Beyond the Border: From Colonial Paradise to Nativist Nightmares
By some estimates there are 12 million undocumented – or “illegal” – aliens residing in the United States. On the northern side of the “thin green line” there has been a steady increase in nativism. In this paper we will begin by exploring the perception of the United States as a terrestrial paradise, historically sought after by immigrants and defended by those already settled. In doing so, we will trace current immigration issues and tendencies and place them within the framework of the United States as a second paradise. Our presentation will proceed in three steps: firstly, we will analyze the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden as a blueprint for colonial exploitation and a hierarchical ontology. Secondly, we will trace these blueprints in the perception of the U.S. as an earthly paradise by the first European settlers. We will interpret Samuel Huntington’s nativism as a disguised paradise narrative. Finally, using John Rawls’ theory of justice, we will seek a path towards tolerance and integration in U.S. society.
Keywords: Immigration, American Exceptionalism, Paradise Narration
Dr. Vera Jakoby
Associate Professor, Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies, McDaniel College
Khan Grogan Ullah
Projectdirector, Domestic, University Research Company
M.A. in Humanities with a focus in philosophy, California State University, Dominguez Hills, 1997. B.A. in History, San Diego State University, 1994.