Peter Brimelow writes: The tree-based National Review has just published a cover story entitled Keeping Blacks Poor by staff writer Kevin D. Williamson, [subscriber link] with the picture you see on the left. It's a piece of harmless, quite well-written wonkery, pointing out that Democratic Party policies on minimum wage, union membership, blah blah, are bad for blacks, yawn.
The answer: "demography is destiny in American politics"—a sentence that actually appeared in the pre-purge National Review [Electing a New People, June 16, 1997]. Americans vote according to deep-structure ethnic loyalties, which is why post-1965 immigration policy is suicidal for the GOP (and for the historic American nation).
A subsequent appearance of this sentence in the post-purge National Review was in 2001. Ramesh Ponnuru [email him] smeared the author (moi, at that time still on the magazine's masthead) as crypto-racist:
"Instead, he said that this thesis was a matter of 'common sense' that only the blinkered politically correct would deny, supplementing this obscurantism with frequent cryptic remarks about race being "destiny in American politics." [Minding the 'Golden Door': Toward a Restrictionism that can Succeed, National Review, April 2, 2001]
This was a just minor part of the process by which NR's Washington bureau converted the magazine into a neocon-dominated, Beltway Republican bulletin board—then subservient, of course, to the senile Bill Buckley's insatiable vanity.
The major thing you need to know about National Review's article on the damage that liberalism and the Democratic Party do to black employment prospects: it does not mention immigration!
There was a time when the issue was allowed to be addressed at NR. Through the miracle of the internet, we post this evidence:
National Review, November 25, 1996
IT was the audience I had hoped to face since I began the stormy publicity tour for my book Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster: a roomful of liberals, gathered by the courageous Clarence Wood of the Chicago Human Relations Council, for a serious discussion of the impact of immigration on native-born blacks.
That such an impact must exist is obvious, analytically and empirically. No economist denies (unless perhaps writing in the hope of publication on the Wall Street Journal opinion page) that specific native-born workers are displaced by immigration—they just occasionally claim that output is increased in aggregate . . . somewhat. Theoretically. And all economists accept that there is no guarantee that this increase goes to those specific workers displaced.
But the effect upon America's exquisitely vulnerable blacks of the influx accidentally triggered by the 1965 Immigration Act is almost never discussed. Yet post-1965 immigrants and their descendants now outnumber blacks—whose progress has indeed simultaneously and suspiciously stalled.
For example, black sociologist William Julius Wilson's much-ballyhooed magnum opus, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor contains only a few fragmentary references to immigration. This is particularly astonishing since the fragments tantalizingly imply that the impact of immigration is (and is viewed by blacks as) profound.
Notwithstanding these worthy considerations, my Chicago meeting was an utter fiasco. The audience, it turned out, had come only to denounce my subjective, i.e., racist, motivations for raising this improper topic. After the usual brutal exchanges, they stomped off into the morning sunshine, raving and making signs against the evil eye. We sold only one book, to a stray Arab-American who had somehow wandered in.
"They weren't very interested in the impact on blacks," I said ruefully to my host.
Woods calmly agreed. He'd already told me he'd been attacked by his foundation peers for providing me with a forum at all. Now he also noted that, apart from himself, his daughter, and his assistant, there had been no blacks whatever at this meeting ostensibly organized to discuss their community's plight. "African-American leadership in this country has collapsed," he said.
I thought about my experience while reading Roy Beck's welcome and valuable The Case against Immigration. From his first sentence recalling his "annual summer treks leading high-school students in building houses for the poor," Beck, an active Methodist layman, systematically attempts to appeal to liberals. He shows conclusively that the current mass-immigration policy has again begun to hurt blacks, blue-collar workers (whence the spearhead role of organized labor in ending the last great wave of immigration at the turn of the century, before unions were captured by leftist bureaucrats), and finally the environment (by second-guessing the implicit decision of native-born Americans, in choosing smaller families, to end their country's population growth—far and away the main pressure on its ecology).
Liberals say they care about these things. I say: Phooey! Liberalism remains now what James Burnham defined it as 32 years ago: the ideology of Western suicide. And immigration must certainly transform, and may arguably destroy, America as we know it.
This explains why most liberals are not merely uninterested in what immigration is doing to their ostensible causes; they are vehemently opposed to the issue being discussed at all. With conservatives, by contrast, you can usually get an argument. Or at least a reaction —perhaps because so many establishment conservatives have so plainly been waiting so long for the chance to call someone else a you-know-what.
