Peter Brimelow writes: Here’s the edited transcript of the interview I did with KLZ-560’s Steve Curtis on April 7. Thanks to all concerned. Steve and I will talk again 8 am ET, 6 am Mountain, Thursday May 6.
Steve Curtis: I have to admit I have had the wind taken out of my sails just a little bit by what happened Tuesday in Wisconsin. Donald Trump has made great inroads by actually talking about an issue—about how illegal immigration (and really all immigration) is having such a detrimental effect on the U.S. But as the campaign has devolved over the past several weeks into more personal attacks, I think the real issue that Trump has made his bones with, immigration, has gone to the backburner.
Would you agree that it would be in Trump’s best interest, even in New York as he goes into his home state now, to bring immigration back to the forefront?
Peter: Oh, there’s no doubt about that. Those of us who are interested in the immigration issue, of course it drives us crazy that Trump won’t talk more about immigration. He actually has said relatively little about it. You would think from the MSM that he’s talking about it all over the place, but he rarely mentions it. So yes, I think that is what he should do.
And if Ted Cruz gets the nomination, he will have to talk about immigration too—although goodness knows what he actually thinks about it—because it’s the only way he will be able to defeat Hillary. The Democrats are strung out so far to the Left on the immigration question now, they are so openly in favor of Amnesty and Open Borders, that this is the weapon that the GOP is going to have to deploy.
I think the important thing about Wisconsin, from our point of view, Steve—and you know VDARE.com does not endorse candidates, we are interested in the issue, the immigration issue—is that this is perhaps the first time that you really see a head-to-head fight between two candidates, Cruz and Trump, who actually now substantially agree on immigration.
The one candidate who didn’t agree was John Kasich, whom the Establishment briefly auditioned as its favorite after Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. And he was utterly destroyed—in a Midwestern state, where as governor of Ohio, he should have had some influence.
If you remember from the March 29thTown Hall, when the candidates were interviewed separately by whoever was chosen by the people who chose these talking heads [it was Anderson Cooper], Cruz was confronted by a dairy farmer who said he wanted to be able to employ Mexican immigrants. And Cruz actually answered better than Trump, because he went into detail about immigration’s impact on American workers’ wages, and job prospects etc. Cruz has certainly come a long way on this issue. His answers frankly show much more detail and grasp of the issue than Trump’s. Trump is not a detail man.
But, I agree with you completely: What Trump has to do now is to out-patriotic immigration reform Cruz.
And he can do it. He’s taken the first step with his proposals on how to finance the wall. We’ve been talking on VDARE.com for years about the need to tax remittances—and to make remittances possible only if you are legally present in the country. But now, finally, it’s surfaced in a Presidential campaign.
And Trump is right, of course. There’s no question about it: he’s right on the wall and the fact that it could be financed by taxing remittances. And if he did tax remittances, it would make the economics of immigration much less favorable for Mexicans.
Steve Curtis: You’ve been writing about immigration for years, when the politicians weren’t interested—how do you do it?
Peter: Well, Steve, first of all, I’ve spent most of my career (and I’ve been active in journalism here for 40 years!) writing about the financial industry and investment strategy—and immigration is much more interesting than that!
Secondly, the great thing about immigration issue is that it’s an objective issue. It has enormous impact on people on a local level, on their lives. It doesn’t just go away: it gets worse and worse. That’s why the political class is wrong to think that they can avoid it—because as time goes on, what the Marxists would call the internal contradictions of the policy become more and more pronounced, more and more people become irritated by their lack of wage increases and diminished job prospects, and also by the impact on their communities, their schools, and so on. And that goes on, under the radar, no matter what the political operatives think.
At VDARE.com, we’re interested in the actual issue—the politics to us is secondary. It’s nice when it happens, but it doesn’t always happen. We just continue on moleing away under the foundations of public debate.
Actually, the big problem with politicians, and you know this better than anybody, is not that they care one way or the other about immigration—but that donors care about it.
That I think is the biggest revelation to us over the last 20 years. It’s been 20 years since I wrote my book on immigration, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, which came to exactly the same conclusions that Ann Coulter came to in her book, Adios America—and it’s a wonderful book, by the way, I think very highly of it. But, for 20 years, this debate has been hanging fire because of the sheer power of the donors. These donors can get politicians to do things that are directly contrary to their own interests, the interests of their party. The Republican Party is committing suicide here by bringing in large numbers of non-traditional immigrants who are never going to vote for them.
