The revolution eats its children; and the religious fanaticism at the core of the open-borders movement

As in a Stalinist purge, the president’s henchmen have viciously turned on Bush’s most devoted champions if they have even mildly criticized the immigration bill. Paul at Powerline (the three lawyers who author that website sign their articles with their first name only, so that’s how I refer to them) has written a restrained but obviously deeply offended reply to an article by former White House speechwriter Michael Gerson in which Gerson attacks critics of the bill as nativists controlled by fear and (get this) compares them to the supporters of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

It’s beyond belief. The Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1880s kept out Chinese as Chinese. It was by today’s liberal standards out-and-out “racist.” By contrast, today’s mainstream conservative critics of the Bush immigration bill are right-liberals who fully embrace our non-discriminatory mass legal immigration policy and only object to the current bill because of its failure to stop illegal immigration and its outrageously fraudulent claims that it does so.

Comparing such people to the backers of the Chinese Exclusion Act is not just PC, it is ultra super PC. Yet the swipe is aimed by a Republican administration at its own supporters.

Why the extreme name-calling? I’ve said it over and over. The open-borderites see this immigration bill as their big chance to bust the country wide open and destroy the last effective resistance to the racial diversification and de-Europeanization of America, making it a truly “good” country (in liberal terms) for the first time. Supporters of the bill feel this so passionately that they view any opposition to the bill as anti-American and racist.

Still, imagine how you would feel if you were the Powerline guys, having given your all to Bush year in, year out, and then being treated like this. I’d be more than mildly and politely displeased. I would be outraged.

Yet Paul’s habit of reflexive Bush-defense is such that he entitles his article: “Conservatives demonized by unlikely source.”

If Paul believes that the Bush team is an unlikely source for the demonization of conservatives then he has evidently forgotten, inter alia:

  • Bush and Rice’s repeated statement that anyone who doubts the likelihood of Muslim democratization is condescending and racist.

  • Bush and White House repeatedly saying in recent years that any opposition to his open borders policy was driven by xenophobia and resentment

  • Bush standing next to Fox and saying that the Minutemen were “vigilantes.”

  • Mrs. Bush saying that the conservative opposition to Harriet Miers was anti-woman.

Bush’s specialty has been to show shocking contempt for his conservative base; it is his most original contribution to politics. But such is Paul’s devotion to Bush that he forgets all of Bush’s previous offenses against conservatives, even in the act of announcing, with some dignity, that he will henceforth ignore the statements of a White House that insult his character and intelligence.

On the substantive side of the issue, Paul does a good job of critiquing Gerson’s article, but his own position is contradictory. First he says he would support amnesty if real enforcement were demonstrated. But then he says:

I find it difficult to believe that the infusion of millions of low-skilled, poorly educated individuals into the electorate will be good for the conservative cause. It has never before been good for American conservatives, and I doubt things will work out better for conservatives in our modern entitlement-oriented, group victim mentality society.

If Paul feels this way, how can he support any amnesty? More importantly, how can he support the continuing influx of one million or more legal immigrants per year, hundreds of thousands of whom are low-skilled and poorly educated? Is he not aware that even if there were no illegal immigration at all, the current legal immigration would still be turning us increasingly into a low-skilled, Third-World type society and thus dooming conservatism?

* * *

The Religious Fanaticism at the Core of the Open-Borders Movement

Paul of Powerline is especially astute in responding to Gerson’s argument that Hispanics are good for America because they are more religious and family-oriented (though in fact, Mexicans have higher illegitimacy rates than non-Hispanic whites, a point Paul fails to make).

Gerson writes:

… religion adds an element beyond politics and culture to the immigration debate. The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. That all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone; and all in need of amnesty. This belief does not dictate certain policies in a piece of legislation, but it does forbid rage and national chauvinism. And this is worth a reminder as well.

To which Paul replies:

Now I’m as good a “Christianist” as the next Jewish Republican conservative, but I suspect Gerson is placing too much weight on religion here. The belief that matters most for purposes of this debate is not religious belief, but civic belief—not belief in God but belief in our institutions and love for our country. It is the latter kind of thinking, and only such thinking, that will result in successful assimilation. I’m not fully competent to assess the prospects here, but the anecdotal evidence doesn’t seem too favorable. In any case, Gerson’s argument from religion is unpersuasive.

