Diana West On “Hitler`s Revenge”

The Death of the Grown-Up: How America`s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization, by Washington Times columnist Diana West is a very interesting (read: heartbreaking) book about how the authority-challenging, mores-rejecting 1960s generation has wreaked havoc by never growing up.

Particularly interesting, especially to me, is this passage:

In Alien Nation: Common Sense about America`s Immigration Disaster, a bracingly unequivocal assessment of the cultural and political shambles that make up U.S. immigration policy–the basis of sovereignty–author Peter Brimelow opens his preface with a provocative statement.

“There is a sense in which the current immigration policy is Adolph Hitler`s posthumous revenge on America. The U.S. political elite emerged from the war passionately concerned to cleanse itself from all taints of racism and xenophobia. Eventually, it enacted the epochal Immigration Act (technically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments) of 1965. And this, quite accidentally, triggered a renewed mass immigration, so huge and systemically different from anything that had gone before as to transform–and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy–the one unquestioned victor of World War II: the American nation, as it had evolved by the middle of the twentieth century.”

Brimelow doesn`t elaborate on Hitler`s revenge, but further consideration is illuminating. It`s easy to imagine that in its revulsion at Adolf Hitler`s genocidal anti-Semitism and obsession with Aryan racial purity, the U.S. political elite wanted to put as much distance between itself and any policy or practice smacking of the evils of the Third Reich. Ditto for the Nazi regime`s rigid, if buffoonish, authoritarianism. Remember the Hechingers [Grace and Fred M. Hechinger, authors of a 1963 book, Teen-Age Tyranny], with their astute observation that postwar American culture expressed an instinctive animus toward the autocratic classroom, its pedagogical authority, and the blind obedience of rote memorization. This old-fashioned model wasn`t , as they observed, going to fly in the new postwar day. Having just triumphed over a German dictatorship and a Japanese divine monarchy, American culture was in a decidedly democratic mood; this, as the Hechingers demonstrated played out in the widespread receptivity to new, nonauthoritarian, child-directed education theories, and a growing emphasis on self-expression.

Brimelow has picked up on another aspect of the postwar mood–the passionate concern of the postwar elite “to cleanse itself from all taints of racism and xenophobia.” This, he maintains, culminated in the Immigration Act of 1965. By reconstituting the immigrant pool to accommodate non-Europeans and nonwhite peoples, this new legislation codified a policy of non-racism (“racism” understood as discrimination against nonwhites) within an official American embrace of non-Western cultures. The practical impact of this landmark legislation still hasn`t been acknowledged; the emotional effect on proponents, however, was undoubtedly instantaneous as warm waves of self-satisfaction foamed with newly proven purity–not race, of course, but rather of intentions.

Such idealistic trends, the one cited by Hechingers, the other by Brimelow, were at heart emotional trends–part of the same national mood swing of postwar exuberance. The “democratic” classroom that no longer saluted authority embodied the difference between the heil-Hitler bad guys and the power-to-the-people good guys; so, too, did “democratic” immigration legislation (“a national emotional spasm”) that sent Western European Ă©migrĂ©s toward the back of the line for American entry. Just as we were now inclined to bridle at the traditional hierarchy in the classroom, we were also ready to reject the traditional hierarchy of cultures. This would ultimately, however, call into question our own place on top.

And therein lies Hitler`s revenge–the cultural leveling that either emerged from, or was, in some crucial way, accentuated by, natural outrage over the crimes against humanity committed by the Third Reich. Hitler, of course was totally defeated, along with his tyrannical notion of cultural (Germanic) and racial (Aryan) “supremacy.” But so, too, perhaps, were all notions of Western primacy regarding culture and race (which I take here to include nationhood) – even ones that supported, not supremacy in a murderous form, but judgment in a rational form. Grounded by notions of sovereignty and cultural affinity, such judgement determines the kids of attitudes and choices–on everything from religion to law to literature–that are expressed in cultural identity. In the case of the United States and its European allies, these attitudes and choices derive from a specifically Judeo-Christian identity forged in fire, ink, and steel by those whom our modern-day multiculturalists insultingly deride as “dead, white men.”

Having failed to destroy the democracies by making Nazi war, then, Hitler may have unwittingly managed to destroy the democracies by effecting a post-Nazi peace in which the act of pledging allegiance to the flag itself, for example, would practically become an act of nationalist supremacism – racism, even; bigotry, too. Quite sudddenly, it didn`t matter whether the culture in question led to a reign of terror, or to liberty and justice for all.

Hear, hear.