Aspects of the Immigration Crisis
Father James Thornton
In a portion of a very fine collection of essays by the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, published in English fifty years ago under the title Concord and Liberty, we read of the distress of the Roman statesman Cicero at the fact that his country, his beloved Rome, was sunk deeply into crisis — a deadly crisis as it turned out — and that the way of life which all Romans had for centuries taken for granted as part of the established order of the universe was crumbling and would soon be a mere accumulation of memories. Among these memories, of course, were Roman liberty and the famed Roman republican system. Cicero gave expression to the belief that something deeper was at the root of Roman vexations, something that made the crisis through which he was living different from that experienced in earlier upheavals. The very foundations of Roman existence, as they had always been understood, were threatened. As Ortega y Gasset put it, “What [Cicero] beheld was not merely a struggle … within the human setting that from time immemorial had been the Roman commonwealth, but the total destruction of that community.”
Cicero noted that in the past Romans often disagreed, even disagreed strongly. But these had been clashes among members of a large family, so to speak, among friends. Adversaries in political disputes were not deadly enemies, and friendship endured beneath the surface. “A contest between friends, not a quarrel between enemies, is called a disagreement,” wrote Cicero. This was so because, though they disputed with one another over transitory issues, at bottom all agreed on the fundamentals: beliefs about life, about the universe, about religion, about moral norms, about legal principles, and so forth. This agreement about the fundamentals, even among adversaries, Cicero called concordia or “concord.” Under all non-despotic forms of government, concord — agreement on the fundamentals — is obviously an essential. The absence of concord among Romans of Cicero’s time, says Ortega y Gasset, meant that the inward structure of ancient Roman life had been fractured beyond repair.
It is the unmistakably evident that America faces a similar crisis today, that the great reservoir of concord that formerly blessed this land is rapidly being drained away, and that a major component in this melancholy process is mass Third-World immigration.
Unless we Americans wish to join history’s legion of extinct civilizations, I believe that on this subject of immigration we must be absolutely honest. We must not permit our adversaries to choose our weapons and battleground. We must boldly put aside the rose-colored spectacles of the disingenuous sentimentalism and false humanitarianism that are promoted in the mass media. We must dismiss all of the vacuous platitudes of self-serving politicians, the gratuitous accusations of “bigotry” and “racism,” and the shrill cry of special interest groups. As patriotic Americans, we must be truthful among ourselves. We must seek to understand what immigration should be and what it should not be.
Prior to thirty years ago, immigrants who came to this country were for the most part attracted by America’s renown as a land of freedom and opportunity. Laws and customs that then prevailed required immigrants to seek their individual destinies by their own labor and determination. What we call “safety nets” were non-existent for immigrants before 1965, and so immigrating to America was seldom an easy thing. Seen as a whole, old-style immigration was largely a plus for this country.
The Immigration Act of 1965 was a dramatic break with the past. It deliberately ignored the desirability of maintaining the existing, predominantly European, makeup of the country, it ignored questions about the ability of immigrants successfully to assimilate into the American mainstream, and it ignored the enormous problems likely to arise from an increase in crime, poverty, disease, and ethnic conflicts. All of this was done amid many deceptive statistics and many empty assurances from the liberal mass media and from politicians. Whereas, previously, immigrants from the Third World were allowed to enter the country only in very small numbers, the 1965 law overwhelmingly favored the Third World.
Americans are paying dearly for the irresponsibility of the liberal politicians who engineered the Immigration Act of 1965, which allows roughly a million people, almost entirely from the Third World, legally to immigrate to the U.S. every year. Let us consider some of the many ways Americans pay, both in dollars and in negative social costs. According to Professor Donald Huddle of Rice University, after calculating and deducting taxes paid by immigrants, immigration cost this country $52 billion in 1994 alone, paid for by the American taxpayer.
Since the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, Americans, particularly those in urban areas, have seen changes in their neighborhoods and communities that would have defied the ability of the mind to imagine 30 or 40 years ago. Crime, gang warfare, random shootings, attacks on police, rioting, and ethnic conflict are omnipresent. Communicable diseases that have never existed (or have not existed for centuries) in Western Europe and North America have suddenly appeared in our midst. Social strife and political tensions abound. Laws, customs, and mores of centuries-long standing have been successfully challenged and undermined. Taxpayers are subjected to massive new burdens as welfare agencies and school systems are overwhelmed. Third-World immigration has not enriched or improved the American way of life. Rather, as we shall see, it is a deliberate attack on our country and its way of life.
