Jason Riley at the WSJ, notes that illegal Immigration has disappeared from the election cycle radar screen, and wonders why. He concludes after examining the situation in some detail:

If American culture is under assault today, it’s not from immigrants who aren’t assimilating but from liberal elites who reject the concept of assimilation. For multiculturalists, and particularly those in the academy, assimilation is a dirty word. A values-neutral belief system is embraced by some to avoid having to judge one culture as superior or inferior to another. Others reject the assimilationist paradigm outright on the grounds that the U.S. hasn’t always lived up to its ideals. America slaughtered Indians and enslaved blacks, goes the argument, and this wicked history means we have no right to impose a value system on others.

But social conservatives who want to seal the border in response to these left-wing elites are directing their wrath at the wrong people. The problem isn’t the immigrants. The problem is the militant multiculturalists who want to turn America into some loose federation of ethnic and racial groups. The political right should continue to push back against bilingual education advocates, anti-American Chicano Studies professors, Spanish-language ballots, ethnically gerrymandered voting districts, La Raza’s big-government agenda and all the rest. But these problems weren’t created by the women burping our babies and changing linen at our hotels, or by the men picking lettuce in Yuma and building homes in Iowa City.

Keep the immigrants. Deport the Columbia faculty.

And therein lies the heart of the matter. For all the wailing and gnashing of  teeth that invariably shows up with the subject about how we don’t like immigrants because we’re all just basic racists, the true center of the issue… the heart o the matter… is one of culture. Specifically, the survival of our American culture.

 I saw a sign yesterday that said it well;

 Ask the American Indian about what happens when you don’t have border control.

The issues there were not that the Indians were racists, when they started attacking us. They saw, (correctly, may I say) that their culture would eventually be over-run. The results of this can be seen today on any reservation.

I rather doubt however that their view was quite so sophisticated as to identify the issue as a cultural one. They simply reacted on a more or less instinctual level to what they saw on that level, as a threat.  Similarly, I suppose that most American don’t have a full handle on the import of their culture to their daily life, simply accepting it as a given. So, they never fiully identify the threat we now face as a cultural one, either.  This would seem to explain the dichotomy in the polling data that Riley mentions in his article;


For example, last year a CBS News poll asked, “Should illegal immigrants be prosecuted and deported or shouldn’t they?” And 69% of respondents favored deportation. When the same interviewers asked the same respondents what should happen to illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years, and then offered a specific alternative to deportation, only 33% favored deportation; 62% said they should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status.

When a separate Gallup poll asked a similar question but offered four alternatives, just 13% favored deportation, and 78% said illegal immigrants should be allowed to keep their jobs and apply for citizenship.

It should be pointed out however, that not identifying this as a cultural issue dangerous for two reasons.

One, because the charge of racism tends to get bandied about in an effort to shut down all opposition to, and even discussion of wide open borders and

Two,  because as I’ve written so often, much of our concept of rights  is culturally driven.  When the culture is endangered, so too are the culturally unique recognition of rights within that culture.

Multi-culturalism is, as Riley suggests, the true danger, here. That can be confirmed  by examination of the purposes of our borders.  Our nation had other races from it’s inception… yes, including blacks, so don’t start with me on that.  But looking at the list of immigrants and their lands of origin, their racial background, and so on makes the point that the issue of illegal ‘immigration’ is not racism, but of culture. During the heyday of Ellis Island and beyond, people came to American soil to be part of the American Culture.  The problem most Americans see on an instinctive level, even if heir identification of the problem is less than a conscious one, is that we’ve lost sight of the value of steeping those coming to our country, in our culture, to the end of that culture’s preservation.

And that, in the end is what this fight is all about.

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One Response to “The Issue Isn’t Race, It’s Culture, (part 172)”


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