May 16, 2006


Living the Creed (Nathan Smith, 16 May 2006, Tech Central Station)

Like many of President Bush's speeches, his immigration address last night was awkward, yet quite moving. His core beliefs -- hope for the future, the dignity of every individual, a love of freedom -- shine through every time Bush speaks. They are profound and noble convictions, made all the more poignant by their contrast, both with Bush's personal demeanor -- his everyman drawl, never quite at home amidst the grandiloquence he is uttering -- and with the black legend that surrounds his name throughout the world. [...]

Bush won't reunite the GOP, because many people on the right are foaming at the mouth that these swarthy Spanish speakers who mow their lawns and clean the restrooms at the office may soon be their fellow-citizens, their equals. It is this same kind of visceral opposition that Lyndon Johnson evoked when he demanded that white Americans relinquish their claims to superiority over black Americans. [...]

[I] think Bush is a hero for raising the issue and standing up to his base to do (sort of) the right thing, especially at the cost of wrecking his approval rating.

That's the difference between Bush and Clinton. Clinton, the Eisenhower Republican, was a feel-good president. He radiated complacency. Iraqis starved in the stranglehold of US-led sanctions; we didn't have to know or care. Illegal immigrants filtered in, helped us prosper, but stayed conveniently invisible. Clinton kept the divisive issues below the radar, and reaped a huge harvest of popularity for it.

Not Bush. Bush thinks Iraqis deserve to liberated, undocumented workers legalized. Why? His arguments that it serves US self-interest (war on terror, border security) never quite make sense. His real reason is that he believes in "the dignity of every individual." That's what's so subversive about Bush. We all mutter that "all men are created equal." Bush really believes it and tries to live by it, and his push for a better world is making a lot of people upset.

Which is why the nativists will ultimately fail, they are at odds with the ideals upon which the Republic is Founded.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 16, 2006 2:43 PM

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for people to realize that Bush is the Anti-Clinton on matters of principle. I get the feeling from people I talk to that the public still expects poll-driven policy, warped by the politically expediant, instead of expecting exactly what Bush said he would do. At his core, Bush believes what he says, far more then his predecessor.

Posted by: Jay at May 16, 2006 4:31 PM

Caught a little bit of CNN. The few interviewed that I saw liked the optimistic and non confrontational tone of the speech. They want to see more specifics and see actual things accomplished so if a fence gets built, the troops go the border, etc. they should be satisfied.

Posted by: AWW at May 16, 2006 4:36 PM

What a bunch of poppycock.

Yes, Bush is a big-hearted idealist -- but that doesn't make his opponents cold-hearted "nativists." (Nor does it make his policies correct.) The National Review aptly chided Bush today for taking the low road of imputing evil motives to his opponents on immigration. Being in favor of legal, controlled, reasonable immigration hardly makes one a nativist, let alone evil.

The logic of this article, and the snide comment that follows it, implies that the only "noble" and "right" policy on immigration is open borders for all comers. This is a ridiculous position that, if taken seriously, would destroy this country -- and all its unique goodness and generosity of which Bush is rightly proud.

The notion that one can separate American culture from the actual people who built and make up this country (largely western European Christians) is profoundly ignorant of the force of demography in human history. (See Europe today and how it is being *changed* by Muslim immigration.) There is a reason that Latin American countries, or China, or Middle Eastern countries, et al., lack America's commitment to freedom and opportunity. Their people, their cultures, are *different* than ours. The more of these people who come to live here, without effective assimilation (which has been a dead letter since the 1960s), the less our country will look like America.

America *already* looks less like America than it did 40 years ago. (Have you visited the Southwest recently? The notion of a "reconquista" won't seem so outlandish in another 25 or 50 years.) These changes have been both good and bad. But continue tipping the balance in favor or peoples and cultures that lack our fundamental cultural attributes (including the English language), and you can kiss "the city on a hill" goodbye.

Posted by: Steven M. Warshawsky at May 16, 2006 5:06 PM

"effective assimilation (which has been a dead letter since the 1960s)"

I didn't know Mexican taquerias in the Southwest were only accepting pesos! I didn't know street signs in East LA were only in Spanish!

Yes, OJ, that immigration must be controlled. Reconquista is surely at hand.

Posted by: Brad S at May 16, 2006 5:21 PM

Let's hope they never assimilate given how much more socially conservative they are than the CA natives.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2006 5:26 PM

SMW - Europe never assimilated (proper usage?) their immigrants ergo theirs is a fractured and largely dead society. The same thing isn't true in the U.S. No matter how many new Americans arrive and are assimilated, our culture will survive albeit with new twists and wonderful new things to eat that we'll adapt to our American tastes.

