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Escape from America: 18 Years and Counting
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Taipei, 2021

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I just interviewed an American who’d traveled for five years straight, but you have been outside the US for 18 years altogether. Why, first off, and how have you been able to sustain yourself? Was there no place you wanted to settle? Will you ever return to the US to live?

I had always wanted to travel and see the world. I liked the idea of learning new languages, meeting different people and experiencing life in other countries. So, with a degree in literature I decided to go to Latin America and teach English. I worked in several small Latin American countries. The contrast between life in the USA and Latin America was striking. I was in Caracas soon after the banking crisis there. Students at the school where I taught had come to class crying after losing their life savings; the whole country became impoverished. I recall one morning a teacher showing up late for work because the police had literally kidnapped him off the street, taken him downtown, put a bag of cocaine on the table and said, “If you don’t pay us \$200, this belongs to you.” That happened to a couple different people I knew in different countries. It almost happened to me, once. The trick is to be polite but firm, not to give in. “Officer, you say my papers are not in order? Let me show you again the visa stamp.” They don’t want a scene. I also worked in Ecuador, when, after just months in power, President Abdalá Bucharam embezzled millions of US dollars, held a party celebrating his young nephew’s own first million working as customs officer, then put out a CD of himself singing his favorite songs, which looked like an incredibly stupid distraction tactic. To the Ecuadorian people’s credit, Bucaram’s antics sparked a mass popular uprising. My boss told me not to go outside during the protests, because they might turn violent, but I couldn’t resist. There were marches and chants, tires burning in the streets, Bucaram hung in effigy. The Ecuadorian Congress voted him out of power on the basis of mental instability, and he fled to Panama with tens of millions of dollars. I saw how in Ecuador and many other Latin American countries, people didn’t trust each other, there was a higher tolerance for dishonesty, the public services were dysfunctional, there was endemic corruption, bad medical care, public littering, not much in the way of intellectual culture, but a good dollop of crime, and no shortage of people blaming America for their countries’ screw-ups. I didn’t want the United States to become like that.

When I went back to the USA in the mid-90’s, I tried talking to people about the problem of mass illegal immigration from Latin America. Back then, immigration was still a taboo topic. Pat Buchanan hadn’t been able to get the Republican nomination in ’96. Republicans let themselves be convinced he couldn’t get elected. I mean the guy actually wanted to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants, for Christ’s sakes! I still tried to persuade people that our immigration policies, especially mass illegal immigration from Latin America, were going to cause real problems. I remember having a conversation with a young woman who had just graduated from Duke University. She was smart, well-adjusted, and good-looking. After explaining to me that the USA was a white supremacist country, I thought: another one off the deep end. But later, I remember watching a TV news segment on “whiteness”. It featured a traumatized teenage white girl emerging from some struggle session, whimpering through her tears and snot, “I’ll never take advantage of my whiteness again!” I remember the moment. I was stunned. The virus was spreading. I didn’t understand why so few people appreciated the risk posed by this rising tide of anti-white sentiment mixed with poorly controlled mass immigration of people of color.

I didn’t see the immigration-moderation movement having the power to effect much change. So, I left for Asia. China was my first stop. I taught English in Guangzhou. That was a great experience. The students sometimes told me about their lives in China, about their experiences growing up there, including what they themselves didn’t like about Chinese people and Chinese society. I learned a lot and grew to like many of them. Almost all of my enduring friendships from that time are with Chinese from the countryside. They are often earnest and sincere, very decent people. I spent some time in a western province, as well, where my Chinese teacher invited me to her home in the countryside for Spring Festival. I ate home-cooked Chinese food and got drunk on moonshine with the men. They assured me that if China and the United States ever went to war, they would protect me. But they wanted to know one thing: how could the people of the United State be so stupid as to have elected a black man president? Well … at least it wasn’t delusional anti-white hatred.

Over the years, I worked as a teacher, an editor, and a writer. It was this last work that finally made me leave China. It’s difficult to be a writer in an authoritarian country, and unlike many expats, I never really bought the idea that China was going to democratize. Five thousand years of authoritarian government doesn’t suddenly democratize because neoliberal economists with PhD’s advance a nifty self-serving theory. I was also fortunate to come into some money at that point, which allowed me the luxury of getting started as a writer. Writers often need outside funding of some sort to take the plunge. I eventually wound up in Taiwan, which is a great country. Even if Xi Jinping and John Cena don’t know it.

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You encountered rural Chinese who didn’t understand how American whites could elect a black man. Was that racism? Did they simply expect people to vote for their own? Shouldn’t we be above that? You’ve spent a lot of time in East Asia, so how have you been treated? How do Orientals perceive whites, do you think? And blacks?

