How the West was lost
Pat Buchanan discusses his new book with Geoff Metcalf

Editor's Note: In his latest book, "The Death of the West," former presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan outlines his belief that Western culture is dying out with the European population. Drawing on U.N. population projections, recent U.S. census figures and expert policy studies, Buchanan takes a cold, hard look at the decay of Europe and America and the decline of Western culture. Buchanan recently discussed his work with Geoff Metcalf.

By Geoff Metcalf
Q: This is a fascinating concept. I finished the book last night.

A: You read the whole thing?

Q: I don't interview anyone until I read his or her book, which is why I'm a little ticked off at both you and Bernie Goldberg for the sleep you each denied me recently.

A: I'm glad you read it all the way through.

Q: You are writing about things that are down the road a bit. Unfortunately, because of all the other things going on right now, people tend to say, "Hey, we're comfortable. So I have one kid instead of five." You go back in some genealogies and find families had eight, nine, 10 children.

A: Sure.

Q: Basically, what you say is the West as we know it -- European, Western culture -- is about to become an anachronism.

A: I think that is fair. There are a number of reasons. Incidentally, I'm from a family of nine kids myself. The fact is there is not a single European nation or native population of the United States or Russia or even Japan that is reproducing itself, that is having enough children to survive indefinitely. The birth rates are collapsing. In something like 20 European nations, the populations are already in decline. Fundamentally, what is going to happen is as these nations' populations age, shrink and die, they will not be able to resist bringing in hundreds of thousands and even millions of third-world people to take care of the elderly and, frankly, take the jobs and fill up these countries. That's the first reason: death of the peoples of the West and the mass immigration from countries that are clearly non-Western. China moving into Russia. The Islamic world moving into Europe and moving into the Caucuses and Central Asia. The United States, of course. Predominately out in your neck of the woods, they're coming from Asia and from Mexico.

Another reason is the tremendous ignorance of America's history and her past and, frankly, the denigration of America's past and her heroes. Lately, we saw the Crusaders come in for their beating just like the explorers had done, and just like America's founding fathers, because they condoned slavery or participated in it. The Confederate heroes, Western cowboys, soldiers and heroes of that era have all been accused of various crimes. So what has happened is younger people -- not my generation -- but younger people believe that the country was basically a wicked and evil country in many, many ways. They are losing the connection with their past, their faith; they are de-Christianized. Europe is totally de-Christianized. And the Christian faith is what produces the culture. So I think in the last analysis ...

Q: That is really it! The key thing here is that we are losing the cultural war. Frankly, on just the demographics, you can say, sure there are more of them than there are of us, but they don't have the education, they don't have the money, they don't have the resources. But that's only part of the equation. The more significant part, in my view, is that we are losing the cultural war.

A: You are exactly right. For example, I worked with Richard Nixon, and we put together the great "Silent Majority Coalition" -- the Nixon/Agnew coalition. We won 49 states, and we used cultural and social issues to win that, as Ronald Reagan did. But I think now the '60s have triumphed in the culture. What we used to consider the counter-culture, the adversary culture ...

Q: They are all in Congress now, Pat!

A: (Laughs) Heck, they were in the White House just a little while ago.

Q: Come on -- Biden, Schumer, Kennedy, Dashle, Lady Macbeth Clinton -- the '60s radicals are running things.

A: But Teddy Kennedy is older than I am. Clinton is the paragon of the Woodstock generation, and he was in the White House -- you are exactly right. But let's take three or four hot, controversial issues. Take abortion, take homosexual rights, assisted suicide and affirmative action -- on all of these issues, I think the younger generation is far more on the left than is the older generation. And people like me who are old Latin mass Catholics -- you know, I go to the Latin mass down at the old inner city of D.C., and I go to the coffee hour after mass. The only people who are down there are Buchanan, James Buckley, Antonin Scalia and a hundred retired FBI agents in wing-tip shoes. What we believe and hold dear, I think, is going to be lost. There are good hardworking people -- even the ones who break into the country illegally from Mexico. But what do they care about Edgar Allen Poe or Saratoga or Gettysburg, where I was for a conference recently? What do they care about our culture or our history?

