Continued Immigration Retards Growth of Interracial Marriage
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Letter from a sarcastic reader and VDARE's response

On the rare occasions when supporters of the current immigration system deign to respond to the argument that increased diversity naturally leads to increased divisiveness, they often extol interracial marriage as the solution. And indeed, native-born Americans are intermarrying in steadily rising numbers. Yet, in the bellwether state of California, where white male - Asian female marriages have become almost a norm, the proportion of interracial children is growing strikingly slowly. Why? The huge influx of immigrants into California has severely retarded the overall growth of intermarriage. This points out a major contradiction in the position of defenders of the 1965 Immigration Act. By promoting continued mass immigration, they are hindering the marital merging of America's races.

In general, the notion that intermarriage can quell racial enmity makes some sense. As my last two columns have shown, a racial group is merely an extended family that inbreeds to some extent. Therefore, outbreeding can slowly merge, genetically and culturally, once hostile groups. That's why, although it is good to be the king (as Mel Brooks has noted), it isn't always so good to be the princess. Many a Ruritanian princess has found herself forced into marrying some chinless princeling from Lower Slobovia because their respective royal fathers desire half-Ruritanian / half-Slobovian grandchildren to cement a political alliance.

At a humbler social level, the lack of half-breeds has worsened the ill will between African-Americans and Asian immigrants that led to the black pogrom against Korean shopkeepers during the 1992 L.A. riot. As journalist Lou Cannon, the leading expert on that appalling riot, has demonstrated, almost as outraging to South Central's blacks as the Rodney King case was the March 16, 1991 shooting of a fifteen-year-old black girl named Latasha Harlins by merchant Soon Ja Du in a dispute over a bottle of orange juice worth $1.79. (The Korean was given merely a suspended sentence.)

Was it murder or self-defense, or something in between? Cases like this always feature some facts that make the shooting appear especially atrocious, and others that appear to mitigate the guilt. What happens in this type of situation is that the relatives and friends of the dead black girl spread the first set of facts, along with various rumors, to their relatives and friends. From there, the story sweeps rapidly via word of mouth throughout L.A.'s African-American community. Meanwhile, the relatives and friends of the Korean woman pass around a second story consisting of the mitigating facts and rumors.

Each of these highly biased tales travel along what are primarily family-centered networks. My male readers should not underestimate the importance of family contacts merely because they don't talk to their relatives that much. Women keep in touch with relations far more than men do. And though they are loath to admit it, many men get their opinions about local matters from their wives. (Similarly, high IQ individuals don't grasp the ubiquity of extended families, since they tend to communicate more with other high IQ colleagues and friends. The most prevalent mistake of intellectuals is assuming that everybody else is just like them, or at least wants to be just like them.)

Why do we acquire so many of our views from our relatives? We trust what they tell us more, because those who share more of our genes tend to have more of our best interests at heart than outsiders. Modern neo-Darwinism is founded upon this insight, which was mathematically demonstrated by the late evolutionary biologist William D. Hamilton in 1964.

Since there is so little intermarriage (as of yet) in LA between blacks and Koreans, each contradictory story about this tragic event moves from black aunt to black niece to black cousin, and from Korean grandmother to Korean granddaughter to Korean sister-in-law, unchallenged by the other race's perspective. Because the extended families are wholly separate, both the races and their myths remain separate.

Consider, however, how a rare half-black/half-Korean individual might respond. Her black cousin tells her it was cold-blooded murder inspired by racism, while her Korean sister-in-law tells her that she heard the dead girl was casing the store. She would no doubt find all this troubling, but ambiguous. She probably wouldn't pass on either race's narratives in their unadulterated, incendiary form.

So, mixed race people (assuming they are brought up by both parents, which can be a big if) tend to be circuit breakers. They're like the lead rods that are inserted into the core of a nuclear power plant to prevent a chain reaction meltdown. If there were more extended families that contained blacks, Asians, and mixtures, there would be less racial rabble-rousing and less violence. Of course, the more such extended families, the less clear would be the borders between the two races. So, here we see a very good example of how in practice the boundaries between extended family and race are fundamentally vague.

