Alex Massie

Tired, huddled masses too tired, too huddled for own/our good?

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Today's reading assignment: Kerry Howley's* excellent Reason cover story on immigration, what the United States could learn from Singapore's guest-worker programme and how liberals are as confused as nativists:

The moral calculus, then, is to be weighed between the welfare of potential workers and the preservation of an idealized American narrative. Does it reflect better on the American character to lock poor people out than to permit them entry on limited terms? Guest worker programs do clash with deeply held mythologies about our relationship to the global poor. We live in a state of relative political equality nested awkwardly within a deeply unequal world, and it can seem better, kinder, to keep the inequality outside, walling it off and keeping our hands clean. Perhaps American egalitarianism, like a dress too precious to be worn, is a value too dear to expose to the real world. As the essayist Richard Rodriguez, himself the son of Mexican immigrants, has written, “Americans prefer unknowing.”

*Yes, yes, Kerry's a friend who, like me, is relaxed about open borders but resigned to their remaining shut. We take what we can. But I'd recommend her fine piece even if we'd never met. It's all good.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleInternationalimmigration