In the wake of the Hamas attacks on Israel earlier this month, a lot of commentators were shocked and angry to learn that a lot of young people did not support Israel and that many had sympathy for Hamas. This shift in public opinion differs greatly from older Americans.
This is only shocking if you have not been paying attention.
Immigration Has Demographically Re-Engineered Young People
Young people in so-called Generation Z differ from their predecessors in important ways. For starters, this cohort is almost majority non-white, a result of demographic engineering undertaken decades ago to transform America’s politics and character. This matters because this change has been so rapid and consequential.
Immigration policy opened up with the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, which grew from fashionable tabula rasa assumptions that surrounded the civil rights movement. It was meant to do away with old, allegedly discriminatory immigration rules. Unfortunately, this meant doing away with criteria for merit, ignoring major cultural differences from countries of origin, and disfavoring more assimilable immigrants from Europe.
After 1965, people from Asia, the Middle East, India, and Latin America first trickled and then flooded into our country. “Family reunification” policies reinforced these early waves. Most of these groups were not present before 1965. After a long and sustained flow of non-European immigrants, immigration policy achieved its goal of remaking the American people.
Immigrants do not shed their old values and habits automatically. Even when immigrants try to fit in, their culturally distinct traits are often revived by their children in an effort to reclaim an authentic identity.
We dissuaded this tendency among early 20th Century immigrants through aggressive assimilation policies. These efforts were often rough and painful—teasing about names, mockery of ethnic clothing—but they were critical to forging a new, American identity over time.
We don’t do this anymore.
Immigrants Don’t Think or Vote Like Us
Today, we flatter immigrants that they are the most real Americans because they exemplify our au courant identity as a “nation of immigrants.” The ideology of multiculturalism tells them and us that assimilation is not only unnecessary but wrong, a form of “colonialism.” So, almost nothing in our education system or culture encourages respect for the heritage people of America who built this country, tamed its wilderness, and fought its wars. There is no gratitude.
There have also been major political consequences to sustained Third World immigration. Pat Buchanan warned us since the 1990s that immigration was going to hit a point of no return, and that these new demographics would lead to one-party governance. This matters because the Democrats have become an anti-American political party, a coalition of the fringes. This shift happened in California, once the land of Ronald Reagan, and also improbably in places like Dallas, Texas. Now California is a one-party state, and Texas is trending blue.
Not only are demographics changing elections, but the flow of immigrants is also changing the internal politics of the Democratic Party. The party used to be more moderate and conformed to the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, for better or worse. Jews were an important part of the coalition, and the party was generally supportive of Israel and remains so today among its senior leadership.
But the old consensus is fracturing rapidly. Activists demand more left-wing positions under the rubric of “anti-colonialism.” The newcomers want less support for Israel, where the far left has viewed the Palestinians as the vanguard of oppressed people since the 1970s.
These changes would be acceptable if they merely encouraged a retreat from the meddlesome and expensive policies of American Empire, but the same leftism extends to a radical domestic agenda of redistribution and reparations, defunding police, open borders, and other craziness.
If the anti-imperial left reaches the right conclusions on foreign policy or anything else, it is mostly by accident.
The Education System Further Corrupts Immigrants and Their Children
I do not generally write much about immigration because the details are depressing and most of the consequences are inevitable. We are not going to deport enough people to change things, and, for the citizen-progeny of immigrants, this is not even a legal option. While we should obviously stop making things worse, even if Trump built the wall and all immigration stopped, America’s future will be very different on account of the post-1965 demographic revolution.
Immigration, as we know, is not always a negative story. There are many successful immigrants who make good neighbors, have polite and ambitious children, and benefit our communities. Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the lovely Mayra Flores.
But, if we are honest, we know these people are the exception. Obviously, the remainder are not criminals or anti-social. Most are just mediocre. They have low levels of education and limited connections to America’s civic life. They often live in ethnic enclaves and provide goods and services to fellow immigrants, such as the many “Notario” shops you see in Miami or the endless halal meat shops and Dominican hair salons in Brooklyn. These are ordinary people, here to make a buck, but we should not delude ourselves that they have any particular affection for George Washington or that they are going to do much to elevate our common life.
Given our lax standards for immigration— the most ridiculous of which is the diversity visa lottery—many are also positively anti-social, and we would be better off without them. This includes Army major Nidal Hassan, the San Bernardino killers, and lesser known losers like Angel Resendez and Jose Reyes, both serial killers from Latin America. Without immigration, all of their victims would be alive.
Admittedly, it is not always easy to figure out ex ante if we are looking at a future brain surgeon or someone who is likely to put a bullet in an innocent person’s brain. But excluding those with no education from high-crime parts of the world like El Salvador and Somalia would be a good start.
Setting aside their native talents—or lack of them—recent immigrants’ children are transformed through our left-wing education system. While their immigrant parents almost universally acknowledge numerous advantages to living in the United States, their children have natural and understandable feelings of alienation, neither belonging fully to their new country and lacking an affiliation with a true ethnic homeland. In school, they are only learning a critical account of American history. They are being educated not to become good citizens, but to become anti-American activists.
These kids often emerge from school alienated, cynical, and steeped in a Marxist critique of our country and western civilization more generally. Education in our people’s unique contributions to the world—whether the rule of law, representative government, or the grand western artistic and scientific traditions—are all now neglected for both immigrants and the native born. The teachers themselves are barely acquainted with these things, having had their liberal idealism turbocharged through Marxist indoctrination in university education departments.
Left-wing education corrupts immigrants and minorities. This has led to a disaster, as evidenced by such varied events as pro-Hamas riots on campus, anti-white and anti-police riots in 2020, and the emergence of radical political leaders like AOC and Rashida Tlaib.
Far from making us stronger, immigration policy has created a political and cultural monster that neither party can now control.
Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.