Q: I was reading your chapter three, "Catechism of a Revolution," and it struck me that in the wake of Sept. 11 and the arguable sea of change going on attitudinally, which I hope is sustained for a while, would you have written that chapter differently today?

A: No, I don't think so. I did make some changes, if you got the final edition. I made some changes on Sept. 11. And what I said was, clearly this is a dramatic turn, and there is an appearance of a dramatic national unity. The question is, can it really endure? My deep suspicion is it cannot endure very long -- unless, of course, we are in sort of a continuous war where there is violence going on such as is going on at the West Bank in Israel right now, where that is the total focus of everyone's attention.

Q: I think there will be a lull in this country after a time, but there will be some future horrendous act that will rekindle the patriot spirit.

A: That possibility will exist, but deep fundamental disagreement is so great. It's as great as the divisions in the Roman Empire between the Christians and the Romans. They probably got together when the barbarians were at the gates. But that deep fundamental difference is going to endure, because these are differing beliefs that go to the heart of who people are and what they hold dear and how they live their lives.

Q: You claim that "the new gospel has as its governing axioms: There is no God." Pat, after Sept. 11, everybody was praying.

A: I think a lot of people are publicly praying that don't necessarily believe. I don't think those who don't believe in a god suddenly change. It clearly drove some people who were kind of lax Christians, or whatever their belief, to head to church because this was so horrendous, and people naturally head for there.

Q: There are no atheists in a foxhole!

A: There are no atheists in a foxhole! But when guys come back home from the war, they generally go back to doing what they were doing. That's a very good point.

Q: Intellectually, I sucked your book up like a sponge, but viscerally I want to resist what you offer in the book.

A: The point is I am very much a Western creature. I love the literature of it. I love the history of the United States, the history of the British Empire. Our family is Scotch-Irish and German, but we all speak the English language. I love Shakespeare. The way I see the world going, I just think that our time is past in a sense. There is a new generation, and a generation beyond that is coming on which finds our beliefs and our interests and what we think to be valuable as virtually irrelevant to the way they live their lives. You saw that quote I got in there from the Catholic archbishop, who very much echoed the archbishop of Canterbury, and he said, "Christianity is fundamentally irrelevant in England to how people live their lives." They don't care about that. They are out for a good time, and sex and money and things like that are what motivate the vast majority of people. But the point is, Geoff, the populations are dying that believe as we do -- they are simply dying out, and it is not a fluke -- it is in every single country in Europe. It is in Japan. It's Russia. It's native-born Americans.

Q: Pat, let me ask you this: You say the melting pot has become a salad bowl. My father's side came from England a long, long time ago. My heritage is English and Italian. From the Italian side, my grandfather came through Ellis Island, and two things that were literally beat into them were the core values of what you and I hold dear. He was required to learn the language. He had to get and keep a job to become American. When did the melting pot concept all of a sudden become out of date?

A: It's not out of date. It's a great idea and a good idea. As I said, I don't speak German or Gallic. My father's family was Scotch-Irish and my mother's was German, and we are very much Americanized. What has happened is this thrust toward multiculturalism, which says, fundamentally, that retaining the culture you came with is a good thing. Now, let's take the Hispanic immigration -- mass immigration -- from Mexico, part of it illegal. I think there's something like 35 million Hispanics in the country.

Q: There are between 9 and 11 million illegals.

A: Yes, there are probably 9 to 11 million illegals. They now have Spanish radio stations and Spanish television stations. They speak Spanish at home. They simply have recreated their home country, their home culture, inside the United States. They are what you might call Diasporas. They are people who have moved wholesale into another country, and America is ceasing to be one country. It's becoming something of an empire of these little nations that are not absorbing, assimilating or Americanizing. And one reason they are not is the elites don't want it to happen.

Q: This country has become an enabler. We don't require them to speak the language.

A: It's not the country. The country would go along with the old traditions. It's the elites who no longer want to do that, who resisted the idea of teaching children in California schools in English. Immersion -- that was a great initiative, and it succeeded by something like 60 percent of the vote. But what were all the elites saying? The newspapers and others? They were very much against it. So what I have said is we've lost the people who really sort of defined the country, and the changes in this country are very dramatic, nowhere more so than out there in California.

