The Drudge Report at this link is publicizing Pat Buchanan's new book which apparently is another jeremiad with this subtitle: "The Third World Invasion & Conquest of America." I have not read the book, but here is a line quoted by the Drudge Report-- and I assume a line made available to the media by the publisher-- as carrying the big marketing punch:
“As Rome passed away, so, the West is passing away, from the same causes and in much the same way. What the Danube and Rhine were to Rome, the Rio Grande and Mediterranean are to America and Europe, the frontiers of a civilization no longer defended” (italics added).
Now, from this one line, again which I assume the author and his publisher want to put up front as telling us what the book is about so that we will want to buy the book, we have a big argument for NOT buying the book. This line put forward by the author's media blitz is proof of deep confusion, obtuseness, and ignorance on the part of Buchanan. In a less public forum, I would use a less diplomatic word than obtuseness.
What this quote says is that the enemies of the West are coming over the Rio Grande into America and over the Mediterranean into Europe. As to Europe, I have no argument if Buchanan is referring to the Moslems from North Africa and elsewhere who are crossing the Mediterranean. The Moslems flooding Europe do not share any of the languages or the historic religion of Europe. While Western religion arose from Judaism, Islam came several centuries after the Incarnation. Moslems are, in my view, non-Western, although there have been important intellectual links in past centuries.
But only someone utterly oblivious to the obvious can put the Mexicans and Central Americans on the other side of the Rio Grande in the same non-Western category as the Moslems flooding Europe. I do not believe that Buchanan is a racist, but I do think that a strong case can be made that his analysis of Hispanic immigration does indeed have a racist component. Why?
Let's get to the point: Buchanan is saying that the Mexicans are not part of Western civilization. Why not?
1. Their native language is a Western European language, the language in which the first novel of the Western world was written: Don Quixote by Cervantes. Spanish is a child of Latin, the quintessential language of Western culture for centuries. In fact, in my personal opinion, compared to French and even Italian, Spanish is much closer in form to Latin than these other two Romance languages are.
2. They are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church is the mother of Western civilization. The central trunk of Western civilization is Catholic. In the broad scheme of Western history, the Protestant nations of northern Europe are a peripheral offshoot--some might say an aberration--from this main Catholic central trunk of Western culture.
So the Mexicans speak a Western European language closely related to Latin, they are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, yet these are the hordes who signal the end of Western civilization? Forgive me for putting up two other possibilities for Buchanan's view that the Mexican hordes signal the end of the West: 1.) they are poor and 2.) they are dark-skinned.
If Buchanan's objection is poverty, then it is absurd given that it is precisely poor immigrants who have strengthened America. If it is skin color, then Buchanan better make it clear if he wants people to think that Western culture requires a white skin. In my opinion, the promotion of his book implies a racist analysis whether he is aware of it or not. The promotion also explicitly shows great historical ignorance of Western civilization and history. A civilization should have defenders that are familiar with the history of that civilization. Those are the most effective defenders of any civilization.
What Buchanan misses (how could he miss it!) is precisely the big difference, very fortunate for us, between the U.S. and Europe: the immigration problem in the U.S. is Catholic, while that in Europe is Moslem. Now, certainly, immigration is a big problem that must be addressed with a renewed emphasis on law and order and, in my personal opinion, with a guest worker program such as the one we had in the fifties under Eisenhower. But Buchanan does not contribute to a solution by making such an obvious and gigantic cultural and historical blunder in confusing Mexicans with Moslems. Instead of promoting his book, this blunder will lead readers with any basic education to question ever taking the time to read the book. And, even worse and more embarrassing, Buchanan is, I think, of Catholic background--although I would be more certain of that if his last name were Gonzalez or Alvarez.