PERSPECTIVErn—IwfrnKMHt ^-^i ^-IHEBrn^SBM, jyBPP^rnK.WJrn^fii^i’nJA A’•’^’^CMSrn^E^i^Kjrn| | -rnIt’s Stupid, the EconomyrnCulture and Immigrationrnby Thomas FlemingrnWhy should “a magazine of American eulture” take sornkeen an interest in the question of immigration? Thatrnquestion has been posed all too frequently by journalists whorncan only think of one answer: bigotry. Sometimes the word isrnxenophobia or nativism or even anti-Semitism (apparently onrnthe grounds that the bottom-line of all discriminations is hostilityrnto Jews). Questions asked in manifestly bad faith do notrndeserve an answer except, perhaps, a fix quoque question: Whatrnpossible motivation is there for an American not to be alarmedrnby the current immigration crisis?rnI have never understood how the advocates of open bordersrnhave escaped with their reputations intact. For one thing, nev-rnimmigrants typically come in at or near the bottom of the economicrnscale and threaten the job prospects and chances for promotionrnof the poorest American workers, many of whom arernblack or Hispanic. One set of liberals (those who have been allegedlyrnmugged by reality) cheered their heads off when Koreanrnshopkeepers shot black looters in Los Angeles, but as muchrnas I favor property rights and self-defense, I could squint myrneyes for a moment and see not shopkeepers defending theirrnproperty but well-to-do foreigners firing at poor Americans. JulianrnSimon and other capitalist fanatics see, on the one hand,rncheap Latin American laborers coming in droves to bust tliernunions and, on the other, a fresh supply of professional talent—rnphysicians, engineers, mathematicians, and scientists—arrivingrnfrom Asia. But Asian countries are in desperate need of thesernprofessionals, and it seems a heartlessness more wicked thanrnany xenophobia to drain off the brains of an entire continentrnsimply because we are unwilling to arrest the steady decline ofrnhigher education in the United States. If we were bigots, wernwould agree with Julian Simon, and if this country becomes anrnimpossible place to live in by the end of the century, our richrnfriends will be able to take the mone’ and run. That is the nicernthing about disloyalty: it acknowledges no borders and no commitments.rnOur interest in questions of national identity and immigrationrnis not recent. Before I arrived at Chronicles in 1984,1 hadrnalready been discussing the topic, and it was not long before 1rnarranged for an essay by Clyde Wilson on the historical basis ofrnAmerican culture. Within a few years we were raising the questionrnin a variety of ways, and, predictabh’, we were denouncedrneverwhere, not so much by leftists per se as bv the Northeasternrnpolitical analysts who described themselves as “neoconservatixes.”rnWhile man’ of these ncoconscrvatives have comernaround to our point of view, so far as I can recall, they have neverrneither apologized for their slanders nor accorded us evenrngrudging acknowledgment that our prophecies have proved tornbe all too accurate.rnIt is precisely because Chronicles is “a magazine of Americanrnculture” that we felt compelled to ask such questions as “Whatrnis American eulture?” and “What does it mean to be an American?”rnThe pat liberal answers that America is a set of ideas orrna nation “dedicated to a proposition” were so obviously fatuousrnas to require no refutation. A nation, no matter how it isrnformed, must be something more than a set of government institutionsrnor a political creed. For one thing, laws and politicalrnpractices are never made up out of whole cloth, and most of thernexcellencies of the American sstcm can be traced directly tornthe British institutions that had taken root in the Americanrncolonies before their independence. It is also obvious that mostrnnations, including the United States, are bound together by arncommon language, by a set of literary classics that exemplifyrna common moral code and the nation’s conception of itself, byrnthousands and thousands of little “habits of the heart” thatrnconstitute the national character.rnSince a culture is both the product and origin of a people’srn10/CHRONICLESrnrnrn