Q: Pat, I have a 4-year-old son. One of the first things he said, and he said to everybody and anybody who smiled at him, was "duty, honor, country." He may be in the minority, but we're not all dead yet, Pat.

A: I'm not saying we're dead. What I'm saying is that the West is really dying. Let's take Sept. 11. Dec. 7, 1941, the recruitment lines and the volunteer lines for the services were going around the blocks. After Sept. 11, the number of people entering the armed forces, volunteering to go in the armed forces, was less than it was, I understand, from September a year before. It is a different world we're living in, and I think we deceive ourselves if we don't recognize it.

Q: I way too often say, "Some people don't like to be confused with facts that contradict their preconceived opinions." I liked Bernie Goldberg's book because it provided facts that reaffirmed my preconceived opinion. When I finished your book, I wanted to be in denial, but I know everything is true, which I find frustrating.

A: I was astonished myself. I had read Ben Wattenburg's good book, "The Birth Dearth," and I understood what it said 15 years ago. But then I asked for these U.N. figures, and I kept looking at them and looking at them and looking at them, and you can clearly -- if you know a little bit of history -- you can project what is going to happen.

Q: Such as?

A: For example, in the Russian Far East, those people out there are just dying out. I think east of Lake Baikal, there are only 10 million to 20 million Russians and 1.5 billion Chinese. The Russians are dying, and we know who is going to get that land.

Q: In chapter nine, entitled the "Intimidated Majority," you quote that wicked witch of the east Mary Berry, who has recently been in the news. She is the chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

A: Such a prom queen, that one.

Q: You are being kind. She said, "Civil rights were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them." The things I want to call her Brother Benilde would hit me with a ruler for.

A: Probably get you kicked off the air, too (laughing).

Q: Probably. I interviewed a fascinating lady awhile back, Tammy Bruce, who is a lesbian and former president of NOW in L.A. What she says in her book, "The New Thought Police," kind of mirrors what you touch on in chapter nine. The left and their socialist agenda has intimidated any critic who dares articulate anything that is not their dogma. They get marginalized and vilified by name calling. You're a racist or a homophobe or whatever. Is the majority really intimated, and is there a chance to bounce back?

A: Yes, the people are intimidated. There is no doubt about it, especially in the journalistic world and the political world if you take a stand. And if you take a stand, for example, in which you say homosexuality is morally wrong, I don't believe in gay marriages and I don't believe in homosexual adoptions, you are a homophobe. That is defined as someone who is really imbued with hatred or ignorance or an utter lack of understanding. Continued use of these terms tends to demonize opponents, and they shy away from them. Homophobe is probably as a term less damaging than say racist or anti-Semite, which still have a little bit more charge left in them.

Q: I really think that is dwindling. Especially with some of the heat Jesse Jackson is finally getting. Jesse Jackson, Willie Brown -- those guys who play the race card for any and all critics -- I think their days are numbered.

A: I think you are right. I mean, you use it too often and after a while it becomes ridiculous. I remember when I first came into politics, I was at LaGuardia Airport, and I was Nixon's aide. I heard that the journalists were going to ask Nixon a question, because we were running against Wallace and Humphrey. "Do you think George Wallace is a racist?" I said to Nixon as we were walking along, "Don't use a horrible term like that. Say Wallace is a segregationist. He's wrong. He believes segregation forever, and we condemn that and disagree with him." Eventually, they wound up using it not just on Wallace but also on Nixon, on Reagan, me -- on everyone. It has been used so many times that now it's just like calling people a cuss word. But I do think they still hold some charge, and people are intimidated by it.

Q: You used that example of Dick Armey in the book.

A: The head of the NAACP has this terrible slur on Ronald Reagan and the Republicans, so Armey writes him a letter, and Julian Bond just dismisses it. Here's a powerful Republican, and they seem intimidated. I mean, just go back and defund those fellas. Cut off all federal discretionary funds to the NAACP until you get an apology and stop this.

Q: Come on, Pat, they don't have the guts to do that.

