CAT | Immigration
If anything good comes out of this election, it may be that we’ll finally approach some sensible dialog about what some call “the national question,” immigration.
The question is, what kind of a nation are we and what kind of nation do we want to continue to be – if we do want to continue.
The answers boil down to, either a nation with an acknowledged common culture or a polyglot mega-state something like the European Union if you like the idea. Or Yugoslavia if you don’t.
What we have is W.E.I.R.D. Western Educated Industrialized Rich and Democratic.
The United States is one of the weirdest of the W.E.I.R.D. Here is where the people Edmund Burke called the most protestant of Protestants and the most dissident of dissidents settled.
What they created was a national culture almost unique in the world. An identity based not on blood ties, but on our relationship to a body of literature.
Among peoples of a book, Jewish identity is based on a centuries-long literary discussion about man’s relationship to God. Icelanders identity is defined by the tales of heroic ancestors in the Sagas.
Americans are defined by our relationship to a literary discussion of the relationship of men in society. The canon is not well defined but certainly includes the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Federalist (a kind of operating manual for the Constitution) plus influential works such as John Locke’s treatises on government and the nature of property.
The result was a radical departure from all previous ideas of national identity. The notion that you can become an American, as much an American as anyone born here.
That would seem to settle the question. Come on board it’s really great!
Except it isn’t working that way.
For most of the history of our nation immigration came overwhelmingly from Europe. Though they had to learn what it means to be American, they came from cultures sharing a common origin which was like it or not Christian. That is, a religious tradition that taught you were personally responsible for the state of your soul.
The outliers were Jews, who nonetheless shared certain crucial assumptions about the dignity, worth, and inalienable rights of the individual. They worshiped a God of liberty and justice.
During the Western expansion we first accepted large numbers from non-Western cultures, Chinese and Japanese. And it appeared to work well. Who would have thought the insular Japanese would assimilate so thoroughly?
Forward looking Americans began to believe in our ability to assimilate any number of exotic foreigners, perhaps presaging a worldwide age of liberty and universal respect for the rights of man.
And it was precisely at this point that two things happened that called it all into question.
Wealth and industrialization made world travel easy and cheap. Technology fed images of the wealth of the West into every corner of the world. Soon masses of people were clamoring to come and share in it.
That’s not the problem. We’ve done this before. The famine Irish were more wretched than any Syrian or Somali refugees we’ve seen so far.
The first problem is these people come with no conception of what it is that made us this wealthy: free enterprise, sensible laws governing labor and business, and a general acknowledgement that what you make is yours to keep minus a tolerable levy for the upkeep of the country as a whole.
We’re now accepting people who appear to believe what we have is the result of luck – or worse, theft. People who do not care to assimilate, and in fact reject the idea out of hand.
The second problem is we appear to have lost the will to insist on it. That native-born Americans have lost sight of what created this outpouring of wealth unprecedented in human history.
We can’t bring ourselves to say anymore, “Come and bring the richness of your culture. We welcome it. But you must leave behind your old loyalties and your old hatreds. You must learn a new way of thinking about yourself and become a new kind of person. We ask much, but in return much is given.”
One day in 1998, while I was working at an Industrial Training Center in Saudi Arabia, I heard that sound which once heard is never forgotten. It was the sound of hundreds of voices screaming mindlessly, the sound of a mob.
What had happened was a delegation of American executives, including one woman, was touring the facility. Somehow the American woman became separated from the group and was wandering through the hallway when a break between classes occurred.
I heard the roar of the mob, grabbed a student and shouted, “What the hell is going on? Is there a fight?”
“It’s a woman, Teacher,” he said. “An American woman.”
Imagine if you will what this woman must have felt walking by hundreds of young men screaming things like, “Can I *** you?” at the top of their lungs.
Well more than a hundred German women in Cologne, and on a smaller scale in Hamburg and perhaps Sweden didn’t have to wonder. They experienced it and worse first hand over New Years.
Reports have it thousands of North African Muslim refugees mobbed young women, groped them, tore their clothes, and robbed them.
Police were overwhelmed – and perhaps reluctant to act.
Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker advised young women to “stay at arms length” from “unknown men” and dress modestly.
