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November 28, 2006

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Cynic

Oh my.

I was suddenly reminded of a lyric from the Disney movie Pocahontas -- "they're different from us, and that means they can't be trusted." The lyric, of course, is interposed as an illustration of the folly of deeming someone untrustworthy simply because s/he is different from you. It's part of a song in preparation for battle the next day between the Native Americans and the Europeans. Lol... wisdom in Disney movie form.

Perhaps all this means, though, is that I should spend less time around friends and family with young children ;)

Roach

I think if the Indians were singing that song in the movie, they would have been right. Or do you think European immigration was to their advantage? I don't want to go the way of the Indian.

As for the differenes of men and women, which should be obvious--strength, spatial-visual intelligence, role in child bearing and child rearing, agressiveness, communication styles, toilet seat preferenes (up/down)--I have to wonder what planet you're living on if you think they need to be proved or that they don't exist. And, frankly, while some difference and the negotiation of difference is the key to social life, particularly in the relations of men and women, there is such a thing as cultural differences between entire groups of people, and my main point, that such differences yield less trust and that mass immigration creates more such differences is not disproven by your pedantic notion that differences always are good or need to be proven to your satisfaction.

Cynic

lol, Roach, your hyperbole notwithstanding, you haven't actually answered the question. I'll try to put it more simply: is DIFFERENCE itself the problem, or is it something else?

Erasmussimo

Mr. Roach, first I'd like to thank you for digging up some solid background on this subject; I myself am too lazy to do the legwork that you have done. However, let me point out that the study you cite does not really support your claim -- and that, in fact, it doesn't quite support its own conclusion.

The penultimate sentences in the piece are,"This suggests that in addition to education and age, other factors facilitate and hinder self-employment. These factors are likely to include: the amount of money immigrants bring to the United States, the existence of networks of co-ethnic business owners who can provide capital and expertise, discrimination by lenders, and cultural attitudes toward entrepreneurship."

Mexican immigrants are likely to arrive here with very little capital and little education. That explains much of their low entrepreneurial rate. The study also points out that age is a major factor in entrepreneurial rates; most Mexican immigrants arrive here at a younger age. Thus, when you take Mexicans as a group, you expect them to show low entrepreneurial rates. Their average is pulled down by youth, poverty, and lack of education. Yet as they age and accumulate capital, their entrepreneurial energies begin to manifest themselves, and their entrepreneurial rate increases. If you look at Mexican-American communities that have been around for at least a generation, you see a high entrepreneurial rate. Indeed, the Cuban entrepreneurial rate is higher than the native entrepreneurial rate (exactly the phenomenon to which I refer), and the Cuban-American community has a higher percentage of long-time residents than the Mexican-American community -- demonstrating my point that it takes generation or two to make these adjustments.

The concluding statement of the piece is: "But whatever the reasons for the differences between immigrant groups, it is clear that current immigration policy does not produce a flow of immigrants that fundamentally alters the overall level of entrepreneurship in the United States." This conclusion requires a slanted interpretation of the data. If you take all immigrants as a whole, then their entrepreneurial rate of 11.3% is a tad lower than the native rate of 11.8%. However, all immigrants as a whole includes hundreds of thousands of recent immigrants who just sneaked across the border and are not going to be setting up businesses any time soon. If you strip away the newcomers, and look at immigrants who have been around for a few decades, you see a group with much higher entrepreneurial rates than natives.

You complain that many of these immigrants have low education and work at menial labor. You bet -- that's called "starting at the bottom and working your way up." These people are willing to bust their guts building a future for their children. They themselves may not make it into the Fortune 500, but their kids are another matter entirely.

Referring to Latin American immigrants, you complain that, "They are worse on every index of social flourishing--illegitimacy, crime rates, education rates, wealth etc.--and their children are in some instances worse off even than first generation immigrants." OF COURSE they're less advanced than the locals -- they're immigrants! They came from a nasty society and they are intent upon bettering themselves. The same things were said about the Irish in the mid-nineteenth century, and about the Eastern and Southern Europeans at the turn of this century. Yet these groups turned out just fine, and are now a contributing component of American society. You need to step back and see the forest. Over the long run, immigration has been a major contributor to the success of American society. They arrive dirty, poor, illiterate, and with plenty of criminals in their midst. And they turn out just fine. You're complaining that the 5-year old doesn't have his college degree yet, or that the fledgling in the nest can't fly yet. Give them time. History is on their side.