A: I know. Let me talk about the Civil Rights Commission very briefly. I had recommended when I was in the Nixon White House and the Reagan White House to defund the thing. It's been around since 1957. It's a corrupt little sinecure. We've got our guys in there, and they've got their guys in there, and what does it do? It doesn't do anything for the country. It just eats up money and space. But the Republicans will not shut down something like that, because they are just frightened to death someone might say, "You must be racists, against civil rights."

Q: I asked Rep. Darrell Issa recently, "Why are you guys giving a $100,000,000 a year to the Palestinian Authority? Arafat is an empty suit and a waste of skin. He can't control anybody. Why does Congress give him our money?" We don't get good answers to things like that.

A: You don't get answers. Frankly, a lot of the foreign aid ought to be cut out. But again, you mentioned the Palestinians. You come out against the aid for Israel and you get called an anti-Semite. Let me say this: This ethnic politics has intimidated Washington. Nowadays, you've got the Greek lobby in there, the Armenian lobby in there, and politicians won't stand up to these powerful groups. It is shameful, but it is true. And it is valid, and everyone knows it.

Q: There is a country song with a lyric, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." Allegedly, the Republicans are supposed to stand for smaller government, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. It's one thing to talk the talk. Why don't they back any of that stuff up with actions?

A: You are exactly right. I've been a member of the Republican Party, and I've worked so hard over the years to get a Republican Congress elected that I've sort of got more of a sense of frustration and anger with Republicans when they capitulate than Democrats. I mean, Democrats, I know what they are doing. They are interested in building up this government, and we know what they believe, but at least they follow those beliefs and continue it. But you're right.

Q: The Democrats believe in socialism.

A: They are socialists. There is no doubt about it.

Q: That's what they are. Liberal Democrats are socialists. What are Republicans? Can you tell me?

A: What Republicans are is rhetorically conservative, but they are operationally capitulationists. And you are exactly right. Go back over the years to when we elected the great Republican Congress. You will find the federal government probably grew faster in its domestic programs than it did in the Reagan years, when the Democrats controlled the Congress.

Q: It did!

A: Look at 1998/99 -- that Congress when I was running for president. There had never been such an expansion of government since the Congress under Tip O'Neil and Jimmy Carter in 20 years. And these were Republicans. They were spending more than Clinton.

Q: In "The Death of the West," you outline and document how dying populations and immigrant invasions threatened not only the country but Western civilization. What about potential solutions?

A: I've got a tremendous number of them. It's over 55 pages of ideas. But before the ideas can work, the people have to want them to work. I have a chapter in there on Western women. We know how they are not having children -- birth control or abortion or sterilization or whatever. But the reasons why are the economy and culture and feminism, and the women are doing what they want to do. I don't know how politically, in a democratic society, in a democratic republic, we can force changes upon women and upon men as well. But I do have some ideas in the back of the book. There are a lot of them dealing with teaching history, controlling our borders, tax incentives, families.

Q: Our readers are going to be unsettled with some of the material in this book. But hey, knowledge is power, and you have to know this stuff before you can do anything to mitigate it.

A: I think that's right. We have to understand how far down the road we are. That's what I find, and apparently you found, troubling. This is a wake-up call. Western civilization is virtually one of the greatest things that ever happened on this earth, and it ought to be preserved. It ought to be saved, and it ought to be handed on to kids. History is so delightful, it is so terrific, yet when you talk to these kids, they don't know anything. And it's not that they are stupid; they are ignorant. They don't have the knowledge, and for that I blame some of these baby boomer left-wingers who have gone into schools and basically tried to destroy the patriotism that kids naturally feel.

Q: I was recently in Lexington, Mass., with my wife and son walking around the green. My wife grew up there. A young man was walking around with a camera, and I told him, "Capt. Parker stood right over by that big rock." And he looked at me confused and asked, "Who is Capt. Parker?" And he lived around there.

A: We were there recently, too, and we went down to Concord and stood on that bridge and went to Lexington to stand on that green. I was tremendously moved by that whole experience. That is a tragedy if people don't know what those brave guys did standing up against the greatest army on earth to win us our freedom and independence.