A friend sent along Steve Sailer’s review of historian Otis L. Graham’s Immigration Reform and America’s Unchosen Future. Misleading title. American immigration policy was chosen. It just wasn’t chosen by the vast majority of the American people, and this is Graham’s point. As I have tried to show, it was chosen by the organized Jewish community and put into action as a result of Jewish political pressure and financial wherewithal. Graham notes that the successful immigration restriction of 1924 was seen by historians as one of the reforms of the Progressive Era’s campaign against the excesses of capitalism, since immigration lowered wages.
It’s fair to say, however, that Jews never saw it that way and there’s at least a fair amount of truth in the idea that the 1924 law was enacted to achieve an ethnic status quo that Jews saw as unfair to them. (Jewish immigrants were correctly seen by restrictionists as disproportionately involved in political radicalism, and it was generally a period of ethnic defense of White America.)
As Sailer’s review shows, Jews have not ceased seeing the 1924 law as exclusion of Jews. Graham points out that Jews live in the past when it comes to thinking about immigration: “the “filiopietistic” urge (“of or relating to an often excessive veneration of ancestors …”) is particularly strong among Jewish media figures. Italian-Americans, in contrast, tend to approach the immigration policy question by thinking about the future rather than by obsessing over the past. This anti-rational emotional reflex about immigration contributes to the kitschy quality of MSM discourse on the topic.”
In other words, Jews see the 1924 immigration law as part of their lachrymose history among Europeans, It’s just another example of irrational anti-Semitism — an example that warrants the evil nature of the people and culture who created it. Since, as Sailer notes, Jews constitute half of the most influential media figures, and since the other half are rigorously vetted to exclude anyone who opposes what amounts to the Jewish consensus on immigration, there really isn’t much real debate in the above-ground media.
Of course, there is a lot of self-censorship. Graham recounts the example of Theodore White, then the most influential journalist in America (and a Jew), refusing to publish his views on immigration. “‘My New York friends would never forgive me. No, you guys are right [on immigration], but I can’t go public on this.’ ” Sailer quotes Graham:
Hearing White’s agitated response, I had my first glimpse of the especially intense emotional Jewish version of that taboo [against immigration skepticism]. His whole heritage, and his standing with all his Jewish friends, was imperiled (he was certain) if he went public with his worries about the state of immigration. …
I did not suspect it then, but this would become an important subtheme of our experience as immigration reformers. American Jews were exceptionally irrational about immigration for well-known reasons. They were also formidable opponents, or allies, in any issue of public policy in America.
In a nutshell, that’s the problem with Jews: They get what they want and what they want is not necessarily what others want (leading to conflicts of interest) or what is good for the country as a whole. It really wouldn’t matter if the only group that wanted open borders was African Americans. But it matters greatly that Jews do.
Most important for the content of immigration reform [i.e., loosening], the driving force at the core of the movement, reaching back to the 1920s, were Jewish organizations long active in opposing racial and ethnic quotas. These included the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the American Federation of Jews from Eastern Europe. Jewish members of the Congress, particularly representatives from New York and Chicago, had maintained steady but largely ineffective pressure against the national origins quotas since the 1920s…. Following the shock of the Holocaust, Jewish leaders had been especially active in Washington in furthering immigration reform. To the public, the most visible evidence of the immigration reform drive was played by Jewish legislative leaders, such as Representative Celler and Senator Jacob Javits of New York. Less visible, but equally important, were the efforts of key advisers on presidential and agency staffs. These included senior policy advisers such as Julius Edelson and Harry Rosenfield in the Truman administration, Maxwell Rabb in the Eisenhower White House, and presidential aide Myer Feldman, assistant secretary of state Abba Schwartz, and deputy attorney general Norbert Schlei in the Kennedy-Johnson administration.