(NRO) In the scramble to make the GOP more diverse, a lot of people are looking at Asian Americans, who many believe are a natural constituency for the party. I would love it if Asian Americans converted en masse to the Republican party, but the challenge for Republicans is harder than many appreciate.
President Obama did spectacularly well with Asian Americans, garnering nearly three-quarters of their vote. This runs counter to a lot of conventional wisdom on both the left and the right. On average, family income is higher and poverty is lower among Asian Americans than among non-Latino whites. Entrepreneurship, family cohesion, and traditional values all run strong among Asian Americans, and reliance on government runs weak.
And yet Asian Americans — now the fastest-growing minority in America — are rapidly becoming a core constituency of the Democratic party.
I’ve joked for years with my Indian-American relatives and friends that they are the new Jews because their parents bury them in guilt and overeducate them. It turns out it doesn’t end there. Sociologist Milton Himmelfarb observed that “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Well, Indian Americans earn like Jews and vote like Jews.
And maybe for similar reasons. The comparison to Jews is instructive. Perhaps the most common explanation for the GOP’s problem with Asian Americans is the party’s pronounced embrace of Christianity, which turns off many Jews as well.
According to Pew studies, barely a third of Chinese Americans are Christian, and less than a fifth of Indian Americans are.
“Whenever a Gujarati or Sikh businessman comes to a Republican event, it begins with an appeal to Jesus Christ,” conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza recently told The New York Times Magazine. “While the Democrats are really good at making the outsider feel at home, the Republicans make little or no effort.”
My friend and colleague Ramesh Ponnuru, an Indian American and devout Catholic, says the GOP has a problem with seeming like a “club for Christians.”
That rings true to me. I’ve attended dozens of conservative events where, as the speaker, I was, in effect, the guest of honor, and yet the opening invocation made no account of the fact that the guest of honor wasn’t a Christian. I’ve never taken offense, but I can imagine how it might seem to someone who felt like he was even less a part of the club.
A few years ago, Robert Putnam, a liberal sociologist, reported this finding: As racial and ethnic diversity increases, social trust and cohesion plummets. “Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer,” Putnam found. “People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’ — that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
The villain isn’t racism or bigotry or anything so simple. The phenomenon is much more complex. Indeed, it’s not clear why this happens, but it’s clear that it does. Economic inequality and cultural attitudes do not matter much. “Americans raised in the 1970s,” Putnam writes, “seem fully as unnerved by diversity as those raised in the 1920s.”
Part of the explanation stems from the fact that people with shared experiences and cultures draw strength from working together, whereas with strangers, language often becomes guarded, intentions questioned.
The GOP is not a Christian club, but there’s no disputing that Christianity is a major source of strength and inspiration for many Republican activists. This is nothing new and, generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with this. The abolitionist, progressive, and civil-rights movements were all significantly powered by Christian faith.
As someone who’s long argued for theological pluralism and moral consensus on the right, I think it’s nuts for the GOP not to do better with Asian Americans, particularly given how little religion has to do with the policy priorities of the day.
Twenty years ago, conservatives started referring to Judeo-Christian values in an effort to be more inclusive. The challenge now is to figure out how to talk in a way that doesn’t cause decent and dedicated Christians to pull in like a turtle, while also appealing to non-Judeo-Christians and the nonreligious. That’ll be hard, requiring more than name-dropping Confucius or Krishna.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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Posted by Noah Simon
There is no better outcome that the Democrats could have hoped for than the demographic despair that has overtaken some sections of the conservative movement. While the Republican establishment prepares to accept Obama as the new FDR, the grass roots feels alienated and willing to write off the whole country.
Demographics is a serious issue, but it’s not a done deal either. Countries are not static. America was created because a large number of Europeans moved to a place that had formerly been populated by the descendants of Siberian refugees crossing over the Bering Strait. I have often said that demographics kind is destiny, but it’s a mathematical destiny. Change the numbers and you change the destiny.
Taking back America demographically is a matter of having enough children within a cultural structure that passes down the values of adults to the children, while focusing on limiting immigration as much as possible. This isn’t an impossible task.
The Amish population doubles every 20 years and they retain the majority of their children within their communities despite the obvious appeals of the outside world. There are 250,000 Amish in the United States and Canada now. By 2040 there will be over a million of them.
Utah has the highest fertility rate in the country and 9 out of 10 children are born to married couples. The Mormon Church is slowing down its expansion, and is having some retention and birth rate issues, perhaps due to its liberalization and growing investment in overseas missionary work, but its numbers are still a reminder of what is possible.
Demographics can be deceptive, because what we are really talking about are the economic and cultural factors that dissuade large family sizes and that alienate children from the values of their ancestors. What we are really talking about is a clash between progressives and traditionalists.
As an Orthodox Jew, I represent a group that is at the front lines of the clash. In the last century and a half, Jewish progressives have done everything possible to destroy Jewish religion, values and even nationhood. For half that time they were enormously successful, wreaking havoc across entire communities, using state power to force parents into their own schools, and building a literary and cultural infrastructure aimed at ridiculing and destroying traditional values.
They are still at it today, and their tactics and propaganda are as bad as they ever were, but they also losing. While the progressives embrace the culture of abortion and gay rights, the traditionalists have children. Within a decade, a majority of New York Jews will be traditionalist and the impact of that is already being felt in elections. The progressives have ramped up their usual hate campaigns against Orthodox Jews, which is why you see so many negative stories in the media, but the demographics of their progressive culture doom them to extinction.
This same outcome would have taken place nationally in the clash between American traditionalists and progressives, if not for the ace in the hole of immigration. And yet immigration is only half the picture. The bigger half of the picture is culture.
