June 05, 2006
Time To Rethink Immigration (II): Freeing America From The Immigration Gulag
By Peter Brimelow
"Yes, the taiga and the tundra awaited them, the record cold of Oymyakon and the copper excavations of Dzhezkazgan; pick and barrow; starvation rations of soggy bread; the hospital; death. The very worst.
“But there was peace in their hearts.
“They were filled with the fearlessness of those who have lost everything, the fearlessness which is not easy to come by but which endures.”
— Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle [P. 579]
I don’t care if he’s unfashionable, I continue to be impressed by the great Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I opened my 14,000-word 1992 Time To Rethink Immigration? cover story in the pre-purge National Review with a disguised homage to his novel about Stalin’s Gulag, The First Circle. (This article just had a huge spike in traffic, thanks to a generous column by Ann Coulter). I often close my speeches—for example, here and here —with his powerful Nobel Prize address evocation of the absolute value of nations (“The disappearance of nations would impoverish us no less then if all men had become alike with one personality, one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind…” So why abolish America?)
On May 25, despite heroic resistance from patriots like Jeff Sessions (R.-AL), the U.S. Senate passed S.2611—which should properly be called the Kennedy-Bush Amnesty/ Immigration Acceleration bill, since it is fundamentally a Democratic measure, supported by only a minority of Republicans, made possible solely by the fanatical support of the Bush White House. Among many other awful things, including amnesty, this disgusting special-interest feeding frenzy will at least double legal immigration from its current unprecedented highs. It is a further, giant step towards abolishing America. It is quite plainly treason.
Now that Congress has returned after the Memorial Day recess, Kennedy-Bush, or some poisonous part of it, may well pass the House and become law. The moral of recent immigration legislation history is that Washington’s insiders have ways of making elected officials talk—and vote.
Judging from VDARE.COM’s huge email traffic, the controversy over the Senate’s sell-out has for the first time alerted many ordinary Americans to what is being done to their country and to their children's’ future. They have fought hard to prevent it. They may very well be shocked and dismayed if it goes through.
But, as a scarred veteran of the struggle for patriotic immigration reform, I am not. It has been obvious for some time that this will be a long and terrible war. So to these new patriotic reformers, and to my fellow scarred veterans in the struggle, I offer another passage from Solzhenitsyn, which forms the epigraph to this article.
It comes at the end of The First Circle. The sharashka, the relatively privileged prison for scientists, has been dissolved. The novel’s characters are being dispatched back into the maw of the worst mass murder in European history. “But there was peace in their hearts. They were filled with the fearlessness of those who have lost everything…”
Maybe nobody is going to die if Kennedy-Bush becomes law—apart, of course, from the steady but unpublicized toll from drunk driving, crime, disease, financial ruin and so on—although ever more American communities will be debauched and destroyed. (Think Maywood, CA, writ state-wide…region-wide). Otherwise, however, this total dispossession is actually the situation in which America’s immigration reform patriots have been for several years.
They had already lost everything. By the late 1990s, they were effectively excluded from the mass media and, especially after the disaster of the Bush clan’s recapture of the Republican Party in 2000, from all political expression. They were treated with a radical contempt virtually unique in the otherwise relatively collegial and difference-splitting political culture of American democracy. They had nowhere to go but up.
And, amid the lies and hysteria that invariably accompany any immigration-enthusiast assault on America, there is clear evidence that immigration reform patriots are indeed going up—and that they will continue to go up, until ultimately they and their cause prevail.
As we’ve said before on VDARE.COM, it took thirty years for Americans to cut off the last (1880-1920) Great Wave of immigration. By that measure, however unlikely it may now appear, in two or three election cycles the next cut-off will be here.
The Goldwater Effect
After a trauma like a stroke, the human brain is galvanized to rewire itself around the damaged area. Political trauma has a similar effect. The paradoxical result of Barry Goldwater’s disastrous defeat in 1964 was that it left the American conservative movement with its own independent rapidly-developing networks and institutions. These eventually enabled it to elect Ronald Reagan and solve an earlier generation of problems, bypassing an equally arrogant, ignorant and intransigent political Establishment.
