Diversity Is Strength! It's Also…Oh, Wait, Make That "Weakness"

We will be celebrating a happy Fourth of July this week. The American public has declared its independence from the Washington insiders who tried to slip amnesty past us on the Q.T.

Still, no matter how long the odds were against us, winning a battle like this isn't the same as winning the war. After relaxing over the Glorious Fourth, it will be time to begin a counter-offensive. It promises to be long, hard slog.

One striking aspect of the last six weeks' debate is how decisively patriotic immigration reformers won the intellectual battle. The inanity of the other side's talking points, based as they were on mindless sentimentalism toward illegal immigrants and mindless hatred toward patriots, was never more obvious.

One of the roles that VDARE.COM plays in the broad immigration restrictionist coalition is to be the Research & Development arm. By choosing this untrodden path, far from the highway of political correctness, we're able to follow logical connections all the way through - an opportunity denied to all those who heed the big signs in their heads flashing "Uh-Oh, Better Not Go There, Bad for My Career."

(You listening, David Frum?)

Nothing illustrates the vapidity of mainstream intellectualizing about immigration than the ironic story of social science superstar Robert D. Putnam. [Send him mail]

Last month. Putnam finally published an article about his lavishly-funded 2000 survey of 41 American communities that found that ethnic diversity, especially immigrant diversity, damages trust and "social capital."

Putnam's data is important, but the spin he worked on for five years to prevent it from being used by "racists and anti-immigration activists" is in some ways even more significant.

Putnam, the author of the bestseller Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and a former Carter Administration official now a Harvard political scientist, is hugely influential. Madeleine Bunting explained in the U.K.'s Guardian (June 18, 2007) in "Immigration is bad for society, but only until a new solidarity is forged:"

"You can spot traces of his influence all over New Labour policy. He was the man who popularised the concept of social capital - the trust and networks of friendship, neighbourhood and organisations on which so much of our lives depend - and it has won him the ear of politicians of all persuasions: Bill Clinton, George Bush, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, even, most recently, the Libyan leader, Muammar Gadafy."

Putnam's survey results briefly surfaced in the media in 2001, when I wrote about it in a VDARE.com column entitled " Diversity Causes Bowling Alone." I offered personal anecdotes to illustrate Putnam's finding that living in an immigrant neighborhood makes residents less likely to volunteer.

After that, however, Putnam maintained virtual radio silence on the subject of his huge study for five years, until he gave an indiscreet interview to John Lloyd, a columnist for the Financial Times, in the fall of 2006. Lloyd wrote:

"His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor. … 'In the presence of diversity, we hunker down,' he said. 'We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it's not just that we don't trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don't trust people who do look like us.'" [Study paints bleak picture of ethnic diversity October 8, 2006]

In words he'd quickly come to regret, Putnam confessed to Lloyd why he had hunkered down with his findings for half a decade:

"Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it 'would have been irresponsible to publish without that.'"

Subsequently, Putnam has been desperately trying to stuff this statement down the memory hole. As I wrote in my cover story Fragmented Future on Putnam's research in the January 15, 2007 issue of The American Conservative:

"As if to prove his own point that diversity creates minefields of mistrust, Putnam later protested to the Harvard Crimson that the Financial Times essay left him feeling betrayed, calling it "by two degrees of magnitude, the worst experience I have ever had with the media." … It was "almost criminal," Putnam grumbled, that Lloyd had not sufficiently emphasized the spin that he had spent five years concocting."

After the story was picked up by the New York Times and by John Leo in City Journal, Putnam has taken to the comments section of blogs such as Rod Dreher's CrunchyCon on BeliefNet to suggest, disingenuously, that he didn't make like a turtle with his study.

Now, at long last, Putnam has published his 38-page paper, "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century", in the June 2007 issue of Scandinavian Political Studies. And it's easy to see why he was so reticent for so long.

Between his opening and closing "diversity happy-talk," his quantitative middle section -- "Immigration and Diversity Foster Social Isolation" -- is a social science barnburner:

"… in terms of the effect on neighbourly trust, the difference between living in an area as homogeneous as Bismarck, North Dakota, and one as diverse as Los Angeles is roughly as great as the difference between an area with a poverty rate of 7 percent and one with a poverty rate of 23 percent, or between an area with 36 percent college graduates and one with none."

And that's not all:

"However, a wide array of other measures of social capital and civic engagement are also negatively correlated with ethnic diversity. In areas of greater diversity, our respondents demonstrate:

"Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.

"Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in their own influence.

"Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.

"Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).

"Less likelihood of working on a community project.

"Lower likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.

"Fewer close friends and confidants.

"Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.

"More time spent watching television and more agreement that 'television is my most important form of entertainment.'

Putnam went on to subdivide a neighborhood's ethnic diversity into "percent black" and "percent immigrant" and found that immigration had the worse effect:

"For the primary indicators of social capital discussed earlier (i.e. social trust, community attachment and sociability) each of these two separate measures of diversity has a significant and independent negative effect, though percent immigrant seems to have a somewhat more consistent and powerful effect."

Unfortunately, Putnam wrapped his meat in a sandwich of the stalest bread. The Guardian explains:

"What makes Putnam nervous now is how this could be seized upon by rightwing politicians hostile to immigration. So he insists his research be seen in the context a) that ethnic diversity is increasing in all modern societies and is not only inevitable but is also desirable, a proven asset in terms of creativity and economic growth; and b) that 'hunkering' can be short term and 'successful immigrant societies create new forms of social solidarity.' In conversation, he emphasises the latter …"

The first section of Putnam's paper -- "The Prospects and Benefits of Immigration and Ethnic Diversity" -- offers a gullible explanation of how immigration is good for us. For example:

"Creativity in general seems to be enhanced by immigration and diversity (Simonton 1999). Throughout history, for example, immigrants have accounted for three to four times as many of America's Nobel Laureates, National Academy of Science members, Academy Award film directors and winners of Kennedy Center awards in the performing arts as native-born Americans."

Putnam ignores the obvious difference between elite immigration by, say, Enrico Fermi and Alfred Hitchcock compared to illegal immigration. In contrast, the almost thirty million residents of America of Mexican origin have contributed remarkably little creativity to American culture and science. For example, although Mexicans are by far the biggest immigrant group, they don't even rank among the top 20 immigrant groups in the U.S. in terms of patents awarded.

But Putnam's third section -- "Becoming Comfortable with Diversity" -- is even worse. It mostly repeats the Ellis Island clichés about how the immigration of a century ago all worked out fine and dandy, so what's to worry about the new immigration "in the medium to long run?"

But how can the "medium to long run" arrive to overcome the negative effects of diversity if the government continues to keep the pedal to the metal on letting in low human capital immigrants?

Not surprisingly, Putnam only vaguely mentions the immigration restriction acts of 1921 and 1924 that played such a huge role.

Furthermore, I am tired of intellectuals in Boston, New York, and Washington D.C acting as if Mexicans in America are such an utter novelty that nobody could possibly have any indication of how they will turn out, so who can say they won't progress just like Italians and Jews?

Well, anybody in the Southwest can.

In reality, we've had sizable Hispanic communities in the United States since the 1840s, such as in the Upper Rio Grande River valley of New Mexico. That state has long been the most Hispanic in the nation.

So how is New Mexico doing after seven generations of Hispanic assimilation? On Meet the Press recently, Tim Russert gave New Mexico governor and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson an unfairly hard time that said less about the politician than about his constituents:

"They rank states in a whole variety of categories from one being the best, 50th being the worst. This is New Mexico's scorecard, and you are the governor. Percent of people living below the poverty line, you're 48. Percent of children below, 48. Median family income, 47. People without health insurance, 49. Children without health insurance, 46. Teen high school dropouts, 47. Death rate due to firearms, 48. Violent crime rate, 46."

Richardson has his faults. But not turning New Mexicans into Minnesotans isn't one of them.

Similarly, East Los Angeles has been heavily Mexican since the Mexican Revolution. PBS reported:

"Its present day population also has been one of the most entrenched and stable communities of the greater Los Angeles area over the past 50 to 75 years. East Los Angeles is … the largest Hispanic community in the United States."

East LA is not Detroit -- which the forest is partly retaking -- but hardly is it New Jersey, which the Ellis Island immigrants have made into one of the most successful states in the country.

Here's a good test of the chestnut that Mexican immigrants are going to turn out just like the old Jewish immigrants: Long ago, East LA had a Jewish immigrant community, which arrived about the same time as its Mexican immigrants. According to PBS, in East LA after WWI:

"In many instances, Jews and Mexicans went to school together, played sports together, traded with each other, and particularly among the left wing thinkers, met and organized together."

For some reason, though, eighty years later, the descendents of East LA's Jewish immigrants are living in Beverly Hills and Malibu, while the descendents of East LA's Mexican immigrants are in Van Nuys or still stuck in East LA.

In summary, the first rule of rationality when you find you are digging a hole for yourself is … stop digging.

Unfortunately, when it comes to immigration and diversity, that's not a rule that many of our Establishment intellectuals such as Putnam have figured out. Or care to.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]