The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terror

How Immigration Benefits Americans And Is Key To US Leadership In The World
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Verification in an Age of [ Tamar Jacoby writes, quote, "Every school child knows that we are a unique nation not by blood or ancestry but by shared values. They all assert that what makes Americans American are shared democratic values. These values, traditionally understood as the creed, are really cultural aphorisms, like democracy is the best form of government or everyone should have the right of free speech.

These sentiments garner almost uniform approval in public opinion surveys. And so since everybody agrees, it is tempting to say that Americans have found the holy grail of political cohesion and attachment; but they haven't. People are not united primarily by what amounts to cultural cliches operating at the stratospheric level unless those beliefs are connected to something that carries emotional power. And what might that be?

Very basically, but very profoundly, it is emotional attachment. I think national psychology and national attachment is the psychological glue that holds this country together, and I see it as including five major elements. One, a warmth and affection for; two, an appreciation of; three, a pride in; four, a commitment and responsibility towards; and five, support of the United States, its institutions, its way of life, and aspirations and fellow members. Love may be a summary term that covers all of these things, but each of the ingredients is important and all of them separately and together are critical in understanding how national attachment is related to the integration of immigrants and citizens in the American national community.

Every country, and the United States perhaps more than most, inspires idealization for its virtues and disappointments for its faults. The best remedy to either idealization or angry disappointment is realism. Yet, this is precisely what many Americans and immigrants alike lack: a realistic knowledge and a balanced appreciation of America's virtues and deficiencies. Curriculum and public debate that run afoul of no group sensitivities or unduly emphasize America's mistakes contribute little to fostering a more realistic, mature sense of national attachment.

Developing a realistic understanding of the country is important for another reason: It is the basic ingredient of appreciation, the second term of my attachment elements. Americans are often unappreciative of their circumstances because they take so much for granted: state-of-the art medical knowledge, telephones, paved roads, comprehensive sanitation systems, pure water, free primary and secondary education.

The list is enormous and doesn't even begin to touch on the profound importance of freedom and opportunity. One poignant paradox of contemporary American life is that immigrants are more aware of what America offers than many Americans, who are quicker to express their expectations and demands than they are appreciation. It is part of our culture of narcissism to take all that American offers as your due without appreciation of the gift that it represents. Appreciation also underlies pride in the accomplishment of the national community.

Obviously, if you don't appreciate something, you can't take pride in it. Now, excessive pride may precede the fall, but deserved pride but also serves a community purpose: to take pride in something is to feel that it's partially yours, another form of attachment. To feel that it is partially yours is one path towards feeling responsibility for and towards it.

So, to summarize, appreciation begets pride, pride begets caring, caring begets a sense of responsibility, and all together result in the widening of the emotional circle of attachment and commitment. The term "love" of course conjures up a much maligned, wholly misunderstood force, patriotism, which is the much-neglected child of American democracy. Like so much of our culture, this term too has become contested. Liberals disdain it because the right embraces it and they prefer to define their attachment by their relentlessness of their criticisms.

The right better understands its central importance but has been slow to grasp and to act on its critical implications for integrating immigrants and citizens alike into the American national community. Yet, even if they had done so, they would have been swimming against the tide of powerful cultural currents. Over the past four decades, our capacity to help immigrants, and Americans too, become integrated has been compromised by two powerful centrifugal forces.


Vigils were also held Sunday at Las Americas Headquarters and at Ponder Park, where the baseball field was filled entirely with people paying respects to the victims of the shooting. These inaccurate perceptions remain salient to the public because of the large number of immigrants currently residing in the United States and the rapid increase in undocumented immigration between and The Roman Catholics as in Poland and Lithuania generally resisted assimilation. An empirical assessment of the relationship between immigration and crime involves two key questions. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 17 3 , As Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser explained:.

One is the institutionalization of the view that race or ethnicity ought to be and is the principle vehicle of American national identity. This is a domestic form of dual citizenship. The other is the view that Americans ought to trade in their parochial national attachments in favor of a more cosmopolitan, transnational identity. Advocates of this view embrace the growing incidents of dual citizenship and argue that America should be more "welcoming," in quotes, by helping immigrants retain and further develop emotional ties to their home countries. Our government, it is said, should allow and even encourage this.

