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If America were still a nation-state, Reihan Salam’s new book, Melting Pot Or Civil War, might be a valuable contribution to the immigration debate. Unfortunately, there’s a contradiction at its heart: the Civil War is already here—and the anti-white Left actually wants it.
Salam [Tweet him] argues that mass immigration is driving Americans apart and creating massive ethnic and class tensions. He argues that the government needs a more restrictive policy and a renewed focus on combatting poverty and suggests there is a way both liberals and conservatives can reach a compromise on the issue. However, though he acknowledges that many progressives have drifted into support for open borders, he doesn’t address the root cause of that drift. Progressives have no reason to compromise on the issue, because their intent is to replace the existing American population to gain more power.
Indeed, in a strange way, Salam admits this in a curious anecdote he relates about his own Bengali immigrant mother. Supposedly, when challenged by another woman (presumably white) for having such a large family at a time of a “population crisis,” Salam’s mother responded that “she fully intended to have a large family so that she and her offspring would displace America’s native inhabitants, just as European settlers seized the lands of the American Indians.”
Salam writes “I’m not entirely sure the conversation went exactly as my mother describes it. But it does sound like the kind of thing she’d say in a fit of pique. That is one of the many reasons she is my hero.” (Needless to say, this triumphalist Third Worldism, sincere or not, has attracted no criticism from reviewers, unlike Peter Brimelow’s much-denounced single reference in Alien Nation to his son’s blue eyes and blond hair, although that occurred in the unimpeachable context of explaining the zero-sum impact on American whites of immigrants’ being eligible for Affirmative Action quotas, an anomaly that has still not been addressed).
Then, in the very next paragraph, Salam refers critically to Congressman Steve King’s declaration that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
In fairness, Salam’s point is not exactly to attack King, whom he says is raising a real question, but to warn of the long-term problems of a large immigrant-descended population with high rates of child poverty. He compares America’s approach with that of countries like the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar, which has a large population of guest-workers with almost no political rights. He writes:
If Qatar allowed its migrant workers to become equal members of the political community, they would undoubtedly use their political power to redress their inferior status… The Qataris aren’t foolish. They understand this, which is why they are so reluctant to let go of their monogenerational approach, even when it attracts opprobrium from the international press.
Yet Salam in some ways is arguing for Americans to be “foolish.” He simply asserts that King is wrong and that “the babies of low-skill immigrants are as much our babies as the babies of high-skill immigrants.” However, questions of immigration are not just about class, but about identity. Even if America follows Salam’s advice and pursues an energetic policy of reducing childhood poverty and a tight labor market, this will not change the fundamentals about how people identify.
For example, Salam notes that blacks were excluded from mainstream American society for most of its history until recently. Yet the rise of prominent and wealthy African-Americans hasn’t lessened black political extremism, but increased it. Ever more elaborate forms of alleged “racism” have been invented along with more extensive demands for white concessions. According to a recent poll, half of black America supports Louis Farrakhan, and America’s first black president established his street cred by patronizing a church whose pastor screamed “God Damn America” . [Half of Black America Supports Louis Farrakhan, by Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, April 10, 2018]
Similarly, Puerto Rican Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton” has become a pop culture blockbuster and the toast of the elite .[‘Hamilton as the ultimate expression of the System, by Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, April 25, 2016] Yet it is less an example of Puerto Rican “assimilation” into American identity than a deliberate insult against it, and Miranda himself has used his platform to support the freedom of Puerto Rican terrorists like Oscar Lopez Rivera.
If cultural assimilation into a multi-racial “American” identity is possible, it will require not just a crackdown on mass immigration but an abolition of the Affirmative Action spoils system that perpetuates and incentivizes the invention of new grievances against white America.
Obviously, this is beyond the scope of Salam’s book.
This is not to say that Melting Pot Or Civil War is not worth reading. It is clearly targeted at Progressive journalists, and VDARE.com readers may find Salam painfully defensive and visibly cringing in fear of his favored audience. However, perhaps for this reason, Salam presents a careful case for restricting immigration to both promote cultural assimilation and to create a tight labor market.
The latter argument is a highlight of the book and a reason to hope it makes an impact within the halls of the Beltway Right. Salam shows that “low-skill immigration increases the number of people who are most vulnerable to displacement” and acknowledges the costs that mass immigration imposes on America’s poorest. He writes that America’s “continued reliance on labor-intensive business models will stand out from the rest of the developed world,” if there is not change, especially as other countries like Japan pursue labor-saving technology, robotics, and automation rather than relying on helot labor.
