In the nearly 11 years since Chronicles took up the issue of virtually uncontrolled immigration to the United States, a great deal of political and social ground—much of it unrecoverable—has been lost. Immigrationists don’t claim to have won the debate on immigration reform, because they haven’t. Aside from writing op-ed pieces, nasty and dishonest reviews of their opponents’ books, and just two full-length works that I can recall in behalf of their own crusade, they haven’t even participated in it. Instead, they have chosen to watch cozily from their deck chairs on the beachheads as the foreign tides rolled in while congratulating one another privately on their easy victory. By the time they come to the belated realization that it is a piranhic one, it will be too late for all of us (if it isn’t already), and even then they will never acknowledge, not even privately, their catastrophic error.

While there is no cause on which the practically monolithic American establishment is as firmly united as it is in its commitment to immigration yesterday, immigration today, and immigration forever, a large number of the crises that currently agitate it—terrorist attacks on American soil, the development of open spaces, air pollution, suburban sprawl, population growth, school crowding, racial tension, illiteracy, the cost of health care, and so on—are substantially the result of its liberal immigration policies from 1965 to the present. If this contradiction were owing to some complicated psychological condition such as cognitive dissonance, resolving it might be as simple a matter as stating the obvious in clear terms, LOUDLY. Unfortunately, the problem is a compound of the simpler and less tractable weaknesses—greed, cowardice, hypocrisy, indifference, disdain for the truth—to which human beings are prone, suggesting that blind nature will have to take its course, as environmentalists and free traders say it ought to, while conferring the luxury of splendid irrationality on the Vice President of the United States (who loves immigrants and trees equally), the Sierra Club (whose Solomonic advice is that native-born Americans should reduce their birthrate to accommodate more foreigners), and the likes of the environmentalist paper High Country News, which recently attacked the Border Patrol for tearing up Notion of immigrants the Sonoran Desert with four-wheel-drive trucks in its zeal to arrest illegal immigrants.

On second thought, it may be the explanation is, after all, psychological rather than moralistic, a matter of madness, not narrow rationalism: instead of cognitive dissonance, a collective death wish, against which there seems from this vantage to be no defense at all short of political revolution (not necessarily the violent sort). Liberalism, which claims to be about love, is really about hate—hatred of reality—and just as love tends to turn outward, toward one’s neighbor, hate turns inward, on the self which is the most vicious and unnatural form of hate. The United States today is the house that liberalism built: not divided against itself but rather united in an official spirit of self-hatred. It cannot stand much longer unless, rediscovering an affection that is not self-love but simply the understanding that charity begins at home, the country as a whole reasserts itself to throw the neurotic, humanly challenged rascals who beset it out. (A major economic depression could get the job done as well.)