I recently saw that University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Amy Wax continues to ruffle feathers. Wax is a contrarian thinker who does not shy away from controversy. She may even welcome a fight, as seems the case with her comment on Ruth Bader Ginzberg shortly after Ginzberg’s death last September. Back in 2017, Wax blamed many of America’s problems on the decline of “bourgeois values.” She went on to say that the US would benefit from admitting fewer immigrants from cultures that are “incompatible” with ours. This is a mantra that Pat Buchanan has repeated in such best-sellers as Suicide of a Superpower (2011), and State of Emergency (2006), The Death of the West (2001). Today’s immigrants, he says, come from “cultures never before assimilated." Buchanan offers this critique as unique to contemporary “Third World immigration.” Yet, it's a very old complaint raised throughout US immigration history.
In the 1850s, many Americans considered Irish and German immigrants as incapable of assimilation. Here the drunken, belligerent Irishman teams up with his German partner to steal an election as their fellow immigrants riot in the background. Unknown artist (John H. Goater?), “Irish Whiskey and Lager Bier",” courtesy of The Civil War Era
Uncle Sam is scolded by the editor of Judge magazine for allowing a horde of unsavory immigrants to enter the U.S. "If Immigration was properly Restricted you would no longer be troubled with Anarchy, Socialism, the Mafia and such kindred evils!" Grant E. Hamilton, “Where the Blame Lies,” Judge, April 4, 1891. Library of Congress.