At Corner immigration debate, J-Pod says lack of mass immigration deepened the Great Depression

Gerald M. writes:

What’s going on over at The Corner is not a debate—a debate requires two sides. Here we have one side—Derbyshire and Krikorian—who are attempting to debate (with reasoned argument, facts and statistics) an ignorant verbal thug—Podhoretz—who (having no real arguments, but plenty of hatred for his opponents) responds with slander, smears, guilt by association, and outright lies.

I’ve read a lot of books about the Great Depression over the years, including ones by Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, and (most recently) Amity Shlaes. Nowhere did any of the authors (or anyone else) claim that immigration restriction, “…deepened, lengthened and made [the depression] much more severe…” Podhoretz thinks he can get away with this by calling immigration restriction a tariff, knowing it’s accepted that the Smoot—Haley Tariff of 1930 did make things worse. What a pathetic argument.

But at the end of this post, outdoing himself, Podhoretz makes what may be described as a blood libel against all Americans who supported the immigration restriction laws of the early 1920’s.


Weasel Words [John Podhoretz]

No, Derb, I don’t consider the “illegal” in “illegal immigration” a weasel word—you do. I admit to having altered my view on the Bush proposal and others like it because of the strength of the arguments about the enormity of the illegal-immigration problem.

But the thing is, you acted to me in debate four years ago as though your problem was with its illegality when, in truth, it’s the immigration you oppose. And that is disingenuous, pure and simple. As for Mark Krikorian, I take him at his word that he has long opposed immigration in all its forms—but again, this does mean that, like you, his opposition to “illegal immigration” is far less about the first word in the phrase than it is about the second. And that, I am happy to say, is so far from where American popular opinion is on the matter that it does suggest you are residing on the intellectual margin rather than in the policy mainstream.

That’s no criticism in itself—principled stands often force us to occupy unpopular positions. Just a note about the American perspective on its own history as a nation of immigrants (there, I said it, Mark; I know you hate it; but it is, O descendant of Izmir).

As for the Great Pause you admire so much, Derb, I consider it unmitigatedly a Great Disaster. The Great Depression was deepened, lengthened and made much more severe by the use of tariffs. That is not a matter of controversy. Restrictive immigration laws were the first tariffs imposed by this country in the 1920s, and like all tariff policies, they had terrible unintended consequences for the American economy and for the world—in the form of millions who perished in gas chambers, some of whom might have been saved from them under a different immigration regime.

I have no idea who Ralph is, Derb, but I’ll say hello to him when I see him. Say hello to Jared.

10/19 09:24 AM


What a wretched excuse for a man.

LA replies:

I’ve never seen anyone suggest that mass immigration would improve an economy in the midst of a depression. In fact, even under the restricted numbers that were allowed in the 1930s, immigrants stopped coming to the U.S. because of the Depression. A person would have to be an idiot to say that in a time of radically reduced wages and 25 percent unemployment, large scale immigration would help the economy. As I keep pointing out, every time J-Pod speaks about any subject beyond television (the only subject he really knows and cares about), he lets loose a jaw-dropping whopper.

That this thug and jerk is going to be the editor of Commentary is not real, it’s like something taking place in a phantasmagorical novel.

Also, isn’t it remarkable, that Norman P., who grew up in poverty in Brooklyn, became a normal American, while his son, born in 1961 of successful parents, has a life-long huge chip on his shoulder against America?

Gintas writes:

The enormity of what is happening is not just phantasmagoric, it’s Kafkaesque, because there are clearly malignant elements at work here.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Is Podhoretz claiming in seriousness that it would have been a great salve to the American economy to flood it with poor, unemployed, low-skilled, non-English-speaking people and sign them up for the New Deal? That millions more poor people was exactly what we needed in 1934? What sheer madness. He does violence to the very possibility of reasoned debate by making such claims, which I suspect is the point.

LA replies:

That is a great insight. His jaw-dropping gaffes and absurd arguments are as destructive of debate as his bullyboy manners and ad hominem attacks. In other words, the new editor of Commentary is an intellectual vandal.

Let us thank Neil Kozodoy, Norman Podhoretz (who surely had input), and whoever else was involved in this horrific decision, which is an act of vandalism against America.

How ironic, that in the twilight of his years, this is the way Norman P. expresses his “love affair for America.” This is his ultimate legacy. It’s like the intellectual emperor Marcus Aurelius appointing his degenerate thuggish son Commodus as his successor.

Kevin V. writes:

About the Corner debate, two things struck me this morning:

First, setting aside the Great Depression idiocy, Podhoretz has now advanced direct American culpability in the Holocaust due to our immigration policies.

Second, note that after Derbyshire challenged Podhoretz to back up his assertion that Derbyshire had feigned opposition to only illegal immigration as cover for his opposition to all immigration by referring Podhoretz to his internet site, where all his collected works are kept, Podhoretz’ next response stated in effect, that he may be mistaken and that that post was his last word on the matter.

What a buffoon this man is.

LA replies:

Yes, he’s not exactly a thug. More like half-thug, half-buffoon. But then again, so was Commodus.

