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January 05, 2003

White America-reprised

Back around Thanksgiving there was a thread about immigration policy that I stayed out of (godless stood up for my peeps so to speak :). Some people suggest a reversion to the old system that was tilted toward northwest Europe. The original rhetoric was that it maintained the national origin balances present at passage of the legislation (in other words, Germany received the quota according to how many Germans where in the United States), but the intent was to curtail southern and eastern European immigration and exclude non-white entrants not already covered by the Oriental Exclusion Act.

On the message board here is a snippet from a post that asks an honest question:

The tendency to self segregate among groups is apparent especially in northern ireland via religion and via nationalism among scottish and welsh people, so why should the English favour Hindu's or Sikh's and just for example cap muslim immigration? Shouldn't policies towards Balkanisation be always resisted?

My answer to this is that my attitude toward immigration is like Bill Clinton's attitude toward abortion-it should be safe, legal, but rare. Revolutions in the ethnic balance of a state are a recipe for disaster-I believe that without any qualification. On the other hand, an explicit national origins or racial quota system for immigration faces the same objections I have for affirmative action: implementation.

For instance, assume that we only allow immigrants from Sweden to enter the United States. 1 out of 8 individuals in Sweden are non-Swedes, often Kurds and Turks that are not part of the mainstream of Nordic society. These individuals would almost certainly be more likely to immigrate than indigenous Swedes. So a racial clause would have to be added. But many Turks and Kurds are not particularly swarthy, and a blonde-dye job would not be especially onerous or noticeable on them. They could be excluded because of their surnames, but surnames can change easily enough. Changing our modern immigration policies to favor Europe would simply shift the burden to the Europeans-they would be swamped by Tides of Color that wanted to use their nations as transit points. Adding a racial aspect would add another layer of bureaucracy and make the law appear ridiculous (the South African race classification system sometimes did ludicrous things such as reclassifying a girl as "Colored" even though she came from an all-white family. It shows the pitfalls of assuming that valid racial generalizations can predict so well on the individual scale) [1].

Change is inevitable, and genes pass between populations. As I have stated before, the character of nations shift under our feet-where 2,000 years ago the Irish were a melange of tribes and peoples (the Gaels ruled over indigenes called the Feirnan Bolgii) who worshiped pagan gods and drank too much, today the Irish are moderately devout Roman Catholics who believe in a divine Jewish God and still drink too much (and speak English!). The Irish are still Irish. On the other hand, the Britons of 2,000 years ago are the ... Welsh, while the Britons of today were the Germans. It is the latter situation that we are trying to avoid if one says that the character of American civilization must be preserved, that the West must continue as an identifiable tradition. Rapid replacement is straightforward in its dangers.

To the specific question of Hindus and their threat to the UK. Do they serve as counterpoint to the British nature and diminish its character? I don't think so, I think that a good historical analogy are the Jews-who have been a productive people that often provide goods and services not normally available (Jews served as instruments of Westernization along what later become The Pale of Settlement, beyond the reach of German merchants and Catholic religion in the lands of Russian Orthodoxy). A substantial portion of medical students and the entrepreneurial class in England are Indian. It could be argued that they are taking the place of British whites-and that is a reasonable argument, but I think life is about trade-offs. Jews, though they were only 1-2% of most European societies often were dominant in the professions and certain specialty sectors (banking, precious stones, etc.) and probably provided services and expertise at a higher level than their gentile competitors. They did little to detract from national homogeneity because they only formed 1-2% of the population, and often were in a constant state of assimilation (the bad joke goes that at the rates of intermarriage with Germans that Jews had, if the Holocaust did not occur, there would still be the same number of practicing Jews in Germany in 2000).

Indians currently have low outmarriage rates, though far higher than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. If the current Indian population base does not go above 2%, I suspect that it will be absorbed in the "British" population, and its place later to be taken by another middleman/professional minority. The character of "Britishness" will change ever so slightly, but it will have evolved rather than being replaced.