Steve Curtis: How does the more conservative party (if we can figure out which one that is at this point) take the leap and get people who are coming into this country, legal or illegal, to understand that socialism at best is a quick fix and that the American dream really doesn’t lie on the other side of socialism?
Peter: Well, Steve, the short answer is that you can’t. Immigrants are not blank slates; they do have values and cultures that they bring with them. And those values change very, very slowly. So the idea that the Wall Street Journal is going to be able to convince Mexican peasants of the virtues of capital gains tax cuts is madness. All the evidence shows that it takes 100 years, four generations, for immigrants to assimilate to American ways.
Now it can happen. In the late 19th century and the early 20th Century, there was a great wave of immigration from Southern Europe, which was cut off by the 1924 Immigration Act when Republicans back then had the sense to realize they were committing suicide. The lull that took place after that was a 40- or 50-year period with no immigration at all. That did allow assimilation to take place.
And by the 1960s, it became clear that the great Catholic constituencies (the Irish, Italians, and so on) were migrating toward the Republican Party. That became a huge problem for the Democrats, because they realized they were losing control of the white working class, the blue collar ethnics, and that’s why they moved to import a lot of Third World people.
But it cannot be done over the short term. It might be done over the next 100 years—with the help of a massive immigration pause. And that will have to be legislated.
Now it does happens with individuals, of course. We get them on VDARE.com all the time. We get emails from Mexicans, Chinese, people who say in effect, “I didn’t come here to have Mexico follow me.” One of the most popular letters we posted recently was from a woman who said her grandparents were Mexican, they came here, now she works in the school district and she finds herself surrounded by a lot of illegal Mexican kids, who of course are educated here because of the Plyler Vs. Doe decision, the Supreme Court decision that forced us to educate illegal immigrants.
She said in effect “They are awful. I hate them. I wish they would go back to Mexico and this isn’t what we came here for.”
But, overall, people think more in group terms. The great leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, a very clever man who played a major part in taking Singapore out of the Malaysian Federation because he thought there were irreconcilable differences between the Malaysians and Chinese, said once that when you have multiracial communities, there is a certain point when politics become about race. It’s not a question of ideals and values, or technical issues like the capital gains tax; people just vote for their tribe. We’re moving in that direction here.
Steve Curtis: We need a government structure to allow the American Dream to happen for immigrants—not just “the government will take care of you once you get here.”
Peter: Right, and of course that’s what many immigrants nowadays immediately see.
If you look at the last Great Wave of immigration between the 1880s and 1920s, one of the reasons that it was partially successful, apart from the post-1924 moratorium, was that there was no government presence in the economy on anything like the scale there is now. The result was when people failed in the labor force in the U.S., they went home. Americans don’t realize this, but tremendous numbers of the immigrants who came in 1880s-1920s ultimately went home. In some groups, it was as high as 60-70%—for example, for the Italians.
Sometimes I say you can have mass immigration, and you can have the welfare state, but you can’t have them both together.
What happened, of course, is that during that moratorium, when that great wave of immigration ceased in the middle of the 20th Century, America moved toward a welfare state thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt. So, when mass immigration started up again after 1965, the political economy of immigration was entirely different. If you failed in the workforce, you were able to get government help.
Similarly, in the 1900s, virtually no-one finished high school, let alone college. But by the 1960s, about 70% of American kids were finishing high school. Now, that’s a tremendous subsidy to immigrant children. Per pupil spending in this country is around $7,000 to $10,000 a year in most states. Where I am in northwest Connecticut, it’s over $20,000 a year.
So the parents stay here so their kids can stay in school, which is nice for them, but terrible for the American taxpayer and terrible for the American kids they are in school with, who find the teachers’ time is taken up with kids who can’t speak English.
Steve Curtis: This brings up so many issues!
Peter: You know, Steve, it’s true that I’m personally identified with writing about immigration issue, but I’ve also written a great deal about the economics of education—including a book, Worm in the Apple, that came out in 2005 and is (amazing enough!) still in print. I argued there that what happened is that the education system has been captured by this rent-seeking parasites, the teacher unions, and I would say more generally educational administrators. They have immense influence in the Democratic Party and what they want to do is have the country spend more money on education, which is fact means more money on teacher’s salaries and administration salaries. And this thing is just out of control—it’s kind of a cancer on the American economy.
