by Ilana Mercer
The country is fast descending into a Dantean hell. The Circles of Hell to which we’ve been assigned are mass migration, diversity, multiculturalism, and zealous, institutionalized anti-whiteness, with its attendant inversion of long-held societal morals and mores. The guiding ghost of Virgil is nowhere to be found.
To ostensibly shepherd us out of hell, however, assorted serpents have slithered forth. Beware! All the more so when they speak to you from bastions of the establishment—Newsweek is one—as J. D. Vance does in, “True ‘Compassion’ Requires Secure Borders and Stopping Illegal Immigration.” His is the typically conciliatory, “conservative” argument we’ve come to expect from the gilded elite, regarding America’s promiscuous immigration policy, under Republicans and Democrats alike. Vance is the best-selling author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which is a culturally compliant—namely unflattering—account of poor, white America.
Provided your thesis allows for a cozy convergence over agreeable storylines—you are well-positioned to peddle a national bestseller to the left libertarian, neoconservative and pseudo-conservative smart-set. Yes, Vance is a sellout. Not that they were asked for their take, but the archetypical folks depicted in Hillbilly Elegy contend, justifiably, that “Vance [is] not an authentic hillbilly or an example of the working class.” Cassie Chambers Armstrong’s Aunt Ruth, for example. Aunt Ruth didn’t think much of Vance’s endeavor. Her niece is an Appalachian and author of a redeeming tale, Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains. “Hillbilly Elegy’s portrayal of Appalachia,” explains Chambers, “is designed to elevate Vance above the community from which he came … it seeks to tell his story in a way that aligns with a simplistic rags-to-riches narrative. Think critically about how that narrative influences the way we are taught to think about poverty, progress, and identity.”
Chambers is perceptively correct. It’s cringe worthy—Uriah Heep slimy—but Vance all but advertises that the Indian-American Brahmin he wed has helped “rid him of his hillbilly ways.” To that end, he tells of a mild exchange with his wife: “Don’t make excuses for weakness. I didn’t get here by making excuses for failure,” he “hollers” at her. These unremarkable, muted words Vance had with wife Usha Chilukuri he frames, self-servingly, as “the baggage of his tumultuous upbringing.”
Self-deprecation over nothing much at all amounts to very clever self-aggrandizement. Vance’s casuistry resembles a kind of Argument From Fake Modesty. Indeed, in smug self-aggrandizement, Vance slimes his hillbilly relatives, even naming names. Credits and kudos go to the Chilukuris, wife Usha’s relatives, for “[teaching] him what a functional family looked like.”
From family unit to family unification policy: when discussing immigration, J. D. Vance is just as nimble. He utters the code words at the door of the Establishment, left and right, and in he goes. Sesame has opened. What are some of the “Open Sesame” magical phrases that get one into polite company, conservative and progressive? First comes the “moral” preening component: “All’s I’m saying, y’all, comes out of the goodness of my hillbilly heart.” Vance opposes the rot of America’s immigration reality simply out of the kindness of his heart: he is at pains to emphasize how he hates that “human traffickers take advantage of the desperate poor of Central America.”
After all, Vance is open, law-abiding, and properly diverse. (Vance’s marriage alone proves his PC credential; although adopting the Right Kind of Baby before running for office is highly recommended.) Yet another part of the Vance celebrity seeking vaudeville is the incessant mention of his “working-class background.” This reflex finds Vance at once eagerly pressing flesh “at roundtable[s]” with CEOs and “communications conglomerates,” during “masters of the universe” events, all the while moaning a lot about his disdain for them.
He mingles with millionaires under “duress” because he’s so very authentic. A member of the gilded, conservative elite by any other name, our hoedown Hillbilly also loves to name-drop. Non-stop: while Vance forgot to brag directly in the Newsweek piece about having married an Indian-American lady, who “rid him of his hillbilly ways“; he brings her up surreptitiously when he touts his connections among conservative cognoscenti: “… my friend (and my wife’s former boss) Brett Kavanaugh [of the] Supreme Court..”
For Vance’s second “Open-Sesame” password into polite company, allow me to excerpt from this writer’s “The Immigration Scene.” Written in 2006, it proves that not much has changed. Why vote? GOP can RIP: “Everyone (and his dog) currently concurs that we have no problem with legal immigration, only with the illegal variety. It’s now mandatory to pair an objection to the invasion of the American Southwest with an embrace of all forms of legal immigration”.
So you’re clear: Vance opposes illegal immigration alone, even though the effects on the country of the legal and annual importation of over 1 million immigrants from India, China and the Third World are no less pernicious.
All this misplaced compassion—day in and day out, on Fox News, too—is, frankly, nauseating. The job of American policy makers and the auxiliary punditry is not to flaunt their virtue to The World currently on its way to America, but to stick strictly to their mandate—and send them the hell home.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s currently on Parler, Gab, YouTube & LinkedIn, but has been banned by Facebook and throttled by Twitter