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America Is Already “Unrecognizable”

Rod Dreher quotes Peter Hitchens [1] as noting, “lax immigration politics … have revolutionised the country and will render it unrecognisable within 30 years.” It’s already unrecognizable, depending on where one sets the benchmark: a 19th century American would be surprised to see a majority Catholic, minority Jewish Supreme Court, as we have today, along with presidential tickets consisting of a black man and a Catholic and a Mormon and a Catholic. More than just immigration is responsible for this, though immigration certainly amplified the Catholic presence in American life. The U.S. today is still majority white, which it won’t be in 30 years time, but it’s already an America vastly different, ethnically and religiously, from that of a century ago.

Thomas Jefferson already didn’t recognize the country that leaned toward Andrew Jackson in 1824 [2] and was gripped by the religious enthusiasm of the Second Great Awakening. As Gordon Wood has remarked [3]:

He disliked the growth of the North which he thought was a hotbed of Federalist bigotry and religious enthusiasm mingled with Yankee money-making. That Andrew Jackson almost became president in 1824 appalled him. He thought Jackson was a primitive, violent man unfit for the presidency. All in all he thought the country was going to hell in a hand-basket.

Wood’s book Revolutionary Characters [4] brilliantly shows how political and class changes after the American revolution led to a country completely transformed from the aristocratic colonial America that had shaped the Founding Fathers. That’s the point, of course, of the classic tale of Rip van Winkle [5], too.

There are two things to keep in mind in all of this. The first is that these changes in national character do not mean the destruction of the country or of all virtue. The second is that these changes were indeed profound and did involve loss and alienation for those who remembered the old order.

Change in the social order is momentous; some things are preserved, albeit in a transfigured way, and some things vanish. There’s no use trying to deny or prevent all of this: the conservative’s task is to preserve something, not everything. The fundamental thing to be preserved is order itself, and preserving order in a changing society — changing politically, economically, religiously, and ethnically — requires that order be dynamic rather than nostalgic. Edmund Burke understood this very well. As he said in what he hoped would be his last word on the French revolution [6]:

The evil is stated in my opinion as it exists. The remedy must be where power, wisdom and information, I hope are more united with good intentions than they can be with me. I have done with this subject, I believe for ever. It has given me many anxious moments for the two last years. If a great change is to be made in human affairs, the minds of men will be fitted to it; the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every hope, will forward it; and then they who persist in opposing this mighty current in human affairs, will appear rather to resist the decrees of Providence itself, than the mere designs of men. They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse and obstinate.

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#1 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On November 6, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

Daniel McCarthy wrote: “Change in the social order is momentous; some things are preserved, albeit in a transfigured way, and some things vanish. There’s no use trying to deny or prevent all of this: the conservative’s task is to preserve something, not everything.”

If your attitude is representative of American conservatives, we have in fact lost everything. As for preserving order for the sake of my orderly disposession, then I say to hell with that. This election makes clear what the folks at VDARE have been saying for a long time. We are facing racial displacement. We can let it proceed or we can apply the same political strategy as those who would replace us. Nothing can be done without a party that represents the interests of the majority population and traditional culture. If not the GOP, then a new national, patriotic one. It’s the Sailor Strategy or nothing.

#2 Comment By M_Young On November 6, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

This is a pretty hackneyed argument — change is the only constant. Of course the country changed economically, and the balance of power between two groups (northern, southern) shifted as the country grew. But both groups were there at the founding.

That’s quite a contrast to mass migration of millions of people who are totally unrepresentative of the people who created the country, and whose benefit to the country’s ‘order’ or economy is highly suspect.

Finally, I think the degree of ethnic change, prior to the last two to three decades — has been drastically overstated. I was looking at the census report on ‘Spanished Surnamed’ people from 1970 the other day. In California, their percentage barely ticked upward from 1950 (10%) to 1970 (12%). That is change that a ‘social order’ can tolerate. The current situation cannot be justified by anyone with pretense to conservatism.

#3 Comment By Mrs. L On November 6, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

Also facing ideological displacement thanks to public schooling, the pop culture, feminism, and lax morality … note all the white women who are eager to vote for Barry O.

#4 Comment By Mr. Patrick On November 6, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

White, brown, or black, it’s America. If you find you don’t enjoy your countrymen’s company, good news: we don’t require exit visas.