Don't worry about us, we'll be fine.

Posted by: erp at May 16, 2006 5:48 PM


Actually, Europe did assimilate them, too well.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2006 5:54 PM

Mr. Warshawsky:

The point is we're importing Christians to counter native seculars.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2006 6:21 PM

The point is Orrin likes to be on the side he thinks is winning. That, laziness (the race card is just easy) and guilt driven by the physical terror of growing up white in a poor black neighborhood account for 99% of what he spouts. So many fire hydrants, so few psychiatrists...

Posted by: joe shropshire at May 16, 2006 7:06 PM

joe -

The few people I know who grew up in that circumstance feel rage, not guilt. Now, if you were to assert that oj feels guilty about his well-hidden rage, I might listen.

Otherwise ...

Posted by: ghostcat at May 16, 2006 7:15 PM

I confess I'm not so sanguine about the beneficial aspects of massive immigration. Having new things to eat really isn't the issue. The issue is when fundamental aspects of our culture start to change (e.g., when Muslim calls to prayer start being broadcast over public announcement systems). I am not at all hesitant to say that I consider this, generally, to be a bad thing.

Brad S. laughs at the talk of a "reconquista." But, surely, he knows that there are plenty of very serious Chicanos (and Mexicans) who believe this, who teach this, who wish to see it happen. Why should ethnic/regional separatism be a plague everywhere in the world but here? Why would the U.S. be immune to such conflicts? (Recall the Civil War) America is not sui generis, beyond the reach of human nature and historical forces.

We already are becoming a "bilingual" (i.e., English-Spanish) society -- which is being driven by the combination of political and educational liberalism and big business "dollarism." This portends friction and division, not improved social cohesion. See the constant tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

I take as a given that a common language -- English -- is the first precondition for the survival of the United States in its present form. Yet more people live in the U.S. today without speaking English than at anytime in our history. Plus they qualify to vote and to receive gov't benefits -- which makes it all teh easier not to have to learn English.

(As an aside, did you know that not speaking English actually improves one's chances of being found eligible for Social Security disability benefits? In other words, given two people with the same medical and occupational profile, the one who does not speak English is more likely to receive benefits than the English speaker.)

As for assimilation, there is no such thing in this country, at least as it existed pre-1960s. Some people assimilate, some don't -- and it is increasingly easy for those who don't assimilate to live acceptable lives (certainly better lives than they could live in their home countries). And assimilation has a hollower meaning these days -- it usually is defined as particpating in the mainstream economy. But, plainly, being an American does, and should, mean a lot more than that.

We don't teach "Americanism" in the schools. Nor do we honor it in society at large (e.g., patriotic parades and displays are increasingly rare). On the contrary, our "multicultural" ideology actually promotes ethnic separatism. See the "Mexican-American" crowds in Los Angeles cheering for the Mexican world cup team against the American team.

It seems to me that the "open borders" crowd, at bottom, believes that the "United States" is something distinct from the people who live here, and that "Americans" as a people are somehow interchangable with "Mexicans" or "Chinese" or "Pakistanis" or whomever. This couldn't be further from the truth. No one would speak this way about any other country. Iran, for example, would hardly be Iran if populated with Chinese. And China would hardly be China if populated with Germans.

Here's a simple but I think illuminating thought experiment: Ask yourself, if you took the 300 million people living in the U.S. and moved them to, say, India, and moved 300 million Indians to the U.S., would the United States remain the same country? It seems to me obvious that the answer is no. (Neither would India, of course.) The question is why not? Because the different people have different cultural attributes that influence every aspect of how they live.

It is well-established, for example, that rates of public and private corruption are not equal across nations or cultures. Some countries experience much higher levels of graft, dishonesty, etc., than others (including ours).

To look at the issue from the other side, we would never assume that we could hop across the ocean and "become" Japanese. So why would we assume that people who come here from all over the world can so easily become "Americans" -- especially when we, as a society, make so little effort to turn them into Americans?

England is already at an advanced stage of where we're heading. The immigrant invasion, coupled with multiculturalism (and its twin, the welfare state), has clearly not made England a better or stronger country. It's native culture is eroding. It's becoming fragmented socially. It's losing its former role as progenitor and defender of western culture. England qua England is a dying country. Moreover, it is quite forseeable that England in the not too distant future will cease to be our dependable ally in the war on terror. Our staunchest ally will then be Australia -- not a coincidence, culturally or demographically.

