Davidson College is located 25 miles north of the bustling city of Charlotte, NC. The contrast is startling. Charlotte is all about business, and the Weltanschauung is pure modern commercial American.
Davidson is different. It's a small college with a big endowment, impressive brick buildings, and a spacious campus crossed by broad sidewalks shaded by the canopy of 75-foot oaks. The children here are surely as blessed a class of young white Americans as you'll ever see; a fine group.
Into this milieu last week stepped bold Peter Brimelow to debate the issue with a star immigration lawyer, Theodore Ruthizer of the New York firm of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, and Frankel. The audience consisted of about 100 Davidson students (2/3 were women), a smattering of professors, and two public infiltrators. The event was held under the auspices of Davidson's Dean Rusk International Studies Program.
I had emailed the reporter on the Charlotte Observer's immigration beat, informing her of the debate. I didn't see her there, or any announcement in the paper. I'm not the only one in the community concerned with immigration, and I'm sure other Charlotteans might have infiltrated. If any readers wish to remonstrate with Cristina Breen-Bolling (firstname.lastname@example.org), please tell her that she missed a good one!
Mr. R stuck to the canard that immigrants are an economic bonus for Americans.
It is precept of propaganda to repeat the assertion again and again. Repetition works, especially if the speaker knows that favorable attitudes are already present in the audience.
PB spoke well, and to me won the points. But the more important issue was whether the audience listened to PB; or to Mr. R hammering away at their pre-programming. After the summing-up, fifteen students lined up at the mike. Virtually all aimed their questions at PB, most with introductory rambles based on "I'd Like To Buy The World a Coke" or "Why Can't We All Get Along?" followed by a question whose presumed answer would indicate that PB was a big meanie.
PB is nothing if not articulate, and confidently replied to each student. Because his answers opposed the Inner Cultural Catechism, they most often produced a somewhat bewildered expression in the questioner.
Later, several students surrounded PB for informal discussion—with much the same results.
The pro-immigration debater, Mr. R., pitched his speeches to resonate to the students' Inner Cultural Catechism. In fact, he was so confident of his audience that he used the word "stupid" to describe Americans who may have misgivings about immigration.
This breathtaking illustration of contempt did not pass unchallenged. During the Q&A session, I asked him if he really thought that the 60-80% of Americans that polls consistently find to oppose immigration were "stupid."
Ruthizer's answer was instructive: he talked at length, throwing dust in the air and never directly addressing the question. He never apologized for using the word, and never acknowledged that it is not "stupid" to have concerns over immigration.
Later, in a private exchange, Mr. R expressed that it had been a mistake to use "stupid." No apology, no actual withdrawal, no indication that he could see where unease with immigration might be a rational attitude. Rather, he merely allowed it was a tactical error.
On the drive home I had much to think over. These were bright students, most of whom were raised in families with no material wants. It was sad to see this group of elite children display such maladaptive attitudes, clearly at odds with their rational best interests. And it was sad to see that PB's explanation how immigration hurts their kinsmen, families a decile or so below them in the pecking order, didn't seem to penetrate. There was no solidarity—but of course that is common enough in elite communities.
I couldn't help but think the debate might have had a different effect on an audience at UNC-Charlotte, a workingman's U right across town.
Bold Peter Brimelow writes: J. Paige Straley (email him) is a VDARE.COM reader in Charlotte, NC. He flat-out told me I'd lost the debate, which is why I asked for this piece. Some pretty girls there, though.
J. Paige Straley (email him) is a VDARE.COM reader in Charlotte, NC.