John Derbyshire On That Census Report: White America—Lost In A Fit Of Absence Of Mind?

I see from the Census Bureau tables that my age cohort, the 60-somethings, numbered just over 29 million in the year 2010, of which 77 percent were non-Hispanic white [NHW]. The next cohort up, the 70-somethings, were 79 percent NHW; octogenarians were 84 percent, nonagenarians 86 percent.

With those last two groups you`re well nigh back in mid-20th-century America. The 1950 census recorded us as 89.54 percent white, 9.98 percent black, “other” at trace-element levels. (There was no such census category as “Hispanic” until 1970.)

Down at the other end of the population pyramid, things look different. Those 2010 numbers show 20-somethings as only 60 percent NHW, the 10-to-19s as 57 percent, and the under-tens at 54 percent.

Last week came the news that in the youngest micro-cohort of all, that of infants born in the year up to July 2011, NHWs were less than 50 percent.

This is the continuation of a long reversal. At the time of Independence, the territory of the present-day 48 contiguous states contained Europeans, indigenes, and Africans (or African-white and African-indigene mixtures, both counted as “black”), in percentages roughly 62, 22, and 16, respectively.

The subsequent expansion of U.S. territory, together with waves of European immigration through to the 1920s, had the effect of making the country whiter. The whiteness peaked and then plateaued through the middle decades of the last century, the time of the great immigration moratorium, 1924-65.

Then came the reversal: the 1965 Immigration Act, which triggered mass immigration after a forty-year lull, followed by the Great Insouciance towards illegal immigration from Mexico and points south that took off in the 1970s. (The 1965 Act had actually imposed an annual quota on Latin American immigration.)

And here we are now, with parents of one-year-old NHWs contemplating a U.S.A. in which their children will, by middle adulthood, be a minority.

Last week`s news stirred surprisingly little comment. Or perhaps the paucity of comment is not so surprising; we have, after all, been chewing over this topic for a decade or more—at least since President Bill Clinton exulted, in 1998, that “In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race in the United States.”

It would in fact be hard to find a commentator active in the past few years who has not had something to say about the coming majority-minority U.S.A. Hua Hsu`s somewhat rambling piece titled The End of White America? in the February 2009 Atlantic was one of the most-discussed; though even that one did not make enough of an impression to spare Pat Buchanan the wrath of the racially righteous for using the same title (minus question mark) as a chapter heading in Suicide of a Superpower.

I tackled the topic myself precisely five years ago, causing Linda Chavez to reach for the smelling salts. From that article of mine:

And so white-Anglo America slips into minority status. Probably we never wanted it to happen. Probably, if asked around 1970 whether it ought to happen, most of us would have said no. The topic never rose to the status of a major political issue among the mass of Americans, though … If Americans minded what was happening, they didn`t mind enough to stop it. To be sure, their indifference was aided and abetted by the late 20th-century browbeating campaigns by cultural elites on behalf of “diversity,” “political correctness,” and racial guilt; but Americans didn`t seem to mind those much, either — not enough to rebel against them in any significant way.

If there is any large general historical lesson to be taken from all this, it is that a population as prosperous, secure, well-employed and well-entertained as the white Anglos of late 20th-century America, and as confident of its own cultural superiority, cannot be made to care much about matters of ethnic identity, and may altogether lose the habit of thinking in such terms.

Reading that over now, five years later, I think I may have overstated the element of smug passivity driving this extraordinary demographic change, and correspondingly understated the strain of psychopathology—of what I have elsewhere called ethnomasochism: “taking pleasure in contemplating the humiliation, subordination, or annihilation of one`s own ethny or race.”

I notice now, more than I did then, the note of strident triumphalism—sometimes of cruelty even—in today`s multiculturalist propaganda.

Here for example is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling the other day for some grand Soviet-style social engineering:

I would argue the federal government should go one step further. They should deliberately force some places that don`t want immigrants to take them, because that`s the only solution for these big, hollowed-out cities where industry has left and is never going to come back unless you get some people to move there.[Mike’s immigrant plan to save cities, By David Seifman, New York Post, May 23, 2012]

It is not hard to see there, moving just beneath the surface, a view of Americans—the 320 million of us who comprise the citizenry of this nation—as an insubstantial, shadowy presence, of no consequence or importance, shuffling aimlessly through empty lives, and quite unable to supply the entrepreneurs, technicians, managers, engineers, inventors, and innovators we need for economic revitalization.

Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg should study the speeches of Booker T. Washington: “Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are.”

(Perhaps, too, he should show some awareness of the hazards faced by smart, capable immigrants who venture into those hollowed-out cities.)

Well, well, the transformation is done, and it is universally taken for granted that it cannot be reversed. A historian once said that the British Empire was acquired in a “fit of absence of mind.” White America was lost the same way.

There was, indeed, an assist from that peculiar strain of ethnomasochism; but as I said in 2007 “If Americans minded what was happening, they didn`t mind enough to stop it.”

The consequences will play out for our children and grandchildren.

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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