"This is the struggle of our time," declared Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard commencement speech last week. Who are the contestants in his view? "The forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism. Forces for the flow of knowledge, trade and immigration against those who would slow them down. This is not a battle of nations, it's a battle of ideas. There are people in every country for global connection and good people against it."
Zuckerberg is generating publicity about his project of visiting all of the 50 states — a worthy endeavor, one that I completed myself when I landed in Ted Stevens Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, in February 1998. Some think he may be planning to run for president — something not obviously more unthinkable than if you had imagined, back in 2014, that Donald Trump was planning to run for president.
And to run against, among other things, "nationalism," something he groups with the obviously odious "authoritarianism" and the straw man "isolationism." In place of "nationalism" he apparently thinks Americans should be embracing the (a?) "global community."
Zuckerberg, like so many members of the global-minded elite, seems to regard nationalism as somehow akin to Nazism, always and invariably vicious. But the Memorial Day ceremonies this past weekend should remind us that thousands of Americans have given their lives serving under the flag of the United States of America. American nationalism has inspired their sacrifice for the sake of others, including others in many other nations.
And by the way, what significant body of Americans are against any form of "global connection"? The United States continues to be a vigorous member of many international bodies, it stands ready to observe its treaty obligations to other nations (despite some inflammatory rhetoric by Trump), it allows hundreds of thousands of foreigners to immigrate legally to this nation every year and would continue to do so if Trump's immigration policies, as set forth in his August 31, 2016 speech in Phoenix, were enacted into law.
One of those proposals, however, may stick in the craw of Mark Zuckerberg. Trump wants to tilt our immigration laws to favor high-skill immigration through a points system similar to those of our friends and allies Canada and Australia. That could mean a phase-out of the H-1B visa program that admits high-skill immigrants but ties them to high-tech employers like Facebook.
Currently, Facebook can pay them wages lower than those they would have to pay American citizens and legal immigrants not subject to the restrictions of the H-1B program. On that particular issue, Trump seems more open to freedom, openness and global connection than Mark Zuckerberg.