Re-Reading Peter Brimelow's ALIEN NATION-25 Years Later
04/16/2020
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[VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow writes: 25 years ago tonight, April 16 1995, I was holed up in a Manhattan hotel room, paid for I am happy to say by Random House, with a very pregnant wife and infant son, about to begin the publicity tour for Alien Nation, which kicked off next day with an early morning NBC Today interview by Bryant Gumbel. It was during what John Derbyshire and I now call “The Interglacial,” the brief period after the collapse of the Soviet Union but before the Left reinvented itself as Cultural Marxist Enforcer of Political Correctness and Identity Politics. Immigration had long been out of public debate and a surprising number of people were willing to discuss the issueat first. Alien Nation even got not one but two respectful reviews in the New York Times. Incredible as it may seem, everyone on both sides expected some sort of patriotic immigration reform imminently. It took a great deal of lying and lobbying to bottle the issue up again and keep it effectively out of politics for another two decades.]

The spring of 1995 was a memorable time for me. I was attending a university in Washington D.C. and had an internship with a Conservative Inc. type organization. I fell in with a circle of friends who today would be known as Dissident Right. Back then, the closest word that described us was paleoconservative.

While I was a reader of Chronicles and Sam Francis’ Washington Times column (before he was fired that summer) and a supporter of Pat Buchanan's  then-surging GOP primary challenge, I did not think much about immigration. I certainly had the right views (I was against it) but it was not an issue I knew that much about. But when I read that Peter Brimelow was giving a talk at the Heritage Foundation (in mid-May, if memory serves) to promote his new book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, I attended. I had enjoyed his articles in National Review and his honesty on issues of race.

I was very impressed by the lecture and a few weeks later purchased a copy of Alien Nation in the Union Station bookstore while waiting to take a train. In fact, I found my Amtrak ticket stub tucked away in the pages while re-reading the book recently.

Of course, my innocence on what the author rightly called “America’s immigration disaster” ended on that train ride. The following are what stand out to me about this ground-breaking work on its 25th anniversary.

Myths

Most Americans know almost nothing about immigration. This includes politicians and those in the Main Stream Media. Brimelow addressed these myths throughout the book.

  • For example, we are told that open immigration is an American value. Yet immigration to the US was always tightly controlled—and strictly from Europe.

The 1790 Naturalization Act limited citizenship to whites. States, rather than the federal government, controlled immigration until 1875. The immigration of large numbers of non-British whites only began in the 1840s with Irish and then Southern and Eastern Europeans until 1921. The Immigration Act of 1924 effectively ended most immigration. What little there was after that came from Western Europe, thanks to the Quota Act of 1921.

  • “American has always been a haven for refugees,” is another common myth. Yet the first explicit recognition of refugees by Congress came only in 1980 with the Refugee Act.
  • “We need immigrants to help the economy,” is another one touted by immigration boosters. But Japan has almost no immigration and enjoys a first world economy (along with low crime and no Affirmative Action against Japanese).

Brimelow relates how one law student at a debate he had been invited to participate in at the University of Cincinnati (doesn’t happen anymore!) was shocked to learn that immigration is not a “civil right.” 

How It Happened

Alien Nation was also an excellent resource for an overview of how the US went from an almost 90% white population in 1965 to a multiracial population today. It didn’t just happen by accident. It was entirely due to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act. This legislation opened up the US to mass Third World immigration for the first time.

How did a 90% white America allow this? According to Brimelow, it was mainly due to simple lying from politicians and the media. He quoted Sen. Edward Kennedy’s remarks about the bill at the time:

First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same …. Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset…In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.

Of course, this was an outright lie. Brimelow notes:

Immigrants do come predominately from one area—some 85 percent of the 16.7 million legal immigrants arriving in the United States between 1968 and 1993 came from the Third World.

Brimelow tried to interview Senator Kennedy for the book to ask him about these statements but was denied access. However, Kennedy’s immigration advisor, Jerry Tinker, claimed the change in demographics was largely due to the drying up of desire to immigrate on the part of Europeans—and an unexpected increase in the number of Korean GI brides!

Race and Consequences

Of course, the most important parts of Alien Nation had to do with race. In Chapter Three, Brimelow made the point that, although immigration was always controlled and limited, it was almost entirely from Europe. This meant that white America was continually being reinforced by its immigration policy, until 1965. But by the 1980s, immigrants from Europe were only around ten percent of all immigrants.

