Rockford is becoming for me what the Rouen Cathedral was for Monet or the village of Selbourne for Gilbert White: a place intrinsically no more interesting than any other but as worthy of close attention as any human community. Rouen Cathedral is beautiful, but Europe has hundreds, even thousands, of beautiful churches. Monet, by depicting Rouen in every possible light, weather, and season, made it his. For good or ill, I am making Rockford—a light industrial suburb of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon—my own mythical universe.

One chapter in the ongoing saga of federal tyranny in Rockford is the construction of several superschools that will transfer more money from the hands of parents and children to the pockets of public contractors, lawyers, and education bureaucrats. The other day the undisputed king of Rockford talk radio interrupted my breakfast to ask what I thought of the groundbreaking ceremony for a planned magnet school. According to an announcement from the school district, the ceremony would begin with a playing of national anthems: first the American, and then the Mexican. I agreed to go on the program to discuss the implications, and as soon as the host read the announcement, the lights on his telephone lit up and stayed lit throughout the two hours I was in the studio.

The callers often prefaced their remarks with “I am shocked” or “I can’t believe it.” To me the only surprising part is the surprise itself Magnet schools, which are supposed to attract ethnic diversity without coercion, ought to be called Venus Flytrap schools, because however sweet the nectar smells, the end result is death—death to community schools and parental influence and an end to the remote chance that students might learn anything but propaganda. The underlying assumption of all these programs that march under the banner of school choice (here in Rockford the magistrate and master call their system “controlled choice”) is the Jacobin-Marxist conviction that the state rules and experts decide. Fathers, who were once regarded as symbols of sovereignty and divine power, are reduced to the status of taxpayers and laymen.

The token Republican columnist working for the Gannet machine’s “Rockford” newspaper described the outraged callers as “xenophobes,” a word he probably had to look up in the dictionary. What he neglected to mention is that one of the callers had a Latin American wife, another was a Mexican immigrant, and several claimed to have spent years in Spanish-speaking countries where they never expected to hear the “Star-Spangled Banner” played at soccer matches and never asked for their children to be given English-only instruction paid for by Spanish, Mexican, or Ecuadorian taxpayers.

What people objected to was not so much the celebration of Mexican cultural heritage as it was the explicit acknowledgment of dual loyalty and dual sovereignty’. Flags and national anthems are not cultural expressions; they are statements of political allegiance. When radical students carried the hammer-and-sickle or the flag of North Vietnam or burned the American flag, everyone knew what they meant: they were renouncing their allegiance to the United States. When Chinese students, in “pro-democracy” demonstrations, waved American flags and set up models of the Statue of Liberty, the communist government interpreted their symbolic gestures—quite properly—as a threat to the regime.

No man can serve two masters, and Mexican-Americans can only be loyal to one country. They have to choose to be either American or Mexican, but this is exactly the choice that the Mexican government does not want them to make. The government of Mexico has lobbied furiously in the United States on behalf of NAFTA and against California’s Proposition 187 denying welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. More recently, Mexico passed a law granting dual citizenship to Mexican immigrants who become naturalized citizens of the United States.

Mexican ethnic lobbies such as the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) may profess loyalty to the United States, but most of their actions are directed toward making their followers an alien force within the body politic. In September, the California chapter of LULAC sounded the call for action against Ron Unz’s initiative opposing bilingual education. Describing Unz as a “Silicon Valley millionaire” (rather than as the leading libertarian Republican in the state), LULAC condemned him for his “cynical strategy” in seeking the support of Hispanic families. Mr. Unz’s cynicism consists in believing that Mexican-Americans will abandon identity politics and vote according to their self-interest—low taxes, good schools, the knowledge of English that is essential to economic success.

For LULAC leaders and their ilk, the game transcends politics, and they stand to lose more than influence if Mexican- Americans refuse to play their game. Ethnic lobbyists, who devote their careers to dividing Americans against one another, show no reluctance in accepting the federal tax dollars paid by all of us mostly European-Americans. In 1994, LULAC received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to “help Hispanics better understand their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.” In the United States, this is what “education” means—teaching a minority of a minority how to buy their one-way tickets for a ride on the government gravy train.

The code-word for the bizarre labyrinth of preferences based on color, origin, sex, and style of kinkiness is “diversity.” But real diversity—the living and breathing differences between families of different regions and cultures — is the enemy of the unitary state. To destroy it, masters and magistrates have to create a wax-doll substitute, a diversity based on artificial identities (like Hispanic or African-American) and a system of quotas that guarantees the destruction of any genuine ethnic heritage (especially the Anglo-American traditions that are the foundation of the nation). Once they have given us a number and taken away our names, they will be free to impose a unity whose ultimate source is the power of a military government to conscript its subjects into a national army of soldiers. Peace Corps volunteers, bureaucrats, welfare clients, and prison inmates.

