Jon Harrison Sims, American Renaissance, March 2005
Jorge Ramos, The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President, HarperCollins, 2004, 257 pp.
It is ironic that only writers at the “extreme” recognize the truth about how immigration is transforming this country. Jorge Ramos, a Latino anchorman for Miami-based Univision — along with Telemundo, one of the big two Hispanic television networks — finds it “fascinating” that he and Pat Buchanan cite the same population statistics. Yet while Mr. Buchanan tries vainly to awaken his countrymen to what is happening, Mr. Ramos taunts them that it is too late: “the flow of immigrants is unstoppable, like it or not.” “The United States is becoming a Latino nation.” “We are everywhere, and there is no occupation or activity in this country that escapes our influence. This century is ours.”
Mr. Ramos, like anyone who looks for them, has the statistics to make his claim credible. He points out that each year brings roughly 1.5 million new Hispanics into the United States via birth and immigration. If this continues, Hispanics, who are now 13.5 percent of the U.S. population will be 36 percent by 2125 and will outnumber the 35 percent that are non-Hispanic whites. Mr. Ramos trumpets this as “one of the greatest demographic transformations ever,” and finds it “unfathomable” that “many people haven’t even noticed that it is happening.” It certainly is unfathomable.
Mr. Ramos argues that the “Latino wave” is different from earlier ones in three ways: it is larger, it cannot be stopped, and it will not assimilate. That it is unstoppable is something Mr. Ramos seems to assert to demoralize nativists. After showing that immigration, both legal and illegal, continued unabated in the aftermath of the 2000 recession and the September 11 terrorist attacks, he declares that nothing can stop it: “Nothing — not the National Guard, not higher walls, or stricter laws, or greater vigilance, not even the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States . . . Nothing.” Yet elsewhere Mr. Ramos concedes it could be stopped: “A radical, xenophobic politician could attempt to close the southern border of the United States using military force or some sort of new advanced technology.” He thinks this very unlikely.
Mr. Ramos points out that there are three models for how immigrants join society: assimilation or Americanization, the melting pot (immigrants and natives produce a hybrid population), and the cultural mosaic (immigrants retain their identity and culture). Mr. Ramos enthusiastically embraces the last model. He thinks Hispanics will remain different, will continue to speak Spanish (though he encourages them to learn English), and, in a process he calls Latinization, will change America more than America changes them. Hispanics are not like other immigrants for several reasons: They come from nearby countries, continuing immigration reinforces their cultural and ethnic loyalties, Spanish-language media are booming, there is easy communication across borders, and international travel is cheap and common.
At the same time, Mr. Ramos defiantly insists Latinos — he prefers this term to Hispanics — are as authentically American as anyone. How can they be authentic if they are transforming America? Because the American identity has no history, language or culture. To be an American is to be pro-immigration, and nothing more: “I believe that this country’s two main characteristics are its acceptance of immigrants and its tolerance of diversity. These things are what bind us together; we’re here thanks to these unifying principles. That’s what it means to be an American.”
Presumably, those of us who do not want limitless “diversity” and unending immigration are not Americans. Ours must be the only country in the world in which first-generation immigrants pompously tell those of us whose ancestors have been here for hundreds of years what it means to be “American.”
In any case, Mr. Ramos assures us that an American is already much like a Latino, because both are defined by mestizaje (“a mixture of races and languages”). The United States is already a mestizaje jumble, and Americans should recognize and appreciate this.
But if Americans have no identity other than a love of immigration, do Latinos have a distinct identity? Mr. Ramos struggles with this, even throwing up his hands and crying, “What the hell are we?” He makes the usual claim that Latinos have stronger “morals and family values” than other Americans (in fact, their rates of illegitimacy, divorce, child-abuse, abortion, venereal disease, AIDS, and crime are considerably higher than those of whites — see “The Myth of Hispanic Family Values,” AR March, 2004). He explains that “Hispanic” emphasizes geographical origin, while “Latino” the Spanish language, which he believes is essential to Latino identity. He finally settles for mestizaje: “Hispanic identity is a mixture” — with the exception that the Spanish language is essential to it, while English is irrelevant to American identity.
In fact, distilling Hispanic/Latino cultural norms is not that difficult. Even Mr. Ramos recognizes Latin America’s distinctive problems: political instability, corruption, authoritarianism, militarism, extremes of wealth and poverty, bad education, overpopulation, controlled economies. Mr. Ramos admits that these failures are what drive immigrants north, but cannot bring himself to recognize that they constitute the very identity he has such trouble defining.
