April 23, 2005
The Speech That Launched An SPLC “Hate”
Peter Brimelow writes:
Southern Poverty Law Center attack on immigration
reformers and other dissenters from contemporary
political correctness is finally inspiring me to
get around to writing a full response to the SPLC’s
naming VDARE.COM a “Hate Group” in early 2004.
put it off partly because my natural modesty inhibits me
from spending twenty minutes listening to my taped
November 15 2003 speech in New Orleans to
John Randolph Society (which apparently triggered
this honor). And because, well, doesn’t everyone know
the SPLC is just a shakedown scam that preys on the
elderly, Holocaust-haunted rich?
Anyway—I’m writing! Meanwhile, here’s my notorious
speech. The late
Sam Francis and the historian
Roger McGrath were on the platform with me. I spoke
last, and very late.
By Peter Brimelow
Last but certainly not least we
have Peter Brimelow, who I know helped change my
thinking on immigration in the dark days when I
but had not yet
Chronicles. Peter is the author of the
Alien Nation, which I think is still the
definitive text on immigration reform; a wonderful book
on Canadian politics called
The Patriot Game,
which, although old, is well worth picking up and
reading; the editor of the indispensable VDARE.com
webzine which is the source for immigration
reform on a regular basis; and most recently
The Worm in the Apple, about how the teachers
unions are destroying education in America.
So without further ado—Peter
Peter: I’ll try to give a
speech in just 10 seconds, ladies and gentlemen.
Read Chronicles! Read
April 2005 update:
DONATE to VDARE.com!]
Is that all right?
Tom Piatak: Encourage your
friends to read, too!
Peter: I want to thank Tom—Dr.
Fleming—and all the Chroniclers for inviting
me here today, and demonstrating their commitment to
As you know, the problem with
immigrants is that they speak with funny accents and
no one can
understand them. So if you can’t understand me
today, please raise a fiery cross, or some other
cultural symbol, and I will attempt to assimilate
Talking about assimilation, I was
very interested in
Scott Richert’s very provocative talk
[PB note: somewhat
despairing, not online] this morning. I think
diversity is strength, of course, as we all do. But from
an immigrant perspective, I think it’s not true to say
there was no American identity after the
Great Wave of immigration in the 1890s. I think the
assimilation process did work.
It may not be obvious when you're
in Rockford, and looking at it from the inside out. But
if you come from a remote part of the north of England,
as I do, it’s pretty obvious that there is an American
identity—to the point where you can actually pick
Americans out in a crowd in Europe.
fatter, for one thing.
(Sorry about that!)
It needs thinking about—what Scott
said there. The real problem, of course, is that that
American identity is now being destroyed.
As you know, the Communist poet
Bertolt Brecht, after the
1953 risings in East Germany,
suggested that the Communist government should just
dissolve the people and elect a new one.
That’s essentially what’s happening
here. The American government is
dissolving the people and electing a new one.
Now, I want to make, in my
remaining eight seconds, essentially three points.
The first is that I think it’s
critical to make clear that current immigration policy
no sense economically. And the evidence for that has
accumulated a lot more since I wrote Alien Nation.
It was the consensus then, in the
mid 1990s, among labor economists, that the great influx
unleashed by the 1965 Act, and the associated
illegal immigration, really didn’t benefit the
native-born Americans at all.
It did increase GDP. But that
mostly went to the
immigrants themselves, through
wages. On the whole, basically, America is getting
nothing out of the immigrant influx. In other
words—America is being transformed for nothing.
One of the things that we now know
a lot more about than in 1995 was the impact of the
welfare state, the transfer state, generally. That's
what's really underpinning the immigrant presence in the
U.S. There's a substantial cross-subsidy to immigration
from American taxpayers. We know because the National
Research Council has
now reported that in California this cross-subsidy
over a $1,000 per native-born family per year.
Every native-born family in California spends more than
$1,000 in taxes because of illegal presence in the
In other words, not only is America
being transformed for nothing—but also Americans are
actually having to pay for the privilege.
