Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2002 / 11 Shevat, 5762

Thomas Sowell

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Death of the West? -- IF Pat Buchanan did not exist, someone would have to try to invent him -- which would be a tall order. Although in some quarters he is depicted as a one-dimensional right-wing stereotype, somewhere between Archie Bunker and Adolf Hitler, anyone who reads his latest book, "The Death of the West," will discover a man of many dimensions and insights -- very knowledgeable about our times and about history, and an incredibly good writer on top of it all.

What sets Pat Buchanan apart from those conservatives who are happy if the Dow Jones is up and the tax rates are down is that he understands that we are in a culture war -- and that only one side is fighting all out. Meanwhile, all too many other Americans are unaware that this war is going on.

Buchanan also understands that the ultimate stakes in the culture war are the survival of American society and Western civilization. In "The Death of the West," he presents an overwhelming case that the key cultural institutions of American society -- the schools, the colleges, the arts, and the media, including Hollywood -- have been consciously and systematically undermining the foundation beliefs and traditions of American and Western civilization for years.

In addition to this widespread ideological assault against the values of the West by people in positions of trust that they have betrayed, this book shows demographic realities which threaten that civilization, whether in Europe, the United States, or Israel. The native-born populations in almost all Western countries are failing to have enough children to reproduce themselves.

These countries have also been importing large numbers of immigrants from other countries and other civilizations, people with values at cross purposes -- often dangerously so, as we learned last September 11th. Because these culturally different immigrants typically have a much higher fertility rate than the populations of the countries to which they are moving, the very composition of the Western world is changing in irreversible ways that threaten the survival of the existing culture.

Nor is this concern merely a matter of parochial loyalty to a familiar way of life. Despite an unceasing barrage of propaganda from many sources, proclaiming that all cultures are equal, the inescapable fact is that the actual behavior of peoples from virtually all the cultures in the world says the direct opposite of what the intelligentsia proclaim.

The movement of immigrants is overwhelmingly from other cultures to Western cultures. Virtually the whole human race has voted with their feet as to which economic and other benefits they prefer to have. The problem is that the cultural baggage of the immigrants is often incompatible with the culture which produces the benefits they seek.

At one time, it was possible to assimilate immigrants into the existing culture, even if there were sometimes painful transitions. Today, the intelligentsia's dogmas of cultural equality and the ugly political reality of ethnic identity politics make this much less likely. Keeping various groups separate, aggrieved and hostile to American society is a major activity, promoted by ideological movements and funded by leading foundations and even by government programs.

In addition, the sheer magnitude of today's immigration into Western countries threatens to overwhelm any society's ability to absorb so many strangers and so many incompatible cultures. As just one example, the virtue of tolerance has been extended to cultures that are unabashedly intolerant. As Pat Buchanan says, try setting up a Christian church in Istanbul!

Do we want to import people who are preaching hatred toward other American groups, such as the Jews, who are already here? If we Balkanize America, incessant repetition of the word "diversity" will not save us from the fate of the Balkans.

No such questions are likely to be raised in the mainstream media or in our colleges and universities, much less in the political arena. That is why it would be necessary to try to invent Pat Buchanan if he did not exist. The issues are just too big, and too momentous in their implications, to pass over in squeamish silence. Some of Buchanan's solutions are questionable, but his great service has been in presenting the problem.

JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate