|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol 9, No. 8||August 1998|
‘A Troublesome Presence’
Racial policy-making in a wiser era.
The presence of different races in the United States is an abiding problem that decades of egalitarian liberalism have not solved. Today, every public policy about race is carried out within the rigid confines of integrationist thinking, and despite the obvious drawbacks of multiracialism, public discussion never hints at an alternative. Of course, it was not always so. From the early years of the republic, America’s wisest men understood the dangers of a mixed-race society and worked to avoid them. Unlike today’s political class, they were not bound by convention. They saw a clear alternative to never-ending crises and accommodations. That alternative was permanent separation.
One of the earliest and most serious solutions proposed to “the Negro problem” was colonization, or the removal of blacks beyond the boundaries of the United States. By the early 1800’s, slave revolts, the abolitionist movement, and the increasing number of free blacks convinced many great Americans that steps must be taken to keep the United States a white nation. The American Colonization Society (ACS) was the most respectable, successful and long-lasting effort to remove blacks from the United States.
Founded by Rev. Robert Finley, a Presbyterian minister from New Jersey, the official title of the organization was “The American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color in the United States.” The initial meeting of the ACS was held in Washington D.C. in 1816 — thus, just 40 years after the founding, thoughtful Americans first took serious measures to separate the races. Bushrod Washington, a Supreme Court Justice and nephew of George Washington, served as the first president of the organization. The great American statesman Henry Clay of Kentucky provided its main intellectual and political leadership.
The prestige of the ACS benefited tremendously from the high-profile association of leaders like Clay and Washington, and over the years, some of America’s greatest men were not merely members but officers of the society: James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, James Monroe, Stephen Douglas, John Randolph, William Seward, Francis Scott Key, General Winfield Scott, John Marshall and Roger Taney. Other great men such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, while never members of the society, strongly supported colonization and the removal of blacks from the United States. None of these men had any illusions about the desirability of a multiracial America. Over the next forty years, the ACS would work very hard to remove what Lincoln called “a troublesome presence.”
Part of the movement’s attractiveness lay in its idealistic, purely patriotic nature — colonization was not imperialism but a program for national uplift and improvement. As the Liberian-born professor of history Amos Beyan writes in The American Colonization Society and the Creation of the Liberian State, “the ACS was not intended to be an imperial or economic venture. One searches the African Repository [the society’s newspaper] and the annual reports of the ACS in vain for references in support of colonization which make economic gain or national greatness for the U.S. their theme. These were obviously not substantial interests of the founders.”
Though the members of the ACS included northerners, southerners, abolitionists, and slave owners, all agreed with the goal of assisting the voluntary resettlement of free blacks. There was never any question of compelling backs to emigrate, but members of the society were frank — very frank — about why they did not want them in America.
Speaking of the need for colonization, Clay asked, “What is the true nature of the evil of the existence of a portion of the African race in our population? It is not that there are some but that there are so many . . . who can never amalgamate with the great body of our population.” He went on the explain that colonization was the best solution to “the Negro problem” as it would, “rid our country of a useless and pernicious, if not dangerous portion of it’s population.”
An official document of the ACS says: “Introduced among us by violence, notoriously ignorant, degraded and miserable, mentally diseased, broken spirited, acted upon by no motive to honorable exertions, scarcely reached in their debasement by the heavenly light, [the freed blacks] wander unsettled and unbefriended through our land, or sit indolent, abject and sorrowful by the streams which witness their captivity.”
Hinton Helper, an abolitionist member of the ACS who condemned slavery, held very strong views about colonization. Helper described blacks as “so far inferior to white people, that . . . the two races should never inhabit the same community, city nor state.” He claimed blacks were, “a weak and worthless race, an effete and time worn race which . . . is no longer fit, if ever fit, for any useful trust or tenantry in this world.”
Ralph Gurley, who served as secretary of the ACS, and was later the first editor of its official journal, claimed blacks were, “a people which are injurious and dangerous to our social interests, as they are ignorant, vicious and unhappy.”
Though officially the society took no position on slavery, many members favored emancipation — so long as it led to repatriation. Francis Scott Key did not think most blacks benefited from emancipation. He freed many of his own slaves but observed, “I cannot remember more than two instances out of this large number, in which it did not appear that the freedom I earnestly sought for them was their ruin. It has been so with a very large proportion of all others I have known emancipated.”
John Dix of New York declared to a meeting of his state chapter of the ACS that “the mass of crime committed by Africans is greater in proportion to numbers, in the non slaveholding than in the slaveholding States; and as a rule the degree of comfort enjoyed by them is inferior. This is not an argument in favor of slavery; but it is an unanswerable argument in favor of rendering emancipation and colonization coextensive with each other.”
A Promising Start
To reach its goal, the ACS needed money and support, and at first the funds came mainly from private sources. There were numerous state chapters and many churches took up collections for the society. In fact, churches were a vital part of the group from its inception until its demise in 1912, since a secondary goal of the ACS was to spread Christianity to Africa. Though it did not want free blacks in the United States, it hoped that “westernized” blacks would encourage “the spreading of the arts of civilized life, and the possible redemption from ignorance and barbarism of a benighted part of the globe.”
For three years the society lobbied Congress for financial support. In 1817 Bushrod Washington first asked Congress for legislation to support creation of an African colony. When that request failed, the ACS sent a two-man expedition to Africa to gather and present more solidly researched data on the proposal. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, the ACS purchased land from local tribes, and in 1820 the society finally got the support it was seeking. Congress passed and President James Monroe approved a grant for $100,000 to set up a colony for free blacks. The colony was named Liberia meaning “free land,” and the first settlement was named Monrovia in appreciation of the support of President Monroe. It is the capitol of Liberia to this day.
