The March Chronicles stirred up a great deal of hostility in strange quarters, where freedom of expression used to defend everything but unfashionable opinions. The Perspective essay on immigration even attracted the attention of a newspaper editor in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, named Paul Greenberg. In an op-ed piece published in the Washington Times, Greenberg applies such terms as “hysteria,” “xenophobic,” and “ugly alarum” to Chronicles‘ editor. This sort of response to any controversial question has always been typical of those who are able to muster neither facts nor argument to support their sentimental prejudices. Ordinarily, we should not take any notice of such forays into political journalism, but in the conclusion of his editorial, Mr. Greenberg descended far enough into the gutter to attract attention:

The way out for America lies in reviving the immigration laws of the 1920s, according to Mr. Fleming. Those laws, he said, “made it very clear that we intended to be what we had always been: a European nation.” Preferably a Western European nation, since that’s the way the quotas were skewed. If those laws hadn’t been changed, the late Leopold Tyrmand—a scholar who ornamented The Rockford Institute when it was turning out invariably respectable work, a writer of charm, humility and insight who devoted himself to defending America to the Americans—might have had a much harder time getting into this country from his native Poland.

As Sam Johnson used to say of his less honorable opponents, “He lies and he knows he lies.” My argument, that immigration policy should serve the national interest rather than the needs of the human race, is hardly startling, and I explicitly argued that potential contribution to American society should be among the highest criteria for admission. America already gives some priority to persons of distinction in useful fields of endeavor, and it was on that basis that we welcomed my late friend Leopold into the United States. If we did reinstitute a system of national quotas reflecting the historical patterns of settlement, it is hard to see how the Poles could be affected in any way other than positively. There are already a huge number of Americans who can trace ancestors back to Poland, many of them Polish Jews like Mr. Tyrmand.

Like all of us, Leopold was not without his faults, but hypocrisy was not one of them. One day we were discussing immigration policy and a vigorous piece we had just received from Clyde Wilson, who seemed to be arguing that intellectual emigres to the US had done as much harm as good. Tyrmand was not at all perturbed. “Professor [which is what he liked to call me], there are two Americas: Plymouth Rock [‘Better call it Jamestown,’ I interjected] and Ellis Island. What Ellis Island Americans like me have to realize is that their America would not be possible without the Plymouth Rock—or Jamestown—America.” He went on to say that it was British institutions of responsible self-government that paved the way for the openness and generosity of American democracy. If we destroyed the institutions of Plymouth Rock, we would end up like the rest of the world.

Leopold and I differed over a great many things, but not over immigration. The principles outlined in Chronicles would actually boost immigration (of Jews as well as Christians) from Eastern Europe, but Mr. Greenberg already knew that. He also knew, or should have known, that it was Leopold Tyrmand who chose me as his successor. To drag my late colleague and friend into such a discussion, while at the same time entirely misrepresenting the nature of the argument, Mr. Greenberg has descended to the lower depths of yellow journalism. (TF)