Why is It `Conservative` to be `Pro-Immigration`?
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It's always refreshing to learn what conservatives think from people who have no credentials whatsoever as conservatives themselves.  Thus, The Arizona Republic and other papers recently conscripted one Roger E. Hernandez to explain how "mainline conservatives alter their views on migrants," meaning the immigration issue.

Mr. Hernandez is "writer-in-residence at the New Jersey Institute of Technology," which raises the question of why he has to go as far away as Arizona to unbosom his opinions but tells us nothing about his qualifications to explain conservative ideas on much of anything, let alone immigration.  Nevertheless, the explanations he offers, if largely wrong, are still fascinating.

There are two "conservative postures" on immigration, he says. One is what he calls the "go-back-to-where-you-came-from school of thought," which Pat Buchanan supposedly endorsed and is what "xenophobes" think.  This "posture," Mr. Hernandez tells us, is encapsulated in "the xenophobes' Little Red Book," Peter Brimelow's Alien Nation of 1995, "a nasty hysterical screech," written indeed by an immigrant but certainly not a good immigrant (which is a "migrant") "but of the right, White, British kind."  Not only was Mr. Brimelow an immigrant of the wrong race and nation for Mr. Hernandez but also six years later he "turned out to be wrong on just about everything."  If by now you have ventured to guess that this is the "conservative posture" on immigration that Mr. Hernandez doesn't like, you are on the right track.

The "posture" he does favor is that espoused by Michael Barone in his recent book, The New Americans, a "pro-immigration" "book-length answer to Brimelow."  The virtue of Mr. Barone's book, Mr. Hernandez assures us, is that all the millions of immigrants coming here in the last 30 years or so will have little problem assimilating to American society.  "America in the future," he quotes Mr. Barone as writing, "will be multiracial and multiethnic, but it will not be — or should not be — multicultural in the sense of containing ethnic communities marked off from and adversarial to the larger society."

How Mr. Barone knows this is what the future will not be, as opposed to what he thinks it should not be, is never explained. The trends — toward cultural and political Balkanization and outright hatred of American society and its history and symbols — appear to be just the opposite.  Mr. Hernandez tells us the "nasty, hysterical" position on immigration prevailed among Republicans until the enlightened and compassionate reign of George W. Bush, when his "Hispanic strategy" brought the "pro-immigrant wing" of the GOP into prominence.

So it did, but someone needs to explain to Mr. Hernandez that Mr. Bush's "Hispanic strategy" of winning Hispanic voters was a total flop.  He lost the Hispanic vote to Al Gore by 67 percent. Mr. Brimelow, incidentally, in Alien Nation more or less predicted this.  "The post-1965 immigrants," he wrote, "are overwhelmingly visible minorities.  And these are precisely the groups that the Republican party has had the most difficulty recruiting."  It's the "Hispanic strategy" of the "pro-immigration conservatives" that "turned out to be wrong on just about everything," not Mr. Brimelow's book — which, incidentally again, is neither "little" (it's 350 pages) nor "red" (it is in fact green).

As Steven Sailer notes in a fairly devastating review of the Barone book on Mr. Brimelow's website, vdare.com, "The entire book is infected with this slippery vagueness over what's actually true and what Barone merely wishes were true" — as in the very passage Mr. Hernandez picked to summarize Mr. Barone's book.  Mr. Sailer points out that while Mr. Barone cites his favorite "pro-immigration conservatives" over and over again to support his own arguments, he never cites any critic of immigration more recent than Benjamin Franklin.  Like most pro-immigration writing, the Barone book appears to be less real scholarship and serious thought than mere wish-fulfillment, and, like Mr. Hernandez' effort, the only response it offers to critics is nasty, hysterical name-calling.

But aside from the Barone book's flaws, what Mr. Hernandez never even hints at explaining is why its pro-immigration posture should be called conservative at all.  If "conservatism" means anything, it ought to mean conserving the way of life, the historic identity and culture, of a nation.  If there is one way to destroy a national way of life, it's through massive importation of new races and cultures radically at odds with those of the old society.

That's why most conservatives of the past were skeptical of if not outright opposed to mass immigration and why most conservatives — outside the Beltway at least — still are.  If Mr. Hernandez really wants to know what and how real conservatives think about immigration, he ought to find out who they are and spend a little time talking to them.


July 05, 2001

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