I was puzzled, when I arrived in the U.S. in 1970, to find a small minority of Americans would pointedly wish you "Happy Holidays" at Christmas. Now, of course, "Happy Holidays" is on the point of exterminating Christmas altogether, providing us here at VDARE.COM with one of our favorite seasonal sports.
I'd say it was about ten years ago that I became aware that Americans were hesitating about wishing each other (well, anyway, me – a citizen but still a member of an oral minority) Happy Independence Day. They had become afraid that it might be offensive to an immigrant.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page has been leading a very similar campaign to transform Independence Day into Immigration Day – "we annually celebrate the Fourth of July with a paean to immigration" as its long-time rabbi R. Bartley put it last year in a signed column subheaded "Immigration Is What Made This Country Great." As James Fulford replied, we at VDARE.COM still tend to think Independence means independence - for example from the designs of Bartley's hero Vicente Fox. But of course the signers of the Declaration of Independence were an inconveniently undiverse lot. Some of them were even immigrants from (aargh!) England. As, of course, was the political tradition that in fact made America great.
What Bartley did not say was that the Edit Page's paean varies quite a lot with political circumstances. Thus in the mid-1990s, it abruptly and without explanation stopped running its notorious annual editorial advocating a constitutional amendment to ensure open borders. The reason for this was that immigration reform was a suddenly hot issue, following the victory of California's Proposition 187. It took a great deal of unscrupulous politicking for the Treason Lobby to get the situation under control again. The Edit Page played a key role in demoralizing the Congressional Republicans and their media mouthpieces. It would have been most imprudent to remind everyone of the Edit Page's true nuttiness.
At that time, I formed the habit of writing an anonymous editorial in National Review tweaking the Edit Page for its annual omission. This appeared in July 29, 1996 issue.
It crept across the country with July Fourth's summer dawn – the stunning realization that the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page had yet again flinched from repeating its once-traditional annual call for a constitutional amendment proclaiming "There Shall be Open Borders." Indeed, there was no triumphalist immigration editorial at all. Mothers hushed crying children. Fathers gathered in grim groups under the bunting-bedecked pictures of Julian Simon crossing the Delaware and Emma Lazarus producing the Declaration of Independence from an Ellis island steamer trunk….Were the Journal Edit Pagers demoralized by the devastating recent Rand Corporation report confirming that many recent immigrants are indeed failing in the economy? Humiliated at being singled out by Peter Passell, in his judicious column [pay archive] in the New York Times, because of their embarrassing hostility to evidence?
Bob Bartley was obviously working up to it in 2001, but it looks like Independence Day is dawning this year without the Open Borders editorial. We said after 9/11, "It's The Immigration, Stupid." Silence is the Edit Page's answer to the unanswerable.
As Richard Neuhaus observed in First Things this spring, National Review fell tactfully silent on immigration after John O'Sullivan ceased to be editor. But (perhaps stung by observations like that of Neuhaus) it is reportedly recently trying to cover its flank.
Let's see if it dares to tweak the Wall Street Journal this year.
Happy Independence Day to all our readers.
July 04, 2002