And its most basic level, dual citizenship involves the simultaneous holding of more than one citizenship or nationality. Citizenship of course is a legal term and refers to the rights and responsibilities that become attached to a person by virtue of their having been born as or becoming recognized or a certified member of a state community. Nationality is different; it's a psychological term that refers to the emotional ties, core understandings about the world, and common experiences by the bind members of a group together.

It is entirely possible to have the rights of a citizen but feel little emotional attachment to the country that provides them. In that case citizenship is primarily instrumental, sought for the advantages that it confers, which is one reason why I don't think much of home ownership as the authoritative measure of assimilation. It is quite possible to own a home and feel little emotional attachment to the country. Now, traditionally the bet that America has always made with immigrant self-interest -- which I approve of, by the way -- is that it could over time be leveraged into genuine attachment.

In the past we have generally won that bet because of firm expectations that immigrants would assimilate and a concerted effort to help them do so. Today we have neither. Strong emotional attachments provide a community with the psychological resources to weather disappointments and disagreements, endure hardships, find common purpose, and maintain a community's resolve in the face of historic dangers, which we now face.

Strong emotional attachment and identification are the mechanisms that underlie sacrifice, empathy, and service. Citizenship without emotional attachment is the civic equivalent of a one-night stand. Notable attachments of course are a fact of life. We are fathers to our children and children to our parents.

We are husbands, professors, psychoanalysts, Jews, New Yorkers, and Americans. We are all of these things and more, but that doesn't mean that we can add to our attachments indefinitely or avoid making choices about which are primary. We cannot easily be observant Muslims and Christians or Jews at the same time, nor can we equally hold the profound attachments that nationality represents to several countries at the same time. Some kinds of psychological attachments are simply incompatible; others require a choice about which will be primary.

Dual citizenship, especially when it entails active participation in the political life of an immigrant's or a citizen's country of origin, leads to conflicts of interest, attention, but most importantly, attachment. Of course immigrants have feelings regarding their countries of origin, but a strong psychological and civic case can be made that they owe their primary focus and commitment to the country that is now their chosen home, and the United States in turn owes them the effort to ensure that they become integrated into the American national community.

My research suggests that there are now countries including the United States that allow some form of dual citizenship. Most of them, with the exception of the United States, strongly regulate the rights and responsibilities of dual citizenship without outlawing it. They do so, no doubt, for the same reasons that lie behind the suggestions that I made in my book -- concerns with the viability of citizen attachments to their national communities. It is therefore possible to both permit and regulate dual citizenship and that is precisely what I propose.

Americans would be surprised and I think extremely disturbed to learn that it is entirely legal and in some circles preferred that American citizens vote in the election of foreign governments, serve in governmental positions in a foreign country, even while holding office in the United States at the same time, and serve in a foreign army.

None of these practices advances the cause of integrating immigrant communities in our national community and in my view need to be stopped. The impact of dual citizenship falls disproportionately on the United States. India and Mexico both allow dual citizenship for their nationals here, but neither has to worry very much about the civic impact of millions of dual citizens in their countries; the United States does.

Of the over 22 million immigrants in the United States between and , over 80 percent were from dual-citizenship-allowing countries; that is over Immigrant-sending countries have discovered the self-interested advantages of having large groups of their nationals become United States citizens while retaining strong emotional ties to their home countries. Princeton sociologist Alejandro Portes has written that Latin American countries have taken to promoting the acquisition of U. What kind of contributions? Well, consider Juan Hernandez, a former University of Texas professor, who in was named the first American to serve in the Mexican president's cabinet.

Hernandez's role was to mobilize Mexican Americans in the United States. And what exactly was he mobilizing them to do? I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want all of them to think Mexico first.

I. The State of the Country

Well, Americans on the other hand might well be excused if they wonder why one of their fellow citizens is legally entitled to work in and for a foreign government advocating putting America last and another country first. That is why in my book I propose two sets of legislative and policy actions. The first are meant to discourage immigrants and Americans alike from voting in foreign elections, advising or serving in foreign governments or armies, and establishing the norm that those actions should be actively avoided by Americans who could claim dual citizenship yet serve in decisionmaking capacities in government, political, or civic organizations.

The second set are meant to actively help integrate immigrants into the American national community by providing free English instruction, placing a limit on foreign languages for permits and other civic activities, providing venues where immigrants can learn how to navigate the day-to-day details of living in this country, and revamping public education to better integrate immigrants and Americans alike by providing the basis for realistic appreciation and attachment, back to the elements of national attachment.

