Steve Bannon’s September 10, 2017 60 Minutes sparked considerable discussion among both the left and the right. Bannon is always good for that.
After Charlie Rose insisted that immigration built America, Bannon retorted that he was wrong and then seemingly reinforced the idea that “nationalism” has defined American history:
“You couldn’t be more dead wrong. America was built on her citizens. … Look at the 19th century. What built America’s called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. [It was] a system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, OK, and the control of our borders. Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system.”
The left took this as an insult to unlimited immigration and fired off several shrill pieces attacking Bannon’s perceived jingoism and nativism. After all, they argued, Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant.
That isn’t the problem. Bannon was correct about immigration. The United States is not a “nation of immigrants.” Hamilton arrived in the British North American colonies from a British Caribbean colony, which meant he technically moved from one British possession to another. That isn’t “immigration” as the left defines it.