2004 June 23 Wednesday
Mark Krikorian On Post-Americans Versus Americans

Reacting to yet another Wall Street Journal smear on immigration restrictionists Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies sees open borders advocates as post-nationalists who are not as attached to the United States as are the old fashioned nationalists who oppose open borders.

Because for post-Americans, there can be no legitimate opposition to their open-borders views. To the degree that Cannon is facing political trouble, it must be because his opponent is "running hard on xenophobia," as the Journal writes, "courtesy of deep-pocketed restrictionists." (Attention any "deep-pocketed restrictionists." Call me!) To concede that supporters of more moderate immigration levels and tighter enforcement might be anything other than racists or "humanity-is-a-virus" leftists would be to acknowledge the legitimacy of a nationalist, as opposed to a post-nationalist, worldview; in other words, to admit that borders have value, rather than being awkward anachronisms that interfere with business.

Let me be clear what I mean by a post-American. He's not an enemy of America not Alger Hiss or Jane Fonda or Louis Farrakhan. He's not necessarily even a Michael Moore or Ted Kennedy. A post-American may actually still like America, but the emotion resembles the attachment one might feel to, say, suburban New Jersey it can be a pleasant place to live, but you're always open to a better offer. The post-American has a casual relationship with his native country, unlike the patriot, "who more than self his country loves," as Katharine Lee Bates wrote. Put differently, the patriot is married to America; the post-American is just shacking up.

The Wall Street Journal, never a publication to play fair with those who have the temerity to disagree with them on immigration, has the audacity to claim that "deep-pocketed" immigration restrictionists were funding Matt Throckmorton's primary challenge to open borders advocate and Republican Congressman Chris Cannon. This slant is hard to square with the fact that Cannon outspent Throckmorton 9 to 1 and the fact that open borders advocates donated to Cannon's campaign. The deeper pockets in the immigration battle are the business interests that want a continuing supply of cheap foreign labor to drive down labor costs.

While his terminology is a little different Krikorian's arguments mirror those of Samuel Huntington. See Samuel P. Huntington On Cosmopolitans, Imperialists, And Nationalists and Samuel P. Huntington On Nationalism Versus Cosmopolitanism.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 June 23 03:11 PM  Immigration Culture Clash

John S Bolton said at June 23, 2004 9:22 PM:

That is interesting and informative; your contrasting of the nationalists and the post-nationalists. Yet it might be suspected that the situation is really much less benign, and much more malignant, or malice-driven, than the above-mentioned twofold classification would suggest. To be more kind and honest regarding American patriots and loyalists; shouldn't it be said that we are speaking of patriots, but not so much of the broader nationalism, which is collectivistic and associated with fictitious national stories? The all-third world loyalists are associated with the belief that one bigotry implies every other; such that loyalty to one's nation would imply wanting to kill all foreigners. But if one bigotry implies every other, then one traitorous attitude implies every other. If there is a contest between patriotism and traitorism (Nussbaumian or otherwise), only the tolerance and forbearance of the patriots will permit the traitorists a victory.

Matt W. said at June 24, 2004 10:57 AM:

Chris Cannon looks to me like a through-and-through pseudocon and Bush lackey. In addition to his support for open borders and praise from MALDEF and La Raza, Cannon also supported the radically costy prescription drug benefit (expected to cost $190 billion *per year* by 2023 if the "donut hole" in coverage between $2250 and $5100 is not closed, $360 billion *per year* if the donut hole is closed).

Brock said at June 25, 2004 2:36 PM:

Randall -

I've pretty much given up on changing your mind, or even constructively contributing to the conversation you have going here on immigration issues, but I thought I'd toss my hat into the ring one more time.

I, and many other "pro-immigration" folks are not post-Americans or post-nationalists. I love America. I would die for it. I think it's the best damn country on earth, bar none.

I also believe, as many do, that culture only exists in the mind of every person. My neighbors and I have very similar culture, but not exactly the same. We are more similar to each other than to folks from Mexico or Bangladesh.

However, cultural memes can spread, and the culture within a person's mind is subject to Lamarkian evolution.

I don't fear the Mexicans because I believe that the culture shared by most Americans is the superior culture. The one with higher "fitness." The Mexicans can come here and not affect our culture. It will remain strong, because they have little to compete with.

However, they might have something. America isn't perfect, and is always improving. Perhaps there are a few memes within Mexico that will complement our culture and make us stronger. Perhaps not, but no harm done.

Eventually however, our culture will transfer to the Mexicans. Not overnight, and not 100% in three generations to read your posts, but it happens over time. We collect the value of their cheap labor while they slowly assimilate. It will take longer for them because they are such a large group - they insulate each other. Immigrants from nations with smaller enclaves are exposed to American culture more often, and evolve faster.

So that's why I'm pro-Immigration. There are known economic benefits to allowing them to be here, and there are possible cultural benefits as well, and I have faith that America is so strong and great that we will stand above the storm until the dividends pay.


