Last week saw the publication of Ann Coulter's new book on immigration, Adiós America!
This is an important book. Although Coulter sounds a number of themes that will be quite familiar to Chronicles readers, she also breaks new ground, particularly in her detailed description of how mass immigration is harming ordinary Americans. It also comes out at a critical time, after President Obama has issued an executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, an amnesty that the Republican leadership in Congress has refused to do anything about and that most of the candidates currently running for president support, either openly or tacitly.
Coulter brings her formidable skill as a polemicist fully to bear in this book. It is written with verve and humor. An example of the latter occurs in Coulter's description of the media's obsession with ISIS: "The American media's fixation on monsters twelve hours and several connecting flights away from the United States, while ignoring the savage butchery occurring in a country within walking distance, is so obvious that border fence advocates have taken to warning that Islamic terrorists might enter the United States through the wide-open Mexican border. It's possible, but you know what's even more possible? That Mexicans will walk across the border."
I recently had the chance to interview Coulter about the book. (Full disclosure: I was friends with Ann in law school, when we were both active in the Federalist Society at the University of Michigan). Below is the first part of the interview, as edited for clarity and brevity. The second part will follow:
Thomas Piatak: Ann, Adiós, America! is dedicated to Stan Evans. What was your relationship with Stan?
Ann Coulter: Well, we used to have lunch when I was working for Human Events in Washington. First of all, I went to National Journalism School, which is his school, as did Greg Gutfeld, John Fund a bunch of us. It was a six week or a two month program and I interned for Evans and Novak and then spent a few weeks with Stan. He was a serious reporter, he was a good reporter. And he’d teach you to be a good reporter, which unfortunately an awful lot of young people refuse to become today. Nobody really cares about your opinion and you need to back it up with something hard.
I think in everyone’s opinion [Stan] was the funniest man in Washington with my favorite kind of humor, totally dry. So he used to emcee absolutely every conservative event in Washington and it made them so much fun. But he was also a big Cold Warrior, so I would go out to lunch after the Human Events editorial meetings to Irish Times across the street with Stan Evans, Tom Winter, and Allen Ryskind, the old Cold Warriors, every Friday and I learned so much from them and we would laugh and smoke the whole time. Two weeks before he died he was encouraging me in writing about immigration. Sadly I didn't know it was that close, he sounded bad but I thought it was just the chemo. I told him this whole book was about immigration, I’m terrified [that the book] will be blacklisted everywhere. And he said, no, keep going, Ann, this is the most important issue. Keep doing it.
TP: How did you first become interested in immigration?
A: Peter Brimelow’s front page article in National Review. [But] then I never wrote about it. I was practicing law then, and you know you live in a bubble in college and law school. I suppose I believed all the Jack Kemp nonsense. I read that cover story in National Reviewand realized I’d been had. I’ve been lied to. Oh my gosh! It was the only time I remember completely changing my mind about something. Of course there wasn’t that much to change because immigration wasn’t something I had ever thought about. I was like a lot of Americans to this day, you just go along: We’re a nation of immigrants, immigration is a wonderful thing, aren’t they hard workers, blah, blah, blah. And since I become a writer, Peter has been haranguing me, demanding to know why I haven’t written about immigration. I kept telling him, because you said it all. I’ve nothing new to say. So I am pleased that with this book—you have to get to chapter 7 and you start hitting things that, I think, surprised even Peter. He wanted me to start the book at chapter 7: Just skip everything before, everybody knows that first stuff, Ann. But I had to stay: If only everybody did know that stuff.
TP: And what do you hope to achieve with this book?
A: Oh man, I want to throw a wrench in the works. All I want is for Americans to read this. That’s all I want, that’s all I want. I had a Mexican immigrant sound engineer on the audio book, obviously he is a taxpayer with a job. He likes the book but at one point, midway through, it was very sweet, he is unfamiliar with my general career and he said, “Um, I hope you won’t take the this the wrong way, but this is really pushing buttons, this book, and if you do any book signings, you should have a bodyguard.” And I laughed and said, “Well I already do. Nice to meet you, I am Ann Coulter.” But other people have told me that too, people who have read this—certain important bloggers who shall go unnamed—and I said, I don’t care, I’d lose my life for this, if it got people to read this book. Just read the book. It’s my last words, just read the book.
TP: You indicate in the book that immigration is the most important issue facing America. Why is that?
A: Obama probably would never have been president but for Teddy Kennedy’s immigration act. Obama would NEVER have been re-elected. It never could have happened.
Every issue is decided by who gets to vote. It is such a basic principle that people don’t see it right in front of them. They just push off immigration: Well, there’s pro-life, and there’s pro-guns and there is lower taxes and then there is immigration. All those other issues get decided by who is voting, as we’ve seen after whatever it is now, seven years—it seems like seven hundred years—of Obama. Conservatives lose everything. Businessmen lose everything. They are such short-sighted idiots. How do they think OSHA regulations are going to be, EPA regulations, corporate taxes, tort lawsuits in a government run by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? How is that going to work out for you, greedy businessmen?
TP: There are several citations in the book to Samuel Huntington. Who are your other intellectual influences on this issue?
A: Well obviously Peter Brimelow, who is the one who started it all, God bless him. It takes an immigrant to wake us up—another immigrant doing a job Americans just won't do. Yeah, the cultural stuff is big. I have a few books by Huntington, but I mean, it was really just what was right in front of my eyes. There was Robert Putnam, who, kicking and screaming, had to admit that diversity is a disaster after holding his study back for seven years. Who were some other big ones? So much of my work was, as you can see, like Forensic Files and Law and Order combined just to dig out the stories of these hideous crimes. And I talked—sorry I veered off here—I talked to some of my friends about these cases, like the Indian, the prominent Indian model immigrant in San Francisco who is actually importing 12 year old girls he buys for sex. That story was broken by a high school newspaper. I told one of my friends about it, who reads a lot and has a photographic memory. I said, “Have you heard this story before? Doesn’t this strike you as somewhat amazing?” Same thing with the Mexican gang rape and murder in Texas, led by an illegal alien, of a 14 and 15 year old girl, I think it was. How is it that we don’t know that crime was committed by [an immigrant], or that most people aren’t even familiar with this shocking story? We sure know it when a white cop shoots a black man.
TP: Or when white college students are alleged to have done something they turned out not to have done, as you point out.
A: Right. Here’s a story, Rolling Stone!
TP: One of the points you make repeatedly is that there is a unanimity of elite opinion on this issue. Respectable people are expected to be reflexively pro-immigration. Does this phenomenon bear any resemblance to what your friend, the late Joe Sobran, described as the Hive?
A: Ohhh, yes. Oh yes. Sobran had so many great lines and so many people use them without realizing they are from Joe. One of my favorites being the imaginary New York Times headline: “Tornado hits New York; Women and Children hit hardest”. It is partially just people talking to one another, buttressed by their own self-interest. The immigrant crime wave is never going to come to this lovely restaurant [where the interview is taking place] on the Upper East Side. What will come to the precincts of the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Park Avenue, and Tribeca are the cheap maids. So they get the cheap maids—even journalists can have lots of maids and drivers and nannies and they don’t have to pick up the kids or make the beds. They are not living in places like Danbury, Connecticut and so many towns throughout California that have gone from all white to all Mexican. But here, they don’t see what is happening.
As Charles Murray pointed out, if you look at welfare use and even holding a job, the percentage collecting welfare is higher and employment is far lower among Hispanics. The reason that seems counterintuitive to most people, as Murray points out, is: Who are the Hispanics we see? The ones who are working and yeah, they are fantastically hard workers and I do admire that about them. There is a lot to admire about Hispanics—it makes it kind of hard that this is the main peasant culture that is being brought in. But it is a peasant culture and that has a lot of consequences for 14 year old girls and all girls and children in America and people driving on roads in America and getting smashed by immigrant drunk drivers. I mean, you can’t pluck people out of the Mayan jungle and drop them onto a United States freeway. It ends in disaster.
TP: A perceptive friend of mine once observed that if all that was required to be an American was belief in a proposition, then there was no reason you couldn’t be an American outside America. You write something very similar. You write, “Americans seem to be under the impression that they don’t have a country at all, but rather live in something like the international waiting room in JFK Airport. America is not a ‘nation of immigrants’, it is not ‘an idea’, it was never ‘diverse’ and ‘diversity’ is a catastrophe. If America were an idea, every country on earth could be America.” Why is there such resistance to such common sense ideas that you put forth in that paragraph?
A: Part of it is just pure perseveration. People hear it over and over again, diversity is strength, we are a nation of immigrants, we are a nation of immigrants. As I point out, we are less of a nation of immigrants than many, many other nations. Eighty-five percent of the United States Presidents were 100% British or Dutch, descended from people who were not immigrants but settlers, they created this country. They were not immigrating to a country that existed already. Eighty-five percent British and/or Dutch and 100% at least partially British. There are very few other countries that haven’t had a leader that is from a completely different ethnicity, and I’m not even talking about the Chinese or Guatemalan or Mapuche Indians. We haven’t had any Presidents who were Danes or Fins or Italians. It’s a monochromatic WASP country that other ethnicities have come to and for the first 400 years of its existence, (as a colony and then as a country) the “wildly diverse” immigrants were other white western Europeans. That was the extent of the diversity.
Since 1970, we haven’t been able to take any white immigrants, basically. We can’t take white English-speaking immigrants; we’re being inundated not only with people from cultures different from ours, but particularly cultures that are not as advanced as ours. Thus the drunk driving, the child rape, the Jihad, and I mean—you haven’t asked, but this isn’t a genetic thing, it’s a cultural thing. We have a superior culture and we’re throwing it away importing people from cultures that have never experienced it before. It doesn’t get them to adopt our culture—especially when it’s a hate crime to ask them to adopt our culture! But even before that, as I point out with Albion’s Seed, David Hackett Fischer traces British roots to different parts of the country, [such as] the Scots-Irish in the South, whom we see on shows like Cops, and the literate, educated [East Anglians], up in Massachusetts. A people’s culture is hardwired. It doesn’t disappear in a few generations. It may not disappear after 10 generations. Maybe there is something genetic involved here, but that isn’t the point, there is definitely a cultural element.
TP: You relate an amusing anecdote about Michelle Obama stating that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were immigrants and that Snopes.comassured its credulous readers that this was true. In fact, the great majority of the signers of the Declaration were natives of the Thirteen Colonies and they were all Protestants who traced their ancestry to the British Isles except for Charles Carroll, who was a Catholic tracing his ancestry also to the British Isles. Again, why is there such an extraordinary reluctance to [acknowledge] the historical roots of America?
A: It has become a PC thing. As I wrote in my book Mugged, and in this one, African-Americans have a special place in America. They got the short end of the stick for a few hundred years. There was slavery, then the Democratic Party imposed Jim Crow policies in the South. This was a biracial country and white America owed black America something.
But all these other groups are piggybacking on that. Well, no, you got here yesterday. We don’t owe you. We didn’t do anything to you. Go back and address the perpetrators. And that’s where I think it comes from, this idea that “illegal immigrant”—and I’m writing about all immigrants in my book, not just illegal ones—has become a phrase that is somehow the equivalent of the “N” word. A) no, it’s not, B) even if it were, screw you, we can call you whatever we want to call you, we don’t owe you anything, you got here yesterday. “Thank you” would be appropriate, not “we’re demanding affirmative action rights over these traditional white American children”; “we’re demanding that you accede to this “; “we get very testy if we hear this word or that word.” No, screw you—go home then!
TP: A friend of mine joked that the Apollo program was a paragon of diversity. There were white guys with crew cuts and white guys without crew cuts. Setting aside different hairstyles the same quip could be used for almost, virtually all the major events in American history. You note the first time Nexis recorded the phrase “Diversity is a strength” was 1989, yet people now repeat this phrase reflexively, as the Army did after Major Hassan shot up Fort Hood. Are people simply ignorant of the basic outlines of American history or is there something more at work?
A: I think it comes from the PC fear, everyone walking on eggshells, which again comes from [the fact that] we’re not allowed to insult black people. And I agree with that, we are not allowed to insult black people. Blacks, African-Americans can boss us around. They were mistreated and treated horribly, again mostly by Democrats. Yet theirs is a unique history in this country and because of that, people are—I mean, we were finally free of it for about 20 years after the O.J. verdict, that’s the thesis of my book two books back, Mugged, but blacks are different. I can’t say it often enough or strenuously enough: Immigrants, you aren’t black. We’re not walking on eggshells around you. No – if anyone has done anything to you it wasn’t us because you got here in 1997. But I think it is really this extreme political correctness. Forget immigrants—my “gender” seems to demand the same thing, although nobody really takes that one that seriously.
TP: Why aren’t black political leaders more outspoken on this issue? They seem to either be silent or supportive of mass immigration, even though, as you point out, immigrants are claiming historical rights associated with the black experience in America, which is completely different, and are clearly hurting blacks economically. Why are black political leaders not taking this issue up?
A: I think that a lot of black political leaders don’t really care about what’s best for the black community. They care about their own ethnic power and so the larger the “Rainbow Coalition” is, the better for them. I speak at a lot of Tea Party meetings. A lot of blacks [are] at these Tea Parties, more than you’d expect. Whenever there are blacks in the audience, when I get to immigration, it is the blacks who are the most enthusiastic at these speeches because yeah, it is their jobs and their experience that’s being stolen. I mean, the facts are the facts and I don’t expect that blacks will rally around this book because so many ordinary black people have been convinced that Republicans are racists, Republicans hate them. Oh well. The truth is the truth and that’s why I put it in my book.
TP: You quote in Adiós America! Ethnic Studies Professor Jesse Mills as saying “The legacy of race, gender and class oppression in the United States has transferred many Somali refugees from one epic struggle to another.” If America is so bad, don’t people like Mills, don’t they have an obligation to tell the immigrants not to come here and why aren’t they doing that?
