Olasky’s Endorsement of Immigration

How sad. Marvin Olasky—a conservative evangelical and an intelligent, sensible writer—has pronounced his position on the immigration issue, and, like so many other conservative evangelicals, he comes down squarely on the side of cultural and national suicide.

Yes, Olasky writes, striking the usual conservative note, we should be concerned about our left-leaning culture that doesn’t encourage immigrants to love America. Yes, he concedes sensibly, caution is needed in guarding our borders against illegal aliens and possible terrorists. But no, he argues fervently, the very idea that today’s million-plus-per-year Third World immigrants do not fit into this country and are altering its very identity is “anti-immigrant” and must not be allowed.

Indulging in the standard GOP flight from reality, Olasky ventures that Hispanics are really conservatives who can be won over by the GOP if it will just try hard enough. Refusing to face even the most obvious cultural dangers, he says that the idea that today’s immigrants will undermine America’s Christian traditions “goes against American historical experience, which shows that those who have been denied liberties usually appreciate them the most.” Thus he dismisses any concern about the effect of immigration on our Christian culture—while uttering not a single word about Muslim immigrants, Rastafarian immigrants, animal-sacricificing immigrants, and female genital mutilating immigrants. Either Olasky is unaware that such immigrants exist, or else he believes that they, too, are strengthening our Christian traditions.

Most disturbingly, Olasky misappropriates spiritual and patriotic images to the immigration cause, thus presenting immigration in terms that will make it morally impossible for conservatives to oppose it. In an ideological distortion of Christmas that reminds me of Jesse Jackson’s blasphemous description of Mary as “single mother,” Olasky refers to the birth of Jesus as “the most sensational immigration of all time,” by which he apparently means the physical entry of the Son of God into this world. The implication is clear: if Jesus is the prototype of all immigrants, if all immigrants are really Jesus, then to say No to any immigrant is to say No to Jesus. Similarly, sounding like a New York Times op-ed writer on Thanksgiving Day (a holiday the Times loves to politicize), he calls the Pilgrims “immigrants.” Once again, Olasky’s ideological misuse of a sacred history is plain: if the Pilgrim Fathers who planted the first seeds of this country were immigrants, then to oppose immigration is tantamount to opposing America itself.

Mr. Olasky, I’ve got to ‘splain something to you. An immigrant is a person who leaves one sovereign polity and becomes a citizen in another sovereign polity, adopting its culture, loyalties, laws, and habits as his own. The Pilgrims, by contrast, entered a savage wilderness where no civilized men had ever trod before, and, against incredible odds and through incredible hardships, successfully planted in it their culture and civilization, which then took on new characteristics because of the totally different environment in which they found themselves. The Pilgrims, in brief, were not immigrants, they were pioneers. They did not enter a civilization, they created one.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 19, 2002 02:59 AM | Send


I especially thought Olasky’s following thoughts were very interesting, and which are very similar to Pope John Paul’s recent statements:

“This argument goes against American historical experience, which shows that those who have been denied liberties usually appreciate them the most. Sure, Democrats have gained most of the Hispanic vote in elections past, but Republicans should realize that they have also asked for those votes far more fervently. A survey by Latino Opinions shows two-thirds of Hispanics identifying themselves as pro-life. Now that George W. Bush is making Hispanic outreach a prime GOP task, voting patterns are beginning to reflect Latino values. … Conservatives should pay more attention to surveys showing that three-fourths of Latinos, compared to 60 percent of Americans overall, say that religion (almost always Christianity) provides considerable guidance in their lives. Korean-Americans are 10 times more likely to be Christian than Buddhist, and other immigrants from Asia also often have Christian backgrounds. … Native-born Christians worried about Christianity losing support in the United States should look in the mirror. Two Zen Buddhist centers I visited recently were run by white Anglo-Saxon former Protestants. The Catholic priests involved in sex scandals uncovered last year and this rarely have Hispanic names. Liberal denominations that are losing members — Episcopalians, United Methodists and others — have been rocked by dissension over ordaining gays, not accepting immigrants.”

Match that up JP II recent comments:

“In welcoming every man in Christ,” the Pope explained, “God made himself an ‘emigrant’ in the paths of time to take the Gospel of love and peace to all. In contemplating this mystery, how can one not open oneself to welcome and recognize that every human being is a son of the one heavenly Father and, therefore, is our brother?”

And for the immigrants he said:”As for immigrants, they must know how to respect the laws of the state that has welcomed them and thus contribute to a better integration in the new social context.”

Even JPII said immigration that “important and complex social phenomenon,” and “We live at a time of profound changes that affect persons, ethnic groups, and peoples. Grave inequalities are noted also today, especially between the north and south of the world.” … “This makes the earth, increasingly becoming a ‘global village,’ be unfortunately for some a place of poverty and privations, while there is great concentration of wealth in the hands of others,” the Pope said.


Posted by: jesus gil on November 19, 2002 10:20 AM

Inetresting that Olasky falls into this pipe-dream about the colonizers from Mexico. Alan Wall, an American living in Mexico who occaisionally posts here, wrote a very informative article on VDARE.com about the small percentage of Mexican Catholics (about 15-20%) who are traditional in outlook on social issus. As I understand it, this is similar to the percentage of what an evangelical pastor I know refers to as “God-fearing Catholics” residing here in the US.

