The Immigration Battles of the 1950sMorris van de Camp
Jia Lynn Yang
One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924 — 1965
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2020
Jia Lynn Yang’s new book One Mighty and Irresistible Tide is a basic, pro-“civil rights,” pro-immigration narrative book. Like all heavily promoted books that talk about anything related to race, it suffers from the flaw of deliberately misunderstanding the views of whites, but this book does a pretty good job describing the immigration battles at the start of the Cold War. As one can imagine from an author named Yang, it has an Asiatic perspective.
The West Coast Race War that Led to Immigration Restrictions
During the early years of the United States, there were no laws against any person coming to the United States, but after immigrant groups arrived that caused problems, this changed. One sharp conflict, one that has indeed never really ended, is between whites and Orientals on the West Coast.
The conflict started during the California Gold Rush. The bulk of the American population of California then mining were single, working-class men. Many traced their roots to the whites of Virginia that didn’t own slaves, but there were plenty of Welsh, English, Irish, Germans, and Yankees as well. The Chinese started to arrive in California in 1850. A race problem developed immediately. The Chinese were often involved in crime — more of the organized variety than ordinary street crime, though.
The goldfields became a RaHoWA battlefield. White miners burned Chinese miners’ camps to the ground and drove them out. Since such vigilante action was and is highly illegal, the whites then turned to lawfare. They lobbied the government to create a very expensive foreign miner’s tax. This served to drive the Chinese out of the mining industry as well as many South Americans.
Books such as the one under review and others like Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans fail to try and understand the real reasons why white American miners would react badly to Oriental miners (or, for that matter, react badly to any nonwhite in other times and circumstances). Driven Out’s author even goes on to say that “in this mostly male world [i.e. Gold Rush California], Chinese men became targets of white men’s fears of homosexuality or the objects of their desire.” 
This is obviously Freudian nonsense. The Anglo miners, and later lumberjacks, farmers, ranchers, etc., were mostly working-class. They were all doing tough physical labor, but they were not motivated to drive out the Chinese due to repressed homosexuality. They were traveling a pilgrim’s progress, seeking to make California a white, working-class paradise with each swing of the axe. In 1850, these American pioneers, especially those with roots in Virginia, knew about race-based labor systems and their drawbacks as seen in the South. Additionally, they quickly came to realize that the interior of California was an area whose economy was reliant upon corporate investment, and corporations are very quick to hire cheap, coolie  labor. Hire enough of that sort of labor and one’s nation becomes like Barbados.In the 1870s, whites, often organized by those in the labor movement, carried out a series of Chinese expulsions using two methods. The methods are named for the respective towns’ tactics of Chinese removal. The Eureka method was a vigilante attack where the Chinese were literally driven away at gunpoint. The second method was the Truckee method, where the whites starved out the Chinese with economic boycotts and lawfare. The Eureka method was fraught with danger in that the towns carrying out a vigilante attack was subject to Chinese lawsuits. The Chinese themselves often shot back.
In 1882, the US Government passed the first Chinese Exclusion Act. The result of this law was that California’s cheap labor users started to employ the Japanese. Japanese immigration was stopped by a diplomatic agreement between the two nations. This was part of a series of laws that tightened immigration restrictions on Asia. Eventually, immigration was totally restricted due to the efforts of America’s brave Captains of World War I.
The Brave American Captains of the Great War
If the whites that pushed “civil rights” in the late 1940s and early 1950s were the field grade officers of the Second World War, the whites that pushed for immigration restrictions and other pro-white policies in the 1920s were the Captains of the First World War. They include:
- John Trevor, Captain — Military Intelligence, who founded the Pioneer Fund, did Public Service in various roles, and helped push through the 1924 immigration restrictions.
- John McCloy, Captain — Field Artillery, who bravely supported Japanese internment as Assistant Secretary of War and defended the policy afterward.
- Albert Johnson, Captain — Chemical Corps, who as Congressman from Washington made the 1924 Immigration Act law.
Of the three examples above, Albert Johnson should be considered one of the greatest white advocates ever. He was born in Springfield, Illinois. He was an Illinoisian of the same type as Mary Todd Lincoln; his family originated in the South instead of the North. He got his start practicing law in Abraham Lincoln’s former law firm. Later, he worked as a journalist on the East Coast and then went out to Washington. There, he was confronted with the Asian problem and he got into politics, eventually becoming a Congressman in league with other heroic whites like Madison Grant. 
After the 1924 immigration cutoff happened, America’s founding stock demographically re-won the country their ancestors founded. The Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans in the Midwest, the Poles in Michigan and Wisconsin, and the Irish across the country were assimilated into an Anglo-Protestant-dominated melting pot. A few decades later, even groups considered unassimilable, such as the Southern Italians, were part of the team. In 1931, more people left the US than arrived.
Two groups of immigrants, however, were impossible to assimilate. The first were Asians. The second, Jews. The second group’s biggest champion, and more ominously, America’s biggest enemy, was Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-NY). Congressman Celler was a Jew from New York City who bitterly resisted and resented the 1924 cutoff. He would remain in Congress until 1973.