Sebastian writes:

I was initially annoyed at your posting on the situation at NRO, but now I understand. I grew up admiring William Buckley and half hoping to someday write for his distinguished journal. After reading the entire exchange on immigration you posted, I would not bother to engage with or respond to the adolescents who run that magazine today. I had no idea how far it had declined! It’s like watching a semi-literate evangelical from a store-front church edit Aquinas. It isn’t only the flight from conservatism but from any meaningful dialogue or criticism. Any old, high Leftist intellectual was more informed by history, literature and philosophy than today’s NR. I get more out of Granta reprints from the seventies. I feel somehow abandoned, as if betrayed by someone I thought a friend or ally. I now understand your exasperation at “J-Pod’s” (that alone) ascendancy. Wow!

LA replies:

But weren’t Krikorian and Derbyshire making good arguments (as I’ve said, Derbyshire though not a conservative will continue to say useful things about immigration from time to time)? You make it sound as though everyone was on a low level of debate, rather than just J-Pod.

C. writes:

There weren’t even many immigrants clamoring to get in during the Thirties, as Steve Malanga has pointed out, because there was not enough work! There were refugees, of course, and that is what John P is really thinking about.

Steven Warshawsky writes:

My understanding (however limited) is that the Great Depression was primarily a monetary phenomenon. That is, the collapse of the money supply (e.g., widespread bank closures, the Fed’s tight money policy) brought the commercial economy to a halt. The problem was not a lack of labor or resources or factories or productive capacity—as we saw once the government started pumping cash into the economy with defense-related spending. Money is the mechanism of exchange that greases the workings of the market. True, too much (or too fast an increase) in the money supply degrades the integrity of the money supply and reduces purchasing power (i.e., inflation). But a money supply that is too small renders commercial operations difficult or impossible. Podhoretz’s point about tariffs is pertinent to the extent that tariffs caused a reduction in overall economic activity, which had further negative effects on the money supply. The economy went into depression, in short, because people stopped engaging in robust economic activity, which largely was due to a collapsing money supply. The lack of mass immigration had nothing to do with the Great Depression. Again, the American economy boomed during World War Two, despite essentially no immigration during those years.

This display of ignorance and arrogance by one of the supposedly leading intellectuals of our day (isn’t that what being editor of Commentary signifies?) is truly amazing.

N. writes:

It seems obvious in light of the last exchange that John Podhoretz sees all immigration issues, and possibly all issues, through the lens of his religion. He clearly is blaming the 1920s restriction for the deaths of Jewish people in Europe, for example, with his line about “perished in gas chambers.” So it was, to him, the responsibility of the United States to protect and succor Jewish people from Europe then and apparently today as well. No matter that the restriction was good for America, it wasn’t good for John Podhoretz’s tribe, therefore it was a bad thing a priori.

One cannot help but observe that this mindset holds the good of one group of people above the good of the United States. While it is not unique to John Podhoretz and his tribe, to be sure, one finds this mindset all over the place irrespective of religion, skin color, etc. the fact remains that ravings such as Podhoretz have written in the Corner are fuel for the ravings of anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists and propagandists.

LA writes:

He’s going to see every immigration issue through the filter of the Holocaust. Once again, Hitler, dead for 62 years, seems to be the master spirit of our age. He half destroyed civilization through Nazism, and now the job is being completed by means of the hyper liberalism which is a reaction to Nazism.

Bob Vandervoort writes:

I enjoyed reading the end of your post, about how JPod sees everything through the lens of a resurgent Hitler and Holocaust emerging somewhere.

“He’s going to see every immigration issue through the filter of the Holocaust. Once again, Hitler, dead for 62 years, seems to be the master spirit of our age. He half destroyed civilization through Nazism, and now the job is being completed by means of the hyper liberalism which is a reaction to Nazism.”

Which makes me ponder, as I occasionally have, how do we defeat these far-flung arguments that emerge on both the anti-white left and anti-white (or at a minimum race-neutral) right? In the case of JPod, he’s clearly part of the anti-white right.

Sensible race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists of good will are always having these arguments thrown back at us: this leads to Hitler! You would have supported slavery! Etc.

You note WWII has been over for more than 60 years, yet it still haunts and limits our perspectives on things. This is not likely to change in the near future. Consider the War Between the States—this war has been over since 1865, and yet it still rages on. The South, and all whites are still put on the defenseive by the issue of slavery that surrounded it.

Our side still hasn’t come up with decent arguments to counter it, or so it seems.

LA replies:

The problem Mr. V. points to is real and fundamental. As I’ve said many times, we cannot successfully counter those modern liberal arguments that are aimed at crippling us unless we ourselves stand on ground separate from modern liberalism and redefine the premises of the discussion in non-liberal terms. So long as we accept the liberal premises, the liberals win.

What I am speaking of is not a justification of slavery, but a race-realist argument based on a sympathetic understanding of the real dilemma faced by the Americans living at the time, which no one had a solution to. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, any conservative politics that shies away from the reality of race differences is not a serious conservative politics, because it will always be steamrolled by the demonizing liberal arguments to which Mr. V. is referring. The test of an effective traditionalist is that the person is no longer intimidated by the racism charge, and has an effective and moral answer to it (not an amoral answer, like much of the white right).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 19, 2007 12:59 PM | Send

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