Posted by: Carl on November 19, 2002 11:47 AM

The Pope’s statement exemplifies the liberal irrationalism that goes through the verbal motions of appealing to some aspect of social order, while it actually attacks the very basis of social order. On one hand, the Pope says that immigrants “must” respect the laws of, and integrate into, their new country. On the other hand, he calls the earth a global village. In a global village there are no separate nations that matter in any serious way and that can have any serious authority over their citizens; so how can one respect the laws and assimilate into the culture of his new nation? Indeed, what entity survives to enforce the obligation that immigrants “must” do anything?

The Pope’s dishonest reasoning on immigration is similar to that of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ on Iraq. In one passage their recent document states: “The Iraqi leadership MUST cease its internal repression, end its threats to its neighbors, stop any support for terrorism, abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction and destroy all such existing weapons.” But in another passage it says: “We continue to find it difficult to justify the resort to war against Iraq …” But if the use of military force is UNJUSTIFIED, then what is it that is going to make Iraq do all the things that the bishops say it “must” do? Their mere pious wish that it be so?

As Fr. Seraphim Rose said, liberalism maintains a verbal allegiance to the form of truth, while denying the substance of truth. It is, as C.S. Lewis said, like gelding a man, and then telling him to be fruitful and multiply.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 19, 2002 11:48 AM

White Euro Christians have the idea that Christian self-abnegation morally obliges them to forego their instinctive desire to save their own ethnic group from extinction. The other side — the side plotting that very extinction of white Euro Christians out of pure ethnic prejudice, hatred, and jealousy and for no other reason — of course encourages this phony idea in the not-very-bright Christians whom it is targeting, in furtherance of its ends.

I have wondered if Joe Sobran’s and Bill Buckley’s fervent Catholicism is what has kept these two men and others like them (is Rick Brookhiser Catholic?) from opposing the incompatible immigration innundation.

The Catholic Church needs to be attacked on its immigration stance. On Long Island, it is taking a very pro-illegal-immigrant position, sticking its nose and money where neither belong, and it should be put back in its place forcefully.

I know of course that Olasky isn’t Catholic, but in this thread the Catholic Church has been brought up, and I wanted to get a few shots in against them. (I am a non-practicing Roman Catholic who was never confirmed but am very sympathetic to Catholic tradition, as I am to Protestant and Jewish tradition, and my wife is raising our kids as Catholics.)

It would be the simplest thing in the world to show how nowhere in the New Testament is there anything that means Christians must not protect their ethnicity, tribe, or nation from extinction.

There are many priests who don’t follow the national-suicide pathway promoted by some. There was that one in Italy not too many months ago (I no longer have the newspaper reference) who told Italian politicians to “please do their arithmetic” on immigration, to see it needed to be cut off in order to save Italy’s Catholic identity.

Here’s an article on a recent statement by the Pope in which he seemed to agree partly with Pat Buchanan on the desirability of Italy’s producing more Italians to keep the nation going, rather than importing incompatible immigrants to do the job (I just wish he showed this kind of good sense more often):


[From the article]:

“But [the Pope’s] emphasis [in this historic speech before Italy’s parliament] was on Italy - and particularly what he called ‘the crisis of the birth rate.’

“While Italy is largely Roman Catholic, the church teaching that couples should be open to having children is not enthusiastically followed: Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world - 9.3 births per 1,000 inhabitants - and one of the oldest populations. Italian women on average have 1.23 children, a figure under the European Union average of about 1.48 and well under the American average of about 2.1.

“The United Nations has warned that Italy’s economic future is at risk because the shrinking work force won’t be able to support its aging population without an influx of migrant workers.

“The pope called the situation ‘another grave threat that bears upon the future of this country, one which is already conditioning its life and its capacity for development.’ ‘Above all, it encourages - indeed I would dare to say, forces - citizens to make a broad and responsible commitment to favor a clear-cut reversal of this tendency,’ he said.

“Politicians, he said, should adopt initiatives that ‘can make the task of having children and bringing them up less burdensome both socially and economically.’ ”

Posted by: Unadorned on November 19, 2002 1:12 PM

Regarding Joseph Sobran, the man is bent out of shape about the Jews, while he has nothing to say against the de-Europeanization of America through mass nonwhite immigration. He’s like Scott McConnell, who is passionatly hostile to Israel, but ambivalent about the defense of Euro-America. These renowned paleo thinkers really have their priorities right, don’t they?

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 19, 2002 1:39 PM


It just struck me that there is something that I can agree with Unadorned on …birthrates! Perhaps, that’s something that should be investigated, at the same time when discussing immigration.

I personally think part of the problem could be alleviated if there was more support (financially, whatever) for families. How many times have you heard of people who choose (I tend to think it’s a choice, rather than they have to) both the mother and father work, and usually he argument centers around finances (that families can’t make it on just one income).

So maybe the issue is helping couple to have large families.

Sorry for the sidestream thought!

