Attack Of The Pod Person I: Amnesty To Remake GOP

January 12, 2004

by Paul Gottfried:

For Zionists, Time To Choose

In his recent column “W`s
Immigration Plan: A New GOP”
(New York Post,
January 8), John Podhoretz congratulates President Bush
for going to bat for amnesty. He assures us that the
President “proposed a far-reaching, innovative and
compassionate revision of American immigration policy.”

Furthermore, Bush “believes
deeply, and correctly, that a Republican Party that
continues to lean toward a position of hostility toward
immigrants and immigration is a party that will not
prosper and prevail in the 21st century.”

According to Podhoretz the

, the Republican Party, because its history of
xenophobia, must walk the extra mile to show it has
reformed. In 1924, he says, Republicans gave us an
act to limit the migration of aliens to the United
an attitude that “fit in nicely and
precisely with the

for which the Republican Party became
known in the 1930s and 1940s.”

Unfortunately, Pod the Lesser says,
some Republicans and particularly some conservatives
have remained mean-spirited. He points to an outbreak of
rightwing bigots in the 1990s, “ranging from the
respectable precincts of National Review to the
hatemongering nativism growing like fetid algae in the
Pat Buchanan fever swamp.”
He denounces allegedly
hypocritical immigrants,

John Derbyshire,

Peter Brimelow,

John O`Sullivan,

George Borjas,
who have

dared to criticize immigration policy
after they got

It is unclear to me why informed
commentators who were born in other countries are not
allowed to join this debate without encountering
Podhoretz`s anger. But Podhoretz also sneers at
native-born Americans: Senator Alan Simpson (of the
Simpson-Mazzoli Act) and Governor

Pete Wilson
(sponsor of Proposition 187), who
apparently went too far in trying to clamp down on
illegal immigration.

A well-researched brief by Lou
Dobbs (American-born)
in U.S. News and World Report  (The
politics of immigration
January 12) makes clear
that Bush`s

“immigration policy that helps match any willing
employer with any willing employee”
seeks to
sidestep the fact that we already have between 8 and 12
million illegal aliens residing in this country. These
uninvited guests draw social benefits that are paid
through revenues and depress the wages of those who are
here legally. According to Dobbs, the depression in
wages is 3.5% for each 10% gain in the immigrant
workforce, a figure that includes illegal as well as
legal immigrants.

Support for immigration restriction
in the U.S. is now over 75%, and one would have to guess
that the opposition would be even greater in the case of
amnestying illegal aliens.  Dobbs sensibly wonders
whether our “political leaders,” among whom I shall
include at the risk of being called an anti-Semite the
“neoconservatives,” have any sense of how unpopular
their immigration stands are becoming.

But Podhoretz and his
fellow-neoconservatives have their own trauma to deal
with. They are basically descended from

Eastern European Jews
who settled in our

multiethnic cities
in the first half of the
twentieth century and, as Podhoretz intimates, still
feel reservations about the Republicans as a

WASP nativist party.

This tic (the Yiddish term for
nuttiness, mishegoss, comes to mind)
should be relegated to a catalogue of sociological
maladjustments like the garbled memories of the Swedes
and Finns who still berate each other in Minneapolis for
what they think happened in the old country.

But it is impossible to treat

neocon prejudices
with the idle curiosity reserved
for other ethnic hang-ups. Unfortunately those who walk
around with this particular neurosis now control the

“Conservative Movement”—
journalistically, and to a large extent programmatically.

For example, when in 1987 neocons

denounced me to the authorities at Catholic University
of America,
on the grounds that I was “not safe
on Israel,”
their flagrantly illogical argument: I

that Imperial Germany was principally to
blame for the outbreak of World War One. Somehow this
proved that I had

denied the Holocaust
, at least by indirection (never
mind that it was the wrong German war!), and therefore I
had to be against the Israelis (many of whose ancestors
fought for the Central Powers in World War One—as did my
own, Austrian Jewish forbears). Nevertheless, I still
lost a graduate professorship.

Similarly in 1992

Charles Krauthammer
went after

Pat Buchanan
in the

Washington Post
as a Nazi because Pat had
opposed free trade and immigration (just like Hitler!)

failed to repudiate
his father for supporting
General Franco against the

Communists and Anarchists
in the

Spanish Civil War.
But this was the beginning of a
smear campaign that did successfully (and disastrously)
deprive the American conservative movement of

Ronald Reagan`s
obvious successor.

All of this flailing at imaginary
enemies only makes sense in a phantasmagoric
stream-of-consciousness world. All those who were not on
the Left (when the neocons were) or who are not

, or do not favor amnestying

illegal aliens from the Third World
—or whatever—are
presumed to be

against Jews.

This becomes clear when Podhoretz
reaches out for historical examples to clothe his
prejudice. Contrary to his assertions about bad old WASP
Republicans, the 1924 Immigration Reform Act, like other
immigration restrictive measures in that decade, passed
with bipartisan approbation. As Roy Garis demonstrated
in a book written at that time, Immigration
(New York: Macmillan, 1925), support for
immigration reform in 1924 extended from Republican
business interests to organized labor and to the Jewish
labor leader

Samuel Gompers.

Moreover, isolationists in the
1930s were by no means identical with anti-immigrationists.
They consisted, as Justus Doenecke explains in

The Battle Against Intervention
Publishing, 1960), of those who were seeking to avoid
American involvement in foreign wars and believed they
had been lied to about American participation in World
War One. Many of these

, e.g.,

Hamilton Fish
, Chester Bowles,

Norman Thomas,
and Kingman Brewster, came out of the
Left or the left wing of the Republican Party. The
opponents of immigration could be found in both parties,
where they remained throughout the twenties and
thirties. And ethnic and Southern Democrats probably

at least as many anti-Semites
as the WASP
bourgeoisie that supported the Republicans.

What might be surprising to
Podhoretz and to likeminded ignoramuses is that the
Jewish shift into the Democratic Party (in the twenties
and thirties) was unrelated to any alleged Republican

The German and Sephardic Jews who
arrived in the U.S. in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries became, for the most part, Republican
stalwarts. Southern Jews, like the

family of Bernard Baruch
, were Democrats because

were Southerners
, not because they viewed the
Republicans as xenophobes.

The Eastern European Jews, many of
whom had socialist backgrounds, were generally on the
left, particularly with regard to the labor question.
They turned to the Democratic Party, which by the
interwar period was the more leftward leaning of the two
national parties.

But even if one conceded
Podhoretz`s muddled account of the past, why does that
require that Republicans now amnesty illegal Hispanic
aliens? Does one reward the descendants of Jewish or
Irish immigrants who were insulted or marginalized by
Republicans, by making them pay for the present added
costs of immigration in general and particularly for
illegal aliens?

To provide a useful comparison:
Does the fact that

Irish policemen
in New York and Boston treated

Italian immigrants
in the early twentieth century
scornfully require that their successors in those cities
desist from impeding

street crime
or punishing


On the basis of Podhoretz`s
compensatory reasoning, these police should be doing
atonement in a way similar to what Podhoretz is now
demanding of the Republican Party.

But maybe this question should not
be asked. Maybe politicians will soon celebrating these
new surrogate victims,

juvenile delinquents
whom the police will henceforth
be expected to indulge because of the way other police
may have treated someone else in the

real or imaginary past.

Maybe Dubya will embrace this plan
of outreach—once he has finished liquidating America.

Paul Gottfried
is Professor of Humanities at
Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of

After Liberalism

Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory
, and

Multiculturalism And The Politics of Guilt: Toward A
Secular Theocracy