Now, I recently had the honor of testifying before the congressional House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration where, aside from a contentious exchange with Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee about whether the concerns I expressed here were anti-immigrant -- she repeatedly pressed for examples of real and immediate damage done by dual citizenship. Well, in that regard, consider the Pew Hispanic Center's survey of 3, persons of Hispanic and Latino background. I recommend it to you; it's a very interesting set of data, which you can get online.

Among the many useful questions the survey asked were those concerning national and ethnic identity. The survey asked respondents about the terms they use to describe themselves and found that a large majority of Latinos, that is 88 percent, indicate that they identify themselves by the country where they or their parent's ancestors were born, for example, a Mexican or a Cuban. They were almost as likely to use the term Latino or Hispanic -- much less likely to use the term American, which didn't show up very often.

We are talking about a lot of people here. There are So to say that 88 percent of that sample refers to themselves primarily in terms of their country of origin is to say that we have almost 13 million immigrants with no "American" in their cognitive structure. The data on what is happening to some immigrant children is no less troubling. A study found that 25 percent of the second-generation immigrant children identified themselves as a non-hyphenated Latin nationality, country of origin, despite the fact that they had been born in the United States and grown up here.

A more recent survey of over 5, children -- it is the major study of Hispanic assimilation in the United States -- found that among the U. And I think there is also an issue, which has not been looked at carefully, which is just how much emotional attachment is represented by contemporary hyphenization. We assume that every group is like the Irish, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that this historical parallel is misplaced.

Now, it's hardly surprising that other countries try to maximize their self-interests here through their immigrants. The question before us is whether we should encourage their success at the cost of our own civic and cultural institutions. I believe obviously the answer to that is no. No country and no democracy certainly can afford to have large groups, members of its citizens, with shallow national and civic attachments. No country facing dangerous enemies, as America now does, benefits from taking a laissez faire attitude towards truly integrating its citizens into our national community.

And no country striving to reconnect its citizens to their civic and national identity can afford to encourage its citizens to look to other countries for their most basic and profound national attachments.

America's Biggest Issues: Immigration

Thank you. I took the train, and I was met at the train station by a car. When you talk at universities you are usually picked up by a member of the faculty or a graduate student driving a battered Volkswagen with save-the-dolphins bumper stickers, but this was very different. Waiting for me there was a magnificent gleaming town car. And I sat -- the driver of the town car let me in, I sat down, and as he sat with his hands on the steering wheel he was obviously pulsing with the need to talk.

So I said, go ahead; what do you have to say? Well, it emerged that he had read my book about President Bush. He was a huge admirer of the president and he wanted to talk. He had two sons, one 24, one 22, and he wanted to know what they could do to help the United States. The man had a very pronounced Middle-Eastern accent. I couldn't quite place the accent. It didn't seem to be Iranian. It was sort of exotic to me so finally I said to him, "Where are you from?

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Maybe your background could help me. He was a Coptic Christian who had come to the United States in , built a limousine company, and this was his finest car. And I said, well, that is actually potentially very helpful. Tell me, your sons, do they speak Arabic? He gave me a big smile with enormous pride -- "Not one word. That, I suppose, is the way that it was supposed to work. I think that I am here today as a negative example of the phenomenon that Staley Renshon is talking about in his very profound, thought-provoking book. I come from -- I am a third generation of hyphenated American.

My maternal grandmother was born in New York City in , ended up in Niagara Falls in New York, married a Canadian across the border, and then lived for 65 years in Canada as an American citizen. As she got frail, her telephone answering machine would say, "If I don't come to the phone, please send the Marines -- the U. Marines, please. My mother was an American citizen who grew up in Canada and I find myself a Canadian citizen who has lived most of his life in the United States.

That story and the Coptic story you would think might bias me to say that the problems that Stanley Renshon has raised are problems that can be navigated. But I think one of the advantages of growing up in two countries is you at least are liberated a little bit from the American assumption that the American experience is the only one and that American success is the product of some kind of natural working out of the laws of human nature.