As if this were not enough, new worries and horrors are descending on Americans because of tremendous waves of illegal immigration (1 1/2 to 2 million people per annum, by some estimates, approximately 5,000 every 24 hours) — also the result of the singular foolishness and selfishness of big-government politicians in Washington.
Four hundred illegal aliens are added each month to the California prison system. Illegal aliens account for 90 percent of narcotics traffic in Santa Ana, California. They are involved in one-third of the rapes and one-quarter of the burglaries in San Diego County. They commit more than half of the homicides in Orange County. Overall health-care for illegals costs more than $200 million each year in Los Angeles County alone, which is not surprising since in that county 80% of the total births in publicly funded hospitals are to illegal residents. Another $100 million in added costs within the criminal justice system come from the immigration invasion. Statewide, the cost to taxpayers of illegals is in excess of $3 billion dollars. No wonder our poor “Golden State” is in such trouble.
It is clear to people with eyes to see and ears to hear, people who think with their minds and not with their glands, that the human race is blessed with astonishing variety. Earlier generations of Americans knew that in most cases, what are now called Third World populations, by their very nature, are temperamentally different from the European Christians who settled North America, fashioned the United States, devised its system of laws, and fathered its free institutions.
In its ethnic and cultural composition, America has always been predominantly European, and it has always been European in its religious makeup. The sources of such fundamentally American notions as individualism, the rule of law, private property, political liberty, and limited government, to mention only a few, are derived from systems of philosophical and political thought that are uniquely European — that are indeed the crowning glory of European man. These systems of thought spring forth from an astonishing synthesis of ideas that has no parallel in the world or in all of history outside of Europe and that hearken back to the experiments in self-government by the ancient Greeks. Without its European foundation, America would not have had a Constitution or a Bill of Rights, political liberty or individualism, the rule of law or the concept of limited government. Thus, our European heritage is not cause for shame, as the multiculturalists would have it, but for pride. Moreover, it is to our European ancestors that Americans owe a debt of eternal gratitude for the freedoms that have blessed their lives for over 200 years. Elsewhere, of course, outside of Europe and North America, despotism has been the immutable law throughout all of the ages and has been deeply ingrained in many of the world’s cultures for millennia — and culture is one of the most powerful forces in the world.
Now, if our nation’s way of life and form of government are derived from a European cultural legacy belonging to a majority of Americans, their preservation is dependent on the continued existence of that same majority, a majority which shares a set of basic beliefs and values, and a common language, culture, and historical experience — you will remember that Cicero called that concord.
America has always had small numbers of non-Europeans living here and this has rarely caused problems because the majority culture remained strong and intact, and remained the criterion for everybody. What may be possible on a very small scale, however, is not possible on a huge scale. Speaking culturally and historically, representatives of different cultures are not interchangeable and non-Europeans in huge numbers simply cannot be assimilated into a Western environment and, even in the best of circumstances, cannot absorb the subtleties and nuances of our heritage.
What are some of these subtleties and nuances? Lawrence Auster, the brilliant author of The Path to National Suicide, cites several. They include, among others, that people should be free from external control; that individuals should be self-reliant and that local government should have a large measure of independence; that those accused in court be considered innocent until proven guilty and that they be protected against self-incrimination; that the tradition of loyal opposition govern the relationship between various political factions; and that freedom of speech remain a bedrock principle. This list is by no means exhaustive and many other things might also be mentioned. The crucial point is that most of these concepts are either utterly unknown or poorly understood throughout the Third World, even in more prosperous countries. Some are found exclusively in English-speaking nations. It is clear, then, that the enormous tidal wave of Third World immigrants will soon overwhelm the most basic framework on which the United States was created. Those rights that are enjoyed by peoples of all races and ethnic backgrounds in America will be gone. The linguistic, legal, religious, moral, cultural, and political aspects of our heritage and of our daily existence will be transformed and altered totally and permanently.
That is why treatments of present immigration policies in the context of the policies of the last century are fundamentally dishonest. Immigrants of the nineteenth century, mostly from the various nations of Europe, indeed successfully adapted to life in the United States, assimilated our British-derived culture, and made largely positive contributions to our country because they were Europeans and thus shared, largely speaking, in the Greco-Roman-Christian heritage that underpins the culture of all European nations.
Non-Europeans, coming to the U.S. for economic reasons and finding American society and culture very different from the society and culture of the lands of their birth, not only fail to assimilate but tend naturally to try to alter their adopted land so that it resembles more closely the country they abandoned, which is why they attack historical monuments such as the Alamo, and scorn the Founders and heroes of this country as “racists,” “greedy landgrabbers,” and so forth. That proclivity is a function of human nature, one understood, interestingly enough, by our Forefathers. Referring to this tendency, Thomas Jefferson, wrote this in 1782: “They [foreign immigrants] will bring with them the principles of the government they leave, imbibed in their early youth … Their principles with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us in the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.”
