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Biga: Salad Bowl or Melting Pot?




By Frank J Biga III - 

Abraham Lincoln is famous for a lot, but one of my favorite quotations of his was from his address to the Lyceum in Springfield in 1838, well before he became President. He remarked about America’s immortality “As a nation of free men, we must live for all time, or die by suicide”. Unfortunately this quote has some applicability in today’s toxic political environment.

One of the standard tropes in our politically correct society today is that the United States is a country of immigrants. No, the United States is a country of immigrants AND those who were born here. This has always been the case going back to 1492. Liberals especially say America is a country of immigrants when they want to endorse more and more immigration. But in their more hateful moments, when they want to attack Anglo-Saxon traditions and Western Civilization in general they always remind us of how the Native Americans were here first and our evil and rapacious ancestors just took it from them. They can’t have it both ways.

More truthfully, the United States has throughout its history had several major waves of immigration followed by periods of assimilation. The most recent such period was from 1921 through the early 1970s. After a large wave of largely Italian, Polish, Greek, Russian Jewish, and Chinese immigrants, the United States embarked on a period of minimal immigration. During this lull, a true multi-ethnic nation-state was built.   And lest we forget, it was this nation-state that defeated Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo. It rebuilt Europe, built the Interstate highway system, and fought the Cold War. It didn’t have to be this way. Hitler could have won. Europe could have turned Red. But the United States was the indispensable NATION that prevented these dystopian futures.

Austria-Hungary, on the other hand, is the polyglot that failed. It had many many ethnic groups – Germans, Italians, Magyars, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Croats, Bosnians, Herzegovinians, Montenegrans, Macedonians, Kosovars, Bulgars, Greeks, Slovenes, Ruthenians, Rumanians, among others. Yet they did not share the common bonds of language, custom, religion (in some cases), and Austria-Hungary was the weakest of the Great Powers as a result. Did I mention it broke up after World War I? Salad Bowl countries don’t make it. Melting Pot Countries do. The difference between the two is assimilation.

We now have anywhere between 11 and 20 million illegal immigrants in this country.  We have about 61 million total immigrants and their children. This accounts for about one-fifth of the total US population.   How do we expect to assimilate these newcomers if we continue to keep our borders wide-open? No civilization has ever survived non-stop immigration.

On the economic side, it is more true to say that immigrants bring both benefits and costs to our country. They produce goods and services if they work but they also use government services as well. The added labor supply also has a depressing effect on wage levels for those already here. In other words, it creates those “jobs that Americans just won’t do”.  Is it any wonder that the working class’ lack of increase in real wages over the last forty years has coincided with the most recent huge wave of immigration? It’s not.  And this economic malaise is contributing to the balkanization of our own country. We are becoming a Salad Bowl.

The native-born working class in this country is hurting. It’s not because they live in ”downscale dysfunctional communities” that are “negative assets” as Kevin Williamson on National Review asserts. No, they are hurting because they are being overwhelmed by the seemingly inexhaustible supply of cheap labor and the incessant off-shoring of jobs to the developing world. They can not make it economically given this paradigm.  We can’t just tell them all to go get a STEM education. Not everyone wants to or is capable of such work.

These are our fellow Americans. Their lives and hopes and dreams matter too. They have as great if not a greater claim to this country than newer immigrants. Yet Kevin Williamson’s solution is to get them to get a U-Haul and move like the Joad family. With such disdain from our intellectual elites, is it any wonder that some of them turn to drugs?

A better answer is for our politicians to formulate policies that attend to the concerns of the native-born working class and middle America. This would include the policies of Harding and Coolidge that worked so well after the recession of 1920 – higher tariffs, a freeze on immigration, and lower marginal tax rates. Let’s raise the disposable incomes of those already here. What a novel idea! It’s a lot better than continuing down the road of fulfilling Lincoln’s prophecy of national suicide.


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  1. Well written but no politician has the guts to say what this author has stated.
    This is what the Trump and Cruz campaigns should be stating and hammering at it as a clear message.
    Of course it is racist to the Left.

  2. Less sales tax, less property tax, less capital gain tax, less gasoline tax, less utility tax, less user fees, no tollways, no permit fees, and less income tax.
    All great ideas so people have more money
    How do we do this?

  3. The key is (and has always been) the “orderly and controlled assimilation” of immigrants. There is a reason for this and that is why our nation has laws (although not necessarily enforced, unfortunately) on our books for the orderly assimilation of immigrants.
    Even a melting pot has it’s ingredients measured out and put into the pot in a controlled and orderly fashion lest the dish or preparation be ruined by a random and over-zealous cook. Too much of any ingredient can spoil the preparation.