Posted by: jesus gil on November 19, 2002 2:47 PM

Larry, you missed the obvious: If Jesus was an immigrant, why do the Gospels spend so much time on Jewish genealogy? Christ is the incarnate God-man Who appears in specific time, place and nation.

Posted by: Jim Carver on November 19, 2002 6:01 PM

Jim Carver’s point seems to be that Jesus could not be an immigrant since he was a Jew living in the land of the Jews in which he had been born. That goes without saying. But it’s not the point I was responding to in my article. It seems to me that there are two possible bases on which an open-borders ideologue who is set on asserting that Jesus was an “immigrant” could do so:

(1) His parents had “immigrated” to Bethlehem prior to his birth. This is of course absurd for well-known reasons, but it’s no more absurd than calling Mary a “single mother” or calling the Holy Family a “homeless” family, and various persons have made such assertions and gotten away with them.

(2) Jesus had “immigrated” into this world by being incarnated in human form. Clearly, this is the sense in which Olasky uses the word, since he speaks of the “most sensational immigration of all time.”

The important thing to understand here is the way that people in the grip of an ideology want to make their preferred policy (such as immigration or multiculturalism) appear to be either identical with goodness itself, so it can’t be opposed, or identical with the human condition as such, so it can’t be opposed. Such assertions are not made in the form of propositions with which one can agree or disagree, but are incorporated into the language used in discussing the respective issues. We cannot underestimate the effectiveness of such techniques in shutting down the will and ability of millions of people to think about public things.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 19, 2002 7:42 PM

I am not suprised by the position of the Pope. Christianity is a universalist religion. Look up the definition of “catholic”:

Main Entry: cath·o·lic
Pronunciation: ‘kath-lik, ‘ka-th&-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French catholique, from Late Latin catholicus, from Greek katholikos universal, general, from katholou in general, from kata by + holos whole — more at CATA-, SAFE
Date: 14th century
1 a often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the church universal b often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it c capitalized : ROMAN CATHOLIC
2 : COMPREHENSIVE, UNIVERSAL; especially : broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests
- ca·thol·i·cal·ly /k&-‘thä-li-k(&-)lE/ adverb
- ca·thol·i·cize /-‘thä-l&-“sIz/ verb

Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church has never fully come to terms with nationalism. It was born as the religion of a multi-ethnic empire. In the Middle Ages, it was the glue that held together the Feudal Kingdoms of Christendom. The Wars of Reformation ended this and created the modern nation-state with the Treaty of Westphalia. Religion was now decided by the state. The liberal revolutions of the 19th century, especially those of 1848, took an anti-religious tone. Finally the Italian unification, which ended the Pope’s temporal authority, and left the Pope a virtual prisoner in the Vatican city, surrounded by a Kingdom he did not recognize. (In fact 2 days ago, a Pope John Paul II made history by addressing the Italian Parliament.) Frankly, it would be major news if the Pope took another position.

As for Jews, too many are liberal universalists before Jews.

Posted by: Ron Lewenberg on November 20, 2002 12:11 AM

From previous discussions with Mr. Lewenberg, I thought he was familiar with the idea that traditional Catholic thought is not simply universalistic, but that it recognizes the importance and validity of distinct nations and cultures as unique manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Even the present Pope, notwithstanding the liberal univeralism he has pushed elsewhere, has eloquently portrayed his native Poland as a spiritual being with its own cultural tradition expressing spiritual truth—i.e., Catholic, comprehensive, universal truth—in its own, distinctively Polish, way.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 20, 2002 12:43 AM


Would it count the Holy Family’s immigration to Egypt? Or would that go under political asylum.


Posted by: jesus gil on November 20, 2002 3:27 AM

I’m not denying that there is a strong tendency within Catholicism to have little regard for the nation and to see the world only in terms of what advances the Catholic Church. Thus, if immigrants to the U.S. swell Catholic Church membership, immigration is seen as a good, regardless of its overall effect on America. There are more than a few Catholics, both laity and priests, who would have “no problema” with America turning into a Hispanic country. This widespread contemporary Catholic attitude lends support to the old Protestant anti-Catholic view that Catholics cannot be trusted to be patriotic.

However, as I indicated in my previous post, this anti-national view is not necessarily the Catholic view, since there is a traditional Catholic view that respects nationhood.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 20, 2002 11:32 AM

In response to Lawrence Auster’s first post above:

> On one hand, the Pope says
> that immigrants “must” respect the laws of, and integrate into, their new
> country.

Yes, immigrants have a duty to (“must”) respect the laws, and integrate themselves into, their new country.

> On the other hand, he calls the earth a global village. In a global
> village there are no separate nations that matter in any serious way and
> that can have any serious authority over their citizens;

Why is that the case? If various families live together in a village, does that mean that the head of one of those households has no real authority over his own family? No, of course not.

The “global village” comment, it seems to me, merely refers to the fact that modern transportation and communications have brought us all closer together in a sense, and that therefore we can expect more people to want to emigrate due to the relative ease of going from one place to another. I don’t see how it implies that there are no separate nations; if I live near others, do I thereby lose my individual rights? No.

> so how can one
> respect the laws and assimilate into the culture of his new nation?

It is clearly possible, as many people have done so. Whether one moves to another country or remains in our own, one must “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”.

