I have never been able to get it through my thick skull that one’s identity, culture, and national sovereignty should not stand in the way of making money. For whatever reasons, I have always had a real attachment to my name, my family, my people, my place, my way of life. I have never felt particularly malleable and certainly was never willing to compromise what I am for a dollar. I wish I could say that this comes from a noble choice that I have made—that I would always choose principle over material gain. It is far more elemental than that. I am impelled by atavistic instincts to protect and defend what I am. Because these feelings are so powerful and come from so deep within, I simply marvel at those who, with the carrot of money before them, transform themselves with the facility of a chameleon or accept change with alacrity. I suppose I am destined to live out my days as an unreconstructed American, resisting globalism until I am graveyard dead.
California history offers compelling portraits of Americans who were willing to Hispanicize themselves for profit and those who were unwilling to do anything but fight to remain American. The former were businessmen who came by sea from New England; the latter were frontiersmen who came overland from the Mississippi Valley. I always identified with the latter; so, too, did my friends. We could not help it. Each morning in grammar school, we raised the symbol of those homespun and buckskin-clad frontiersmen who came to California—the Bear Flag. Big Griz on a background of white with a single star and the caption “California Republic” said a lot more to me than profits from shipping hides and tallow to Boston.
The hide-and-tallow traders found it advantageous to become part of Mexican California. They learned and used Spanish, Hispanicized their names, donned California dress, and, to gain citizenship, converted to Roman Catholicism. That last action is especially significant since, at the time, Protestant New England was reacting violently to Catholic immigration. Religious conflict was evidently inconsequential to the hide-and-tallow traders. On the voyage to California, as a saying of the era had it, “they left their conscience at Cape Horn.” They also married daughters of the rancheros. Some of the daughters were pretty; others were homely. It mattered little. By marrying into the families, the Yankee businessmen guaranteed themselves portions of ranchos.
Typical was Abel Stearns, a descendant of Puritan settlers who had arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Born in 1798, Stearns shipped before the mast when only a boy. He sailed the world before settling in California in 1829. In 1831, he opened a store in Los Angeles and established himself as an importer and exporter. By that time, he had converted to Roman Catholicism and become a Mexican citizen. His business flourished, and, now known as Don Abel, he was elected to the ayuntamiento (town council) of Los Angeles. In 1841, he married into the wealthy Bandini family of San Diego. His bride was Arcadia. She was 14; he was 43. Stearns subsequently became one of the largest landowners and cattle ranchers in Southern California, partly because of his business acumen and partly because of his family connections.
Americans of a different nature were settling during the 1840’s in the Sacramento and other interior valleys of California. They arrived not by sea but by overland treks. They were interested in hunting, trapping, and farming rather than commerce. They avoided Mexican Californians and constituted a group apart. Clad in buckskin with Bowie knives stuck in their belts, and carrying Kentucky and Hawken rifles, they had come to extend the American frontier into California. Red-haired, Kentucky-born Ben Kelsey was representative of these frontiersmen. He and his 18-year-old Kentucky-born wife, Nancy, had arrived in California with the Bidwell Party in 1841 after 2,000 miles on the trail from Missouri. Nancy and her 18-month-old daughter were the only females who made the final leg of the journey from southern Idaho through northern Nevada and across the Sierra. By then, Nancy’s shoes had worn away, and she crossed California’s great granite range barefoot, while carrying her daughter. She was also five-months pregnant. Both husband and wife were rugged frontiersmen who never thought of turning back. “Where my husband goes,” said Nancy, “I go. I can better endure the hardships of the journey than the anxieties of an absent husband.”
Once in California, Kelsey made a living hunting and trapping. By 1845, Kelsey had built a log cabin and staked a homestead at the upper end of the Napa Valley. When American settlers revolted against Mexican rule, Ben Kelsey and his brothers were among the first participants. On June 14, 1846, Kelsey and other American frontiersmen took control of Sonoma and raised the Bear Flag. Holding her two-month-old son, Andrew, Nancy Kelsey proudly watched the grizzly banner flap in the breeze. She was the one who had made it, using cloth from her own petticoats. Described at this time as “a fine-looking woman,” she became known as the Betsy Ross of California. Ben later got into a dispute with John C. Frémont, who had belatedly assumed command of the Bear Flaggers. Typical of American frontiersmen, Kelsey loudly protested Frémont’s imperious manner. “The Kelseys were well known for their use of wicked and blasphemous language,” Nancy later told an interviewer, “—made a mule-skinner blush!”
