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Jewish World Review / February 16, 1998 / 20 Shevat, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration

BRITISH POLITICIAN Enoch Powell, a member of Parliament for 37 years, died on Sunday. Powell was a man of extraordinary ability, who had the courage to speak the truth on immigration. For this, he was driven from the Tory leadership and became known as the best prime minister Britain never had.

The son of teachers, Powell won a scholarship to Cambridge, was a professor of Greek at 25, enlisted in the British army as a private at the outset of World War II and rose to the rank of brigadier general.

A Thatcherite before Thatcher, Powell was a forceful intellectual and an eloquent speaker.

On his death, Margaret Thatcher said: "There will never be anybody else so compelling as Enoch Powell. He had a rare combination of qualities all founded on an unfaltering belief in God, an unshakable loyalty to family and friends, and an unswerving devotion to our country."

But Powell is best remembered for a controversial 1968 address warning of the dangers to national unity from immigration, which came to be known as the "Rivers of Blood" speech.

Powell saw immigration from Britain's former colonies leading to an upsurge of crime and poverty and the fragmentation of British society. From his vantage point, the future looked bleak. "Like the Roman," Powell observed, "I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood."

The Tory reaction was to brand him a racist. Powell was removed from Edward Heath's shadow cabinet and forever barred from the prime ministership.

Conservatives have a long and depressing tradition of bludgeoning immigration skeptics. In 1993, Winston Churchill, grandson of Britain's wartime prime minister, made similar observations. Churchill noted that while immigrants accounted for 6 percent of the nation, in some cities they constituted half the population.

Then-Prime Minister John Major, seeking to reassure the British, predicted that 50 years hence spinsters would still bicycle to communion on Sunday morning. "More likely the muezzin will be calling Allah's faithful to the High Main Street Mosque," Churchill countered. For integrity to match his namesake's, Churchill was excoriated by members of Major's cabinet.

Among the tributes delivered on Powell's passing, William Hague, the current Tory leader, said, "Powell spoke his mind without fear or favor." When Lord Norman Tebbit spoke his, at the Conservative Party Conference last year, Hague's gang rushed to disown him.

Tebbit didn't urge that immigration be curtailed, but merely warned of the dangers of multiculturalism. The children of immigrants "born here should be taught that British history is their history, or they will forever be foreigners holding British passports and this kingdom will become a Yugoslavia," Tebbit warned.

"Tebbit gives the impression of intolerance," Hague's office clucked. "William Hague wants to build a multicultural society." Well, good luck to him, and God save the Queen.

Still, Britain's immigration problems seem trifling next to our own. By the latest count, 9.2 percent of our population is foreign-born. In California, that figure rises to 25 percent.

Due largely to immigration (at the rate of about 1.5 million a year, 90 percent non-white), Americans of European stock will decline from 73.6 percent of the population today to 52.8 percent in 2050.

Augmenting the welfare rolls and crime statistics aren't the only contributions of newcomers. Like Enoch Powell, the more discerning among us see our national identity slipping through porous borders.

In his monograph Huddled Cliches, Larry Auster warns: "In addition to the millions of people who see the United States as a candy store without a lock, a significant number of immigrants have a conscious animus against this country.

"A very bright Bengali-American college student... told her college English class that the word 'American' is 'Orwellian' because it imposes an identity on her that she doesn't feel. 'I am not an American. I'm Bengali.'"

Those who dare to recognize reality get the Powell treatment. The American elite can't take the truth today any more than Britain's could 30 years ago.

In surveying the ruins of a once promising career, Powell stoically commented: "All political careers end in failure. No regrets."

At least Enoch Powell won't have to witness the balkanization of his nation. Your children and grandchildren won't be nearly so fortunate.


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©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.