#5 Comment By R.S. On November 6, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

@Meehan It’s already too late. The current American union is dominated by polyglot metropolises comprised of blacks, Hispanics, and pro-multicultural white and Jewish liberals. Sure there’s a vast swath of the country susceptible to an appeal to the still bare majority, but it’s dominated economically and culturally by the Babylons of the two coasts.

Already I see discussions about how the GOP needs to alter its views on immigration. Ok, but unless Republicans get a majority of Latinos and perhaps tomorrow Sub-Saharan African migrants, then supporting amnesty for the sake of a view votes today is a losing strategy over the long term. Just as important is what Dougherty has mentioned elsewhere tonight – the rise of broken families and of single mothers and fatherless children is a critical factor supporting the new Leviathan.

#6 Comment By TomB On November 6, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

Daniel McCarthy wrote:

“There are two things to keep in mind in all of this. The first is that these changes in national character do not mean the destruction of the country or of all virtue.”

What McCarthy misses here is what Hitchens and Tom Meehan are desperately shouting about, which is that while yes, you can say that damn near *any* changes in national character aren’t going to destroy the soil of the country or “all virtue,” there are some changes that, for all intents an purposes, *have* just simply destroyed countries’ previous natures and remade them into radically different places, and that momentous demographic change is one of them.

Thus the question for Mr. McCarthy and like-minded others is … what makes you think that the demographic change we are seeing here isn’t one of them?

#7 Comment By Daniel McCarthy On November 6, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

TomB, look again: you’ve restated my point. Jefferson thought the country had been transformed, and he was right. Burke certainly was right about the revolutionary change the French Revolution was wreaking. But that means conservatism has to adapt and make the most of a situation we would prefer were otherwise. Nostalgic defeatism is no virtue. Even where immigration is concerned, there’s a lot that can be done in the vein of restriction, but not using 1990s or 1960s tactics.

#8 Comment By Sean Scallon On November 7, 2012 @ 12:25 am

The Sailer Strategy only works if you get 70-80 percent of the White vote. Now I’ve seen it work in my home state of Wisconsin but usually only works in places where the voting is racially polarized, like it is in the northern and western suburbs of Milwaukee or in the South. But in my neck of the woods and in other parts of the Upper Midwest where there are few minorites and the voting is racially polarized, well let’s see Obama is carrying a good chunk of rural and almost all-white Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan But with the total amount of the white vote in decline with the minority total rising in future, how will pursuing the Sailer Strategy work when one groups rises while the other declines? As we have seen, whites in many cases will vote their economic interests over their racial or their social interests as many did in Ohio to make the election close there? Winning 70 percent of the white vote in some little rural county may be possible, but it gains you little statewide.

The immigration debate is over. Heck, Obama has deported plenty of illegal immigrants too, maybe even more than the Bush II Administration did. But even you build a wall around the U.S. you still haven’t dealt with the legal immigration question and the millions of non-whites who enter the U.S. legally every year. And since no politician from either party has even broached this question, it’s not going to be asked.

And if you think the GOP is going the engage in race-baiting to get to the 70-80 percent threshold, I believe there’s a post on TAC talking about how the Romney campaign distanced itself from outside groups wanting to run ads tying Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If Republican Presidential or Vice-Presidential nominees will not do this, who will? The Constitution Party?

#9 Comment By Sean Scallon On November 7, 2012 @ 12:33 am

What bothers me, in relation to transformation, is the whole notion of the Obama Administration bringing about a socialist America. Those arguments were made back in the 1930s and 40s and even the 1960s and were all lost. To say we are entering into socialism with Obama from the America which had already been transformed by the New Deal and the Great Society was a stupid and incoherent argument, Obama was a product of this transformation, not an originator, otherwise he never would have been nominated much less elected. For people who have benefited from the socialism of farm subsidies, SSI insurance, workman’s comp., the GI Bill, housing programs, the federal highway system, Social Security and Medicare to believe the U.S. is about to become like Cuba or North Korea is beyond silly.

But hey…whatever raises money I guess.

#10 Comment By Charles Curtis On November 7, 2012 @ 12:36 am

Unrecognizable to whom? Some jerk scaping dung on the feedlot in Nebraska, who’s never been anywhere other than a podunk hick town 100 miles from Omaha? Some recidivist Know-Nothing who wishes he could still sport his Klan robes in public? All the cranky septuagenarian white dudes getting all boozy on the golf course down in Boca Raton who wish Nixon was still prez, except for all that commie pinko slushiness about the EPA?