I don’t like the word “racism” because lefties use it to attack opinions about race they don’t like. That’s its main function. Anyone on the right who uses it is agreeing to a conceptual exchange on enemy territory, where the opinion-makers have already built their fortifications. Basically, I think what motivated the question was a lack of understanding of the history of race relations in America. A (half) black man became president in part as a result of that history. Cause and effect. But I avoided all that history by simply stating that Obama’s mother was white, which was a cheap answer. I suppose my teacher’s family must have had negative views of black people, or at least of their place in American society. Generally, I wasn’t too aware of that view in China. It wasn’t common in my students, who liked one of my black colleagues. On the other hand, he did have some hurdles to jump through. Some students complained before even taking his class, and the Chinese management initially opposed hiring him. (The school was owned by a Westerner, who overruled them.) I do recall another black teacher from an English-speaking African nation telling me how difficult it was for him to get a job in China. I think it may be that Chinese are generally pretty open to interactions with black people, but that some are afraid to initiate those interactions. Racial perceptions are odd. One colleague was an Asian woman who emigrated from Macau to the USA when she was a few months old. The students were convinced she had a thick Cantonese accent, which in reality was completely nonexistent.

As for Asian’s perceptions of white people, I think it really varies. Your Asian girlfriend will occasionally get called a whore when she’s with you in public—in almost any Asian country. Unfortunately, there are foreign men of different races who become serial monogamists, which doesn’t help. But this attitude would probably exist, regardless. The impulse to protect one’s own is instinctual, and not always unhealthy.

What makes Taiwan a great country, exactly? What makes it a better society than the US?

In Taiwan people have much to be thankful for: crime is very low, public transportation is cheap and efficient, the food is good, the inexpensive socialized medical care is perhaps the best in the world (I’ve heard this from both one Chinese and one American doctor), and the education is decent and not expensive, though there is too much emphasis on rote memorization, like most schooling in East Asia. People, including mainland Chinese, remark on how Taiwanese seem friendly and confident, but not arrogant. Taiwanese neighborhoods are often contained within blocks that are several times larger than in the United States, so the interiors have their own self-contained spaces with parks, restaurants, cafes, nice liminal spaces. It’s the perfect mix of modern society with a laid-back island feel.

But it’s still a give and take. In Taiwan, like China, people tend to be more reserved about expressing their own opinions. This sometimes makes for boring conversation. There is also less risk-taking in business, which means many rich people prefer to sink their money into an already hyper-inflated real estate market, making it difficult for young people to buy their own homes and form families—the foundation of society in any country. Wealth inequality is high, and when young people aren’t forming families, they focus their energies on building identities that, while perhaps not unimportant, are peripheral to more fulfilling lives. Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage in 2017. So, while gay people can get married, straight people don’t because they can’t afford kids.

I’m getting older and thinking about where I might settle. It’s not likely to be the United States. Taiwan would be nice, but you always have to worry about China paying a visit. There are other options in Asia. And I haven’t ruled out some European nations that still have a healthy self-concept.

The USA does not have a healthy self-concept, you’re obviously saying, but there have been no miscalculations. America’s sickness has been preplanned and quite smoothly executed, with almost no resistance. What will it take to turn it around, if not for the whole country, then at least for portions of it?

It’s important to recognize where the opposition may have a point, concede that point to the less radical among them, then divide and conquer. In Taiwan, the wealth gap is about the same as in the USA. Maybe worse. People grumble, but there is no simmering threat of revolution. Perhaps this is because younger Taiwanese are united against China, but more likely it is because they receive high quality education and health care at very low cost, two services that most modern societies value very highly. Conceding these issues to the left would gradually create a schism between the irrationals who think we live in a white supremacist society, and those who mainly want our poorly regulated capitalist system reined in a bit. (There are still a lot of the latter.) Campaign finance reform would definitely make this easier by minimizing the power of the corporate lobby, another point that could be gainfully conceded. Actually, conceded is not entirely the right word. Actively making common cause on these issues might be a better way to put it. There are also conservative organizations to get involved in, like Stephen Miller’s new legal foundation, or Project Veritas, and many others. But conservatives have to want to win as badly as liberals do. And they have to form communities and help one another whenever and however they can.

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It will take time, of course. The left’s delusions are deeply entrenched. So, it’s good to have at hand some ready facts to shift a liberal’s perspective, especially if presented from a point of view sympathetic to minorities. For example: in 1970, after the civil-rights movement, 70% of black men had good blue-collar jobs. In 1987, only 28%. What happened? The policies of mass legal and illegal immigration, outsourcing, and automization prioritized profits above all else. In the 1990’s, civil rights leader Barbara Jordan complained about immigration taking jobs out of the black community.

