Tribal America

Some depressing thoughts on our demographic demagogued destiny, from Mark Steyn:

The short history of the Western Hemisphere is as follows: North America was colonized by Anglo-Celts, Central and South America by “Hispanics.” Up north, two centuries of constitutional evolution and economic growth; down south, coups, corruption, generalissimos, and presidents-for-life. None of us can know the future. It may be that Charles Krauthammer is correct that Hispanics are natural Republicans merely pining for amnesty, a Hallmark Cinco de Mayo card, and a mariachi band at the inaugural ball. Or it may be that, in defiance of Dr. Krauthammer, Grover Norquist, and Little Mary Sunshine, demographics is destiny and, absent assimilationist incentives this country no longer imposes, a Latin American population will wind up living in a Latin American society. Don’t take it from a right-wing bigot like me, take it from the New York Times. In 2009, Jason DeParle filed a story about suburban Maryland, in which he helpfully explained the municipality of Langley Park to Times readers:

Now nearly two-thirds Latino and foreign-born, it has the aesthetics of suburban sprawl and the aura of Central America. Laundromats double as money-transfer stores. Jobless men drink and sleep in the sun. There is no city government, few community leaders, and little community.

Golly. You’d almost get the impression that Mr. DeParle thinks that laundromats doubling as money-transfer stores, jobless men drinking and sleeping in the sun, and dysfunctional government are somehow characteristic of Central America. That sounds awfully judgmental for a Times man, no?

Immigration, multi-culturalism, democracy. Pick any two.

48 thoughts on “Tribal America

  1. Brock

    There’s only one “Latin American” country that looks remotely like a “natural home of the GOP” – Chile. And it’s telling that the second-largest source of immigrants in Chile (after Spain) was Germany. Argentina got the Italians.

    Demographics is destiny? Culture is destiny. It’s the culture, stupid.

    1. rickl

      Notably, Chile solved their leftist problem back in the 70s. Fellow named Pinochet.

      I can dream, can’t I?

  2. Orville

    Oh, absolutely. I embrace the meaningless title of racist. I’m as much for my kind as anyone else is for theirs.

    1. B Lewis

      Be careful, Orville. Agent Bob-1 of the Hate Police is on the job. One hint of pride in your ancestry — or even that you have an ancestry — and he’ll be on the phone with Eric Holder.

      White people are not allowed to be “for their kind” in America any more. We’re not even allowed to admit that “our kind” exists. From now on, Bob-1 and his gang will decide who is worthy to exist and who is not.

  3. Don

    Pat Buchanan has been writing on this subject for a long time; his recent book Suicide of a Superpower discussed the demographic problem in some depth. But few modern conservatives, or those calling themselves conservatives, will pay attention to anything that Mr. Buchanan says.

  4. Curt Thomson

    many of those exulting in the inevitable eclipse of “white America” are the same people who assure me that demographic arguments about the Islamization of Europe are completely preposterous.

    Hell we might as well give little bobby the twofer. Remember, we’re not just racist here, we’re islamaphobes too. So Bob, why is a brown America inevitable and natural, but honor killing of 14 year old girls, female genital mutilation, and stoning of homosexuals, all in the name of one’s faith, just so much poo-pooing about nothing?

    1. Bob-1

      Regarding Muslims, my argument is that there are nice Muslims, moderate Muslims, Muslims you and I would both be happy to have as friends and neighbors. Such Muslims, like me, think that honor killing anyone, stoning anyone, or mutilating anyone, for any reason, is nothing but utterly horrific and completely unacceptable. You already knew that I think this, which makes me wonder about you. Is your health ok?

      1. Curt Thomson

        My health is fine, but I don’t live under sharia law. The distinction is that I also don’t want to. Which makes me an islamaphobe. You on the other hand would probably find it a unique and wonderful experience in diversity. With the added benefit of more comfort in calling others islamaphobes. I’m guessing you’d also conclude you’re health would be better too. (Somehow. Since you brought it up. The bloody hell you’d go through to get there is certainly something I have no interest in.)

        As for Steyn’s point about demographics’ apparent inability to swim, and your blindness to it, I think you’ve reinforced it.

  5. gbaikie

    US policy should be to encourage Hispanics emigration and work permits.

    The critical difference between Central and South American countries and
    Hispanics is they leaving these countries.

