Lynne Richards, American Renaissance, August 1991
Lawrence Auster, The Path to National Suicide — An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism, AICF, 1990, 90 pp.
Lawrence Auster, a New York City freelance writer, has written what may well be the best book now available on America’s immigration policy. The Path to National Suicide is an articulate, undeceived, and utterly compelling appraisal of a national policy that is quietly, relentlessly changing the very character of our nation.
Mr. Auster’s vision is never clouded by dogmatic multiculturalism and he is not afraid to pursue his analysis well into the thickets of the politically incorrect. It is clear that he has written this book for one reason alone: He cares very deeply about the future of the United States.
Mr. Auster’s central message could not be clearer. If Americans of European descent fail to act in their own defense, burgeoning Third-World immigration and spreading multiculturalism will quickly reduce them to a numerical and cultural minority. This would be nothing less than the end of the nation as we now know it.
Mr. Auster does not believe that, as he puts it, “the American people want to change their historic European-rooted civilization into a Latin-Caribbean-Asian ‘multi-culture’.” That, however, is the destiny that awaits them if policies remain unchanged. Most Americans see only dimly the future that awaits them, since it is so rarely described in Mr. Auster’s unblinking terms. If they saw more clearly, they would surely act to preserve their culture.
According to Mr. Auster, America’s character is being transformed by two different forces, both of which nourish the other. The first is the brute fact of massive non-white immigration, which is a complete departure from the pattern that prevailed from colonial times until the mid-1960s. The second is the rise of “multi-cultural”thinking, the abandonment of any conviction that America has the right to preserve its racial and cultural heritage.
The Origins of Collapse
Mr. Auster traces the beginnings of this dual phenomenon back to the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, which was itself a product of the everybody’s-equal mentality of the Civil Rights movement. According to the wisdom of the day, if it was wrong to discriminate against citizens on the basis of race, it must be equally wrong to consider race in the formulation of immigration policy.
In fact, pre-1965 immigration policy did not discriminate by race, but by professional qualifications and country of origin. Immigrants were to come from the same original homelands as current citizens, and since nearly 90 percent of mid-1960s Americans were white, the immigrant stream was also overwhelmingly white. An immigration policy that had served the nation for half a century was suddenly found to be an impermissible offense against the doctrine of non-discrimination.
The result was something Mr. Auster calls “a Civil Rights bill applied to the world at large,”and just as “civil rights”laws were written in the name of equality but used to promote racial preference, the new immigration law did precisely what its supporters promised it would not do. In the debate that led to passage of the bill, not one politician so much as hinted that a change in America’s racial composition was desirable or likely. Even Sen. Edward Kennedy insisted that “the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset.” Just how anyone could think that eliminating “discrimination”by country of origin would not lead to a change of ethnic mix Mr. Auster does not say.
Under the new law, preference went to relatives of recent immigrants, and professional qualifications were virtually done away with. The result was what Mr. Auster calls “a senseless type of discrimination favoring extended families from Third-World countries.” To suggest that such a policy is a disservice to the nation is now considered an act of bigotry. Not only does the United States accept non-white immigration on such massive terms that the white majority is threatened, whites are expected to celebrate their own dispossession by “embracing diversity.”Today, no politician who likes his job would dare point out that Sen. Kennedy was wrong, and that the nation’s ethnic mix is being upset.
How Did it Happen?
Much of Mr. Auster’s book is an attempt to understand this radical departure from America’s earlier sense of nationhood. Why has America lost the will to survive as a white, Anglo-European nation? Mr. Auster believes that American attitudes toward immigration changed simply as a result of the facts of immigration. Faced with a sudden influx of non-whites — which was no more than the unintended consequence of muddled legislation — Americans casually readjusted their thinking.
That is to say, an utterly revolutionary view of how the nation was to be built grew out of nothing more intellectually rigorous than the observation that most of the new-comers were no longer white. As Mr. Auster puts it, “faced with the seemingly irreversible fact of multiracial change, we gave ourselves a new national myth of diversity to accommodate ourselves to that fact.”
This is probably true for some academics, clergymen, and journalists. However, it is certainly not true for many ordinary, middle-class Americans, who are baffled by the new national myths and angry at the penalties imposed on anyone who questions them.