Alexander Hamilton emphasized his conviction that a common cultural foundation is vital. He stated: “The safety of a republic depends on the energy of a common national sentiment; on uniformity of principles and habits; [and] on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias.”
Hamilton goes on to instruct Americans to beware the hazards inherent in massive immigration. The best course, he notes, would be “to render the people of this country as homogeneous as possible” for such “must tend as much as any other circumstance to the permanency of their union and prosperity.” Let us note again the theme of concord. Hamilton probably drew his idea here from his reading of Cicero. Their respective understandings are virtually identical. Hamilton speaks of homogeneity and of common national sentiment, Cicero speaks of concord, of a unanimity of opinion in certain ultimate matters. This concord, wrote Cicero, is “the best bond of permanent union in any commonwealth.” And, concord, my friends, cannot possibly exist in multicultural states.
In other words, the more culturally alike a populace, the more propitious the long-term prospects for any society or nation. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Adams, Fisher Ames, and many other of the Founders and Constitutional Framers spoke similarly. None were afflicted with that strange malady, so prevalent today, in which any culture on Earth — especially the most primitive — is valued more highly than our own. None were inclined to truckle before special interests or to cringe in the face of subversive ideologues brandishing inane, verbal bludgeons — such as the word “racist” — a word utterly devoid of objective meaning, a word created specifically to silence debate.
On the contrary, the Founders proclaimed what must be seen as a solid consensus on the subject: immigration is a grave matter, requiring enormous vigilance, and possessing a genuine potential for calamity. Moreover, the assertion that limits on immigration are somehow unAmerican is proven false by the very words of the Founders of this country.
One of the most important characteristics that divides the true conservative from the modern liberal is that conservatives are able to learn from the past and to apply what they learn to the working-out of the future. Liberals, by way of contrast, are altogether deaf and blind to both the past and the future, which explains, in part, their eagerness to embrace, without the least anxiety, the failed panaceas and pathetic blunders of old.
This modern liberal mindset is the direct philosophical creation of that body of beliefs that rose up two centuries ago, during the so-called Age of Enlightenment. At that time, secular philosophers developed a notion of human beings that was singularly shallow.
Furthermore, these radical theorists postulated, man is fundamentally good and is so malleable a creature that through social engineering a “New Man” might be fabricated. The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, socialist movements, and the modern welfare state all find their source in those theories, and the colossal mounds of corpses produced by many of these experiments bear stark witness to the error, and ruthlessness, of that school of thought. No wonder the great Edmund Burke called the instigators of these conceits the “Philosophers of the Shambles”! That dissimilar peoples are interchangeable and may be forced together with impunity is also related to the same fanciful ideas, and generates the same tragic consequences.
The traditional Christian view recognizes that people are naturally inclined to live in communities of their own people — what we now call nations. The president of the American Immigration Control Foundation, John Vinson, notes in a recent article that “God abhors the blending of all peoples into a single world state. He defeated such a plan at Babel.” Vinson goes on to say that God Himself “divided the nations and set boundaries among them,” and he adds, “Nationhood is not an arbitrary human arrangement, but a principle of divine order. The separation of vastly different peoples helps reduce conflict and promote fruitful diversity. Massive uncontrolled immigration defeats God’s order. Love and compassion fare poorly in Chaos — and also in the tyranny that follows chaos.” So, just as opposition to unrestricted immigration is not unAmerican, as we demonstrated by quotations from the Founding Fathers, we have now shown that it is also clearly not unChristian.
When I am told that it is un-Christian I usually respond that I know of no passages from Holy Scripture, or any teachings in the Christian tradition, that require a nation to commit suicide. The unadulterated balderdash that passes for Christianity among leftists does not come from any Christian tradition but rather is the feeble-minded progeny of liberalism, with its heretical dogma of the innate goodness of mankind (the “noble savage” and similar humbug) and its faith in man’s earthly perfectibility. It is the bogus religion of secular humanism decked out in the outward vestments of a disintegrated, politicized, counterfeit Christianity, a fitting creed only for people who no longer believe in a spiritual reality, who no longer possess any capacity for critical thinking, and who lack any historical memory or sense whatsoever. So let us hear no more about some requirement on the part of Christians to remain passive while they, and their families, and their homelands, and their religion, and their culture disappear from the face of the earth. There is no such requirement.
