Why America’s Strength Is Based On Unity, Not Diversity

As a matter of history, we are not in fact a “nation of immigrants.”

Michael Knowles, host of The Michael Knowles Show. G. Woodman/DailyWire+
Credit: G. Woodman/DailyWire+

This is a portion of a speech delivered by Michael Knowles at CPAC on Thursday, February 22, 2024.

America is experiencing an identity crisis. I think everyone can agree, we no longer know who we are.

Lots of little errors have led to our present identity crisis — the most obvious being that we no longer have functional borders. Just as a house without walls is not a house, a nation without borders is not a nation. Over the past three years, Joe Biden has invited almost six million foreigners into our country illegally. At least three-and-a-half million were apprehended and intentionally released into the country. Another two million or more “gotaways” were never even apprehended. They all crossed our southern border with the help of criminal cartels.

This Democrat-led invasion is the largest human trafficking operation in history. The vast majority of Americans know this is wrong. The vast majority of Americans want it to come to an end. But we are told we must tolerate the destruction of our borders and the invasion of our country because we are “a nation of immigrants.”

That slogan reminds me of President Reagan’s famous observation that “the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” As a matter of history, we are not in fact a “nation of immigrants.” Neither that phrase nor that sentiment appears anywhere in our founding documents; the phrase appears virtually nowhere at all until the mid-1960s — coincidentally, at precisely the moment that Democrats first imposed on us a policy of mass migration because they believed, as they believe today, that doing so would give them a permanent electoral majority.

Even so, we are told, we must tolerate this cynical political trick because “diversity is our strength.” Once again, historically speaking, that claim is rather strange. It doesn’t come from the Founding era. It didn’t even crop up in the 1960s. That particular phrase was not coined until 1992, when Vice President Dan Quayle told it to a reporter in Japan.

Now, I like Dan Quayle as much as the next guy. But we’re not talking about Washington or Lincoln here. The idle musings of George H. W. Bush’s vice president are not quite Moses delivering the law from Mount Sinai. Wise statesmen and philosophers — anyone with a modicum of common sense, really — have always understood that strength lies not in diversity but in unity. We are not the Divided States of America. At least we’re not supposed to be. We’re the United States of America. When an enemy attacks us, we don’t endeavor to stand divided. We stand united. “E pluribus unum.” As Ben Franklin warned all the way back in 1754, we must put aside our divisions and come together as one, or else we will die.

For most of our history, America kept immigration in check. We placed strict limits on it. Not because we don’t like immigrants — we like them very much. Some of our best friends and ancestors have been immigrants. But we had always understood, as all wise statesmen have understood, that a country with an unlimited influx of unassimilated foreign people becomes unstable and risks losing its very identity, without which no nation can be any good to anyone.

In America’s earliest days, Governor John Winthrop called on us to be, not a boarding house but “a city upon a hill” — a “model of Christian charity” for all the other nations of the earth to learn from and emulate.

This gets to the very heart of our national identity crisis. America was founded to be “a model of Christian charity.” From the moment that our earliest ancestors boarded the Mayflower — which, by the way, is the name of an excellent new cigar company, Mayflower Cigars, highly recommended — before the Pilgrims ever stepped foot onto Plymouth Rock, America was founded to be a nation with its eyes on Heaven.

Francis Scott Key put it perfectly in the fourth verse of our national anthem:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
⁠Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the Heav’n rescued land,
⁠Praise the Power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto — “In God is our trust.”

Every American with a penny to his name knows that phrase. It’s inscribed on our currency. All of our great statesmen have believed it. Yet today the liberals want us to believe that America was founded as a secular nation. An atheist nation. They tell us America was founded on a firm separation of church and state. Once again, the problem is not so much ignorance as liberals knowing so much that isn’t so. There is no such thing as a total separation of church and state. There never has been, and there never can be. Because states make laws, and laws come from morals, and morals come from religion. Religion is simply unavoidable — for all states at all times.

That fact has been especially clear in America, where we have long been the most religious of any Western nation. Ask the liberals to identify the “separation of church and state” in our law. You’ll wait a long time — because they won’t find it. If they really look closely, they’ll find that that phrase appears once in a private letter, contradicted not only by the public statements of most of our Founding Fathers but also by the Federalist Papers, which cite God by name; by the Constitution, which protected the churches established by the states; and by the Declaration of Independence, which grounds our whole country on the fact that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

President John Adams credited our very national independence to “the general principles of Christianity.” This is why Adams famously declared that “our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” His observation should give us pause because it isn’t just some happy slogan, as some people today treat it. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s a warning. If our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people, then when the people cease to be religious, the Constitution will cease to function. That fact we see all around us today.

The decline in religiosity lies at the heart of our national identity crisis — not because of what men have said but because of who God is. When Moses at the Burning Bush asked God what he should call him, God responded, “I AM THAT I AM.” God is Being. A people that grounds its identity in God will know who and what it is; a people that rejects God, a wise priest once observed, will only be left with the pathetic question, “Who am I?”

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