For rhetorical zingers, Imam Mohamad Tawhidi might deserve some kind of trophy.
Amazing what time can do. Little girl from the deserts of Somalia speaking like that to the President of the United States. If you had tweeted that to President Farmajo of Somalia, he would have applied Sharia Law onto you; the law you cherish so much. Behave yourself, guest.
What makes that last sentence so powerful — aside from its concise simplicity — is the re-frame. Much of the progressive language around immigration rests on the old strategy of equating the indigenous population with foreigners — if not genetically, religiously, or culturally, than at least morally. The implication is that citizens of a nation have no more of a right to the land or the loyalty of the state than foreigners. This is a fairly counter-intuitive position that relies on a lot of dubious underlying assumptions being in place (a degree of equivalence between one’s ancestors and modern immigrants, moral condemnation for one’s own ancestors, and the moral illegitimacy of inheritance, among other things).
But the term “guest” conjures a simpler and more intuitive relationship dynamic that everyone understands, between that of the host and the guest.
Most old stories about hosts and guests focus on the importance of hospitality, while paying little attention to the obligations of the guest. This is because traditionally, the guest had no power. He was in the host’s castle. This power dynamic was accepted, and the host was expected not to abuse this power towards his guests.
But the power differential was still there, and there was always a tacit assumption of reciprocity, of the guest behaving themselves in a manner that would not justify the utilization of the sovereign’s power against them. One could make this into a moral case — a guest ought to be gracious for being accepted at all — but realistically, it comes down more to practicality. You shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you, especially if the other hand holds a stick that is far more powerful than your teeth. (Most of progressive internationalist “morality” is one giant, sophistic argument for why we should put down our stick, while they get to retain their teeth).
Simply by saying the word “guest,” and labeling Somali-born Ilhan Omar as one, Imam Mohamad Tawhidi steamrolls over the web of anti-nationalist rationalization with a simpler and more relevant explanation for what the relationship actually is between representative Omar and the United States. As a guest — one treated with such hospitality that she was not only allowed in, and granted citizenship, but given political power! — she is expected to behave in a manner that reflects gratitude towards the nation that not only allowed her to receive these things, but practically gave them to her. And as Tawhidi pointed out, she is not only failing to act with sufficient gratitude towards the nation that kindly adopted her: she is speaking to its leaders (and, implicitly, to the nation itself) more aggressively than she would have spoken even to her own nation… whose laws and customs she isn’t attempting to flee, but to bring here to our nation.
In short, “behave yourself, guest” re-frames the entire relationship and points out — politely, but firmly — Ilhan Omar’s flagrant negligence in fulfilling her own obligations as a guest.
If the obligations expected of guests are explained away and ultimately rejected, it won’t be long before real Americans begin to wonder why they should remain hospitable to guests, especially as they are criticized by pundits and politicians for past and present failures of perfect hospitality.
If real Americans realize that many of these pundits and politicians are, like Ilhan Omar, themselves not real Americans, then things might happen even more quickly.
Behave yourselves, guests… or else.