> Indeed, what entity survives to enforce the obligation that immigrants “must”
> do anything?

People “must” do lots of things that aren’t enforced by any earthly authority. I “must” not commit adultery, even though the police won’t come and arrest me if I were to do so.

> The Pope’s dishonest reasoning on immigration …

What is dishonest about it? He says that immigrants have duties; and also that we should welcome them, both because they are our brothers, and also, I assume, because of the idea expressed in Biblical verses such as the following: “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:34)

But this doesn’t imply that we should ignore our own rights or anything like that - Jesus said that the peacemaker is blessed, but that doesn’t imply that we can never wage war. “Thou shalt not kill”, and yet I may kill in self-defense.

Posted by: AV on November 20, 2002 2:21 PM

AV offers us a classic example of open-borders sophistry which, far from reconciling the Pope’s contradictions, inflates them further.

AV posits an absolute obligation on the part of the receiving nation to welcome immigrants, “because they are our brothers.” But if such an obligation exists, then the very freedom and sovereignty of the receiving nation, including its ability to pass its own laws and enforce its own standards, has been eliminated. If the nation does not even have the authority to decide who may immigrate into it, it obviously will not, as a practical matter, have the authority to impose any other obligations on the immigrants.

The open borders ideology is an example of what I call mainstream radicalism. It kills the nation, even as it claims to be a non-threatening, reasonable expression of humane rights and values recognized by all. For a brief description of how this dishonest process operates, see my post “How Diversity Conquers,” at http://www.counterrevolution.net/vfr/archives/000996.html.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 20, 2002 2:43 PM


Maybe the Church’s stance on immigration has something to do that if we had truly closed borders the Holy Family wouldn’t have been able to have entered in Egypt?


Posted by: jesus gil on November 20, 2002 3:48 PM

I would like to remind Mr. gil that at VFR we try to engage in something resembling intellectual discussion. If he thinks that frivolous comments such as the one he made above contribute anything of value here, he is sadly mistaken.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 20, 2002 5:09 PM

I never defended “open borders”. To welcome something is not to want an indiscriminate amount of something, nor is it to want it under any conditions. I may welcome having guests over to my house, but not “too many”, and not just anyone.

A ruler does have to consider the common good, but all things being equal, we should, out of charity, be inclined to want to help out our brothers (or distant cousins, if you prefer) if we have the opportunity to do so; just as we would welcome being helped if our situations were reversed.

Posted by: AV on November 20, 2002 7:46 PM

AV is in denial about the import of his own words. He had written: “we should welcome [immigrants] … because they are our brothers.” There is absolutely no principle contained in this statement that would legitimize saying no to anyone, from anywhere in the world, who wants to come here. AV promotes a pure open borders ideology, then pretends (or imagines) that he hasn’t done so.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 20, 2002 7:55 PM

I can vouch for the fact that Catholics are in no way lacking in patriotism. In my Catholic schools, we flew the flag and pledged allegiance to the flag. We put on patriotic plays about things such as the Revolutionary War and the Pilgrims. If there is any lack of patriotism among some Catholics, my bet is it is coming from a minority of liberal radicals and is derived from ignorance, non-Catholic sources, or twisting Catholic sources (as Mr. Auster has argued superbly).

Posted by: P Murgos on November 20, 2002 8:07 PM

I also pointed out, a little later on, that there are certain conditions under which certain rules don’t apply (as in “thou shalt not kill”).

Look at it from a family point of view. If your brother (i.e. sibling) lost his house and had no place to stay, wouldn’t you welcome him into your home? He is your brother after all. But if he were to take advantage of you, or if he had a history of violence or something along those lines, then it would be understandable if you wouldn’t want him in your home. He is still your brother, but the circumstances have to be taken into account.

Posted by: AV on November 20, 2002 9:25 PM

The entire population of China, of the Muslim world, of Indonesia, of South America, of the whole world, are certainly not my brothers in any concrete or political sense, nor are they yours. To think that everyone in the world are literally brothers can only lead toward the destruction of all particular human associations ranging from the family to the nation, and the imposition of some kind of global socialist tyranny. Our first obligations are to the people we are actually connected with. Traditional Catholic teaching emphasized that a sovereign owed a special obligation to care for his own people over the rest of the world. That special care becomes an impossibility if everyone is our brother.

I believe that people only start this nonsense about everyone in the world being our brother when they lack a sense of affection for their own people. Lacking normal human affections and loyalties, they try to fill the void by the pretense of loving all mankind, which is a practical impossibility. If one is rooted in a normal love for one’s own people, then one can also have an ordinate affection for others, with everything in a proper balance. But without the first kind of love, the second kind is only a neurotic symptom which over and over has led individuals and societies to ruin.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 20, 2002 10:56 PM

Mr Auster,


I apologize if you thought my comment frivolous, which wasn’t the purpose at all. I was merely pointing out that there is in fact a justification on the Church’s part, or even Olasky, to say that Jesus was an immigrant, i.e. when the Holy Family fled to Egypt.


