Newsflash: Anti-immigration sentiments are as American as apple pie
So there’s this well-known and popular political figure in America who’s not exactly fond of certain people immigrating into our country.
He worries that instead of them learning our language, we must learn theirs “or live as if in a foreign country.” He also notices that when these immigrants move into a neighborhood, the Americans already living there move out, and that doesn’t sit well with him.
But this man is not Donald Trump. No, this man is one of our beloved Founding Fathers.
Franklin was none too thrilled with the swarm of German immigrants settling in his backyard. Indeed, according to Franklin biographer Edmund S. Morgan, the old kite-flyer “wanted to keep out not only Germans, but everyone else except the English.”
Bigot! Racist! Trumpian!
Franklin was, of course, one of the Big Three who laid the governing foundation for the United States of America – along with Tommy Jefferson and Johnny Adams (hello, Alien & Sedition Acts!).
So can we lay to rest this notion that our country was happily and without dissension established as a nation of immigrants? Indeed, some immigrants have always been considered more equal than others.
Ultimately, Franklin accepted the fact that the Germans were here to stay and determined that “it would be best to pursue measures that would keep them happy with the existing government and make them as English as possible.”
Sounds reasonable enough, though many today would call that “amnesty.” But I digress.
By the way, Franklin also had a problem with another group of immigrants being sent to our shores from the other side of the Atlantic: thieves and cutthroats.
You see, the British Parliament had adopted a practice of sending convicted felons our way. Franklin’s proposed response? Round up rattlesnakes and ship them to England, “the most suitable return for the human serpents sent to us by our Mother Country.”
Yowza! And England’s human serpents didn’t even wear suicide vests!
Indeed, back in Franklin’s day, the enemy, as he saw it, was an easily identified country. Not so today. Today the enemy is a radical version of a religion that is spread throughout many nations. Its soldiers do not wear uniforms, and have adopted the barbaric practice of killing innocent, unarmed and totally unsuspecting civilians.
Indeed, these are desperate times calling for desperate measures. Indeed, not only is our established way of life at risk, but as the Boston Marathon and the San Bernardino terrorist attacks proved, so are our very lives.
The fact is many American political figures since Franklin’s day have shared similar concerns about the effects of immigration here. This is not a new issue. Such concerns are legitimate and real and discussion of such should not be crushed by the oppressive holier-than-thou censorship of political correctness. So instead of shouting Donald Trump down and demonizing him, the American thing to do is embrace free speech and debate it.
Ben Franklin wouldn’t have it any other way.