Inadvertently, he even recognizes that Latinos are bringing their social inequalities with them. He writes about a ski vacation in Vail, Colorado, where he noted with pride how many wealthy, upper-class Mexicans were on the slopes, while the help — cooks, maids, trash collectors, day-care workers — were all lower-class Mexicans, without whom “Vail would grind to a halt.” He finds it “strange and sad” that Mexican attitudes (contempt from above, submission from below) are repeated in Vail.
Another Hispanic habit that crosses the border is high birth rates. For all his posturing, Mr. Ramos cannot cite a single contribution Hispanics have made to America besides spicy food and more people. It seems that for certain peoples — Arabs, Hispanics — breeding is a form of warfare, even of revenge. If they cannot measure up to their neighbors, they can at least outnumber them.
Mr. Ramos has a typically Hispanic disrespect for American sovereignty. He thinks no one on earth needs obey our immigration laws. Anyone who wants to should get in any way he can. Lying on visa applications and staying in the country after visas expire are fine. Illegals should be able to get driver’s licenses, and their children should get medical treatment and in-state tuition. Anything else is “discrimination,” and he calls for a brown-black “alliance” to fight it. Whites and the government constantly “maltreat” immigrants, he warns us. If that is so, why do they come? Because their rulers maltreat them even more? This is hardly an argument for increasing Latinization.
Victimology and ethnic chauvinism pervade this book. Mr. Ramos bears a grudge against the Bush administration for rejecting Mexican President Fox’s proposal for open borders. “Latinos remember this,” he warns. He was deeply offended when, a few days after Mr. Bush claimed the United States had “no more important relationship in the world” than with Mexico, he praised Great Britain as America’s “truest friend.” Great Britain supported the American invasion of Iraq while Mexico opposed it, but that means nothing. Mr. Ramos believes that as long as the United States has a southern border, Mexico owes the United States nothing.
Mr. Ramos argues that American immigration policy is driven by the demands of agribusiness and service industries for cheap labor. He is right to point out that if illegals are law breakers, so are the people who hire them. He correctly describes US immigration policy as “confused, counterproductive, contradictory, and largely ineffective.” He surmises that the government’s “true policy is to silently permit a certain level of illegal immigration so that certain segments of the American workforce can continue to operate,” and that US elites are satisfied “leaving things exactly as they are.”
Mr. Ramos repeats all the immigrationist clichés about how the American economy would collapse without a steady influx of newcomers. These arguments are especially effective against Republicans, who are the chief employers of immigrants. The GOP never tires of telling us Hispanic immigrants do work no one else will. Naturally, no one wants to do it at the low wages that result from the very immigration that is said to be so indispensable. On the other hand, if Hispanics are such willing workers, why is the Hispanic unemployment rate 50 percent higher than the white rate? Why is the Hispanic welfare rate twice the white rate?
But if the United States really needs a class of menials, why all the talk about educating them, making them citizens, and giving them the vote? Won’t they grow up to disdain the work their parents did? This is a recipe for endless immigration, overpopulation and constant cultural upheaval. In fact, things are even worse. Many children of Hispanic immigrants disdain manual labor even though they have been slow to learn the skills necessary for better-paying jobs. Unlike other immigrant groups, Hispanics tend to slide backwards from one generation to the next, with higher rates of welfare use, illegitimate birth, and school failure.
Another Ramos/Republican argument is that we need immigrants to pay the social security for our aging population. Mr. Ramos cites the Maestro himself, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, testifying along these lines before Congress. But who will support the immigrants when they are old? Yet more immigrants, of course. The truth is that manual laborers pay very little into Social Security, and will take more out when they retire. Only more high-paid jobs will keep Social Security afloat. But the more-immigration theory is fine with Mr. Ramos, for it means more “Latinization” and more “browning.” He boasts that “Latinos will put some color in the concept of white, so that white will be darker in America than it will be in Europe.”
Mr. Ramos reassures anyone with reservations about the current influx that immigrants make us all richer. In fact, most immigrants are poor — that is why they come here — and poor people burden society. In 2000 alone, post-1969 immigrants consumed an estimated $61 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes. In 1996, every immigrant family in California swallowed up an average of $6,145 in state, federal, and local spending over and above what it paid in taxes. And these are the people who are going to make us rich and bail out Social Security?
The tone and nature of Mr. Ramos’s arguments leave no doubt that if the coming decades really do lead to a “Hispanic century,” and he and his kind gain real power, they will exercise that power to their own exclusive advantage — and they will do so without hesitation or compunction.