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Norman Podhoretz

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Nothing President Bush has done in his entire administration has more deeply alienated the conservatives who have supported him since his days as governor of Texas than the amnesty plan for illegal aliens he released last week—not the Iraq war, not his internal security policies, not even his Medicare reforms.

The Washington Times, Human Events, the American Conservative Union and even some at National Review have all rejected the immigration proposal.

So who supports it? The neo-conservatives, of course, who are usually preoccupied with pushing the country into wars all over the world and fabricating reports about weapons of mass destruction.

Linda Chavez, the neocons’ professional Republican Hispanic Woman, virtually endorsed the plan or at least its fallacious premise that illegal alien labor is needed to keep the price of lettuce down.

That claim has been refuted repeatedly by real economists, but Miss Chavez seems not to have heard. Even if she had, her job is to provide support for the Republican Party, and she knows what she’s is paid for.

But she’s not the only neocon to embrace the amnesty. New York Postcolumnist John Podhoretz, son of neocon guru Norman Podhoretz, not only embraced it at once but is virtually in love with it—not just because he thinks it will draw Hispanic voters to the Republican Party but also because the whole pro-immigration concept promises to destroy the party’s conservative base that the neocons hate.

The president’s plan, Mr. Podhoretz writes, seeks to “transform not only the political debate in the United States but the Republican Party as well.” It does so because by attracting Third World immigrants into the party, the native white base that has sustained the GOP since the days of Lincoln will be overwhelmed.

“In the 20th century,” he writes, “the Republican Party was not, to put it mildly, the party of immigrants. The key pieces of legislation limiting immigration and the rights of foreign-born peoples were designed and championed by Republicans.”. [W's Immigration Plan: A New GOP, January 8, 2004, by John Podhoretz]

He cites the 1924 law that enforced ethnic quotas for immigration, the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill and California’s Proposition 187 in 1994, as well as the conservative critics of mass immigration, who range, he writes, “from the respectable precincts of National Review to the hatemongering nativism growing like fetid algae in the Pat Buchanan fever swamps.”

You can sort of tell where Mr. Podhoretz is coming from, can’t you?

In general, he’s right that Republicans have almost always favored immigration controls. Many of the Northern abolitionists who founded the party were Protestant clergymen who feared and opposed the arrival of hordes of Irish Catholics.

The basic reason the GOP has supported immigration restrictions is that, whatever else it is, it is a nationalist party.

It was political nationalism that Lincoln supported in his resistance to Southern secession and economic nationalism that Teddy Roosevelt and most other Republicans supported in their protectionism.

And the understanding that American nationality was rooted in the European stock that settled and developed the political institutions, economy, language and culture of the nation was the underlying reason for the party’s support for strenuous immigration control.

Those who wished to conserve that identity agreed with and supported the Republicans in this.

That is why they were called “conservatives.”

And that is why gentlemen like Mr. Podhoretz and ladies like Miss Chavez and their tribe cannot be called conservatives in any meaningful sense.

Mr. Podhoretz argues that the party’s opposition to immigration “became a major political problem for it in the 1990s.” Not really. The party’s base remains overwhelmingly grounded in the country’s white native majority, and Prop 187 helped Republicans win a congressional majority in 1994.

But it’s more than political tactics that Mr. Podhoretz is trying to sell. As he writes, the amnesty plan will “transform” the Republican Party. Not only will it supposedly bring into the party all the Third World immigrants who now vote Democratic but also, by doing so and simply by putting the party on record as supporting mass immigration, it will make Republican support for serious immigration control measures in the future almost impossible.

The “hatemongering nativism of “the Pat Buchanan fever swamps” will die because it will become politically impossible—and so will most of the rest of the conservatism those “fever swamps”breed.

That’s why phony conservatives like the neocons are on board for open borders.

Of course, opposition to immigration, whether from Pat Buchanan populist conservatives or conventional Republicans, is not the “hatemongering” or “fever swamp” Mr. Podhoretz rants about, and that kind of opposition will probably be immensely helped by the president’s flawed plan.

