to flood in and take our [i.e. his] women.

And so the social ideals of even the US are periodically overtaken by psychological fears, social paranoia, authoritarian regimes. It’s happened before, and seems to be happening again. You might think the US, of any nation on Earth, might have the presence of historical mind to overcome those fears, and finally build, through social contracts, a more perfect union. But perhaps not.

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