A Passion For Justice: Ilana Mercer

[Peter Brimelow writes:
I`ve always had a special

for libertarians who are sensible about
immigration, which was just one of the reasons I agreed
to write this Foreword to

Ilana Mercer`s
collection of columns

Broad Sides: One Woman`s Clash With A Corrupt Culture.

“Yes – but she`s a handful!” 

This was the reaction of one of the leaders of American
libertarianism when I called to consult him about the
blazing arrival on the media scene of Ilana Mercer,
ground zero in Washington State after a

meteoric transit
through Canada. (And before that,
Israel—and before that South Africa…)

attention had been instantly commanded by Ilana`s
columns, circulated by her many admirers by email and
now appearing every

Friday on WorldNetDaily
. And also, I admit, by
pictures of her lovely face. (Ditto.)
The combination of brains and beauty is rare. But I am
old enough to know that it does happen and has to be
taken very seriously when it occurs.

Still, looking again at Ilana`s columns, now collected
in this volume, I have to admit: she is a

is one thing to advocate libertarianism in a political
culture that is still basically dominated by statist
liberals. It is another to be willing to address the
problems of mass legal and illegal immigration—a
government policy, of course, and a logical subject for
analysis, but absolutely ruled out of court by the
libertarian establishment, what the late and much-missed

Murray Rothbard
called the

after a major donor. It is yet
another thing to be a proud Zionist and fiercely
opposed to America`s Iraq invasion (and

of Pat Buchanan`s

of the neoconservative “cabal” in
the Bush Administration, albeit fairly moderately by
Mercer standards…for what that`s worth!).

don`t know what this is doing for Ilana`s career. But
it`s great for her readers—although they must be
prepared, as they turn these pages, for her furious eye
to fall on one or other of their own favorite causes.

This volume appears at a moment of peculiar crisis for
libertarians in general and for Ilana in particular. The
normal patriotic reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks
has been

translated by the Bush Administration
and its
cheerleaders into a general war in the Middle East.

Ilana supported going after al-Qaida in Afghanistan—she

it as “a legitimate act of retaliation
and defense, accommodated within

St. Augustine
`s teachings.”
But she is appalled
by the invasion of Iraq. The measure of her distress can
be gauged by a fact that she notes grimly: despite
massive U.S. media coverage, audiences are getting a

balanced picture
of the complexities, and of the
carnage, from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

You have to have reached the U.S. after a prolonged
passage through Canada, as both Ilana and I did, to
appreciate what it takes to say that. 

Ilana`s experience of Canada`s combination of parochial
political correctness and

—now that must have been an
epic confrontation!—came
after her experience of living in two countries at the
center of world attention, and in constant danger:

South Africa


Reflecting on the mounting costs of the Iraq War, she

“These days, I think a lot about Avshalom. The Avshalom
I knew was as beautiful as his biblical namesake, King
David`s son. Avshalom had dimples to die for, big brown
eyes, and blond, sun-streaked curls. The vision of him,
topless, on a red Ferguson tractor, as he ploughed the
fields of the kibbutz, was very fetching.”

“Avshalom was 19 or 20 when he died. Like all Israeli
boys, he was conscripted and he fell in some or other
maneuver. My class lost another boy. There may have been
more since, but I lost touch.”

Yet, somewhat to my surprise, it is actually quite rare
for this most emotionally intense of columnists to draw
on such personal experiences. What seems to motivate
Ilana, ultimately, is ideas.

Thus at a time when the entire American punditocracy,
liberal and “conservative” (and, emphatically,
libertarian), had turned on Senate Majority leader Trent
Lott for his momentary excess of enthusiasm at Strom
Thurmond`s 100th birthday party, Ilana raises
her elegantly manicured (I imagine) hand to say that

(a) Lott obviously had no intention whatever of
restoring segregation (or doing much of anything else,
she might have added); 

(b) Quite apart from segregation,

Thurmond`s presidential run in 1948
did have a
worthwhile point:

states` rights

The autonomy of the states, Ilana points out, indeed
is—was—a barrier
to tyranny. 