    It seems if one support idea of opening space frontier, you want more emigration as general idea.

    The problem with US immigration is the government is managing it. And as usual doing a terrible job.

    In the future the people that emigrate into space are going to be the best people on Earth.

  6. Gregg

    America has always welcomed immigrants into the country so long as the following conditions were true:

    1) they came legally

    2) They assimilated.

    And for most of the history of the Colonies and Republic this was largely so. I remember relatives who immigrated here who insisted we do things the American way and NOT the Italian way, the Dutch way, or the Hungarian way. Fitting in mattered. They understood that the opportunities they came here to partake of are here ONLY because of the culture and form of government.

    It’s not a rave’s a culture and form of government thing.

    1. Bob-1

      It is easier to distinguish between racism and your position when you describe “culture” with a little more detail. For example, presumably your relatives didn’t mind (or even encouraged) an appreciation of Hungarian music, but music is part of culture. Similarly, chicken paprikash was probably going to be encouraged, but food is part of culture. Etc.

      So, what exactly do you mean when you say “The Hungarian way” vs “The American way”? What do you mean when you say “fitting in”? I’m sure you mean “Learn English”, although I bet it was ok with your Hungarian relatives if Hungarian was also retained (or learned, in the case of the first American-born generation).

      I’m sure you mean something like “Learn and follow the law”.

      You probably also mean something like “Figure out what successful Americans do in terms of handling money (get a bank account, at the very least)”

      But learn how to play basketball or American football? Eh. Who cares?!

      What else?

      In general, the non-racist contributors to this thread, including you Rand, might try to specify what you mean when you say “culture” or “multi-culturalism”. Those words are very difficult to actually define, but you could use specific examples to flesh out their definitions.

      Curt’s example of Sharia law is a great example. You could say “if an immigrant wants to replace our legal structure, starting with the Constitution, with Sharia law, well, that’s in keeping with our culture”. And that’s fine, but Gregg said “it is not race, it is culture and form of government”, and seems to me that “form of government” already rules out Sharia law, so I’m still wondering what people mean when they say “culture”.

        1. Bob-1

          Jews in 1960s America made an even bigger deal about fitting in and assimilating than they do today. So did German Jews in the 1920s.

          The Nazis were quite against “multi-culturalism” and they took it out on a bunch of Jews who had been under the impression that they were assimilated Germans.

          Imagine an alternate history, where Germany encourages Jewish immigration after WWI, and doesn’t have a Nazi movement. Is Germany encouraging immigration and multi-culturalism? Is democracy in alternative-history-Germany thus threatened, because it has more Jews? Or was Germany not multi-cultural, despite the Nazi claims? Rand, I don’t know how you would answer that last question, because I don’t know what you mean when you say “multi-cultural”.

          Obviously, my concern here is motivated by my memory of what it was like to be part of the only Jewish family in my town growing up.
          We didn’t put up Christmas lights. Did that mean we were not fitting in? Were we thus part of a multi-cultural problem?

          1. Rand Simberg Post author

            We didn’t put up Christmas lights. Did that mean we were not fitting in? Were we thus part of a multi-cultural problem?

            If you don’t understand the distinction between not putting up Christmas lights and wanting to institute sharia law, I’m not sure I can help you.

            Here’s a hint on the multi-culti thing. Some cultures are compatible with western liberal democracy. There is at least one that is not. Yet the multi-cultis thinks that all cultures are equal and just great, or at least beyond criticism.

      1. wodun

        You know bob-1 for some so concerned with spotting racism you never appeared to be bothered with Obama and the Democrats racial stereotyping during the election. This whole business of cheering on the decline of white america, as if values are skin deep, is a nasty bit of racism itself.

        1. Bob-1

          ” you never appeared to be bothered with Obama and the Democrats racial stereotyping during the election. ”

          You know what you don’t appear to be bothered by? All the blatant racism in this thread. But I know you’re a good guy, and I figure it bothers you. Maybe you figure it isn’t even worth commenting on.

          So, about your claim that Obama and the Democrats were racially stereotyping during the election: When did Obama do this? Which elected Democratic party did this?

          Or are you just talking about pundits? I’m sure some pundits have been racist, but we should talk about specific people. Do you have a quote?

