A Nation of Widgets: The Wall Street Journal and Open Borders

By Mac Johnson, Human Events Online, December 12, 2005


It’s seldom a good idea to elevate a single editorial to the status of representing an entire side’s thinking in a major debate, such as the current debate over illegal immigration. This is especially true when the editorial is really quite bad.

But, just occasionally, a piece appears that is so poorly argued, so broad, and so internally flawed that it does seem to encapsulate every possible weakness in an opponent’s logic. The Wall Street Journal published such an editorial last Friday, trumpeting the Editorial Page’s long-held belief in the economic wisdom of America entirely abandoning her borders.

More than anything else, in my opinion, it shows that the central failing of the right-wing of the open borders lobby is viewing human beings as interchangeable parts -- to be self-traded like commodities across any frontier according to the simple dictate of supply and demand. But men and women are not some sort of sentient pork belly. Men and women are what nations are made of. They carry in their hearts and minds the culture and beliefs and common experiences that make one nation rich and free and another poor and corrupt.

When you discuss the idea of unrestricted human migration across national borders, you have to recall this. Immigration has economic consequences, but it is not exclusively an economic issue. It is not even primarily an economic issue. It is primarily a social or political issue. And when the immigration in question is illegal, then it becomes an issue of the rule of law as well.

That is the second great failing of the WSJ editorial. It seamlessly confuses the disparate issues of legal and illegal immigration, complaining about enforcement of law as if such were merely a costly inconvenience, not one of the foundations of America’s success. The editorial ended up as nothing less than a snotty, aristocratic assault on the rule of law. Current immigration law harms the business class for which the WSJ speaks, they claim, so it should be ignored until it can be done away with entirely....

Perhaps the editors at the Journal should henceforth be known as “Anti-nationalists,” for what they are really proposing is the end of nations, or at least the end of the one nation in which they have influence, the United States. As I have said, a nation is nothing more than its people and their beliefs....

Jim Gilchrist won 25% of the votes in last Tuesday’s special election.

Without an established party, without corporate funding, without any real skills as a candidate, and with the system stacked squarely against him, Mr. Gilchrist equaled the performance of the entire Democratic Party in this district (28%) -- all while having only one issue in his platform: enforcement of immigration laws.

...It is a warning. Being on the wrong side (the anti-nationalist side) of one issue kept a major party from getting even a simple majority of the votes in a district specifically engineered to give it a predictable and overwhelming victory....

And only those who see the world through the soda straw of economic self-interest could editorialize against law enforcement and in favor of the right of a self-denied elite to be able to openly disobey whatever laws they find too “restrictive”.

It’s as if a local paper were to have the gall to complain that an overzealous vice squad were making it hard for friends to profit from prostitution....

Men are not widgets, and immigration affects more than just numbers in an abstract spreadsheet. America is not merely an economic opportunity zone for all comers to profit from. America is a homeland....

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