Book Reviews -- Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster by Peter Brimelow

By Lamb, Kevin | The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster by Peter Brimelow


Lamb, Kevin, The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies


Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster

Peter Brimelow

Random House, 1995

What began as a routine trip home for commuters on the Long Island Railroad suddenly turned into three minutes of sheer terror and death on a December evening in 1993. Six Commuters never made it home alive. For nineteen other passengers, who were severely injured or even paralyzed, life will never be the same, The perpetrator, Colin Ferguson, a Jamaican immigrant and self-proclaimed hater of whites, emptied a loaded 9mm pistol into a crowd of 90 passengers.

Journalists and other "analysts" in the media portrayed this incident as a result of "America's obsession with guns". The media hype, that firearms exclusively cause violence, obscured significant personal information about Ferguson. Although Time pointed out that Ferguson's family was quite affluent and that his childhood was better than the average Jamaican adolescent, most of their coverage focused almost entirely on handguns and the type of ammunition that was used. Details about Ferguson remained sketchy while the media exhausted the relationship between firearms and violence. For instance, Time's cover story featured a Ruger semi-automatic pistol superimposed over Ferguson's face with the caption: "Enough!"

As Peter Brimelow points out in Alien Nation, the fact that Ferguson was a Jamaican immigrant was never an issue among the "media elite." Again, the pundits explained away the broader implications of Ferguson's actions as being mainly a matter of guns and ammunition. Brimelow questions this narrow-minded view and boldly asks: What is the likelihood that those commuters would have reached their homes safely had Ferguson never emigrated to the United States? Moreover, do some immigrants individually reflect the social ills that in many cases besiege their native homelands? The fact that the press often "examines" various links to violence, guns or poverty for example, says little if anything about the media's thoroughness in probing other plausible causes of violence. Brimelow notes that the immigration issue never surfaced in the Ferguson case because it was tantamount to "racism" and "immigrant bashing". Given the fact that investigators found notes on Ferguson that detailed his racial hatred, it is bewildering why no one in the media raised the point as to whether Ferguson's actions constituted a "hate crime."

Consider the review of Alien Nation that appeared in Reason magazine. The reviewer, John J. Miller, vice president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, distorts Brimelow's point about the Ferguson case. While he claims that Brimelow's reasoning is faulty: "Colin Ferguson is an immigrant. Colin Ferguson is bad. Therefore, all immigrants are bad," Miller only reinforces Brimelow's initial argument, namely that there are two sides of the immigration debate, not just one as claimed by those who believe that "immigration is good, but concern about immigration bad." By oversimplifying Brimelow's views, Miller reveals more about the biases of the pro-immigration lobby than he does about the attitudes of restrictionists.

Christopher Farrell's review in Business Week is similar in tone and argument. He describes Alien Nation as an "Unconvincing book" then adds,

The author's reasoning eventually becomes absurd as he depicts the nefarious immigrant at work behind every high-profile social, political or economic problem--from crime to environmental destruction. In a bizarre digression, for example, he remarks that if Colin Ferguson hadn't emigrated to the U.S., the 25 commuters he mowed down on the Long Island Railroad would still be unscathed.

Although Ferguson was eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life for each of the slayings, the case itself is not an isolated incident. The World Trade Center bombings (carried out by Islamic extremists), the killing of CIA employees outside CIA headquarters, and the more recent murder-suicide episode at Harvard reveal the fatal consequences of current U. …

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