Now this is a very unusual
situation. Almost everybody—I just had this conversation
a few minutes ago, here at the John Randolph Club!—will
say they don’t mind immigrants as long as they pay their
own way. Americans, generally, are extraordinarily
tolerant of hard-working immigrants. (Like me!)
But that’s not what’s going on.
What’s going on is that Americans are paying to have
their country transformed.
Another significant development on
the economic front is that George Borjas, the Harvard
economist, who is also an immigrant, (we're everywhere!)
has produced a
new study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics
on the wage impact. He’s been able to demonstrate, by
reanalyzing the data, that there's significant impact on
the wages of the college educated in this country from
the immigrant influx.
That's very interesting because if
it’s just a question of displacing black janitors,
nobody cares. But if it's displacing college graduates,
well, they’re going to complain about it.
So I do think that we’re on a
downward slope in the immigration debate. The policy
will fall eventually.
Now, the second point I was going
make really flows out of what
Sam Francis was saying. There is some sign that the
"conservative" Establishment is going through one of
their phases of paying more attention to immigration. So
we should be thinking now about a series of litmus tests
to judge the policies that they propose.
You know, I don’t read National
Review, but I do read the email people send me when
there’s something interesting in it. There was no
interest in immigration in National Review from
the moment when John O'Sullivan was fired in 1998 really
until the Spring of 2002—almost 4 years of no
discussion, except for O’Sullivan’s own writing, under
the terms of his severance. But then they started to
discuss it, and they boosted
Victor Davis Hanson, and so on.
It didn’t happen after September
11; it took another six months. Apparently, they then
got word from
Neocon Central that it was ok to discuss
I think it has to do with the
Muslims. They're going to propose cutting Muslims out of
the immigration influx.
we to have work on a list of litmus tests that we should
use to judge this sort of proposal. Here, I’m only going
to talk about two of them.
One of the most important litmus
test is that we’ve got to get immigration numbers down –
a lot. That means, essentially, a moratorium. Anything
less than that is going to be bid up in the legislative
negotiating process. Also, trying for marginal
reductions causes all kinds of problems. You’ll get the
current privileged groups quarreling over their share.
But if immigration goes down to a net nothing—a gross of
only 200,000 a year—it has a great simplicity. It's
going to impact all the groups equally—except, of
course, the American people. For them, it just spells
So that’s Litmus Test One, a
moratorium. The second test we ought to look at is how
(or if) reform proposals attack the illegal community -
this tremendous population of illegal aliens in the
When Alien Nation came out
in 1995, it was
reviewed, quite favorably, by Jack Miles in the
Atlantic. But he was very upset because I had
specter of a
second Operation Wetback. There was a similar
illegal immigration crisis in the 1950s that everybody’s
now forgotten. The Eisenhower Administration ended it.
Within six months after it came to power, it threw out a
million and a half Mexicans. And, as I suggested,
it could be done again.
Miles said this would lead to
warfare in south central
Los Angeles. (As
opposed to warfare in Baghdad!) But what that says
is that you’ve lost control of the country—if you can’t
enforce the law in it.
So I am serious about deportation.
I would actually be interested in stripping citizenship
from people who got it fraudulently.
I’m in favor of a sort of negative
amnesty…“I have a dream”!
But the most important way to
demolish the illegal presence is not deportation, but
remove the incentives. The illegal presence is kept
here by the substantial transfers of the
welfare state. If you cut off those
incentives, the illegals will deport themselves.
That has already happened in various areas. In North
Carolina, after 9-11, there was a dramatic reduction in
the Hispanic population for a while—until they realized
nothing was going to be done.
So Litmus Test Two is, how is the
illegal alien presence to be eliminated?
And the critical reform is:
something has to be done about the
citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment.
That’s the principle that an illegal can come here, have
a child, and that child is a citizen, a so-called
That’s the single most important
test that I suggest you use on anybody who claims to be
doing something about illegal immigration. Are they
do something about the citizenship clause?
