In a recent press conference, William Bennett (speaking, no doubt, for his overworked ghost writer) condemned Pat Buchanan and people who share his beliefs about immigration as "dirty, rotten" and "ungrateful." Now, it is one thing to argue the economic merits of immigration policy, citing evidence - such as Messrs. Bennett, Kemp, Wallop and Abraham did recently in The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 29, 1996, "A Manifesto for Immigration"). That is how conservatives fight for their beliefs. It is quite another matter for Bennett and his allies to employ McCarthyite tactics - wielding innuendo, code-words, and guilt by association - to blacken the moral reputations of those who oppose their policy preferences. That is how conservatives fight.
I wish to address head-on the central claim of neoconser-vative anti-nationalists: the notion that it is morally wrong for Euro-Americans to oppose immigration flows for racial, ethnic, cultural or religious reasons. (Neoconserva-tives do not voice any objections to Japanese who wish to maintain an Asian majority in Japan, or Jamaicans who wish to retain black rule on their island - or indeed, to Mexicans who resist Guatemalan, Cuban and Honduran immigration using tactics that would land an American INS officer in prison along with Stacey Koons and James Earl Ray.) This demographic question - not the integrity of the welfare system, or labor competition, or environmental damage - is the real issue at the heart of the immigration debate.
First, Euro-Americans will be a minority in this country by the middle of the next century, solely because of immigration. African-Americans will remain a minority, but will decline from the single most important minority - with special moral, historical claims on the government - to one group among many minorities, all clamoring for recognition.
Second, no other group will take the place of whites as a dominant majority. There will be no dominant majority, but rather a vast parliament of ethnicities at wildly different degrees of assimilation, English-language fluency, education and skills. Certainly, given the continuation of current family-reunification policies, most of these immigrants will come from impoverished nations with high birth rates and low educational levels. We will have imported tens of millions of people from a hundred nations, all to compete for the very low-skill jobs that even now are disappearing, leaving undereducated natives jobless. In the absence of a majority culture, assimilation will become harder and more incomplete; to what culture should newcomers assimilate? Internet? Virtual reality? Disney Español?
Third, both Euro-Americans and African-Americans will see their political influence, cultural power, and economic well-being suffer, as other groups from political blocs discriminate in their own favor and establish policies suited to their own cultural traditions and preferences. Imagine the current tensions between blacks and Koreans in Los Angeles, or between Anglos and Cubans in Miami, multiplied by dozens of new ethnicities in nearly every American city. The two historically central groups, black and white, who by their sheer numbers have shed most of the blood and done most of the hard work that built this country, will find themselves dispossessed of the cultural benefits their ancestors earned. These centered around the English language, British liberties, and the whole complex of Anglo-American political culture, to which African-Americans are also rightful heirs. The immigrants - simply by arriving and not by any ill-will or intrinsic inferiority, but simply because of their vast numbers and great variety - will deprive Euro-and African-Americans of many important civic goods. Also injured will be Latino- and Asian-Americans who are already here and have successfully assimilated to the current Anglo culture.
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Perhaps the dispossessed groups will find the new America exciting and cosmopolitan. Historical experience - that of the Celts in Britain, the Cherokees in Georgia, the Tutsis in Rwanda, the Aborigines in Australia - suggest otherwise. The story of marginalized majorities is nowhere a happy one. Even neo-conservatives such as Dinesh D'Souza recognize the problems implied by racial fragmentation, and recommend the unlikely solution of large-scale intermarriage. We must destroy the races in order to save them, it seems.
In this bright, future, neoconservative New Inner City on a Hill, who will enjoy cultural dominance? Overall, no one, since there will not be a majority culture in the projected polyglot United States. But within the increasingly fragmented society that survives this permanent cultural revolution there will be local elites centered around ethnicity who will squabble with neighboring elites, impose their ways on local minorities, and in general act in accordance with flawed human nature. And any study of human nature (we paleoconservatives refer to this study as "history" and recommend it highly to neoconservatives) suggests that ethnic groups in a single polity strive always and everywhere to dominate other ethnic groups, a struggle which only abates when there is a clear, unquestioned majority - and which re-ignites when that group wanes. Thus the growing Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, the burgeoning Palestinian minority in Israeli territory, the new Albanian majority in Kossovo - each becomes truly problematic as it grows in numbers and challenges the status quo. We will learn anew this lesson on a continental scale.
"Those of us of any race who are here legally [can] assert our right to close our borders for the sake of ...a functional nation."
To recognize this law of human nature is not to assert the superiority of one's own group according to some objective, Enlightenment scale of human value. Why resort to such nonsense? Throw out the I.Q. tests and the phrenology charts onto the same ash heap as the Afrocentric history texts and Bennett's The Book of Virtues. We current Americans, those of us of every race who are here legally, have no need of such dishonest or irrelevant ideological constructs to assert our right to close our borders for the sake of maintaining a functional nation. It is our prerogative and we choose to exercise it. Period.
Similarly, those Euro- and African Americans who fought to close the borders from 1921-1924 were well within their rights, even if some of them used impolite rhetoric. They and their ancestors had fought to build America, and owned a vital stake in it. My grandfather, Patríc Zmirak, and his ancestors had fought to build Habsburg Croatia, and had a vital stake in that. By choosing in 1916 to leave the land on which he had a moral claim, and asking to enter a country on which he had absolutely none, Grandpa Zmirak was asking the heirs of Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Douglass for a favor. It was within their rights to refuse. I am grateful that they did not.
But they did have to draw a line, to weigh the advantages of cheap immigrant labor against the dangers of political extremism and ethnic separatism posed by massive numbers of poor Southern Europeans with no experience of democracy or liberty, and perhaps at some point to close the borders. I am grateful that they did.
I would show little gratitude now if I took the fact of my immigrant heritage as warrant for wantonly destroying the very country that was kind enough to allow my grandfather to share its bounty; subjecting the children of those welcoming citizens, and mine, (and Dinesh D'Souza's) to the fate of the Lebanese Maron-ites, the Welsh, the Bosnians, the Zulus and the Afrikaners.