Beck seriously weakens his book to avoid offending the liberals' taboos. For example, he suppresses any discussion of immigration policy's unprecedented racial transformation of America. And they have rewarded him, in the seven months since The Case against Immigration was published, with indifference. There has to be a moral here.
Only now, with the manifest refusal of the immigration issue to go away, are major reviews coming in. Their grudging but cautious tone recalls Hilaire Belloc's advice to toddlers: "Always keep a hold of Nurse/For fear of finding something worse." We happy few at NATIONAL REVIEW like to think that something worse is us.[PB: Not any more. See Buckley fesses up (finally): National Review has caved on immigration!, August 23, 2000]
Beck's strength is reporting rather than analysis. But his reporting turns up many gems that are new even to me.
For example, Beck has found a crushing answer to the point, recently much touted by immigration enthusiasts, that foreign students earn extraordinary proportions of U.S. advanced degrees in science and technology. He cites Rand Corporation and National Institute of Science studies proving that these proportions simply reflect government financial aid—subsidies—available to foreigners. Result: a vicious circle of overproduction, local labor-market gluts (as for physics PhDs), and an even greater reluctance of native-born Americans to enter these fields. American taxpayers are in effect just financing their own children's dispossession.
Similarly, Beck's detailed reporting says more about the microeconomic consequences of irresponsible immigration policy than is dreamed of by doctrinaire macroeconomists. A sad example: Wendy Gramm, wife of Republican presidential candidate Phil Gramm. During the Iowa caucus race, Mrs. Gramm dismissed complaints about low wages paid by the meatpacking giant IBP, of which she was a director, with a knee-jerk platitude from her days as an economics professor: "Wages of labor, like other prices, are set in a market."
Yeah—but this particular market has been distorted by a policy-produced flood of cheap Latin American and Asian immigrant labor, which has allowed managements to choose a low-wage, low-quality, high-turnover personnel strategy. The immigrant supply is also subsidized by further transfer payments like education, welfare, and (often) refugee benefits. Result: American workers displaced, American towns transformed into alien islands, taxes increased, consumer prices probably lowered rather little overall (because labor is actually a minor factor of production—even assuming no mechanization or substitution), and an enriched special-interest group: IBP management and stockholders.
To which Mrs. Gramm, of course, belongs. Under the circumstances, it is surprising that the citizens of Iowa did not process her husband into chopped liver. Come to think of it, they did.
You can get at this sort of thing conceptually. But Beck's anecdotal method is appealing, if less complete. Another example: the tragedy of Wausau, Wisconsin, a town overwhelmed by Laotian chain migration triggered by irresponsible church groups sponsoring "refugees" and delivering them, amid much self-congratulation, to the welfare system. Beck's original Atlantic Monthly exposé of this scandal inspired a celebrated 60 Minutes segment (without acknowledgment, needless to say). The catastrophic "refugee" law remains politically sacrosanct, even in this year's failed immigration-reform proposal.
Still, when it comes to a subject as liberal-unfriendly as immigrant crime, Beck must retreat behind a flurry of safe press clippings. Resistance to hearing about this particular aspect of the immigration disaster is so intense that some law-enforcement officials have decided cravenly not even to collect the data, and not even when admitting immigrants to citizenship.
Yet certain types of crime are clearly now dominated by immigrant mafias. Not for the first time, of course—this is the unavoidable but unmentionable flip side of that immigrant energy and enterprise we hear so much about. Watch for it. Thus there was much publicity when a nationwide credit-card scam was broken recently. You had to read carefully to detect that it was run entirely by Nigerian immigrants.
Some of the facts about immigrant crime appear in The New Ethnic Mobs, a workmanlike compilation by crime reporter William Kleinknecht, who apparently blundered into the subject by accident and proclaims his liberal, pro-immigrant credentials at prudent intervals. (Still, his New York Times reviewer, Stephen Handelman, felt obliged to add the ludicrous PC gloss that crime is not an argument against immigration because "a visa is less important to post-Cold War criminals than a computer, a telephone, or a fax machine"—as if drugs were shipped and competing dealers rubbed out electronically.)
Yet Kleinknecht is honest or naive enough to make clear the links between the 1965 Immigration Act and this new criminal wave. For example, he says that Chinese crime (specialties include drugs, fraud, home-invasion robberies) could be quelled if there was another immigration pause, permitting assimilation. Ominously, he says the most serious long-run threat is posed by the Russian Jewish Organizatsiya—another product of that sacrosanct "refugee" law.
