Brimelow, Peter 1947–
Brimelow, Peter 1947–
PERSONAL: Born October 13, 1947, in Warrington, England; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Frank Sanderson (a transport executive) and Bessie (Knox) Brimelow; married Margaret Alice Laws (an investment banker), September 20, 1980 (died, 2004); children: Alexander James Frank, Hannah Claire Catherine. Education: University of Sussex, B.A. (with honors), 1970; Stanford University, M.B.A., 1972. Religion: Episcopalian.
ADDRESSES: Office—Center for American Unity, P.O. Box 910, Warrenton, VA 20188. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Richardson Securities of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, investment analyst, 1972–73; Financial Post, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, assistant editor, 1973–76; Maclean's, Toronto, business editor and columnist, 1976–78; Financial Post, Ontario, Canada, columnist and contributing editor, 1978–80; U.S. Senate Staff, Washington, DC, economic counsel to Senator Orrin G. Hatch, 1980–81, 1988–90; Toronto Sun, Toronto, columnist, 1980–82; Barron's, New York, NY, associate editor, 1981–83, contributing editor, 1984–86; Fortune, New York, NY, associate editor, 1983–84; Chief Executive Magazine, New York, NY, columnist and contributing editor, 1984–86; Influence, Toronto, contributing editor, 1984–86; Times, London, England, 1986–90; Forbes, New York, NY, senior editor, 1986–2002; National Review, New York, NY, senior editor, 1993–98; VDARE.com, editor, 1999–. Center for American Unity (nonprofit organization), Warrenton, VA, president, 1999–. Pacific Research Institute, San Francisco, CA, senior fellow, c. 2002.
MEMBER: Philadelphia Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright Fellowship, United States Department of State, 1970; Commonwealth Universities scholar, 1970; National Business Writing Award, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Press Club, 1976; National Business Writing Citations, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Press Club, 1977, 1978; Gerald Loeb Award, Anderson School at the University of California at Los Angeles, 1990.
The Wall Street Gurus: How You Can Profit from the Investment Newsletters, Random House (New York, NY), 1986.
The Patriot Game: National Dreams and Political Realities, Key Porter (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986, published as The Patriot Game: Canada and the Canadian Question Revisited, Hoover Institution Press (Stanford, CA), 1987.
The Enemies of Freedom, Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.
The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to The Debate in the United States over Immigration, Hoover, 1997. Also contributor of articles and reviews to magazines, including Harper's, Canadian Business, National Review, Human Events, Policy Review, and Saturday Night. Columnist, CBS MarketWatch, columnist, 2002. Guest writer for editorial page, Wall Street Journal, 1978.
SIDELIGHTS: In 1995 financial journalist Peter Brimelow published Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster. The book represents Brimelow's expansion of his "powerful and elegant article, published in the National Review, in which he argues that current American immigration policies were leading to disaster," explained Richard Bernstein in the New York Times. Timed to become a part of the national debate preceding the 1996 presidential election, Alien Nation continues to offer "a highly cogent presentation of what is going to be the benchmark case against immigration as it is currently taking place," Bernstein observed.
In Alien Nation, Brimelow argues that "the mistaken belief that large-scale legal immigration to the United States is a purely natural phenomenon should first be corrected," Jack Miles commented in the Atlantic Monthly. "Heavy immigration has not just happened. It has come about through political decisions." Among the most important of these decisions, in Brimelow's view, is the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965. The result over the last thirty years, Brimelow maintains, has been too much immigration, especially by those with few job skills and by those with cultures vastly different from the American norm. And, because there has been no interruption in the immigrant flow, there has been no time for the new groups to assimilate. Just as the current situation has been caused by political decisions, so political decisions can solve the problem, Brimelow believes. He suggests a number of approaches, including eliminating family reunification as a priority; increasing the number of border patrol officers and the case workers in the Immigration and Naturalization Service; issuing Americans a national identity card; imposing an English-language proficiency requirement; ending automatic citizenship for everyone born on U.S. soil; and reducing legal immigration to less than half of current levels.