The Cold War
On the first day of January, 1946, the United States held an uneasy place  as an emerging superpower in the new Cold War environment, and the new American Cold Warriors were unsure how exactly to proceed in the new geopolitical situation.
At the beginning of the Cold War, immigration’s role in the conflict was not on the American public’s mind. Yang writes:
The Atlantic Monthly, one of the country’s premier publications, did not run a single article about immigration between 1925 and 1953. The issue had fallen so far off the radar that when Senator Herbert Lehman [Jewish] of New York told listeners in a 1952 radio address that he wanted to discuss an important subject with them, he prepared them gently: “Some members of this radio audience may be surprised to hear that immigration is an issue. But it is.” The country did not regard immigration as worthy of discussion because, quite simply, there were not many immigrants. 
The idea that people like Senator Lehman were advocating was that immigration restriction was not helping America win the Cold War. The workings of the 1924 law were such that it only allowed people in the United States based on their proportion of their ethnic group already present as of 1890. As a result, most of the immigrants allowed were usually British, German, or Irish. The problem in post-war Europe was that there were people like Czechs or Hungarians who couldn’t get to the United States but were utterly hostile to Communism.
Cold War immigration reformers split into three categories. Cold War liberals like Harry Truman wanted to ease restrictions; they believed this would give America an edge in waging the Cold War. Jewish ethnic activists like Emanuel Celler wanted to bring in more Jews, or bring in ethnic groups to increase tensions among all possible groups in the US to make Jews hidden and “safer.”  Then there were many Americans who didn’t wish to see anything change at all. They were led by Senator Patrick McCarran (D-NV).
McCarran believed that immigrants were as likely to be Communist as not. He sponsored the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act. The act removed racial restrictions to immigration that dated back to 1790, but at the same time, it tightened immigration restrictions. President Truman vetoed the legislation, but Senator McCarran was able to override the veto.
Meanwhile, there was another immigration reformer that doesn’t really fit in the categories above, but he still deserves a mention. That is Congressman Walter Judd (R- MN). Judd was a medical missionary to China. He was there during the Japanese conquest of the Middle Kingdom. After he returned to the States, Judd gave speeches warning Americans about Japanese aggression. He was giving such a speech at the Mayflower Congregational Church in Minneapolis when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was elected to Congress in 1943.
Congressman Judd became a proponent of allowing Chinese into the United States to aid the American effort in the Pacific. After the war, he got in contact with Japanese-American citizens and became pro-Asian immigration more broadly. He proposed Orientals be allowed to enter, but cut black immigration from the West Indies. He also proposed to make immigration entry laws race-based, rather than polity-based, so blacks coming from the British West Indies were not categorized as “English.”
Parts of Judd’s ideas made it into the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, but more importantly, Judd matched a phenomenon I’ve seen elsewhere. Judd worshiped “The Other” in as cuckservative a way as modern Evangelicals worship Israelis, but he was still hostile to some other group. During World War II he liked the Chinese, but not the Japanese. But after Japan was prostrate and cooperative, he liked Asians in general, but worked to keep out black West Indians. I’ve also wondered if SCOTUS Judge Earl Warren was part of this phenomenon. In California, he supported deporting Mexicans and interring Japanese, but in Washington D.C. he supported blacks with his “civil rights” rulings.
Kennedy and the Democrats’ Nuthouse Wing
In the 1950s, most Democrats disliked immigration, but the party’s Jewish-backed nuthouse wing had a position in the party that any Democrat seeking national office had to endorse increasing immigration. While the nuthouse wing of the Democratic Party is obviously causing dysfunction and problems today, in the 1950s this was not so clear. Immigration advocates, nearly all Jews, were organized, cohesive, and ready.
In 1957, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) got then-Senator John F. Kennedy’s aide Myer “Mike” Feldman (Jewish) to help ghostwrite a pamphlet called A Nation of Immigrants that encouraged increasing immigration. This pamphlet was sent to high schools and given to new citizens.
Additionally, although immigration to the US was still quite low in the 1950s, Congress (often pressured by Jewish pro-immigrant groups) had given the President the ability to admit refugees fleeing Communism or other disasters. President Eisenhower let in various anti-Communist Europeans and President Kennedy let in many Portuguese after a volcano erupted in the Azores. This back door to immigration allowed immigration advocates to accurately argue that the old immigration quotas and restrictions were effectively a myth.
When Senator Lyndon Johnson was in the hospital following a heart attack, The Jewish Senator Lehman arranged an event where other Senators praised LBJ. Johnson pored over every word of the praise, enough so that he viewed Lehman much more favorably than before.
Then, in 1963, an Antifa madman that was too far left for even the Democratic Party’s nuthouse shot President Kennedy in Dallas. In the resulting national outpouring of grief and anger, anything that Kennedy had supported to any degree became sacred — part of a martyr’s cause. Kennedy’s Nation of Immigrants pamphlet became gospel. The new President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was a far more capable politician than Kennedy. He paid attention to the important details and surrounded himself with able staff, then got the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed. Shortly thereafter, flattered by Senator Lehman’s earlier praise and with the arguments for immigration to help win the Cold War already established, LBJ signed the 1965 Immigration Act. It’s been a disaster ever since.
