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We Didn`t Mind Enough—The Elites, The Electorate, And Mass Immigration
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June 03, 2012, 10:38 PM
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Thanks to readers who`ve emailed in with comments and criticisms on my VDARE columns.  I`ll post my responses to the VDARE blog as time permits.

Several readers objected to my having said in my May 24th piece, in respect of mass Third World immigration, that:

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.

The general theme of the objections here was: "Don`t blame us. It was those damn elites."  Sample email:

In the latest column by Mr. Derbyshire he laments the ongoing demographic collapse of the historic American nation through immigration.  His sadness is genuine and is shared by myself.  But I think he places far too much blame on the American people for this disaster.  The American people really have not had much say in the matter.  All of our so called elites —politicians, businessmen, journalists, academics, have contributed to this situation and are to blame for it.  And they have ignored the wishes of the American people.  No, Mr. Derbyshire, this disaster is the responsibility of our elites.  They have truly betrayed us.

Sorry, but I don`t buy it.  Politicians can be voted out; businessmen can have their products boycotted; journalists (let me tell you) can be swamped with negative mail.  Academics I`ll allow the citizenry has not much control over — and a good thing too, in my personal opinion — but then, academics don`t have much say in national policy.

I can be as cynical as the next guy about the legislative sausage machine; but we do have representative government; we do have the right to petition for redress of grievances; we are not the helpless playthings of omnipotent elites. 

The utter failure to appear of any significant political action against mass immigration seems to me to be mysterious.  I can think of no explanation for it.  

And as mysterious as it is here, it is doubly so in Britain.  Americans might at least make the excuse that, well, this is a big country with lots of empty space.  

When mass Third World immigration into Britain took off in the 1960s, the country was already overpopulated.  There was a common opinion to that effect — I was living there at the time and often heard it.  Yet the immigrants poured in (and are still doing so).  Even with the brilliant and articulate leadership of Enoch Powell, immigration-restrictionist sentiment never attained any political force.

At any point from the 1960s on, polls in both the U.S.A. and Britain show people wanting lower levels of immigration; yet again, their wishes never translated into real political action.  

Pollsters will tell you about "salience."  That is, if you poll people on some topic, you`ll get their opinions.  People always have opinions. Some topics weigh much more heavily with people than others, though — have more salience.  

Until recently, immigration had little salience.  It never decided an election.  Enoch Powell was fired by Tory Party leader Edward Heath for his 1968 immigration speech; two years later Heath was elected Prime Minister.

"If Americans [or Britons] minded what was happening, they didn`t mind enough to stop it."  I don`t see how that can be gainsaid.

Incidentally, the excellent blogger Irish Savant has a post up about Queen Elizabeth`s jubilee, with an aside about the part the Queen played in her country`s demographic transformation:

Could Ma’am, in her capacity as Sovereign, have done anything to stop the rot?  I really don’t know. As a Constitutional Monarch she operated under major constraints. But I do know she could hardly have done less.