As dependents, we become collaborators. Nice liberal judges and school superintendents destroy the lives of our children, sometimes with the best of intentions. “As individuals, as families, as neighbors, as members of one community, people of all races and political views are usually decent,” but as a wise Chinese immigrant tells the hero of Dean Koontz’s Dark Rivers of the Heart: “In large corporations or governments, when great power accumulates in their hands, some become monsters.”

In one sense, America’s rulers are playing the very ancient game of divide et impera. Julius Caesar, who coined the phrase during his conquest of Caul, not only set Germans against Cauls, tribe against tribe, but succeeded in stirring up factionalism within the various communities of Caul, all with an eye to preventing a common defense. Successful conquerors and empire builders, before and since, have used the same technique. Philip of Macedon was a master at dividing the Creek city-states, and in more modern times, separatist movements in Scotland and Ireland received aid and comfort from imperial Germany (in 1916 many Irish rebels were expecting a German landing) and more recently from the Soviet Union.

Communists also backed various black nationalist movements, including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s crusade for civil rights, and it was a legitimate fear among some English Tories that separatism and devolution, before the collapse of the Soviet Empire, were playing into the hands of Britain’s (and America’s) enemy. If the Soviets were still around, they would probably be infiltrating the Nation of Islam, LULAC, and perhaps the League of the South.

Of course, America’s “divide and rule” tactics are somewhat unusual, being applied within the nation itself instead of against a foreign enemy. The parallels are instructive. Austrians and Hungarians found a variety of ways of preventing their Slavic subjects from developing a sense of solidarity. They jiggered borders, privileged one group against another, and even arranged or supported the internal colonization of their empire that turned the Balkans into an ethnic patchwork quilt. Stalin, of course, pursued a similar strategy within his empire, and the British in India did nothing to quell (and perhaps a great deal to incite) antagonisms between Hindus and Muslims. These were all imperial governments ruling over subjects they regarded as alien and inferior. But the same is true in the United States, where an alienated ruling class looks out from its highsecurity high-rises and moated suburban castles upon the helpless serfs and peasants whose only choice is to trade their liberty for the doubtful security of a steady job with benefits.

Here in Rockford, the Democratic machine, battening on contributions from public contractors, has done a good job of dividing the city against itself: East side against West, white against black, native-born against Hispanic immigrant. Playing the Mexican national anthem has the double benefit of making Mexican immigrants feel just a little less loyal to the United States and the locals just a little more hostile to the newcomers. Our national masters play the same game on a larger field, importing millions of immigrants to manipulate, passing affirmative action laws, and race-norming everything from the federal census to the number of Medal of Honor recipients. If they get what they want, we will all join one or another of the racist organizations that act, objectively, as if they were established by the FBI for the sole purpose of starting the race war our government will be more than happy to suppress by force.

Back here in Rockford, where it is difficult to find out the truth about anything going on in the city, the citizens reached the stage of quiet desperation some time ago. A few solid citizens have been ready to join the militia, but most (including me) were convinced that the machine was invincible. More recently, however, the machine has started to squeak and malfunction. In the close mayoral election of last spring, voter apathy (and the machine’s superior organization) insured the defeat of a reform Republican mayoral candidate—but by a small margin. Only a few months later, a coalition of property owners defeated a Superfund deal put together by the mayor, the EPA, and a few major industrialists. Then in October, voters woke up to discover that two rebel candidates had been elected to the school board (giving the antibusing forces a majority), and before the day was over, they learned that a state appeals judge had ruled in favor of a group that had sued the school district for misapplying tort fund money to “desegregation” expenses (thus potentially cutting off funds for the Master’s social engineering).

As much as I hate to say it, the system can work occasionally. Last February, when we held a meeting to discuss and protest judicial taxation, our slogan was “vote, organize, and protest.” That is exactly what has been done, with little or no help from me. There is a long way to go before the people of Rockford will be able to say that their city belongs to them, but they are headed in that direction. If Americans ever do succeed in taking their country back, it will not be by joining the KKK or blowing up federal office buildings. They will have to rebuild their country in exactly the same way they built it the first time: neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, state by state.

They will undoubtedly be opposed every step of the way by the classes that own the government. Liberal Democrats and Republicans, it goes without saying, will be against them, but the leaders of the conservative establishment—Trent Lott and the Weekly Standard—just as much as Bill Clinton and the New Republic, fear the American people far more than they fear the aliens they are importing to fight their civil war.