The shocking truth: To assimilate into America means to accept the laws and culture of white people

(Note: this was originally posted May 28.)

That it is not to say America is only for White Europeans. But it is to say that America is only for people who are willing—without question or complaint—to live under laws written by White Europeans.
— VFR commenter Joseph C., in this entry

Larry G. writes:

I just noticed Joseph C’s comment in the Sonia Sotomayor thread, your reply to him, and his followup comment. All three are jewels. The two of you should consider expanding this into a joint essay and publishing it.

Since Joseph’s comments go well beyond the topic of Sotomayor, I’m copying the exchange here. (My initial reply to Joseph is the same comment that a Randian blogger said was the definitive proof that I’m a racist, as discussed here.)

Joseph C. writes:

The abomination of Sonia Sotamayor to the Supreme Court, while disturbing, is not surprising to anyone who has followed Barack Hussein Obama’s career path and paid attention to his statements. What does surprise me is how the Republicans are “shocked, shocked” at some of her views.

The error that many faux conservatives make is one of omission. They state that a judge should apply “the law” evenly, that a judge should “interpret the Constitution” impartially, should not read their personal preferences into “our jurisprudence.” Of course, they never complete the thought—whether discussing affirmative action, judicial philosophy, etc.

The missing part of the statement, which many “conservatives” believe goes without saying, is that “the law,” “the Constitution” and “our jurisprudence” does not exist in a vacuum. It is the product of an Anglo Saxon culture from the dawn of the American Revolution times. Sadly, this does not go without saying, because unless it is said—and said again and again and again and again—it will not be understood. And true conservatives should not only state this but embrace it.

Yes, the role of an American judge is to interpret laws according to the Constitution—the Constitution written by white Anglo Saxon Protestant Northern Europeans in the 1700s. Yes, judges should apply the law—the law as written by white Anglo Saxon Protestant Northern Europeans in the 1700s, and as subsequently amended by a more diverse (but still predominantly white ) majority culture. True, a judge’s personal preferences have no place in our jurisprudence—meaning that nobody is qualified to be a judge if they are not going to follow the jurisprudence established by white Anglo Saxon Protestant Northern Europeans in the 1700s and maintained by a white majority culture.

When Obama speaks of “empathy,” what he really means is he wants a judge who will not be bound by a white man’s Constitution. In his words, he wants someone who understands what it is like to be a single mom, a minority, gay, handicapped, etc. What this translates into is that Obama wants a judge who knows what it is like to be a minority in a culture ruled by a majority, and will interpret the law from the viewpoint of a minority. Someone who will ignore the rules because they do not feel bound to uphold the white man’s rules. And when liberals speak of “institutional racism,” what they mean is that it is not enough for everyone to be judged equally according to “the law” because “the law” was written by only one segment of the population (in this case, white Anglo Saxon Protestant Northern Europeans in the 1700s).

Earlier in this thread, Larry G. asks:

“What exactly is this ‘richness of [Latina] experiences’ of which she speaks? Being beaten by a husband? Being impregnated and abandoned by a boyfriend who also molested her daughter? Living ten persons to an apartment with relatives who all entered the U.S. illegally? Failing an employment test and knowing—just knowing—that she was rejected because of her race, and not because she couldn’t correctly answer most of the questions? Or does it all come from knowing how to make enchiladas for dinner?”

The answer is—all that and more. Her experience consists solely of being a non-white viewing the law written by white people through the prism of a non-white. That was her prime qualification. In fact, I would guess it was her only qualification.

If there is one question worth asking this cretin during her confirmation hearings, it is this: “Judge Sotamayor, you took an oath to uphold our Constitution. That Constitution was written by people of a different gender, background, and experience than your own. Do you feel that you could uphold laws written by people so different from you, regardless of the impact of those laws on you and people like you? Do you, a resident of a white majority culture, feel obligated to uphold laws written by dead, rich white men, even though you are not white nor a man?”

LA replies:

This is an original comment. Many conservatives would be horrified by Joseph’s argument, and would cry out, “Our law has nothing to do with race!” But Joseph is not saying that our law has to do with race. He’s saying that the left and the minorities are saying that the law has to do with race. He’s saying that they are hostile to our laws and Constitution, and seek to overturn our laws and Constitution, because our laws and Constitution were written by white men.

