JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Suburbs Are The Backbone Of Western Civilization—Which Is Why Our Ruling Class Wants To Use The Biden Rush To Destroy Them
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

Here’s a little number that was stamped on vinyl just sixty years ago, in 1963. The performer is the late Pete Seeger.

[Clip: Pete Seeger, Little Boxes.]

Plainly Ol’ Pete wasn’t a fan of suburbia. He scoffed at the shoddy-built houses inhabited by middle-class professional types who played golf and drank their martinis dry.

What a bunch of dull, conformist losers! Listen to us young rebels! We’ll stir things up, pull down those ticky-tacky little boxes, build something… I dunno… better. Yes, a better America! Freer, more equal, more creative! No more dull conformism!

So how’d that work out?

And where am I going with this? To the suburbs, obviously.

You’ve seen those news pictures and videos of thousands, tens of thousands of people from all over the world storming across our southern border into the U.S.A.

Where are they all going? So far their main destinations—and the destinations the border-jumpers themselves favor—have been our big cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, and so on.

Big-city budgets are buckling under the strain, though. New destinations are needed: destinations like… the suburbs.

Rockland, Westchester, Nassau, are New York City’s inner-suburban counties. Orange, Putnam, Suffolk, outer-suburban.

Imagine my feelings, as a happy suburbanite in Suffolk County, when I saw the cover of my May 8th New York Post with a headline two inches high: SUBURBAN WARFARE. (It’s our featured image at the top of this article.)

Below that were pictures of two middle-aged men. The one on the right, a black guy, I recognized as Eric Adams, New York City’s corrupt and clueless mayor. The one on the left, a white guy, was a stranger to me.

What’s it all about? Well, as I told you last week, Mayor Adams is in a bind.

Like the urban fools who elected him—and indeed, like Pete Seeger, who was a New York City native—Hizzoner is a far-left love-the-world Progressive. He has been immensely proud of his New York status as a Sanctuary City for illegal aliens, the city’s law-enforcement authorities forbidden to aid in the enforcement of immigration laws.

In spring last year, governors and mayors in Southern border states started shipping their colossal burden of border-jumpers to big cities in the North, including New York. That has left Mayor Adams looking like the fool he is.

More than sixty thousand illegals have arrived in the city these past twelve months. The city has had to take over hotels and homeless shelters and erect more than 120 emergency shelters as well as eight ”humanitarian relief centers” [NYC building that once housed ‘Brooklyn’s hippest hotel’ turned into migrants shelter, by Carl Campanile and Haley Brown, NY Post, May 5, 2023].

The cost is in the low billions—close to a thousand dollars per working adult city resident. The impact on life in the city—on hospitals, schools, and law enforcement—can only be imagined.

What’s a big-city mayor to do under such dire circumstances? Dump on the suburbs, that’s what. Last Friday, May 5th, we learned that the Adams administration has leased space in two hotels in Rockland County, northwest of the city.

Yes: Mayor Adams wants to ship a few hundred illegals to inner-suburban Rockland County. That, of course, is just to start with: as we all know by now, a few hundred illegal aliens soon becomes a few thousand, then a few ten-thousands, and so on, to the tens of millions currently living here in defiance of our laws but with the smiling approval of our Ruling Class.

The Rockland County authorities are furious. Apparently, they weren’t consulted: Adams just leased space in those two hotels without any notification to county or town officials.

Here was County Executive Ed Day—he’s the white guy with Adams on that New York Post front cover—speaking on a local radio station last weekend, quote:

Mr. Adams, you can try to run us over and I will reach up and grab you by the throat for the people of Rockland County. Within that cadre of people who are coming here, who are not vetted, we have child rapists, we have criminals, we have MS-13. There’s a reason why there’s a process.
[Rockland County exec warns cops are ‘deployed’ if NYC tries to bus migrants there, by Jesse O’Neill and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, NY Post, May 7, 2023]

Don’t hold back there, Sir. Tell us how you really feel.

County Executive Day didn’t limit himself to venting on the radio. He declared a state of emergency and established a licensing requirement for hotels to stop them housing illegals, with a fine of two thousand dollars per illegal per day for violations.

Latest news: County Executive Day has not yet been able to grab Mayor Adams by the throat, but still wants to:

This is a renegade operation on the part of the mayor, and I cannot even begin to believe what’s going on at this point. I have never seen such bullying and arrogance in my entire career.

Mayor Adams has reacted by accusing County Executive Day of… See if you can guess. Yes: racism!

So when you look at the County Executive Day—this guy has a record of being antisemitic, racist comments. His thoughts and how he responded to this really shows a lack of leadership. I thought he was the Texas governor the way he acted.
[‘Racist’ and ‘Antisemitic’: NYC Mayor Rails Against Rockland Co. Official Amid Migrant Crisis, by Melissa Russo, Sarah Wallace and Jennifer Vazquez, NBC New York, May 12, 2023]

Suburban warfare indeed. And if you’re wondering how that word ”antisemitic” got in there, let Wikipedia give you a clue:

The county has the largest Jewish population percentage of any U.S. county, at 31.4 percent or 90,000 residents.

