“A nation scattered and peeled . . . a nation meted out and trodden down.”
“It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of looking insufficiently progressive.” Pat Buchanan quotes this aphorism of Charles Péguy in his latest book, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America. If it were not already clear from the rest of his career, Buchanan’s book shows that he—almost alone among national figures—is not cowed into silence by fear of offending our progressive elites. And neither are those writers whom Buchanan acknowledges and repeatedly cites in this book, including the late Sam Francis and several other editors of this magazine. Indeed, Buchanan has written a book every reader of Chronicles will enjoy. With crisp, vigorous prose and clear, logical argument, buttressed by wide reading and deep historical knowledge, he sets forth themes that have long been written about here, all in defiance of the shibboleths of multiculturalism and in service to the most important political cause in America: immigration reform.
Buchanan is blunt regarding the stakes in the immigration debate. He repeatedly refers to the current inundation of America with immigrants from Third World countries as an “existential crisis”:
The existential crisis of Western civilization does not come from Islamic terrorism. . . . The crisis of the West is of a collapsing culture and vanishing peoples. . . . [I]f we do not shake off our paralysis, the West comes to an end.
In attempting to highlight a way out of this crisis, Buchanan ably marshals the arguments made by immigration reformers for years: that mass immigration constitutes “an injustice and betrayal of working men and women of America”; that “[w]e are headed toward a society and nation dangerously more polarized than the America of 1960”; that,
[i]f Republicans believe that millions of largely uneducated, unskilled, and poor people are going to rally to a party that advocates slashing the size of government, the party is in need of a brain transplant.
He cites Chilton Williamson’s argument that America “is going to be overrun and despoiled in 50 or 100 years because of the folly, greed, and dishonesty with which Congress has responded to the immigrant invasion.”
The strength of Buchanan’s book, however, does not lie in such economic, political, or environmental arguments but in its clear explanation of how the current mass immigration from Mexico is different from earlier immigrations and in its further development of two themes that have long characterized Buchanan’s writing: a strong American patriotism and an equally strong disdain for liberalism in all its guises—from Manchester-style liberalism to neoconservatism to multiculturalism—which Buchanan sees, following James Burnham, as the “ideology of Western suicide.”
Buchanan, of course, notes that many Mexican immigrants are coming here illegally and that our open southern border poses a grave security risk to the United States, providing a conduit for drugs, criminals, and perhaps even terrorists to enter the country. But he goes well beyond these staples of talk-radio rhetoric to explain why America must begin to limit this seemingly endless influx of people. He highlights the disturbing phenomenon of “sanctuary cities,” which forbid their police “to arrest known illegal and criminal aliens”—sanctuaries whose existence we owe to immigrants who identify more with their fellow immigrants who are criminals than with the American victims of their crimes. Buchanan describes how the Mexican government is actively pursuing a policy of thwarting assimilation, providing for dual citizenship, encouraging Mexican immigrants to vote in Mexican elections, and using its 47 consulates in the United States to make certain that Mexican immigrants maintain their allegiance to the old country. This is one crucial difference between the Mexican immigration of today and the European immigration of the past: Austria-Hungary, for example, never had 47 American consulates working to ensure that her former subjects kept their allegiance to Franz Joseph.
The sheer size of the migration from Mexico also distinguishes this tsunami from earlier waves. The United States has never experienced such massive immigration from a neighboring country, concentrated in the area where the two countries are contiguous. Circumstances allow Mexican immigrants who do not wish to assimilate to remain essentially Mexican, living in enclaves surrounded by fellow Mexicans and constantly receiving reinforcements from their homeland. Buchanan recites an impressive array of statistics: One sixth of all Mexicans are already in the United States, and 46 percent of those remaining in Mexico want to come here. Young Hispanics are 19 times as likely to join a gang as young whites, and half fail to finish high school. One twelfth of all those apprehended at the border already have criminal records, and there have been 216 incursions by the Mexican military across the border in the last decade. One- to two-million immigrants (half of them illegal) are coming each year to the United States from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. And ten percent of the children born each year in the United States serve as “anchor babies.”