Exactly the same process has been underway among immigration reform patriots. The immense difference between immigration reform in 2006 and ten years earlier is that, then, backroom Republican traitors like Senator Spencer Abraham could sabotage the Smith-Simpson immigration bill, which embodied the reduction proposals of the Jordan Commission, and be protected by Wall Street Journal Op Ed page propaganda. Now there is a critical mass of organizations with websites willing to expose such perfidy in devastating detail and radio talkshows willing to publicize it. These organizations have evolved different specialties and are, generally speaking, as collegial as can be humanly expected. It all reminds me very much of the conservative movement when I first immigrated into it in 1970.
Of course, the MSM remains pretty much a desert—but increasingly irrelevant, thanks to the internet. And even here, individuals like the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson, Slate’s Mickey Kaus and above all CNN’s Lou Dobbs have begun to speak up, albeit sometimes uncertainly. Additionally, the Washington Times’ Jerry Seper and Stephen Dinan now provide real news coverage.
The most recent and surprising (to me) development: politicians—politicians!—have begin to speak up too, with what looks like an almost Solzhenitsynian fearlessness.
VDARE.COM has written frequently about the heroism of Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo who has deservedly become a national figure on the immigration issue. But there are others: it would be hard to match the vitriol of the press release with which Georgia congressman Charlie Norwood greeted the Senate sell-out. I’m particularly taken with the explanation for his vote against Kennedy-Bush offered by Senator Chuck Grassley, the popular veteran Republican Senator from Iowa:
”I voted for amnesty in 1986 when we had a 1 million illegal immigrant problem. [It turned out to be 3 million—hint!] Now we have a 12 million illegal immigrant problem. Amnesty didn’t work in 1986 and I don’t think it’s going to work in 2006.”
(In other words, legislators learn from experience—bad news for immigration enthusiasts.) And then there’s this conclusion to his savage Washington Times Op Ed (May 23 2006), subtly entitled "The ‘Shamnesty’ Legislation", by California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher:
“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”
“Insanity”? Rohrabacher is talking about his own party’s White House here (G.W. Bush, current proprietor).
How’s that for “fearlessness”?
The Gathering Storm
One of the recent rituals of the immigration debate has been loud post-election proclamations by MSM immigration enthusiast commentators that immigration is not working as an electoral issue. This is disingenuous, as usual. It suppresses the fact that immigration has produced two of the most stunning electoral upheavals of modern times—California’s Proposition 187 in 1994 and Arizona’s Proposition 200 in 2004, both grass-roots triumphs in the teeth of united bipartisan Establishment opposition.
But what it also reflects, of course, is that these commentators have no understanding of nascent political movements—either because they only got into politics after the American conservative movement was in power (and, perhaps not coincidentally, able to reward supporters) or because they were actually Democrats at the time, like the neoconservatives. (Or even, in the case of the agile David Brooks, now token conservative columnist for New York Times where he is pro-immigration, natch—a socialist.)
The immigration issue has been gathering over American politics like an immense thundercloud. At first, you get lightning flashes—noble individuals who run as token protest candidates, like our Joe Guzzardi in the 2003 California gubernatorial race. Then you get thunder—contested primaries. Then you get isolated raindrops —captured nominations. Then, you get flurries of raindrops—election victories. Then the storm breaks—the movement comes to power.
It takes time. But you get to recognize the signs.
One sign right now is the absolutely extraordinary difficulty that President Bush has had (and may still have) in getting his amnesty passed.
Other scattered signs—for those have eyes:
Arch immigration enthusiast Utah Republican congressman Chris Cannon, whose costly defeat of an immigration reform primary challenger in 2004 was greeted with the usual triumphalist braying, faces an even more serious challenge this year. He may well lose—but the real point is that the trend is unmistakable.
In California, a special congressional election June 6 is a head-to-head clash between an immigration critic, former congressman and FAIR lobbyist Brian Bilbray, and a pro-immigration Democrat. Showing a fine sense of party loyalty, Senator John McCain has reneged on a commitment to appear at a fund-raiser for Bilbray. Once again, the trend is clear.
Of course, we already know from experience what will happen after these races. If the immigration reformers lose, there will be great MSM—and WSJ—trumpeting. If they win, they will be instantly blanked out, like Propositions 187 and 200.)
