Why are so many white men so angry?

Roundup
tags: Immigration Act of 1965



Steven M. Gillon is scholar-in-residence for HISTORY and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. He has hosted a number of series and specials on the network including HistoryCenter. He is the author of ten books including the forthcoming, "'Separate and Unequal': The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism."

... But by far the greatest threat to white male dominance has been immigration. The Immigration Act of 1965, which made “family unification” the centerpiece of the nation’s immigration policy, produced a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, immigrants and their children born in the United States account for 55 percent of population growth since 1965. Immigrants made up 5 percent of the population in 1965; they make up 14 percent today.

This legislation also fundamentally altered immigration patterns. After 1965, the vast majority of new immigrants came from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Many whites view these immigrants as a threat to America’s “common culture” — a culture that white men created. From their perspective, instead of assimilating into the American culture, recent migrants have given rise to a new identity politics that celebrates cultural differences and rejects shared values.

Beginning in the 1960s, many white men perceived the changes wrought by the rights movements and increased immigration not as building a fairer, more diverse society and rectifying past wrongs, but as a direct assault on them and their values. In response, they mobilized in opposition to policies designed to promote diversity, from busing and affirmative action to bilingual education and gay rights. Grievance defined their targets. They fumed about companies and schools giving preference to less-qualified minorities in an effort to achieve greater diversity. And they’ve battled against liberal academics who want to erase them from the history books by stressing multiculturalism and celebrating the contribution of minorities while distorting and minimizing the achievements of white men.

Economic changes since the 1970s have compounded these concerns. The decline of manufacturing and the influence of labor unions meant that many working-class men have found their traditional pathway to a better life blocked. Over the past two decades, the information sector has made robots, not immigrants, a serious threat to factory workers — a distinction missed by Trump’s scapegoating of cheap labor in Mexico and “terrible” trade deals. ...




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