My colleague and dear friend Diana West sends me this excerpt from her book
“The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization”:
In Alien Nation: Common Sense about America’s Immigration Disaster, a bracingly unequivocal assessment of the cultural and political shambles that make up U.S. immigration policy – the basis of sovereignty – author Peter Brimelow opens his preface with a provocative statement.
There is a sense in which the current immigration policy is Adolph Hitler’s posthumous revenge on America. The U.S. political elite emerged from the war passionately concerned to cleanse itself from all taints of racism and xenophobia. Eventually, it enacted the epochal Immigration Act (technically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments) of 1965. And this, quite accidentally, triggered a renewed mass immigration, so huge and systemically different from anything that had gone before as to transform – and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy – the one unquestioned victor of World War II: the American nation, as it had evolved by the middle of the twentieth century.
Brimelow doesn’t elaborate on Hitler’s revenge, but further consideration is illuminating. It’s easy to imagine that in its revulsion at Adolf Hitler’s genocidal anti-Semitism and obsession with Aryan racial purity, the U.S. political elite wanted to put as much distance between itself and any policy or practice smacking of the evils of the Third Reich. Ditto for the Nazi regime’s rigid, if buffoonish, authoritarianism. Remember the Hechingers [Grace and Fred M. Hechinger, authors of a 1963 book, Teen-Age Tyranny], with their astute observation that postwar American culture expressed an instinctive animus toward the autocratic classroom, its pedagogical authority, and the blind obedience of rote memorization. This old-fashioned model wasn’t, as they observed, going to fly in the new postwar day. Having just triumphed over a German dictatorship and a Japanese divine monarchy, American culture was in a decidedly democratic mood; this, as the Hechingers demonstrated played out in the widespread receptivity to new, nonauthoritarian, child-directed education theories, and a growing emphasis on self-expression.
Brimelow has picked up on another aspect of the postwar mood – the passionate concern of the postwar elite “to cleanse itself from all taints of racism and xenophobia.” This, he maintains, culminated in the Immigration Act of 1965. By reconstituting the immigrant pool to accommodate non-Europeans and nonwhite peoples, this new legislation codified a policy of non-racism (”racism” understood as discrimination against nonwhites) within an official American embrace of non-Western cultures. The practical impact of this landmark legislation still hasn’t been acknowledged; the emotional effect on proponents, however, was undoubtedly instantaneous as warm waves of self-satisfaction foamed with newly proven purity – not race, of course, but rather of intentions.
Such idealistic trends, the one cited by Hechingers, the other by Brimelow, were at heart emotional trends–part of the same national mood swing of postwar exuberance. The “democratic” classroom that no longer saluted authority embodied the difference between the heil-Hitler bad guys and the power-to-the-people good guys; so, too, did “democratic” immigration legislation (”a national emotional spasm”) that sent Western European émigrés toward the back of the line for American entry. Just as we were now inclined to bridle at the traditional hierarchy in the classroom, we were also ready to reject the traditional hierarchy of cultures. This would ultimately, however, call into question our own place on top.
And therein lies Hitler’s revenge – the cultural leveling that either emerged from, or was, in some crucial way, accentuated by, natural outrage over the crimes against humanity committed by the Third Reich. Hitler, of course was totally defeated, along with his tyrannical notion of cultural (Germanic) and racial (Aryan) “supremacy.” But so, too, perhaps, were all notions of Western primacy regarding culture and race (which I take here to include nationhood) – even ones that supported, not supremacy in a murderous form, but judgment in a rational form. Grounded by notions of sovereignty and cultural affinity, such judgment determines the kids of attitudes and choices–on everything from religion to law to literature–that are expressed in cultural identity. In the case of the United States and its European allies, these attitudes and choices derive from a specifically Judeo-Christian identity forged in fire, ink, and steel by those whom our modern-day multiculturalists insultingly deride as “dead, white men.”
Having failed to destroy the democracies by making Nazi war, then, Hitler may have unwittingly managed to destroy the democracies by effecting a post-Nazi peace in which the act of pledging allegiance to the flag itself, for example, would practically become an act of nationalist supremacism – racism, even; bigotry, too. Quite sudddenly, it didn’t matter whether the culture in question led to a reign of terror, or to liberty and justice for all. The act of maintaining or defending the culture, or ultimately, even defining it – whether through unabashed opposition to communist expansionism, purposefully selective immigration practices, or even sticking to the Western canon – became confused with and condemned as an exclusionary and, therefore, evil chauvinism. In this way, having won the great victory, the Allies lost the will to survive. Writer Lawrence Auster has explored this theme.
Having defined the ultimate evil of Nazism, not as the ultimate violation of the moral law as traditionally understood, but as the violation of liberal tolerance, postwar liberalism then set about dismantling all the existing ordinary particularisms of our own society (including, in the case of the EU, nationhood itself) in the name of preventing a resurgence of Nazi-like evil. This was the birth of political correctness, which sees any failure on our part to be completely open to and accepting of the Other – and thus any normal attachment to our own ways and our own society – as the equivalent of Nazism.
Openness and acceptance on every and any level – from personal to national, from sexual to religious – are the highest possible virtues of the postmodern Westerner. This makes boundaries and taboos, limits and definition – anything that closes the door on anything else – the lowest possible sins. Judgment, no matter how judicious, is tarred as “prejudice” and, therefore, a neobarbarous act to be repressed and ultimately suspended. Patriotism has been caricatured out of polite society as boorish warmongering. Western civilization itself, which may be taken as the product of both judgment and patriotism, has been roundly condemned for being both prejudiced and warmongering. The overall effect has been to sap the culture’s confidence in its own traditions, even – especially – in the classical liberal tradition that stiffed our spines against Hitler in the first place. The cultural anemia that began to take hold long ago has passively accepted the transformation of America the Western into America the Multicultural (and Western Europe into Multicultural Europe) as a good, or necessary, or even just inevitable thing. And thus – with the practical disappearance of the nation, or perhaps better, the culture, that defeated him – Hitler’s revenge.