Randall Parker said at June 25, 2004 3:04 PM:


The Wall Street Journal and some other prominent open borders advocates routinely slam immigration restrictionists. Well, I slam them back. I understand that not all open borders advocates attack the character of those who are opposed to open borders. But open borders advocates are advocating the end of nationalism whether they realize it or not.

As for benefits of immigration: I've argued that the ratio costs to benefits varies depending on the type of immigrant. At one extreme we have absolutely first class scientists who are among the brightest in the world. At another extreme we have murderers, rapers, and others who inflict terrible costs. Everyone else is somewhere in between with different ratios of costs and benefits.

Where you and I differ is that I tally up costs lots of different kinds of costs. You ignore them. So I see negative cost/benefit ratios in some groups where you just see benefits. Known economic benefits? Yes, and known economic costs too.

Look, what you are attempting to deny and ignore is not really controversial. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) National Research Council (NRC) study from 1997 found some classes of immigrants are a net economic burden.

There will never be a dividend payment from less intellectually able immigrants. I've showed you the evidence for that with the table of educational attainment rates across generations.

Bob Badour said at June 26, 2004 10:42 AM:
Perhaps not, but no harm done.

Huh? You can only conclude that by ignoring all the harm done.

As for American culture having greater fitness, I suggest that exactly the opposite is the case. The enlightenment values that have characterized American values for a couple of centuries now are extremely rare in human history. Completely non-existent until a couple hundreds years ago, and only arose out of several centuries of nearly continuous european bloodshed.

Thus far, those values have only ever spread at the end of a gun--either by long-term colonial rule or by devastating conquest and occupation.

Canada--the country with the closest ties to America and sharing the world's longest undefended border--has had those values almost completely eradicated by no more than a few decades of malignant collectivism and multiculturalism. Even though having the greatest exposure to American culture and having the greatest similarity to American culture.

Currently, America allows a massive migration of culturally incompatible political actors without making any attempt to have these actors assimilate American values. Randall is correct. Unless it stops, America will cease to exist as the world's foremost beacon of freedom and prosperity.

John S Bolton said at July 1, 2004 11:56 PM:

The distinctive American culture is not being taught in public institutions today; therefore immigrants can't learn it, except by some rare process of auto-didacticism. That the immigrants are largely illiterate, at least in English, is also an obstruction. If you go inside the residence of one of these immigrants from the third world, what do you think are the chances of finding even one book there, much less an English-language one? In this context, the American culture is more like a hothouse specimen, depending on families and their traditions, while being militated against by the schools of aggression.

Twocents said at August 26, 2004 3:24 AM:

"The distinctive American culture is not being taught in public institutions today." What is a statement like this supposed to mean? Somewhere along 1956 sitting in front of the tv and eating a tv dinner with the family and watching Bonanza America started to tell its self we are all the same. We play baseball, eat apple pie and know who the pilgrims are. We celebrate the 4th of July and believe in the tooth fairy. Is there a core American culture? A core national myth. Yes unfortunately its given alot of us indigetion like that bland tv dinner. Manifest destiny, as an idea, and Indian bording schools, as a reality just seem to make Johny Appleseed all that more ridiculous

"That the immigrants are largely illiterate If you go inside the residence of one of these immigrants from the third world, what do you think are the chances of finding even one book there, much less an English-language one" This can sadly be said of many non-immigrant households as well. We routinely score at the bottom of the list relative to other developed countries in terms of education.

"culturally incompatible political actors" A Kennedy and A Bush walk into a bar. Sorry folks a had to. You do not get to choose the beliefs of the opposition that is why they are the oppossition. J.W.and Ted are no more on the same page than J.W. & Vincente

" I see negative cost/benefit ratios in some groups where you just see benefits.There will never be a dividend payment from less intellectually able immigrants" Your joking right. This malange of economics and pseudosociology is absurd. History 101, until recently African Americans represented the largest minority in the U.S. These prototypical "less intellectually able immigrants" gave America Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll, peanut butter, and the stop light, a Nobel Author, and performed and continue to perform much of the drudge work. We are talking abot people, not econmic entities. Einstein was an immigrant, what did he contribute or cost us in Economic terms. Who knows who cares. Trust me it was worth it.

I know I'm rambling. The point is this America is changing and there is absolutely nothing you or I can do about it, the most we can hope for is to be a part of it. Change is ineveitable, thats life folks, and trust me the good old days were never so good to borrow a quote. Immigration will subside eventually. We will get tough or simple economics will mean its not so lucrative to come here.

We are a nation barely 200 hundred years old and constantly faced with the question of what it is to be an American. The answer to these sorts of questions grow, evolve and change with time. Our outlook is maturing and we are coming to terms with our own past. The future is and will consist of uncertainty, chance, luck, dissappointment, and alot of hardwork.

Core American values.
"We are the greet melting pot who takes your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me."

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