          “This whole business of cheering on the decline of white america, ”

          What does “the decline of white america” even mean? I not only don’t hear anyone cheering for it, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Do you mean the ratio of people self-identifying as white to the number of people not self-identifying as white is changing? Are you talking about a mathematical decline or some other kind of decline?

          I did hear cheering that more hispanics and african americans chose to vote than in previous elections, and while it might not be sensible to divide up the populace that way, it certainly is good thing that more people are voting, right? The GOP is taking note, and is trying to win more votes from everyone. Repudiating the sort of racism that appears in this thread would probably win more votes than it would lose (ie the end of the Southern Strategy).

          1. Leland

            wodun seems very bothered by your racism, bob. Yet, this is your response:

            But I know you’re a good guy, and I figure it bothers you. Maybe you figure it isn’t even worth commenting on.

            Your brand of racism is worse than B Lewis. B Lewis isn’t demanding you agree with him. B Lewis is simply proud of who he is. You, bob, are the one demanding homogeny. You’re not happy unless others postively assert their acceptance of your ideal.

            B Lewis, Gregg, and Curt would likely be happy if you just let them be. They don’t demand anything from you. Yet you call them racist. It’s absurd.

          2. Bob-1

            “is simply proud of who he is????????”

            Ok, here’s something you don’t seem to understand: race in America is only going to be a predictive characteristic as a reaction to prejudice.

            Bruce is proud of who he is because he is white? Does that really make any sense to you? Are you proud of who you are because you are white? You don’t like communists, right? Even white ones. You don’t like Nazis, right? All of them were white. You don’t like me, and I suppose I’m white enough.

            When people say they are proud of being African-American, it only makes sense to me as a reaction to racism. Other than that, it is nonsense — Africa is full of people who don’t see themselves as having much in common with each other, even if Americans (including Black Americans) want to label all of them black.

            In America, the one thing all black people have in common is that they have to put up with racists. In some situations, I’m sure that’s true of some white people too — sometimes a group of white people all have something in common because they have to put up with racism. But whoever you are, take away the racism, and you don’t have enough in common with people who are the same “race” as you to be proud of anything that you wouldn’t also be proud of because you’re a human being.

            I understand some people disagree. I think they are stupid. Racism’s track record is sufficiently horrible for me to demand that a racist gets shunned. Maybe you feel that way about communism’s track record.

            Anyway, I now see that Bruce Lewis has done me a big favor.
            I thought this blog wasn’t full of racists.

          3. Leland

            Bruce is proud of who he is because he is white?

            Hey dummy, who said his pride came from his race? Oh yeah, to you, everyone is a racist if they disagree with you, ergo B Lewis’s pride must come from skin color. But let’s look at what I wrote:

            B Lewis is simply proud of who he is.

            He. Bob. He.

            He is proud of himself, an individual. Not a race. Race isn’t as important to his decisions. He makes his own decisions. His decision is not to let you define him, by race or by anything else. So you can call him a racist, and he laughs at you. He’s been baiting you all weekend by throwing your name for him back at you. It’s been a lot of fun watching it. I’m almost afraid to point it out, because you just might stop making an ass of yourself.


          4. Leland

            In America, the one thing all black people have in common is that they have to put up with racists.

            Wow. You wrote that, yet you have the nerve to call anyone else racist?

            So bob, where does this hate inside you come from? Cause it takes a lot of hate to write that sentence, and yet, you wrote it.

          5. Rand Simberg Post author

            In America, the one thing all black people have in common is that they have to put up with racists. In some situations

            All Americans share that problem. For instance, we all have an Attorney General who thinks that his job is to look out for “his people.”

          6. Rand Simberg Post author

            He’s been baiting you all weekend by throwing your name for him back at you. It’s been a lot of fun watching it. I’m almost afraid to point it out, because you just might stop making an ass of yourself.

            Don’t worry, Leland. Bob has shown himself to be incapable of not feeding the troll, while getting himself all in umbrage about how he is the only one who doesn’t recognize trolling.

          7. B Lewis

            Better watch out, folks. “Bull” Bob-1 will turn the fire hoses and attack dogs on you if you get too uppity. He doesn’t take kindly to whiteys that don’t know their place.

          8. B Lewis

            Better watch out, folks. “Bull” Bob-1 will turn the fire hoses and attack dogs on you if you get too uppity. He doesn’t take kindly to whiteys that don’t know their place.