"Brimelow marshals an impressive array of demographic and economic data to press this case," Peter Skerry wrote in Commentary, "stressing in particular that today's immigrants differ significantly—for the worse—from those who came in earlier days." These new immigrants are more poorly prepared for American life than their predecessors, Nicholas Lemann explained in the New York Times Book Review, and for this reason they "are a net drain on the country, crowding public schools, welfare rolls, jails and hospitals. And by their mere presence they exacerbate ethnic tension." While recognizing the support he offers for his arguments, a number of reviewers have challenged Brimelow's conclusions. "His discussion of the economic effects of immigration is one-sided," commented Skerry, "and ignores evidence that contradicts his case…. Of those professional economists who have examined the question, most do not share Brimelow's negative appraisal of the contribution immigration makes to the national balance sheet." Moreover, in Bernstein's opinion, "Mr. Brimelow does very little on-the-scene reporting, which makes his stress on statistics seem not only abstract but also detached from the concrete human and spiritual reality involved in immigration." "To engage its topic seriously," John J. Miller maintained in Reason, "Alien Nation would have to dispense with its ad hominem cynicism and deliver a full-blown discussion of the good, bad, and unquantifiable impacts of immigrants on our economy, culture, and society. It never does."
Other reviewers have disagreed with the vision of America that Brimelow, himself an immigrant from England, offers in support of his argument against immigration. In suggesting that the bulk of current immigration is vastly different from previous groups in its closeness to traditional American culture, Brimelow reveals that his "view of American culture from its very origins is almost truculently Anglocentric," observed Miles. He continued, "This nation is not now and never has been culturally as English as Brimelow wants to believe." Brimelow also focuses on the ethnic and racial disparity between new immigrant groups and established Americans as a source of conflict and concern. Yet, Lemann believed that because of Brimelow's background as an Englishman, he overlooks the force that unifies Americans. "At bottom he just doesn't believe in the 'American idea' that people here can transcend ethnicity through allegiance to abstract national principles like democracy and opportunity."
Even with such reservations, reviewers have recognized the value of Brimelow's perspective on this national issue. "Brimelow deserves much credit for getting discussion of these issues under way," Skerry wrote, "even if immigration and the heterogeneity it brings are much more woven into the warp and woof of American society than he seems to understand or is ready to concede." For Miles, "At his best, Peter Brimelow is an inspired controversialist, determined to storm the enemy's redoubt where it is strongest, not where it is weakest." The reviewer concluded that "he makes a powerful—indeed, nearly overwhelming—case against the status quo. And if his book is at times uncomfortably personal, it is also painfully honest."
As Brimelow's career transitioned into serving as president of his nonprofit organization, Center for American Unity, and editing an online journal, VDARE.com, he continued to address controversial topics in book form. The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying Education offers his take on how American students are being ill served by public education and teachers's unions in the United States. While teachers are part of the problem, he believes the powerful teacher unions, such as the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, are the bigger issue. Brimelow argues that the unions are hurting schools and education. For him, teacher unions turn public education into a political game. They foster bureaucracy and keep unskilled teachers employed. Brimelow also outlines his suggestions for improving the situation, including making public education into a free market commodity in the United States. While some reviewers noted that the arguments and comments Brimelow makes in The Worm in the Apple are one-sided and intended to be controversial, they also saw significant truths. Booklist contributor Ray Olson, for example, characterized the book as "rougher reading than Alien Nation but just as bracing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, April, 1995, Jack Miles, review of Alien Nation: Common Sense about America's Immigration Disaster, p. 130.
Booklist, February 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of The Worm in the Apple: How Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education, p. 959.
Commentary, May, 1995, Peter Skerry, review of Alien Nation, p. 70.
New York Times, April 19, 1995, Richard Bernstein, review of Alien Nation, p. B2.
New York Times Book Review, April 16, 1995, Nicholas Lemann, review of Alien Nation, p. 3.
Reason, June, 1995, John J. Miller, review of Alien Nation, p. 50.
VDARE.com, http://www.vdare.com/ (October 22, 2005), includes articles written by Brimelow.