Next you write, "It's doubly offensive that these same people, liberals that is, often want to write out rednecks, country folk, Christian fundamentalists, rich WASPs and who knows who else as inauthentically American because they're uneasy with these strange-sounding foreigners who are becoming more numerous every day and who show their Americanism often by flying a foreign flag, not learning English, and sometimes by committing crimes against native-born Americans." You seem to take offense at all manner of imaginary things. If you want to take offense at something I have written, however, please specify it and I'll address your plaint.

I agree with you that differences between social groups tend to trigger distrust and xenophobia. Where you and I differ is that I decry xenophobia as a destructive and uncivilized behavior, and you celebrate xenophobia. Wouldn't we all be better off with more social capital?

Erasmussimo

Ah, irony. While reading "The Lessons of History", by Will and Ariel Durant, published in 1968, I came across this little jewel:

"In the United States the lower birth rate of the Anglo-Saxons has lessened their economic and political power; and the higher birth rate of Roman Catholic families suggests that by the year 2000 the Roman Catholic Church will be the dominant force in national as well as municipal and state governments."

Scratch one more "them strangers is outbreeding us and they gonna take over the whole damn country" theory.

BTW, I don't hold this against the Durants, whose writing I adore and whose wisdom I esteem. They were making a projection based on bad data, regarding a phenomenon whose dynamics were, unknown to them, altering.

Roach

Cynic, I've laid out my point on diversity clearly enough. Just re-read what I've written and it'll answer your question.

As for the multi-generational steps to wealth building among immigrants, I think that is at least theoretically true. It may take 2-3 generations for immigrants and their progeny to reach native levels. Italians, for example, only reached the level of native born Americans in higher education around 1970. So, therefore, what? Continue to import millions of more poor unskilled people indefinitely?

The earlier generations of immigrants were able to get a leg up because the flow was cut off, they intermarried with one another and then other Americans, and during the 1924-present break in European immigration were more or less cut off from influences from their native land that may have prevented them and their children from fully assimilating.

This is very differnet from Latin American immigration. The flow continues, the countries are adjacent, their cultures are more explicitly anti-American (at least in their native lands), and the evidence suggests that the second and third generations are not as well off as native Americans. There are a number of reasons for this: cultural differences, the economic pressure of continued mass immigration (creating a labor-heavy economy where lower skilled and blue collar workers make less), and the influence of native multiculturalism, which encourages the very opposite of assimilation, the deliberate preservation of the folkways of immigrants' native lands.

Here's one of many studies, with useful charts, that show second and third generation Mexican immigrants are 2-3X higher in their poverty rates and use of welfare than native born Americans:

http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/mexico/generations.html

So, the facts are very much against your point, I think, even if it makes some intuitive sense and relies on parallels with earlier immigration waves.

PS Cubans and Mexicans in the United States are very different, not least because the Cuban refugees that came in the 1960s included many highly educated and wealthy Cuban elites fleeing Castro and his communist regime.

Cynic

Roach, if you don't want to bother taking the time to distinguish your own disparate beliefs and make them at least appear cohesive, that's your business. But the impetus is not on ME to make what you say make sense.

I've done you the favor of pointing out an inconsistency in your argument. If you're too intellectually lazy to fix it, that's neither my problem nor my concern. It does, however, reduce your credibility.

Roach

Cynic, though I think you are being a bit pedantic, I'll do my best to explain this in even greater detail. Your question seems to be that men and women are different, and so too are people from different cultures, and that if I don't think people from diverse cultures can and should live alongside one another because of their differences, then I must also want men and women to become more alike too, because their differences will otherwise create endless conflict.

I don't agree that my view on culture requires a similar view of the sexes. For starters, I believe differences in the sexes are largely ingrained, so every culture--a unified or a fractured one--has addressed them in one way or another and so to must every individual that aims to be happily married.

I believe some cultures are more stable, more trusting, more efficient, more pleasant, and more functional in every way than others, and since all of these successful ones have done so with the burden of certain natural and unavoidable diversity--rich/poor, young/old, men/women, smart/dull.

In my mind, that is part of what a culture is supposed to do: channel those differences into healthy directions, so that everyone ultimately has a place and a function. One of the chief cultural differences between, say, modern America and other nations are different views on things like how men and women should dress and interact with one another, how great are one's obligation to extended family, who should lead and who should follow, etc.

