Malinda Kathleen Reese, Ben Lauer (photo by Daniel Schwartz)
History of Humankind
Thornton Wilder’s Overbite

What does an allegory about human survival from 1942 have to do with today?

Published on: February 15, 2018
Rachel Hostyk is the associate editor of The American Interest.
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  • Gary Hemminger

    It is absolutely hilarious to me that there are people that think our immigration policies are cruel, when we have taken in massive amounts of people to the point where it is causing instability. And now people are pushing back on immigrants and they say we as a society is cruel. Have you seen the immigration laws in Mexico. You have no basic rights whatsoever.

    The answer to our immigration challenges is certainly not building walls and deporting all illegals. But it also is not open borders and sanctuary cities. Adam Garfinkle said something that really should resonate with people. If rational people don’t control the borders, irrational people will. Trump is not the start of cruel immigration policies, he is the natural result of immigration policies that allowed people to come into this country where they essentially have no rights. Just handing these people rights as if they are citizens will just invite millions more in to do the same thing.

    Policies must have heart and head. Too much heart and you just get bad results. Too much head and you get cruel results. You must have heart and head in sync.

    • QET

      Agreed. It should be a requirement of everyone who castigates anyone who desires to more tightly control immigration to state the point at which, and the conditions under which, they themselves would allow that immigrants can be prohibited and/or deported. Only when they state their own positions on such matters can we see whether they have given the matter actual thought and evaluate the reasonableness of their positions.

      But I am not prepared to concede that Trump’s policies are cruel or otherwise irrational or unreasonable: deportations of persons here illegally (why should they be privileged to break that law while we would imprison them for burglary?); the building of a wall along a specific border that for 40+ years has been no real border at all with the result that 10% of an entire nation’s population has fled that nation into this one rather than engage in the kind of politics that would make that nation a place people native to it don’t want to flee (this, in addition to your valid point on that country’s own immigration laws and attitudes); the temporary prohibition on immigration from certain places where recent history plausibly informs could be a source of persons homicidally hostile to this country and its citizens. Any of these policies can be discussed and disagreed with. But one thing is certain–they are not irrational.

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  • Anthony

    What does an allegory about human survival from 1942 have to do with today? Well. it is difficult to say but given author’s review of “The Skin of Our Teeth”, I would venture to adduce that Play attempts to represent not only human survival but also human commonplaceness: an allegory for struggle against life’s ever challenging of both self and place, perhaps. The author infers as much here: “it celebrates humans’ ability to survive…but in doing so, it reduces them to less than what they are.” Still, Rachel Hostyk, thanks for reviewing Wilder’s art and the Company’s delivery (conflict between selfishness and kindness – while recognizing that selfishness is often borne of hope).

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