Why a country that accepts all comers isn’t a country at all

The idea that a nation should be exclusive is currently being challenged in the public mind and square. Why would a nation need to be based, as least in part, on a principle of exclusivity? It is because nations, not unlike families, need to have some sense of identity, even purpose. When a group of people is defined as everyone and anyone, that actually means that it is no one. If everyone comes and goes as he pleases, there is a void of identity, collective belonging, commitment, responsibility, and accountability. Citizenship is a commitment.

What I speak of is not a mean-spirited exclusivity. It’s not excluding others for the sake of one’s own self aggrandizement or benefit. And exclusivity need not be in opposition to an open and welcoming posture. Two critical things need to be clear.

First, the kind of exclusivity I’m talking about does not mean that everything is completely static, or that no one immigrates or emigrates. Exclusivity is not opposed to welcoming others, it’s simply discerning. Second, the basis on which to exclude must be legitimate — not arbitrary — and it must not be tied to race or ethnicity. Instead, it must be about values and culture.

If the value of openness or inclusivity (which are virtuous if limited) takes on the ultimate importance, it spells the death of any distinctive culture.