Salam also deserves credit for thinking about the long-term political consequences of a permanent low-skilled immigrant class—something of which many Conservative Establishment types are apparently incapable. If current trends continue, the “end result could be a class war like we have never seen.”
But that’s exactly why Leftists support immigration. They see it as a way to import a new revolutionary class.
Left-libertarians will find much to object about Salam’s book. Open borders libertarians often act as if mass immigration is purely a boon for all concerned, imposing no costs for anyone. Salam shows this is not true. More than that, he outlines an ambitious interventionist program to address economic inequality, even supporting direct financial grants to citizens to alleviate poverty. If Trump-style populism is to have a future, those who want to succeed the president would do well to adopt Salam’s focus on combatting poverty among the working class.
VDARE.com readers will undoubtedly groan when Salam acknowledges the moral force of open borders because of the “tremendous boon to low-skill immigrants.” Americans might be wondering where they fit into all this. Yet Salam does acknowledge Americans… somewhat.
He describes what he calls the Backlash Paradox.
One the one hand, it is clear to most liberal scholars and journalists that mass immigration has contributed to racism and polarization. On the other, they view slowing the pace of immigration as a callow surrender to bigotry, so the only option is to double down on the status quo and hope that the storm passes—even if this approach risks triggering an ‘extinction-level event’ for open societies. It is almost as though these thinkers believe things have to get worse before they can better—that traditionalists who worry about the pace of cultural change need to be crushed rather than accommodated, especially when it comes to immigration policy.
Salam deserves credit for clearly seeing how the Left operates. More than that, he’s acknowledging that the rise of what is called “the Far Right” is not happening in a vacuum.
However, Salam’s airy reference to progressives’ desire to “crush” rather than “accommodate” is too flippant. Leftists are quite open about this being the main reason for supporting mass immigration. Indeed, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey approvingly tweeted out an article that described America as already in a “civil war” that progressives will win via demographic change. It stated no bipartisan accommodation is possible and that, as in California, any right-wing reaction will eventually be overwhelmed by changing the population. [Twitter CEO shares and raves about article calling for Dem victory in second ‘civil war,’ by Joe Simonson, Daily Caller, April 7, 2018]
Though nationalists may not like to admit it, Leftists are right. There is a time limit to save the country. If mass immigration continues, “traditionalists”—meaning actual Americans—will be crushed. Progressives will inherit a Third World, massively divided, crumbling weck of a country, but they will have secured their power.
This is the fundamental problem with Salam’s book. Salam argues for a kind of “grand bargain” on immigration, with an initial grant of Amnesty followed by strict enforcement. He accurately notes that this is like what was promised after the 1986 Amnesty, but suggests the government has the capability to enforce the law this time, and that this time such an effort can work. Salam calls for a move away from “family reunification” legal immigration schemes towards a skill-based immigration similar to that outlined in Tom Cotton’s RAISE act. Finally, Salam pushes for a major effort towards eliminating the transmission of poverty from one generation to the next in certain communities, especially through a universal child benefit, a financial stipend provided to all families with children.
Yet there’s no reason for Leftists to go along with any of this. There may have been an argument for conservatives to push something along these lines back in 2017-2018 when the Republicans controlled the entire federal government. However, President Trump and the GOP instead led with a conventional conservative economic agenda rather than anything close to a “universal child benefit” matched with immigration restrictions. Now, with the Left holding the House, Salam’s proposals seem irrelevant. The frankly anti-white animus and desire for vengeance that drives so many Leftists, especially on immigration, is never really addressed by Salam, whose only concern always seems directed towards “racism” from the Right.
Another of Salam’s major proposals in the book is also falling apart in real time. He calls for the creation of “charter cities” in the developing world to create economic prosperity and reduce migration pressures, a more subtle version of re-colonization. Yet this effort has already been tried in Honduras, with dismal results. As shown by the ubiquitous Honduran flags among the current migrant caravan, it’s also done nothing to reduce mass immigration from that area.
Unfortunately, the time for compromise is past. The Left clearly regards immigration as a kind of biological warfare on the traditional American nation. Melting Pot Or Civil War appeals to a “common good” that probably no longer exists. The current political battle is not about crafting a “grand bargain” between political opponents. It’s about the Historic American Nation’s struggle to resist wholesale dispossession.
Salam’s book has some interesting policy suggestions and ammunition for arguments, but it doesn’t address the core reality of what is happening. For better or worse, you will only read arguments that do address that reality at sites like VDARE.com.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.