The Immigrant Thing: Latinos (Mostly), the Racial Right, and Wokismo
Startlingly, at least in today’s political climate, we will begin with the facts of immigration: America is eighteen percent Latino and climbing, six percent Asian and climbing. (Blacks, thirteen percent, cannot reasonably be called immigrants.) Given that over half of sub-eighteen children are not white, it is mathematically inevitable that before long most Americans will not be white. One may think this good or bad as one chooses. It will happen anyway.
Here we come to the fractured politics of the Great Squirrel Cage North of Mexico. On one hand we have vaguely defined groups who collectively might be called the Racial Right. They oppose immigration and immigrants, unless they are white, and say things like “Keep America American,” meaning what they regard as American. Their influence is limited because (a) immigrants, especially Latinos, have too many votes to be ignored and their numbers grow (b) America depends too heavily on its immigrants, Latinos in agriculture, construction, and service industries, East Asians and Indians in high-tech, and (c) the immigrants just aren’t behaving badly enough to engender a salubrious hostility. Not enough whites are upset enough to favor anything dramatic.
Yet coming from what passes for the Left in America is alarm over White Supremacists, White Nationalists, the Dissident Right and suchlike horrors, probably involving, oh God, Trump supporters and threatening racial Armageddon. Boredom can be intense in the bleak suburbs of Washington and one takes one’s excitement where one finds it. Actually the Racial Right is little more than a pastime without practical import. Immigrants are assimilating unnoticed and this will continue. No amount of fizzing by nativists will change this. Further, the mainline White Nationalists, as distinct from disturbed men playing with guns in the woods of Idaho, are not dangerous. For the most part they are not even bad people. This, I know, will disappoint the pseudo-Left. Well, you can’t have everything. That’s just how life is.
For what its’s worth, years ago In Washington, DC, I spoke to a convention of American Renaissance, a major White Nationalist group, who wanted to know about Mexico. Outside a clutch of yahoos and dingalings picketed against the fascist nightmare within. I entered with trepidation. As it turned out, the center of gravity of this unholy sabbath were worried whites in late middle age, concerned about the direction in which immigration was taking their country. Agree with them or not, Nazis they weren’t. They, I think, are the backbone of anti-immigrant forces, not the KKK.
The politics of tortillaphobia can be confusing. In those days one of the Racial Right’s objections to Latinos was that they were not assimilable. Now the objection is that they are. When you peeled back the stated aims, their desire was and is to maintain the genetic purity of the white race. In today’s Woke climate, this idea is shocking, appalling, unacceptable and so on and so forth, though of course most ethnic groups don’t like to see their women marrying out. Anyway, preventing intermarriage—nativists prefer the slightly obscene sounding “miscegenation”—is a lost cause. Young Mexican women are often horribly pretty and, when speaking unaccented American English, are exotic as potatoes. Same-same Asians. Love it or hate it, this battle is over.
It comes down to this: If you want to promote the domestic tranquility, you favor assimilation. If you want to preserve the genetic purity of whites, you want the worst possible relations between whites and everybody else. No compromise is possible. It’s assimilation or purity, but not both. In fact, whether we want it or not, it is going to be assimilation.
In the political climate of today, nativism seems more a profound disgruntlement than anything practical. Its stated aims are either impossible or would be largely ineffective. For example, closing the border may be possible in a few years, or may not, but the sixty or seventy million Latinos north of the border are, well, north of the border. Can anyone within shouting distance of his right mind believe America is going to deport millions? And anyone who thinks America is going to break into three racially defined countries needs to stop smoking that Drano.
Curiously, assimilation will be as disastrous for the woke as for the racialists, though they may not be aware of it. The woke want to see themselves as champions of oppressed People of Color (POCs) and for this to work they need a constant supply of such. The problem is that these wretched people won’t stay oppressed. Most flavors of peoples of color have already turned traitor and become prosperous and even sometimes Republican. The Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Japanese and so on are not all programmers at Google or owners of start-ups in Silicon Valley, but close. They have jumped ship, so to speak, and are no longer fit object of the adolescent maternal instincts of the Woke. So the Woke never mention them. Successful immigrants embarrass them.
That leaves Latinos as the only suitable immigrant objects of Woke solidarity with the oppressed. Wokesters consequently grasp at Hispanics and lump them in with blacks, with whom Latinos have little in common, as maltreated POCs. By so doing, and carefully ignoring nonconforming people of color such as the Chinese, they can maintain their vision of wicked white colonialists and slave-owner wannabes brutalizing heartwarming nonwhites.
But now the damned Latinos are assimilating! Yes, leaving the plantation, the ungrateful wretches. And marrying Anglos and speaking native English and getting white-collar jobs and otherwise engaging in class treason. And if you ask a statistically valid number of them what is important, they will say things like jobs, the economy, medical care, schooling for the kids, conservative morality, and strong police forces. They don’t see any advantage in being oppressed. Thus assimilation and prosperity among Latinos threaten the pseudo-Left’s hold on its largest client group.
Problems of nomenclature can arise. I confess that I was at first puzzled when reading of BIPOCs. What were these, I wondered? If there were BIPOCs, were there monoPOCs? Would little short POCs be smallPOCS? Was there a vaccine? Should India’s population be measured in gigaPOCs? These were deep waters. (BIPOCs turned out to be black, indigenous people of color, I think.)