Posted by: jesus gil on November 21, 2002 4:25 AM

Mr. Gil, whether or not Jesus was an immigrant in Egypt, you understand of course that that could have no bearing whatsoever on today’s debate over excessive levels of nation-destroying incompatible immigration? No one on the restrictionist side is against any particular (non-terrorist, non-criminal, non-tuberculous, etc.) immigrant on an individual level, or against reasonable rates and kinds of immigration, as seen, for example, prior to the Ted Kennedy Immigration Holocaust bill of 1965 which you must be ecstatically happy was voted into law.

Posted by: Unadorned on November 21, 2002 8:39 AM

I was merely trying to show why the Roman Catholic Church may be as some have suggested “soft” on immigration.

Of course they’re “going to be,” if the founder of Christianity was an immigrant, at least in the eyes of the Church. It wasn’t meant to be frivolous, but to offer a suggestion to some of the comments.


Posted by: jesus gil on November 21, 2002 9:05 AM

Did Jesus really immigrate permanently to Egypt? You might try Joseph (the guy with the coat) if you want a biblical example of quasi-permanent immigration, but if course he was dragged there in chains as a slave. Plus that business of the Israelites living in their own separate community and leaving to find the Promised Land later sort of skews things a bit. The modern Pharoes aren’t (at this point) forcing immigrants to stay in as overt a fashion as in the later stages of the Israelite community in Egypt, it is true, but they are taking advantage of the cheap labor.

Mr. Auster’s point seems to be that this branch of the discussion is one in which certain parties desperately twist and amplify an irrelevant detail and attempt to make that twisted amplified irrelevant detail into THE central point, in order to further justify a certain antitraditional point of view. If Mr. Auster’s point is that such discussion is transparently unworthy of serious intellectual consideration, I have to agree.

Posted by: Matt on November 21, 2002 10:17 AM

As far as everyone being our brother is corncerned, it is true in one sense or another. My sibling is my brother on a biological level, my more distant relatives are my brothers in the Hebrew sense of the word, Christians are by brothers in Christ, and all human beings are my brothers in the sense that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father (and, I guess, also because we are all sons of Adam and Eve).

Obviously, a ruler is obligated to care primarily for the people under his rule, and the idea of the brotherhood of man doesn’t imply otherwise. The Church has always taught that all are created by the same God and are thus brothers. From the Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas:

We must love our neighbor because we are all brothers, and all men are sons of God, our Father: “For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?”[I John, iv. 20] We owe reverence to our neighbor because he is also a child of God: “Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why then does everyone of us despise his brother?”[Mal., ii. 10] And again: “With honor preventing one another.”[Rom., xii. 10]

Posted by: AV on November 21, 2002 12:01 PM

Also, Mr. Auster’s “brotherhood of man” comments highlight an antinomy worth further elucidation. It is true that of the three great virtues, faith, hope, and charity, the greatest is charity. The primacy of charity among all Christian virtues does not imply what moderns think it implies, though. Attempts to make specific rules defining Christian charity always fail: e.g. the modern attempt to define charity as lack of discrimination or equality. What drives these sorts of attempts seems to be a desire to put charity in a box so that it cannot make difficult demands of us. If all we have to do to be charitable Christians is support liberal equality then we are free to ignore the demands of charity whenever we don’t see it as coincident with liberal equality. As in another thread, liberalism is like Christianity without any of the difficult stuff.

One practical effect of such attempts (to create logical abstract rules defining and thereby limiting the demands of Christian charity), in addition to general moral corruption, is to render meaningless any concrete categories of good. For example, if everyone is my brother (in a concrete and actual rather than abstract sense) then the word “brother” means nothing. A word only means something when it discriminates between one thing and another; without that fundamental discrimination Osama bin Laden is as much my “brother” as Larry Auster or Pope John Paul. As Mr. Auster says, that may carry some abstract truth but it cannot possibly be true in any concrete sense that has political implications. Actual politics is always concrete and actual, despite liberalism’s attempts to claim universal authority over everyone everywhere by abstracting politics.

Posted by: Matt on November 21, 2002 12:11 PM

AV simply cannot get his mind straight on this “brother” issue. In his latest post, he correctly distinguishes between various definitions of “brother,” suggesting that we don’t have the same degree of brotherhood with—and thus the same degree of obligation toward—everyone in the world. But in his earlier posts, AV plainly suggested that all prospective immigrants are our “brothers” whom we must welcome. In his latest post, he doesn’t refer back to his earlier use of “brother,” but leaves it hanging out there.

Basically AV wants to have it both ways. He wants to sound like a reasonable person who makes distinctions between different categories of persons and is not saying that we must treat everyone alike. But at the same time, he holds in reserve his non-discriminatory use of “brother” which is used as a weapon to delegitimize ANY restrictions on immigration.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 21, 2002 12:25 PM

It they’re all AV’s brothers, how ‘bout they all (all the incompatible immigrants) move into AV’s house and mooch off of AV? That OK, AV? That works for me, AV.

Posted by: Unadorned on November 21, 2002 12:41 PM

I think the discussion got off track when Mr. Gil compared the Pope’s words (which I must assume are accurate for the sake of this discussion only) as similar to Mr. Olasky’s words. Mr. Olasky is a protestant, political evangelical and in all likelihood is fervently trying to convert Catholics to Mr. Olasky’s faith by using political, not spiritual, arguments. Mr. Olasky’s rhetoric was pure politics. He mentioned Hispanics, Republicans, polls, Latino values, and the supposed voting patterns of numerous ethnic groups. The Pope never considered any of that grist, which is so savored by American political pundits.