Ultimately, we can debate this issue at the margins, but I think my larger point is demonstrated when one considers life in a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia, or Iran. Consider, e.g., how they treat women in those societies: Completely different -- and antagonistic -- to our way of life. Women have no rights as we understand them. Should we allow large numbers of Muslims from these countries to immigrate to our country and bring their way of life here (as they have in Europe)? Like honor killings in England? No thank you. There *is* a difference between the peoples of the world, some more stark than others (Muslims versus Mexicans), but the differences remain -- and have real implications for the nature of our society.

I think these differences at least have to be acknowledged and taken seriously before we go even farther down a road that might not lead where we expect or want it to lead.

Anyway, I enjoy this give and take. It's a very interesting debate. Obviously, plenty of smart, decent people disagree with my views. I look forward to reading any replies.

Posted by: Steven M. Warshawsky at May 16, 2006 7:16 PM

That (guilt about rage) would be oj's duty as a Christian, ghost. But overblown racial guilt is also a stock lefty trope, and as David Cohen has scientifically proven, oj's nothing if not a stock lefty. Thus the insistence that you feel his pain.

Posted by: joe shropshire at May 16, 2006 7:32 PM

The "pro-immigrationists" around here are purposefully conflating a number of distinct policy positions into the non-homogenous "nativists" or "anti-immigrationists".

I want a thick, high wall on the southern border and as many immigrants from as many places as the market will bear.

I'm a born and raised Las Vegan and the recent tide of SoCal refugees has ruined this city. They came here for the work and economy and simply turned it into a carbon copy of where they came from; thereby destroying what they came for. Why won't this happen to the US if we take almost all (tens of millions) our immigrants from Mexico?

Posted by: Pepys at May 16, 2006 8:12 PM

joe -

Hell, I'm a liberal by David's semi-facetious standards! (Most liberals who give a rat's rear end ab y few remaingi

Posted by: ghostcat at May 16, 2006 8:29 PM

joe -

OJ's not a "stock" anything, near as I can tell. Nice to have a supply of those folks around.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 16, 2006 8:32 PM

Phat phinger alert, one post up. Sorry!

Posted by: ghostcat at May 16, 2006 8:33 PM

As you wish. The point is that the race card, like any other cheap ad hominem, is fun, easy, and just as likely to kill the gunner as it is the target.

Posted by: joe shropshire at May 16, 2006 8:38 PM

joe -

I'll grant you that. But I usually see oj playing the "human weaknesses" card, not the race card. Original sin, or whatever secular term you might choose to apply, knows no ethnic or racial boundaries.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 16, 2006 8:49 PM


It's the dangdest thing, just because you note that someone has a racist position doesn't mean they aren't a racist.

I don't get what you mean about racist guilt though--the nativists are self-righteous as sin, not guilt-ridden.

I don't pick sides--mine was picked for me.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2006 9:01 PM

Mr. Warshawsky:

Our culture has changed for the worst over the past 70 years of secular liberalism--importing a hundred million Latinos gives us the chance to reverse that.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2006 9:09 PM


Everyone wants the wall. The immigrationists just recognize it won't do anything except soothe the anti-immigrationists.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2006 9:11 PM

SMW -- a fair warning. Hanging around here may cause you to rethink your position on issues you thought were settled in your mind ... and if you get a sudden craving for public transportation, pay no attention to it.

Posted by: erp at May 16, 2006 11:39 PM

Erp -- actually, living in NYC means I don't drive, and I take the subway everyday. (Quite a change for a former SO CAL boy.) It always amazes me that without 19th century inventions (subways, elevators), this city would be impossible!

OJ -- I don't follow your logic regarding immigration as an antidote to secular liberalism. At the heart of secular liberalism is the welfare state, with its rejection of individualism and embrace of collectivism. Immigrants *love* the welfare state -- especially Latino immigrants. And the countries they come from are thoroughly collectivist. Just because they are nominally more religious than ordinary Americans (is that even true?) hardly means they will embrace whatever anti-liberal politics you support. (Frankly, as an occasional reader of this site, I find your politics confusing.)

And, of course, Latino immigrants are overwhelmingly Catholic, not Protestant -- so whatever role may be attributed historically to Protestantism in the rise of Anglo-American democracy will not be filled with Catholic Latinos. Let alone Muslims. And ultimately isn't it a huge non sequitur to argue that immigrants from countries that are statist, corrupt, and backward are going to contribute to an anti-liberal movement in this country? But then, I guess it all depends on what it is, exactly, you wish to see happen in this country.

Posted by: Steven M. Warshawsky at May 17, 2006 6:48 PM

They're social conservatives. The Ownership Society will make the welfare state obsolete.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2006 7:51 PM

oj's back.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2006 9:02 PM