Where Dalrymple is really coming from on immigration
For many years I have been writing about the “conservatives” who endlessly moan and groan about the cultural changes taking place in the West due to multiculturalism and the growth among us of alien and even hostile cultures, such as Islam, but who remain silent about the indiscriminate mass immigration that has brought and is still bringing those cultures here. The British essayist Theodore Dalrymple is pre-eminent among such “conservatives,” both in the portentousness of his moaning and groaning, and in the profundity of his silence. In his current article at City Journal, which we also discussed here, he finally explains his position on immigration, and it is most revealing.
Apart from any such reticence that intellectuals have managed to inculcate in me, I admit to an ambivalence about the unprecedented diversity of British society. True, one feels a certain exhilaration seeing people of so many different origins going about their business in apparent peace. You find Indian shops specializing in Polish provisions. Young women in Somali costume speak English with broad regional accents. Popular music of many regions of the world—all of it much less horrible than its British or American equivalent—emerges from shops selling exotic produce. The peaceful mixture is a reassurance that our society is indeed open, flexible, and tolerant. And whatever other effects that the influx of people from every corner of the world may have had, it has dramatically improved the quality of food available in Britain.So it devolves down into the usual story. Dalrymple, whose real name is Anthony Daniels, and whose mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany and presumably Jewish, states that because his family came to Britain as immigrants or refugees, which saved them from Hitler, therefore he must support the continued open immigration to Britain of all immigrant groups in the world, including Jew-hating Muslims. This is of course the standard Jewish liberal/neocon line on immigration. No other ethnic group treats their own persecuted and immigrant background as a moral mandate to support all future immigration to the extent that Jews do.
Here’s what I wrote about this phenomenon in my 1997 booklet Huddled Cliches (which you can order here, and which will soon be available free online):
“As descendants of immigrants, it would be selfish and immoral of us to support immigration restrictions.”People who make the Dalrymple-type argument discussed above feel they are taking a moral, high-minded stand. But what they are really saying is that, though born in a certain country, they identify more with immigrants and the immigrant experience than with the people of that country. On a gut level, they see themselves as immigrants rather than as natives. I am not projecting this attitude onto them, I am listening to what they are saying about themselves. Citizens of a country who tell us up front that their family’s immigrant background requires them take a position on immigration that is based not on the national good, but on an uncritical embrace of the desires of foreigners to immigrate, have placed themselves outside that country and thus disqualified themselves from having their views taken seriously in that country’s immigration debate. A nation’s immigration laws are the most fundamental laws it can have, determining its very identity and destiny as a nation. It is self-evident that people whose primary loyalty is to foreigners and prospective immigrants rather than to their own country should not be allowed to participate in the determination of those laws.
Finally, let us return to Dalrymple’s remark in which, speaking for himself and apparently for all immigrants, he says: “It is clearly possible and even common for immigrants and their descendants to become deeply attached to the culture and institutions of the country that has preserved them from a terrible fate.” I have two comments on this. First, Britain is obviously not preserving millions of Asian and African immigrants from mass murder, it’s just letting them in so that they can have a nicer and more interesting life in Britain than they could have in their native country. Dalrymple’s comment shows the pronounced Jewish tendency (which Jewish writers themselves frequently boast of) to see all minorities and immigrants through the filter of the Jewish experience, an approach that grossly distorts reality.
Second, let us note that Dalrymple is suggesting that he himself is deeply attached to the culture and institutions of the country that preserved his mother from a terrible fate and allowed him to be born. But, ironically, how does he express that attachment? Though his narcissistic declaration that he supports the right of everyone in the world to come to Britain so that they can enjoy the “immense advantages that I have enjoyed”—an open-borders policy that consigns Britain to inevitable national extinction. With an “attachment” like this, who needs enemies?
Indeed, lIke Norman Podhoretz in his inadvertently revealing My Love Affair with America, Dalrymple does not love his country as a native and a countryman loves it, because it’s lovable and because it’s his; he loves it because he’s gotten nice things from it, and so he feels obligated to assist everyone else in the world to have those nice things as well.
The rest of Dalrymple’s article is not about immigration, but about the different ways that Britain and France deal with immigrants. Here is his conclusion:
The solution (for which it may now be too late, despite post-London-bombing genuflections on the part of then-prime minister Tony Blair and then-chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown in the direction of the very national values they had done so much previously to undermine) would be a combination of French cultural robustness with British economic flexibility: something like the American ideal of the melting pot, in fact, which relied (and, to some degree, relies still) on a clear idea of what it means to be an American, combined with economic openness. The British notion that economic opportunity without a shared culture will result in a flourishing society is whistling in the wind; while the French idea that it is enough to teach Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity while obstructing the possibility of real economic advancement is asking for trouble.In other words, he’s suggesting a variant on the usual neocon folderol—which was folderol fifteen years ago yet is still being emitted today—about the need to make greater efforts to “assimilate” the immigrants, which is a mere slogan adding up to nothing real, even as he completely accepts the immigration itself and the ongoing racial and cultural transformation of Britain.
Alex K. writes:
“… he’s suggesting a variant on the usual neocon folderol—which was folderol fifteen years ago yet is still being emitted today—about the need to make greater efforts to “assimilate” the immigrants”Terry Morris writes:
You wrote:E. from Florida writes (May 29):
I like Dalrymple’s writing. He’s a great essayist. I didn’t read every word you wrote here, but he’s now residing in France, not England, despite the very English pen name. He gave up his prison physician position about three years ago and moved to France. He stated a reason for the move at the time, but I forget what it was.LA replies:
Yes he writes well. But to what effect? Where does it all go to? To NOWHERE. There’s no point in anything he says other than to affect some high-toned sense of impending doom. And the neocons at Manhattan Institute and its publication City Journal love him because they love it when anyone says that Europe is a mess and is going down the tubes, implying that America is just great.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 27, 2008 02:23 PM | Send