Interracial marriage, however, is not a panacea. As my earlier columns on Latin American intermarriage showed, the Mexicans and Brazilians have been intermarrying for 480 years, but the lightest colored Latins remain firmly in control of their darkest colored countrymen. Nor does intermarriage guarantee in which direction assimilation will occur: for example, the majority of our Anglo-Hispanic families speak Spanish at home. Further, intermarriage has its victims. For example, African-American women and East Asian men have trouble finding spouses because other races tend to find them less sexy than black men or East Asian women.

Finally, it's by no means clear that we should want everybody to merge into one shade of beige. The world might be more peaceful, but it would also be duller. For example, many Jewish leaders are desperately worried about the survival of their ancient race in an era when 52% of young Jews marry a gentile. As novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said in his Nobel Price speech, "The disappearance of nations would impoverish us no less than if all peoples were made alike, with one character, one face."

Nonetheless, intermarriage remains the best hope for melding America's races into one nation. In 20th Century America, intermarriage played a major role in melding WASP's, Italians, Germans, Poles, and Jews into a single white race. What broke down the barriers preventing white ethnics from intermarrying? A host of factors including World Wars and the draft, aggressive government-sponsored assimilation programs, and the rise of self-assertive non-white minorities to remind European-Americans of how small their genetic and cultural differences were relative to racial groups from other continents. One of the most important forces, however, was the great mid-century pause in immigration brought about by the 1924 restrictions. This restricted the inflow of potential marriage partners from the Old Country, encouraging young people to consider people from other white racial groups.

Without a new Great Lull in immigration, however, intermarriage won't be able to do much to unite the continental-scale races. The statistics out of California are vivid. I used to think that the percentage of mixed-race babies being born in California must be skyrocketing — after all, white-Asian marriages are highly common among my California friends — but the percentage is only inching upwards, from 12% in 1982 to 14% in 1997. (I'm including Hispanics as a separate race here, which is reasonable since the vast majority in California belong to the mestizo racial group.)

The problem is the massive invasion of immigrants, who seldom intermarry. According to "Mixed Race and Ethnicity in California" by Sonya M. Tafoya of the Public Policy Institute of California, native-born Californians are certainly doing their part to merge the races: " Multiracial births to native-born mothers rose dramatically between 1982 and 1997—from about 14% to nearly 21% percent, a 50% change." The problem is that multiracial births to immigrant mothers, never a large number to begin with, declined slightly to merely 7% by 1997. Since 45% of California babies are born to foreign-born mothers, the state's overall rate of multiracial children is stagnating. Further, since much of the state's population growth comes from monoracial immigrants, the percentage of multiracial people in California might well be declining.

Why are mixed-race births almost three times higher among native-born mothers than among immigrants? Ms. Tafoya reports, "Explanations include the fact that the foreign-born may be married at the time of immigration, they might be more likely to live in ethnic enclaves, they might be more closely tied to a culture that resists out-marriage, or they might encounter language barriers."

What can supporters of interracial marriage do to minimize the damage done by continued mass immigration? Besides cutting back on the quantity of immigrants, we need to improve their quality. We should be selecting immigrants more likely to marry out of their racial group. For example, we should favor applicants who are young and single. We certainly aren't now under our "family unification" (i.e., nepotism) policy: Ms. Tafoya points out, "In fact, data on legal immigrants to California in 1996 indicate that 68 percent of new female immigrants and 58 percent of male immigrants were already married when they arrived in California." Similarly, those who can speak English are much more likely to land a mate from outside their tribe. The intelligent, educated, healthy, and affluent are also more likely to intermarry than the obtuse, uncultured, sickly, and poor.

Of course, the former are also more likely to pay more in taxes than they take in handouts, and to assimilate themselves better into American culture. Thus, importantly, but not surprisingly, those potential immigrants who would be the most attractive mates to native-born Americans are also the most attractive potential taxpayers and citizens. Almost any kind of rational reform of the immigration laws would make America a more unified country.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

June 8, 2000

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