Buchanan likened illegal immigrants to "Goths" who ravaged ancient Rome, foreshadowing "how America ends"

››› ››› JOE BROWN

In his syndicated column, Pat Buchanan likened illegal immigrants to the Goths, a group of Germanic tribes who ravaged the Roman Empire in the centuries preceding the collapse of its western half. Buchanan suggested an analogy between the eastern Roman emperor Valens's admission of Gothic refugees into the Empire and the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States.

In his August 25 syndicated column, conservative pundit, MSNBC political analyst, and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan likened illegal immigrants to the Goths, a group of Germanic tribes who ravaged the Roman Empire in the centuries preceding the collapse of its western half. Buchanan's column -- titled "Will America Survive to 2050?" -- suggested an analogy between the eastern Roman emperor Valens's admission of Gothic refugees into the Empire and the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States, an analogy he said allows Americans to "see ... how America ends."

Buchanan based his comparison of illegal immigrants to the Goths on his reading of Oxford University history lecturer Peter Heather's book The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians (Oxford University Press USA, December 2005), quoting from the introduction of Heather's book in his column:

"In 376 a large band of Gothic refugees arrived at the Empire's Danube frontier, asking for asylum. In a complete break with established Roman policy, they were allowed in, unsubdued. They revolted, and within two years had defeated and killed the emperor Valens -- the one who had received them -- along with two-thirds of his army, at the battle of Hadrianople."

Buchanan stated that Heather "is convinced that Valens' welcoming of the Goths was the decision that sealed the fate of the empire." Citing "recent headlines" that "tell us of 5 million more immigrants having arrived in America in the last five years," Buchanan then asserted that "we see now, no longer as through a glass darkly, how America ends."

As he has in recent media appearances (documented by Media Matters for America here, here, and here ) Buchanan touted his new book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America (Thomas Dunne Books), stating: "As I write in my new book ... George Bush may go down in history as the man who not only lost the magnificent lands won for America [in the Mexican-American War] by [President] James Polk, but, by refusing to do his duty and halt this invasion, ensured the Balkanization and dissolution of his country."

Additionally, Buchanan apparently misrepresented Heather's assessment of Valens, whose admission of Gothic refugees into Roman territory Buchanan seemed to liken to Bush's failure to "halt" the "invasion" of the United States by illegal immigrants. Heather wrote that "[t]he appearance of the Goths beside the [Danube] river in 376 was the first link in a chain of events that would lead directly from the rise of Hunnic power on the fringes of Europe to the deposition of the last western emperor [p.146]." But Heather did not assert, as Buchanan claimed, that Valens's admission of the Goths was "the decision that sealed the fate of the empire," which finally dissolved a hundred years after Valens allowed the Goths onto Roman lands. Rather, Heather wrote of the chaos following the Goths' arrival: "Blaming Valens for his stupidity in agreeing to admit the Goths, the local Roman military for their greed [in exploiting the Gothic refugees], and the Goths -- just a bit -- for resorting to violence makes for a perfectly coherent account. Considered in all its details, however, it is not the whole truth" [p.159].

As Media Matters has noted, Buchanan's book is filled with controversial statements about the threat of immigration, and criticizes The Washington Times for "summarily fir[ing]" columnist Sam Francis, now deceased, for claiming that, in Buchanan's words, "Western civilization was superior and that only Europeans could have created it." Referring to Francis's claim that race is "the Great Taboo," Buchanan wrote that "to submit to the Great Taboo is like not telling one's doctor of a recurring pain that could kill you." As Media Matters documented, Buchanan's book also includes the following claims about the purported threat of immigration:

  • "This [immigration] is an invasion, the greatest invasion in history." [p. 5]
  • "We are witnessing how nations perish. We are entered upon the final act of our civilization. The last scene is the deconstruction of the nations. The penultimate scene, now well underway, is the invasion unresisted." [p. 6]
  • "Chicano chauvinists and Mexican agents have made clear their intent to take back through demography and culture what their ancestors lost through war." [p. 12]
  • "[W]e are in the midst of a savage culture war in which traditionalist values have been losing ground for two generations." [p. 28]

From Buchanan's August 25 column:

"In 376 a large band of Gothic refugees arrived at the Empire's Danube frontier, asking for asylum. In a complete break with established Roman policy, they were allowed in, unsubdued. They revolted, and within two years had defeated and killed the emperor Valens -- the one who had received them -- along with two-thirds of his army, at the battle of Hadrianople."

So writes Oxford's Peter Heather in "Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians," who is convinced that Valens' welcoming of the Goths was the decision that sealed the fate of the empire.

As recent headlines tell us of 5 million more immigrants having arrived in America in the last five years, we see now, no longer as through a glass darkly, how America ends.

[...]

As I write in my new book, "State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America," George Bush may go down in history as the man who not only lost the magnificent lands won for America by James Polk, but, by refusing to do his duty and halt this invasion, ensured the Balkanization and dissolution of his country.

Posted In
Immigration
Network/Outlet
Townhall.com
Person
Pat Buchanan
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.