The Based Immigrant Meme
American conservatives love to imagine immigrants as secret Republicans desperate to flee the Democrat barrio. The fantasy goes something like this: “Immigrants are hard-working, God-fearing people who love America more than any native! We just need to stop being bigoted and speak to these people in Spanish.”
This line has been propagated for as long as I’ve been alive. Despite the billions Republicans have spent on outreach, they only started doing well with immigrant communities when they were led by a guy who called them criminals and rapists.
This argument has receded since Donald Trump came to dominate the American Right, but it still pops up from time to time. Babylon Bee managing editor Joel Berry offered the latest and possibly most cringe example this week. “Unpopular take: mass immigration could save this country,” he tweeted. “These are hard-working, mostly Christian/Catholic people coming in. The Democrats want to immediately hook them on welfare and turn them into a permanent underclass voting bloc. We could prevent that by assimilating them.”
The takes got worse from there.
It’s a fact that first-generation Americans are more hard-working, more appreciative of America’s blessings, and more likely to have traditional families. The democrats want to bring these people in, keep them poor, and destroy their culture, just like they did to black Americans
— Joel Berry (@JoelWBerry) January 26, 2023
Berry argued that conservatives need to offer amnesty to illegals and “welcome them as citizens” to save them from the clutches of liberals. He insisted immigrants are “culturally conservative” and “just might save our culture”. He appeared to defend illegal immigrants because of how allegedly impossible it is to legally migrate. He began trolling his critics by insisting miscegenation should be mandatory so we can all be “the same shade of brown,” and that POC Greeks made Western Civilization while whites lived in caves. Berry also declared: “America is an experiment. We’re not based on ‘blood and soil’ like most other countries. We’re based on a set of ideas. If you adopt the ideas, you’re one of us. It’s a beautiful thing. Can it survive?”
Can immigrants save America? The answer is obviously no. By any metric, mass immigration would destroy the country conservatives wish to preserve . They’re not as “culturally conservative” as their right-wing fans claim. On pretty much every issue, immigrants favor the standard Democratic line.
Hispanics overwhelmingly favor big government over limited government. Hispanics and Asians overwhelmingly oppose abortion bans. Both groups support gay marriage. Both groups favor gun control. Both groups favor speech restrictions.
The bigger issue is Berry’s assumption that assimilation as the answer. Assimilation is more likely to turn these new arrivals into liberals. Asian voters are a good example. Polling data shows that Asians who are not born here and are less proficient in English are more likely to vote Republican than American-born Asians fluent in English. The New York Times recently claimed that first-generation Asian immigrants are more open to Republican appeals because they “may not be as attuned to the history of racial inequity.” There is a point there, obnoxious liberal phrasing aside.
Newly-arrived immigrants aren’t educated in American schools. They didn’t grow up with American media bombarding them with progressive messages. They’re less likely to enjoy the fruits of identity politics and affirmative action. They haven’t bought into the excuses for the crazy things they see around them. An Asian immigrant held up by a black robber is not going to explain it as a result of systemic racism, but their children and grandchildren might.
Assimilation to the New America is very different from what Berry imagines it to be. It doesn’t require one to learn about the heroes of America’s past (besides Martin Luther King), our Constitution, or what made us great. It just requires you to listen to rap, enjoy pro sports, speak a little bit of English, and pursue the almighty dollar. Eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is more integral to modern American identity than knowing who Andrew Jackson is. America no longer has a rooted culture exclusive to the people here. What’s left is a mass culture that’s both shallow and extremely accessible. It doesn’t take much effort to enjoy the Super Bowl.
Many conservatives still believe Anglo-Protestant values are critical for assimilation, but not for the New America. You still need a strong work ethic to get ahead here, but that’s the only remnant from the past system. The only values you need to learn is that racism is very bad, white people are responsible for all of America’s wrongs, blacks are the true founding fathers, and equality is the highest ideal. This is an appealing message to non-white immigrants. It allows them to posture as the true Americans against the unworthy natives.
The more assimilated immigrants become, the more likely they embrace leftism and identity politics.
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