The tightening walls of liberal society

John Derbyshire, after attending a talk sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies in Manhattan last week at which 16 people were in attendance, writes:

It’s a lonely furrow the immigration restrictionists are plowing. The thing I most often ask myself about their activism, in fact, is whether progress in this area is merely zero or actually negative—unable, that is, to keep pace with the increasing narrowness, authoritarianism and intolerance of what one political scientist delicately refers to as “the dominant interpretation of reality.” It has been astonishing these past few weeks, following the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, to see the strenuous efforts by ideological enforcers to de-legitimize discussion of illegal immigration. How many years, or decades, will it be before we can have a calm public debate about legal immigration?

As ominous and troubling as this increasing narrowing of debate is, it is not altogether surprising. We live in liberal society. Liberal progress consists in identifying and prohibiting, as “discrimination,” more and more aspects of natural, social, and spiritual reality. A generation ago, no one would have imagined that the non-existence of marriage between persons of the same sex was a form of discrimination—and now it is considered the vilest discrimination. A generation ago, no one would have imagined that mere enforcement of the law against law breakers including illegal aliens was discrimination—and now people who favor the enforcement of the law against illegal aliens are widely considered the equivalent of Nazis.

No human institution or society can survive the consistent application and expansion of the anti-discriminatory principle which is at the core of modern liberalism. As liberalism keeps pressing against the limits of reality, it is destroying the society that sustains it.

Also, as liberalism keeps pressing against the limits of reality, it arouses more and more opposition. Derbyshire in his pessimism misses the fact that there has been a massive push-back against the mad liberal claim that enforcing the law on illegal aliens is discriminatory, not to mention Nazi-like. A healthy majority of the American people support the Arizona law, and liberals’ demonization of it has sparked efforts in other states to adopt similar laws.

Finally, I wonder what right Derbyshire has—having written a book called We Are Doomed, meaning that our civilization is sunk and there’s nothing we can do about it—to be concerned about mass non-European immigration, or any other social ill for that matter? Derbyshire is like the proverbial postmodernist who declares that there is no truth, meaning that there can be no correspondence between words and reality, and then goes on talking.

- end of initial entry -

June 1

Carol Iannone writes:

Derb is not thinking historically. Ten or fifteen years ago, we couldn’t even speak about the issue as openly as we do now. You wouldn’t have heard anyone on television say illegal immigration creates job competition for the least skilled and most vulnerable, you didn’t even hear that they were breaking the law and that we are a nation of laws, you actually had the idea that illegal immigration was good for the country and you were a racist to say otherwise.

Keep in mind too that the immigration control movement had no allies in the respectable corridors of opinion. Both Democrats and Republicans followed the “we’re a nation of immigrants and they said that about the old immigration too” cliches. And aside from political parties, the Left of course was for unabated immigration in order to undermine the country, and the neoconservative Right was also for it because they thought it was America’s destiny to be the universal nation among nations. Jewish groups, in many ways very important in forming opinion, were for it because of many reasons, as Steve Steinlight explained in his talk. And the union movement which in previous eras had opposed uninterrupted mass immigration for obvious reasons, was either silent or now for it.

Against this, CIS and Numbers USA have slowly and carefully been turning around the battleship. A sign of this was the unprecedented uprising of popular resistance to the amnesty bill of a few years ago, thought by many, including Rush Limbaugh, to be a done deal because so many in Washington, from the White House through the Capitol on down, wanted it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 31, 2010 12:13 PM | Send

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