It is worth noting that in the American republic before the days of Lincoln, federal officials took the Constitutional limits placed on their authority very seriously and thus played a very limited role in running the country. It is therefore of great significance that Congress saw fit to help remove blacks from the United States. It not only reflected a wide-spread national desire, but was an important step in federal involvement in matters traditionally left up to the states.
The ACS repatriated its first blacks in 1820. Eighty-six free blacks, along with two officials of the society, set sail from New York to Liberia aboard the ship Elizabeth. Over the next ten years, the ACS raised $113,000 and resettled 1,430 blacks. It was constantly trying to raise money for what was intended to be a national movement. As a 1972 article in American Heritage puts it:
For more than 40 years, the society got along with varying degrees of the sort of limited federal support that had helped found Liberia. This backing was augmented by contributions from individuals and occasionally from state legislatures. Agents of the society toured the country, spreading information about colonization, raising money and starting state and local auxiliaries.
In 1825, the ACS started a monthly paper called African Repository and Colonial Journal. This helped spread the message and — later — helped defend the society against attacks from both abolitionists and slaveholders. Little by little, Liberia grew. By the start of the Civil War, after more than 40 years of colonization, the ACS had resettled more that 11,000 free blacks. It was only through the society’s support and under white leadership that the colony was able to survive malaria, wars with neighboring tribes, and the unreliability of supply shipments. Throughout this period, the ACS never gave up hope that the federal government would eventually commit itself to resettlement on a large scale.
Though the society remained officially neutral on the subject of slavery, many slaveholders distrusted its motives. While some were members of the ACS and were eager to be rid of free blacks who might encourage insurrection, others held a lingering suspicion that in its desire to rid the nation of Africans, the society would eventually take away their slaves. Indeed, some of the rhetoric of Henry Clay, who was always closely associated with the colonization movement, gave them cause for concern.
Clay spoke, for example, of reducing the number of blacks (free and slave) to five percent of the population through colonization and white immigration. And in a speech to Congress in 1850 opposing the extension of slavery to the West he said, “while you reproach, and justly so, our British ancestors for the introduction of this institution on the continent of America, I am, for one, unwilling that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California and New Mexico shall reproach us for doing the same thing which we reproach Great Britain for doing to us.” Some slaveholders saw such anti-slavery rhetoric as uncomfortably close to abolitionism.
In fact, the most serious opposition to the ACS came from abolitionists, particularly William Lloyd Garrison. Though Garrison initially supported colonization, he grew increasingly alarmed by attacks on the character of blacks, and came to believe racial inequality was inconsistent with both Christianity and the Declaration of Independence. At a more practical level, he also thought colonization was bad for the abolitionist cause because it was often the most ambitious, responsible freemen who accepted repatriation, leaving behind less advanced Negroes who gave emancipation a bad name. Garrison drew up his arguments against the ACS in a 244-page book called Thoughts on African Colonization. His views — far beyond the bounds of common discourse for his time — were astonishingly similar to sentiments that are now virtually obligatory.
First of all, he wrote that insofar as the society wanted to repatriate blacks, it was “unfriendly to the improvement of the free people of color while they remain in the United States” and promoted “hate and contempt for the Negro.” But unlike the overwhelming majority of whites, Garrison was — at least in theory — one of the first of the multiracialists who hoped to make blacks fully equal members of American society:
As neither mountains of prejudice nor the massy shackles of law and of public opinion, have been able to keep them down to a level with slaves, I confidently anticipate their exaltation among ourselves. Through the vista of time — a short distance only — I see them here, not in Africa, not bowed to the earth, or derided and persecuted as at present, not with a downcast air or an irresolute step, but standing erect as men destined heavenward, unembarrassed, untrammeled, with none to molest or make then afraid.
We get a glimpse of the peculiar sources of this desire in another passage. In a sentiment eerily prescient of the racial self-flagellation that had become common among whites more than 100 years later, he wrote that blacks were the ordained tool by which God would humble the white man:
[T]hough it [the ACS] has done much, and may do more (all that it can do it will do) to depress, impoverish and dispirit the free people of color, and to strengthen and influence mutual antipathies it is the purpose of God, I am fully persuaded, to humble the pride of the American people by rendering the expulsion of our colored countrymen utterly impracticable and the necessity for their admission to equal rights imperative.
Of course, the ACS did nothing to depress or impoverish blacks; it simply offered them free passage to the continent of their ancestors. But Garrison was a driven man, irresponsible with the truth, and even spent time in jail for slander. He was, in fact, a nut. His hatred of slavery was so great that in 1844, under the principle of “No Union With Slaveholders,” he actually urged the North to secede from the slaveholding South! Ten years later he publicly burned a copy of the Constitution, which he termed an, “agreement with hell,” and held a secessionist convention in Worcester, Massachusetts — which went nowhere.
This sort of thing was too wild even for abolitionists, many of whom, like Frederick Douglass, separated themselves from Garrison. Nevertheless, his newspaper The Liberator influenced a great many people, and its incessant attacks on the ACS cost the support of many “humanitarians” who had originally supported colonization. Indeed, the period of Garrison’s greatest influence coincides with the period of the colonization society’s decline.
In addition to a chronic shortage of funds, the society faced another considerable obstacle: resettlement of blacks was voluntary. Mandatory expulsion would have veered too far from the ACS’s spirit of Christianity and philanthropy. It is interesting to note that even while slavery was still legal, few blacks wanted to go to Liberia. At a meeting convened in Philadelphia in 1817, free blacks publicly declared their opposition to resettlement. It was better to stay in “racist” America than return to the land of their ancestors.