Honest and emphatically not naive is The Immigration Mystique by Chilton Williamson Jr., a former NR literary editor and now a Chronicles senior editor. His erudite and provocative meditation eschews policy wonkery about welfare or even crime statistics and goes straight for the ultimate American dilemma: whether mass immigration is compatible with national survival.
This is a poet's book, with rich writing and no index. Thus in a series of devastating thrusts at Ben Wattenberg's First Universal Nation messianic fantasy, Williamson writes: "Soon perhaps he will suggest changing the printing on our currency from 'In God We Trust' to 'God We Are."' And Williamson insists, in contrast to what he calls the "propositionists" who claim the U.S. is only an ideological construct, that America is at base a nation like any other, with the same needs for cultural harmony: "If I own a horse, that horse will not survive long if, under the delusion that it is a unicorn, I insist on giving it stardust to eat and moonbeams to drink."
Nevertheless, disguised by its literary form and the trademark Chronicles crankishness, this is perhaps the most ambitious of recent immigration books. Williamson dares to raise the unspoken ethnic agendas that quite obviously motivate many immigration enthusiasts. He unflinchingly defends the principle of the much-abused 1920s quota legislation (he notes its intent was to promote cultural, not racial or religious homogeneity, preferring "a British Jew over an Armenian Christian"). He even speculates frankly about whether the 1890-1920 immigration was, in fact, such an unalloyed cultural blessing to the nation that made the Revolution and fought the Civil War and which is now, in some measure, displaced.
This originality, needless to say, has terrified sensible but timid souls like the Brookings Institution's Peter Skerry, reviewing Williamson in the Washington Post. Immigration-enthusiast enforcers like the Center for Equal Opportunity's John J. Miller, patrolling the ideological border for the Wall Street Journal editorial page, have been apoplectic. Miller even complained incredulously that his own grandmother might have been prevented by Williamson from immigrating from Austria-Hungary, an unimaginable disaster.
Curiously, the enforcers have been much less exercised by Thomas Sowell's Migrations and Cultures. Sowell is one of the wonders of the American intellectual world. This book illustrates with further massive narrative detail his central contribution: the insight that ethnic groups are not interchangeable but, for whatever reason, have social characteristics that persist. Most of the immigrant groups profiled by Sowell are economically successful. Consequently, dogmatic immigration enthusiasts like former Reagan official Grover Rees, reviewing Sowell in—where else?—the Wall Street Journal, have drawn the absurd conclusion that unsuccessful immigrant groups are a logical impossibility.
But in fact Sowell's work shows the direct opposite. Immigrants may very well have undesirable social characteristics. And these characteristics will not necessarily go away with lower marginal tax rates or any other panacea from the libertarian lotus land.
In Alien Nation, I leaned heavily on Sowell's work to make this point. Immigration has consequences. Public policy matters, especially in the selection process, fatally weakened in the 1965 Act. But I was quite unable to predict where Sowell himself would come down in the current immigration debate.
On the evidence of Migrations and Cultures, I would say Sowell, to his great credit, is on the move. He acknowledges many disadvantages of immigration, such as the spread of disease. And he adds a wrinkle of his own: "the historic role of immigration in advancing nations need not apply to its future role . . . less costly and less socially disruptive ways of transferring human capital have become more feasible."
Any Sowell pronouncement against the 1965 immigration disaster would be very bad news indeed for the enthusiasts. And they know it. Writing in the Boston Globe, Brandeis University's Lawrence H. Fuchs in effect admonished Sowell to stick to happy talk about immigration history and leave the contemporary scene alone. Above all, Fuchs thundered, he should not have cited Alien Nation, "a racially charged anti-immigration polemic that contains important factual errors"![The migrating peoples and what they carried, May 5, 1996]
As Roy Beck implicitly recognizes, "racially charged" in immigration-enthusiast-speak just means "mentions the facts." And since no one has been able to find "important factual errors" in Alien Nation—not surprisingly since the manuscript was checked by serious scholars in the field—Fuchs's attempted argument from authority might reasonably be described as a bare-faced lie.
Yet this simple-minded zealot is vice chairman of the late Barbara Jordan's U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, where he appears to be working to subvert the black former congressman's recommended reduction in legal immigration. In more ways than one, her death was a tragedy for her tragically betrayed country.
Peter Brimelow (email him) is editor of VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster, (Random House - 1995) and The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins - 2003)