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E. Pluribus Unum: A Motto for Patriotic Immigration Policy

The motto of the United States was changed in 1954 to “In God We Trust,” which I believe is an apt characterization of America’s civic culture; however, the motto of the nation that preceded “In God We Trust,” is “E. Pluribus Unum,” which means “out of many, one.” This motto also encapsulates the essence of America, as we are a nation of immigrants that is united by ideas and ideals, not race or origin. I believe both mottos build upon the other, as the only way for us to be united by ideas and ideals is for Americans to adhere to some commonly held values, principally that our rights come from God, not from government.

This historically and quintessentially American conviction that our rights are God-given has formed the foundation of individual rights, and human dignity, in our nation. Contrary to the claims of those who wish to secularize our nation, the Judeo-Christian Ethic that underpins our Constitution is the firmest foundation for racial harmony, individual liberty and national stability the world has ever known. Christianity, when practiced with integrity, is an inherently culture-building worldview that certainly built the Western World, though it is not the product of Western thought. Instead of being shaped by the West, it shaped the West, and has the power to shape and create culture the world over. The universality of the Judeo-Christian Ethic informs the American conviction that freedom is a universal aspiration of all peoples.

As such, the philosophical framework of the American Republic is capable, when adhered to by responsible and principled people, of providing the maximum level of human freedom to a society made-up entirely of immigrants of every race and nationality on Earth. That’s why our Founders included “E. Pluribus Unum” on the Great Seal of the United States of America; they believed in the universality of freedom, because they believed in the universality of truth (in other words, they believed in absolutes). Though there are racial tensions in America’s past, that any observer would be remiss not to note, there has been forward momentum toward national unity and equal justice under the law since our nation’s founding. We have been “perfecting our union” since the day the Union was formed, and there is work yet to do. Nevertheless, America is an exceptional nation that has accomplished great things for all mankind, and the “balance sheet” of our history is overwhelmingly positive.

In our time, there are some in our country who have hijacked America’s commitment to equal justice under the law, and equal opportunity for all, to wholesale dismiss the concept of truth. They have, in the words of Chinese military sage Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, “used their opponent’s weight against him.” In other words, by appealing to America’s commitment to equal rights and the rule of law, secular-progressives have introduced a poison pill into our society; they have equated adherence to absolutes to racial bigotry and oppression. This is a fallacious argument, based on flimsy logic, which hijacks a just and noble cause, namely the Civil Rights movement, to dismantle the very commitment to truth and morality that made that movement possible. While claiming that they are making our union more perfect, they are dismantling it from the inside out.

Secular-Progressivism is anathema to the American experience, and to our national unity. Its basic presupposition is that nothing is absolutely true, though the SPs themselves claim that this is the only absolute, thus contradicting their own premise. All the while, America’s commitment to the rule of law, which secures liberty and justice for all, is based on absolute values and a belief in transcendent truths. If the Secular-Progressive movement succeeds in falsely equating adherence to absolutes with bigotry, then the great American experiment in self-government will come crashing down in the wake. A nation that is not united by blood or birth, and is instead united by ideals and ideas, must have public consensus on core principles.

That’s why, as the new Congress reconvenes in September, and the immigration debate heats up again, I propose that we remember the two national mottos herein discussed. We must become “out of many, one,” by remaining a nation that believes our rights are guaranteed to us by our Creator. In short, we need to rebuild a principled foundation of consensus values on which our rule of law must rest. Then, and only then, do we become one indivisible nation of ideals and values, not of factions held together only by the largesse of the state.

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