And that 90,000 Rockland County Jews isn’t all Conservative, Reform, or nonobservant Jews who dress and live like us Gentiles.

Wait: did I say ”isn’t all”? It isn’t even mostly. An actual majority of that 90,000 are Hasidic Jews.

The Jewish newspaper Forward reported three years ago:

In the last two decades the Hasidic Jewish community in Rockland has more than doubled to at least about 50,000 people, experts estimate, out of about 325,000 total residents in the county. Meanwhile the non-Orthodox Jewish community has shrunk, and synagogue membership decreased by as much as half in some synagogues, according to the most recent community survey, from 2015.

[In this diverse, changing suburb, liberal Jews are struggling to understand their Hasidic neighbors, by Ari Feldman, February 9, 2020]

That has led to social stresses and strains, with the Hasidim taking over school boards, firing non-Hasidic teachers, eliminating sports programs, and so on.

The stresses and strains are not Jewish-Gentile: they pit the Hasidim against all non-Hasidic residents, Gentile and Jewish both.

People involved with New York City politics, as Eric Adams has been for many years, don’t think much about the suburbs.

For New York City residents, the clashes between the Hasidim and everyone else are likely the only things about Rockland County to have seeped into their consciousness.

Whether there are any plausible grounds for tagging Rockland County Executive Ed Day as an anti-Semite, I have no idea, and I bet Mayor Adams has none either. It’s just a handy extra accusation lying around to throw in when accusing someone of racism.

FOOTNOTE: Having inflicted Pete Seeger on you back there, and with suburbs apparently designated by our Ruling Class as next target for the Biden Rush, please allow me to air my own feelings about suburbia.

I like it, and I have a paper trail to prove the fact.

Way back in my writing career—March 1999—I wrote a column for National Review in praise of suburbia [The Vital Middle, March 22, 1999].

Al Gore, who was then Vice President—remember Al Gore?—had promoted a document out of the federal Department of Transportation titled ”Building Livable Communities for the 21st Century.”

Scanning the document—I couldn’t swear that I actually read it—I got the impression it was anti-suburb.

Having at that point been very happily settled for seven years in an outer suburb of New York City, I frowned at that. I wrote: ”I shall give up my lawn mower when they prise [a native-born American would have said pry] it from my cold dead fingers.”

Yes, I like suburbia. I still live in the same house I lived in when I wrote that column twenty-four years ago, on the same one-sixth of a suburban acre.

My strong desire is to go on living here until I hear Gabriel blow his horn; and then, if the metaphysical arrangements of the Afterlife permit it, to go on dwelling here as a disembodied spirit—a ghost, although I promise I won’t be any trouble to later occupants.

Things to like about suburbia.

  • Suburbia is quiet. The first four years Rosie and I were married we lived in midtown Manhattan, in a studio apartment over a Korean restaurant.

    When the restaurant’s extractor fans were going full blast, you could barely hear yourself think, even with the window closed. (Yes, there was only one window.)

    That’s not even to mention traffic noise, the woop-woop of emergency vehicles, the tramp of feet on the stairs outside, yelling and banging from dissatisfied restaurant customers, furniture being moved in the apartment above…

    Here in Suffolk County the main enemy of peace is leaf-blowers, but that is at least seasonal.
  • Suburbia is pretty. That is much on my mind right now, as this is the prettiest time of year.

    By mid-May the tree blossoms that make April such a delight have mostly fallen, but the bushes and flowers in these carefully tended gardens are a delight to the eye. I walk my dog past them every morning, through the quiet suburban streets, and every morning is a Wordsworth moment.
  • Suburbia is congenial. Another quote from that 1999 article:
I asked my wife—who, previous to joining me in [midtown Manhattan], had lived all her life in mainland China, in barracks and apartment blocks—to compare her impressions of city and suburban living here in America. After a few moments’ thought, she expressed herself in one of those clipped antitheses that come naturally to the Chinese language, but translate so clumsily: “In the city physical distance between people is small, social distance large. Out here the physical distance is larger, the social distance much less.”
  • Suburbia is healthy. You can of course keep yourself healthy in any kind of environment. It’s a matter of willpower. Staying healthy in suburbia is easier than elsewhere, though.

Bank, drugstore, library, and post office are a pleasant fifteen-minute walk away. In the city I’d have to brave noise, ugliness, stink, endless pedestrian crossings, and street lunatics; in the countryside I’d have to drive.

Here in the suburbs there’s garden work to do and the home gym in our garage.

The air is sweet, the traffic’s light. There’s a state park nearby where I can ride my bike without meeting any motor vehicles.

Have I sufficiently expressed my feelings about suburban living? I think so.

I’ll only add that suburbia has been considerably democratized since Pete Seeger strummed his banjo. None of my neighbors is a doctor, a lawyer, or a business executive of any standing.

We are lower-middle- and middle-middle-class—the salt of the Earth, the backbone of Western Civilization.

That’s why our Ruling Class wants to destroy us.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

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