The Corner

Superior Immigrants

Derb, JP – I am not trying to get in the middle of you guys, even though I am basically philosophicaly in the middle of your guys. But Derb, I really think you’re wrong about the racial superiority thing. I am in fact as we speak rewriting my chapter which deals with much of this, and I’ve found very little of that sort of thing. I think the Japanese may be an exception. But — to take just one example — E.A. Ross, by far the premiere “raceologist” of the day, and an advisor to TR on immigration issues, was not prone to making arguments about the racial superiority of immigrants. He argued — as did many Progressives — that the darker and furrier races trying to come here were inferior to “real” Americans. But one of the things he feared was counter-intuitive: that these lesser races would be economically more competitive precisely because they were more comfortable living in a state of nature. As Ross put it: “the Coolie cannot outdo the American, but he can underlive him.” Or as John R. Commons, a famous Progressive economist put it, in his Races and Immigrants, “competition has no respect for superior races” which is why “the race with lowest necessities displaces others.” Hence “the Jewish sweat-shop is the tragic penalty paid by that ambitious race.”

And, just for balance, I should say that I think JPod is getting too hung up on the phrase “ethnic balance” as a codeword for all sorts of unlovely things. It seems to me that if you’re going to sit down and have any immigration policy at all, it’s unavoidable that you’re going to address the issue of ethnic balance in one way or another, no matter what you call it. Ultimately, you have to choose where people come from if you have an immigration policy, even if you emphasize other factors like skills or family unification. So you can either look at it directly or you can skirt around it. But you can’t avoid it.

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