As a child growing up in California and learning of our pioneer settlers, the story of the Kelseys always resonated with me more than that of Abel Stearns. The Kelseys, and other frontiersmen who followed, brought America with them. Stearns brought a shrewd Yankee business acumen. He was determined to make money, even if it meant changing his language, religion, and nationality. He would welcome the globalism of today.
In 1992, Strobe Talbott, a journalist with Time, declared in “The Birth of the Global Nation” that, within a century, “nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th century—‘citizen of the world’—will have assumed real meaning by the end of the 21st century.” Friends with Bill Clinton since their days together as Rhodes Scholars, Talbott served as deputy secretary of state from 1994 to 2001. It was in 1994 that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented. A significant step toward the globalization of America and the loss of national sovereignty, NAFTA was supported by our business elites, who have gone one step further than Abel Stearns. Instead of Hispanicizing themselves for profit and gain, their policies are causing the Hispanicization of America. The business elites are unaffected by the changes. They live on estate properties on private roads or in gated communities. Their children attend private schools. They and their families fly on their own corporate jets. They belong to exclusive country clubs. While they wine and dine, America loses her identity—but the price is right.
NAFTA was supposed to boost the economies of both the United States and Mexico. Although the factory farms of agribusiness have benefited, the small farms in America have continued to lose ground, and more than 50,000 of them have gone under. Family farmers should be put on the endangered-species list. Ma and Pa Kettle are nearly extinct. The same is true south of the border. On January 1, 2008, the last of the trade barriers on the importation of corn, beans, sugar, and milk into Mexico were erased. NAFTA is now fully implemented. Small farmers in Mexico fear the worst. Protesting farmers have appeared at border crossings. On New Year’s Day at Juárez, a hundred of them blocked traffic lanes entering Mexico and inspected trucks for farm goods. They know that they cannot compete with America’s factory farms.
Mexican imports of corn from the United States have risen from fewer than one million metric tons in 1993 to nearly ten million metric tons in 2006-07.
Mexicans have been knocked off their farms by the tens of thousands during the last 15 years. And where are they going? Some have moved to Mexico City, which now has a population of more than 22 million and is among the most crowded and polluted cities in the world; and millions have entered the United States, where good wages, free public education, free medical care at emergency rooms and in maternity wards, citizenship for their U.S.-born children, food stamps, AFDC, and subsidized housing make them lottery winners. The American taxpayer supports all this, while employers of illegal labor benefit. People think that illegal aliens earn eight or nine dollars per hour. That is only what they cost their employer. Their educational, medical, and welfare benefits mean they really make the equivalent of 20 or more dollars per hour. The American taxpayer is making up the difference—subsidizing the businesses that employ the illegal aliens. What a deal.
Parts of America are beginning to look and act more like Mexico than like the United States. In Los Angeles, the celebration of the Fourth of July is now rivaled by Cinco de Mayo. Also rapidly gaining popularity is the Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. These holidays, and others, are continually promoted by the Spanish-language radio stations of Los Angeles, which, according to Arbitron Ratings, rank first, fourth, sixth, ninth, twelfth, and fourteenth among L.A.’s top-fifteen stations. Today, there are 16 Spanish-language radio stations in Los Angeles—14 more than there were in the 1970’s. When I was in school in Southern California during the 50’s and early 60’s, we listened to Bill Ballance on KFWB spin rock ’n’ roll 45’s and entertain us with a quick wit, a sesquipedalian vocabulary, and cleverly crafted English. The closest Spanish-language station was 150 miles away, across the border in Tijuana, and couldn’t be heard, except at night, any farther north than San Diego.