Washington State Republican convention delegates voted over the Memorial Day weekend to call for the revocation of the notorious "anchor-baby" interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Party leaders, needless to say, are panicking.
Nebraska Republican Congressman Tom Osborne, a legendary state football hero, lost the gubernatorial primary earlier this month because of his support for in-state college tuition rates for illegals.
Also in Nebraska, incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Nelson has succeeded in outflanking his Republican challenger, Peter Ricketts, by attacking him for supporting Kennedy-Bush, of which Nebraska’s senior Senator, Republican Chuck Hagel, was an architect. [Nelson challanges Ricketts on immigration, by Don Walton, Lincoln Journal-Star, May 31, 2006]
In Herndon, Virginia, the mayor and five town councilors were replaced on May 2 by voters enraged at their complacency about illegal immigrants, which included sponsoring a day labor site.
In Texas, there is now reportedly "no overlap between the Texas GOP and Bush on immigration." Their state party platform calls for "suspension of automatic U.S. citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. "
These signs will appear with increasing frequency and intensifying urgency. But whether the political Establishment chooses to recognize them is another matter.
On the immigration issue, the American elite has reacted with a bipartisan intransigence exceptional in democratic politics. The astonishing spectacle of a seriously unpopular President expending the last of his political capital to impose a policy that alienates his own base and dooms his party to ever-worsening minority status is merely the latest example of this phenomenon. There are several reasons for this bizarre behavior, but the consequence is the same: no evasive action in the face of the gathering storm.
As a result, in the end the current party system may just be swept away. This doesn’t happen often in American politics, but it does happen. Significantly, it was immigration (from Ireland) that provoked the Know-Nothing American Party and destroyed the Whig-Democrat “Second Party System” in the 1850s. The outbreak of the Civil War obscured this, because the Know-Nothings were also generally strong abolitionists—notwithstanding recent efforts to smear them as proto-Nazis—and chose to join the new Republican Party.
You didn’t hear it here first. (Well, I did discuss it in Alien Nation, p. 199-201). Recently, a variety of well-known names have been quietly speculating that something of the sort may be in the wind: veteran Reagan operative Lynn Nofziger, shortly before his death (scroll down to May 19, 2005 entry); Richard Viguerie, whose direct-mail operations played a key role in the Reaganite capture of the Republican Party; David Frum, despite being author of the cheerleading Bush biography The Right Man; Peggy Noonan, despite being a WSJ Op Ed columnist (although that must certainly give her first-hand familiarity with the problem).
It’s hard for people to believe that the political parties they grew up with could ever disappear. All I can say is: I’ve seen it before, in Canada.
In 1986, I finished my (also much-denounced) book on Canadian politics, The Patriot Game: Canada and the Canadian Question Revisited, by predicting that two new federal parties would appear: one Western-based, English-speaking, conservative; the other Quebec-based, French-speaking, separatist.
It took a few election cycles. But Stephen Harper is now Prime Minister in a minority government and the Bloc Quebecois holds the balance of power in Parliament.
No doubt my check (cheque in Canadian) is in the mail.
Political parties are distressing in their habits. But they appear to be necessary to run democratic government. Replacing them is a pain in the neck—and very awkward for individuals with careers invested in them, including many old friends from my days on the Senate staff. But in America’s immigration disaster, there will be plenty of pain to go around.
And more important things than political parties will be hurt. The whole American political concordat as it had evolved by the second half of the twentieth century is beginning to unravel.
I can see this in microcosm in editing VDARE.COM. We are a coalition. Many of our strongest articles are by patriotic American Catholics articulately appalled by much of their hierarchy's relentless support for immigration. But I increasingly get equally articulate articles from non-Catholic readers who have simply decided, on the basis of the bishops’ behavior, that the Catholic Church is a Bad Thing and, in particular, incompatible with the survival of the American nation-state.