Worse, many German newspapers attempted to kill the story, as did Swedish newspapers in 2015 when something similar happened at a concert.
The Germans are caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, there are living men and women who recall the mass rape orgy of the Red Army at the fall of the Third Reich. On the other hand, they’ve long felt the need to be conspicuously humanitarian for two generations after Nazism. So when asked to take in refugees they’re like the gal who can’t say no.
So what explains the Swedes?
The East Europeans who endured two generations of unwanted guests under the Soviet occupation have no such qualms. Poland has seen mass demonstrations against taking in Muslim refugees and Hungary has re-built border fences dismantled after the fall of communism.
For more than a generation Western students have been taught the doctrine of cultural relativism, the notion that each culture should be judged by its own standards and no culture is in any objective sense better than any other.
When I was getting my masters in anthropology this was holy writ. Which is one reason I didn’t go further than an MA. I have a problem keeping my opinions to myself you see.
So here’s mine. Western civilization is suffering a crisis of confidence. On the one hand we hold to the values of equality, tolerance and inclusiveness. After much bloody history we have at last arrived at a place where we consider the in-group, those people we are obligated to act ethically towards, as all of humanity regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual preference.
And that has caught us on an awful contradiction when we welcome into our midst members of a culture that accepts chattel slavery, the brutal subjugation of women, the murder of apostates, honor killings, murdering homosexuals, and killing those who insult their religion as perfectly OK.
Try to put yourself into the mind of a man who would murder his own daughter for being raped, daring to choose her own husband, or just getting uppity in public.
In Jordan, one of the more progressive and Westernized Arab Muslim countries, in spite of the efforts of Queen Rania and Dowager Queen Noor, men convicted of honor killings typically get sentences less than you could expect for a DUI.
Honor killings have come to Europe with Muslim immigrants, and lately to America.
There are those who say our wars in the Middle East have created this refugee crisis. Perhaps so, but we did not create that culture.
If we should not be over there, perhaps they should not be over here. And if they wish to come, can we make it plain that in our countries we make the laws and customs?
We are now ensconced in our new home, mostly unpacked and semi-organized. I also have two sick kids and I’m not feeling tip-top myself.
My daughter came home from school with a scratchy throat. Took her to a nearby walk-in clinic and the nice PA said, “You have strep young lady.”
Oh boy, I have what amounts to a hereditary weakness to strep which used to regularly knock me flat on my back for a week once a year. However in adulthood it doesn’t seem to bother me as much and I haven’t experienced that feeling of gargling with napalm it used to bring. I’m told it’s not that my immune system has gotten stronger, it’s that strep has evolved into a less malign form. Even among microorganisms it’s considered rude to murder your host.
So of course my son and I both got it. What’s odd is how the symptoms and recovery differ. My little girl is still active and energetic, but lost her voice and can only speak in a scratchy whisper. She communicates with gestures and a stack of notes she wrote: “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t care” etc.
My son however has a slightly ulcerated sore throat.
I myself was knocked flat and though my throat wasn’t noticeably painful it was a tremendous effort just to stand up. A friend reported the same feeling.
One to two days sleeping around the clock and I was up and on the mend (knock wood!) without the aid of antibiotics. My children’s illness however still lingers even with strong doses of antibiotics.
It was about this time I became vaguely aware that Rush Limbaugh had said something-or-other about illegal immigrants bringing measles or something into this country and was getting excoriated for it. Well that’s Rush, he enjoys irritating people.
I do not. I would rather start a discussion that makes people think.
However thought being an often painful exercise, one often precedes the other.
So with some trepidation I’m going to have to say, Rush’s central point is correct. And I know this because I asked them at the local office of the Department of Health as I was getting my kids vaccinations for school.
When we moved from Wyoming to Oklahoma in between semesters I found there were a few more vaccinations required here, measles among them. Furthermore there is no grace period. In Wyoming I believe it was three weeks to get your kids the jabs, after they started classes. Here, no jab no school.
So I asked, “Is that because there are lots of students here from places with different vaccination protocols?”
“Yes,” the nice nurse said.
See? Simple question. No politics, no problem.
