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Leading immigration reform website hits bookshelves
By W. James Antle III
Although people are increasingly turning toward the Internet and other new media outlets for news and commentary, there is still something distinctive about the character of the printed page. After several years of writing regularly about politics for online magazines such as this one, I joined the staff of The American Conservative, a print fortnightly -- making what many net-savvy news consumers would describe as a transition from the webzine to the "treezine."
There's a noticeable difference between the two cultures, neatly described by John Derbyshire in the introduction to the collection of webzine pieces archived on his personal website: "When I write for a weekly print magazine, my stuff sits there on the newsstand shelf for a week, and hangs around in libraries and orthodontists' waiting rooms for months afterwards. Web journalism generally disappears after one day." While Google and other search engines are starting to change this by preserving even items posted on obscure web journals and making them accessible to any adept net surfer, the mindset Derbyshire refers to endures.
It was partly in recognition of this that Peter Brimelow, editor and proprietor of the immigration-restrictionist webzine VDARE.com, and his colleagues decided to publish Unity Review -- A 2004 VDARE.com Anthology (full disclosure: I've been published on VDARE; nothing written by me appears in this volume). As Brimelow wrote in his VDARE announcement of the anthology's publication, "Occasionally I hear rumors that there are people who don't spend all day reading on computer screens, but still prefer their words delivered via dead tree technology. In fact, Edith Hakola, Executive Vice President of the Center for American Unity, insists that some of our best friends and donors fall into this category." Hence, a new hard-copy book that puts a number of articles dealing with the National Question in print for the first time.
Unity Review is characterized by one, well, unifying theme: That continuous mass immigration into the United States, under the auspices of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, is culturally and demographically transforming the country while offering Americans few if any of the promised economic benefits.
In the absence of significant reform, the end result may be a country that is poorer and far more divided along ethnic lines. Yet all too often any discussion of immigration is hobbled by misconceptions. One is that the United States a homeland to the world dedicated to abstract political propositions without any real history or culture of its own. The second is that as a "nation of immigrants," it is somehow unpatriotic or un-American to contemplate any limitations on immigration.
Anyone who dares to challenge these assumptions is likely to invite charges of "xenophobia" or "racism." Even the estimable scholar Samuel Huntington was scurrilously attacked for violating multiculturalist dogma simply by discussing America's Anglo-Protestant cultural roots in his recent Who We Are: The Challenges to American National Identity. As Brimelow might say, as in libel law, the truth should be an absolute defense.
Nevertheless, such name-calling is enough to prevent many establishment media organs of both the left and right from delving into these issues. This is especially unfortunate given that our post-1965 immigration policies are disproportionately harmful to black and Hispanic Americans (not to mention their intersection with discriminatory racial preferences). Unity Review shows that some writers are unafraid of this debate.
Indeed, they can be found plunging straight ahead throughout the compilation. This set of contributors exhibits true diversity. For example, Joe Guzzardi is a newspaper columnist from Lodi, California who has been teaching English-as-second-language courses for years. Allan Wall is an American citizen living legally in Mexico with his family, giving him a unique perspective from south of the border. David Yeagley is a Comanche Indian and patriotic American.
These and other regular VDARE writers lay out a systematic critique of the immigration status quo. Unity Review is broken into six sections focusing on different areas: the pressure for immigration reform, signs of actual reform, the case against amnesty, the loss of English as a national language, the balkanization caused by mass immigration and the cost of unfettered immigration in terms of jobs, welfare and crime.
Some of the statistics contained in the book may surprise you. Did you know that the Florida Hospital Association surveyed 28 hospitals and found that health care for illegal aliens cost them at least $40 million for 2002? Or that George Borjas' research found that the immigration-induced labor "supply shock" by 2000 had reduced even the wages of native-born college graduates? How about that U.S. Census data shows a 53.6 percent increase in linguistically isolated residents -- people who cannot effectively communicate in English -- between 1990 and 2000? These are a just a few of the underreported dimensions of the immigration issue that are uncovered.
While Unity Review is a good primer for those approaching the topic of immigration reform for the first time, I do have some minor quibbles. The emphasis on the Barton case -- where a woman was jailed for using an ethnic slur in a private conversation and the ordinance she was convicted under was struck down by the Michigan state Court of Appeals -- in the second chapter seems disproportionate and readers who don't visit VDARE might have benefited from more context for the issue.
Such readers are also missing out on some of the site's gems. The anthology features only one piece written by Steve Sailer, who regularly contributes intelligent and sometimes groundbreaking analysis in his weekly column. There is also only article by Edwin Rubenstein, whose number-crunching dissection of the day's conventional wisdom is a sorely missed feature from the John O'Sullivan-era National Review. The anthology reprints syndicated columns by Paul Craig Roberts and Sam Francis; Michelle Malkin would have been a fine addition.
But I suppose you have to save something for the website. Brimelow and his fellow contributors do a good job bringing the immigration-reform buzz from the web into print. Unity Review may even start a precedent for other webzines looking to broaden their readership to those who would rather bring a book to the beach than a laptop with a wireless card. Maybe it's a bit much to expect print anthologies of Slate or Salon, but the belief that the Internet is the future and the printing press is the past ignores the deeply held regard many readers have for the permanence of the printed page.
If you are concerned about the consequences of porous borders and current U.S. immigration policy, but think the blogosphere sounds like something out of a horror film and have no desire to race down the Information Superhighway to stay informed, this worthwhile collection is for you.
Buy Unity Review -- A 2004 VDARE.com Anthology at Amazon.com for only $7.50
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