In effect, the post-1965 immigration disaster, and the bishops’ foolish response to it, threatens to revive a controversy about the Catholic Church in America that had been dormant since the days of Nation editor Paul Blanshard’s 1949 best-selling polemic American Freedom and Catholic Power and John F. Kennedy’s celebrated 1960 speech to Protestant ministers in Houston, which was in many ways an answer. American Catholics may face the prospect of being forced by their bishops to chose between their country and their faith. Americans who are not Catholics face the prospect of losing not just their country but their friends.
Even darker is the issue raised by Larry Auster, author of the seminal The Path to National Suicide (click here for free download). Brooding on his View From the Right blog over the 11-0 vote of Jewish Senators for Kennedy-Bush and assorted other current Jewish open-borders manifestations, he asked recently:
“If America had known when admitting Jewish immigrants between 1880 and 1920 that the descendants of those immigrants would oppose America’s right to have any future control over immigration, would America have admitted those immigrants in the first place?
“As a descendant of Eastern Europe Jews, I never would have imagined that to be descended from immigrants requires a person to have more allegiance to future prospective immigrants than to America; nor would most European-Americans who are descended from 19th and early 20th century immigrants imagine such a thing. But many Jews, as well as many Catholics, think otherwise. They think that because they come from immigrants, their sacred mission in the universe is to crusade for open borders and deny any ability on America’s part to have any say about who comes into this country.
‘I say that this is a legitimate point to make to the open-borders Jews and Catholics. ‘Was this part of the deal when your grandparents were admitted into America? That the fact that America let your grandparents into this country requires you to subvert America’s national existence? In that case, your grandparents shouldn’t have been admitted in the first place.’”
Auster, with his celebrated cheeriness, thinks that this might “shock at least some of them into realizing how offensive their position is to other Americans, and they would shut up.” I think it would provoke foaming rage.
Still—so what? As I said, this is shaping up to be a long and terrible war. But a hard core of immigration patriots is forming that does not fear it. And the blame for it falls squarely on the heads of the immigration enthusiasts.
The fundamental internal contradiction of increasing immigration
In a 1997 Wall Street Journal column propagating an early version of the myth that Proposition 187 hurt Republicans in California—the exact reverse of the truth—Paul Gigot, in his role as mouthpiece for Editor Bob Bartley, took the opportunity to decree to the conservative peasantry that the immigration debate was now officially concluded. And the immigration enthusiasts had won—so shut up.
“…the crusade by a few columnists and British expatriates to turn the GOP into an anti-immigrant party seems to have failed. Immigrant-bashing has proven to be lousy American politics. When even California conservatives admit this, the debate should be over.” Potomac watch: GOP confronts future without Hispanics: Adios! By Paul A Gigot, Wall Street Journal, Aug 22, 1997
Nine years later, in an amusing case of failing upwards, Gigot has succeeded Bartley—but the immigration debate, far from being “over”, has become so incandescent that, for example, his own star columnist now thinks that the failure of the Republican elite a.k.a. the Wall Street Journal Edit Page to respond appropriately could destroy the party. (See Peggy Noonan, above).
At the time, Gigot’s bullying bluster got my attention because I had private knowledge that Bill Buckley had just fired one of those pesky “British expatriates”, John O’Sullivan, as editor of National Review—apparently because of this sort of pressure. (It was announced the following January with the typically effeminate Buckleyesque dissimulation that O’Sullivan was “resigning to write a book”). I suspected, rightly, that this meant the elimination of National Review’s brief resistance to Establishment immigration enthusiasm—and of another “British expatriate” writing for National Review: moi.
But I never worried about the immigration debate being “over”. This was always obviously absurd. Almost unique in public policy, immigration enthusiasm contains within itself what Marxists used to call a “fundamental contradiction”. The reason goes to the point that Enoch Powell, who increasingly must be judged the greatest British political leader of modern times, made in his prophetic 1968 immigration speech: “Numbers are of the essence”. By increasing the number of immigrants, the enthusiasts increase the number of problems—their problems.
At VDARE.COM, we exist to provide journalism on these problems because the MSM won’t. But in case anyone has forgotten, the problems include: crime; disease; destroyed schools; destroyed neighborhoods; congestion; racial friction; linguistic displacement; wage depression; welfare costs; political displacement; and, last but of course not least, the abolition of America.