The War Between the States essentially brought colonization to a close. The sectional quarrel split the society and some state chapters started independent repatriation efforts as the organization continued to have problems with funding. Although post-war emancipation supplied the society with a huge supply of free, potential emigrants, the trauma of war had disrupted its operations.
Though never a member of the society, Lincoln was a strong proponent of colonization, and during the war had appointed a minister to investigate sites in Central and South America that would be nearby, inexpensive destinations for colonization. As the war drew to an end he became increasingly worried about the problem of what to do with freed blacks, and even considered setting aside Texas for forcible resettlement. Had he not been assassinated, there is little doubt that he would have worked energetically for a separatist solution to the Negro problem.
Although the ACS survived the war, the days of colonization were over. The society continued its work until 1912, though by then this consisted mostly of support for Liberia, which had declared independence in 1847. The society acted as caretaker for the fledgling nation and encouraged missionary work among the natives. In 1959 it received what is described as a “small legacy,” but by then the organization was defunct.
Ultimately the American Colonization Society failed to free the United States from “a troublesome presence.” William Lloyd Garrison got his wish for a multiracial America. The men of the ACS had warned against trying to make a nation out of two incompatible and hostile groups and predicted that blacks would be a terrible burden on white America. Of course, they were right. Had he been able to see the future, perhaps even a fanatic like Garrison would have remained a supporter of colonization.
South Africa Under Black Rule, Part II
Prospects for the future — there may yet be surprises.
In the previous issue, Mr. Braun described how South Africa — particularly those areas that had previously been all-white — has changed under majority rule. He concludes with an assessment of how South Africans feel about the current regime.
One of the few relatively bright spots in South Africa is the white-run press. It has retained most of the independence and freedom it enjoyed under apartheid. When I first arrived here I was surprised to find the press full of indignation directed against the white government. “This is oppression?” I thought to myself.
The most prominent critic of the old regime was probably The Weekly Mail. Left wing and very ideological, it left no stone unturned in attacking apartheid and white rule. Now that it has achieved its aim, it doesn’t much like what it got but, to its credit, has been uncovering corruption on a stupendous scale. Such publications must be having some kind of restraining effect on the government, though only time will tell how long they will be tolerated. Interestingly — and as an indication of the status whites have retained — black journalists who report on corruption are severely rebuked by the authorities, who accuse them of being whites’ lackeys, etc.
A second bright spot, also a holdover from the previous regime, is the mostly still-white judiciary, which retains an independence that is virtually unheard of in black Africa. Gradual replacement by more compliant black judges — who won’t understand that a court can go against the government — will eventually end this check on government power.
Perhaps the single most important constraint on the ANC government so far has been the influence of international corporations. Nelson Mandela has been told, in no uncertain terms, that if he wants foreign investment he had better forget about nationalization, keep government spending down, control labor unions’ wage demands etc., all of which are contrary to the ANC’s natural tendencies, which are to see government as an infinite trough from which all can feed. The government is the natural ideological ally of the socialist- and communist-led Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). Cosatu has already pressured it into accepting a labor bill highly favorable to workers and unfavorable to employers, as well as affirmative action laws that virtually force businesses to increase black employment at all levels.
In this ideological tug-of-war between labor interests and overseas investors, there seems little doubt that the wrong side will eventually win, though this probably spells doom for the South African economy. Should that not influence President Mandela and his chosen successor, Thabo Mbeki? Unfortunately, it will not. The country and its black majority may become dirt poor, but high-ranking government officials are unlikely to suffer. Africa is full of countries where the people starve and the leaders drive Mercedes.
There is unquestionably great uneasiness among whites. Many are leaving and many more are thinking of leaving. Accurate figures are difficult to come by because many migrs simply go on a “visit” and never return, but the number who would leave if they could must be considerable, especially among those with school-age children. Black rule plus draconian affirmative action makes many whites feel there is no future for them.
At the same time, there is no doubt that whites will continue to dominate the economy for the foreseeable future. The case of Zimbabwe is instructive: In spite of a much smaller white population and a militant black government constantly threatening white interests, there is a never-ending chorus of complaints to do something about “white control” of the economy, 18 years after “independence”!
One also hears more and more about black disaffection. I know a young “street-wise” black woman who always seems to know the “township scuttlebutt.” Around the time of the 1994 elections, she was spouting the usual rhetoric: Whites had stolen their country and now they were going to get it back. Four short years later, with none of the grandiose promises fulfilled, her tune has changed: “Oh, it’s these foreigners who are causing all the problems!” Who are these foreigners? Black immigrants from neighboring countries. They are the cause of all the crime, are taking all the jobs away from South African blacks. And so on. The solution? “When the [white] National Party comes back into power they will throw all these foreigners out!”
My own view is that South Africa will gradually sink towards the level of the rest of the continent, though it is unlikely to reach the same depths, given a continuing white presence. Black disaffection with black rule is to be expected as is the case throughout black Africa.
But South Africa, due to liberal ideological influence, is a bit like America, where blacks systematically vote for blacks no matter what. South Africa stuck to this mold when it elected an ANC government in 1994 by a nearly two-thirds majority. I once thought that disappointment with black rule might lead to a black backlash by the 1999 national elections, but I have been largely disabused of that idea. If blacks had the sense to vote against the current government they would not have elected it in the first place.