Every parent knows schools may be fine institutions for preparing our kids for the future, and getting them out of our hair for a few blessed hours a day, but they are also gigantic petri dishes swarming with disease cultures.
That’s just the way it is. Deal with it, don’t shout about it. My voice is to weak to shout anyway.
Longtime readers know I’m in basic agreement with Mark Steyn about the demographic situation in Europe.
Simply summarized, much of Western Europe is in serious danger of ceasing to be “European” in any meaningful sense, due to, 1) disastrous population decline of the indigenous European populations, combined with 2) in-migration of mostly Muslim non-Europeans who have a birthrate from three to five times higher than the native Europeans.
I’ve read criticism of Steyn’s argument. Some run something like: the Muslim birthrate in Europe is already slowing down and will level off well before they achieve even parity of numbers with the local population.
Steyn counters that it isn’t necessary for the incomers to outnumber the locals. At some point in time the dominant socio-political concern of the country will be relations between indigenous and immigrant populations, possessing different and antithetical cultural and ethical values.
To put it even more bluntly, the two cultures cannot share a nation in peace, one or the other must prevail.
We think people have a right to say whatever they like no matter how offensive, young people have a right to choose who they will marry, and women have the right to express their opinions.
The Muslim communities of Britain, the Netherlands, etc… think differently. And what was once a smug assumption by European intellectuals that they’d come to see things our way, has yielded to calls to “compromise” with what cannot be compromised with and maintain a free society.
So here’s what struck me recently. Genetic research on the population of England has revealed something rather startling. The “English” who we Celts have called “Sassanach” or “Saxon” for ages now, are in fact still overwhelmingly Celtic by genetic heritage.
For a long time the received wisdom has been that the Saxon invaders swept into England, displacing the native Celtic populations, destroying the Romano-British civilization mythologized in the tales of King Arthur, and drove the British Celts across the mountains into Wales. After yet another Nordic invasion, a firmly established Norman-Saxon kingdom established dominance over the “Celtic fringe” of the British Isles, but did not replace the local populations.
Well as it turns out, the Saxon contribution to the gene pool of England is actually quite small.
But this is the point: their culture, their language, their law, and customs almost totally displaced that of their Celtic subjects. Christianity almost disappeared from England, and had to be reintroduced at a later date.
Now although I am a proud Anglo-Celt, I have to say Saxon law and culture is not so bad. So sue me. And the synergy between the Norman-Saxon culture and the Celtic fringe produced something that came to marvelous fruition in America.
Now I ask, even centuries down the road, can you see the same happening in Europe, if Europe falls? Or do you see a new Dark Ages that might never produce another renaissance?
Note: my weekend op-ed.
“¡Pobre México! ¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!”
(Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!)
-Porfirio Diaz, President of Mexico 1876-1911
The issue of what to do about America’s huge population of illegal residents is again a hot-button issue.
Arizona has just passed a law requiring local authorities enforce existing federal law concerning illegal aliens.
Enforce the law, what a concept!
As a consequence, the people of Arizona are being called Nazis, Nativists, and worse.
The first thing I’d like to ask is, does anybody else see how seriously weird it is we’re even having this conversation?
Every country in the world, except ours evidently, regards their right to control their own borders as a given. It’s pretty much what “country” means, an area defined by a border. Our law on our side, your law on yours.
That said, I have to confess to some ambiguous feelings about the issue. We have friends who though legal, have an illegal granny who takes care of their kids. (Requests for details will be politely ignored.)
What’s the harm in that?
And in my long-term residence abroad… I wasn’t entirely scrupulous about work permits myself.
But we’re talking about an estimated 9 to 12 million people here illegally, with an estimated inflow of a half-million a year. That’s not immigration, that’s an invasion!
Yet several dozen communities have declared themselves “sanctuary cities,” forbidding their own police to enforce federal laws, or even inquire of people they arrest whether they are in violation of them.
The federal government then discovered a new-found respect for federalism. Rather than declare them in a state of rebellion and sending federal marshals to arrest the mayors and councilmen, it preferred to ignore the issue in hopes it’ll go away.
Again, in what other country would that happen?