I was not thrilled about my impending exile to the taiga and the tundra. But in this respect at least, I guess you could say that, as with Solzhenitsyn’s zeks, there was peace in my heart.
But not in the U.S. When Alien Nation was published in 1995, I was regularly told that immigration could not be a national political issue because only a few states were affected. In fact, of course, the six so-called “immigrant-impacted states”— California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas—were virtually enough to carry a Presidential election by themselves.
But now immigration has unmistakably reached the heartland. From 1995 to 2005, the Center For Immigration Studies reports [pdf], no fewer than eleven states experienced triple-digit growth in their immigrant population:
Immigrants by State, 1995-2005
(1,000s; ranked by % growth)
% change, 1995-2005
Virginia 336 719 114.0%
Source: CIS, "Immigrants at Mid-Decade," December 2005. Table 2.
(Remember, this does not include immigrants’ U.S.-born children). Of course, the 1995 immigrant population base in some of these states was quite small, so triple-digit growth was statistically easier to achieve. But still, the absolute numbers (for example, 264,000 in Tennesse) are quite large enough to form transforming enclaves.
Inexorably, in these states, immigration is becoming a political issue. I’ve already mentioned Nebraska, Utah (immigrants up 97.4 percent 1995-2005) and Washington State (immigrants up 8.1 percent). And here are other examples collected just while I’ve been writing this article:
In Tennessee, former Republican congressman Ed Bryant is campaigning on the issue in his quest to succeed Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Bryant, a former federal prosecutor, has told reporters: "The three biggest issues I'm hearing about is immigration three times.”
In Kansas (up 75.9 percent), Representative Jim Ryun said when he filed for re-election June 2 that “The Number One and Number Two issues are immigration and immigration.” [Ryun says immigration is No. 1 issue, by Scott Rothschild, Lawrence Journal-World, June 2, 2006].
In Wisconsin [up 70.7 percent], Senator Russ Feingold, fresh from his vote for Kennedy-Bush, faced such indignant constituents at a June 3 town hall meeting that he was forced to admit “Sure, it isn’t perfect.” [Immigration dominates Buchanan listening session with Feingold, By Keith Skenandore, Appleton Post-Crescent, June 2, 2006].
In Pennsylvania (up 31.2 percent), Senator Rick Santorum is running state-wide ads criticizing his Democratic opponent’s amnesty stand. [Santorum runs radio ads criticizing Casey's stand on immigration, [AP], Contra Costa Times, June 2 2006.]
A few days ago, I asked a congressional aide what would happen if some version of Kennedy-Bush passes. He reacted with horror. “It would be the end of America,” he said. “I’d have to emigrate.”
Of course, it would indeed eventually be the end of America as a nation-state—the political expression of a particular people. But that people would still exist, in an enraged mood. It would find new means of political expression.
Perhaps a new party would be the first sign that this process is getting underway. Perhaps, as some VDARE.COM writers have speculated, this party will be organized along “citizenist” lines; perhaps it will be more explicitly white nationalist, an inevitable and unimpeachable response to the ethnocentrism of its immigration-imported competitors. Maybe it will seek a geographic expression—a Red State secession movement? Maybe it will invent some new type of autonomous state/organization-within-a state, a sort of cultural syndicalism.
Or maybe, in a great convulsive effort, the American nation will regain possession of the territory and institutions that it was induced, in a process that merits detailed investigation, to surrender after 1965.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s speech at a not dissimilar moment of peril in British history: America should have fought on the beaches. But, just as I was confident that the immigration debate was not “over” in 1997, I am equally confident now that, should the worst happen, America will fight in the hills.
Rejoice! It can all be reversed by legislation
The Lord giveth, an earlier generation of Americans was frequently reminded, and the Lord taketh away.
Similarly, in respect of immigration, Congress gives and can take away. The sheer power of determined government to reshape social reality is easily forgotten by a generation that has only seen government paralyzed by immigration—if not positively working for the other side.