His comment thus brilliantly pinpoints the combination of concrete particularism and neutral proceduralism that characterizes America. Yes, this country was formed by whites—specifically Anglo-Saxon Protestant men. And they formed, over generations, an impersonal, non-tribal justice system under which people of all backgrounds would be treated equally under the law. But the fact that the law is procedurally neutral and race-blind, doesn’t mean that the conditions that allow for such a system to exist are race blind. Change America into a brown and black country, and that new population will not only not have much regard for that impersonal, non-tribal system of justice, because they themselves are tribal, but they will seek to overthrow that system of justice, along with all other historical aspects of America, because they were made by whites whom the nonwhites are now replacing. From which it follows that to maintain its universalist and impersonal system of justice, America must remain a particularist, predominantly white country.

Joseph C. replies to LA:

Thank you—as always—for your kind words.

Though my comment deals with the Sotomayor nomination and what it says about America as a white majority culture, it is—in a larger sense—relevant to all cultures. Any peoples that form a society will as their first order of business establish rules and customs which govern that society. At bottom, all societies are institutions whereby people come together and agree—voluntarily—to be bound by certain laws and customs. This is true of Europeans in Americans, villages in China, tribes in Africa, English in Australia, etc.

As peoples migrate—either in search of opportunity or to escape undesirable conditions in their fatherland—they find themselves in other societies, societies which were created by peoples different from them. In some cases, very different. They soon find their options limited because they are being forced—in the words of Obama—to “play on another man’s court by another man’s rules.” Eventually, when they are joined by enough of their own kind, they form their own alliances and start agitating for change, meaning that the host society—which they voluntarily joined—should change its rules and customs to allow them to achieve equality of result. They are not willing to be judged by the same laws as everyone else, because those laws work to the advantage of the majority population.

In more backward societies, their claims are either ignored or rudely suppressed. In advanced societies—like the U.S. and other Western nations—their claims find a sympathetic ear among the existing majority. The majority goes along at first to maintain comity, but eventually the demands become so great—and the population so diverse—that the majority surrenders its very identity.

I do not say this to argue for the primacy of one culture. Indeed, I acknowledge that any outsiders would find themselves at a disadvantage trying to advance in an alien culture. Imagine, for example, if a person from a middle class background in Western European country, or a Japanese businessman, were transported to Tanzania, given a wooden spear, and asked to take down a Cape Buffalo. They wouldn’t last five minutes—not because they are inferior or stupid, but because their background was ill-suited to hunting the most vicious animal on the planet. What would they do? Form a political action committee and ask the tribal elders to give them a head start, on the grounds that it would be unfair to expect them to hunt as well as the native? Ask the Cape Buffalo to give them one free shot? If that sounds ridiculous, imagine how ridiculous I think it sounds when I hear people—of any background—complain that the American culture reflects a white, male, European perspective.

I have often heard liberals complain that “the law” is an artificial social construct, erected by the majority to suppress those out of power. And to that I say “of course. All societies choose how to govern themselves, and it is entirely proper that those choices will reflect the preferences of those that established the society in the first place. In America, that is the Anglo Saxon, Protestant, Northern European culture. ” (As an aside, I write this as a non-Anglo Saxon Catholic.) The existing population built the society, wrote its laws, established its customs, and in many cases they (or their ancestors) fought and died in its wars. Who else has any right to decide how that society should be governed?

I firmly believe that people have a right to govern themselves as they see fit—and, to expect others who join their society to consent to be governed by their rules, no questions asked. Even blacks, many (though not all) of whom came to the U.S. involuntarily, owe their ultimate freedom and subsequent advancement to the values of the white majority American culture. Certainly anyone else who comes here—for whatever reason—should be bound by our culture. That it is not to say America is only for White Europeans. But it is to say that America is only for people who are willing—without question or complaint—to live under laws written by White Europeans. And, accordingly, the immigration debate will always have a racialist component. Demography is destiny—and in a representative society with universal suffrage the only way to maintain one’s culture is to limit membership to those who are naturally inclined to the culture in the first place.

To put the question to the neo-cons and love-the-world Americans bluntly: Do you really believe that you can allow anyone in the world to come to America, given them the right to vote, and that they will continue to elect politicians that enforce the cultures and standards of White Europeans? Larry, what would horrify many conservative about my comment would not be the racial aspect, even if they understood the impersonal justice that I advocate. What horrifies them is the term “our culture.” Liberals (and most conservatives) do not believe any society has a right to exist, that any people has a right to call a part of the earth “theirs,” to write laws, exclude others, etc. They understand the implications of my posting all too well. THAT is what troubles them.

