All this week AmericaInTheWorld is spotlighting six key arguments from Justin Webb's 'Have A Nice Day: Behind The Chiches, Giving America Another Chance'. You can purchase your copy here.
The most potent image of America remains the Statue of Liberty. America at its best remains the land that welcomes immigrants:
|"Give me your tired, your poor,|
|Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,|
|The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.|
|Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:|
|I lift my lamp beside the golden door."|
America's attitude to immigration is discussed by Justin Webb. Mr Webb has been working in America for the BBC. He and his wife are British but his daughter, Clara, by being born in the USA is as American as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Webb:
"To get her British passport, there were hoops to be jumped through, stipulations to be noted, and requirements to be fulfilled. For the US passport there were none. She is American because she was born here. Her parents do not matter, nor does her colour or creed, her ancestry, or the cut of her jib. She is a natural-born citizen, to use the rubric of the constitution, and provided she lives in the US for a bit and pays her taxes and achieves the age of 35, she can be president. She is as American as any of her 300 million fellow citizens."
By 2025 15% of US citizens will have been foreign born. Ronald Reagan would have approved. This was what he wrote in his Christmas message of 1982:
"I know we're crowded and we have unemployment and we have a real burden with refugees, but I honestly hope and pray we can always find room. We have a unique society, made up of cast-offs of all the world's wars and oppressions, and yet we're strong and free. We have one thing in common—no matter where our forefathers came from, we believe in that freedom. I hope we always have room for one more person, maybe an Afghan or a Pole or someone else looking for a place... where he doesn't have to worry about his family's starving or a knock on the door in the night..."
Justin Webb concludes his book with these words:
"America is imperfect. It has no divine right to be the world's leading nation. It has no unique insight into the human condition. And yet something about it sings. Something about it works. And we built it: all of us from every corner of the globe whose histories and cultures impacted on the minds of the people who created America and recreate it daily. It could do with improvement, but it is ours."