The second derailing occurred when Mr. Gil used snippets (most likely out of context) from the Pope’s speech to conclude that the Pope wants no borders, despite the lack of such a quote by the Pope. The discussion further derailed when Mr. Gil referred to the Pope’s usage of “Global Village.” The Pope is so often obscure, deeply philosophical, and infirm I don’t dare try to understand what he means without reading Catholic scholars. Much of the Pope’s power comes from his charismatic presence, humility, and obvious concern for all people. My bet is that the Pope’s “village” and Hillary Clinton’s “village” are as different as heaven and hell.

I recognize Mr. Gil is making a sincere attempt to engage in rational dialogue but is burdened with secular liberal propaganda. I hope he takes my musings in the same spirit and continues to attempt to learn about the ideas on this Website.

Posted by: P Murgos on November 21, 2002 7:10 PM

To Lawrence Auster (and Unadorned):

I already gave you the example of your sibling (a true brother by anyone’s definition) who needed a place to stay. Since he is your brother, you should welcome the opportunity to help him out. However, if he were a danger to your family, under those circumstances you would not let him move into your home.

If you are worried that the fact that “everyone is your brother” is sometimes used to support unlimited immigration, the above example can be used to explain why one doesn’t follow from the other.

But the fact remains that we are all indeed brothers, as the Bible teaches; and just because someone uses a truth to defend something we reject doesn’t mean we should deny that truth. We should instead come up with an argument that shows why A doesn’t imply B.

Posted by: AV on November 21, 2002 7:34 PM

To P. Murgos:

I think what you say in your last post is correct.

It was most probably the juxtaposition of the words of Olasky and the Pope that led to the misinterpretation of what the Pope was saying.

Posted by: AV on November 21, 2002 7:49 PM

To Matt:

If everyone is human, does that mean that the word “human” becomes meaningless, or that it has no political implications? Of course not.

Posted by: AV on November 21, 2002 8:23 PM

AV: exactly right. If everyone is our brother then the referent of “brother” is just any other human at all. The word “brother,” as something distinct from having the right number of chromosomes, becomes meaningless. So in that case why use the word “brother” at all, as if it meant something more than mere possession of the right number of chromosomes?

It is true that politically and morally we should discriminate between humans and raw sewage, for example, as categories. But if “brother” means something different from “human” then why complain when Mr. Auster performs the relevant discrimination? If they mean the same thing then why use the word “brother” at all except as an intellectual deception?

Posted by: Matt on November 21, 2002 8:34 PM

Matt, if you get a moment, I would appreciate a reference to a book or a category of books that develops the ideas you so successfully used in your 12:11 PM posting. “For example, if everyone is my brother (in a concrete and actual rather than abstract sense) then the word “brother” means nothing. A word only means something when it discriminates between one thing and another; without that fundamental discrimination Osama bin Laden is as much my “brother” as Larry Auster or Pope John Paul.”

Posted by: P Murgos on November 21, 2002 10:51 PM

AV’s all-encompassing definition of brother differs from the word ‘human’ because it includes some sort of spiritual bond or obligation, if I am correct. The problem with this, however, is that not everyone feels the obligation, so not everyone can be a good brother and some will merely try to take advantage of you, and cannot stay in your house, so defining everyone as your brother, even with AV’s vague distinction, doesn’t really define anything. So I guess you’re right.

AV: The word “human” is not meaningles, it distinguishes man from monkey, stone, tree, and vegetable. Stupid comment.

Posted by: remus on November 21, 2002 10:52 PM

Mr. Murgos:

I don’t have a great direct answer to your question. As a modern myself, and as someone with a primarily technical-scientific background (my less technical degree is an MBA), I was heavily influenced by Kant (which is not to say that I understood him) when I first discovered that philosophy matters. C.S. Lewis was my primary counterpoint at the time. Today I am very much influenced by Catherine Pickstock, and Huston Smith’s _Beyond the Postmodern Mind_ is quite good and a bit more accessible (though not as directly addressing language/meaning). Pickstock is really, really difficult to read but she understands the relation between the abstract and the concrete, the written and spoken word, the symbol and the meaning, the object and the subject, etc as well as anyone. _Truth in Acquinas_ is easier going and shorter than _After Writing_ but neither is a picnic.

Of course there is nothing quite like understanding the dark side from its own perspective, so _A Derrida Reader_ (Kamuf), _Radical Hermeneutics_ (Caputo), and _The Foucalt Reader_ (Rabinow) or their equivalent are interesting. I don’t recommend them specifically but you can’t study concrete/abstract, sign/signified, language/meaning without some grasp of postmodernism. Don’t get me wrong, I think postmodernism is as nutty as the next guy, but it is where modernism takes you.

Wittgenstein often gets recommended as a path to understanding the modern take on language, and Hume as an example of where nominalism leads, but I can only take them in small doses without risk of major indigestion. Nietzsche is quite bracing as long as you take into account that he deliberately infected himself with syphalis and died insane. That starts to get a bit off the path of sign/signified-subject/object-word/meaning though; if prompted I am bound to recommend all sorts of interesting books/authors that don’t address the question.