Much of Racial Right thought is backward-looking conservative romanticism doused liberally with sheer fantasy. They long for an all-white America that hasn’t existed since 1619, when their revered ancestors imported blacks slaves about whose progeny they now complain. They say for example that America would be much happier if all white. This is true but irrelevant since it isn’t. For the record, an all-white America would not have had slavery, perhaps the Civil War, Jim Crow, racism, burning cities, race riots, horrendous rates of crime otherwise unknown in the developed world, affirmative action, or Floyd. And if wishes were horses….
The Racial Right’s opposition is equally deep in fantasy. While the Woke offer themselves as being of the Left, they in fact are neither Leftist nor liberal, but practitioners of an intense class snobbery. The Left historically was the party of the working man. This was true of Marx (“Workers of the world, unite.”) There was Saul Alinsky in the dismal stockyards of Chicago and authors like Upton Sinclair (The Jungle) and John Steinbeck (East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row supporting the white working class.) The pseudo-Left of today scorns working men, who they label Deplorables. They consist heavily of well-off, highly educated coastal elites who loathe working stiffs whom, they suspect, voted for Trump. They love blacks with an almost humid intensity but wouldn’t go near South Chicago in an armored bathysphere and their kids go to pricey private schools. The traditional Left would detest them.
The racialists are hardly less hypocritical. They proclaim their love of America, yet loathe the thirteen percent who are black, eighteen percent Latino, six percent Asian, two percent Jewish, and the (wild guess) fifty percent who are Democrats. They sound suspicious of Catholics and of South and East Europeans, though this may be a holdover from the Nativist Revival of the Twenties. But they love America, or at least enough of it to fill a small gymnasium.
A belief crucial to the sense of wellbeing and contentment among the pseudo-Left is that America is sordidly and irrevocably racist. Is it? At least sixty million Latinos live in America, most of them citizens, with virtually no race riots or, in most places, much interest. Inattention is the highest form of acceptance. California has more Mexicans than whites, so would you not expect trouble there if there were going to be trouble? Nada. There is no Knockout Game among Latinos. They don’t push Asian women in front of subway trains. Nor are whites lynching browns, or doing much of anything about them.
Americans seem more opposed to immigration than to immigrants. They want to close the border but not to drag the third-grade children of illegal immigrants from school rooms and leave them on the sidewalks. Only far out on the Right Wing, where the feathers run out and giddy space begins, do we hear calls for massive deportation. Given the enormous scale of the influx, the paucity of animosity is remarkable.
The Racial Right suffers an ongoing erosion by events. When I left America for Mexico twenty years ago, there was across Wilson Boulevard in the Virginia suburbs of Washington a restaurant called the Asia Café. The waitresses were young Asian women, Malays, Viets, that sort of thing, and the manager was a Japanese woman. I asked one what she did during the day. Oh, she said, she was studying computer security at a local university. Another had a similar answer, which I have forgotten. Up the street was a Vietnamese restaurant that was engaging in the Asian practice of keeping labor costs down by employing the daughters as waitresses. After years of dining there it occurred to me to ask the same question. One replied that she was a wide-area network engineer. The other said that she had gotten a Master’s in biochemistry but you couldn’t make money that way so she was in dental school.
An internet friend once offered to arrange an appointment for me with a high-end ophthalmologist. This turned out to be Yassine Daoud, Lebanese and a star surgeon at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. A former street urchin in Beirut (really), he got to Hopkins by a combination of brains, luck, and Harvard med. On another occasion I had an appointment at EDOW, Eye Doctors of Washington. The doctor was Deepika Shah, by a brown cast and name or origins somewhere east of Suez. University of Virginia undergrad, Penn for med school, impressive resumé. Also pretty. (Look, I’m a guy. Deal with it.) Her insurance woman was name Martinez.
On the same trip the assistant manager and a teller at my bank were Mexicans, perfect but slightly accented English. Later, in Austin, the recommended ophthalmologist was Annie Chan, Chinese, and her support staff were two Mexican women. Nobody seemed outraged by this. In practice Americans seem to accept anyone who speaks English, obeys the laws, behaves civilly, and has a job.
Here it is worth noting that the objections of the Racial Right to immigrants are rhetorical. Websites that verge on being official voices of White Nationalism, notably American Renaissance and Vdare, have not the slightest whiff of calls to violence. They are not Nazis, do not advocate actually doing anything, such as boycotting immigrant businesses. One reads in the media of racist attacks on Asians. These are committed by blacks, not White Supremacists or Latinos. Again, regarding immigrants, the Racial Right seems more in the nature of a hobby than an onrushing wave of, well, anything.
This information will arouse despondency in the woke for whom alarm at imagined brown-shirted hordes seems also to be a hobby. Nativists themselves may be mellowing a bit regarding immigrants. For long years, and still to some extent. The racialist, Republicans all, wrote that Latinos were criminal, carried thirteenth-century diseases, couldn’t read, didn’t speak English, were infested by lice and bedbugs, and were not assimilable. They then wondered why Latinos didn’t vote Republican. Today one hears less of it, vehemence being more directed at blacks and their crime.
The future? Sez I, the country will muddle along as it now muddles, boringly. Blacks are a different question, but, regarding immigrants, there just isn’t enough racism to satisfy either the Woke or the Racial Right. You can’t have everything.