Sometimes it seems Latin America is on the brink of Mad Max apocalypse. Mexico is nearing state collapse. Oil-rich Venezuela is out of gas, its people reduced to cooking with firewood. Over indoor campfires the starving are roasting rabbits and maybe other pets. Armed motorcycle gangs police the streets—hunting rabbit and bushmeat these days in Caracas can be tricky.
Why does our elite think a United States demographically similar to Latin America will be spared the dysfunctions of Mexico and Venezuela? Many, conservatives and liberals alike, believe in the power of the Constitution to transform anyone into an American. Recently Nebraska senator and True Conservative Ben Sasse picked a fight on Twitter to display his anti-racist credentials. He claimed that America’s success is only a result of what he believes to be its Christian “values,” and its Constitution. One doesn’t need to be a white nationalist or agree with the aims of Sasse’s opponent Richard Spencer to see this is complete nonsense.
In the United States, third and fourth generation Mexican immigrants today exhibit less desire or ability to assimilate than first generation immigrants, not more. The Hispanic community, as Heather MacDonald has long documented, exhibits abnormally high school dropout rates, illegitimacy, and criminality. The Hispanic “social conservative” is a fantasy of establishment Republican strategists. America’s institutions, values, and Constitution are not enough to fix the social problems of Latin American populations who are here right now, let alone in the future when they will be far greater in number.
Ben Sasse and others like Oklahoma Senator Lankford believe racial division is only worsening in America because of sinister Russian conspiracies. The truth is that racial hatred is an old and unfortunate part of human nature. Neither constitutions nor Christianity have ever been enough to do anything about it.
Haiti has the second-oldest republican constitution in the Western hemisphere. It was established in 1802 and followed up by several other versions, each constructed according to Enlightenment principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. In the 1960’s Haiti was ruled by Papa Doc Duvalier who preserved his power through racial demagoguery. He mobilized the country’s majority African population against the tiny mulatto elite that, despite everything, still dominated politically and economically. During his terror against, presumably, mulatto privilege, they were subjected to persecution and massacre, as they have been throughout the history of that nation. It is interesting that in Haiti, Obama wouldn’t be considered a black man, but a hated and racially alien oppressor.
Duvalier is otherwise well known for colorful personality quirks, like ordering the killing of every black dog on the island because he believed a political opponent had shapeshifted into one to escape him. He had another enemy decapitated, and he preserved his head in ice in order to commune with his spirit. His grotesque tyranny relied on magic and voodoo to intimidate. But it wasn’t just for show: Papa Doc himself as well as his Tonton Macoutes militia earnestly believed in these vibrant traditional practices. It’s obvious they believed in this more than they did in the scientific Enlightenment education long promoted by French civilization.
Despite the absence of evil white oppressors, despite the presence of a rich two-hundred-year-old republican constitutional tradition, Haiti still experienced racial strife, massacre, religious obscurantism, coup and counter-coup. Old customs, tribal identities, and folk religions are often stronger than progressive ideals or written constitutions.
Latin America has gone through many different attempts to set up American-like Constitutions. Its people profess the same ideals of liberty and equality. Many are devout Christians—Catholics, and, lately, Evangelicals—as much as Ben Sasse is. This doesn’t mean they have been able live under Anglo-American-style liberal constitutional rule. Sasse and his friends tried to impose constitutions and “God-given values” of liberty and democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan. Yale and Harvard sent bright young men to teach democratic principles to Iraqis in 2004 and 2005. That lunatic project ended with the greatest humiliation and strategic defeat the United States has ever experienced.
The obscurantism of people like Papa Doc Duvalier is easy to see and mock. We feel very safe and far from such men. But are the beliefs of men like Ben Sasse or Hillary Clinton any less cultish? They believe, as the Soviets or Jacobins did, that the state can transcend nature and history and forge an entirely new kind of man. They think this can be achieved through avowal of faith in a weird synthesis between the Declaration of Independence and the supposedly Christian “infinite worth of every individual”—something no American before, say, 1970, ever believed in. This maudlin cult has inflicted enormous suffering and carnage in places like Libya and Iraq. Americans must choose if they want to rely on these same people to test out their experiments inside the United States.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.