I am married to a legal permanent resident, who by law must carry her residence permit with her at all times. We were separated for four months after I came back to the U.S., while our embassy in Warsaw made up their minds to let my wife and son in. And they weren’t always polite to her either. (You’d think a three-year-old child would have clued them the Fraudulent Marriages Act wasn’t an issue here.)
So what does that say about how you’re treated when you follow the rules?
But of course we’re mostly talking about Mexicans, so you must be a racist if you suggest we shouldn’t welcome the ongoing reconquista of the southwest quarter of the U.S. – formerly known as the northern half of Mexico.
I love Mexico and it’s people. The time I spent there was delightful, as most everybody who goes there without a gringo attitude finds.
But is it a favor to allow its corrupt (and by the way, overwhelmingly white) oligarchy to export its potential troublemakers so they can remain in power?
That Right-wing think tank Freedom House, founded by that Right-wing ideologue Eleanor Roosevelt (sarcasm alert,) noticed that of the countries they categorize as “free” or “partly free,” almost all have one ethnic group that constitutes at least a two-thirds majority.
We might be the exception. We’ve already assimilated lots of people from all over the world – though never that many from a single origin. And never from next door.
But if we want to try that experiment we’d might want to consider that once done, it probably can’t be undone.
So what do I think?
I think we’re going to be neighbors with Mexico for a long time. And since I began with an apropos quote, another occurs to me.
“Good fences make good neighbors.”
I just spent Friday covering the second day of a two-day jury trial, and am currently wrestling with how to write it up.
Apparently I missed all the excitement the first day of the trial.
Thursday I saw a cop car heading up to the courthouse with the siren on. Unfortunatley I was headed in the other direction for a physical checkup.
Turns out a defendant, a Haitian citizen on trial for felonious restraint and simple assault had freaked out in the courtroom and had been removed to another room where he assaulted an officer and had to be put in leg irons. He spent the second day of the trial in his jail cell.
Understand, as far as I could see every attempt was made to include the guy in his defense. A translator was provided and a very intelligent and competent attorney. (Though his skill was severely hampered by the fact that he had zip to work with.)
The defendant had come to our town as part of a program a local enterprise has to bring in weekend shift temp workers recruited from a homeless shelter in Fargo.
A woman who was a night shift supervisor testified how she was impressed with the defendant’s willingness to work hard, ambition, and how he always came well-dressed and groomed. Something that evidently made him stand out from the others.
She recounted how she recommended him for a full-time position, found him a room in town and paid first months rent, gave him some money for groceries, and drove him around on various errands to help get him started in town.
This was about four months ago during the flood crisis in our town.
Then the guy snapped.
The proximate occasion seemed to be some minor documentary problems with social security, which everyone was perfectly willing to help him with, and the mandatory closing of all businesses in town ordered by the mayor when the mainsewer system collapsed on a Friday. The defendant wasn’t able to access his paycheck over the weekend. B.F.D.
This 60-year-old woman came by on Monday to take this guy to the bank, and was totally unexpectedly subjected to a terrifying ordeal.
He beat her on the head with a closed fist, knocked her down and stomped on her thigh, and at one point locked her in a bedroom.
Of course, she was terrified. At various points she thought she was going to be raped and murdered. She strongly suspected he might have murdered his (also my) landlord and another lodger. (Thankfully, not.)
He screamed, “In Haiti I am a man! Here I am nothing!”
When she asked if she could go he shouted, “No! You are my slave!”
He tormented her by throwing a cell phone on the floor and saying, “Why don’t you call the police?” Then jumping up when she moved towards it.
Thankfully, he didn’t rape her, but did subject her to humiliation I won’t go into.
Then he totally weirded out and said calmly, “I invite you to my wedding. (Evidently an obsession with his landlord’s 16-year-old daughter) OK, we go to the bank now.”
When she found he had not followed her closely on the way out, she ran for her car, thinking, “Push once, push once.” (Referring to her car remote: one push unlocks the driver’s door, two unlocks all doors.)
She got in drove down the road, had to turn around, and said to herself, “If he’s in the road, I’m not stopping.”
She stopped by the first law enforcement officer she found and reported. Later a policewoman found the guy walking down the street jauntily in his pin-stripe suit.
