BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
One of the noteworthy developments rising out of Donald Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy toward migrants from Central America and Mexico, is that it has re-weaponized talk of a birth dearth -- sometimes referred to as "Demographic Winter" -- of white people in the US. During a recent appearance on "The Laura Ingraham Show," Pat Buchanan, a longtime leading culture warrior, pointed out that the biggest problem facing the US and European countries is the birth dearth of white people.
"This is the great issue of our time," Buchanan said. "And, the real question is whether Europe has the will and the capacity, and America has the capacity to halt the invasion of the countries until they change the character -- political, social, racial, ethnic -- character of the country entirely."
He continued: "You cannot stop these sentiments of people who want to live together with their own and they want their borders protected."
As The New York Times' Charles Blow recently pointed out, "Make no mistake here, Buchanan is talking about protecting white dominance, white culture, white majorities and white power."
Dearthers rarely use overt racial messaging. However, as Devin Burghart, president of IREHR (Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights) told me in an email, "The rise of this particular racist fear-mongering approach parallels the march of white nationalism from the margins to the mainstream."
"It's important to note that 'deartherism' today isn't an independent construct, nor is it the same as in previous periods," Burghart pointed out. "In previous formations, the argument was, at least nominally, about the overall decline in the population of a country. Today, that facade has been ripped away. It is now explicitly an expression of fears of white dispossession, grounded in the ideology of white nationalism."
"I think when Buchanan first started talking about Demographic Winter years ago, there was somewhat of a distinction being made by proponents of the 'birth dearth' hysteria. Today, the two terms are largely synonymous, due to the hegemony of white/Christian nationalism in far-right movements," Burghart said.
Buchanan hasn't been the only conservative to rail against what some have labeled the "Birth Dearth/Demographic Winter."
In a 2015 speech to the World Congress of Families in Belgrade, Serbia, Don Feder said: "The greatest crisis humanity will confront in the 21st Century isn't global warming, or scarce resources, or nuclear proliferation or a super-virus which will ravage the planet or any of the other disasters -- real or imaginary -- that national governments and international bodies agonize over. If current trends continue, we won't run out of energy or other resources in the foreseeable future. But we will run out of people. This catastrophe will be the result of rapidly declining fertility, the Demographic Winter."
Feder pointed fingers at the "Sexual Revolution" as being the cause of low birth rates in the US and Europe. Then in a rhetorical whiplash, Feder blamed "cultural Marxists," for "set[ting] out to destroy family and religion -- and what better way to do that than to foster promiscuity and a society oriented toward mindless pleasure -- movies, sports, food, fashion -- rather than childbearing, family formation and the search for higher meaning."
Feder was the communications director and public spokesman of the documentaries Demographic Winter: the Decline of the Human Family and Demographic Bomb: Demography is Destiny. His obsession with whiteness was perhaps best expressed in 2016 when he "opposed having Harriet Tubman's image on the United States $20 bill because "American history was made by white males."
Prior to Buchanan's appearance with Ingraham -- she of the infamous framing of migrant children being at "summer camp" -- he wrote on his blog that, "The existential question, however, thus remains: How does the West, America included, stop the flood tide of migrants before it alters forever the political and demographic character of our nations and our civilization?"
"One particular strand of dearthers," Devin Burghart, vice president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, an organization that has long tracked and exposed right-wing movements, told me a few years back, "led by folks like Pat Buchanan, focus particularly on the supposed danger of declining birthrates among white people in the United States and Europe, which they argue is leading us toward the impending demise of Western Civilization. Buchanan details the argument in his 2002 book, Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil our Country and Civilization. The concept melds nativism and Islamophobia together with the Christian Right's infatuation with procreation and heterosexuality."
Over the years, talk of a demographic winter has made the rounds at conservative Christian organizations. The Family Research Council, a Washington, DC-based conservative evangelical lobbying group, hosted a conference titled "The Roots of Demographic Winter and the Global Economic Crisis." Feder himself spoke of demographic winter at the 36th annual March for Life Rose Dinner, where he "suggested that the demographic problem of worldwide declining birthrates 'could result in the greatest crisis humanity will confront in this century' as 'all over the world, children are disappearing.'"
In a story about the film Demographic Winter, LifeSiteNews.com's John Jalsevac pointed out "that the only and most obvious solution to the demographic winter facing the world is to strengthen the place of the family in society."
There is no greater example of how important families are then the love seen at the border these days. Mother and fathers and their children are struggling to reach a safe haven for their families. That Buchanan finds these families objectionable says a whole lot about how he and other Christian conservatives really think about family values.
In his book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan wrote, "White America is an endangered species." In his recent blog piece he wrote that while the images resulting from Trump's border policy may be disturbing, "We are truly dealing here with an ideology of Western suicide." He then added, "But on the mega-issue -- the Third World invasion of the West -- [Trump] is riding the great wave of the future, if the West is to have a future."
IREHR's Devin Burghart pointed out that "Of all the references I've seen to 'birth dearth' in movement circles this year, I've yet to see a single reference that isn't grounded in the white/Christian nationalist 'demographic winter' rhetoric."