But there are other countries that have confronted the kinds of problems that we are discussing here this morning, and the record shows that most of those countries have not met them as successfully, and let me point you to an example that I think is the most salient and that deserves to be better known, and that is the example of Argentina. Argentina is also one, or was, one of the great immigrant-receiving countries of the world -- was because who in his right mind these days would choose to move to Argentina? But there was a time when it was one of the magnet destinations, before And at that time, it was one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

In , income per capita in Argentina was higher than in the United Kingdom, and it drew people from all over the planet, especially from the Mediterranean region and especially from Italy. The Argentine elite was a landowning elite -- that was the great source of wealth -- and had a formal democracy, but in fact an oligarchic form of government. In order to protect the elite, in order to protect its power without abandoning the forms of democracy, [it] settled on a conscious policy of making the obtaining of Argentine citizenship extremely difficult.

And the result was that many, many, a very large proportion -- in fact, at various points as many as a majority of the newcomers -- were unable to obtain Argentine citizenship for decades after arriving in the country. This is a different -- the origin of the problem here is obviously very different from the one that Americans are familiar with, but the consequences are the same, that a large proportion of the [residents] of the Argentine state in the years before were not Argentine citizens; they were Italians, they were Spaniards, but primarily Italians. As a result they were unable to vote.

As a result the Argentine state developed land policies completely opposite to those of the United States; whereas American land policy always encouraged the broad ownership of land, homesteading, but before homesteading cheap sales of public lands, at very low prices, then the Homestead Act, which essentially gave the land away for nothing.

And then I think one can look upon America's mortgage policies as an extension of this long tradition of encouraging land ownership. In Argentina it was exactly the opposite; that the voters were able to vote and sustain policies that made it extremely difficult to obtain land and maintain huge landed estates. The result was as the immigrant generations settled, as they acquired the language, they built into the very structure of the Argentine state profound conflict between people who regard -- people of old-stock Argentines -- old-stock Argentines with citizenship and these newcomers without.

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And, as those of you who -- not everyone here is familiar with Argentine history but many, many people have been to Broadway, so I think you know how the story comes out laughter that this is the fundamental thought line that pushes the Argentine state after World War I into ever intensifying political instability that leads in the -- when agricultural prices fall after World War I and especially during the Great Depression, into class conflict. And to this day, Argentina is of course on nobody's list of the world's most successful countries. In fact, there was a study recently done of one Sicilian village, and people in the Sicilian village in -- they studied the people who left the Sicilian village or the population after World War II.

The people in this village had basically four choices to make. One was stay in Sicily, another was migrate to New York, a third was migrate to Buenos Aires, and a fourth was migrate to Turin. And they studied the group of people to find out how they did. And it's a little embarrassing to say the best choice turns out to have been to migrate to Turin, which I suggest -- I guess shows that there is a discount.

You drop status by having to change languages. New York was the second-best choice, staying in Sicily was the third-best choice, moving to Buenos Aires the worst choice. Scattered laughter. I think it is really worth absorbing this example and the example of other countries, to understand that what happened in America was not the natural working out of the consequences of immigration that you simply make these choices and universal laws of human nature breaking it.

America has had a policy of immigrant absorption. And the policy, as Norm Podhoretz once called it, was a brutal bargain. We now sentimentalize it; we have Columbus Day, we have all of these holidays to remember, but it was actually a policy of forced assimilation in which a lot of things that we look back [on] with maybe a twinge -- some of the very unwillingness of the United States to make allowances to new groups, which could be quite brutal. Harriet Miers, the president's nominee, was just tripped [up] by Senator Schumer, who asked her about a case called Meyer v. Nebraska, a case that the president's supporters say is kind of obscure but is in fact the first case in constitutional law textbooks and is hard to miss.

But Meyer v. Nebraska dealt with a law the State of Nebraska passed during the First World War to outlaw the teaching of German because at that time the Germans were the largest immigrant group, the United States was at war with Germany, there were questions about loyalty. And those questions were not dealt with in the Kumbaya, celebrate-our-glorious-diversity fashion; they were dealt with by saying there is going to be a policy for a really quite brutal forced assimilation. In the period of slow immigration after the Second World War -- sorry, after the s and through the s and '40s and after the Second World War -- some of the reality of the American experience with immigration got sentimentalized, much was forgotten; there seemed to be little reason to remember it.

It has become more and more relevant. And I would now like to point to something that Stanley did not say but I think that is present in his book. The problem here is not just one of immigration; the problem is one of the coincidence of both the new immigration that is a planetary phenomenon but of which the United States is a major recipient, and a mode of self-criticism in Western elites, a loss of confidence in the institutions of their nationhood, of their statehood, a loss of confidence in the very idea of statehood, an understandable reaction after World War II against the principle of the nation state, a fear, having suffered through it, of the destructiveness of nationalism, and of great forgetting of the idea once so closely held that only through the nation could people discover freedom and democracy.