You see countries that spend 3-4% GDP on K-12 education and you see countries that spend quite a significant sums of money (not 3-4% GDP as it is the US, but a large sum) on college-level education. But you rarely see both. The Germans, for example, are apparently able to get their kids qualified just at the high school level, so they don’t need as many kids to go to university. What we have here is both, and of course, it is extraordinarily expensive.
In another world, if we resolved the immigration issue with a wave of the wand, I would go back to writing about the economics of education. The whole thing would have to be unbundled, of course: there is no reason why kids have to be kept imprisoned at school for this enormous length of time.
But you know, education is a disease of the skin, you can solve that. Immigration is a disease of the heart. It’s going to alter the country irreversibly.
Steve Curtis: You called immigration a disease of the heart—tell me what you mean.
Peter: I mean that it will totally transform America. America will not be able to function in the way that it used to function. We won’t have free markets, we won’t have capitalism, we won’t have equality before the law—because it is very clear, the way our racialized politics are moving that people are going to be demanding rights based on their racial clout rather than individuals. So, it’s going to be a huge mess.
And I actually think that this is why the country will eventually break up—because in the future the people who do want these things are going to refuse to subsidize and refuse to kowtow to the people who don’t.
Steve Curtis: The idea of multiculturalism has always been part of America, but we do have lost the other aspect, that said “but we’re American.” How do we get across to people that we are not being racist when we make a statement that, for example, a Mexican is not an America? It should be very simple to understand that we’re not talking about keeping people out because of the color of their skin or their nation of origin, we’re simply doing it because they don’t belong here any more than we belong in their country.
Peter: You see, Steve, I don’t agree that America has always been multicultural. There’s always been a lot of talk about it, going back to before the Revolution, but if you actually look at the America that existed around the time of the Revolution, you find the political nation was overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Protestant (there were almost no Catholics in the country), and overwhelmingly British. It actually continued that way until the 1840s and 1850s. And the cultural nature of America remained Anglo-Protestant and English-speaking really until now—until the last 20 to 30 years, when there’s been a serious effort to import foreign-language communities and official bilingualism, etc.
We called our website VDARE after Virginia Dare. She was the first English child born in the New World. All of our enemies—and we have a lot of enemies—will say, well, she‘s the first white child, but of course, she wasn’t the first white child. The first white child was Snorri Thorfinnsson, who was born in Vinland, in the Viking settlement, in the Middle Ages. The point is that, culturally, American was not multicultural. It was an Anglo, an English-speaking culture and people who came here assimilated to that.
Well the problem now is that there is no effort now to force people to assimilate. You can actually get a college degree in New York City while speaking Spanish. The first time in the Census data we see the rise of significant number of “Americans,” that is to say people born in America, who can’t speak English very well—two or three percent. That is a completely new development. And it stems from the collapse of morale, or something, in the American elite that happened in the second half of the 20th Century. And as a result, the country is what we call “Balkanizing”—it will break up into different communities that will have nothing in common.
Steve Curtis: Trump saw how immigration resonated. But somebody needs be ready to move into this space and talk about what the American culture is. There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling people, “If you chose to leave your culture and come here, this is what it’s going to look like, and you may flavor it a little differently with your presence, but you cannot be here to change our unique culture.”
Peter: First of all, Trump is the most amazing thing that anyone has seen in American politics, I’m sure you agree with me, Steve—more amazing than Reagan on a number of different levels. He’s not simply interested in immigration what he is a nationalist, a patriot. He was asked somewhere the other day “what is conservatism?” His rivals were going on about the capital gains tax and the need to cut taxes and limited government and all this sort of thing. And Trump said that the point of conservatism is to conserve—that we have to conserve the country. I think people intuitively understand that and that’s one of the reasons why he is resonating so much.
You were saying earlier about what he can do now that he is facing a candidate that is actually not pro-Amnesty, as Jeb Bush was, or lying about it, as Marco Rubio was. The answer is that he has to up the ante.
One thing that Trump can do, of course, is start talking about Official English, requiring that people speak English and not allowing government money to go to subsidize foreign language retention. This is what they do in Quebec; they forced people to speak French in Quebec and it was very successful. The Anglophone community—the English-speaking community—in Quebec has either assimilated or left. And that’s what needs to be done here.