When the officer told him what she stopped for, he cheerfully told her all about how he’d beaten the woman, complete with pantomime gestures of beating with a fist hammer. Backup arrived, and he repeated it for their benefit. And repeated it at length, in English with mixed French or creole commentary, all the way to the police station.
Under questioning he repeated it all again, and again, before and after being Mirandized.
Hold for a point. The victim is still traumatized and broke down on the stand. She was also mortified that this would appear in the paper. I think however the story will be about the defendants bizarre behavior and only minimally about the victim.
I do want to say that I think she acted with good instincts and great courage – and I kind of wish she had had the opportunity to run the son-of-a-bitch down!
A cop I saw on TV speaking about rape victims said, “If you survived, you did the right thing.”
Now here’s the point of all this. The perp is up for sentencing, max on the felonious restraint, five years. For simple assault, 30 days. But what’s most likely is Immigration and Naturalization Service will step in and deport him back to Haiti.
Whether that’s better than a prison term in America is another question.
I confirmed with the State’s Attorney there had been a psych evaluzaion, and talked to one of the investigating officers.
They are aware that this guy acts crazy by our standards, but maybe not by the standards of his culture.
The translator told the judge (answering a jury question as to whether she could adequately communicate with him) what he’d said while looking at pictures of the victim’s bruises.
“They are going to send me to jail for this?” he asked incredulously.
He’s explained to any number of people that in Haiti it’s perfectly OK to treat women this way.
My take: I think receiving this kindness from a woman was humiliating to him. It put him in the position of being dependent on her. That’s the cultural misunderstanding.
My opinion: Back when I was an anthropologist of sorts, I reached a conclusion that may have a lot to do with why I’m not working in the field.
Just as there are insane individuals, there are insane cultures.
Big no-no in social science these days.
So they’re wrong – and that’s a truth that is not relative, not a matter of opinion, and not “racist,” “ethnocentric,” or whatever jargon word you want to use.
The wisdom, rightness and effectiveness of “exporting our culture” by whatever means is one of the great debates of our time.
But, what seems beyond debate to me is that we must have the confidence to tell everyone who would come to live with us that you can’t bring shit like that with you to our country.
UPDATE: Doing the police reports this morning (the Thursday following the Friday of the trial) there was an ‘information only’ report from the jail that our Haitian guest had spit in the face of a female correctional officer.
The office deputy commented that this fellow has no trespect for women.
They didn’t beat him up and they don’t really want him in the North Dakota prison system at all. They just want him off their hands and out of the country.
“Nobody hates America like native Americans. America needs immigrants to love and cherish it.”
In my post ‘Can you think?’ http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/10/can-you-think.html I posed the question,
“How often have you changed or abandoned a deeply held belief because of either:
a. Personal experience?
b. A persuasive argument backed by compelling evidence?”
I’ve mentioned some convictions I’ve changed before, here’s another – immigration.
I used to be an ‘open borders’ guy. Now I think we ought to be a great deal more selective about who we let in, and yes I do think we should be considering the logistics of mass deportations.
I can see this coming, so please allow me to get it out of the way, “YOU’RE A RACIST! NYAH NYAH RACIST, RACIST, RACIST, DIRTY RACIST!”
Now that we have that bull$#&! out of the way, can we talk seriously?
Oh but first, the obligatory groveling caveats to prove I’m not a racist, or “nativist” as the newspeak goes.
– My wife is not a citizen, but a green card holder. If she were not married to me, I doubt she’d have gotten in, as her job credentials were as an English teacher to small children. As it is, we were separated for four months after I returned to the US while we waited for her visa approval.
– My children have dual citizenship in Poland and the US – soon to become dual US/EU citizens. My sister is already a dual citizen of the US and EU having held US and UK passports for some time now.
– My children’s playmates and best friends are from Kenya and Mexico. We devoutly hope that our Kenyan friends can get permanent status because their kids are a wonderful influence on our hellion-child (the kind of influence that is sadly lacking among American kids).