To see what it really means to have a determined government, compare this bracing account of the Israeli border fence with the wimpy mini-wall Congress may or may not get around to authorizing: [Israeli advice on the Mexico fence: be ruthless, by Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz, May 23 2006]. (“It can work, the expert says and other Israeli know-hows agree. Don't buy the argument of liberal opponents who say ‘no fence can stop people from coming.’ If done in a proper way, the fence can work. It can achieve whatever goal the U.S. wants it to, ‘100 percent, 90 percent, 80 percent prevention. Just make the right commitment and you'll get results.’”)
In fact, it would not even take legislation to start significant portions of America’s illegal immigrant population on the path to self-deportation. If President Bush had given the message via a national TV address that one of our writers recommended—“GO HOME NOW!”—there is no question that a considerable number would have done. There have been many signs that the illegal population very jumpy, perhaps because they know perfectly well that illegal immigrants would be given very short shrift in their own countries. For example, the current debate, and changes in state law largely due to lobbying by D.A. King, has already caused a slowdown in illegals’ (federally subsidized) house-buying in Georgia. [Illegals look at housing with caution, by Teresa Borden and Brian Feagans, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 4 2006].
The steps necessary to redeem America can be quickly sketched. Much of it could be done through Executive Branch action, without additional legislation.
Shut off the illegal immigrant faucet with a border fence, effective visa controls.
Clean up the mess caused by the illegal alien presence by: selective summary deportation (as outlined by VDARE.COM’s whistleblower Juan Mann, repeatedly); revived workplace enforcement; punishment of illegals’ employers through fines and tort action; ending of subsidies to illegals through federal and state programs, mandated hospital care, public education, eligibility for Affirmative Action programs etc.; repeal of the anchor baby interpretation of the 14th amendment; taxing illegal presence through imposts on remittances etc.; jail (Guantanamo?) for repeat offenders.
Moratorium on legal immigration. Not no gross immigration but no net immigration—which would permit an inflow of 200,000 a year or so, enough to take care of hardship cases, needed skills etc.. Abandon the principle of “family reunification”, which in practice has meant uncontrollable chain migration. Immigrants should be admitted on own merits.
Abolish “refugee” category. In practice, this is simply an expedited, subsidized immigration program for politically-favored groups. Anyway, humanitarian aid is best given in situ—for example, the “Somali Bantu” could have been resettled in Mozambique, not Maine. America is not the world’s Kleenex.
Quebec-style English-only legislation. It isn’t pretty but this is war. Everyone says they’re in favor of assimilation—prove it. Institutionalizing foreign languages materially disadvantages monolingual Americans, It effectively subsidizes immigrants, legal and illegal. End it.
Make citizenship mean something. Lengthen the waiting period. End dual citizenship. The naturalization process is a farce. Wait to make sure new voters are actually Americans.
Strip citizenship from those who have obtained it through fraud. A negative amnesty. Why not?
Note that I am deliberately sketching out this wish list while totally ignoring the secondary question of whether or not it is “politically possible.” These steps to redeem America are what Bill Bennett’s Department of Education staffers used to call, ruefully, “Full Moon Proposals” (as in throwing your head back and baying at). They assume an ideal world, except possibly for illegal aliens and immigration lawyers.
I ignore the question of what’s politically possible for two reasons.
Firstly, it actually helps to know where the moon is. You can navigate by it. In other words, by looking at the ideal, we throw into sharp relief the deep, systematic problems of the real world and avoid the minutiae that is typical of so much policy discourse.
We could systematically strip citizenship from those who obtained it fraudulently. Isn’t that nice to know?
Secondly, the plain fact is that no one really has the faintest idea what is politically possible. Least of all the professional politicians. They appear to have been designed by evolution to snuffle along like blind shrews, following their exquisitely sensitive snouts for one day to the next, reacting savagely if asked about next week—let alone year—and thus able to perform 180-degree turns without rupturing their consciences.
Or even noticing. On innumerable issues—wage and price controls, welfare policy, the efficacy of military intervention overseas—the American conventional wisdom had changed out of all recognition over relatively short periods of time, without the conventionally-wise seeming to feel much need to reproach themselves for being wrong.
It can happen in immigration policy too.
Or, to put it another way: the Soviet Union—completely unexpectedly—collapsed. The gulag was dissolved. Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned from exile.
The nightmare will end. America will be freed from its immigration gulag.
Peter Brimelow 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)
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