To Fight Wokeness, the GOP Should Embrace Immigrant Voters

<i>A lot depends on the immigrants concerned but East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) tend strongly to be culturally conservative  and good citizens generally -- low crime rate etc.  The GOP should reach out to them</i>

The rise of ultra-progressive ideologies and the decline in patriotic sentiment are two broad cultural trends that worry American conservatives. Some may be tempted to imagine that these two phenomena are connected to immigration and the resulting ethnic and racial diversity—especially since opposition to immigration is common among conservatives for security, economic, and cultural reasons. Contrary to conservative worries, however, immigration and diversity can actually reduce the impact of wokeness while boosting American patriotism.

It is true that most immigrant families require two or three generations to achieve total or near-total cultural assimilation into American life. But it is during this transition period that immigrants and their children are most likely to hold conservative values. Ultra-progressive beliefs such as Critical Race Theory and esoteric concepts of gender are not immigrant imports, but rather reflect the beliefs (or professed beliefs) of long-settled US-born natives.

A long running General Social Survey (GSS) question about race, going back to 1977, has asked: “On average, blacks have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most blacks just don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves out of poverty?” A progressive person will obviously be inclined to answer “no,” while a (very) non-woke person will answer “yes.” Overall, 35 percent of respondents said no in 1977, a figure that almost doubled to 63 percent in 2018. (See Figure 1, below.)

This general trend shouldn’t come as a surprise. But when you break down the data, surprises do emerge. Only 34 percent of native-born Americans gave the progressive response in 1977, a number that soared to 65 percent in 2018. For immigrants, however, the share delivering the progressive response—47 percent—was the same in 2018 as it was in 1977 (though it fluctuated during the interim).

When it comes to avant-garde ideas about identity, non-white immigrants tend to be less woke than the progressive (and largely white) Americans who often purport to speak or act on behalf of non-whites. At a Loudoun County, VA school board meeting in June 2021, for instance, the fiercest critic of the (mostly native-born Americans) who’d championed the decision to teach Critical Race Theory was Xi Van Fleet, a Chinese immigrant who fled to the United States after living through Mao’s Cultural Revolution. “I’ve been very alarmed by what's going on in our schools,” she said. “You are now teaching, training our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history.” A school-board recall election targeting San Francisco’s wokest board members, similarly, was co-led up by Siva Raj, an immigrant from India awaiting permanent residency.

Of course, there are outliers on both sides. Hari Kondabolu, a second-generation US-born child of Indian immigrants, produced a documentary that resulted in the cancellation of the fictional Indian-American character Apu in The Simpsons. On the other wing is Vivek Ramaswamy, the Ohio-born son of Indian immigrants. The title of his book, Woke, Inc: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam, tells you all you need to know about his views.

The divide between native-born progressives and immigrants is expressed in language usage. According to Pew Research, only 16 percent of immigrant Latinos have even heard of the now-fashionable (but entirely unnecessary, and widely mocked) term “Latinx” as a substitute for Latino or Hispanic; and only two percent of them use it—a percentage smaller than the 2.9 percent margin of error in the Pew survey. (Of native-born Latinos, 32 percent have heard of the term Latinx and four percent use it.)

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