Nevertheless, as I say, I hear repeated stories about blacks lamenting present conditions. A Romanian woman who supervises 60 black workers says that all she hears is how bad the government is, how much better the white government was, etc. So one cannot completely rule out increasing numbers of blacks voting for whites, in spite of the numerous factors militating against this. After all, the colored (mixed race) majority in Western Cape Province has twice elected a white provincial government, which is an example of nonwhites voting for whites.
One thing that counts against this exercise in common sense is black superstitiousness — they readily believe that others can “see” who they are voting for inside the booth — which makes them easy to intimidate. My “scuttlebutt” informant recently confirmed, unprompted and with eyewitness testimony, what I had heard during the 1994 elections: that blacks were constantly threatened that if they didn’t vote ANC their houses would be burned down, etc., implying that “someone” would know — by magic — how they voted. Add to this the typical black awe of authority and you get manipulability.
The almost limitless credulity of blacks means that many will be suckered into believing that a black government will make them rich — that they will own the houses, factories and farms of their employers. This is associated with the common black failure to understand the nature of wealth creation: To them it is just sitting there waiting to be taken, not something that requires sacrifice, hard work, discipline and foresight. All of this explains why blacks vote for blacks.
Yet in the past four years they have seen that dreams of sudden wealth were chimeras. More important, the vast majority don’t understand how an election works. It would therefore not be surprising if, with the awareness that miracles did not occur the last time, masses of blacks simply lose all interest in the electoral process and do not vote at all, thus proportionately increasing the power of the white electorate.
The 1994 election was widely hailed as a “miracle” simply because it took place, though views differed as to just what was miraculous about it. Outside the country, self-righteous commentators seemed to think natural laws must have been suspended in order for the wicked white regime to hand over power to blacks — but this process had been set in motion years before, and would have been nearly impossible to turn back. Within South Africa, the “miracle” was that there had not been riots or even full-scale civil war between Zulus and the largely-Xhosa ANC. But blacks had no reason to riot; they were getting everything they wanted. In any case, the election was covered by nearly every media organization in the world, and even unsophisticated blacks had some notion that something important was going on. For the 1999 elections, there will be nothing like the media hype there was for the last one, and this too should reduce the black turnout, giving whites more influence.
On the other hand, white political parties cannot campaign in the townships. All attempts so far to hold public rallies have been disrupted. I suspect the reason for this is that the ANC elite at some level shares my view that if ordinary South African blacks are left to their own devices — and to the extent that they are free from Western ideological influence (as I believe many are) — a large number would indeed vote for whites. One way to prevent this is not to let white politicians anywhere near them. A similar fear most likely explains why President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya prevented the registration of the Sarafina party, headed by the formidable figure of Richard Leakey (of the famous family of anthropologists), who otherwise might have won an embarrassingly large number of votes.
South Africa has sophisticated opinion polling techniques. If the ANC were going to lose an election it would be known in advance. What would a black government do? Not a single person I’ve asked, black or white, has ever differed in his answer: The ANC would cancel the election and declare some kind of one-party/military government. In that case, South Africa’s decline could be sudden rather than gradual.
I have independent confirmation of my view that when blacks are not encumbered by Western liberal-egalitarian dogma they are happy to vote for whites. Blacks are a large majority of the Brazilian state of Bahia, but they consistently elect white governments. Therefore, I would not totally rule out blacks here doing the same if they had the chance. Whether the ideological brainwashing — which is by no means as widespread in South Africa as in the U.S. — can be overcome is an open question, but it seems to me that the “loyalty” on which ANC rule is based is a house of cards. Given the extremely volatile and unstable African temperament, the possible outcomes are not nearly as predictable as many are likely to assume.
South Africa should, of course, be a lesson for America. Both countries are making the same mistake, which is to assume that there is no such thing as racial differences. It is this mistaken assumption that prevents recognition of the fundamental paradox of black-white relations. Blacks want to live in white neighborhoods, go to white schools and hospitals because they are white. Yet these objects of their desire will remain desirable and superior only as long as they remain white. A few blacks can live in a white neighborhood or go to a black school without seriously affecting it, but as soon as their numbers approach predominance, the very things that made the blacks want to go there cease to exist and blacks find themselves in the very situation they sought to flee: black slums, broken-down black schools, hell-hole hospitals, etc.
Blacks can enter into these white structures only if their numbers are controlled; but that is impossible so long as everyone assumes that the very idea of fundamental racial differences is somehow shameful and morally abhorrent. To bring about any real racial progress this assumption must be irrefutably — and, most of all, publicly — shown to be the profound and pernicious fallacy that it is.
Closed Minds are an Open Book
Good data, wrong conclusion.
Strangers Among Us: How Latino Immigration is Transforming America, Roberto Suro, Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, 349 pp., $26.95.
This book’s premise is all in the subtitle: Hispanic immigration is transforming the United States. But unlike the countless books and articles that would have us celebrate transformation, Strangers Among Us sounds the alarm. Hispanic immigration is causing big problems and they are getting worse:
[T]he outcome [of how we handle these new immigrants] will determine whether the nation’s cities work or whether they burn.
Latino immigration could become a powerful demographic engine of social fragmentation, discord, and even violence.
Because of the surging number of Hispanics, ‘the size of America’s underclass will quickly double and in the course of a generation it will double again.’
The choice [of making immigration a success] is still possible, but the opportunity is rapidly disappearing.
So, do we have here another Peter Brimelow-style argument for restriction? Well, no. Roberto Suro, a half Puerto Rican-half Ecuadorean reporter for the Washington Post says that the crisis is proof we are neglecting the millions of Hispanics now pouring into the United States. It is to spur us to ever-greater acts of liberalism that he describes the failures of Hispanic immigration and the dangers that loom ahead.
