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Richard Samuelson on Immigration and Group Rights

A conversation with Richard Samuelson about Constitutional principles, American exceptionalism, and immigration.

It’s based on his article in last summer’s Claremont Review of Books on the subject.  In it, he makes an argument I’ve long favored, that Jews are only secure in a country where civil rights are individual, rather than group:

The more elements of our lives the national government regulates, the more likely it is that the government will intrude on matters that Jews, Catholics, and others regard as fundamental questions of conscience. Either big, factious government must carve out special exemptions, which themselves are a form of class legislation, or it must trample the rights of Jews, Catholics, and other recalcitrant citizens. Simply upholding the traditional definition of marriage could one day soon be regarded as evidence of hateful bias. It is not a coincidence that supporters of expansive government prefer to embrace an ideological idea of toleration rather than simply practice toleration—they believe that tolerant people must believe x, rather than that tolerant people accept that there is more than one possible opinion about x; and, as a rule, this ideology of toleration is understood as an effort to secure 21st-century “values.” It builds upon the idea of History that is at war with American exceptionalism. In time, that definition of “toleration” will, quite probably, return free American citizens to the level of subjects, forced to conform their life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness to the official uses prescribed by government. To say the least, that development would make it less and less likely that divers peoples would still find a welcoming home in the United States of America. Down that road lies the end of American exceptionalism.

In part, this is because in any contest of groups, we’ll be in a minority.  But it’s reinforced by the seemingly unique and unlimited ability of the virus anti-Semiticus to mutate.

His larger point is that the underlying idea of a central government of limited, enumerated powers is best-suited to treating people as individuals.  When the central government is able to dispense vast power and money on its favorites, it becomes more advantageous to be treated as a group, preferably part of the winning coalition.

Posted in Culture, Law.

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