That is an excellent answer, but there is more to say on the subject. Gerson’s remark, “The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality,” can only be understood to mean that in any real-life trade-off, our common humanity trumps national borders. Indeed, just as Bush says that “Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,” meaning (what else can it mean?) that we can’t exclude people with families from America, Gerson says that our common humanity is more important than our nationality, meaning (what else can it mean?) that we can’t exclude anyone from America, period. When we remember that Gerson has been Bush’s principal speechwriter and thought-shaper over the course of his presidency (I especially hear echoes of Bush’s victimology-soaked first inaugural address in Gerson’s above paragraph), we gain an insight into Bush’s mind that goes beyond his generic Christianity, his neoconservative universalism, and his affection for his Mexican-American retainers. It is the specific idea, expressed in squishy and syrupy yet ruthless and totalistic terms, that we are all human, we are all sinners, and no one can be kept out. And if not keeping anyone out means that nationhood must go, then it must go.

This is the belief system that drives Bush and many others, including many “conservative” evangelicals. And this is why all the real-world arguments about the pros and cons of immigration are wasted on the immigration proponents. They don’t care about how the open-borders project will affect America, because they don’t care about America. America serves a purely subordinate and instrumental role in their scheme of things. Membership in America—or rather America itself, with all its goods, all its greatness, everything it has every been—is the value that we hand over to non-Americans, especially to nonwhites, and by handing it over to them, we demonstrate our belief that our common humanity is more important than our nationality.

Given the predominance of this belief system among the immigration proponents, whether it is expressed in religious or democratic-universalist terms, nothing can be more important for immigration realists than to understand How Liberal Christianity Promotes Open Borders and One-Worldism.

* * *

A friend adds a further point. The syrupy yet totalitarian Christianity I have described could not by itself have become the basis for the open borders ideology, because it lacks any political, civic, or patriotic dimension that would make it a part of a recognizable American identity. Therefore an additional element had to be combined with it. And this was neoconservatism, the belief in the equal individual rights of all humans as the ruling principle of America and ultimately of the world. The trick of course is that this neoconservatism is in reality profoundly anti-national, since it defines America as a universalist idea that must dissolve America as a historical and particular nation. Nevertheless, patriotic universalists such as McCain and Giuliani see the universalization of America as the very fulfillment of America, and its prospect stirs their patriotic fervor in terms that are recognizably American, though, as I said, what they are actually celebrating is the destruction of America. Of course they don’t see it as a destruction, because to them the particular America is not the real America but a dark excrescence that must be cleared away in order for the the real America to come into being. This muscular, universalist, civic idea of America, in alliance with the sickly-sweet, liberal-Christian, sentimental feeling that our common humanity is more important than our nationality,-that we’re all in need of amnesty and no one can be kept out, is the basis of the open borders creed.

- end of initial entry -

David G. writes:

I read your post today with some misgivings about religious Christians. To themselves they speak of “utopia” and to the rest of America they claim to support “just one more amnesty”. It seems that many of those who support open borders are therefore consciously lying to their fellow Americans. A very un-Christian thing to do.

LA replies:

Except that I don’t know that people like Michael Gerson are even bothering to say “just one more amnesty.” I think they are pretty open about the fact that unconditional openness to all of humanity is their standard and their goal.

When we see the unprecedented attacks by the pro-amnesty conservatives like Gerson and Chavez on conservative critics of amnesty, as xenophobes, haters, etc., there is no way that that position can be reduced to “We think they’re xenophobes because they oppose one last amnesty.” What makes our side xenophobes is that we oppose SOME openness to legal and illegal immigrants—in short, that we are not unconditionally open to all of humanity. Based on the arguments of the people crying “xenophobia, if a person had supported every open borders idea up to this moment, and only opposed the latest open borders idea, that would be enough to make him a xenophobe. If he supported two million immigrants a year, but balked at three million, that would make him a xenophobe. If he supported three million immigrants a year, but balked at four million, that would make him a xenophobe.

Given how sweeping the xenophobe charge is, it would be hard to argue that it is restricted only to people who oppose “one last amnesty.”

Regarding your misgivings about religious Christians, remember that the issue here is liberal Christians. The media distort this issue greatly. They speak of evangelicals as though they were conservatives. Many evangelicals are liberals. Their belief system is not based in objective and traditional Christian teaching but in a personalistic emotionalism, such as we see in Pres. Bush.

Yes, the dominant beliefs in mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism today are liberal-Christian. But there are significant minorities in those communities resisting that.

It’s a tough issue. On one side, the West largely is Christianity and cannot survive without it. On the other hand, as I have written, organized Christianity as it currently exists is an enemy to Western society. But of course Western society as it currently exists is an enemy to Western society. That’s what it means, after all, to say that the West is committing suicide. In any case, there can be no recovery for the West without a recovery of Christianity.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 26, 2007 02:09 PM | Send

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