This is a risky game for a liberal to play. The very picture of Hispanic failure Mr. Suro paints in the name of better schools, more jobs, more effective assimilation, etc. is the very one a restrictionist would use to argue that Third World immigration should stop right now. This book, therefore, is built around a gaping logical flaw. It is a readable, honestly-drawn, sometimes agonized portrait of the major Hispanic immigrant groups in the United States, but not once does it consider the most obvious solution to the problem of Hispanic immigration: end it. It is like discovering that the house has a leaky roof, and then devising ingenious and complicated ways to channel the water around the furniture and away from the clothes closets. Why not just fix the roof?
Mr. Suro, like so many others, seems to think that Hispanic immigration is an unstoppable force of nature like an earthquake or hurricane. We can prepare for it and try to deal with its consequences but there is no hope of stopping it. Indeed, the last words of the book’s first chapter, in which Mr. Suro introduces the problem, are “they will keep coming.”
Portraits of People
Most of the book is a report of what Mr. Suro has found while roaming, notebook in hand, among his fellow Hispanics. But he has also done some research, and keeps dropping interesting little facts into the narrative: During one 15-year period, half of the entire population of the town of San Cristobal, Guatemala, moved to Houston. The fertility of Hispanics is three times that of other groups, and Hispanic mothers have even less education than blacks. The average California household headed by a native pays $1,178 per year in state and local taxes to pay for services for immigrants, legal and illegal. Three quarters of immigrants from Mexico never made it through high school.
Mr. Suro is a good reporter and his portraits are vivid. The only trouble is that what he shows is not what most people want for America.
What most disappoints Mr. Suro is the downward mobility of so many Hispanics. Other immigrants start out the with a substantial income gap compared to natives, which they narrow over time. Not Hispanics. Their gap widens.
The first generation often has a stolid, peasant work ethic and is grateful to trade the hard scrabble life south of the border for a minimum-wage job and a garage converted into an apartment. The children are different: “With no memory of the rancho [subsistence farm], they have no reason to be thankful for escaping it. They look at their parents and all they see is toil and poverty.”
Disaffected children go on to assimilate the worst of America — essentially black behavior. Many, says Mr. Suro, are “racing ahead of their parents in absorbing American ways but are turning into unemployable delinquents as a result.” He regretfully describes one young U. S. citizen this way: “He could have remained in Mexico and become a very different person, but now, like the rest of the night people [who hang around the barrio doing nothing], he walked a walk and talked a talk that had been largely plagiarized from the black ghetto.”
Central Americans share the same fate. Many of them “learned how to become gang bangers from their Mexican and Mexican-American neighbors who had been at it for a long time . . .” Mr. Suro concludes that “the chances for downward mobility are greatest for second-generation youths who live in close proximity to American minorities . . .”
And so it is that in many Hispanic communities, every succeeding generation is less likely to graduate from high school or get a job, and more likely to run drugs, go to jail, have illegitimate children or go on welfare. Not surprisingly, some parents and grandparents now regret coming to a country that has turned their sons into thugs and their daughters into whores. A few, says Mr. Suro, are even going home, where they will be poor but will have children they can be proud of.
The least successful Hispanic immigrants have been Puerto Ricans, many of whom have not even managed to rise much above the level of life back in the Third World. In New York, many live on vacant lots in thrown-together shacks just like the ones they left behind: “Men with no work sit and play dominoes and tend little gardens as if they were back on their island and the whole migration had simply taken them back to where they were fifty years ago.” New York’s Puerto Ricans are actually worse off than the city’s blacks. They are more likely to be on welfare, and only 50 percent have a high school diploma (as opposed to 66 percent for blacks.)
Mr. Suro marvels at how quickly Hispanics degenerated to the point that during the 1992 Los Angeles riots after the first verdict in the Rodney King beating case, more Hispanics than blacks were arrested for arson and looting. “L.A’s blacks had taken a journey of centuries — from Africa, through slavery, out of the rural South, and into urban poverty — to reach that kind of rage,” he writes. “The Latinos who took to the streets had accumulated enough bitterness to reach critical mass in less than a decade.” As a young man in South Central Los Angeles explained to him, “To most people here, this is still a foreign place that belongs to someone else.”
Indeed, Hispanic immigration cannot help but keep foreigners foreign. Most are a different race from the majority. They come in large numbers and create ghettos. They can easily go home and revive nationalist sentiments. The Dominicans of New York, says Mr. Suro, are just one more typical group. They never considered the United States their home, and the 330,000 that had piled into New York City by 1990 went through “the classic process of assimilation, but in a downward cycle.”
(A study that came out after this book was published puts the current Dominican population in New York at 500,000. From 1989 to 1996, the Dominican per capita income dropped 23 percent in inflation-adjusted terms to $6,094, and the poverty rate rose from 37 to 46 percent. The Dominican Republic is sending losers to America. The ones who come are half as likely to have a college education as the ones who stay. Within just two years there could well be 700,000 Dominicans in New York City.)
Mr. Suro is not even satisfied with the Cubans of Miami. He rightly describes them as the richest Hispanic enclave in the United States — a barrio with country clubs — but “it remains a place apart from the rest of the country.” And poverty alone does not explain why Hispanics are separate: “Rich Latinos remain ambivalent toward America just as much as poor ones. In fact, wealth may make it even easier to avoid full engagement with the new land . . .” Mr. Suro quotes one of the gilded young men who attend a snooty private school for upper-crust Miami Cubans: “Our parents had to hassle with Anglo society, be we don’t. This is our city.”