Posted by: Matt on November 22, 2002 1:53 AM


For those who suggested I was off base, here are the documents many of which can be found at:

the Vatican

Some documents of interest:
Exsul Familia (Pope Pius XII, 1952)
The émigré Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, living in exile in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are, for all times and all places, the models and protectors of every migrant, alien and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or by want, is forced to leave his native land, his beloved parents and relatives, his close friends, and to seek a foreign soil.

Pacem in Terris (Pope John XXIII, 1963)
Among man’s personal rights we must include his right to enter a country in which he hopes to be able to provide more fittingly for himself and his dependents. It is therefore the duty of state officials to accept immigrants and—so far as the good of their own community, rightly understood, permits—to further the aims of those who may wish to become members of a new society. [106]

Populorum Progressio (Pope Paul VI, 1967)
We cannot insist too much on the duty of giving foreigners a hospitable reception. It is a duty imposed by human solidarity and by Christian charity…. They should be welcomed in the spirit of brotherly love, so that the concrete example of wholesome living may give them a high opinion of authentic Christian charity and of spiritual values. [67]

Justice in the World (Statement of the Synod of Bishops, 1971)
Take, for example, the case of migrants. They are often forced to leave their own country to find work, but frequently find the doors closed in their faces because of discriminatory attitudes, or, if they can enter, they are often obliged to lead an insecure life or are treated in an inhuman manner. The same is true of groups that are less well off on the social ladder such as workers and especially farm workers who play a very great part in the process of development. [21]

Also of interest from US Bishops:
Resolution on the Pastoral Concern of the Church for the People on the Move (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1976)
The Church, the People of God, is required by the Gospel and by its long tradition to promote and defend the human rights and dignity of people on the move, to advocate social remedies to their problems, and to foster opportunities for their spiritual and religious growth. We pledge ourselves and urge our brothers and sisters in the Lord, to resist injustices against immigrants, to assist them in their need, and to welcome them into our nation and our community of faith as fellow pilgrims on the journey to the Father. It is our duty and our privilege to respond in this way to the biblical injunction: “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as the native among you and you shall love him as yourself.” (Lv. 19:34)
Cardinal Mohony on immigration:
AND Pope John Paul’s recent statement can be found at www.zenit.org/english/ dated dispatch 2002-11-17, which I place below, since the link could soon disappear.

Code: ZE02111702

Date: 2002-11-17

Immigrants Must Not Be Seen As Competitors, Pope Says

Those Who Emigrate Must Respect the Laws of the State That Welcomes Them

VATICAN CITY, NOVEMBER 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed for a “spirit of acceptance” towards immigrants, and for emigrants to respect the laws of the country welcoming them.

John Paul II made this appeal during his meeting with the pilgrims gathered in a rainy St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, on the day that the Catholic Church in Italy celebrates the Day of Migrations, an “important and complex social phenomenon,” he said.

“We live at a time of profound changes that affect persons, ethnic groups, and peoples. Grave inequalities are noted also today, especially between the north and south of the world,” the Holy Father continued.

“This makes the earth, increasingly becoming a ‘global village,’ be unfortunately for some a place of poverty and privations, while there is great concentration of wealth in the hands of others,” the Pope said.

“In this context, the ‘other’ risks being considered frequently as a competitor, especially if he is ‘different,’ due to language, nationality, and culture,” John Paul II added.

“Because of this, it is important that the spirit of acceptance be diffused, translated in social conduct of care, especially for the needy. Everyone is called to contribute to the improvement of the world, beginning in one’s own ambit of life and action,” he said.

In particular, the Pope appealed to “families, associations, ecclesial and civil communities” to become “more and more schools of hospitality, of civil coexistence, of fruitful dialogue.”

“As for immigrants, they must know how to respect the laws of the state that has welcomed them and thus contribute to a better integration in the new social context.”

“In welcoming every man in Christ,” the Pope explained, “God made himself an ‘emigrant’ in the paths of time to take the Gospel of love and peace to all. In contemplating this mystery, how can one not open oneself to welcome and recognize that every human being is a son of the one heavenly Father and, therefore, is our brother?”


Posted by: jesus gil on November 22, 2002 6:17 AM

Mr. Gil quotes exactly one pre-Vatican II source (Pius XII), and that quote focuses on offering asylum to the persecuted rather than mass immigration to provide better jobs for hispanics who don’t want to learn English. Mr. Gil will forgive us if we don’t receive the “Spirit of Vatican II” as _ex cathedra_, since Paul VI himself explicitly declared the entire enterprise fallible.