The new myths were the very opposite of the old. If America was now committed to “multi-culturalism,”that must always have been its true goal. If non-whites were so clearly part of America’s future, a prominent place had to be found for them in America’s past. Schools, churches, the media, and government all began to reinterpret the present and revise the past in light of an expected future.
Schools that once promoted the assimilationist standard have thrown out the concept of standards. The very notion of Americanism — an elitist artifact of discriminatory thinking — was tossed aside in the name of “cultural pluralism.”The American character has been dismantled to the point where, in Mr. Auster’s words, “there is no remaining criterion of American identity other than the physical fact of one’s being here.”By this measure, any person of any race, religion, language or nationality, from anywhere in the world, has as great a claim to be “American”as the descendants of the men who fought the red coats.
“Multiculturalism”as a national goal thus fed upon the flow of incoming non-whites, even as it arose as a force to stifle all attempts to staunch or even criticize that flow. A confused legislative outgrowth of the Civil Rights era has thus unleashed a movement whose stated aim is the transformation of a nation.
The Role of Race
The question of race is, of course, central to the entire problem of immigration and national identity. Today, all one need do in order to be branded a “racist”is to wish that immigrants would speak English. Anyone who actually opposes the transformation of his Anglo-European homeland into a polyglot brew is thought hopelessly racist.
To his credit, Mr. Auster tries to cut through some of the double-speak and outright lies that characterize the notion of “racism.”As he points out, since 1965, Americans have tied themselves into knots in “the political attempt to reach that chimerical promised land where there is no ‘racism’.”To do this, they have launched “the ultimate totalitarian project: to change human nature by force.”
This is a promising beginning, but Mr. Auster’s treatment of race ends on an unsure note. He refers often to the sheer weight of numbers, always arguing that “a certain number”of non-whites can be assimilated to European patterns. This is true, but according to this logic, immigration policy need be nothing more than a numbers game. America’s task is to determine the right mix of non-whites who can be admitted without diluting the national character.
But if a few can be assimilated, why not all? And if dilution, as Mr. Auster fears, is well under way, why risk further damage? Why not restrict immigration — if there is to be immigration at all — to those who clearly bear the qualities Mr. Auster wishes to preserve? What is the purpose of admitting any non-whites other than as a sop to the very notion of “multi-racialism”that he so ably discredits?
If Mr. Auster recognizes that the preservation of cultural heritage and national coherence are vital goals, why should immigration policy not recognize that the cultural heritage Mr. Auster so clearly loves is the creation of a particular race? He refuses to answer the question his own logic must pose: What are the necessary qualities and qualifications for becoming the sort of American he wants for fellow citizens?
Mr. Auster argues passionately and eloquently that the United States has every right to preserve its national character and that a multi-racial, multicultural America would not be merely different but, for an heir to the European tradition, inferior. Nevertheless, in making the case for a clear national identity, he writes, “the paramount moral issue the United States faces is not racial superiority but self-preservation.”To be sure, the paramount issue is self-preservation, but the alternative is not racial superiority.
It is a pity that a writer as sensitive to distinctions as Mr. Auster writes as if there is no difference between notions of supremacy and the natural preference for one’s own kind. Indeed, he writes elsewhere that it is a commonplace to note that people seek the company of people like themselves. Is this “supremacy?”
Mr. Auster ardently wishes to keep the United States within the European tradition. Men who love the music, the literature, the civility, the demeanor of that great tradition long for a nation of men and women who share that love. Mr. Auster must recognize that the Mexicans, Vietnamese, Koreans and Filipinos now pouring into America do not share that love, and that it would be foolish to expect them to share it. What he seems reluctant to acknowledge is that, with only the rarest exceptions, those who share that love can only be the descendants of the people who first created that civilization.
Of course, in today’s America, this is perhaps the most difficult break from orthodoxy that an author can make, and that he has not made it is hardly a fatal flaw in the excellent book that Mr. Auster has given us. The Path to National Suicide is both a source of fresh insight for those who see the inevitable consequences of non-white immigration and a finely argued introduction for those who do not.
[Editor’s Note: VDARE recently published a posthumous collection of essays by Lawrence Auster. It is available here.]