In the 1960s, immigration reform was put in the same moral frame as “civil rights”; therefore, Irresistible Tide suffers the same flaws as that of any other mainstream history of “civil rights” has. The book deliberately downplays the many problems that Asians have caused in the United States. While Asians are not as bad as Africans, they are engaged in swindles, espionage, and organized crimes. As non-white “persons of color,” they are able to connect to the government’s “civil rights” bureaucracy and case problems for individual whites as well as white developed institutions such as universities.
Additionally, Yang ignores and downplays the very real threat the Japanese on the West Coast were during World War II. In fact, the Japanese in America failed the loyalty test literally minutes after the attack. Yang uses the “usable history” of the 442nd US Infantry, composed of Japanese soldiers, to emphasize Asian contributions to America.
The story of the 442nd is more myth than reality. More Japanese with US citizenship served in Japan’s forces than America’s. The 442nd was also part of the 92nd Infantry Division, a black unit. The division performed so badly that the white 473rd US Infantry was added to give the division a minimum of competence. After the war, the 92nd Division’s failures were ignored and its “desegregated at the regimental level” story was promoted.
It is also possible that immigration didn’t do anything to win the Cold War. The allies of the United States, such as Turkey, opposed the Soviet Union for their own reasons. Immigration was irrelevant.
Yang does mention that modern immigration restrictionists are more literate and informed than pro-immigrant activists, but she doesn’t mention any of the arguments they make today. This is a big oversight. One such restrictionist publication, Lawrence Auster’s Path to National Suicide, is well-written and easy to find. Additionally, she doesn’t mention the drama the refugees have caused. The problem with Cubans and Somalis are well known, but there were other, more ironic issues too.
Congressman Celler was defeated in a primary by another Jew, Elizabeth Holtzman. She looked through the archives of the refugees admitted to the United States by pro-immigrant politicians such as Celler in the 1950s, and determined that many were “Nazis.” This led to a big, melodramatic affair involving a retired Ohio autoworker named John Demjanjuk getting deported and persecuted in Israel.
In the end, this book shows the good work of people like Albert Johnson. He worked hard every day, was involved in his community, served his country when called, and helped his people greatly. We should follow his lead.
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 Pfaelzer, Jean, Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans, Random House, New York, 2007. Page 10
 The word coolie comes from Chinese characters that mean “rented muscles.”
 Los Angeles became the scene of a vicious anti-Chinese Riot in 1871. The riot was carried out by a mix of Anglos and Hispanics working together.
 See James Dunphy’s and C. F. Robinson’s look at Madison Grant’s Conquest of a Continent.
 Part of the reason for American greatness at this time was the tremendous effort of America’s true greatest generation (born between 1860 and 1885 or so) to unite North and South and assimilate the European immigrants into an Anglo-Protestant norm.
 Page 2.
 Yang doesn’t draw that conclusion in the book, but it is heavily implied. Jews felt the 1924 immigration cutoff was directed at them.
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Excellent essay. Enjoyed the illumination of Asian immigration.
I don’t mean to suggest Asians are superior, but that they are evolutionarily adapted to incremental economic competition in highly population dense ordered societies in a way that Europeans are not, be they Jew, Cajun, or scotch Irish.
Oh and great article, btw!
I had written something else which either you guys didn’t post or got deleted from a glitch I’m not sure which, But which I thought was very interesting. Recall the Vietnamese refugees settled by Carter after the Vietnam war, who are settled along the southern gulf coast quite arbitrarily, and without the consent of the people already living there. They were highly industrious energetic and over fished the shrimping in the region, outcompeting the local Caucasian trawlers who had sustained themselves in that industry since time immemorial. This was roughly in the 1980s. There were actually armed confrontations with people shooting back-and-forth with machine guns!
A far right militant got involved, that I had read about on one of the sites, I’m not sure which, had published a book about it. he had been involved in the fighting. It was actually a low-key war or something. I tried to find the book but of course it’s banned on Amazon or unavailable. I wonder if anyone could scare up a copy, for historical purposes.
I thought the pattern of similarity between the Chinese competing with the white gold rushers in California very telling, and At another level now Chinese outcompeting white elites at Harvard. The way whites end up resorting to exclusion by marshal or nepotistic means. Of course immigration restriction is the answer.
Those Vietnamese in the Gulf Coast shrimping business didn’t quite “out compete” the Caucasians who had done that work for generations. More like, the Orientals simply predatory priced the Caucasians out of the business. America did not need any competition in the shrimping business. Like so many other economic activities, America lived/thrived just fine without foreign competition, including foreigners living here doing it. Americans should not have to compete with 2nd/3rd worlders dumped willy nilly into this land who practice boycotts and race centric in group strategies.
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