Posted by: Matt on November 22, 2002 10:01 AM

The only one of Mr. gil’s quotations that is not from coo-coo land is the one by Pope Pius XII, that the Holy Family in fleeing to Egypt are the patron saints of all those forced to leave their home. All the other statements, from John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and the bishops, are formulas for open borders and national and civilizational suicide that might have been muttered by some insane character in The Camp of the Saints. If the Catholic hierarchy wants to utter such drivel, it can do so. But it thereby loses the respect of rational people.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 22, 2002 11:54 AM

One problem with relying on religious authority to govern a society is that such a society is not in for a mere penny but for a whole pound. Earthly societies exist in the here and now. If religious authority decrees we are all brothers here on earth, no earthly authority can allow one to prefer one’s dear mother-brother in the next room of the family’s New York condo and accordingly, to discriminate against (“hate”) their never before seen brother starving in some godforsaken Taliban or Argentine torture chamber. Indeed, the religious authority does not even allow the brother that has, to keep. Nor does the religious authority allow brethren to discriminate against (“hate”) the cultures of never before seen brothers who just might think their smiling, welcoming brethren need to understand the error of their ways or to be skewered. (Was it not brother Louis Farrakhan who wanted to know what that “cracker” Pope John Paul II had under his robe?)

Finally, we need to remember that we have a duty to protect our families. Protecting is part of our God-given hard wiring. Life is hard. We can’t afford to wallow too long in utopian daydreams. If a person doesn’t value what is his or hers, no one else will.

Posted by: P Murgos on November 23, 2002 12:35 AM

I’ve posted a further response to the idea of a Christian duty to welcome immigrants at http://www.counterrevolution.net/vfr/archives/001004.html

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 23, 2002 10:55 AM

[On the subject of the Catholic Church hierarchy’s unwarranted intrusion into the immigration debate, I received an e-mailed subscriber update yesterday from Roy Beck’s excellent group, www.NumbersUSA.com, part of which I’ve copied-and-pasted herewith below. I included the details of topic #6. It is self-explanatory.]

“Subj: INS abolished! But great new immigration danger 
“Date: 11/22/02 3:11:58 PM Central Standard Time
“From: info@numbersusa.com
“To: Cognassier@aol.com
“Sent from the Internet (Details)

“FROM: Roy Beck, http://www.NumbersUSA.com
“DATE: 10:30 p.m. Tuesday 19nov02
“RE: An Immigration Victory (and a great new danger)


“1. INFO: Criminally negligent INS abolished
“2. ACTION: Send faxes of protest about new U.S. ambassador to Mexico’s hell-bent push for amnesty
“3. ACTION: Send faxes to allies to seek House immigration chairmanship
“4. ACTION: Send faxes to Maine sheriff and Pennsylvania D.A. who are standing up to INS criminal negligence
“5. ACTION: Send a fax to the incoming Senate Majority Leader for his support of military assistance on the border
“6. ACTION: Send a fax to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (for Catholics only)
“7. ACTION: Thanks Virginia’s attorney general for stand against admission of illegal aliens in colleges
“8. INFO: Read our latest Numbers Tales
“9. ACTION: Thank Atty. Gen. Ashcroft for his new rules on expedited removal of illegal aliens arriving by sea

“6. ACTION——-Send a fax to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

“For those of you who are Catholics, we have posted a fax for you to send Church leaders to disagree with the Bishops’ statement this last week that our Mexican border is too restricted and that we have a moral obligation to take far more Mexican workers.”

Posted by: Unadorned on November 23, 2002 12:13 PM

P Murgos wrote: “We have a duty to protect our families. Protecting is part of our God-given hard wiring.”

Well said! It draws a nice distinction between the conservative belief that we have inborn qualities which give a natural direction to our actions, and the liberal idea that we begin as a blank slate and can order our lives according to abstractly rational principles.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on November 23, 2002 6:45 PM

Mark Richardson says, “[Mr. Murgos’ comment] draws a nice distinction between the conservative belief that we have inborn qualities which give a natural direction to our actions, and the liberal idea that we begin as a blank slate and can order our lives according to abstractly rational principles.”

Mark, you are of course aware that the blank slate idea has been scientifically debunked, in the sense that it becomes more and more clear with each passing decade that there is a great deal of inborn hard-wiring in our central nervous systems. On the other hand, we nevertheless can also order our lives according to abstract rational principles.

Posted by: Unadorned on November 23, 2002 7:49 PM

But do we order our lives according to abstract rational principles?

One example that comes to mind is that of Professor Peter Singer. He advocated as a rational belief the idea that we should direct our charity to wherever our money would achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. But when his mother fell ill he broke with this principle, and spent a considerable sum on her care. For conservatives who believe that filial love and duty is a part of our higher nature his decision to care for his mother seems perfectly normal, but liberals have to struggle with these kind of things.

It is true that scientific advances have tended to support the conservative notion that some of our behaviours are hard-wired into us. But remember that liberals want to be creatures of their own will and reason. There will inevitably be liberal resistance to the idea that important aspects of who we are are inborn.

I have, for instance, an article in front of me by a Melbourne academic, Fiona Stewart. She is having a difficult time accepting that male sexual urges have a biological basis.

She prefers to believe, along with “psychologists, sociologists and other public health specialists” that our sexual urges are determined “in the sphere of reason” because only then “can real change be effected.”

I think you’ll find that liberals will continue to operate with a stripped down version of human nature, one which makes human behaviour decidedly malleable. As for conservatives operating from abstract rational principles, I’d be interested in any examples you can give.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on November 24, 2002 5:46 AM
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