With the United States government unwilling to act and Mexicans continuing to be drawn northward by an “income gap [that] is the largest between any two large neighbors on earth,” there is no end in sight to this crisis. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there will be 102 million Hispanics in the United States by 2050—as many Mexicans as there are today in Mexico—concentrated mainly in the Southwest. The result may well be what Buchanan fears: “a sharing of sovereignty [in the Southwest] and [its] ultimate recapture, culturally and linguistically, by Mexico, no matter which nation holds title.”
And there are other differences, too. Never before have so many immigrants arrived from a country with an historic sense of grievance against the United States: 58 percent of all Mexicans believe the Southwest rightly belongs to them. And, “[n]ot only do Mexicans come from a different culture, they are, 85 percent of them, mestizo or Amerindian. History teaches that separate races take even longer to integrate.”
Buchanan’s willingness to discuss race is likely to cause some leftist critics to accuse him of “racism,” an emotional reaction akin to a Victorian lady’s need for smelling salts after hearing a frank description of bodily functions. Buchanan quotes Sam Francis’s aperçu: “In the Victorian era, the Great Taboo was sex. Today . . . [it] is race.” Undaunted, he makes persistent reference to the gigantic demographic transformation mass immigration is beginning to work in the United States. In 1960—the last census taken before the Immigration Act of 1965—America was 89-percent white and 10-percent black. Today, the Census Bureau estimates that, by 2050, whites will be a minority in America.
Yet this book bears no trace of racial hatred, or even hostility toward immigrants. Buchanan describes Mexican immigrants as “a courteous, friendly, hard-working, likable people,” adding that the racial transformation caused by mass immigration is significant for the reason that “multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual states are held together either by an authoritarian regime or a dominant ethnocultural core, or their breakup is inevitable.”
Even so, Buchanan’s concern stems from more than Burkean prudence and tradition, although these virtues amply justify opposition to a policy of mass immigration from the Third World. Pat Buchanan clearly loves his country, and so he wants her to retain the virtues of the America into which he was born, an America marked by strong patriotism, a coherent national identity, and a powerful common culture. These virtues are captured in Roger McGrath’s evocative description of the Marines who took Tarawa as warriors of “the American tribe,” one united not by abstract ideology but by culture, language, history, creed, common experience, and race. Buchanan, who believes that such bonds are real and enduring, quotes with approval Sam Francis’s observation that “tribal behavior is what makes human beings human. Take it away from ‘man’ or ‘humankind’ and what you get is not ‘pure man’ or ‘liberated man’ but dehumanization.”
Buchanan correctly emphasizes the extent to which mass immigration is transforming America and weakening the formerly strong bonds of the American tribe. As much as this emphasis discomfits neoconservatives and their “mainstream conservative” allies, meaningful immigration reform is unlikely unless the American people become convinced that mass immigration is doing more than depressing the wages of the working class or creating urban sprawl. Effective reform will only happen if Americans come to believe that mass immigration threatens to destroy the nation they love, or at least to change her irrevocably. The last President to reduce immigration substantially was Calvin Coolidge, who was motivated not by fine points of public policy but by his belief that “America must remain American.”
Buchanan puts the blame for this chaos where it belongs: on “our unpatriotic elites who put money and power ahead of country and culture.” Buchanan is particularly critical of the sort of liberalism that has captured the imagination of our elites and undermined conservative opposition to mass immigration—in particular, the “Economism Cult” that is so influential within the Republican Party and the belief, widely held by neoconservatives, that America is a “proposition nation.”
Both fallacies seek to substitute an abstract ideology—a belief in markets, or in “equality”—for love of country. And neither can replace the bonds it is helping to destroy. As Buchanan writes, “Without patriotism, a love of country and countrymen not for what they believe or profess but for who they are, ‘Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.’” If the center does not hold and America does degenerate into “a souk of squabbling nationalities united by a common lust for consumer goods,” it will be proof that not even the American tribe that so dominated the 20th century can survive its infection by the bacillus of liberalism.
[State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, by Patrick J. Buchanan (New York: Thomas Dunne Books) 308 pp., $24.95]