A: Yes, danger – stay away. As I say at the end of one chapter, have they heard about the Republicans’ war on women!? Stay away immigrants, we’re doing you a favor! No, I mean the point of that, which I make a few times in the book, is that the people who are dead-set, determined, working feverishly to transform this country into some other country, hate America. Businessmen, greedy businessmen, greedy churches, the Chamber of Commerce, they are the witless handmaidens in attacking America, which is why I call at the end of my book for [an immigration] moratorium. I used to think [we’d be all right] if we just had a sensible immigration policy. No, no—that will not work until all of these [immigrant rights] groups are shut down, the entire immigration bureaucracy, and they return to fighting for revolutionaries in Peru. We need to clear it all out, with a moratorium for a decade and then, slowly, we’ll bring in some more British and Dutch people. Or smart people from wherever, but I want every one of these probably 600 anti-American, pro-transforming America groups shut down and working on some other anti-American cause.
TP: Speaking of such groups, you write “Today any immigrant who doesn’t come for the welfare has the Ford Foundation to acquaint them with their rights. Not only are immigrants taught to live off the American taxpayer, but they are counseled on resentment toward their benefactors.” Do the welfare state and the ethnic grievance industry makes this immigration completely different from earlier immigrations?
A: Oh yes, ohhh yes, yes, yes. Not only is the whole system rigged through family reunification and chain migration to get immigrants from peasant cultures, but then as soon as they get here they’re sunk into the warm bath of welfare and ethnic grievances. It’s amazing. There is a scene in Trading Places, where Eddie Murphy, you know he’s trading places with a rich, wealthy WASP, and when he’s walking through the rich brothers’ houses they’re saying “This is yours, it’s all yours” and he’s saying, “Yeah, yeah this is mine, this is mine”, and he’s pocketing all the stuff that he comes across in the room. You see this phenomenon [in] a lot in people. You’re nice to them, you give them something, and they go in 10 seconds from, “Wait, I can have this?” to “Where’s my money, where’s my money?” A sense of entitlement is not hard to impart to people.
TP: You note that, according to Pew, we have already taken in more than one quarter of Mexico’s entire population. Mexicans constitute the largest portion of all immigrants, both legal and illegal. Have we ever experienced anything like this before, with immigration being dominated by a people from a contiguous country and mostly settling in areas next door to their homeland?
A: As far as I know no country has ever experienced anything like this, and according to Pew and various others who say it with more joy in their voice than I do, it’s an historical first, one country being overwhelmed by another country. And you know, the demand for more and more Mexicans from that contiguous country continues unabated, made mostly by people in their own self-interest. For example, Hispanic media personalities. Well, yeah, they’d be much bigger celebrities in a country that speaks Spanish, but they left the countries where everyone speaks Spanish for a reason. They’re changing it in other ways, too, other than language. So on one hand: Yes, you [Hispanic media personalities] are very popular here, but on the other hand, “here” is not going to be America anymore.
TP: You also note that “since 1970 over 90% of all legal immigrants have been from the Third World and the majority need tax payer assistance.” And then you say “Conservatives have been buffaloed into thinking that they are the ones who want to change the county. No, the question is: why is it better that the the ethnic composition of the country be changed?” Why is it wrong for ordinary Americans to say, I want to preserve the country I grew up in? Isn’t that a normal, natural human impulse? What’s wrong, why do people think that’s wrong for us to feel that way?
A: It goes back to the civil rights movement. People act as if all immigrants are black. And somehow white people should be embarrassed about being white because this is a very successful country and we are supposed to be embarrassed about being successful. If we are successful, then we must have done something to other countries, we must have stolen from them, or stolen their ideas, or oppressed them. Well, no we didn’t. We didn’t have any colonies. We were a colony. What is the price for being a successful society? How long do we have to keep engaging in self-flagellation?
And in fact, I’d say if white Anglo-Saxons have a flaw, it is their tendency to sit quietly while others abuse and denounce them. There is no other ethnic group that does that. You know the French think it’s fantastic to be French. Russians are totally chauvinistic about being Russian. Only white Anglo-Saxons always seem to be in the position for apologizing for being white Anglo-Saxons. Well, no: You can come in and you can be part of what is a white Anglo-Saxon-American culture, which is better than the culture that it was created from. I mean we are better than England. Sorry to any British readers, but America did create something even better.
[America] was created by British and Dutch settlers. And other people from different ethnic groups and different cultures in small numbers, depending on how different the culture is, can come in and be part of this successful enterprise. But they can’t do it when they’re overwhelming it with numbers. We can’t do it when we are not allowed to assimilate them to the successful culture. We certainly can’t do it when we’re giving people welfare to live off the successful culture. And we also can’t do it when it is a hate crime to attempt to assimilate people to that successful culture.