This election is the fruit of Manifest Destiny, my friend. You wanted Puerto Rico? Thought the Rio Grande being the border was a good idea? The Emancipation Proclamation just was seconded twice tonight. This is our destiny. This is Hernan Cortez meeting Sam Huston meeting Fredrick Douglas.

It’s a great night to be an American, in other words. If we have any hope as a people, it is in men like Barack Obama.

The Republican Party as we know it is finished, barring some catastrophe that delegitimizes the Democrats. Anyone who thinks that “better” immigration policy or somesuch would have prevented (as opposed to merely postponed) what is happening to our country ..

(Lawd! Jews! Catholics! N***ers! Wetbacks and WOPS of all descriptions! Where evah are my smelling salts, Miss Scarlett! Oh, wait.. You’re a upstart mick papist’s spawn, too, aren’t you? Spare us! What evah is a’happening to ah Countray?)

This country was unrecognizable to the likes of Mr. Burke (in his idyllic imagination) the day the first Irishman set foot here. I’m a German Catholic (of faith and blood, by descent and extraction) but in my heart and soul I am a Fenian, which is to say a natural ally of the Spanish, the French, the African American, the Indian, most especially when they are Catholic as well.

There are deeper things at play here than meets the naked eye, Mr. McCarthy. Don’t betray your name, now. The game was not over in 1775, 1789, 1848, 1968 or 1989. Because it wasn’t over in 33.

Anyhow, may the Triune God bless the United States of America, our people, and our President. Let us all love one another, and hope for God’s justice and mercy. I’m glad and hopeful tonight. Even if the worst comes, I pray we keep the faith.

#11 Comment By Aaron Gross On November 7, 2012 @ 1:04 am

This was an excellent post. I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time – that if America is being destroyed now, changed beyond recognition, then America as it had existed has already been destroyed and changed beyond recognition several times in the past as well. But you’ve said it much better and with a historical perspective that I don’t have.

#12 Comment By TomB On November 7, 2012 @ 5:49 am

In response to my post Dan McCarthy wrote:

“conservatism has to adapt and make the most of a situation we would prefer were otherwise. Nostalgic defeatism is no virtue. Even where immigration is concerned, there’s a lot that can be done in the vein of restriction, but not using 1990s or 1960s tactics.”

Maybe I was missing something Dan or (more likely) what I wrote wasn’t clear as at any rate I still see myself disagreeing with you, as with these new words of yours.

That is … even just as to restricting immigration, how do you do anything given the clear current dynamic that already appears iron-clad? I.e., we’ve *already* allowed in so many ethnic Hispanics that they’ve clearly got more than enough sway to keep the border open to millions more, and that “more” that come over only just *increases* that sway, and on and on in a nice, seemingly impregnable positive reinforcement loop.

And the geography South of the border ain’t likely to run out of Hispanics wanting over the border to our side anytime soon.

And then there’s your bigger issue of conservatives “adapting and making the most of the situation” otherwise.

Well, okay, sounds good, but what if (and I’m not saying it’s going to happen but it might) this clearly-to-be-realized-continued-Hispanic-immigration brings with it what seems to be the current culture in, say, Mexico?

So how do you “make the best of” the City of Juarez writ large?

And no, damnit, this isn’t Hispanic-centric; I’d say the same thing if you had the apparent present dynamic going with zillions of *anyone* coming over possibly bringing their own troubling cultural views that this country has heretofore been happily free of before. Italians, say, if there were the numbers like the Hispanic, with their apparent latent soft view of the mafioso. Or … well, *anyone.*

So it’s not Hispanic-centric or racist or ethnicist or whatever. It’s just simply a matter that we have developed our own culture (with its own pathologies for sure), and there seems to be an airy and utter unconcern about adding the pathologies of others to our problems.

Again, maybe the pathologies of Hispanic culture will fade out and we’ll see assimilation, but that doesn’t *seem* to be the story so far, does it? And thus and again I’d ask how come this just isn’t going to be *the* big game-changer that it seems? *The* game-changer that just simply leaves no *room* for “conservatism” at all really?

Just as it’s impossible (for me at least) to imagine any truly “conservative” Mexico or Mexican government given the culture there. To steal a metaphor, it’s like trying to imagine a coral reef where the fish are riding bicycles.

Not to say its culture is “worse” in any way than ours at all; just that it’s different, and bicycles simply can’t work there.