Victor Davis Hanson

Recently, in symbolic fashion, spectators of Mexican ancestry in Pasadena's Rose Bowl did not merely cheer on the Mexican national soccer team in a game against the U.S. national team -- such nostalgia is natural and understandable for recent immigrants -- but went much further and also jeered American players and, indeed, references to the United States.

Which was the home team?

Was America to be appreciated for accepting poor aliens, or resented for not granting them amnesty? Is the idea of the United States to be conveniently booed or opportunistically thanked -- depending on whether you are watching a soccer match or, for example, entering an Los Angeles hospital emergency room with a life-threatening injury?

This otherwise insignificant but Orwellian incident reminds us that illegal immigration in the 21st century is becoming an illiberal enterprise.

Consider the prevailing myth of Mexico as America's "partner." Aside from the violence and drug cartels, an alien from Mars who examined the relationship would instead characterize it as abusive. Close to a million Mexican nationals annually try to cross illegally into the United States, aided and abetted by a cash-strapped Mexico -- in a fashion that the latter would never permit on its southern border with Guatemala. Indeed, if Guatemala had published an illustrated comic book instructing, in picture fashion, its presumed illiterate emigrants how to enter Mexico illegally -- as Mexico actually did -- the Mexican government would have been outraged. So is the surreal logic of Mexico City summed up by something like, "We value our own people so much that we will help them break laws to go elsewhere"?

In the old immigration narrative of the 1960s and 1970s, affluent, profit-minded white American employers often exploited cheap workers from Mexico. But that matrix now is often superseded. So-called whites are no longer a majority in California, where large Asian and African-American populations often object to illegal arrivals from Mexico who cut in front of the legal immigration line or tax social services and raise costs to the detriment of American citizens.

Even the notions of "white" and "Latino" are becoming problematic in today's intermarried and interracial society. Does one-quarter or one-half an ethnic ancestry make one a member of the "minority" or "majority" community -- and, if so, by what logic and under which convenient conditions? For the purposes of hiring or college admission, should we apply one-drop rules from the Old Confederacy to measure our racial purity?


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.