Mr. Suro notes that Hispanics have not closed ranks with blacks to fight for “equality,” and other redistributive schemes. He finds that Hispanics don’t like blacks, and complain that they are lazy and crime-prone. All this is disappointing to him but he concedes that the historic experience of Hispanics is different from that of blacks and thinks this may explain why there is no rainbow coalition: “The logic and the mechanism of civil rights law developed as a solution to the plight of African-Americans, and it was never particularly well suited to Latinos.”
Mr. Suro reluctantly acknowledges that race is the great divide. Even when they are forced to live close to blacks, most Hispanics try to ignore them. The only real exceptions are the young men — who fight them. They “call themselves raza and march forward as ethnic Mexicans to do battle against American blacks.” If anything, Hispanics seem even more likely than blacks to form gangs, and turf battles are small-scale race wars.
So, what is to be done about Hispanic immigration. Though Mr. Suro thinks white America has not done enough to assimilate new immigrants, he cannot deny that Hispanics are largely responsible for their persistent status as outsiders: “[T]his country’s Latinos must answer a basic question about who they want to be.” Mr. Suro very much wants them to be Americans and is pained that they remain so alien. He wants them to learn English, and he even wants them to oppose illegal immigration — to put respect for American law over ethnic solidarity.
Mr. Suro admits that he is asking Hispanics to “put the whole question of group identity in a new light.” They must think of themselves as Americans with a stake in an English-speaking country with Anglo-Saxon institutions. Then they will oppose illegal immigration and turn their backs on South-of-the-border kinfolk who keep sneaking into the country.
But is this possible? Mr. Suro concedes that “more than half of the entire Latino foreign-born population of the United States has had some direct experience of illegality.” He notes that many neighborhoods and even households are a mix of legals and illegals. How realistic is it to think Hispanics are going to repudiate their friends, co-workers, or even family just because they don’t happen to have papers?
Moreover, Mr. Suro completely ignores the reconquista element of Hispanic immigration, the zealots who want to “retake” the Southwest and drive out whites (see review of Reconquista!, AR, June, 1998). The last thing these people will do is think of themselves as “Americans.”
Therefore, Mr. Suro’s “solution” to the problem of Hispanic immigration — more liberalism and an effort by Hispanics to renounce their ethnicity — is pure fantasy. Americans are tired of uplift programs that don’t work, and the past 40 years have shown how illusory is the idea of a race-unconscious America. One might take Mr. Suro more seriously if he added to these recommendations a call for a halt to further Hispanic immigration. But, no. He looks forward to more and more. Anyone who suggests that Hispanics are going to set aside race and foreign loyalties while yet more millions march into the country has either fooled himself or is trying to fool his readers.
This book, therefore, is an excellent example of the incoherence that characterizes any social question that touches on race. Mr. Suro could hardly be more compelling when he describes the failure and degeneracy that has often followed Hispanic immigration.
After detailing the dead-end lives of so many Puerto Rican immigrants, he returns to his central theme:
Like the Puerto Ricans, many of today’s Latino newcomers arrive with little education and not much in the way of technological job skills. The main difference is one of scale. The Puerto Rican migration was small enough so that the primary victims of the disaster were the Puerto Ricans themselves. Today’s Latino migration is so much larger and more widespread that the entire nation will suffer grievously if the Puerto Rican fate is repeated.
There is one sure way to avoid more suffering: Stop the immigration. This is so obvious that not even intellectuals and policy-makers can fail to see it. But until Americans can shake off the mental paralysis that falsifies every discussion of race and immigration, they will be unable to take the most basic steps necessary to save their country.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Progress in Australia
Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party are going from strength to strength. In elections for the parliament of the Australian state of Queensland, her party won 23 percent of the vote, took 11 of 89 seats, and helped knock the ruling Liberals out of a majority. One Nation is also likely to have a strong showing in national elections, which must be held by May of next year. The party, which is only 18 months old, has no chance of forming a government, but it could easily hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate, which is divided between the Liberal and Labor parties.
After the success in Queensland, Miss Hanson gave details about the immigration program she proposes. She wants zero net immigration, that is, newcomers should no more than make up for Australians who leave the country. She also wants safeguards to preserve the current ethnic balance, which is overwhelmingly white. She would also change Australia’s refugee policy, which automatically grants permanent residency rights; she would send refugees home after five years, or as soon as the troubles they were fleeing have been resolved.
Miss Hanson continues to provoke the sharpest possible criticism. Though she has promised to expel “racists and extremists” from her party, she has not retreated from her position that Australia must preserve its unique people and culture, and should never permit itself to be swamped by Asians.
One Nation Party’s extraordinary success in its first electoral test has impressed many politicians. Miss Hanson says that Labor and Liberal legislators at both state and federal levels have approached her asking to join the party. She says she will not admit just any politico who wants to keep his job, and will not compromise her party’s principles. (Nathan Vass, Australia Must Regain Work Ethic: Hanson, Northern Territory News, June 21, 1998. Michael Millet, Pauline Hanson: My Right Australia Policy, Sydney Morning Herald, July 2, 1998.)
In March, a bill (HR-856) that could make Puerto Rico our 51st state passed in the House of Representatives by one vote, 209-208. Anti-statehood lobbying by English First and the Council of Conservative Citizens, among others, just failed to kill the measure. The bill could come up in the Senate as early as July.
Jim Boulet of English First notes that the GOP is cozying up to the pro-statehood lobby again. On June 10th, Republican leaders met with members of Puerto Rico’s House of Delegates to discuss statehood, and on July 1st, Newt Gingrich gave a speech to the pro-statehood League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at their convention in Dallas, Texas.
