Monday, November 18, 2019

Panic Over Stealth Immigration
Japanese Immigration Once Feared, Now It’s Mexico

“The flood of babies…is the most significant fact in modern Japan.”

--Walter Weyl, “Japan’s Menacing Birth Rate” (1918)

Yesterday’s Washington Post carried a story on Japan’s aging population. "Cleaning Up After the Dead," described how the country’s changing family dynamics have led more people to live out their lives in isolation, creating a cottage industry—companies that specialize in post-mortem clean-up. Not exactly cheery reading, but it prompted me to think of an essay by Walter Weyl, published in 1920, a year or so after his death. Weyl had been editor of The New Republic. Although TNR is still a respected “thought journal,” Weyl’s thoughts are now forgotten. Too bad. He was perceptive and wrote with style. In Japan’s Menacing Birth Rate (1918), Weyl observed that “the flood of babies…is the most significant fact in modern Japan.” This was doubtlessly true in the decades leading up to WWII, but now the story is quite different.

As in other advanced economies, the Japanese are no longer having many children. Japan's population is actually shrinking. Several European countries have birth rates that are also below replacement level—Germany, France, and Spain, for example—but they offset population decline by receiving immigrants, and immigrants are usually more fecund than natives. Japan accepts immigrants at a minuscule rate. And so, its population is aging rapidly. More than a quarter of Japanese are 65 or older. To top things off, Japan has the second highest life expectancy in the world (84 years). It may be the only country in the world where adult diapers will soon outsell infant diapers.

All this, of course, as Weyl points out, was not always so. In the late 1800s, Japan’s birth rate was twice as high as the current level. Growth threatened to strain resources at home. One outlet for the surplus population was as labor migration to Hawaii (then a US Territory), California, Washington and Oregon. American politicians and pundits were alarmed. They feared competition from a people who would “outwork” and “underlive” native-born workers.


In late 19th-century America, Samuel Gompers was a celebrated labor organizer and union leader. Organized labor fervently opposed immigration from Asia with racist arguments like those advanced in "Meat vs. Rice," a pamphlet distributed by the Asiatic Exclusion League. Authors Gompers and Gunstadt liberally quoted university intellectuals to make their points. 
American labor had lobbied for passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which stanched immigration from China. In 1907, the U.S. Government entered into the Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan, in which the Japanese Government committed to withholding visas from workers who sought to enter the Continental United States. California politicians like Sen. James D. Phelan and San Francisco Bee publisher, V.S. McClatchy, would later protest that Japan had been intentionally violating the agreement. In 1919, Phelan argued that “picture brides”—mostly the wives of Japanese laborers--were entering the US by the “shipload.” Worse, once here, he said, each woman was having babies at an average of one per year. This, according to Phelan, was part of Japan’s plan to colonize and eventually take over the Hawaiian Islands and America's western states.

Allowing such “peaceful penetration” would mean suicide for the white race, according to immigration opponents like Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant. Today, their modern-day equivalent, Pat Buchanan, tells us that Mexico has similar plans to reconquer the southwestern United States through “anchor babies” and “stealth invasion.” By allowing current levels of immigration from Mexico to continue, according to Buchanan, white America is committing suicide. And so, the villains are no longer Yellow, they are Brown. And yet, we are assured the threat is the same—America will be overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, is any country more in need of suicide-watch than Japan?

Postscript

Pat Buchanan writes many decades after Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard propounded the idea of “race suicide,” but Buchanan’s predictions sound remarkably similar to the warnings of these 1920s doomsayers. Even the titles of Buchanan’s books echo those of his predecessors:

The Passing of the Great Race (Grant, 1916); The Death of the West (Buchanan, 2001)


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