          9. Rand Simberg Post author

            Rand, are you talking about the following?

            Without following the link, I don’t know. I also don’t care. Does it matter?

            In what context is it all right for the Attorney General of the United States of America to be talking about “my people” other than in describing the citizens of the United States of America? Which he clearly was not. Because, by the definition of the Left, he is a racist (that is, someone who thinks his race special, and in a position of power to do something about it).

            [Note: I add the latter condition because it is the one that the Left uses to pretend that blacks aren't racist. So much for that with this administration...]

          10. wodun

            “So, about your claim that Obama and the Democrats were racially stereotyping during the election: When did Obama do this? Which elected Democratic party did this? ”

            You don’t think the old rich angry white guy stereotype that Obama and the Democrats use is due to racism? Or dumb rednecks in flyover states? Saying Romney was going to take us back before the civil rights movement? Put black people back in the fields? The endless tarring of the TP as racist? None of that crap from the Democrats had to do with racism?

            There are racists and they are present in both parties and in all races. But Obama and the Democrats framed the election as beating the racists. They can’t accept that neither party supports racism because the whole Democrat ideology is framed as us vs others. The Democrats say they are against racism but the implication is always those other guys are the racists.

            Falsely accusing people of racism is just as bad as being a racist especially when those claims of racism are based on other’s skin color.

            “Bruce is proud of who he is because he is white? Does that really make any sense to you?”

            Do you want him to be ashamed because he is white? There is nothing wrong with liking your own skin color. He can’t change his skin color. He was born that way. I don’t think that means he hates everyone who isn’t white.

            “When people say they are proud of being African-American, it only makes sense to me as a reaction to racism”

            All people should be proud of who they are and their heritage. It isn’t a response to racism and it shouldn’t be limited to certain groups.

            The differences between “races” are so small. They are so insignificant. That is why it brings me great pain that Obama and the Democrats are always trying to drive wedges and pit one group against another and convince people that voting in the best interest of their group is better than voting in the best interest of the country.

      2. ken anthony

        You’ve just identified a glaring problem Bob. It used to be that nobody had trouble understanding the meaning of “The American way.” Now known as ‘that other stuff.’

    2. Jim

      they came legally

      For much of our history there were no immigration laws, so any immigration was legal. Then we passed bans on immigration by certain ethnic groups, so as long as you weren’t the wrong ethnicity you were a legal immigrant. You didn’t have to wait for years, fit under a quota, pass a test (other than being free of obvious disease), have a US relative as a sponsor, or any of the other requirements we have today. If the immigrants of the 18th and 19th century had faced the obstacles faced by today’s immigrants, most of us wouldn’t be here.

      1. Thomas Matula


        Yes, the first quota laws were passed after World War I to keep Catholics and other non-Protestants out, especially from Eastern and Southern Europe.

        The laws were heavily influenced by the work of Madison Grant who wrote of the need to preserve the Nordic race from extinction in the United States. He was Vice-President of the Immigration Restriction League from 1922 to 1937. The unions were also major supporters as they wanted to cut off the flow of cheap foreign labor to industry so it would be easier for them to call strikes.

  7. Chris Gerrib

    The reason South and Central America has had a wildly different and less successful history post-independence has very little to do with race (“Hispanic” or otherwise) and a whole lot to do with policies implemented by the very white Spanish Habsburgs.

    Without writing a book on the subject (although many have been) the Spanish crown gave conquistadors not just land but the right to rule the people living on that land. The Crown essentially re-created feudal Europe with the Indians and mestizos (mixed-blood) peoples being the serfs, and the white Europeans being the feudal lords.

    When Latin America gained independence, largely because Spain was being occupied by Napoleon and his French soldiers, the same sort of landed aristocracy that ran the US revolution ran the various Latin revolutions. Unlike in the US, these Latin aristocrats had very little interest in power sharing. Iturbide, the George Washington of Mexico, had himself crowned Emperor. Also in Mexico, the full-blooded Indian president Benito Juarez was overthrown in favor of a German prince.

    None of this happened in the US and Canada for two reasons. First, by the time the US started to be settled, the native Indian population had largely died out of decease. (See the book 1491 for details). Thus, feudalizing the Indians wasn’t an option. To settle the land, people either had to be forcibly transported or enticed to move. The enticement option meant legal land ownership, resulting in eventual (white) suffrage.