As we did with the House vote, AR will fight the bill. We will give a copy of the March AR article opposing statehood to every Senator. English First has started a postcard campaign against the bill, details of which are available at www.englishfirst.org or by writing to English First, 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is having a temper tantrum about its future status. Telephone workers have gone on strike and destroyed more than $2 million in company equipment in an attempt to stop the government from selling the state telephone company to the American company GTE. Hundreds of thousands of customers are without service. Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Rossello, who approved the sale, favors statehood while labor leaders want independence. The strikers say he is “selling the national patrimony” as part of a plan to promote statehood. On placards and leaflets strikers replace the double S in Mr. Rossello’s name with a swastika.
Over the Independence Day weekend, public sector trade unions were preparing to join in what would be a two-day general strike, beginning July 7. They claimed they would cut off water, electricity, and telephone service and bring the island to a halt. Economists estimate that Puerto Rico has already lost over $100,000,000 because of the telephone strike, a figure that would multiply rapidly if there were a general strike. (Michelle Faul, Puerto Rico Erupts Over Labor Spat, AP, June 28, 1998. More Strikes Planned in Puerto Rico, AP, June 30, 1998.)
Road to Nowhere
President Clinton’s race panel has held its last scheduled public meeting and has served up preliminary proposals. First of all, the seven-member panel congratulated itself on its achievements and recommends that its work continue past the original one-year term. It proposes a standing commission, council, or permanent advisory board to the President.
In order to foster racial harmony, the panel would like to raise the minimum wage, so non-whites will earn more money. It also wants to improve public schools, on the assumption that ignorance causes “racism.” According to panel member Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey, the country needs a massive investment in new schools, teacher training, and “access to technology.” “I’m suggesting a totally federal initiative [that] states should be required to match,” he says. Congress may balk at spending more money, but it must make the effort “if a 300-year problem is going to be brought under control.”
The Asian panel-member, Angela Oh, sees a need to calm nativist fears of too much immigration. She says Americans will stop worrying about the millions of immigrants who do not speak English if the government pays for natives to learn foreign languages. Finally, all panel-members agree that the media are a terrible obstacle to racial harmony, and must stop their unflattering portrayals of non-whites.
President Clinton will prepare his own year-end report on race relations and what to do about them. The panel’s idiotic recommendations will be the basis for his report. (Sonya Ross, Race Panel Urges Better Education, AP, June 19, 1998.)
Who’s the Hero?
On May 7, Barbara Coe and the California Coalition of Immigration Reform (CCIR) put up a billboard at the California/Arizona border (see illustration). The group got a lot of hate calls and death threats, but also hundreds of inquiries from supporters. In June, Mexican “civil rights” activist Mario Obledo announced he would “deface or burn” the billboard, which he called “racist.” Miss Coe notified the police, who said they would arrest Mr. Obledo if he damaged private property. Nevertheless, the company that had leased the space to CCIR bowed to Hispanic threats of violence and boycotts and took the sign down. Miss Coe planned to put it back up at a different location on July 4th.
When Mr. Obledo was a guest on the nationally-syndicated Tom Lykis radio program to talk about his threatened action, he said, “California is going to be a Mexican state, we are going to control all the institutions. If people don’t like it they should leave.” Mr. Obledo was the California state secretary for Health, Education, and Welfare under Governor Jerry Brown. This year, President Clinton gave the 66-year-old the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest award a civilian can receive. (David Reyes, Latino Leaders Assail Billboard, L.A. Times, June 11, 1998, p. A18.)
EPA Seeks Racism
For at least 20 years, there has been much talk of “environmental racism,” or the alleged practice of deliberately putting toxic dump sites in non-white areas. In 1994, President William Clinton signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to take racial factors into account in environmental policy. This year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unilaterally expanded its own powers to include the right to block any state or local environment policy that discriminates — even unintentionally — against minorities.
It would not be surprising if dumps were in non-white areas, since people put them where land is cheap, and non-whites tend to be poor. But in fact, a series of EPA studies of every one of the 1,234 polluted “Superfund” sites found that whites are more likely than non-whites to live near them. Blacks have complained the most about “environmental racism,” but are the least likely to live close to a “Superfund” dump.
The EPS did this research twice, once in 1994 and once in 1995. Both times, it didn’t like the results and shelved the reports. Now that The Detroit News has uncovered the cover-up, the agency denies it deliberately hid inconvenient data. It says the reports just didn’t throw any new light on the subject. Later this year, Congress is likely to hold hearings to find out what is going on. (David Mastio, EPA Ignored Race Report, Detroit News, May 28, 1998. Bruce Bartlett, EPA’s Race-Based Rules, Washington Times, June 10, 1998, p. A18)
California’s two fastest growing populations don’t seem to get along. In June, a group of eight to ten Asians attacked two Hispanics in a gas station mini-mart in Lancaster, a suburb of Los Angeles. One of the Asians reportedly said “What are you wetbacks doing here?” before the group started kicking the Hispanics and beating them with a “Club” steering wheel lock. Police caught eight of the attackers and booked them for assault and on suspicion of committing a hate crime. (Eight Arrested in Suspected Antelope Valley Hate Crime, L.A. Times, June 15, 1998 p. B6.)
Diversity Comes to Maine
High school students in Portland, Maine, have been getting into fights with — of all things — Somali immigrants. For the past month police have patrolled Portland High School when classes are let out in the hope of keeping the skirmishing under control. In a recent brawl involving ten whites and five Somalis, a 17-year-old white was charged with starting the fight by hitting a Somali in the face with a brick. The Somali reportedly fought back with a brick, nearly tearing off the white student’s ear. Authorities are reportedly trying to “provide an environment of reconciliation.” (AP, Police Seeking Peace Where Racial Brawl Broke Out, Boston Globe, June 15, 1998.)