Now, what is Ted Cruz going to do if Trump raises this issue? I don’t know. I don’t know what his donors will let him do.
The same with Muslim immigration. When Cruz was presented with the issue of banning Muslim immigration, a moratorium, perhaps temporary, raised by Trump, Cruz said he was wrong, awful, that sort of thing. He knows that his donors didn’t like it and the Main Stream Media don’t like it, and maybe he had never even thought about it before. Trump needs to do more things like that. And I think he will.
I’ve given up ruling Trump out. One of the things that we watch really closely at VDARE.com is people who say, “Well, I’m against illegal immigration—but I’m in favor of legal immigration.” Now legal immigration is in some ways is triggered by illegal immigration, because there are a points where a community’s Anchor Baby children can start sponsoring people in. Legal immigration and illegal immigration are not that different, actually, they have the same impact on wages and on employment. We think that’s a typical maneuver that the Republican Party, specifically, often employs because it allows them to appease the electorate and keep on the good side of the donors.
And for a long time, I thought Trump was doing that. But then he comes out with this wonderful statement, crafted largely by Senator Jeff Session, in which he said, for example, that he was against birthright citizenship and he wanted to see a moratorium of the temporary H1B visas used in the tech field, until unemployment goes down.
So Trump has done this in the past. And that’s all he has to do now.
Steve Curtis: The term that has developed during this campaign, “immigration patriotism,” I really like that term. The idea that it is patriotic for the U.S. to take control of immigration—I think that’s a winning issue. I think that take the negative emotion out of it. Isn’t this the starting point for every successful campaign, moving forward to really get a handle on this issue?
Peter: I am delighted to hear you say this, Steve! When I first got involved with this issue, when I wrote Alien Nation 20 years ago, if you said “immigration reform”, everyone immediately knew that what you meant was reduction of immigration—because there was no other reform being discussed. And that’s why one of the main patriotic immigration reform groups is called the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Well, what happened was these nogoodniks on the other side realized that they could never get Amnesty through—because if you told Americans that you were going to propose Amnesty, they were massively opposed to it. So they started to lie about it. They started to call Amnesty—and also the massive increase in legal immigration they were trying to smuggle though at the same time—they started to call that “immigration reform.” And they’ve been successful in persuading the MSM to go along with it.
So we had to come up with something else. And what we came up with was “patriotic immigration reform”—because that’s what it’s really about, the future of the country.
You say that it takes the emotion out of it, and in one sense that’s true. But I actually think emotion should be in this issue—because what we are concerned about is not our self-interest, it’s our children’s self-interest.
I have five children in this country. And they don’t speak with a funny accent like I do; they’re Americans. That’s what is at stake here. So I don’t think it is selfish. I think it’s a form of altruism. People want to see that their children and their children’s children have a better future and what more powerful human emotion is there?
That’s what a nation-state is designed to do: get us all together to protect what the Founders called “our posterity.” If you look at the founding documents, they say specifically that we are trying to ensure the “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” And there’s no better way to do that right now than an immigration moratorium.
Steve Curtis: It’s important that we all get on board with this idea of putting our nation first. The Democrats would have us believe that immigration is simply a matter of “Are you going to be a racist or are you not?” That’s the way they portray it.
Peter: Whereas actually the question is whether you are going to be an American patriot or—basically—a traitor.
It’s actually about treason. That’s why we call these people the Treason Lobby. They don’t intend to conserve America, they intend to destroy it through immigration.
So the answer to the charge of “racism” is a charge of treason.
Steve Curtis: Peter, we have two minutes left here this morning. If you were going to leave people with a final thought, what would you want them to walk away with so they can make this issue of immigration patriotism, something that they can articulate to their friends, their neighbors, their relatives?
Peter: I think it’s what Trump said, you know: are we going to conserve America or not? Are we going to have a country or not?
And in terms of advice to the Trump campaign, Steve: what he should do is simply get Ann Coulter to sit next to him on his plane while he’s traveling.
Trump doesn’t like to read long policy papers apparently. But Ann is the great Mistress of One Line Political Zingers, so she could be whispering these one-line zingers into his ear.
She doesn’t like to fly apparently, but I think she should make this sacrifice.
Peter Brimelow [Email him] is the editor of VDARE.com. His best-selling book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, is now available in Kindle format.