Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Strange Death of an Imaginary America

I've never been much of a anti-immigration hawk, but I'm increasingly alarmed at certain specimens of anti-American riffraff allowed to sojourn unmolested on our fair shores. Take Pat Buchanan, for example.

According to a Drudge Report exclusive, Buchanan hyperventilates about immigration in his new book, bombastically titled State of Emergency: The Third World Conquest of America. The looming threat? No less than the "death of the West".

According to Drudge, Buchanan casts President Bush as undoing the work of President Polk by effectively ceding the American Southwest back to Mexico. Not that the Democrats are any better. Apparently "both parties are paralyzed by guilt over American past racial sins." And this stands in the way of the good, old-fashioned ethnic cleansing that Pat would like to see.

To Pat, "West" is synonymous with "white" or, more precisely, "Northern European", and we just need to stop letting all these brown people into our tidy country. No matter that the vast majority of Hispanics are the direct product of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and, as such, are indisputably "Western" by any definition that's not asinine. Pushing that aside, Pat's solution is to deport all the illegal immigrants and to declare a 10-year moratorium on all legal immigration above a baseline of 150,000-250,000 per year. Plus he wants a 2,000-mile fence between the U.S. and Mexico (apparently Canadians willing to trade in superior health care for superior professional football are white enough to not provoke his racialist ire).

A true child of the Vietnam era, Buchanan supposes we can save America by destroying it. Strip out copious and diverse immigration—the fundamental ingredient that has shaped our unique culture over the past several centuries—and we'll somehow save that culture. To hell with the dynamic and vibrant melting pot of America; the country's much better off as a museum exhibit of an old grump's idealized childhood. It's true, Pat Buchanan and logic have never been on very good terms.

At the base of it, Buchanan's quarrel with immigration is built on reactionary nativism and race fear. The barbarians are at the gates and Pat is going to stand and fight for his imaginary white-bred America. It's worth noting that this exact same fear was used to whip up nativist sentiment in the 19th Century against Irish and Chinese immigrants, who were seen as fundamentally alien to American culture. Here's a political cartoon from those heady days of Buchanan-esque race hatred that shows an Irishman and a Chinaman devouring Uncle Sam. Does that ring a bell?

It goes without saying that Chinese and Irish Americans (amongst others) have gone on to make enormous contributions to American society (Buchanan, who is half-Irish, being the exception that proves the rule). The same will undoubtedly prove to be true of today's immigrants. We will certainly reach a point in our future when it will be impossible to imagine the durable fabric of America without it's so-called 'third-world' immigrants.

Buchanan's vile bigotry is nothing more than an anachronism, and all it proves is that he has no respect for what America's really about.
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