Cultural diversity occasioned by mass immigration is problematic, I believe, because some of these pre-political assumption and practices are put into question. Not only does the diversity between the native and the foreigner create friction between both groups, but by challenging established and functional mores leads to friction within the established society amongst themselves. "Why can't I drop out of school, Mommy, more than half of my Mexican friends at school are doing it?" This collision of cultures leads, in some cases, to a kind of nihilistic rejection of all standards.

Of course, cultures learn from one another and one feature of western culture is its genuine curiosity about other cultures. It is often westerners translating ancient texts from India, Persia, and elsewhere into English and translating our works into other languages, not vice versa. But there is a limit, just as there are in men and women. Women and men are, in my view, by nature complementary. And their complemntarity leads to an appropriately balanced enviornement in which to raise children. At the same time, we don't want to marry someone too different from ourselves. I won't marry a HS dropout, I imagine, nor would I seek out someone with a different religion.

For diveristy in populations, the limit, it seems to me, is when our confidence and faith in and respect for our culture is lost and when foreigners who have come to live among us begin to overwhelm us in numbers and, naturally enough, try to force their cultures upon us. One example is the near-requirement that anyone working in Miami is bilingual in Spanish, which should not happen in a self-confident American society.

It seems to me nations, tribes, and cultures are in a sense an extended family. Like an extended family, they are not alike in every way, but they feel a certain sense of shared destiny, and they reinforce that sense through ritual, by communicating in the same language and disagreeing within certain boundaries, while holding many of the same things to be of value.

Almost no American thinks, when he sees an offensive cartoon, that the person who drew it needs to be killed. Almost no American thinks women who don't wear a hijab are "whores." Almost no American thinks that it's OK to drink and drive, throw glass bottles out of your car window, or that family values requires your sixteen year old daughter to drop out of HS and help your wife raise your seven kids that you are raising on a $20,000/year salary. Many of these things are acceptable in Latin America, and people by virtue of moving across the border don't give up these alien beliefs. I and most Americans don't think these things are acceptable in any way, and I don't want to live among people who live that way, and that can easily be addressed by the border.

As for whether "racism" or "xenophobia" are the cause. Maybe. But I think throwing around these words like incantations short-circuits whether that "xenophobia" and "fear of the Other" is appropriate. My view is that it's natural enough that people don't want their societies reengineered through massive population transfers, and there's no reason to call such people names without addressing their specific concerns, such as the decline of trust and social solidarity that I outline above.

curtisstrong

Well,

Let me begin by pointing out Roach´s insulting oversight that many "south americans" he refers to were actually born in the U.S., and resultantly are just as "American" as anyone on this blog, regardless of whether their parents come from Colombia, Chile, Mexico, or otherwise. To insinuate otherwise is intellectually dishonest, insulting, and immoral.

Next, all Roach has been arguing is the classical majority distrust of a minority that may become numerous enough to take some control. This makes anyone nervous, in any part of the world, so I suppose Roach isn´t acting anything but predictably. The same happens here in the Canary Islands with Morrocans. However, that doesn´t necessarily make it acceptable or correct.

Latin America has its problems, no doubt. Many of those problems come about from the way they view certain things, their particular traditions, and their collective view of life. However, the U.S. has not been particularly effective at addressing, and much less at eradicating, these problems.

I´ve lived in Brazil, and my wife´s family is from Colombia. I´ve worked with many a Mexican in my day. To me, it seems that there is a major problem in latin america that Roach has brought up about the 16 year old dropping out of high school to help out with the family funds. There are a lot of issues that, often for lack of awareness of alternatives, leads some latins to forego promising future opportunities in favor of an immediate response to a problem.

I don´t necessarily view this as a terribly irrational decision. If one has to choose between starving to death, and giving up an opportunity to go to university, the answer is easy. But it leads to some problems...alcoholism, low income, low education levels, violence...etc.

There are also strong social forces that push AGAINST higher education. As I noted above, my wife´s family is from Colombia, and she has some problems at times because, having been to different countries, and having achieved a higher level of education, she can see some problems that others in her family wouldn´t necessarily recognize (not throwing bottles from cars, or stabbing people...etc.). That said, most of her family works hard and live in a way that would be considered "American."

As I wrote above, the U.S. has not had much foresight in dealing with these issues. People in the U.S. tend to group together in racial bunches, and tend, as Roach does, to highly distrust others of different backgrounds. I´m not sure what we expected to happen with such a mentality. If there is no cultural exchange, no help for people who find themselves in a strange situation, we can´t just expect them to change on their own. If we want people to change, people need to dive in and help them do it. Not just with language, but with entrepreneurship, with informing people about educational opportunities for their children, and so forth. If good principles are imparted, people will figure out how to fix their problems on their own...but there does have to be some input on the majority´s part.

