call them English niceties. They are those mannerisms
make life so very pleasant. You notice them not at all
when they pervade the culture, and pine for them
when they`re gone.
And they are slowly disappearing in America, by and
large due to the twin evils of
outside the halls of power
will appreciate the
fellow-feelings that are stirred in me by my
neighborhood here in the Pacific
It`s a place where people
still greet one another
and engage in distinct chit-chat: "Lovely
day, isn`t it? Oh, it sure is fabulous."
up the mountain.
It`s a haven where certain conventions of civility
and decorum are observed; and where the
go up around
As an immigrant many times over—from
to the US—I`ve become excruciatingly aware of
what may seem petty, but is far from it.
As you know, emigration is traumatic. It`s up there
with bereavement and divorce. Leaving a country leaves
one with an
irreparable hole in the heart.
Leaving a few
countries, as I have, may cause permanent damage.
All the more so when the place you`ve fled, South
Africa, is being dismantled and dropped bit-by-bit down
a black hole. The
of that Christian
civilization at the tip of Africa has sharpened my
of how fragile such
are and how quickly they can
crumble in culturally inhospitable climes.
American opinion has always been as patronizing as it
is ignorant about South Africa. It considered the Old
South Africa an exotic, multicultural society because it
was predominantly black. But it was nothing of the sort.
and shaped by the Dutch
in the mid 1600s
, the Old South Africa was
Christian, conservative, and, broadly speaking,
bi-racial. Blacks had
. In South Africa, the white man`s
quaint, western ways have only lately come under a
full frontal assault
It is in the New South-African "Eden"
for example—is considered a manifestation of an African
Renaissance. (Ditto the
highest murder rate
in the world.)
Immigration into the Old South Africa was relatively
low. Growing up there, I didn`t know any immigrants.
, and later British had been competing over that
much-contested corner of the continent for an eternity.
My own family had arrived in South Africa at the turn of
the last century—Jewish traders (and a couple of rabbis)
who fled the
As a consequence, South Africa was a culturally
homogenous, if politically fractious, society. It will
surprise some to learn that I experienced the greatest
multicultural shock to my system in Canada and the US.
The very first time I had been unable to communicate
with a neighbor was not in faraway South Africa, or
Israel, but in Canada, where I lived among
, and Iraqi
. (They seemed perfectly charming, but I
had no way of telling for sure.)
In South Africa, English and Afrikaner "niceties"
once dominated. Still, while black South Africans often
had more English than some of my husband`s American
co-workers today, they appreciated pidgin exchanges in
, the dominant Bantu language. To elicit
beguiling grins, one had only to greet the petrol
[British/South African English for gas] attendant with
the words, "Molo Butte"
). To which he would reply, "Molo Sissy,"
depending on his interlocutor`s age."Progressive"
doesn`t imply progress. Like
successive American governments, the "progressive"
lax-on-law-and-order African National Congress
government is indifferent to immigration enforcement.
And, although South Africa is
slowly going the way
, it still has some distance to go before
there is nothing left to loot and distribute. In the
meantime, the rest of Africa wants in.
Under the tough-on-law-and-order Afrikaner
government, illegal immigrants from the killing fields
to the north dared not brave the Boer border guards and
their equally ferocious, indigenous assistants:
four-legged, wild beasts
. If an illegal immigrant
made it into the Old South Africa, he was removed,
turned back at the gate. Firm but fair.
But blacks now rule the South African roost—and they
deal differently with foreigners foisted on them by the
state: They kill them. And so it transpired, back in
May this year
, that gangs of black South Africans
swept through the townships of Johannesburg
slaughtering or savaging African aliens
Indeed, Africa moves in mysterious ways. Tribe and
territory trump political abstractions. The
neoconservative propositional nation, held together as
it is by notional ideas, doesn`t much move most
Africans. Neighbors are what count.
These brutal actions were
underwritten by a deeply felt impulse, to which
political scientist Robert Putnam indirectly—and
reluctantly—lent scientific imprimatur.
Putnam discovered that
the greater the diversity in a community, the greater
the distrust and the despair. His unexceptional
devastating communities across America
did not drive Putnam to issue an S.O.S. Rather, he sat
on his findings for some time before publishing
Diversity and Community in the Twenty-First Century.
Like many a social scientist living in symbiosis with
the state, Putnam`s loyalties were not
with its suffering subjects.
multiplying multicultural communities Professor
described herein, people "hunker down":
They withdraw, have
fewer "friends and confidants,"
neighbors regardless of the color of their skin, expect
the worst from local leaders, volunteer and car-pool
less, give less to charity and "agitate for
social reform more,"
with little hope of success. Unlike
Americans, Africans don`t huddle in front of the
television, alternating between activism and escapism,
unhappiness and ennui. Instead, they seek and
destroy the causes of their misery. (Yet the
press in the West maligns the
Minutemen more than it does killers of newcomers!)
Cut to my community in the
. Down in the idyllic village three young
girls were recently robbed at knife point, in broad
daylight, by a man they
described as Hispanic
. Elsewhere in this little
hamlet, a woman
stabs a man to death
. It is the first murder in five
years, almost unheard of in this well-to-do tiny town.
Unlike the down-market drift increasingly
visible on the streets,
demographic details in this
case are (of
) suppressed by
the local media.
Higher up on the mountain, where I live, "English
still prevail. Occasionally an
elegantly swaddled Indian lady
will waddle by me on
my excursions outdoors. She stares straight ahead, even
as she bumps me on the narrow sidewalk. She doesn`t know
In that respect, the
couple that walks by resembles the East
Asian lady. I smile. They come uncomfortably close, but
look right through me.
Ilana Mercer (email
her) is a
weekly columnist for WorldNetDaily.com, a fellow at
Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies,. and
the author of Broad Sides: One Woman`s Clash With a Corrupt Culture,
Foreword to which was written by
Peter Brimelow. Her website is
www.ilanamercer.com; her blog