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Victor Davis Hanson

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The man to see about immigration in California these days is not the oafish Arnold Schwarzenegger but military historian and classical scholar Victor Davis Hanson, author of a new book called “ Mexifornia” that details—once again—what mass immigration (or some of it) is doing to his state.

Mr. Hanson certainly has his virtues, but to judge from what he’s been saying publicly since his book appeared, there are some immigration issues he just doesn’t get.

Last week Mr. Hanson, author of several scholarly studies of ancient Greece and European military and cultural history, was in Washington to boom his book and his ideas. The book makes it perfectly clear that, for California and any other state that follows its path, what the Open Borders lobby has long applauded as “diversity” is largely a disaster.

Mr. Hanson understands that the Mexican ruling class encourages mass emigration to the north because it rids their country of unwanted and unusable human surplus. The illegals who come here don’t assimilate and not only increase public costs but threaten to balkanize the state and destroy the underlying common culture. They increase crime, use and import drugs and incite racial antagonism. Mr. Hanson documents all these effects, and he does it pretty well.

He also understands why the immigrants are allowed to come—sort of.

“You have the power of the employers that have a lot of money – meat-packing, restaurant business, agribusiness, hotels, construction. They like to have a perennial supply of cheap labor, all the better if it’s illegal and it won’t be able to organize or advocate for higher wages,” Mr. Hanson told the Washington Timeslast week. And “They’re in alliance with the race industry on the left, [who] want a nonassimilated constituency. You put the two together and the people in the middle get drowned out.”[Immigration limitation, By Robert Stacy McCain, Washington Times, August 19, 2003]

Mr. Hanson is talking about the Open Borders boys, or at least those who fund it. And while he does mention the “race industry on the left,” he says nothing about the immigration industry on the right at the Wall Street Journal and similar neo-conservative and libertarian outfits.

As powerful as the left is, it’s the “right” that has undermined and denounced every effort by Republicans to stop immigration of any kind.

Moreover, what Mr. Hanson really doesn’t seem to get is that it’s not just illegal immigration—although that’s the only kind he ever seems to criticize or talk about.

Legal immigration, considerably larger than the illegal kind, is what really drives the cultural disintegration that immigration causes. There are more than 33 million immigrants living in the United States but the highest estimate of illegals here puts them at only 13 million.

Many illegals go home sooner or later, and until recently their impact on American cultural unity was secondary. It’s the legals, who are supposed to be here to stay, learn English and start becoming Americans, who are driving the cultural withering Mr. Hanson rightly condemns.

Because Mr. Hanson doesn’t quite get this, he also doesn’t quite get what to do about the immigration problem. If only illegals were the problem, then what he is reported to have suggested on a California radio show last month—amnesty—might be arguable. More recently, he seems to have backed away from that.

“What should we do?” he asked at a press conference last week. “I think most people support immigration, we want immigration, and it always enriches the culture. But we want it in California under legal auspices.” What is needed is “legal, measured immigration” while doing “something” to protect the borders.

It’s doubtful “most people” do support immigration. It’s also doubtful most Americans have had much of a chance to think about the issue at all, since all they get from political leaders is goo-goo talk or ranting about “racism.” (For all his denunciations and denials of “racism,” Mr. Hanson has already been accused of it himself for suggesting even the moderate changes he supports.)

It’s also untrue that immigration “always enriches the culture.”Maybe immigrants who share the basic cultural assumptions and institutions can, when the receiving country has room for them. But when you have tens of millions of Third World, non-white and non-Western aliens invading, “enrichment” is not quite the proper word.

Mr. Hanson often seems to be more worried what critics will say about him than with thinking through the immigration issue.

His new book is certainly worth reading, but it’s at best a beginning, just as its author seems only to have just discovered the problems he’s writing about.