However, this needs to be done with respect, because latins, like americans, are generally very patriotic. They love their homeland, and would feel quite badly about rejecting their cultural heritage outright. Generally, they are very grateful for what they have, and view extreme ambition as a vice, not a virtue. It often takes people away from their family and things they enjoy doing. But they work hard when it´s time to work. Given that fact, latins have a lot of promise, both in and outside of the U.S. With a bit of cultural exchange, we could all learn quite a bit.

I´d like to challenge Roach, or Vice, to get out and teach a free English class, or publish some flyers about educational opportunities for children, or something to change the situation. I´ll translate for you if you need when I get back to the U.S. (I´ll be in Chicago...pretty sure Roach still lives there).

Good luck.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Roach, I find your statement "I believe some cultures are more stable, more trusting, more efficient, more pleasant, and more functional in every way than others" to be overly simplistic. The success of any culture is measured in many dimensions. For example, North Korean culture is clearly highly successful for Kim Dae Jong. By that metric, it is superior to American culture. You and I and millions of North Koreans might reject that metric, but the metric needs to be included in any statement of superiority. I'm sure you reject Iranian culture as profoundly inferior to American culture, and yet there are undoubtedly some metrics (perhaps sexual restraint) in which Iranian cultural outperforms American culture. We're pretty sure than violent crime was rarer in the Soviet Union than it is in today's Russia -- by that metric, Soviet culture was superior to Russian culture (and probably American culture as well).

I am not arguing that Soviet culture was broadly superior to American culture, or even that Soviet culture was in general the equal of American culture. I'm saying that the metric for determining superiority is intrinsically subjective and therefore absolute statements about such superiority are meaningless without the specification of the metric. Yes, we make better burgers in the USA -- but that's only important if you value good burgers. I'll actually go much further and agree that, by many metrics that most people will agree with, American culture is ahead of many other cultures. However, that statement must be combined with the acknowledgement that, by some metrics, American culture is inferior to many other cultures, and I would bet money on the claim that it is always possible to find at least one respectable metric by which any given culture outperforms American culture.

I think you misunderstand the role that diversity plays in cultural evolution. The clearest way to approach this problem is to apply what we have learned from biological evolution. A human culture is very similar to a gene pool. You are busily worrying that the gene pool of American culture is being diluted by foreign genes. But those foreign genes don't dilute the American cultural gene pool, they expand it. The most successful species are those that maintain large and diverse gene pools, enabling them to rapidly respond to environmental challenges in a manner that keeps the species alive. Yes, in the process old genes can get wiped out -- but it's the environmental challenge that wipes out obsolete genes, not the influx of new genes. In other words, if some component of American culture works well in the future, no addition of Mexican culture will alter its effectiveness and that cultural component will retain a strong position in the cultural gene pool. If there is some component of American culture that is weak or ineffective, (say, a love of polka music), then that component will be replaced with other, more effective components. But the new components do not destroy or dilute the old component, they merely replace it when it has been made obsolete by changing environmental conditions. In other words, if we start playing a lot more Mexican music than polkas, it's not because the evil Mexican music destroyed the polkas, it's because polkas just weren't good enough any more. And if the Mexican music is preferred by people over the polkas, why shed tears for polkas?

The same thing applies to cultural values. We don't want to go around embracing every cultural value as the fad of the day -- but we do want those Mexican trumpet players hanging around in the background, just in case we get tired of the polkas or global warming makes it impossible to play polka music any longer.

As for Westerners being more open to other cultures -- boy, you really need to read more history. Yes, the West has been fairly open, and the most extreme cases of cultural closed-mindedness come from the later Islamic culture, which dismissed Europe as "meaningless barbarians" and much of Chinese culture, which dismissed EVERYBODY else as meaningless barbarians. But there's nothing in Western history to compare to the cultural trick the Japanese pulled in 1868 - 1880. They stepped into a phone booth wearing traditional garb, and stepped out of the phone booth wearing western military uniforms -- and proceeded to kick Western butt using Western methods for the next 60 years. Talk about learning from other cultures! And the Japanese did it again in the 1970s with manufacturing.

