“We love immigrants but only if we can weaponize them against our enemies — especially Russia and China!”

I was going through some of my immigration notes when I stumbled on a tweet I saved a few years back that I think perfectly encapsulates our ruling elite’s imperialistic way of thinking about immigrants and immigration — a mindset that can be inverted from “pro-immigration” to “anti-immigration” and yet magically remain the same.

The tweet belongs to one of America’s brightest: Michael McFaul. Barack Obama appointed him as ambassador to Russia back in the day — a position in which he was a total failure. And he has since failed up to become America’s leading liberal intellectual on all things related to Democracy and the Russian Threat.

He typed the tweet out in November 2018 in response to one of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant outbursts that was roiling the news cycle at the time. As you can see, McFaul thinks he’s being progressive and tolerant and supportive of immigrants. He thinks he’s being the polar opposite of Trump — that he’s standing up to Trump’s bigotry and xenophobia. And yet he’s voicing a liberal inversion of the same kind of America First thinking. Trump thinks immigrants are being weaponized by our enemies to weaken America. He wants to exclude them to Make American Great Again. McFaul — and a lot of people like him — thinks immigrants should be weaponized by America to weaken our enemies. He wants to be inclusive to Maintain America’s Greatness.

If you click on McFaul’s tweet you can see hundreds of people supporting and cheering on his imperialistic view of immigration — with lots and lots of immigrants among them: Immigrants are good because they — their bodies, their hard work, their tolerance for low wages — make America stronger, better!

It’s all very banal and extremely pervasive. I constantly see these kinds of “pro-immigrant” imperialistic views trotted out in the immigration debate. It’s all about maintaining America’s dominance. It’s all about ruling the world.

It just goes to show how much American culture’s suffused with imperialistic notions. It’s so pervasive few people even stop to notice it’s there. But as a Soviet immigrant whose Jewish identity was weaponized by America in its fight against communism and the Soviet Union, I notice — I guess I’m more primed to notice than most.

McFaul’s imperialistic line of thinking brings up a corollary question: What about immigrants who can’t be safely weaponized by America? What about those who can’t be used to bolster our “greatness” and boost our “advantage over China, Russia, etc”? What if these immigrants are a burden? Or even scarier: What if these immigrants don’t meekly fit into society as America’s beasts of burden, but actively work to change things? What if people like McFaul see them as a threat to “our” America? Is it time to bring back the Red Ark?

—Yasha Levine



U.S. Army transport BUFORD, the ‘Soviet Ark,’ used to deport aliens to Russia, Dec. 21, 1919