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The anti-amnesty movement's underbelly
Some anti-immigration activists are motivated by a simple, ugly thing: Racism
The underlying fear driving anti-immigration sentiment is...
The underlying fear driving anti-immigration sentiment is... Getty Images
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here are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose immigration reform. But it's time to be honest about one big bad reason driving some of the most passionate, if less high-profile, opponents: Fear that whites are losing their country.

I do not bring this up cavalierly. Such charges are thrown around far too casually. Just yesterday, for example, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act, an overwrought Rev. Al Sharpton declared that the ruling "really revoked a lot of what Dr. King's dream was all about."

But it has become very clear to me that beneath the surface lurks the fear some whites have of losing majority status. It is an underlying force behind some of the most vehement opposition to immigration reform.

My colleague at The Daily Caller, blogging pioneer Mickey Kaus, recently challenged his readers to create videos attacking amnesty. (It should be noted that Mickey — who happens to be a Democrat — opposes immigration reform for the simple reason that he believes more immigrants will hurt American workers who are already struggling. His brand of populist/protectionist politics isn't my cup of tea. I prefer Reagan/Kemp/Ryan/Rubio optimism as opposed to a Malthusian worldview that says we live in a limited world and are fighting for scraps. But I think we can all agree that Kaus' argument is a perfectly legitimate concern, especially considering the high unemployment rate.)

The very first video submitted was premised on the notion that immigration reform should be stopped because otherwise whites would become the minority in America.

I pushed back. Paraphrasing what the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez had said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference a few days earlier, I wrote that conservatism isn't about conserving pigmentation, it's about ideas. And that as long as America is free and virtuous, honors the rule of law, and advances the values of Western civilization, I couldn't care less about the racial makeup of America. (I also noted that if whites are concerned about losing majority status, there is a simple remedy: Start having kids at a faster rate than you're dying.)

This didn't go over very well. The person claiming responsibility for the video and I went back and forth a few times, culminating with his claiming that certain "proclivities" lead one to freedom and democracy, and that they are "genetically determined."

I responded, noting that in the book Why Nations Fail, economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson point out that North and South Koreans are genetically identical, and yet South Korea is one of the richest counties in world, while the North "grapples with periodic famine and abject poverty."

He wrote this:

...The truth is that I do care about race. And I care about race because I am fact-based and not wishful thinking-based. When sub-Saharan Africans or mestizos start pumping out scientific and technological marvels at the rate that Europeans have been doing for centuries; when they overwhelmingly embrace the rule of law and limited government over an all-controlling, wealth-redistributing Leviathan; when they eschew ethnic chauvinism in favor of racial egalitarianism; then, and only then, will I gladly admit that race is of no significance. Until that happens, I go with the data. And the data says it loud and clear: modern [western] civilization in general, and American culture in particular, depend upon races capable of supporting them, both intellectually and behaviorally. From my perspective, to deny this while pursuing a third-world immigration agenda is, at best, suicidal folly; at worst, it's outright treason.

Clearly there is a sense among some anti-immigration-reform proponents that whites are genetically superior, and thus, uniquely suited to living in a free society.

Now, the obvious way to attack this column is to say that I am citing an anonymous person who does not represent the mainstream of anti-immigration-reform thought. But look: I have been around politics long enough to know when something is a complete anomaly versus when something represents a certain strain of thought, even if it is repressed below the surface. This is not to say that the majority of opponents of reform — let alone this particular bill — harbor such thoughts. But some of the most passionate opponents of immigration reform do feel this way. It's possible some people who have these latent fears aren't even aware of it. (And, to be sure, the most prominent voices on TV either don't believe this garbage — or are simply smart enough to know better than to publicly voice these opinions. But many of their supporters are animated by this fear.)

It is telling that the very first video submitted to Mickey raised this issue as a primary argument. This is consistent with dozens of emails I have received since I started voicing my support for immigration reform.

Here's one I got Tuesday morning:

You say that America can exist without its original ethnic mix. That a country is nothing more than an "idea". If it is majority hispanic, or black it doesn't matter...as long as the "idea" survives. Tell me, where does the "idea" survive in a black majority American city? What is the corruption, decay, crime, like in ANY black run city? Surely if the problem was economic there would be some sign of success somewhere, some black enclave that is not entirely, artificially supported by massive Federal Government giveaways. So..where are those enclaves Matt? Can you name one? And you purport to think that Westen Civilization is essential to this "idea" of America. Where does this Western Civilzation survive without the ethnic group that created it. White Europeans. Where? How would you rate the Chinese immigrants interest in Western culture? Hmm? They seem to think of America as nothing more than an economic system to scam. And how would you rate the Jamaicans appreciation of Western art and philosophy? Jamaican culture is Rastafarian, and Rastafarian is built on the idea that Ethiopia is the center of the world. How about the Muslims that are flocking to Michigan? How to they look on the West? So tell us Matt, where do you find any evidence that traditional America will survive independent of its original ethnicity as the major dominant force? Come on Matt, surely.

Here's the political problem. These people are out there. They are tweeting and emailing and blogging. And — maybe more concerning — they are cheering on more mainstream commentators who are using increasingly harsh rhetoric, which, of course, makes it easier to paint Republicans as xenophobes. And for those of us who care about advancing conservative ideas, that could have some dire unintended consequences down the road.

Matt K. Lewis is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com, writes for The Daily Caller, and co-hosts The DMZ on Bloggingheads.tv. In 2012, the American Conservative Union honored Matt as  CPAC "Blogger of the Year." Matt lives in Alexandria, Va.

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