What's especially ironic about your observation is that Americans are the most culturally closed-minded of Westerners. Yes, Europeans enjoy learning about other cultures, and they even travel to foreign countries to do so. But Americans have little interest in other cultures (except to complain about them). If we challenged Americans to identify Europe on an unlabeled map of the world, how many do you think could do so? How many Americans learn foreign languages? How many Americans can name the current leaders of Germany, France, or Mexico? Just last night, I had dinner with a Dutch friend living in Hamburg, and he discussed American politics quite knowledgeably, musing on Ms. Clinton's chances of getting the Democratic nomination. How many Americans do you think could knowledgeably discuss Ms. Merkel's changes for electoral success in the next round of elections?

I agree with your claims regarding the maximum degree of diversity. Too much diversity stresses a culture to a point where it breaks down. But how the hell are we to measure the point where "our confidence and faith in and respect for our culture is lost"? And how do we know that our loss of confidence is due to foreigners? Right now a great many Americans are having doubts about their country, but those doubts are created by the policies of the current Administration. Some Americans like to see America as the country of peace, not of war, the country that embraces the strict rule of law, the country of decency, not torture -- and these people have had their confidence in American culture shaken by the events of the last few years. Don't blame immigrants for that loss of confidence -- blame the gigantic changes in policy made by the current administration.

Another metric you cite is "when foreigners who have come to live among us begin to overwhelm us in numbers and, naturally enough, try to force their cultures upon us." By that metric, there is nothing whatsoever to worry about. A few tens of millions of Mexicans is a drop in the bucket compared to the 300 million Americans already here. They won't have the numbers to overwhelm us anytime in this century.

I will point out that your statement "try to force their cultures upon us" is grossly incorrect. Can you point to any instance of Mexicans invading a night club and forcing everybody at gunpoint to dance the Mexican hat dance? Mexicans invading a McDonalds and demanding that they replace burgers with tacos? Mexicans stopping people on the street and forcing them to don sombreros? I don't see any Mexicans forcing anybody in this regard. Your plaint is bogus.

Now I'd like to address some of your specific accusations against Latin Americans, summarized with the statement, "Many of these things are acceptable in Latin America":

"Almost no American thinks, when he sees an offensive cartoon, that the person who drew it needs to be killed."
You may need to check your sources on this matter. Perhaps you are thinking of some culture other than Latin American culture...

"Almost no American thinks women who don't wear a hijab are "whores."" Hmm, again, you might want to double-check whether this is truly a Latin American characteristic.

"Almost no American thinks that it's OK to drink and drive," I'd like to see some Pew surveys on Latin American attitudes towards drinking and driving. Even better, I'd like to see some surveys of Mexicans who have immigrated to the United States showing that they think it's ok to drink and drive.

"Almost no American thinks that it's OK to... throw glass bottles out of your car window." Again, I'd like to see some statistics on the number of Mexican immigrants who believe that it is OK to throw glass bottles out of your car window. I must say, you seem to have access to some wondrously obscure sociological data.

"Almost no American thinks that family values requires your sixteen year old daughter to drop out of HS and help your wife raise your seven kids that you are raising on a $20,000/year salary." Gee, I find both sides of this statement questionable. I shall be charitable and overlook it.

Lastly, your suggestion that xenophobia might be appropriate sounds like Gordon Gecko declaration that "greed is good", or "extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice" or some of the Kafka-esque statements emanating from the White House in recent years. The central concept here is that xenophobia is just that: a phobia. An irrational fear of strangers. Irrationality is NEVER appropriate. I agree that slapping that label onto you could certainly be pejorative. Yet I must remind you that the statements above about Latin Americans and hijabs and drunk driving are so intrinsically irrational that the label 'xenophobia' strikes me as fair and proper to use in this case. Tone down the extremity of your accusations and they will be easier to treat rationally.

I shall conclude with another lovely quote from Will and Ariel Durant's "The Lessons of History":

"Racial antipathies have some roots in ethnic origin, but they are also generated, perhaps predominantly, by differences of acquired culture -- of language, dress habits, morals, or religion. There is no cure for such antipathies except a broadened education. A knowledge of history may teach us that civilization is a co-operative product, that nearly all peoples have contributed to it; it is our common heritage and debt; and the civilized soul will reveal itself in treating every man or woman, however lowly, as a representative of one of those creative and contributory groups."

