cover image The Immigration Mystique: America's False Conscience

The Immigration Mystique: America's False Conscience

Chilton Williamson. Basic Books, $23 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-465-03286-0

An ""immigration mystique"" purveyed since the pre-WWI era by politicians of both parties promotes high-sounding but flawed justifications for large-scale immigration to our shores, declares Williamson, senior editor of Chronicle (and formerly National Review's literary and senior editor). This mystique, he says, wrongly equates a generous immigration policy with displays of national moral worth and fosters an unrealistic dream of multicultural globalism based on the mistaken assumption that the U.S. has a special obligation to peoples of color in former European colonies of Asia and Africa. The conservative core of Williamson's argument is familiar: non-European and Third World immigrants bring with them ""opposing values"" from ""proletarian and peasant cultures"" that jeopardize the nation's dominant WASP culture, prevent us from consolidating a national identity and thus threaten ""to condemn the United States to endless cultural adolescence."" He further contends that mass, unskilled immigration displaces U.S. citizens from jobs, saps productivity and impedes technological advances. His polemic takes on liberals as well as conservatives who favor open borders. (July)