– My last immigrant ancestors were the children of an Irish woman who married an English (or Anglo-Scots) soldier. G-g-g-great granma Kitty was beaten up by her English in-laws while seven months pregnant and thrown out of their house. Her sons grew up fighting everybody in town and lit out for America as soon as they were grown. And the Europeans wonder why Americans have attitude?
– Yes, I know some illegals very well. And no, I’m not going to turn them in.
OK, now let’s get serious.
So does anybody see how seriously weird it is that we’re even having this discussion?
Every nation on earth, without exception, regards their right to control their borders as a given – except perhaps us. It’s pretty much what defines “nation”.
We now have huge demonstrations in our cities, by people who have no legal right to be here, waving the flag of a country which consistently expresses hostility to ours, demanding their right to invade our country en mass, break our laws when it suits them, and utilize public services at a rate which threatens to bankrupt them.
One of our countrywomen, the lovely Miss USA, Rachel Smith, was just publicly insulted in Mexico with no protest from her American colleagues. Now cast your mind back to what we know about macho cultures and ask yourself how those maricones* would react if the equally lovely Miss Mexico, Laura Elizondo** were treated as shabbily in the US?
Some Americans react by declaring their churches and towns to be “sanctuary sites” and condeming a citizen’s group which organizes something like a neighborhood watch group on the border as “racists”. Local law enforcement is forbidden to turn over illegals they arrest for other crimes to the INS.
Are we nuts?
If we saw a European country behaving this way, we’d probably think so. In the early 90s after the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe ended, a great many Romanian Gypsies headed to Poland where the pickings were better and the people more generous to beggars. After putting up with them for more than a year (they were even allowed to set up semi-permanent housekeeping in the large waiting rooms of the inter-city train stations) the Polish government rounded them up and sent them back to Romania.
(Ever hear of this in the media? Thought not.)
No it didn’t work 100%, there are still Romanian gypsies on the streets of Warsaw – but their behaviour towards the citizens is far less obnoxious. (Is there a hint here?)
Again, I am not anti-immigration, please see the quote at the head of this post. I am not even against mass immigration. I think we should be considering the possibility that for humanitarian reasons we may have to plan for the evacuation of the White and Colored population of South Africa to our shores – and perhaps the Jewish population of Israel as well, since nobody else is likely to take them in.
1) Recent experience has shown that significant shifts in demographics between different ethnic/cultural groups in the same state have immediately preceded civil war (Yugoslavia) and the breakup of states (Russia). Historically we have been good at assimilation – when we were confident enough to take as a given that immigrants would assimilate. However a little caution when contemplating such a shift in our own population demographics does not seem unreasonable to me.
2) “In fifty years there will be no majority race in America.” – William Jefferson Clinton
That Right-wing think tank Freedom House, founded by that Right-wing ideologue Eleanor Roosevelt, has observed (and I mean “observed”, not “proclaimed”, “theorized” or “asserted”) that of the countries they classify as “free”, most have one ethnic/cultural group that constitutes at least a 2/3 majority.
(That one was actually a bit of a surprise to me. I had assumed that liberty came from the consensus reached by different contending groups, analogous to the contending Protestan sects in England that reached an accomodation of mutual tolerance.)
With this in mind, am I beling unreasonable to suggest that a little thought, and some real discussion, is in order before we take steps that will irrevocably alter the composition of our society?
* No I’m not being homophobic – I’m being as insulting as I know how. (Thus showing my multicultural hipness.)
** I also wonder how our multicultural sensitive crowd would react if Miss Elizondo http://www.santabanta.com/contestants.asp?picid=1129 were to be publicly ridiculed for her answer to the question, “Name one person, other than your parents, who has had the most influence on your life. Why?”
“Putting aside the religious significance os Maria, Jesus mother, in history there was a woman called Maria whose son was crucified. She is certainly a person that has influenced my life in many ways. I have always admired her strength, devotion for his family, faith and courage. In difficult times, I try to imitate her by being strong and perseverant following her example. I hope I can someday become a mother and find the strength she possessed to enface life and family situations.”
Remember when George Bush was ridiculed for answering “Jesus” to a similar question? (Admitedly, I cringed inwardly too. Point is, good manners demand that we not ridicule each other for personal religious convictions as long as we keep them personal and not intrude them on the state.)