Roach

Cultures serve human beings, and human beings have certain built-in purposes that cultures aim to serve: reproduction, virtuous behavior, group protection, commerce, etc. It's true cultures disagree about these things, and sometimes things are different but one is not clearly superior to the toher, but if we're not willing to say this or that culture is meeting those needs better than another and also more justly than another, then there is really no point in having this discussion.

You implicitly accept this in your praise of European culture and even your limited praise of Soviet society. You also show what underlies your embrace of multiculturalism and mass immigration: a certain contempt for American society and its allegedly provincial people.

There is no magic formula to discover when this point of "too much diversity" is reached, but I think it's reached sooner than later. So many such decisions of political life lack the pseudo-precision by which you seem to judge policy. It's notable, though, that your example of the highly integrated and completely nondiverse Japanese were able to borrow succesfully from other cultures with "arms length" relationships, and even today have one of the lowest rates of immigration of any industrialized nationa I'm familiar with. Fractured societies, on the other hand, whether Rwanda, Iraq, or Yugoslavia seem to have more problems, so too do diverse parts of this country--Los Angeles, New York--when compared to Iowa or most suburbs. And by problems I mean things like higher crime, less trust, less agreement on shared values, and other things that are the marker of lower levels of civilization everywhere.

I realize, of course, that some of my "diversity" examples were more specific to Muslims, whom I think present a much bigger challenge to Europe than America. That said, I favor the complete restriction of Muslim immigration. Just because they present greater challenges, doesn't mean that lesser evils are OK. Mexican immigrants have certainly murdered many more people than the entire 9/11 mass murder perpetrated by just 19 Muslim immigrants.

As for the differences in attitudes and behavior of Mexicans, I'm fairly confident I'm right. I'm not going to do your homework for you. I've seen some of these things with my own eyes, frankly, and I've seen them also in travels to Mexico and have ready studies to this effect as well. I challenge you to prove I'm wrong, showing that Mexicans have similar views of higher education, drunken driving, and duties to the broader society. This constant burden-shifting and hyper-skepticism over what should be obvious--such as the differences of men and women--is getting kind of ridiculous in this thread.

Finally, my point on xenophobia was that even if there is such a thing as "irrational" fear of the other, there is also such a thing as rational fear of the other. Do you accept that such may be the case, and that concerns for things like crime, an expanding welfare state, and a more numerous population of poor people are generally acceptable?

I reject your nearly religious view that some kind of social Darwinism will make everything turn out OK in the end. Cultures get overwhelmed and destroyed all the time. Just ask the American Indians. And this happens even when they are in many respescts superior; just study the Ancient Romans. Mexicans don't need to force us to be Mexicnas to accomplish their end; they simply must refuse to become fully American, as many of them have, viz. the point above about their "patioritism" for their native societies, i.e., disloyalty to ours.

Liberals are quite sensibly concerned about small changes in the environment, which they view as a fragile balance. But for some reason in matters of culture, liberals throw all caution to the wind. Kind of nutty, if you ask me, particularly because we're talking about matters that have a very direct effect on our quality of life such as crime, whether you can understand your neighbors, etc.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Roach,
I am curious as to the logical gyrations by which you interpret my statement that "by many metrics that most people will agree with, American culture is ahead of many other cultures." as showing on my part "a certain contempt for American society and its allegedly provincial people".

And I wonder how you would react were I to stoop to a similar level of rudeness and accuse you of showing a slavish and parochial adulation of all things American that betrays a gross ignorance of other cultures? I don't believe any such thing, but I offer the thought in the hope that you might better perceive how rude your own assertion is.

You argue that Mexican immigrants commit many more murders than the 19 Muslims who committed the 9/11 atrocity, a point of fact with which I agree. But at this point your logic seems to wander off into nowhere. Did you have a point to make?

You refuse to back up your odd speculations about Mexicans with any evidence, demanding that I instead provide evidence to disprove your strange assertions. I suggest that you take the matter up with Mr. William of Ockham.

Forgive a pedantic point on my part: social Darwinism is the application of Darwinian principles to the fates of individuals in societies. I was not using social Darwinism; I was applying Darwinian principles to the evolution of entire societies.

You ask, "Do you accept that such [a rational fear of the other] may be the case, and that concerns for things like crime, an expanding welfare state, and a more numerous population of poor people are generally acceptable?" No, I don't accept that. I think that it is rational to fear crime, it is rational to fear an expanding welfare state, and it is rational to fear a high Gini index. What I find irrational is the equation of Mexicans with these things. You confuse statistical correlation with personal responsibility. That is, you seem to believe that, since Mexicans as a group have a higher rate of crime, that we are justified in applying punitive policies to Mexicans as individuals. It is fundamental to our concept of law that each individual is INDIVIDUALLY responsible for his own behavior -- the notion of collective responsibility for criminal behavior is profoundly unAmerican.