“States` rights,”
she notes,

“are an obstacle to ridding the nation of racism only in
as much as the First Amendment is such a barrier. So
long as property rights and free speech are respected,
individuals are bound to exhibit preferences or express
tastes that others will find displeasing….Abolish
states` rights and one does away with a measure of
freedom and property rights, not racism.”

Then, being Ilana, she goes on to add:

“A fact that was not lost on

Abraham Lincoln
and Adolf Hitler; both were great
centralizers. Lincoln hagiographers would protest to the
contrary, but it isn`t incendiary to point out that he
and Hitler shared very similar views on states`
rights—Lincoln`s unfavorable views of such rights are
seconded by Hitler in Mein Kampf.”

is incendiary to point this out, of course. But
it also displays a mind fearlessly in pursuit of
analytical truth—as does the fact that Ilana wasn`t even
born until long after 1948, the year of Thurmond`s
presidential bid, and grew up in countries with no real
tradition of

at all. She has figured this out all by
herself, in the teeth of the conventional wisdom.

Very much the same is true of Ilana`s writing`s on
immigration policy. Mass immigration is actually a new
phenomenon in the U.S.—it was triggered by the Great
Society`s disastrous

1965 Immigration Act
, before which there had been 40
years with very little immigration, one of many such
pauses in U.S. history. As a result, because most people
are incapable of absorbing new ideas after 18 or so,
most of the current generation of politicians and
pundits just haven`t gotten the message.

Ilana appears to have gotten the message in part because
of empirical evidence proving current policy`s
paradoxical consequences—she cites Harvard economist

George Borjas
on the deteriorating relative skill
levels of the post-1965 influx. But, also,
characteristically, she is fascinated by

Hans-Herman Hoppe`s
argument—in his

Natural Order, The State And The Immigration Problem
immigration is ultimately an issue of the host
community`s private property rights, systematically
violated by the modern welfare/ transfer/ managerial

And this is just the trivial stuff. Reading Ilana, I
learn that

Halle Berry “
sells” because she is “…a
sepia-tinted Charlize Theron: a hollow-eyed,
marshmallow-cheeked, toothy, Theron-type looker.

And that “the true finger-blistering, almighty
[this seems to be something to do
with guitar playing] remain in the musical closet…

Tony MacAlpine

Yngwie Malmsteen

Eric Johnson

Vinnie Moore

Steve Morse
and, of course,

Sean Mercer
. Recordings of their furious licks will
be missing from the stores and the airwaves so long as
consumers are willing to pay for stuff that sounds as if
it was produced after three lessons with a bad tutor.”


For me, the single most arresting, and illuminating
passage in this book was Ilana`s analysis of the

“spasms of no-fault forgiveness”
that caused
some citizens of Littleton, Colorado, to applaud the
erection of crosses for the

Columbine high school
killers alongside those for
their victims. (The two crosses were destroyed by a
father still bearing the unimaginable burden of grief
for a murdered son.)

Ilana succinctly describes this as “the first sign of
people adrift in a moral twilight zone”
“showing religious doctrinal failure.”

contrast, she writes:

“The Jewish perspective pivots on the `passion for
justice,` wrote my father, Rabbi B. Isaacson, in the

International Jewish Encyclopedia
. Justice
always precedes and is a prerequisite for mercy…mercy
without justice is no mercy at all.”

Ilana Mercer, the passion for justice lives on. 

Peter Brimelow, President of
the Center for American Unity, editor of

, Senior Fellow at
the Pacific Research Institute, columnist for CBS
MarketWatch, and best-selling author of the much-denounced

Alien Nation: Common Sense About America`s Immigration
(Random House –
1995) and

The Worm in the Apple: How The Teacher Unions Are
Destroying American Education
(HarperCollins – 2003)