My position then is this: let the best and the brightest in. Instead of allowing whole villages into the country, let professionals come who are less likely to gather around ethnic ghettos. Many nations have residual minorities that are absorbed over generations-even ones today considered monoethnic [2]. Racial or ethnic purity is a mirage, but integrity is not a vain or bigoted aim.

Let me finish quickly with a personal reflection. If I was in Bangladesh, my life would be far different. But I would not be destitute. My family has some means and some property, so though I wouldn't have the same level of technological luxuries, I would have the servants and homes that are the trappings of the South Asian middle & upper classes. I think I'm clever enough that I could con myself into a reasonable job where I got paid to do nothing. Bangladesh is a poor and chaotic country, but it has a history of civilization, and the wealthy classes have always found a way to maintain their wealth. But ultimately my life would deal more with figuring out how to screw over the masses of the populace and make sure the bribes get paid to the right people. In the United States, perhaps naively, I believe that my productivity (whether writing small web applications or cranking out mini-essays) goes into the greater society. If a "Race War" developed-I know very well which side I'd be on, and would act accordingly-this is one war where you can't just switch uniforms. I'm more concerned with not letting it get to that point. I want to live in a world where one can be a credit to their nation, rather than race or ethnos. But, to get to that point, I think it is important that we talk about the latter.

[1] There was a case early in the 20th century where an Indian immigrant from Punjab argued that as he was Caucasoid he was eligible for citizen (being "white"). The judge agreed he was scientifically white, but asserted that public perception is what matters and by that count he was not, therefore he could not be naturalized. The point is, I'd rather not have our court system or civil servants have to deal with this sort of situation-it's Byzantine enough!

[2] Japan has a long history of Korean migration and a possible Ainu substrate in northern Honshu. Germany had a large Huguenot population. Spain had a substantial Moorish and Jewish minority. Italy had a large Greek minority (there are still small Greek-speaking Italoit populations). The Franks were Germans. The Scotti were from Ireland, but eventually Celtic culture lost in the battle with the Angles. Many of the "Greeks" expelled from Turkey after 1921 were in fact Turkish speakers who followed the Orthodox faith (and likely the reverse as well)!

Posted by razib at 02:31 AM

Tangentially, how did "Byzantine" come to mean overly complicated or convoluted? Honestly, it's not as if the Byzantine Empire were any more complex than the Western Roman Empire... I mean, you don't hear people using "Latin" in a perjorative manner these days. Maybe it's just that the Greeks never mastered the complex victimology that has tended to dominate our discussions of dominated peoples.

So does "labyrinthine" differ that much semantically? To me, such a word choice makes more sense. Using "Byzantine" in the above context always seemed awkward to me -- sort of like saying "yeah man, today's New York Times article was totally Nubian."

Posted by: H. Hodges at January 5, 2003 03:59 AM

"Targeted Immigration",the policy of recruiting the best and brightest is sound and commonsensicl,so it doesn't stand a chance.The opposition would run from ethnic activists and immigration lawyers to multicult progressives to orrin judd and krauthammer on the right.Together they leave us a choice of unlimited immigration or NO immigration.Amrica's future?Poorer,more divided,less free,more authoritarian,less democratic and more,much more unstable.

Open borders advocates need to answer a question."What multi-cultural,multi-racial,multi-ethnic state lasted as a liberal democracy?"

Posted by: M. at January 5, 2003 05:15 AM

"If a "Race War" developed-I know very well which side I'd be on, and would act accordingly-this is one war where you can't just switch uniforms."

Crap. That is so dismally depressing, and so completely true. But I agree with M., there are so many fools out there who have sunshine piped up their ass they would never admit it could happen.

I doubt anything like a real race war will ever develop, though I'm sure their will be small scale incidents. We'll just have to wait & see -- I think it's a foregone conclusion. Biggest challenge the "American Experiment" will have dealt with, if the U.S. survives without significant change to its political culture.

Posted by: Whackadoodle at January 5, 2003 06:57 AM

A race war ever happening in America is impossible IMO. The closest thing would most likely take the form of a Marxist uprising. No matter what the character of said civil war, I have no reason to suspect that any competing sides wouldn't be filled with whites in the rank and leadership positions.