    Second, the landed aristocracy of North America was always less important because a number of American colonies were Communist. They called themselves “Commonwealths” (Massachusetts or Pennsylvania for example) but the idea was that the settlers were all joint owners in the colony. This idea was entirely alien to the Spanish, where all colonial activity ran directly through and for the benefit of the Crown.

    I have to say (surprisingly for me) that Krauthammer is right in saying that Hispanic immigrants could be Republicans. After all, everything cited above as negatives for Hispanics could be said of, say, Sicilians circa 1900. Poorly-educated, fleeing dysfunctional governments and no-speaking-the-English-too-good? Check, check and check. (Ironically, the Spanish Habsburgs had a hand in screwing up Sicily too.)

    In short, demographics is not destiny, but it does tell you how things came to be.

    1. George Turner

      Try reading this selection by David Henige, who disputes the methods and conclusions of “1491”, perhaps starting at page 181, if you don’t mind passages like:

      Back in 1991 Suzanne Alchon seemed surprised that ‘[t]he debate over the size of the pre-Columbian population of the Americas still rages’. Apparently she felt that the new approaches should have resolved the issue. But since the debate is based on argument rather than evidence, it is hard to see just what could ever bring it to an end, or even to give one side or another a decided advantage. The sense of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose that has characterized the debate over American Indian contact population mirrors that which accompanies other disputes in which argument is all and evidence nothing, and assumptions spring only from each other. There is little likelihood that there can ever be a Kuhnian resolution to the issue since this depends on new evidence – or new interpretations of existing evidence – that cannot take place here. No one will ever be able to write an account of how this disputation was resolved. On the other hand, these very qualities make the dispute of great interest to anyone concerned with the epistemologies of scholarship.

      Good stuff.

      1. Thomas Matula


        But regardless of the accuracy of “1491”, the key point is the number of Native Americans in North American were fewer than in Latin American when settlement started while the Aztecs and Inca empires you saw in Latin American were largely missing with the exception on the southwestern Pueblo Culture which was less powerful.

        This is important because the Spanish in Latin America didn’t really settle the land as much as just replace the existing leadership in a hierarchy already established. And this was done by playing one group of Native Americans against another which allowed the small number of Spanish to “conquer” both empires. By contrast the settlers in North America had to build infrastructure and settlements from the ground up in wilderness areas.

        The second key is that the geography of Latin American favored political organization of political units around individual cities, often already existing as Native American cities, while the geography of the United States allowed competition between multiple cities for political and economic power creating a more mobile population.

    2. George Turner

      That’s true for Aztec, Maya, and Inca’s, but wouldn’t explain much of the rest of Latin America. The US and Canada did encounter tribes that were quite large and settled, such as the Cherokee, without pursuing the decapitation strategy, and from the dense Eastern tribes to the scattered Western tribes, the English speaking outcomes were quite different from the Spanish and Portaguese ones, and consistently so. Especially in the US, there was no compulsion to fit the Indians into a top-down command structure and economic heirarchy to replicate a European social order that the Protestants were already rejecting.

      Part of what Henige is complaining about is that in the absence of actual evidence, people who should know better are taking pre-contact native America as a blank canvas and painting whatever they want to see. I might like to think that the natives had built bio-degradable enivornmentally-friendly re-usable spacecraft, and the evidence for it would be no more lacking than for many claims that are made.

      He also cites lots of negative archeological evidence, such as digs at a major settlement that Hernando De Soto’s expedition directly visited soon after arrival that produced no extra graves, which if should have if his expedition was a traveling ground-zero for an almost biblical set of devastating plagues.

    3. ken anthony

      feudalizing the Indians

      The only problem with speculation like this is our history runs completely against it. We never had any interest in making them serfs. Our interest, until this century of takers, was always about individual liberty and having govt. leave us alone to make our own futures by our own efforts. Indians that agreed with this became part of America (I’m not talking about any that became part of a reservation either.)

      Yes, we broke treaties and that’s shameful. But it was warrior indians that disenfranchised themselves. The peaceful indian myth ignores the genocide that has been the entire history, long before and after Columbus, of American indians is some parts of America.

  8. ken anthony

    Yes. Bob, there are nice Muslims.

    What in the world makes you think any of us think otherwise? If that’s your point you not only made it but we agree.

    Do you see where your problem is?

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