And so it is clear that the utopians contradict the truth of religion and the truth of history, for human beings are not naturally good and noble and, thus, human societies and cultures do not interact with one another in the ways the utopians maintain they do. In fact, most of the world’s societies are not tolerant, not charitable, not magnanimous, and not evenhanded towards the representatives of other cultures who happen to live within their boundaries. Events in history as well as in our own time serve to prove the point. Even at this very moment, as we sit comfortably in our chairs in this beautiful room, human beings are ripping to pieces societies in which culturally disparate populations have been thrown together. The litany of human catastrophe is seemingly endless: the murderous conflicts that bedevil Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Russia, and the Balkans are only the most recent illustrations of that phenomenon of hostile cultural groups giving vent to an impulse so trenchantly described by Samuel Francis as “secret compulsions to spill each other’s blood.” It is that horror that the immigration enthusiasts and multiculturalists are bringing to America.
History clearly shows that nations, both ancient and modern, in which a majority of citizens share little except diversity, suffer ongoing social tensions, upheavals, and chaos that can be mitigated only by recourse to tyranny.
Utopian philosophers hold that human nature is infinitely changeable and that one may put together society in any shape or form one wishes. It is not true! There can be no true national community and, more to the point, there can be no freedom in countries where the majority of people holds little in common. Freedom is the product of social, political, and religious concord.
In connection with the views of the Founding Fathers, we have already mentioned the propensity of immigrants to try to change their new homeland so that it more closely simulates the lands from which they came. When America was still inwardly robust and when our belief in the superiority of our American way of life was still undiluted, immigrants were not given the chance to do this. “Adapt or leave” was the operative attitude in those days. In these closing years of the twentieth century we are not so fortunate. For example, certain public expressions of religious piety and the public display of traditional religious symbols have been banned by some courts as “offensive” to new citizens of other backgrounds.
Affirmative action laws are being used on behalf of freshly-arrived immigrants to enforce “racial balance” in places of employment and to extend special privileges that are not enjoyed by the American majority. Many aliens have organized themselves into pressure groups and radical organizations to agitate for additional handouts and more so-called rights.
Now, none of this would even be possible were it not for the repugnant and baneful movement known as multiculturalism? Lawrence Auster relates that multiculturalists see Americans, and American society in general, as inherently “racist.” For this reason, according to their view, America can only redeem itself when it ceases to exist — that is, when its civilization, and the European majority that created and fostered that civilization, have disappeared forever.
That is their aim — true of Leftist politicians and doubly true of those Establishment “conservatives,” who supported NAFTA and GATT and who betray us whenever the opportunity presents itself. These are the men who, as Samuel Francis put it, “have forgotten what civilization means and have come to regard their own nation as a barrier to be broken down and discarded.”
In his most recent book, entitled The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great Christian philosopher, and the historian of that Golgotha of the Russian People known as Bolshevism, warns his readers of a new peril to all the peoples of this world: He says, “The vulgar and insipid wave which seeks to level distinctions between cultures, traditions, nationalities, and characters has engulfed the whole planet.” This evil aims at the replacement of God’s Wisdom with that of man, and, according to Solzhenitsyn, those who survive will be those people who “withstand this onslaught, unwavering and even with their heads held high.” He pleads with his own people to be among those who resist, for if they do not, he writes, then “in another century the time may come to cross the word “Russian” out of the dictionary.”
Our task, here in America, is no different and is no less arduous. Should we fail — God forbid — then in less than a century the time will arrive when the word “American” may be crossed from the dictionary, or if the word survives at all then the definition will have become so fundamentally transmuted that it will have disappeared in spirit, if not in actual fact.
To our wondrous forebears who created this glorious land, to our children and their children, to all of those of the past and the future we must pledge ourselves to follow Solzhenitsyn’s admonition, we must withstand this onslaught against our tradition, our culture, our Christian European civilization, and our unique way of life. We must be absolutely unwavering, as were our Forefathers 200 years ago. We must never, never, never shrink back in craven fear of the imbecilic words that our adversaries hurl at us — “racist,” “bigot,” “fascist,” and such rubbish. As our ancestors were contemptuous of the bullets and bombs of their enemies — a much more serious matter than mere words — so we must be contemptuous of the puerile nonsense that our present adversaries launch against us. With God’s Grace, with your determination and help, with heads held high, by the taking on of the armor of the courage of Washington, Jackson, Lee, Grant, MacArthur, Lindbergh, and a thousand other heroes — the courage that is epitomized in the very word “American” — we cannot possibly lose, but must win the ultimate triumph.