Your statements about cultures being destroyed lead nowhere. You segue from them into some truly weird statements: " Mexicans don't need to force us to be Mexicnas to accomplish their end; they simply must refuse to become fully American, as many of them have, viz. the point above about their "patioritism" for their native societies, i.e., disloyalty to ours."

What is "their end" in the first sentence? Are Mexicans engaged in some secret conspiracy to subvert America? Is "their end" the replacement of English with Spanish? Have the Communists who've been lurking under your bed morphed into Mexicans?

What do you mean by "fully American"? Going to baseball games every weekend? Barbecuing burgers in the back yard? Voting Republican? If there's such a thing as "fully American", then surely there's such a thing as "partially American" -- so could you give us your estimates of just how American different people are? Is Rush Limbaugh 100% American? Is Hilary Clinton only 60% American? Is Arnold Schwarzenegger about 70% American -- after all, he does speak with a pretty thick accent. Is a person whose ancestors have been citizens longer more American? Is a naturalized citizen less American? Are people who disagree with you less American than you?

You say that "their patriotism for their native societies" constitutes "disloyalty to ours". So a Mexican who becomes a naturalized citizen, works hard, never breaks the law, pays all his taxes, leads a Boy Scout troop and helps out at the local church, votes in every election and celebrates July 4th is disloyal to America if he flies a Mexican flag? Is loyalty an absolute quantity or a relative quantity? If you're in a boat with your wife and your mother and the boat sinks and you can only save one, does saving one prove that you hate the other?

Lastly, you have some observations about liberals. That's all well and good, but they don't apply to me or to anything I have said. I suggest that you are engaging in a truly perfect example of the straw man argument.

Roach

This statement doesn't show contempt in your eyes: "Americans are the most culturally closed-minded of Westerners. Yes, Europeans enjoy learning about other cultures, and they even travel to foreign countries to do so. But Americans have little interest in other cultures (except to complain about them). If we challenged Americans to identify Europe on an unlabeled map of the world, how many do you think could do so? How many Americans learn foreign languages? How many Americans can name the current leaders of Germany, France, or Mexico?" I imagine you don't believe this is just a set of irrelevant observations from a standpoint of American culture versus European culture.

As for the facts on recent immigration, particularly from Latin America, I have my eyes, and the facts are easily available to anyone else with eyes to see and the ability to read. You can googles these things as easily as me. Or, better yet, go read vdare.com on a regular basis. I hope I don't have to also prove most Mexicans speak Spanish, do I?

All immigration laws judge groups, not individuals. That is the way it is because we're talking about large numbers of people; their effect in large numbers is very relevant if that's what the policy enttails. And the law makes group judgments all the time, on things like the age of consent, minority set asides, the treatment of aliens as a whole (they can't vote), etc. Surely you don't think some INS inspector is somewhere is saying, "Should we let in this tubercular high school dropout Mexican from Michocan who wants to work at a car wash, or rather this Mexican high school dropout, with a 14 year old wife and three kids below the poverty line, from Chihuahua who wants to work as a dish washer? Our cup overfloweth with fine potential contributors to American life."

Finally, quit whining about tone. It's unbecoming. You do it all the time to almost everybody; have you considered that you might just be an all-too-earnest, thin-skinned baby?

Erasmussimo

"Finally, quit whining about tone. It's unbecoming. You do it all the time to almost everybody; have you considered that you might just be an all-too-earnest, thin-skinned baby?"

You just crossed the line from intellectual discussion into personal confrontation. You're back on my unperson list.

curtisstrong

There it is...open and in public for all to see. This is a sad day.

Roach favors the complete immigration restriction of a religious group. Simply and only based on the fact that people adhere to a religion, Roach would completely bar them from immigrating to the U.S.A. He is advocating complete government discrimination. He doesn´t care that the super majority of Muslims in the U.S. are peaceful people. He doesn´t care that an individual will be denied rights simply because of his own private, personal religious convictions. He doesn´t care whether this Muslim is persecuted in his country. He doesn´t care whether this Muslim is sick and tired of war. He doesn´t care whether this Muslim is from China, or New Zealand, or any other country. He doesn´t care at all about this Muslim´s personal views.

