Barone Admits (Unintentionally?) That A Real America Preceded The "Nation Of Immigrants"
Print Friendly and PDF

[James Fulford writes: This piece addresses some of the points I was making about the core American nation being overwhelmed and outnumbered in yesterday's Virginia Dare piece, Virginia Dare—White Minority! For more of's Barone Beat see Michael Barone, The Immigrant Invasion, And Our Posterity, and many more.]

Michael Barone has long been a fervent proselytizer for open borders, a relentless celebrant of America as a perpetually self-reinventing "Nation of Immigrants" (a non sequitur if ever there were one). In Barone's view, the United States of America is the ultimate economic tabula rasa. It can absorb endless numbers of anybodies from everywhere. It doesn't matter how greatly the newcomers differ from Americans or even how much they differ from each other.

Yet somehow America, despite having—again in Barone's eyes—no true ethnic core of its own, no true original nation, has a mystical ability to assimilate anyone to a common culture and society.

I wonder if Barone bothers to look around him as he makes his way around New York and Washington, both cities teeming with patently unassimilated and unassimilating non-Americans!

Barone claims, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, that the Great Wave of European (Italian, Irish, Jewish, et al.) immigration of 100 years ago was assimilated without any real hiccups, and without changing the character of the country. But anyone who has watched machine politics in action in cities like B. Hussein Obama's Chicago, or knows anything about the Mafia, or is at all familiar with how largely Jewish intellectual elites have utterly transformed American social and political discourse, knows that is nonsense.

Barone even claimed in a recent book that today's Great Wave of far less assimilable foreign interlopers will assimilate just as thoroughly as the Great Wave immigrants did. Setting aside for a moment the question of just how thoroughly the First Great-Wavers actually did assimilate, anyone who has observed the self-contained English-free mestizo barrios, Somali enclaves, Hmong tribal camps and China- and Koreatowns now springing up all across our country knows that is utter nonsense, too.

Barone's premise is the classic liberal/neocon formulation that America is distinct in possessing a Rule of Law grounded in certain Propositions (let's also decline to inquire into the ethnic and religious background of those who supplied the Propositions). But it isn't rooted in anything else, and so is ultimately all the world's inheritance. Everybody in the world is a proto-American—even if he doesn't know it yet.

Michael Barone is definitely The Wall Street Journal's kind of guy.

So it was a little surprising to read an interesting recent column in which Barone reviews trends in American elections. Rehashing some American political history, Barone—perhaps unintentionally—acknowledges patterns with deep roots in American history and the American people, ones that precede post-independence immigration.  [Haunted By Ghosts Of Political Leanings, August 08, 2008]

In other words, Barone perceives in the historical America just the sorts of things that make America a real country, not a hypothetical Proposition Nation/Nation of Immigrants.

Thus Barone also acknowledges, at least implicitly, that America is a real country with a real history of its own.

Wow. Has he been reading David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed?

As his column's title indicates, Barone thinks this year's political campaigns are "haunted by ghosts of political leanings." So he says, opening the column:

"To understand changes in the political map, we naturally tend to look for contemporary explanations. But American political alignments are not written on an empty slate. Beginnings matter, and the civic personalities of states tend to reflect the cultural folkways of their first settlers." [emphasis added].

Barone is explicit: America did not begin as the tabula rasa his open-borders compadres would have us believe!

He goes on to give examples, ones that show he is well aware of how the original Thirteen Colonies were settled by distinct groups from Great Britain, as so ably documented in  Albion's Seed: London and East Anglian Dissenters became the forefathers of Massachusetts Bay Puritans and other New Englanders; West Country Anglicans were the founding stock of Virginia and (with English Catholic founders) Maryland; while the "Scots-Irish" (often in fact people from the Anglo-Scottish border) became the ancestors of the highland Americans of the Appalachians.

Those distinctions have persisted even as American settlers headed West from the original 13 states, and remain important today, even after intermittent waves of post-independence immigration.

There's nothing surprising about this phenomenon. It's the cultural equivalent of the "founders' effect" in genetics—the propensity of the first generation's characteristics to be magnified through the generations that follow.

Barone then applies this insight to today's politics. He writes about two areas of the country where John McCain is, despite what should be crushing negatives for himself personally and the GOP generally, polling as well as or better than G.W. Bush did in 2004:

"One is the route of the westward surge of New England Yankees across upstate New York, northern Ohio, southern Michigan and into northern Illinois. McCain is running ahead of Bush in Massachusetts and just one point behind in New York and (despite its economic problems) Michigan.

"This Yankee-settled region has been turned off by Southern accents, such as Bush's Texas twang, and McCain evidently is less off-putting to its cultural liberals.

"The other area in which McCain is running even with or better than Bush is the set of states settled by the Scotch-Irish stock, who thronged to the Appalachians in colonial days and whose descendants followed the southwest path pioneered by their hero, Andrew Jackson."

What Barone is talking about, of course, is the patterns of settlement, culture and political attitudes established by the original Americans (no offense meant to American Indians, but the United States of America is the creation of British colonists and their posterity). These are American patterns that predate immigration; indeed they predate independence.

Barone would no doubt prefer not to see it that way, but he inadvertently reminds us that what was achieved by the American Revolution (itself something of a misnomer) was not the creation from nothing of a new nation on empty land waiting to be populated by immigrants. Rather, it was the securing of political independence for what was already, by 1776, a settled country.

America grew after independence, and many immigrants—for good and ill—have played their part in that growth. But there was an America before there were immigrants to her—a point worth remembering, even if the reminder comes from as unlikely a source as Michael Barone!

There is one question I have to ask:

Aware as Michael Barone is of America's national distinctiveness, that our country is in fact something more organic and real than a "Proposition Nation" or a "Nation of Immigrants", and given that he writes of this distinctiveness with what seems to be genuine enjoyment, why does Barone nevertheless adamantly advocate abolishing our remarkably successful country—by flooding her territory with unceasing waves of inassimilable foreigners?

Henry McCulloch (email him) blogs frequently for VDARE.COM.

Print Friendly and PDF