Obama election opens window on racial reality of immigration

It is being said openly in a major liberal paper: Obama’s victory was made possible by the 1965 Immigration Reform Act. It was the 1965 Act that opened U.S. immigration on an equal basis to every country on earth, changing America from a country that was 89 percent white in 1960 to a country that is 65 percent white today.

Peter Canellos writes in the Boston Globe:

… But the greatest Kennedy legacy to Obama isn’t Ted or Caroline or Bobby Jr., but rather the Immigration Act of 1965, which created the diverse country that is already being called Obama’s America.

That act is rarely mentioned when recounting the high points of 1960s liberalism, but its impact arguably rivals the Voting Rights Act, the creation of Medicare, or other legislative landmarks of the era. It transformed a nation 85 percent white in 1965 into one that’s one-third minority today, and on track for a nonwhite majority by 2042.

Before the act, immigration visas were apportioned based on the demographic breakdown that existed at the time of the 1920 Census—meaning that there were few if any limits on immigrants from Western and Northern Europe, but strict quotas on those from elsewhere.

The belief that the United States should remain a nation of European lineage was openly discussed when immigration laws were revisited in 1952. The resulting bill, the McCarran-Walter Act, was notorious for giving the State Department the right to exclude visitors for ideological reasons, meaning that a raft of left-wing artists and writers—including Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, British novelist Graham Greene—and scores of others were denied visas. But it also had the effect of maintaining the 1920s-era notion of the United States as a white nation. (Congress imposed the bill over President Truman’s veto.)

A decade later, attitudes were changing, and President Kennedy proposed a new immigration structure that would no longer be based on national origins. After Kennedy’s assassination, his brother Ted took up the fight, pushing the Johnson administration to go even further than it wanted in evening the playing field. Though Lyndon Johnson, in signing the bill, tried to reassure opponents that it wouldn’t do much to change the balance of immigration, its impact was dramatic.

In the 1950s, 53 percent of all immigrants were Europeans and just 6 percent were Asians; by the 1990s, just 16 percent were Europeans and 31 percent were Asians. The percentages of Latino and African immigrants also jumped significantly.

Simon Rosenberg, president of the liberal think tank NDN, formerly the New Democrat Network, calls the Immigration Act of 1965 “the most important piece of legislation that no one’s ever heard of,” and said it “set America on a very different demographic course than the previous 300 years.”

Of course, it’s not exactly true that “no one’s ever heard of” the 1965 Act. Immigration restrictionists and many people on the right, including readers of this website, have heard about it. I first learned about it because, one day in 1982, in a single, awful instant, I realized that the increase of nonwhite minorities in America was not, as I had complacently believed up to that point, an interesting sprinkling around the edges of our society, but was part of a process leading to the marginalization and ultimately the end of white America, the end of everything we have been and everything we are, and, if the same were to happen in Europe, the terminus of 5,000 years of white civilization, the terminus of the white race itself as a force in history. I was overcome with horror by what I saw and began reading up on how this disaster had happened. At the New York Public Library, I found a volume containing the transcripts of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration’s hearings on the 1965 Immigration Reform Act. I read much of the volume, taking notes. The result was the first chapter of my 1990 booklet, The Path to National Suicide: An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism, which you can read online here.

But while immigration restrictionists know about the nation-killing law of 1965, Simon Rosenberg’s point is correct that most people haven’t the foggiest notion of it. Amazing as this is, it is still the case, as I wrote in The Path to National Suicide, that for most white Americans, it’s as though the transformation of America into a nonwhite country “were a kind of vast natural phenomenon, as far outside of human control as continental drift.” During the 1980s, before I had written anything on the subject, I would ride on the subway, see the staggering changes of New York’s population, then look at the faces of whites on the subway and wonder, “Don’t they see it too? How can they not see it? Their country is changing from a white country to a nonwhite country before their eyes and they don’t see, they don’t care, they don’t ask how this could have happened?”

In the Introduction to The Path to National Suicide, I wrote:

This curious inhibition [on discussing immigration] stems, of course, from a paralyzing fear of the charge of “racism.” The very manner in which the issue is framed—as a matter of equal rights and the blessings of diversity on one side, versus “racism” on the other—tends to cut off all rational discourse on the subject. One can only wonder what would happen if the proponents of open immigration allowed the issue to be discussed, not as a moralistic dichotomy, but in terms of its real consequences. Instead of saying: “We believe in the equal and unlimited right of all people to immigrate to the U.S. and enrich our land with their diversity,” what if they said: “We believe in an immigration policy which must result in a staggering increase in our population, a revolution in our culture and way of life, and the gradual submergence of our current population by Hispanic and Caribbean and Asian peoples.” Such frankness would open up an honest debate between those who favor a radical change in America’s ethnic and cultural identity and those who think this nation should preserve its way of life and its predominant, European-American character. That is the actual choice—as distinct from the theoretical choice between “equality” and “racism”—that our nation faces. But the tyranny of silence has prevented the American people from freely making that choice.

… Let us prove our faith in democracy: If the American people truly want to change their historic European-rooted civilization into a Latin-Caribbean-Asian “multi-culture,” then let them debate and approve that proposition through an informed political process, as befits a free people. And if Americans do not want their society to change in such a revolutionary manner, then let them revise their immigration laws accordingly. But let the debate occur.

The U.S. is no closer to such a debate today than it was in 1990 when those words were published. Perhaps the discovery, by both liberals (who are celebrating it) and mainstream conservatives (who go into a mental haze about it—see this), that Obama’s election has been made possible by the immigration-driven de-Europeanization of America, and that his election is also a signal of much more radical changes to come, will finally make whites realize that race does matter, that the race and culture of the millions we have admitted and are admitting into this country are changing us into a different country, and that it is moral, right, and necessary that we talk about whether we want to continue in this direction.

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QR writes:

You wrote: “But while immigration restrictionists know about the nation-killing law of 1965, Simon Rosenberg’s point is correct that most people haven’t the foggiest notion of it.”

That’s true. I wasn’t very politically informed until this past decade. My instincts were always traditionalist, so I knew even when I was very young that the newspapers and newscasts were full of misdirection, but back then I didn’t know how to find out what I really wanted to know. I remember how disappointed I was the first time I got a chance to vote that none of the articles I read seemed to talk about any issue that I cared about. Now I know that very few things I want to see done are even on the table.

After 9/11/01, I decided to get informed. I started by reading mainstream conservative websites, like townhall and frontpage, etc. The information these sites contained, especially about recent history, was a revelation to me. It shouldn’t have been, it should have been common knowledge, but our schools and the MSM have made sure that it isn’t.

Of course, by now I’ve learned about a great many equally important things that those Republican sites don’t touch on, or only rarely. The Immigration Act is one of those things. A few months ago Ann Coulter mentioned it. It was the first I had heard of it.

I can only gather that the generation that declared “Never trust anyone over 30” is now trying to prove that they were right.

QR writes (November 16):

I see you posted my remark about the Immigration Act. You know, the day after I learned about it, I woke up at 4 am—that’s many hours before I normally rise—and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had that same kind of feeling you have when you’re a kid and wake up after watching a scary movie, sure that the cats fighting outside are actually werewolves. Yeah, it was several days before I had a good night’s sleep again.

LA replies:

Not that I want to see anyone suffering, but it’s good you had that reaction. It shows you’re alive. That’s what I went through too, as I talked about above.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 12, 2008 12:42 AM | Send

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