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John Derbyshire On Immigration, Liberty, and Mating Choices
I'm going to tackle something a little tricky. I feel sure that when I'm finished, I'll be dissatisfied with my treatment of the topic. It's a thing that comes up three or four times a year in my emailbag, though; and the VDARE.com editors tell me they occasionally see it in theirs, too; so it's worth an airing, if only to give me a "marker" piece to which I can link future inquirers.
Here's the thing. VDARE.com contributors and readers all want the same thing: a rational immigration policy that preserves the historic white-European ethnic core of the American nation, as our immigration laws did until the 1965 Act; and indeed, as Senator Edward Kennedy, moving that Act, promised they would continue to do.
In the style of textbooks on logic numbering their propositions, let's call this position "V1." i.e. the basic VDARE.com position.
What's up with that?
I'll take the issue a piece at a time.
First, I am not—obviously not—a racial purist. I'm fine with miscegenation—again, obviously. I don't even have anything to say to racial purists. I just think they're wrong; and also, to judge from their occasional emails, slightly nuts.
With that out of the way, let's consider liberty—a thing that I personally, and Americans in the generality, are rather keen on.
Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission … For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police …
(The whole thing is here.)
It's an appealing picture of untrammeled liberty. In the conditions of today, though, a hundred years later, it needs some qualifying. Most especially, in an age of cheap international travel and huge, swelling Third World populations straining against their food resources and their capability for self-government, the idea of foreigners spending their lives in our country "without permit" is a recipe for fast demographic disaster.
Much as we love liberty, a liberty that would swamp our ethnic core, from which all our liberties derive—a liberty incompatible with V1—is not to be tolerated. So forget about that liberty.
All right, let's try a different liberty: the liberty to marry whomsoever you want to marry. Might that be incompatible with V1?
Yes, it theoretically might; though I don't, in present circumstances, think it is. It depends on your estimate of how wide, and how unsatisfied, is the desire of white Americans to marry people of other races.
That's a tough thing to estimate. This February's report from the Pew Center, "The Rise of Intermarriage," tells us that: "Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9 percent of whites, 17 percent of blacks, 26 percent of Hispanics and 28 percent of Asians married out" (that is, out of their own race/ethnic category).
From those numbers, it looks as though whites are least inclined to marry out. The numbers are misleading, though, because the different sizes of the populations imply different ratios of chooser-choice. If there were only one Asian in the U.S.A., his/her chance of marrying out would be 100 percent!
With all due allowances, though, marrying out doesn’t seem to be a huge enthusiasm among white Americans.
The structure of the base population also matters. In pre-1965 America, with its population stabilized at 90 percent white, ten percent black, and "other" at rounding-error levels (and "Hispanic" not yet a census category), there were several thousand GI brides from East Asia. Nobody thought this demographically important, nor should anyone have.
And marriages last for decades, given some luck and effort. If a pre-1965 white-Asian marriage was not demographically regrettable at the time, can it be so today? Can mine (1986)?
In the end, it's a question of numbers. If, in some given decade, a thousand, or ten thousand, Chinese or Mexicans settle in the U.S.A., no-one should mind or care. If they were all to marry U.S. citizens, it's still no-one's business. It's not the thousand or the ten thousand that effects demographic revolution: it's the million and ten million. As the late great Enoch Powell used to say: "Numbers are of the essence."
To put it slightly differently, it's how you salt your stew. A little salt actually improves the taste; but if the chef were to dump a whole box of salt in there, you'd have a reasonable complaint against the chef.
A sidebar issue here: not really demographic but merely social, is the stresses caused by interracial mating. I doubt that anyone—except, of course, the race purists—thinks those stresses rise to the level of needing policy intervention. But they always come up in this context and deserve a look.
The stresses arise from asymmetries in interracial mating choices. The canonical study here was Steve Sailer's 1997 piece "Is Love Colorblind" which appeared, incredibly, in National Review. [July 14, 1997] Steve turned up the striking fact that the proportion of black husband / white wife to white husband / black wife in black-white pairings was 72-28, and the proportion of white husband / Asian wife to Asian husband / white wife in white-Asian pairings was precisely the same.
This generates disgruntlement all round:
- (A) White man to black man: "You steal our women!"
- (B) Black woman to white woman: "You steal our men!"
- (C) Asian man to white man: "You steal our women!"
- (D) White woman to Asian woman: "You steal our men!"
The most heat, in my experience, comes from (C) and (B). Disgruntlements (A) and (D) are feeble by comparison.
(A) looms large in the historical imagination of Americans, but I cannot detect much of it in current American life. The reason seems to be that with the easy white-on-black domination of slavery and Jim Crow out of the equation, whites and blacks just don't mix much. Race-realist blogger OneSTDV did a decent back-of-the-envelope numerical analysis just this week, concluding that:
Less than 1.5 percent of middle-class white women and about 3.0 percent of lower-class white women are sexually attracted to black men.
He added: "Whopping numbers, huh? Hide your daughters and girlfriends!"
Among white men, any residual disgruntlement is probably further damped down by the relentless race-guilt propaganda that permeates our society.
(C) is the biggest of all. To quote myself, writing in 2009:
Among East Asian males, there is a large subgroup who are flipped into a mode of blind fury by the thought of Asian women consorting with non-Asian males. In the young-adult cohort of mainland-Chinese males, I would estimate the subgroup as about one in three … One recent target of their rage has been Chinese movie star Zhang Ziyi, whose affair with Israeli venture capitalist Vivi Nevo has stirred quite horrifying levels of vituperation against Ms. Zhang on Chinese-language blogs.
Ms. Zhang's popularity in China never recovered, and she has just recently been the target of a vicious libel campaign.
Traveling around China eleven years ago with wife and kids, I came close to fist-fights with young Chinese men a couple of times, the presence of Mrs. Derbyshire a key factor on both occasions.
(D) is the least of the four disgruntlements, though I have spotted it on occasion, and it turns up in some of the emails I get—from women, I mean—on this topic.
A Jewish friend (male) tells me it is common among Jewish women. This derives from the odd affinity between Jews and Chinese, which I have noted for example here, and which of course ends up with lots of Jewish men married to Chinese women, together with a much lesser quantity of the opposite thing. Of the round-eyes I know who speak really good Mandarin, at least three-quarters are Jewish.
Is there any contradiction between all the above race realism, and my adherence to V1, and my being the loving husband of a nonwhite wife?
I can’t see it. Race realism, as I always take pains to emphasize—I took great pains to do so in my infamous April 5th column on “The Talk,” though of course I got not a pennyworth of credit for those pains—is a matter of statistics; of averages and variances, of distributions and the Law of Large Numbers.
Those concepts don’t exist for nothing. They belong to applied, not pure, mathematics. They are just the ticket for dealing with policy matters involving entire populations.
(The word “statistics” shares a root with “state.” Statistics was originally the arithmetic of the state.)
In our personal exchanges, though, we should, as I wrote in that April 5th piece, be “always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals.”
Mate selection is not one of those situations.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
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