That applies, by the way, to
amnesty, too. It's impossible to have an amnesty unless
citizen child question, because it means that once
these illegals get in here, as a practical matter it is
very difficult to
throw them out.
The third point I’d like to make
about the immigration situation, is: it’s going to
take time. You have to be patient.
It took 30 years
for the last great wave to be cut off—from the
founding of the
Immigration Restriction League in the 1890s until
the cutoff in the 1920s. It just takes time.
On the other hand, there’s no need
I first met
Bill Rusher, the publisher of National Review,
in 1975. He was then trying to organize a
Third Party to go up against
President Ford and the "moderates" who had
total control of the Republican Party, sort of like
today. After I’d interviewed him, after he ascertained I
wasn’t a hostile (I was then working for a Canadian
paper), he said to me, off the record you know, "I
think that all is lost and the red flag will fly over
"But," he said, "we don’t
give up." Because first of all, "you never
know what is going to turn up.” And, secondly,
theological injunctions against despair."
Isn’t that right, Tom?
And then, you know, within five
Ronald Reagan was elected. And I don’t have the
negative view about Reagan that
a lot of people here have—possibly because I come
overseas. I think there's a very good chance if it
been for Reagan, the
Soviet Union would still exist, we would still be
subsidizing it, and
inflation would be goodness knows where.
Anyway, Bill Rusher certainly felt
Reagan’s election justified his existence! And I agree
The point is that nobody, least of
all professional politicians, has the faintest idea what
is politically practical over the long run. By the long
run, I mean two or three years.
The politicians are talking about
tomorrow. If that. They are entirely focused on the
immediate—this minute. They're like blind shrews. They
go snuffling around by sense of smell and memory. That’s
why they can do these 360-degree turns without rupturing
their conscience. They're not aware they've turned
And that’s what going to happen on
the immigration issue.
So those are the three points we’ve
got to remember.
To conclude: some of you who have
read Alien Nation will remember that the most
denounced passage was my reference to my little boy,
Alexander, who had then just been born. There is one
single reference in this book to his blue eyes and blond
It's the most
denounced passage in the book—although it’s in the
entirely legitimate context of the impact of immigration
on affirmative action quotas.
If immigrants are eligible for
affirmative action quotas, then it’s a zero sum game,
and anybody who doesn’t belong to one of the
"protected classes" that are eligible for
preference is going to be
squeezed out. So it actually matters to me, as the
father of a boy who’s manifestly not in one of the
"protected classes," how many immigrants there are
in the country who
fall into these "protected classes."
I thought that was a legitimate
question, a reasonable point to make, then. And I think
it is now. And I intend to go on making it.
What we should do, of course, is
remove immigrants’ eligibility for affirmative action
quotas. They’ve never been discriminated against. They
weren’t here. Why should they get preferences?
In any case, Alexander is now 12
and, as some of you will be interested to know, is an
Civil War re-enactor. We live in New England, so he
goes out with a well-known New England unit:
Company D of the 7th Tennessee—Confederate!
And the result of this is that in
the car I have to play a lot of 19th century
music, which is a lot better than this stuff out here
[PB note: there was
a wedding reception in the hotel courtyard drowning us
out], I must say.
I don’t know if any of you have
listened recently to the words of Sweet Betsy from
Pike, which is about the great
westward movement of Americans, their conquest of
It’s a Chronicles rule that
literary intellectuals get to talk about economics but
economists don't get to talk about literature. So I beg
Tom's indulgence here. But I do think
Sweet Betsy From Pike
rises to the level of the
Scottish border ballads—from which, of course, it is
It’s the story of Betsy and her
lover, Ike, who trek to the West.
And the final verse is this:
crossed the wide prairies, they climbed the high peaks,
camped in the mountains for weeks upon weeks,
fought the wild Indians with
musket and ball,
reached California, in spite of it all.
We just have to do it again.