New Blogger Jonathan at Commissar Class makes a good point in an elegant way:
America is not a “nation of immigrants,” nor can any nation be. Immigrants can’t comprise nations for the same reason pledges can’t constitute frats or that job applicants can’t constitute workplaces — societies are comprised of their members, not of those who simply want to be members.
This is no slight to our ancestors who immigrated. They stopped immigrating – that is, journeying in pursuit of belonging in a nation — for a reason the “nation of immigrants” myth makes us forget: because they obtained what they were after.
Our ancestors did want to remain on the boat that brought them, nor did they want to be typecast as mascots in sepia-toned, tear-jerking images of Ellis Island, which always accompany the myth-makers’ melodramatic intonations as to what America is. The wanted to graduate from the status of those who simply want to belong to this nation, and to that of those who have earned that right.
They succeeded. But the myth won’t admit this — it keeps our forebears trapped in the past, on a crowded boat, forever wandering.