Jim Acosta embarrassed himself badly confronting Stephen Miller on camera yesterday. I thought the interchange was beneficial to the Trump administration and to opponents of illegal immigration everywhere. Rather than having a buffoon repeatedly sending whiny tweets about #FAKENEWS!! every day, or sending out petulant dwarves to tell blatant falsehoods, why not send someone out like Miller — who actually knows what he is talking about, and backs up his argument with facts and logic rather than lies and empty bravado?

I’m not a fan of Miller’s style in every respect. His aggression wears thin quickly. The repeated exclamations of offense struck me as a leftist way of dealing with the questions — and that’s not a compliment. But those criticisms take a back seat to my praise for Miller’s refreshing intelligence and ability to display coherent argumentation skills. If he works on his presentation, he could be very effective.

Nowhere were Miller’s more positive attributes (and some negative ones) more on display than in this particular interchange with Acosta. You remember it. It’s the exchange where Acosta suggested that only British and Australian immigrants speak English. The forceful way Miller refuted that silly argument was the highlight of the interchange. Here it is.

ACOSTA: But this whole notion of, well, they could learn, you know, they have to learn English before they enter the United States — are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?”

MILLER: Jim, it’s actually, all I’m going to say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It’s actually — it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree. That in your mind — no, this is an amazing moment. This is an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world. [Crosstalk] Jim, but you honestly, Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia?

Miller is right.

Take a look at the requirements for someone to become a citizen. In addition to age, residency, and physical presence requirements, you must:

  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
  • Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Be a person of good moral character.
  • Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

That’s a more impressive set of characteristics than is displayed by many actual U.S. citizens. And at the end of the process, one takes the following oath:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

I had the privilege of attending a naturalization ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center over 20 years ago. I attended at the invitation of a judge for whom I was clerking, who took part in the ceremony, so I had a great view of the crowd. I’ll never forget looking out on the sea of people speaking those words. Thousands of people, of all races and nationalities, from countries all over the world. People who had passed a basic civics test and who had demonstrated good moral character. Those people were reciting — in English! — words of allegiance to this country, with pride on their faces.

When you want to talk about the Statue of Liberty and the principles for which she stands, that’s what you’re talking about.

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