As noted, conservatives are already mobilizing to stop the amnesty.

Hopefully, this time, they’ll leave the phony-cons like Miss Chavez and Mr. Podhoretz behind.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Immigration, Norman Podhoretz 
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A tip of the hat to President George W. Bush, whose address to the nation last week was strong, clear and uncharacteristically presidential. But if the president’s delivery was first-rate, at least some of the content was simply silly.

Silliness No. 1 was Mr., Bush’s explanation as to “Why do they hate us?” It’s a good question to which some people have been offering answers for the last couple of weeks. But some of the answers offered are neither true nor even honest.

Mr. Bush’s answer is that “they” hate us because we are a democracy, that “they hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Also, they want to overthrow many existing Muslim governments in the Middle East (though few are democratic), “drive Israel out of the Middle East” and “many Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa,” although there aren’t an awful lot of Christians or Jews in either place.

Not once did the president suggest that Osama bin Laden and his supporters hate us because of our foreign policy in the Middle East—our war with Iraq ten years ago and our support for Israel in the face of overwhelming Arabic and Muslim opposition.

And indeed, he was politically prudent not to say so. Anyone who does make that suggestion is immediately deluged with vituperation and accusations of anti-Semitism. Last week, for example, in response to a column by columnist Robert Novak in the New York Post suggesting that U.S.-Israeli policy in the Middle East may have contributed to the terrorist onslaught, neo-conservative guru and militant Zionist Norman Podhoretz delivered a savage and indeed nutty attack on the conservative columnist.

Mr. Novak, Mr. Podhoretz ranted, has an “animus against Israel”; his attitude toward Israel is “vitriolic”; he’s “ignorant” of what has shaped the terrorists. His column is “shamefully perverse”; he “evidently” favors the “disappearance of Israel” and “perhaps” would welcome “repeated—and worse—attacks than the one we suffered on Sept. 11.” It’s clear that Mr. Podhoretz is not only a Zionist crackpot but that he regards any criticism of Israel at all as anti-Semitic as well as supportive of the kind of terrorist attacks the country has already suffered.

Last week, Mr. Podhoretz ran a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal in which he unbosomed similar sentiments, this time asserting that “wiping Israel off the map is still one of the major hopes of Arabs everywhere”—in other words, that the majority of Arabs support genocide. Yet at the same time he also claimed that “if Israel had never come into existence or if it were magically to disappear, the U.S. would still stand as an embodiment of everything that most of these Arabs consider evil”—that is, the terrorists would attack us, as the president also claims, just because they hate America and our way of life. Israel has nothing to do with, despite the Arabs’ genocidal hatred of it.

Unfortunately, (or rather fortunately) there’s evidence that such claims are simply untrue. In the January. 11, 1999 issue of Time magazine, there was an interview with, of all people, Osama bin Laden himself, and the man who is now Global Public Enemy No. 1 made it pretty clear why he has a burr under his turban.

Asked what he thought about the U.S. bombing of Iraq in December, 1998, bin Laden replied, “There is no doubt that the treacherous attack has confirmed that Britain and America are acting on behalf of Israel and the Jews, paving the way for the Jews to divide the Muslim world once again, enslave it and loot the rest of its wealth.” He’s mainly upset because he thinks U.S. forces have defiled Muslim holy sites in his native Saudi Arabia by military occupation, and he wants retribution for what he thinks is American injustice to Islam. “Muslims are angry. The Americans should expect reactions from the Muslim world that are proportionate to the injustice they inflict.”

Osama bin Laden said not one word about “hating democracy” or the freedoms Mr. Bush listed. Certainly he wants to drive “Israel out of the Middle East” and he may want to drive “Christians and Jews” out as well, but mainly he wants to drive out the American military power that is in alliance with Israel.

There’s no doubt that bin Laden and his cronies are now enemies of the United States to the death, and there’s no doubt that we need to wage war on them simply to protect ourselves. But there ought to be no doubt either why they became our enemies, or that some people don’t want us to know what the real reasons for their hatred are.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Norman Podhoretz, Terrorism 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”