Joe Biden wrong again: Roosevelt argued against hyphenated-Americans

Speech before the Knights of Columbus, New York (12 October 1915). Read more at
Speech before the Knights of Columbus, New York (12 October 1915). Read more at

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014 — Vice President Joe Biden addressed the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Legislative Summit in Washington D.C. on Thursday. There he justified the legalization of some 11 million illegal aliens in the United States.

In his speech to the hyphenated-American assemblage, the vice president misquoted President Theodore Roosevelt’s “True Americanism” essay from The Forum magazine in 1894:

“Teddy Roosevelt said it better … He said, Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed or a line of descent. It’s a question of principles, idealism and character,” Biden said.

He left out Roosevelt’s next line, which turns Biden’s interpretation of the essay on its head: “The politician who bids for the Irish or German vote, or the Irishman or German who votes as an Irishman or German, is despicable, for all citizens of this commonwealth should vote solely as Americans. This is not what the president, vice president, or other liberals believe.

It was just another day, another Democratic attempt to pander to racial identity-based groups.

With his misspeaks and verbal blunders, Biden often reveals the true sentiments behind Democratic principles.

Democrats believe that the law of the land, the very rule of law, is plastic and mutable to meet their agenda. If a law as written, either in legislation or in the Constitution, is an impediment to a Democratic policy objective, it is the law, not the policy, that must give way to arbitrary governance.

In his statement, Biden discards the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law governing current immigration policy that calls for an annual worldwide limit of  675,000 permanent immigrants, when he says:

“Eleven million people living in the shadows I believed are already American citizens … These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully, and by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.”

According to the law, people can only become American citizens if they are at least 18 years old, demonstrate continuous residency, demonstrate “good moral character,” pass an exam that covers English, U.S. history, and civics, and pay an application fee. We have limits on the number of persons allowed annually. You don’t become a U.S. Citizen just because Biden or Obama say so. But in the hands of those two, laws are mere suggestions to be brushed aside for the expediency of the greater good, in accordance to their estimation of that greater good.

That is remarkable. By analogy, Biden must believe that if someone broke into your home, cleaned the bathroom, folded the clothes and decided to stay, he would be a member of your household. The illegality of the act would be excused by his hard work and good intentions.

Roosevelt said in his essay:

“We shall never be successful over the dangers that confront us; we shall never achieve true greatness, nor reach the lofty ideal which the founders and preservers of our mighty federal Republic have set before us, unless we are Americans in heart and soul, in spirit and purpose, keenly alive to the responsibility implied in the very name of American, and proud beyond measure of the glorious privilege of bearing it.”

With respect to issues centering around immigration and citizenship, Roosevelt would have repudiated Biden, Obama and the entire Democratic party. Roosevelt was dead set in opposition to the racial identity politics that characterize today’s Democrats.

Roosevelt, in speaking to the predominantly Irish Catholic Knights of Columbus at Carnegie Hall on Columbus Day 1915, asserted again that there is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism.

“When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all … The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic … There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American.

READ ALSO: GOP: Committing suicide with concessions on immigration reform

The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.”

Here again Roosevelt directly defies the Democrats’ politically correct rhetoric:

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all.

“We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

“Room for but one language … English”? Tell that to the politicians on both wings of the two-party crime syndicate in Washington, who pander to non-assimilating immigrants by delivering campaign speeches and literature in Spanish!

President Woodrow Wilson also took a dim view of racial identity politics:

“Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.”

These quotes wouldn’t play well to a group that defines itself first, not as American, but as Hispanic. Biden intentionally conflates immigration and illegal migration. To anyone who went to the trouble, expense and the commitment of years of effort to respect the laws of the nation they became citizens of and those who are still waiting in line, Biden’s proposition is an insult.

Biden finished his remarks with this observation:

“All they want — they just want a decent life for their kids, a chance to contribute to a free society, a chance to put down roots and help build the next great American century. I really believe that. That’s what they’re fighting for.”

Biden’s proposes a broad re-assessment of America’s basic identity as a nation, and also our obligation to the rest of the world. When you hear comments from Democrats similar to Biden’s, ask what our national purpose is.

READ ALSO: Jill (Biden) get your gun: The bad advice of left leaning Vice Presidents

Is it to provide a haven for every single human being who desires to migrate here, because of conflict in their home country, poverty, joblessness, crime or simply as a matter of preference? Is immigration a right, or is it a privilege? What do we owe to non-citizens? Food? Jobs? Healthcare? If we owe it to them, what are the limits, or are there any at all?

An open invitation to the world would require that we scrap immigration laws and borders. We don’t have unlimited natural, environmental and economic resources to sustain an unlimited number of people who wish to live in America. We can’t be responsible for making the American way of life available to everyone in the world who might want it.

Ask whether it is diversity when over 80 percent of the people migrating here — most illegally — are from Latin America. Perhaps we should attempt to actively manage and balance the national origin and ethnicity of the inflow of immigrants.

Suggest that, and you’ll get a deer-in-the-headlights stare and the standard liberal debate ender, “you’re just a racist.”

What you will never get is a straight answer.

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  • jimmyrourke

    First of all these people Biden is talking about are ILLEGAL ALIENS and not Immigrants. They have broken Federal,State and County Laws. They do not vote which is the Democrats Agenda. They are taking up jobs,we have 21 million looking for work.
    The real issue is that immigrants pay fees to apply and ask for permission to enter this Country. My ex wife was from another Country, we paid all the fees which is a lot of money.She took it upon herself and applied to get her Citizenship after like 7 years here. When I went to her Ceremony there must have been 3 or 4 hundred people to watch about 100 immigrants become Americans. Watching the Ceremony and looking at the different people from around the globe who took this journey was really emotional. This was their Dream to become Americans and where ever they came from they all walked out of the building Americans. That’s what immigration is and Biden wants too lump in 15 million Mexicans who are ILLEGAL ALIENS with these people and give them the same name

  • judy

    The real agenda of BHO is to legalize Islamics. This is what I believe anyway.

  • RGZ_50

    I’ve heard Democrats (and the usual suspects in the GOP) use the term ‘deserve’ in connection with their campaign to gift citizenship to illegal aliens. It strikes me as remarkably arrogant that they think gifting legal status to an invading force of law breakers, is a legislative prerogative that we have conferred upon them.

    Of course Obama himself, isn’t going to bother waiting for an amnesty bill to pass. He views his position as not so much Chief Executive as he thinks of himself as a Monarch. That seems to be what we are back to – rule by edict instead of the rule of law.

  • Jim B

    This is an excellent article…..and the point of not hyphenating a color or origin is outstanding. Wish more folks had an opportunity to read, and think about the points you have made.