Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Dog and Immigration

I am worried that my dog and I have different views on immigration.

I believe that America's strength has always been in our immigrants. They come to America to fulfill the American dream. They have brought a strong work ethic which has been the backbone of the miraculous productivity of America. With each wave of immigration they have also revitalized our culture.

My dog, on the other hand, believes in protecting the perimeter.

I was sitting in our backyard the other morning having coffee. We have a relatively new neighbor behind us. There is a privacy fence between us, so until some other neighbor introduces us I am not sure when or how we will meet. This neighbor has a dog, and the dog came to the other side of that privacy fence, and the two dogs started barking up a storm.

This is a regular event. I call Teddy, our border collie, and he obediently stops barking and comes to my side. But it is obvious that he is serious about protecting our border. I have started referring to him as our furry minuteman.

Teddy's views are based on pure instinct. A xenophobic instinct has served pack animals well in their effort to survive. Its hard to hold his views against him.

Humans are the ultimate social animals. So why do the minutemen's instincts not serve us well in our fight for survival?

A society's strength depends on renewal from the outside...renewal of ideas, culture, and even gene pool. Isolationism has never served America, or any empire, well. Successful empires find unique ways of exporting the empire's vision to the outer reaches of the empire, while embracing the best that those cultures have to offer. The "Pax Romana" or Roman Peace was a 200 year period of relative peace in the Roman Empire. During that time Rome built roads and cities that helped the provinces flourish. Military might alone could not have successfully held such large holdings for so long with such relative peace. It was the mutually beneficial arrangement of local rule, military protection, economic expansion, and cultural exchange that made it work.

America is an empire. We established the empire through an incredible industrial growth, which led to an economic imperialism. The current administration has led America to unilateralism in foreign policy. American corporations, with blessings from the government have changed the underpinning of our economy from production-based to finance-based. Both can have disastrous consequences, and we are seeing the beginnings of those consequences now.

In the past, much of the rest of the world wanted to be like America. Now many people around the world hate us. If we wish to retain our standing in the world we have to regain our position of respect. We will only get there by opening our arms to the world, not shutting them out. Much of America is aghast at how prevalent the spanish language has become in our country. I embrace it. This is exactly the type of cultural infusion that will make our country stronger. In the pack analogy, this is akin to the need to breed outside of the pack to ensure genetic diversity.

I should point out that my dog is an incredibly friendly animal. Three-year-old children can pull his tail or stick their fingers in his mouth without fear. And though he barks at the approach of anyone to our front door, he is incredibly friendly once they have been admitted.

Perhaps our views are not so disparate. He just wants an easy path to legal entry. I can live with that.

But I still wish he wouldn't bark every time the neighbor's dog was on the other side of the fence. And I don't think building a taller fence is the answer.

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