Posted by: JasonMalloy at January 5, 2003 01:19 PM

It is true that the immigration system needs reform (America should adopt a point-based system that favours skilled and educated immigrants ala. Canada, rather than a system based on nepotism as is the case now). However, seeing as we are deporting a lot of refugees and illegal migrants from Mexico, why not provide IQ tests for these desperate migrants? Those who score above 100 on the IQ test will be granted entry to the U.S.A. Screening immigrants for IQ would be a lot more prudent and ultimately benefit American in the long-term than simply allowing them to seep in or just deporting all of them. (And we won't be discriminating based on race or ethnic origin either!) Of course, this also has the benefit of weeding out "undesirables".

This is how I propose the immigrant system be reformed: 60% allotted for skilled, 25% family-class, 15% refugees.

Posted by: Sen at January 5, 2003 06:58 PM

If immigration must be limited to the "best and brightest," the obvious way to do it is to charge admission.

To M: I have another question, how long as anything lasted as a liberal democracy? Liberal democracy was apparently on the way out prior to the change in immigration laws in the 1960s and it has, if anything, revived since.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at January 5, 2003 09:48 PM

"1 out of 8 individuals in Sweden are non-Swedes... But many Turks and Kurds are not particularly swarthy, and a blonde-dye job would not be especially onerous or noticeable on them."

Is this a joke? All the blond hair dye in the world isn't going to turn a Turk into a Swede. Get real.

Anyway, I see no reason why a race-based immigration policy wouldn't work. It wouldn't be that hard to screen out the non-whites from the European population. Furthermore, a policy based on appearance would work just fine, too. So what if a few non-whites slip through? It would keep out 90+% of them, and if a Turk or a Kurd or whatever looks white enough and is willing to pretend that he is white, then what's the problem?

Unless something is done soon, we're in for some serious racial troubles during the first half of this century. History has not smiled upon multi-racial states of the past. Unfortunately, given the climate of political correctness in this country, I'd say that if anything the amount of non-white immigration is set to increase, not decrease. Better get ready for that race war.

Posted by: Oleg at January 5, 2003 10:57 PM


let me reframe my position-i favor western civilization not because it is white, but because it is liberal. if western civilization starts taking an illiberal path-which racialism tends to be-my position would change. i do think that whites tend to at this time be most predisposed to liberalism, so i'm not in favor of massive ethnic changes in a society. on the other hand-judging people by their race tends to generally be percieved as illiberal...so, how do we square this circle?

to me the answer is to limit immigration so that the character of the society does not change especially fast, but allow change to occur so that everyone in the world knows that liberalism truly does reward merit and gives one one's just deserts.

Posted by: razib at January 5, 2003 11:15 PM

Joseph,How about switzerland?Britain has been a liberal dmocracy for more than 350 yrs,it's now changing with "multi-culturalism" stated as main reason less liberal and more authoritarian policies are required.Speech codes,a government report declaring "britishness" as in itself racist,etc.

Posted by: M. at January 6, 2003 05:07 AM

A fwe interesting factoids:

South Africa classified Michael Jackson as "Colored", but his siblings and parents as "Black" when the Jacksons toured there. Yes - immigrants and tourists got classified, too. (Maybe only because they were making money from the tour, so were "working" rather than being tourists?)

The "exchange of populations" between Greece and Turkey was performed on purely religious grounds - Greek Orthodox communicants were expelled from Turkey and sent to Greece, even if Turkish-speaking and racially Turkish, while muslims were expelled from Greece and sent to Turkey, even if monolingually and racially Greek.

Posted by: Anthony at January 6, 2003 06:52 PM

H. Hodges -

Both the Eastern and Western Empires developed ever-more elaborate bureaucracies and political structures. But the Byzantines had nearly 1000 years more in which to do so, and so became that much more, um, Byzantine.

Posted by: Anthony at January 6, 2003 06:57 PM

I dont see any racial diference between turks and greeks

Posted by: Juan ascaņo at January 6, 2003 07:36 PM