News We Didn't Need

     With the world going mad, I keep my ear against the 
radio for clues to our fate -- and all I hear are updates 
on the JonBenet Ramsey case. Horrible story, but how much 
do we really need to know about it? The poor child was 
pushed into the realm of meretricious "glamour" and, not 
very surprisingly, attracted the attentions of some 
unspeakable pervert, who may or may not have been the 
suspect now arrested for her murder. It all makes the 
head spin and the stomach queasy.

     Why is this essentially local story of consuming 
national interest? Does it tell us anything we didn't 
already know? Not since the kidnap-murder of the 
Lindbergh baby has a child received such grisly 
posthumous celebrity. Just when you think the news media 
can't get any more revolting, they do.

Buchanan on Immigration

     Rarely has a book rocked me as Pat Buchanan's latest 
CONQUEST OF AMERICA, just published by Thomas Dunne 
Books, shattered my skepticism about the problem of 
immigration, which I've tended to think could be handled 
by gradual absorption and assimilation, as in the past.

     Buchanan argues powerfully that the current wave is 
radically different from previous ones. In America both 
the volume of newcomers and, all too often, their 
attitudes resist the adaptation to our traditions we used 
to be able to assume.

     As Enoch Powell warned a generation ago, when 
Britain began to feel the impact of limitless 
immigration, the thing has the character of an invasion; 
the aliens, he noted, were arriving not as mere 
individuals, but as whole villages, transforming British 
culture, and not for the better. Now the same thing is 
happening here -- but on a much larger scale.

     Moreover, the Mexican government is deliberately 
fostering invasion across the southern border and 
encouraging the "Reconquista" of the southwestern states. 
President Bush has ignored this conscious and aggressive 
policy, for which Buchanan contends he deserves nothing 
less than impeachment.

     (Meanwhile, though this is a separate story, a 
parallel hostile Muslim invasion of Europe is creating 

     In addition to crime, often in the form of violent 
gangs, the invaders come with diseases, some unknown to 
us, some of which we thought had been almost wiped out -- 
tuberculosis, for instance. Buchanan notes that the 
immigrants, mostly illegal of course, have put such a 
strain on California's medical system that 48 hospitals 
in the Los Angeles area have been forced to close down. 
It's illegal to turn even illegals away if they urgently 
need medical care.

     Which points up a fundamental problem. We are now 
paying, more dearly than even the pessimists dreamed, for 
the welfare state. Milton Friedman long ago put it 
simply: You can't have open immigration and a welfare 
state. No system can afford infinite eligibility for 
finite benefits. Why didn't we foresee this axiomatic 
truth? Did it take a Nobel Prize-winning economist to 
point out what is self-evident?

     Not that very many people were listening. Liberal 
opinion generally thinks it's mean-spirited to do the 

     Buchanan's book relentlessly cites statistics to 
curl a reader's hair. One in every 12 illegals has a 
criminal record, and in Los Angeles, for example, 95% of 
all homicide warrants target illegals. Some libertarians 
reply insistently that the current immigration is a net 
plus for this country, but even on purely economic terms 
-- setting aside such considerations as morality, 
culture, and national character -- Buchanan makes that 
hard to believe. I can only wonder at anyone who can find 
a silver lining in this storm cloud.

     On the contrary, I wonder if Buchanan isn't guilty 
of optimism in thinking the U.S. government, which has 
done so much to create and aggravate the problem, can 
still be capable of solving it. Some of his 
recommendations, such as a 2,000-mile fence along the 
U.S.-Mexico border, may retard the invasion, but on his 
own showing, these measures already seem too late.

     And that's supposing this government could muster 
the will to enact them.

     For me, reading this book is like listening to a 
doctor as he gives you a brilliant diagnosis of your 
terminal illness. Only a few weeks ago, Bill Bonner's 
EMPIRE OF DEBT convinced me that this country is headed 
for economic disaster in the next few years. And of 
course Al Gore is certain that global warming is about to 
devastate the planet.

     If all three of these prophets are right, the 21st 
century isn't going to be a whole lot of fun. 

     Like Powell, Buchanan has been widely abused for 
being right ahead of his time. Has any other American 
commentator, over the years, been proven so right about 
so many things?


     Last week I mistakenly ascribed to the Koran a 
saying that apparently isn't in it, to the effect that a 
Muslim who kills (or is killed by) a Jew is assured of 
Paradise. It was quoted by the scholar Srdja Trifkovic 
from another source, which I don't have at hand and can't 

     I regret the error; nevertheless, Islam's attitude 
toward Jews, from the time of the Prophet to the present, 
has been, to put it mildly, even less ecumenical than its 
view of Christianity.

     Unfortunately, the etiquette of pluralism requires 
us to refrain from noticing publicly the harsher 
teachings of great religions, except of course for 
Christianity. In the name of tolerance, we mustn't 
observe that not all religions are, or bother pretending 
to be, tolerant. This is obviously going to have to 
change in the years ahead, when more than wounded 
feelings are at stake.

     Before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush 
predicted that regime change there would bring a new wave 
of democracy to the Mideast. He may have been right, in a 
way. Since the Iraq war began, popular Islamic parties 
and movements, violently anti-American and anti-Israeli, 
have grown explosively throughout the region. Not quite 
what he had in mind.

The Priest and the Professor

     With all the dreadful heat, bad news, and alarming 
prognostications, I'm finding it hard to keep my mind on 
the pennant races this summer. Now comes another bit of 

     In times of trouble, I often turn for escape and 
consolation to one of my favorite authors, Sir Arthur 
Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. I was aware that 
Conan Doyle was a baptized Catholic who left the Church 
and took up spiritualism.

     Now a distant relative of his, who is also a friend 
of mine, informs me, to my sorrow, that when an Irish 
priest tried to bring him back to the Church, the great 
author spitefully named a villainous character after him: 
Holmes's archenemy, the Napoleon of the London 
underworld. The priest's name was, yes, Moriarty.

                 +          +          +                  

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                                        --- Joseph Sobran


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