This was not due to lack of interest from Europeans. Quotas were set by Congress that purposefully favored the Third World in US immigration policy. Again, most people know very little about how immigration works. How many people (apart from VDARE.com readers) realize that today’s policy massively favors non-whites over whites and has done so for over 50 years?

All of which means that whites are on the road to minority status in the nation they created. Brimelow notes that the 1960 Census shows whites comprising 88.6 percent of the US. In 1950, it was 89.5 percent.

It is grimly amusing to read the projections circa 1995 in Alien Nation. They were actually a bit too optimistic. Brimelow noted whites were projected to be 53 percent of the population by 2050 and perhaps hit minority status by 2060. He wrote that whites are estimated to be 64 percent in 2020.

Well, 2020 is indeed here and we are currently at 60.4 percent of the population (2019 figures). The most recent estimates are that whites will hit minority status by 2042 and comprise only 46 percent of the US by 2060.  

And even these stark numbers may seem too optimistic in another 25 years. Democrats and many Republicans support Amnesties for illegals and want legal immigration increased.

Why does this matter? Because, as Brimelow noted, “race and ethnicity are destiny in American politics.”

Alien Nation has a wealth of data and analysis on how changing demographics will impact things such as politics, crime, Affirmative Action, healthcare, welfare, the economy, the environment and other aspects of American life. As whites are finding out, none of this is good for them.

One thing Brimelow didn’t seem to predict explicitly in the book is the massive increase in anti-white hatred over the past 25 years. But to be fair, he did discuss the failure of multiracial nations to hold together due to racial acrimony.

It may seem somewhat secondary to most, but the most memorable part of Alien Nation to me was where Brimelow describes the immigration policies of other countries--some of whom send a great number of their people to the US. He called embassies from various countries and asked how he himself could go about immigrating to their nations. Bemused officials—often after letting out a laugh—were blunt in their replies. Here are just a few examples:

  • Japan: “Why do you want to emigrate to Japan? … There is no immigration to Japan.”
  • China: “China does not accept any immigrants. We have a large enough population.”
  • Philippines:You need to be married to a Filipino or have capital to invest.”
  • Taiwan: “You need Taiwanese relatives by blood or marriage or investment capital.”
  • Egypt: “Egypt is not an immigrant country. We do not permit immigrants.”
  • India: “Since you are not of Indian origin, while it is not impossible for you to immigrate to India, it is a very difficult, very complex and a very, very long process.”
  • South Korea: “Korea does not accept immigrants.”

This part had the same effect on me 25 years ago as it does today. For all the talk of immigration, no borders, refugees and a multiracial society being inevitable, non-whites are batting a thousand when it comes to stopping all of this. Not only are they never called racist for not allowing any immigration of other races, their co-racialists, once settled in white nations, are only too happy to lecture whites about “racism.” All while vigorously supporting and identifying with their own ethnostates, of course.

But it’s not as if the US is race-blind when it comes to immigration policy, Brimelow pointed out. The US government allows its overseas territories of American Samoa, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Marianas, and Palau to set their own immigration policies. Remarkably enough, these territories are not seeking diversity and multiracialism through immigration. Samoa and the Marianas don’t even allow US citizens to own land unless they are of islander ancestry.

“The world is laughing at America,” Brimelow wrote Perhaps they are right to laugh at such easy marks.

What could be done to stop America’s immigration disaster? Brimelow’s solutions apply just as well today as they did in 1995. Repeal the 1965 Immigration Act, stop illegal immigration cold and cut back on or even cut off all legal immigration. Of course, immigrants should not be eligible for welfare handouts or Affirmative Action preferences.

Reception

Alien Nation was reviewed in a remarkably wide range of Main Stream outlets. The Leftist reviews were pretty much what you would expect and are no different than what would appear today. Below are just a few examples:

The Guardian (UK)

“Despite his blatantly racist outlook, Brimelow has actually insinuated himself into the epicenter of media attention and on to the bookshelves of mainstream Americans. Like The Bell Curve, Alien Nation is disguised as "common sense" about an issue connected to race. The author would like to have his readers believe that his book is a bluntly honest critique of US immigration policy. But it can also be seen as an attempt to make racism fit for good society again.”

Village Voice

“We might dismiss the rantings of Peter Brimelow as delusional paranoia. But the truth is, it's more of a desperate gasp. As multinational development schemes like NAFTA and GATT continue to degrade the quality of Third World life, more and more people are being displaced. We take our acts across oceans in order to survive. Our survival depends on the destruction of the privilege Brimelow is so desperate to defend. His fear is justified. We will bury him.”