LA writes (May 28):

Here I think is the key passage in Joseph’s followup comment:

That it is not to say America is only for White Europeans. But it is to say that America is only for people who are willing—without question or complaint—to live under laws written by White Europeans. And, accordingly, the immigration debate will always have a racialist component. Demography is destiny—and in a representative society with universal suffrage the only way to maintain one’s culture is to limit membership to those who are naturally inclined to the culture in the first place.

This is very good. Also, it reminds me of an article I wrote for Academic Questions in the 1990s (unfortunately not online at present), “America: Multiethnic, not Multicultural,” in which I said that the key to maintaining a common American identity was identification with the original Anglo-Saxon people who formed America.

The article was a response to Diane Ravitch, who had criticized radical multiculturalism from the point of view of what I called moderate multicultulalism. The trouble was that Ravitch defined the common American culture in terms of pluralism and diversity, and thus still left us without a common culture. Defining the common culture in terms of an idea, as the neocons did, was also inadequate. How, then, to understand American culture as a concrete thing, and not as an abstraction nor as diversity? The answer, I said, lay in America’s Anglo-Saxon roots and history.

May 29

Terry Morris writes:

Great exchange between you and Joseph. And I think Joseph has made an excellent case for something I’ve argued for years, re-establishment of the federal principle in America to the extent that states determine who to admit to the rights of citizenship, and who not to admit.

Richard S. writes:

The irony is that white Anglo-Saxon law—in its aspiration to impartiality—is the least tribal, the least exclusionary law any society could possibly fashion. It offers a non-white the best chance to obtain level playing field justice; that is if a level playing field were desired. White law, by design, is a constant affront to those who seek ADVANTAGE as opposed to equal treatment.

Jonathan L. writes:

This discussion reminds me of a PBS documentary I once saw on the Old West. In a segment on Chinese immigrant laborers, the documentary described an important Supreme Court case in which the city of San Francisco had used an ordinance against the operation of laundries in wooden buildings to target Chinese laundry operators. What I remember most about the case (which with some research I have tentatively identified as “Yick Wo v. Hopkins”) [LA replies: yes, that’s a famous case] was the unambiguous manner in which the jurists recognized both the alienness of the Chinese laundry operators (I remember phrases such as “white man’s country” or “white man’s laws” being used) AND the universal applicability of American notions of liberty and equal protection.

The Wikipedia entry on the case notes that a San Francisco public school has been named in honor of, of course, the Chinese plaintiff.

Below are excerpts from the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority decision , written by Justice T. Stanley Mathews:

The rights of the petitioners, as affected by the proceedings of which they complain, are not less because they are aliens and subjects of the emperor of China. By the third article of the treaty between this government and that of China, concluded November 17, 1880, it is stipulated: ‘If Chinese laborers, or Chinese of any other class, now either permanently or temporarily residing in the territory of the United States, meet with ill treatment at the hands of any other persons, the government of the United States will exert all its powers to devise measures for their protection, and to secure to them the same rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions as may be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation, and to which they are entitled by treaty.’ The fourteenth amendment to the constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says: ‘Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality; and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws…

When we consider the nature and the theory of our institutions of government, the principles upon which they are supposed to rest, and review the history of their development, we are constrained to conclude that they do not mean to leave room for the play and action of purely personal and arbitrary power…

But the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws…

No reason whatever, except the will of the supervisors, is assigned why they should not be permitted to carry on, in the accustomed manner, their harmless and useful occupation, on which they depend for a livelihood; and while this consent of the supervisors is withheld from them, and from 200 others who have also petitioned, all of whom happen to be Chinese subjects, 80 others, not Chinese subjects, are permitted to carry on the same business under similar conditions. The fact of this discrimination is admitted. No reason for it is shown, and the conclusion cannot be resisted that no reason for it exists except hostility to the race and nationality to which the petitioners belong, and which, in the eye of the law, is not justified. The discrimination is therefore illegal, and the public administration which enforces it is a denial of the equal protection of the laws, and a violation of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution.

LA replies:

While I have not read Yick Wo, my impression from the excerpt is that, unlike much or most of 14th Amendment jurisprudidence since then, this 1886 decision, taking place less than 20 years after the ratification of th3 14th Amendmemt, comes within the proper meaning of the Amendment. The stated purpose of the Amendment was not to protect all possible civil and political rights from violations by the states, but to protect fundamental human rights, such as the ability to move about, to own property,. to conduct business. A enforcement of a local ordinance that was race-neutral on its face against members of only one race would seem to be a violation of the Amendments’s mandate that all persons shall be entitled to the equal protection of the laws, as relates to their fundamental human rights.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 29, 2009 03:30 PM | Send

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