open borders for conservatives: the abraham lincoln argument
At the Washington Post blog, Ilya Somin has a column on why people who favor color blindness should also favor open borders. He starts off with a great quote from Abraham Lincoln:
In a famous 1855 letter, Abraham Lincoln drew a connection between racism and hostility towards immigrants, then epitomized by the nativist Know-Nothing movement:
“I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor or degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].”
Lincoln understood the similarity between racial prejudice against blacks and xenophobic hostility to immigrants. That is one of the reasons why he took a favorable view of immigration throughout his career, and opposed efforts to exclude potential immigrants from the US or otherwise discriminate against them. So too did a good many other prominent 19th century opponents of slavery and racial discrimination, such as Frederick Douglass.
Republicans: if the founder, and possibly greatest president, of your party favored migration, maybe it’s time to soften up and mellow out about immigrants. Just sayin’.