Hanson`s Mexifornia: Brimelow Speaks!

Mexifornia: A State Of Becoming
, by Victor Davis
Hanson, Encounter Books, 150 pages.

Brimelow writes: 
VDARE.COM carried quite a

on the controversy

Mexifornia`s publication early this summer—click


Brenda Walker`s

for a reader`s unkinder,
less gentle view. This


The American Conservative
, December 1 2003,
was pretty darned late. But at least I got to review
the controversy too

All happy families resemble each
other, Tolstoy famously

, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own
way. The same is true, I

pointed out
in the first issue of TAC just
over a year ago, of books on immigration policy.
Pro-immigration books are interchangeably triumphalist,
data-deprived and lyrical about the authors`
grandparents from Russia. But anti-immigration books are
grimly focused on quite separate areas—basically because
they actually have something to say about America`s
emerging immigration disaster, the result of the

1965 Immigration Act
and the simultaneous

elite decision
to stop

enforcing the law
against illegal immigrants.

Victor Davis Hanson`s Mexifornia
is the third bestseller on this immigration disaster in
three years. (Hey! Maybe commercial publishers will—nah,
fuhgeddaboutit.) In 2002, Michelle Malkin`s

, which occasioned my remarks here last
year, demonstrated that the U.S. admissions process was
fundamentally flawed, regardless of what entry criteria
were to be applied. In 2001, Patrick J. Buchanan`s

Death Of The West
put U.S. immigration policy`s
skew toward the Third World in the grand perspective of
First World demographic and cultural decline. 

for Peter Brimelow`s
Washington Times
review of
Death of The West.]

Mexifornia is a wonderful
little book. It makes a distinctive contribution to the
growing literature of immigration reform, which is
inexorably eroding the ideological foundations of
official immigration enthusiasm.

And Mexifornia`s reception
by establishment conservativism has been surprisingly
favorable. Even the Wall Street Journal

editorial page
, notoriously

in its suppression of immigration critics,
permitted an uneasily

review. It is painfully apparent that
this is because of the accident of military historian
Hanson`s cheerleading for the Iraq War in National
and elsewhere. (In contrast, establishment
liberalism has ignored the book, as it did Malkin`s. No
review has appeared in the New York Times or
Washington Post


free pass
may very well embolden others to defy the
taboo against debating immigration. I think they will be
in for a sad surprise. Nor do I expect Hanson to advance
the cause of immigration reform much further, because of
limitations that are also apparent in this book. But
this does not detract from his contribution.

The great strength of Mexifornia
is its intense focus on Hanson`s personal experience. He
grew up as a fifth-generation Californian on the small
farm originally settled by his forbears close to Selma
in the San Joaquin Valley. He continued to work the
property while teaching classics at nearby California
State University, Fresno. In vital respects, this is a
literary memoir rather than a public policy tract. Its
insights are intuitive, rather than analytical. They are
none the less penetrating for that—indeed, possibly more
so. But you do sometimes wonder if the artist really
understands what he is saying.

In the last three decades, Hanson
reports, his close-knit hometown has been literally
overwhelmed by illegal immigration. It has tripled in
size and is now, he says, “somewhere between 60 and
90 percent Hispanic”
—hard to tell, because so many
are illegal and transient. In 1970, Selma`s population,
including exotic rural California strains like Sikhs,

and Armenians, was melting-potting
peacefully into one unilingual-English community. Today,
Hanson says “he rarely hears English spoken” in
his neighborhood. The public school he attended is now
95 percent Mexican. Of course, there were many
Mexican-Americans students in his day. But no Spanish
was allowed even in the playground and an
Anglo-conformity imposed that Hanson believes has now
been abandoned, although it worked—producing the middle
class Mexican American contemporaries whose names he
keeps earnestly dropping.

(Hanson is almost certainly right
about his old school. The single hysterical review of
that I`ve been able to find appeared in
his local Fresno Bee, September 26, 2003, by one
Paul A. Garcia. [`Mexifornia`:
a hurtful guide to Mexican history
Incredibly—or all too credibly, if you`re familiar with
this controversy—Garcia complained that “Hanson`s use
of the nontechnical and inflammatory term `illegal
aliens` provokes hatred and contempt.”
The Bee
described Garcia as…a “former high school vice

The value of Hanson`s innocent
artist`s eye is apparent in his unflinching description
of how thirty years of mass immigration have reduced his
corner of the once-Golden State to ruin and rubble.

In essence, the frontier has
returned to Selma—but far bloodier. The first victims
are Mexican illegals themselves, vulnerable because they
are unknown and deal entirely in cash, the victims of
unsolved murders in their hundreds at the hands of
Mexican thieves. But the physical safety of Hanson`s own
farming family is regularly threatened by drug dealers,
gang members and other trespassers. All farm equipment
not locked up is stolen. The rural mailbox system that
has been in use for nearly a century is now breaking
down because everything put there is routinely
looted—including an edited manuscript of Mexifornia!
Trash is constantly dumped on his land, although
city garbage pickup is cheap. Cars, unlicensed and
uninsured, are repeatedly crashed into his vines, doing
costly damage, by drunken Mexicans who promptly vanish.
He is forbidden to haul the cars away for scrap, but
must wait for the county to impound them in case their
owners might want them back. “Nineteenth century
—adult whooping cough, hepatitis,
tetanus—have been brought back to California by illegal

no longer subject
to Ellis Island-type health
checks, along with extraordinary rates of venereal
disease. Interactions with local government become a
as no-one on either side of the counter
speaks English. The Mexican woman who runs a stoplight
and hits his daughter`s car is let off by the
Mexican-American cop—after he gets her phone number.