Would the Amish be who they are if in between plow breaks they were watching Reality TV and getting lessons on liberal values? Instead the Amish segregated themselves from the culture and have thrived because of it. And that can be done without completely abandoning technology as a whole.
Orthodox Jews built a cultural infrastructure to convey their values to our children while cutting them off, as much as possible, from the cultural programming of progressives. The largest expense of Orthodox Jewish parents and the community as a whole is on the infrastructure of private schools that teach traditional values to their children. An Orthodox Jewish community is defined by its schools and its best and brightest go into Chinuch or Education.
But schools aren’t enough. Orthodox Jews raise their children on their own books and their own music. Everything that children are exposed to from the youngest ages is supposed to come from within their own culture to such an extent that when Oprah visited a Chassidic family they had no idea who she was, or who Mickey Mouse and Beyonce were. Obviously this isn’t universal and the degree of exposure varies, but retention rates and birth rates are highest among those with the lowest levels of progressive cultural exposure.
Modern Orthodox Jews, a group of which I am, obviously, a member, have the highest levels of cultural exposure, the lowest birth rates and the highest susceptibility to progressive views. The Modern Orthodox approach was viable in 1950s America where the outside culture was healthy, but I have come to question its survival value in an era where the culture is decaying and hostile to any form of traditional family values. Chassidic Jews, with the lowest rates of cultural exposure also have the highest birth rates and, unlike Modern Orthodox Jews, I have yet to meet a single liberal Chassid.
So is cultural secession the solution? For traditional Jews it might be, but for traditionalists as a whole, who have the demographic reach to turn the national numbers around, it can be a temporary solution until the numbers and the political power that goes with them are theirs. As with Orthodox Jews, there is a Christian culture industry, but it isn’t enough to have positive messages as an alternative, it’s equally important to cut out as many negative messages as possible.
Above all else, education is the future. Traditionalists who fail to understand this will allow the educational system and the entertainment industry to transform their children into progressives. Progressives know that control of the educational system means control of the future. Without the educational system and immigration, progressives are doomed to be cafe radicals. With them, they can count the generations until they control everything.
The progressives have few children of their own. Your children are their children. If they can corrupt your children, then they have a future. If they cannot, then they will go off and die in a corner. The progressives have three strengths, class warfare, cultural programming and immigration. America had prosperity that negated class warfare, but it neglected to safeguard its culture from the left and did not consider the consequences of Third World immigration. With their political and culture power, the left destroyed prosperity and now with all three cards in their hand, the progressives are rising high.
But too many conservatives have despaired because they have fallen prey to the myth of a perfect America that once was and can never be again. But America was never perfect, like every person, it was a work in progress. It was a struggle between ideas and ideologies and that struggle did not end because the progressives have worked and plotted to get this far. Defeating them is a matter of exploiting their weaknesses and firming up our strengths.
Most of the Republican Party remains unwilling to acknowledge that this is a cultural war. And it is. Culture is one of the things that the left is good at. It’s an easy and profitable way for the left to pursue its ends. And it’s fun. But it only works with captive audiences.
The left’s cultural infrastructure is wired to feed its programming to an audience that sits there waiting to receive it and is willing to even pay top dollar for the privilege. Like every Iago, it has no idea what to do if Othello not only doesn’t pay for the privilege of going to its schools and movies, but actively tunes it out and forms a community that makes its own entertainment and education.
Forget physical secession for the moment and think cultural secession. Physical secession, even if it were achieved, would do little good without putting cultural secession first. And if you cannot manage cultural secession, then how will you ever achieve physical secession?
Cultural secession means cutting away the educational and entertainment culture of the left out of your home. It means creating your own alternative education and entertainment and grouping in communities that act as a support structure for traditional values. Is it easy? No. It involves sacrifice. But groups such as the Amish and Orthodox Jews have done it and have thrived doing it.
Some wars are settled by guns, but cultural wars are settled by the schoolbook and the movie. They are settled by the family.
The progressive agenda is to destroy the family, to undermine it, ridicule it, economically disadvantage it and burden it until it falls apart and is replaced by the Big Brother of the State. The traditional agenda is to maintain the family and pass along traditional values across the generations. That is what this cultural war is really about; whether the family or the state will the defining unit of human experience.
The progressives are out to break the family, to slice it up in a thousand ways from the ghetto to the Castro. Everything they do is aimed at eliminating any rival to the state. The traditionalist goal has to be to form communities that are capable of preserving the family despite the power of the state. This is not easy and will become harder as time goes on. But it is what has to be done to reclaim the country.
Raising children within a traditional community is a revolutionary activity. It is an act of cultural and demographic defiance against the progressive state. The traditional community is becoming the new underground of progressive countries. It is the place where parents pass on subversive ideas to their children and teach them to pass on those same subversive ideas to their children.
Progressives want every child to grow up to be a slave of the state, thinking the same empty thoughts, laughing at the same things and trotting tamely along to the slaughterhouse. What they fear most is a future where the majority of children do not worship the state, do not accept their premises or parrot their propaganda. What they fear most is a demographic revolution.
Can American traditionalists quadruple their numbers in 40 years the way that the Amish will? Doing that will require taking lessons from the Amish, from Orthodox Jews and from other traditionalist groups that have found ways to build tight knit communities that protect their values and preserve their children. Building those structures is the hardest part. But once the structures are there, then the future is yours.
That’s Rick Perry’s position on the NY same-sex marriage law:
Perry, who is considering running for president, at a forum in Colorado on Friday called himself an “unapologetic social conservative” and said he opposes gay marriage — but that he’s also a firm believer in the 10th Amendment, the Associated Press reported.
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, the AP reported.
“That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
from Legal Insurrection