26 August 2006

Pat Buchanan's new book

Pat Buchanan has just published a book which will disastrously undermine the fight against illegal immigration.

Article here.

Actual (and damning) quotes from the book here.

He seems to have assembled every possible error and distortion that makes it impossible to talk intelligently about illegal immigration:

- Conflation of illegal aliens with Hispanics, as if all Hispanics in the US (the great majority of whom are not illegal aliens, while 40% of illegal aliens are not Hispanic) were part of the problem. A friend of mine works for a businessman who is Hispanic, a 28-year veteran of the US Marines and a fervent American patriot. I'd like to hear what that man would have to say about Buchanan's racist idiocy.

- Conflation of American identity with Christianity -- in "the country I grew up in.....we.....had the same faith" -- in other words, non-Christians (such as me) are part of the problem. Of course, the illegal aliens from Mexico are overwhelmingly Christian, while some of the larger and most economically beneficial groups of legal immigrants (such as the Chinese and Indians) are not. He can't even keep straight what he's complaining about.

- Conflation of American identity with being white, as if American citizens who are black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. are somehow less American, coupled with repulsive and scientifically-illiterate blather about superior European "genetic endowments". In fact, non-white Americans tend to be more hostile to illegal immigration than white Americans are, but Buchanan goes out of his way to alienate them by insulting their American-ness and even their genes.

- The moaning-pessimist-declinist mentality in general. The United States has problems -- all countries do -- but it is not in decline and anyone who claims it is doesn't know what he's talking about.

He also invokes that reliable shibboleth of the declinist, the fall of the Roman Empire. If you listened to these people you'd think that all the Roman Empire ever did was decline and fall. In fact, the Roman Empire stood for half a millennium (even ignoring the previous centuries of the Republic) as a vast, extremely heterogenous collection of peoples of exactly the type that Buchanan claims cannot survive. It was one of the great success stories of human history. Interestingly enough, after centuries of prosperous existence, it collapsed within a few decades after the government decided to impose religious homogeneity -- by making Christianity the official religion.

Probably the ethnic make-up of the US will continue to change over time as it always has. It may be that a few decades from now 20% or 25% of the gene pool will be of Mexican origin (though with so much intermarriage that we will give no more thought to this than we do to what percentage of the gene pool is Italian or Irish today). So what? After the waves of immigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, people mainly descended from the original English settlers are less than a quarter of the population. America is still America. Our identity is rooted in ideas, not ethnicity.

I believe that the law should be enforced and illegal aliens should be removed from the country, whether they came from Latin America or Europe or whatever. And an American is an American, whether his ancestors came from Britain or Africa or Mexico or Pluto.

Illegal immigration is a serious problem. Part of the reason it's so intractable is that if you take a strong stand against it, you are likely to be accused of being a racist, a xenophobe, and an ignoramus. Buchanan has now given such accusations a huge extra dose of credibility and thus made it that much harder to deal with the real issues.

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