The other day Pastorius and I were walking in an olive grove overlooking the Agora. I don't recall how this discussion started, but here are the main points I advanced.
Pastorius asserted that America is a nation based in a set of ideas. As such, if I am representing his views correctly, it follows that any human being who is capable of assimilating mentally and spiritually to those ideas could potentially become an American -- i.e., it has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with culture and ideology. Not all cultures are equally promising in their ability to produce people who are likely candidates for becoming American. Britain or Italy probably produce people who are very good candidates, while Islamic countries in particular are not so promising. The reason is Islam, an ideology which is antithetical to the American ideals.
I agree with the point about Islam. There are notable exceptions such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Salman Rushdie -- I'm fairly certain Rushdie has not become American, and I don't know if Ali has, but this is just by way of example of the type of thinking people who share American values, and thus are potential Americans. Notably, these two reject Islam. I will allow that it's possible that a Muslim could take a scalpel to the Koran, TJ style, and chop out vast swaths of it, including some of its central tenets, and as a result believe in a religion that was not antithetical to the American ideals of freedom of conscience, industry, innovation, tolerance, etc. Would his new religion still be "Islam"? He could call it such, but it would be very different from Islam as set out in the Koran, and as practiced currently and throughout history.
Beyond that, I disagree with Pasto that race and ethnicity has nothing to do with being American. This is a position I've come to only lately, within the last 4 or 5 years certainly. Before 1965, pretty much only Europeans got in, and once they got here, the idea was that they severed the link to the old country, which was separated by a long ocean journey, and assimilated culturally, intellectually, and linguistically. Today everything about that process is regarded with horror.
There have been two important steps in the evolution from the "melting pot" idea to todays multiculturalism. At around 1965 we decided (against all evidence from history) that anyone whatsoever with human DNA can and will assimilate to the American way of life, and tossed out racial/national origin criteria for immigration. This was an error, in my opinion, but I don't believe Pastorius shares this view.
The next big step happened in the 80s or 90s, when the idea of assimilation itself was rejected in favor of "multiculturalism." Since then, we have became a land that's home to numerous separate groups that don't encounter one another or share basic values, much less the values of the founding generation, which were passed down until the 60s but are now almost entirely disregarded, even among children of legacy Americans. This was another error, and I think Pastorius agrees with me that rejection of the assimilation ideal in favor of multiculturalism was an error. Indeed, it's based on zero evidence, pure faith and happy face kumbaya garbage (and I suspect its proponents aren't stupid enough to actually believe in it, and in fact simply want to bring about the downfall of the US, while spouting hippy trippy BS for the consumption of the kiddies and marginalization of their political opponents).
But, the first step, rejection of the blood principle, was also a hell of an experiment. I would submit that, up until conservatives in the US have been forced, by the advent of multiculturalism in the 80s and 90s, to defend the idea of assimilation to an American ideal, nobody has ever found it necessary to take the position that membership in a nation is in fact based on an idea rather than on national/racial/ethnic identity. Conservatives take that novel position now because the alternative sounds like racism, which is now the big sin that gets you excused from the table. That's a new position, not one that the founders would have had the need to adopt, because they still held to the more fundamental blood principle before even getting to what our national ideals were to be. Both steps in this process violate the rule that you don't tear down a fence before you understand why it was there in the first place. Today, an intelligent discussion about why only Europeans were admitted as immigrants during America's rise to greatness is impossible.
Throughout human history, people have organized themselves into racial/national/ethnic groups: the "blood principle". One such group, the Americans of the 13 colonies, formed a government. In doing so, they crafted a Constitution based in certain ideals. This was a descriptive act, almost like how the Koran describes the ideals prevalent in the Arabian peninsula of the 7th century. To most colonists, that is, the Constitutional ideals were not foreign. To be sure, the Constitutional ideals would be normative, and should be understood to have informed Americans of what their ideals should be. But, most fundamentally, the Constitution was normative of how the government of the new country would function. In none of these ways did the founding fathers reject the blood principle in the first instance. The blood principle was a prerequisite to there being a society there in the first place. Once it was there, its members came together and set up a government. The founding fathers would not only be horrified at the current idea of "multiculturalism," but they would have rejected as folly the 1965 idea that all human beings on the planet are equally promising candidates to assimilate into our nation.
This is not to say any particular races should be barred. To be sure, if a family from Thailand moved to America in 1925, the country would not fall apart. And, as long as they were willing to assimilate and were welcomed and encouraged in this, the family would likely assimilate perfectly well. But, the melting pot model becomes unworkable once you have a critical mass of people who will not or cannot assimilate. Mexicans can assimilate, and did so successfully up until the last few decades. Now, we see large areas within cities, whole cities themselves, and whole areas within states that are full of Mexicans who will not assimilate, who send money back to Mexico and don't learn English or have any need to do so. With this situation there comes separatist movements like Azatlan and La Raza. The same is true with American blacks, even though they've been here from the get go. If you have one black kid in class, like Franklin from Peanuts, he will assimilate quite well, likely do well in school and not be antisocial. If half the class is black, you will start to see self-segregation, and division of people on cultural/racial lines. This is not caused by racism, it's caused by a fundamental comfort level people have with their own kind. America should aspire to be of one "kind." If you have a huge melting pot full of gumbo, you can throw in stuff that's already there -- chili powder, shrimp, celery, whatever -- and it will still be gumbo. You could throw in something that's not in it yet, like a pork chop, and the pork chop would eventually boil down and you would still have gumbo. You could even throw in a teaspoon of gasoline, and it would still be gumbo, probably perfectly edible still. But if you dump 30 gallons of gasoline into the gumbo, it's not gumbo anymore, and has to be tossed out.
Although no particular races should be barred from American citizenship (so long as it's not enough to upset whatever balance of ethnic background is desired, whether that means the previous balance is maintained, as was the case up until 1965 or, to correct the damage done since then, whether the new ideal should be to restore the balance as it existed at some ideal point in time, such as 1925); but, some ideologies should be banned outright. Yes, I'm talking to you, Islam. The best way to do this is to ban immigration from Muslim countries altogether, with exception for special circumstances, like if Rushdie or Ali wished to become citizens, or exceptions for Lebanese or Coptic Christians, for example.
Until fifteen minutes ago, the USA only let in Europeans. Then we were told, without voting on it, that we must all believe that one of the fundamental organizing principles of all societies through history is now forbidden and evil and must not be discussed. I submit that rejection of the blood principle led in a predictable way to multiculturalism. To accept the former step in that progress while struggling against the latter is a fool's errand, because it ignores all historical evidence including the actual facts of this country's founding, seeking to introduce a founding principle that is actually only a recent invention of necessity.
Fuck you, Islam!
Fuck you too, Ted Kennedy, I hope Robert Bork managed to pass through hell for just long enough to kick your flabby, treasonous, lying ass.