Its a Battlefield

Photo by Gustavo ArellanoPat Buchanan left the Richard Nixon Library at the same time fifth graders from Corona were waiting to get in. Buchanan was a Nixon administration speech writer, more recently a Reform Party presidential candidate and always more conservative than a Dornan family reunion. He had just finished a June 14—Flag Day!—speech on his book The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil our Country and Civilization to an overwhelmingly elderly, nearly all-white crowd and probably didn't notice the school kids. But if he had, Buchanan might have pointed them out to his lingering audience as the fleshly manifestation of his darkest prediction.

In The Death of the West, the conservative commentator lays out his notorious thesis that declining birth rates in the First World, coupled with population explosions in the Third, portend the end of civilization. “Western Man, relieved of his duty to civilize and Christianize mankind, seems to have lost his will to live and reconciled himself to his impending death,” Buchanan writes. The students outside—nearly all Latinos save for a Muslim girl in a hijab—were his apocalypse incarnate.

In his book and speech, Buchanan continually uses the pronouns “we” and “they,” presumably to distinguish between “white Christians” and “Latino and Islamic immigrants.” In a moment of choreography that was hard to miss, the public-address system broadcast “Taps” just before Buchanan approached the stage. When he arrived, he played the audience like a sax, running from doom-and-gloom to rally-the-troops histrionics. Most of the 40-minute speech was an overview of the demographic statistics The Death of the West employs to scare the pants off white people.

Photo by Gustavo Arellano

It worked. Buchanan told his stunned audience that “all Western peoples” would experience dramatic population drops, which meant that by the year 2050, “Western people” would constitute only 10 percent of the world's population—the oldest 10 percent at that. All European countries were already experiencing such a drop, Buchanan said to audible gasps, “save for Moslem Albania.” Moslem Albania allowed Buchanan to riff on the theme of Dangerous Islam, noting that “Of the 57 Islamic countries in the world, there is not a single one where the birth rate is not growing . . . or”—and here he slowed dramatically—”ex-plod-ing.”

Buchanan fired a few barbs at Latinos (“There's more militancy in the barrios today,” he asserted before revealing that there were 2 million “Hispanics” in the United States in 1960 but 36 million today), but the bulk of the lecture was an all-out attack on Islam. He characterized the religion's core principles as blind hatred of the West. “The strongest culture on Earth today is Islam,” Buchanan warned ominously. “And that's what gives Islam a fighting chance against the West.”

When it came to audience-participation time, the crowd eagerly joined Buchanan's anti-Islamic hit parade. A precocious 12-year-old well-versed in social theory wanted to know if “people like you and I can gain back America the same way that Marx and Gramsci and all of them took it down.” A twentysomething woman complained to the former Nixon confidante that people have called her a racist since Sept. 11 for displaying an American flag on her car. “They keyed my car,” she said with contempt, drawing applause from the audience. “They keyed my truck. What exactly do I do except for leave California like most of us want to do?” And another audience member angrily recalled that a young man he met at a Borders bookstore couldn't identify George S. Patton or Dwight D. Eisenhower but knew Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez. “He rattled them off—boom, boom, boom. The children are being indoctrinated incorrectly.”

The final question of the afternoon came from a man who began by noting that God's greatest gift to mankind was the Bible, “and we certainly have to get back to that.” He then observed, “It seems to me that what's happening is that as the Muslims are getting more extreme, that communism could very well be behind this movement. The Muslim attack on our heritage to literally take over the world could very well be strongly influenced by communism. Would you agree with that?”

Buchanan seemed politely to dismiss the notion, but he quickly added that Islam is more dangerous than communism. Islam's anti-Western fight has continued for 1,400 years. “All of them”—communism and Islam and, one guesses, anything else that keeps us awake at night—”are at war, and they're all basically fellow travelers in a lodge,” Buchanan said. All previous anti-Western movements were defeated in their fight against the West, he noted, and Islam would eventually suffer the same fate—if Western civilization is up to it.

“I do think Islam is a different one,” he concluded. “Islam's coming at us from another direction, coming at us from long, long ago. But I think that with regards to Islam, I think we can win that battle.”

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