He and other Americans just now awakening to the immigration crisis may eventually come to a tighter grasp of the problem, but the rest of us don’t have time to wait for them.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Immigration, Victor Davis Hanson 
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With California now being digested by the mass immigration the Treason Lobby has imported, even academics are beginning to see—up to a point—what’s going on. Interviewed recently on National Review Online, historian Victor Davis Hanson tried to explain.

His explanation is not quite complete, though it shows progress, but what he had to say about the wonderful world of diversity mass immigration has created in his state could not have made too many of the pro-immigration pseudo-conservatives who run the magazine very happy.

Asked by his interviewer “what has multiculturalism and mass immigration wrought in Selma, California, your hometown?” Mr. Hanson, a classics professor at California State University at Fresno and author of several important works in ancient history (and a new one, Mexifornia, about what immigration is doing to his own native state), had a mouthful to say:

“Immigration from Mexico was once as measured and legal as it is now uncontrolled and unlawful. And instead of meeting the challenge of turning illegal immigrants into Americans, our teachers, politicians, and government officials for some time have taken the easier route of allowing a separatist culture, from bilingualism and historical revisionism in the schools, to non-enforcement of legal statutes and a general self-imposed censorship about honest discussion of the problem.

“The result is that we are seeing in the area the emergence of truly apartheid communities … plagued by dismal schools, scant capital, many of the same social problems as Mexico, and a general neglect by the larger culture, including prosperous and successful second- and third-generation Mexican Americans who would never live there.”

Well, so much for diversity, which Mr. Hanson rightly sees as a dismal failure, a vision rather different from the chirpy delusions of the Open Borders crowd that poses as conservative.

But even Mr. Hanson doesn’t quite grasp what’s happening.

In the first place, the problems created by mass immigration in California and the rest of the country are not mainly the result of illegal immigration but of the legal variety. The state’s foreign-born population is about 9 million, but only some 2.3 million illegals (25 percent). If we want to curb the “diversity” Mr. Hanson is justly denouncing, we mainly have to cut legal immigration—as well as enforce the laws already on the books against the illegal kind.

Secondly, why is the “challenge” to turn “illegal immigrants into Americans”?

Why isn’t the challenge to stop illegals from coming at all and to send back those already here?

One suspects Mr. Hanson is being careful not to be too anti-immigration (in which case he wouldn’t be in National Review at all), so he dwells on illegal immigrants and the problem of assimilating them.

But he also betrays other misconceptions about subjects he should have thought through a little more carefully. In his new book, Mr. Hanson writes that the problem “has nothing to do with race,” and he expands on that in his interview.

“Here in the Central Valley we have literally thousands of new immigrants of all races from southeast Asia, the Punjab, Armenia, and Mexico who arrived under lawful auspices, in numbers that do not overwhelm local facilities, and with the assumption that assimilation and acculturation alone promise success in their new country.

“A multiracial society works. But a multicultural one—whose separatist identity transcends the enriching and diverse elements of food, fashion, entertainment, music, etc.—whether in Rwanda or the Balkans—does not.”

Well, now, in the first place (again), the legal status of immigrants has nothing to do with whether they assimilate or not.

In the second place, what Mr. Hanson is trying to claim here is – well—nonsense.

The “society” he is criticizing is a “multicultural” one precisely because it is “multiracial.” Where else does he imagine the “many cultures” the immigrants import come from?

The scientific jury may still be out on how much race determines or causes culture, but there’s no doubt that race carries culture—that you learn cultural traits mainly from the same people your ancestors and parents married. When you have millions (not thousands) of people of the same race living together, the result is that they plant their culture there. When you have several other races doing the same thing, the result is the multicultural (and simultaneously the multiracial) mess Mr. Hanson rightly dislikes.

Much of what the professor has to say is worth saying and reading, and it ought to jog a few brain cells even in what passes for the conservative mind at National Review these days.

But when Mr. Hanson [email him] roots out of his own mind a few more of his unexamined preconceptions about race, culture and immigration, you probably won’t be reading about it in National Reviewat all.

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.”