So many non-whites are streaming into Toronto, Canada, that whites are expected to become a minority in 18 months. A report commissioned by the city council called “Together We Are One,” reports that:
By the year 2000, 54 percent of the city’s population will be non-white. In 1991 only 30 percent were non-white.
Half of Canada’s blacks and 42 percent of the country’s non-whites live in Toronto.
Over 70,000 immigrants come every year, speaking 100 different languages. Forty-two percent speak neither English nor French.
One in five Toronto residents arrived in Canada after 1981 and one in ten came after 1991.
Toronto has a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than any other city in the world.
The city is planning a series of public meetings to discuss ways to celebrate diversity and eliminate “inequalities.” (Elaine Carey, Minorities Set To Be Majority, The Toronto Star, June 7, 1998, A1.)
Deaf to Reason
Last year, New York City police discovered a gang of Mexicans who had smuggled 49 Mexican deaf-mutes into the city to work more or less as slaves. The gang forced them to sell trinkets in the subways for as many as 20 hours a day, and beat or starved them if they did not bring in enough money. They kept the workers in two cramped apartments where they slept on the floor. In June, the last of 18 “bosses” was sentenced to jail for conspiring to commit slavery and for harboring illegal aliens.
What about the deaf-mutes? For the last 11 months they have been living at government expense in a motel in Queens. Four children have been born to them during this period. Under pressure from a suit brought by the ACLU, the INS has decided that they may stay in the country, since they were important witnesses in the case against their masters. New York City says they can now move to city-owned housing, where they may stay as long as they like. In five years they can apply for U. S. citizenship. New York City has set aside one million dollars for their care. (Mirta Ojito, 49 Abused Deaf Mexicans to be Allowed to Stay in U.S., New York Times, June 20, 1998.)
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — In your June “O Tempora” item about the effect of removing minority quotas on California universities, you are mistaken to write that this was a consequence of Proposition 209 (which outlawed all racial preferences by the state of California). One should recall that the University of California regents under Ward Connerly decided to end preferences several years ago, but the ban took effect only in 1998. I understand that the UC Berkeley administration feels that the passage of Proposition 209 reinforces the regents ban, but that they would have terminated their quota policy without it.
Also, the state has two university systems — the UC system and the California State University system, which is headquartered at Long Beach. It would be interesting to read an unbiased account of Proposition 209’s effect on the Cal State system, which did not eliminate preferences before the ballot. Since they had far less stringent preferences, Prop 209 probably did not have a great effect on their admissions.
W. Edward Chynoweth, Sanger, Calif.
Sir — In his review of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Michael Levin reports Jared Diamond’s claim that “Bantu shock-troops” might have conquered ancient Rome had it not been for the absence of domesticable mammals — that zebras and rhinos were too mean-tempered and cranky to domesticate. But if the Phoenicians were able to train and use elephants in their battles against Rome, why didn’t black Africans cross the Alps as Hannibal did? Did the Carthaginians have access to a special population of “friendly” elephants or did they just use their superior cognitive abilities?
I strongly agree with Prof. Levin that urbanization most certainly led to selective pressure in favor of intelligence and cooperation. Living in the cities of the Roman Empire or of the Han dynasty required a higher level of mental ability than did life in the jungles of equatorial Africa.
Michael Bordonaro, Bronx, N.Y.
Sir — The write-up on South Africa in the July issue was excellent, and shows the insights that come from living in an area. I might add that in the ordinary press, the early history of South Africa is as badly reported as its present.
When the Dutch and later the English settled in South Africa early in the 17th century, the native population of Bushmen and Hottentots was very small and scattered. In fact, the first contact with natives did not occur until 130 years after the first Dutch settlement and it took place 600 miles northeast of Capetown. My point is that in much of the area, whites were the first settlers!
In time, they created a viable society — so viable that blacks from other areas, primarily Bantus in the earlier periods, gravitated to the white areas in ever greater numbers. There they found living conditions infinitely better than anything they had experienced before. It is because of this influx of blacks and the high black birthrate that whites are now outnumbered.
Robert Nattkemper, Kamuelea, Hawaii
Sir — I love the “O Tempora, O Mores” section and always read it first. Is this Latin for “Oh times, oh morals”? I’ve always wondered.
Brian Stone, Wichita, Kan.
This phrase is from Cicero’s First Oration Against Catiline, delivered in the Roman Senate on November 7, 63 B.C. The night before, Cicero had managed to foil a plot to assassinate him, which had been hatched by his bitter political enemy Catiline. Despite wide knowledge of his plot, Catiline took his place in the Senate as usual, and Cicero’s famous phrase expresses his dismay that a known criminal should still be at large. “O Tempora, O Mores!” literally means “What times! What habits!” but has also been more loosely translated as “What degenerate days are these!” — Editor
Sir — Readers who enjoyed your two recent articles on Jean-Marie Le Pen and the French National Front may wish to know that we are organizing a trip to Paris this fall to attend the National Front’s “Bleu, Blanc, Rouge” (blue, white, red) festival. This is an annual political rally organized by the front, and last year, close to 100,000 French and other European nationalists participated. This year’s festival will be over the weekend of September 19-20. If you would like to join our group and take part in what should be a very interesting and enjoyable weekend, please contact me and I will send full details.
Mike Cerr, Chairman
National Capital Region
Council of Conservative Citizens
P.O. Box 3902
Fairfax, VA 22038