The Plight Of Twenty-First-Century Migrants

Mir Ali Hosseini in The Philosophical Salon:

As a refugee from the war-stricken Old World, where ethnic homogeneity had remained the defining principle of every citizenry, Arendt saw in the American republic the promise of a body politic, which absorbed newcomers without forcing them to adapt to a pre-determined homogeneity—even though she became increasingly critical of the cultural conformity of American “mass society.”

In 1973, two years before her passing, when Arendt was asked in an interview with French television about her impression dominante of America as a European, she replied in English:

Mon impression dominante…Well, see, this is not a nation-state. America is not a nation-state, and Europeans have a hell of a time to understand this simple fact which, after all, they could know theoretically. This country is united neither by heritage, nor by memory, nor by soil, nor by language, nor by origin from the same. There are no natives here. The natives were the Indians. , and these citizens are united only by one thing—and that is a lot. That is, you become a citizen of the United States by simple consent to the Constitution.”

As Robert Bernasconi has argued, this idealized picture of the American republic is deeply problematic.

More here.