It all comes down to a question of self-preservation. And, despite what sentimentalists may say, self-preservation is the first law of nature. To love one’s cultural, idealistic, and racial heritage; to swear to pass that heritage unimpaired to one’s children; to fight, and, if need be, to die in its defense: all this is eternally right and proper, and no amount of casuistry or sentimentality can alter that unalterable truth. An Englishman put the thing in a nutshell when he wrote: “Asiatic immigration is not a question of sentiment, but of sheer existence. The whole problem is summed[Pg 276] up in Lafcadio Hearn’s pregnant phrase: ‘The East can underlive the West.’” Rigorous exclusion of colored immigrants is thus vitally necessary for the white peoples.
Unfortunately, this exclusion policy will not be easily maintained. Colored population-pressure is insistent and increasing, while the matter is still further complicated by the fact that, while no white community can gain by colored immigration, white individuals—employers of labor—may be great gainers and hence often tend to put private interest above racial duty.
Barring a handful of sincere but misguided cosmopolitan enthusiasts, it is unscrupulous business interests which are behind every white proposal to relax the exclusion laws protecting white areas.
Indeed, Californian assertions that Oriental immigration menaces, not merely the coast, but the whole continent, seem well taken. This view was officially indorsed by Mr. Caminetti, Commissioner-General of Immigration, who testified before a Congressional committee some years ago: “Asiatic immigration is a menace to the whole country, and particularly to the Pacific coast. The danger is general. No part of the United States is immune. The Chinese are now spread over the entire country, and the Japanese want to encroach. The Chinese have become so acclimated that they can prosper in any part of our country…. I would have a law to register the Asiatic laborers who come into the country. It is impossible to protect ourselves from persons who come in surreptitiously.”
Asia’s perception of what the war signified in this respect was instantaneous. The war was not a month old before Japanese journals were suggesting a relaxation of Asiatic exclusion laws in the British colonies as a natural corollary to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and Anglo-Japanese comradeship in arms. Said the Tokio Mainichi Deupo in August, 1914: “We are convinced that it is a matter of the utmost importance that Britons beyond the seas should make a better attempt at fraternizing with Japan, as better relations between the English-speaking races and Japan will have a vital bearing on the destiny of the empire. There is no reason why the British colonies fronting on the Pacific should not actively participate in the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Britain needs population for her surplus land and Japan needs land for her surplus population. This fact alone should draw the two races closer together. Moreover, the British people have ample capital but deficiency of labor, while it is the reverse with Japan…. The harmonious co-operation of Britain and her colonies with Japan insures safety to British and Japanese interests alike. Without such co-operation, Japan and Great Britain are both unsafe.” What this “co-operation” implies was very frankly stated by The Japan Magazine at about the same date: “There is nothing that would do so much to bind East and West firmly together as the opening of the British colonies to Japanese immigration. Then, indeed,[Pg 292] Britain would be a lion endowed with wings. Large numbers of Japanese in the British colonies would mean that Britain would have the assistance of Japan in the protection of her colonies. But if an anti-Japanese agitation is permitted, both countries will be making the worst instead of the best of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Thus it would be allowed to make Japan an enemy instead of a friend. It seems that the British people both at home and in the colonies are not yet alive to the importance of the policy suggested, and it is, therefore, pointed out and emphasized before it is too late.”
The covert threat embodied in those last lines was a forerunner of the storm of anti-white abuse which rose from the more bellicose sections of the Japanese press as soon as it became evident that neither the British Dominions nor the United States were going to relax their immigration laws. Some of this anti-white comment, directed particularly against the Anglo-Saxon peoples, I have already noted in the second chapter of this book, but such comment as bears directly on immigration matters I have reserved for discussion at this point.
Our own acute labor shortage during the war, particularly in agriculture, led many Americans, especially employers, to cast longing eyes at the tempting reservoirs of Asia. Typical of this attitude is an article by Hudson Maxim in the spring of 1918. Mr. Maxim urged the importation of a million Chinese to solve our farming and domestic-service problems. “If it is possible,” he wrote, “by the employment of Chinese methods of intensive farming, to increase[Pg 294] the production of our lands to such an extent, how stupendous would be the benefit of wide introduction of such methods. The exhausted lands of New England could be made to produce like a tropical garden. The vast areas of the great West that are to-day not producing 10 per cent of what they ought to produce could be made to produce the other 90 per cent by the introduction of Chinese labor…. The average American does not like farming. The sons of the prosperous farmers do not take kindly to the tilling of the soil with their own hands. They prefer the excitement and the diversions and stimulus of the life of city and town, and they leave the farm for the office and factory…. “Chinese, imported as agricultural laborers and household servants, would solve the agricultural labor problem and the servant problem, and we should have the best agricultural workers in the world and the best household servants in the world, in unlimited numbers.” Now I submit that such arguments, however well-intentioned, are nothing short of race-treason. If there be one truth which history has proved, it is the solemn truth that those who work the land will ultimately own the land.