I’m not sure how planned the assault on Western society has been, or if it’s just developed in fits and starts. Radicals come from all backgrounds. It might not have gained so much support if the growing wealth inequality of the last 50 years had been better managed. But maybe David Horowitz can speak to one aspect of your question. He’s been described as the intellectual voice who everyone listened to within the Marxist-inspired radical movements of the 1960’s and 70’s, which in a somewhat different form—critical race theory—has now infested many of our institutions. He founded and edited Ramparts, a magazine which set the revolutionary tone of the New Left. (Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Warren Buffet was a donor.) He later became a right-winger and wrote an autobiography, Radical Son, in which, at one or two points, he analyzes the Jewish propensity to identify with the underdog and become radicalized:

My parents and their comrades had given their hearts to a foreign power. The Soviet Union was the land of their dreams, and they pledged their allegiance to its political future. It was not my parents’ idealism that elicited fear and provoked hostility from the goyim. It was their hostility toward the goyim, and indeed everything the goyim held dear, that incited the hostility back. Of course, if my parents were right and America was as unjust as they were convinced it was, if its institutions could be changed only by violent means, if Marxism were the map of a radical future—then their persecution was inevitable, and they really had no choice. But my parents were incapable of entertaining the alternate possibility: that they were wrong about each of these points; that they could have lived different lives and still made moral stands; that the politics they had chosen were both a provocation and a threat. To the end of their days, they remained incapable of self-reflection about the radical commitments that had defined their lives. In this they were typical among the inhabitants of the progressive ghetto, who believed in their truth with a ferociousness that left no room for dissent.

Marx and Freud were strategies for dealing with their predicaments as members of a despised social group. European Jews had been given rights and were admitted to civil society only after the French Revolution. But they had been denied full acceptance through a kind of “institutional racism,” a code of civility that continued to put them in their place […] The revolutionary ideas of Marx and Freud were attempts to deconstruct these civil orders, and replace them with a universal one in which they would finally be granted the acceptance they craved. Thus Freud claimed to show that bourgeois civility was a mask for sexual repression, while Marx argued that it mystified economic exploitation. Each had a vision of liberation—science for Freud, socialism for Marx—that would provide a universal solvent in which the significance of ethnic identities disappeared.

[…] I began to review events of the past to which I had paid little attention before, like the expulsion of the Jews from the civil-rights movement in 1966. Jews had funded the movement, devised its legal strategies, and provided support for its efforts in the media and in the universities—and wherever else they had power. More than half the freedom riders who had gone to the southern states were Jews, although Jews constituted only 3 percent of the population. It was an unprecedented show of solidarity from one people to another. Jews had put their resources and lives on the line to support the black struggle for civil rights, and indeed two of their sons—Schwerner and Goodman—had been murdered for their efforts. But, even while these tragic events were still fresh, the black leaders of the movement had unceremoniously expelled the Jews from their ranks. When Israel was attacked in 1967 by a coalition of Arab states calling for its annihilation, the same black leaders threw their support to the Arab aggressors, denouncing Zionism (the Jewish liberation movement) as racism. Rarely had a betrayal of one people by another been so total or swift. Yet radical Jews like myself had continued our dedication to the black movement for civil rights—to their struggle and their cause. What was it that made us so willing to support those who would treat us like this, who would not support us in return? Why did we think it was alright, even noble, to operate according to standards so different from those that governed others?

[…] I had written a cover story for Ramparts, “The Passion of the Jews,” in which I defended the denial engaged in by progressives like myself. It opened with an encounter that posed the same question. A Jewish doctor had asked me: “Do you have any Christian friends whom you could trust with your life?” I was appalled by his question, by the implication that there could be none. It was such a “plummet into tribal depths,” I wrote, that I did not want to confront it. Comfortable and safe as he was in American, this doctor could not forget the fate of Germany’s Jews, who had also felt comfortable and safe before being turned in by their Christian friends. In my answer, I attempted to place his anxiety in the frame of the revolution I still believed in and which I still believed would provide a solution. By rejecting their own societies, Jews had entered a stateless diaspora, like the Jews before the creation of Israel. Having no state to defend them, they identified with those who were powerless and oppressed. Out of this identification, a new community was forming—a community of faith in the revolutionary future which would rescue us all from this dilemma.

[…] What we had to ask ourselves was whether Marx wasn’t a self-hating Jew, and whether socialism wasn’t anything more than a wish to be included.

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Although Horowitz admits to a persistent “Jewish hostility toward the goyim,” he attributes it solely to Jewish insecurity and anxiety, so Jews strive for universal solutions, where everybody is accepted and treated fairly. While I don’t deny there are many Jews who are genuinely idealistic, even to the point of sacrificing themselves for just causes, I see other Jews using such idealism as a smokescreen to enact their hostility towards goyim. After the success of the Bolshevik Revolution, for example, powerful Jews abused goyim with an unprecedented sadism, so there was no idealism there. Or we can look at how Jews treat Arabs in Palestine. Further, it’s Jewish racial supremacism, thus contempt for everybody else, that has led to their non-acceptance. In 2019, I interviewed Craig Nelsen. For trying to help troubled white youths, Nelsen has been targeted and demonized by Jews, so, again, I don’t see any idealism, only hostility. Do you agree that hatred of goyim is at the core of Judaism?

No, not usually. According to a Pew survey from last month, Jews in the United States who have married since the beginning of 2010 have a 61% intermarriage rate. So that would support a negative answer to your question. (Or would it indicate a yes?)

It may be more common to encounter irrational Jewish distrust and discouragement of non-Jewish whites taking an interest in their racial identity.

Ulysses (47-years-old)

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

 
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