How else -- in what other institution, through what other mechanism -- did you vote, did you have rights than through the nation? There is, in other words, a problem not just from migration from below but from a change at the top where immigration becomes both the occasion and the excuse for an attack on the principles of the nation state.

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Part of the answer to this tremendous problem has to be a change in elite attitudes about the value of the nation. It is not a. But throughout Western Europe, governments are confronting the problem of substantial citizen populations that are not loyal, that actually give sympathy to hostile foreign powers.

There is some of that even in the United States where there are -- where precedence, forgotten precedence from World War II, and even more from World War I because very few German-Americans had any sympathy for the Nazi regime.

A Nation of Immigrants

But quite a lot of German-Americans had had sympathy for the Kaiser's regime and it hadn't been a problem -- that these forgotten examples become relevant again. But as the Western European experience shows us, absolute numbers are as much or more a part of the problem than the ideology of governing elites, that the American problem with disloyalty in the war on terror is much more manageable.

Americans tell themselves the reason it's more manageable than the Western European problem is because of the superior attractive power of the American creed, because the American economy is so much more dynamic and so much more successful at creating jobs, and there is obviously considerable truth to that. But it's also true that the numbers are smaller, and that makes a tremendous difference. Probably the most famous dual citizen was Eamon De Valera.

He went on as an American citizen to become president, to fight a civil war in Ireland, and then to become president of the Irish free state. And he is remembered with sentimentality. And I think it is. But that was at a moment when the foreign-born population of the United States was dropping during the great hiatus of immigration. I think now absolute numbers take something that was a footnote to history and makes it part of the main story, puts it into the main text. And I think that the solutions -- the legislative solutions offered in this book are profound and thought provoking, but I think that the question of absolute numbers has to be part of the discussion as well, and I thank you.

I think that David just put a little cap on it in terms of the national security implications of dual citizenship. I was thinking to myself if there are countries, as Professor Renshon says, that we have some sort of dual citizenship relationship with [the U. That is not a statement of pessimism; that is just a statement of realism in terms of the way foreign policy works. And so some day soon the question will come to a dual citizen, "Are you loyal to this country or your country?

We are not there yet and the challenge is to think to that point, and what we need to do in the meantime to prevent that from coming or at least having serious consequences. Just for fun, having read Professor Renshon's essay, all of the things that foreign citizens are doing in the U. That to me is pretty clear that everything that all of the things -- like, the guy from Colombia who was a city official in Hackensack, who then ran for the Colombia Senate, and they said, well, how can you be the political official in two countries at the same time, and he said, well, I will represent Colombians in New Jersey, which leaves out everybody else in New Jersey.

I mean, it's just -- these sort of things sort of curl your hair or uncurl your hair, and I -- as Professor Renshon notes, a lot of this goes back to the Supreme Court decision of Afroyim v. Rusk, in which it was held that you can be a citizen and vote in two countries. And so I would also associate myself closely with what David Frum said about the importance of Supreme Court nominees both in this context and in other contexts.

You need people with brains who can figure this stuff out. You can't just simply take platitudes and split the difference between left and right on some issues. Sometimes you actually have to have the capacity to think through the issue and to have context and perspective. And so the assimilation of German American is a good parallel. I just happen to remember that during the war, President Wilson's secretary of the Treasury said that we have enough lampposts in American to hang all of the disloyal Germans if that is what it comes to -- pretty tough stuff.

I think the ACLU was created after that, not before that -- laughter -- but nonetheless. You have to take drastic steps. That is how you win a war and, more to the point, how you avoid losing a war. The best invocation of patriotism that I can think of comes from President Lincoln in his first inaugural address; that "the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, will yet swell into a union.

And so actually, at the risk of seeming to be part of the problem I will quote George Orwell and his invocation of British citizenship, which he -- in , in which he said -- is talking about nations and how people love their nations uniquely and irrationally and emotionally, and viscerally. He says, "When you come back to England from any foreign country you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air.

Even in the first few minutes, dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild, knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd.

Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar boxes" -- which are mailboxes. And I think that is Professor Renshon's discussion of the psychology. This is psychology. Orwell is about as sophisticated and smart as anybody who has ever lived, and yet he understood and was very explicit in that piece, which is called "The Lion and the Unicorn," that Britain would only find freedom and also victory in World War II -- not a small consideration in -- through the assertion of Englishness.