Newsweek

“America has long been a pluralistic society, and it has always muddled through. Why should second-generation Pakistani-Americans be less adaptable than their Polish-American counterparts 70 years ago? Brimelow needs reminding that the melting pot still works—and that his alarmist views on race and ethnicity are exactly what country is trying to outgrow.”

But National Review – the voice of official conservatism at the time, but under the editorship of John O’Sullivan, whose deviationism on immigration was a factor in William F. Buckley’s abrupt firing of him in 1997—dedicated four reviews to Alien Nation. One was from the great Sam Francis who, as always, cut to the heart of the matter:

The arguments that develop from these claims run counter to the conception of America as an "idea," a "proposition,'" or a "creed." That conception implies that the United States has almost a bottomless capacity to absorb and assimilate immigrants, since assimilation'' would consist in little more than mere assent to the credal identity of the nation. But Mr. Brimelow performs meticulous surgery here as well, showing, for example, that both the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist assumed ethnic and cultural homogeneity as a precondition of a coherent nationhood. The point, of course, is that whatever ideas enter into the definition of America as a political order, those ideas depend for their proper functioning on a population that accepts them as habits balanced and defined by other habits rather than as newly learned precepts and abstractions. It is unlikely that massive numbers of immigrants will doff their old cultural garments and don new ones comfortably. Hence, large-scale immigration represents a threat to the cultural homogeneity, and thus the political unity, of the nation.

One of the more confused reviews was by Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian in his Immigration Review newsletter. While he agreed with most of the arguments against immigration in the book, he sounded curiously like a hysterical Leftist when the subject turned to race.

Brimelow writes that "the massive ethnic and racial transformation that public policy is now inflicting on America is totally new—and in terms of how Americans have traditionally viewed themselves, quite revolutionary." This is the main point of the book—and is simply incorrect. America has been ethnically transforming itself continually, and the claim that Irish and Italians were more similar to 19th century American natives than today's immigrants are to us is unhistorical and anachronistic.

On the contrary, the changing ethnic makeup of the immigrant flow can be seen as a further unfolding of a process started long ago, as the definition of those deemed fit to be part of the nation has expanded. The people of Massachusetts and Virginia, after all, originally considered Anglicans and Congregationalists, respectively, to be unfit for membership in their communities. Later, non-British northern European Protestants, such as the Huguenots and Dutch, were accepted (grudgingly) as potential Americans. Still later, Catholics, at first suspect because of the hierarchical and seemingly anti-republican nature of their church, were included. [A Flawed Jewel, Immigration Review, Summer 1995]

Perhaps hoping to triangulate (it didn’t work, CIS was named an "SPLC Designated  Hate Group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center CultMarx enforcers in 2017) Krikorian even attempted a version of “the Irish weren’t considered white” argument:

But what is white? The Portuguese, who first arrived in New England in colonial times, certainly weren't considered white; nor were the Sicilians.

Huh? Why were Portuguese and Sicilians allowed to come to the US at a time when only whites were allowed to immigrate and become citizens? Why were they not segregated in the South like blacks? Why were Joe DiMaggio and Lew Fonseca allowed to play and thrive in the segregated, “whites only” era of major league baseball?

Perhaps significantly, Immigration Review subsequently carried a dissent at the insistance of board member Diana Hull, but that review is not online at CIS.

Legacy

One of Peter Brimelow’s early admirers was Ann Coulter. She has praised his work for opening her eyes to the reality of immigration. Her 2015 bestseller, Adios America, is obviously influenced by Alien Nation. Adios America, in turn, influenced Donald Trump’s views on immigration. It was these views which separated Trump from the rest of the lackluster GOP field in 2016 and likely won him the presidency.

While demographics have gotten worse since 1995, there is at least now a wide recognition of the problems caused by immigration. Even Establishment Republican types have to at least pretend to be against amnesties and for a border wall.

And while President Trump has not been perfect, he has done more for immigration control than any other president in my lifetime. It is hard to see how this would have happened without the hard work of Peter Brimelow and people like him who labored many years in the immigration control movement.

Immigration and demography are the issues that will decide the fate of the United States. Alien Nation helped bring America’s immigration disaster to the attention of many who sensed something was wrong and couldn’t comprehend why they felt like strangers in what was once their nation. The fight is now much larger, and more Americans than ever are aware of the stakes.

Alien Nation was a massive source of inspiration to me and to many others who have been fighting the immigration battle for a quarter of a century. May it continue to influence more Americans as we work to salvage what is left of America.

Peter Bradley [Email him] writes from Washington D.C.

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