I have watched my friends and relatives move out of state, to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Montana, and, especially, to the panhandle of Idaho. They are representative of one of the greatest internal migrations of native-born Americans in history. For the last several years, far more Americans have moved out of California than into the state. Last year, 263,000 citizens left the once Golden State—and a similar out-migration has been going on, with a few anomalous blips, for the last 15 years. Yet California’s population continues to grow, as a result of both legal and illegal immigration. Nearly 30 percent of California residents are now foreign born; a stunning five million of them were born in Mexico. Among California’s large cities, Santa Ana—Orange County’s most populous town, whose residents were more than 80-percent white and native born from its founding in 1886 through the 1950’s—leads the way with 50 percent foreign born and 88 percent nonwhite. Los Angeles is not far behind, with 42 percent foreign born and 72 percent nonwhite. The majority of the foreign born are illegal aliens from Mexico, although there are large numbers from Central America as well, especially from El Salvador. Between 2001 and 2006, the population of Los Angeles County grew by one million people, despite tens of thousands of native-born Americans moving out of the county.
Los Angeles schools reveal what the future holds. For most grammar-school students in the city of Los Angeles, English is a second language. For some, it is a third language, behind one of several Indian tongues of Mexico and Spanish. Hispanics now make up 75 percent of the students; whites, a mere 7 percent. When I was in high school, those numbers were nearly reversed. Twenty-six of the city’s high schools are now 80-percent or more Hispanic. Eighteen of those have student bodies that are 90-percent or more Hispanic, and seven are 98- or 99-percent. The ethnic cleansing is nearly complete.
My brother and sister graduated from University High School during the 1950’s. The school then was about 85-percent white and less than 10-percent Hispanic. Now it is 57-percent Hispanic and 11-percent white. When I graduated from newly built Palisades High, on the far-western fringe of the city and only a half-mile from the surf, it was 99-percent white. Now, it is 48-percent white and 25-percent Hispanic. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Fairfax High was known as the city’s kosher high school—its student body was some 90-percent Jewish. Today, Fairfax is more than 50-percent Hispanic and only 7-percent white. There are no statistics on how many of that 7 percent are Jewish, but the proliferation of private Jewish schools in the area would suggest very few. Palisades at the beach and El Camino, Granada Hills, and Grant in the San Fernando Valley are the only high schools in the city where white students number more than 30 percent.
Americans generally have a misconception about California, thinking that a Mexican presence was significant throughout the state’s history. Actually, from 1850 until the late 1960’s, the Mexican population was never more than four or five percent of the total. Hispanics, mostly Mexican born or of Mexican descent, now make up 37 percent of California’s population. This dramatic demographic shift began only about 40 years ago, and most of it has occurred only during the last two decades. The results of this foreign invasion—and it is nothing less—have been a boon to employers of unskilled and semiskilled labor and a disaster for California taxpayers and for Californians who have lost their jobs or seen their wages stagnate or decline because of the arrival of millions of illegal aliens.
California is near the breaking point. The state is facing a $14 billion shortfall in this year’s budget—and most of that budget goes for schools and welfare. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich says that illegal aliens cost the county $440 million per year in food stamps and welfare for children alone. He estimates that including the costs of illegal aliens to the schools and criminal-justice system would push the total to three billion dollars per year. We can no longer afford to educate and support Mexico’s poor—or police criminal illegal aliens.
Nonetheless, it seems more integration with Mexico is on the way. In March 2005, President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), thought by many to be a prelude to a North American Union. Think of the SPP as NAFTA on steroids. The business elites and globalists, generally one and the same, are drooling. Anyone who respects the Constitution and has an instinctual sense of American identity should be alarmed: A decade of the SPP will make a North American Union a fait accompli. Such a union will mean the elimination of our border with Mexico, the building of a superhighway and commerce corridors from Mexico to Canada, and even, perhaps, the adoption of a common currency. It will also mean the Hispanicization of most of the Southwest, something that is already well under way in California. Perhaps the costs of absorbing Mexico’s surplus population will cause the policy of integration to collapse. Or, perhaps, Americans just might be roused to righteous anger over the transformation of our society and the loss of our identity. The Bear Flaggers had no doubt about their identity, and the symbol they chose was emblematic of “strength, ferocity, and standing fast.” We could do worse than follow their example.