And I think were I more literate and versed I could find good examples in America. I just thought of that one as one that has always stuck with me as beautiful and poetic and also a powerful invocation of unilateral loyalty, as it were, to one country -- or sole loyalty. And just to wrap up, there are just a few obvious questions that are going to come in the years ahead. One is obviously dual citizenship. One is foreign citizens in the U.

Again, national security is not a small issue. There is a substantial body of opinion, especially here in Washington, which says it is great to have foreigners in the U. As a matter of fact, they should earn their citizenship by being foreigners in the U. Well, this will not have small consequences down the road somewhere in terms of spies and intelligence issues and so on and so on.

I'll just predict, I'll just make that bet. Another issue is affirmative action -- you know, how do you manage affirmative action programs for people who came here recently? I mean, in the last 10 or 20 -- they have the right ethnicity, the right genetic makeup to be eligible for affirmative action, but they come here and they can claim. I think you can make a pretty good argument that we owe some historic debt to -- or obligation to -- African-Americans, who came here under extremely different circumstances hundreds of years ago, but it's hard to argue for somebody who came here yesterday.

And again, maybe a dual citizenship at the same time is entitled to a whole heap of claims on America today. But I'll go back to the most basic level of all, which is in a republic -- if this is a thing that we've all created as citizens of this country that we have an emotional connection to, that the founders in their wisdom -- following on the Greeks and. Romans -- said, the reason you have to be in a jury and the reason you have to be part of the militia and the reason you have to be an active citizen is because we want you to be so entangled with the state that you'll do a good job by the state and the state will do a good job by you.

It's the people that create the nation and we can't have you be loyal to two people. It's just -- I mean, the Greeks and Romans would have just laughed. They would have said, what are you talking about? You have to take some smart lawyers to explain how that was the obvious implication of everything that the founders and others thought. I think the political implications are pretty clear in terms of like the way President Bush is having a hard, hard time with his immigration program.

But the American people, in their wisdom, without a lot of help from the media, without a lot of help from the elites, have sort of struggled to say no to this, and as Mark Krikorian, who has been fighting a lonely battle for ten years and I think now is starting to reap a fair number of victories, including some great quotes in The Washington Post on Saturday, is -- the reaction is coming in.

People just in their bones. But when they find out, I think the politics are just a total no-brainer. And that's before -- I'll close on this -- incidents like the one in London in July, where you have people who just obviously see England as, at best, an aircraft carrier, at best a place to plot and scheme terrorist attacks -- this will come to an end soon. I mean again, if we wind up in conflicts as we inevitably will, the whole notion of dual citizenship will just be, as Mark said in a different context in The Post on Saturday, as just so much paperwork. You know, we're in the chattering class when quotes are victories, but unfortunately that's true.

Stanley, did you want a quick rejoinder or response? First, David Frum's point about the loss of confidence in the elites -- and I think that is very true. One of the reasons I like George Bush quite a bit is because he is unabashedly a person who puts his national feelings first and has rallied, I think, support for the idea that Americanism is very important.

He is, by a lot of names -- you and I both are Bush biographers -- and he's a stand-apart person. He can stand apart from the crowd. I think you may let Americans off the hook a little bit by -- Alan Wolfe did a book on a series of interviews, and what he found was that Americans are extremely tolerant.

I call it avoidant tolerance, simply because Americans don't like to second-guess anybody's decision, so they sort of stand apart from all the things that they think ought to be done, but they don't want to raise their voice to say they should be done. And so, what I think we need is a conversation led by a segment of the elites, including the president, and those of us here who are less than the highest level elites, which mobilizes the resources of the American community at a general level to give voice.


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You know, if people don't know that there are other people out there who believe the same way and are willing to take a stand, they think that they are alone, and in their silence, they retreat. And so I think the discussion is a good one. Over on the oath, I've read a lot of things about the oath of allegiance, and my thought about it is this: there is a difference between taking an oath and the follow-through of your feelings.

There is a lot of social psychology, which reports that if you take a position that you don't necessarily agree with, you wind up agreeing with it. But I think it's one thing to ask people to renounce their membership in another community, and it's quite another to do the things that allow them over time to actually psychologically do that.

So I'm not one of these believers that say just if you reform the oath, you'll have citizens automatically.