These, of course, are simply the
typical external characteristics of a Third World
society. For the inner moral symptoms, see Roger

May 19 TAC article
on how the southern California
town of South Gate, originally populated by Danes and
Okies, passed into Mexican control and promptly reverted
to Mexican-style corruption and collapse. Hanson
mentions another such town near him:

, plagued by corruption, now “little more
than a ward of the federal government,”

pays for
its “nice streets, homes, clinics and

All of which makes me as mad as
hell— and I`m merely an immigrant myself, having arrived
in a breathtakingly-beautiful California in what now
appears to have been the pivotal year of 1970.

But Hanson, who has much more
reason to be angry, seems to view it all with a
melancholy fatalism. His discussion of solutions is
brief and, beyond a vague wish to seal the borders, is
so lacking in the necessary brutal detail as to make me
suspect he just hasn`t thought much about the
subject—deeply distressing as it must be to a
self-proclaimed Democrat and heir to the herbivorous

political tradition.

This is another reason for
mild reception. It just didn`t frighten
immigration enthusiasts enough.

For me, the greatest triumph of
Hanson`s literary method is his complete demolition of
the economic case for illegal immigration—and much legal
immigration too.

There is an extensive technical
literature on the

economics of immigration
, to which Hanson alludes
only barely. But to his credit he does manage to include
the key statistic: the immigrant presence costs every
native-born California household an extra $1200 annually
in taxes.
Which took some finding because this
staggering estimate—it`s actually $1,174 and comes from
the National Research Council`s 1997 report

The New Americans
was successfully

by one of the most

mendacious press releases
I`ve seen in thirty years
of journalism. (In contrast, Hanson seems totally
unaware of the rest of the immigration reform bookshelf.
He casually dismisses

Pat Buchanan
, whose arguments are completely
compatible with his own, as a “reactionary”—whatever
that means.)

Hanson doesn`t need economists,
however. He establishes through anecdote rather than
analysis the crucial point: illegal immigrants (and
their employers) are subsidized by the American welfare

Directly, Hanson never fails to
note the

-supported housing and other

federal and state programs,
the de facto free
healthcare via hospital emergency rooms, the immense
education expenditures from grade school on up. (The
University of California at Santa Barbara has 75 courses
on Chicano issues, one course on Civil
War and Reconstruction
none on the
Revolutionary War and World War II.) Indirectly, Hanson
demonstrates that illegal immigration is very much the
shadow of labor market regulation with this terse
calculation, no doubt very familiar from hiring laborers
in his own fields:

“At $10
an hour without state, federal and payroll taxes
deducted, the worker really earns the equivalent of a
gross $13 an hour or more, and the employer saves over
30 percent in payroll contributions and expensive

As Hanson goes on to note, of
course, this necessarily means that Californians who do
obey the law have to pay more taxes to cover the costs
of the

welfare state
. And at fifty, the illegal worker is
physically worn out and unemployable. His

American-born children
are alienated high-school

. More illegals arrive to do the work that

“won`t do.”
The cycle of privatized profits and
socialized costs begins again.

Typically, it`s not clear that
Hanson understands what he has found. In one brief,
somewhat contradictory, passage, he repeats that the
common canard that California would be “paralyzed”
without immigration—ignoring the potential of

, imports and just plain raising wages.

Throughout Mexifornia,
Hanson parades his own lack of prejudice. He incessantly
says how much he likes Mexicans, despite providing many
reasons why a normal man might not. He keeps stressing
that his own family is intermarrying: he has a Mexican
sister-in-law, Mexican nephews and nieces
and—hallelujah!—“my two daughters are going steady
with Mexican-Americans.”
(No word on his son. But no
doubt he eats tacos.)

Personally, I find this sort of
truckling irritating, even peculiar. But it
unquestionably reassures a certain type of reader. This
may be the first immigration reform book in the modern
era that no

has accused of Nazism—a notable

The problem is that Hanson`s
open-mindedness appears to be a dogma. His one-word
dismissal of Buchanan is not an aberration. Thus, in
discussing the

systematic Mexican underperformance
that his own
work shows is extending into the second American-born
generation, he brushes aside any explanation from
“racial or genetic

Nine years after the

Bell Curve
showed that Mexican immigrants do indeed lag American
whites in average IQ, this is not good enough.

And Hanson describes

Operation Wetback,
the deportation program with
which the Eisenhower Administration ended the very
similar illegal immigration crisis of the 1950s, as
In post-publication

, he has endorsed yet another illegal
alien amnesty, apparently not realizing their

disastrous history.

Plato concluded artists don`t
understand their own work because they are inspired
directly by the gods. At least the divinity that
inspired the classicist Hanson`s creative frenzy was an
American patriot.

Brimelow is Editor of

and author of the much-denounced

Alien Nation: Common Sense About America`s Immigration