— and if you think we’re being too harsh on P. J. O’Rourke, recall that this once-funny man himself used to stigmatize sex-work in a “scathing critique of the American system of governance from a conservative perspective”. We won’t get into the semantics of whether O’Rourke has become a loathsome perverter of true conservative principles or whether Conservatism Inc. has been whoring itself out in lockstep with PJ, so that he can still legitimately claim to be a spokes
manthing for the movement.
What prompted this post was the Reason podcast interview with O’Rourke — and in particular, his use of (a variant of) the phrase “We are a nation of immigrants” (henceforth: WAANOI). Now PJ is certainly not the first or last tool to parrot that tired cliche, nor are we the first to point out its sheer inanity. Charles Cooke did a decent job of that, but he was too gentle. His piece was titled “The Trouble with the ‘Nation of Immigrants’ Argument”, but calling WAANOI an ‘argument’ is already being exceedingly charitable. It’s not an argument any more than “Hitler did that too” is. Look: in some vacuous sense, all nations are nations of immigrants, unless you arbitrarily fix some historical year zero. Second, what else are we a nation of? Mammals, featherless bipedals, hairless apes? And what profound insight follows from that observation? Indeed, as Cooke pointedly asks: fine, WAANOI, but “So what?”.
An argument would be a claim along the lines of “We must accept some/many/all refugees because it is the decent thing to do” — in which case WAANOI is completely irrelevant. A different argument might examine the effects of massive third-world immigration on jobs and the economy. After all, an elected government’s main responsibility is the welfare of the citizens who voted it into power. The two arguments might even engage in a wrestling match, acknowledging each other’s basic validity while vying for victory. WAANOI has no place in that arena!