He doesn´t care about anything except keeping Muslims out of the USA.

This is a lawyer, folks. This is a lawyer who has supposedly studied the constitution. He knows about first amendment assembly rights. He knows about separation of church and state. He knows about due process of law. And he doesn´t care.

He doesn´t care because he wants to uphold American society...ostensibly. He doesn´t care because he´s a bastard.

Ironically, in attempting to keep American society in tact, Roach has started down the road to undermining the American constitution, and deeply rooted American traditions.

We, as a society, have decided that religious and racial discrimination are not good ideas, and that they lead to greater evils than good. We have decided that in the pursuit of diversity, we can all learn things that will lead us all in a better direction. We can learn from the poor, and the disenfranchised. We can also learn from the rich and powerful. But no one should be put on unequal playing field only because of their religion, race, or ethnicity.

The constitution has given people the fundamental right to define their existence. Religion is part of that. The constitution has forbidden the government (and other groups that fall under "state action") from discriminating against religious groups. The constitution has given us the power of choosing which groups we affiliate with. Religions fall within that choice as well.

Because some renegades flew a plane into two towers five years ago, Roach is willing to discriminate against an entire religion. This is not a small religion; it is a worldwide belief. There are differing sects. Roach will discriminate against them all.

We have a long tradition of accepting and calling to people to immigrate to the land of promise. We have always felt that when people come together, they can make good choices and society will progress. We have a long history of accepting the lowly and weak. We have a long history of raising those people from the lowest part of society and helping them raise up to whatever heights they can obtain. Roach will deny this tradition.

Roach wants to destroy the constitution in search of a way to save America. This is just what stupid people try to do. They generalize without trying to understand. They condemn without trying to help. But in the end, "Roach" is just that...a fearful cockroach that deserves no respect.

Roach is the most un American person on this blog.

I´m glad that America has come to mean more than the rich white man. I am glad that America has begun on the path away from discrimination. I am glad that America does not want to commit the same errors that it has in the past. Unfortunately, however, Roach still feels superior to others based solely on his race and religion.

It most certainly is a sad day for anyone who listens to Roach for more than a fraction of a second.

Pro Gress

Roach is not saying anything many people did not say in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Unlike in the North of Ireland or in Israel, we (Americans) do not have an intractable terrorism problem. We do not have to live with these people who are trying to kill us. They are readily identifiable. Why would we ever consider importing more of them?

And since it is far less costly to conclude that virtually all terrorists are Muslims than to conduct individualized review of the literally hundreds of thousands of people who want to come to this country, why not eliminate Muslim immigration? We do not have to live with these people. No individualized review system would protect us as well as a complete ban. America got by pretty darn well without any Muslims and we will get by pretty darn well without any more. When Muslims stop attacking us, then we can reconsider the situation. Until then, allowing any significant degree of Muslim immigration is just politically correct risk-seeking behavior -- like standing on a hill in a lightning storm.

The Constititon is not a suicide pact.


And when someone foolishly believes that our Constitution in any way prohibits us from making a decision like Roach proposes -- to deny immigration to an entire religion or ethnic group -- then we might as well have no Constitution. Of course, all liberal sympathies to the side, there is no such restriction. We can protect ourselves however we like.

What bothers you, curtisstrong, is that Roach's ideas might be a tad bit more popular than the cultural suicide you and other self-hating Americans propose.

You say we have a long tradition of inviting immigrants to our country. We have an equally long tradition of completely closing our borders for long periods of time. We also have a pretty good tradition of massive deportations of illegal immigrants (see, "Operation Wetback").

It'll be a sad day when people stop listening to Roach.

Roach

I'd like to return for a moment to my original point: That diversity makes our lives less pleasant, less full of trust, and otherwise unenjoyable. More important, the false freedom to live in ethnic diversity because of open borders (or otherwise) restricts the actual and historical freedoms of Americans.

Consider this in the context of something like air travel. We, as Americans, must increasingly run the TSA gauntlet in order to address threats posed by unassimilable and often hostile aliens--chiefly Muslims. These restrictions may be a necessary compromise under the circumstances, but, unlike the threat posed by powerful foreign nation-states, this compromise is regrettable because these threats can be remedied in less drastic ways that do not harm the rights of most Americans: namely, ending our farcical policy of nearly open borders.d

It's true that some (probably most) Arab and Muslim immigrants are here for opportunity, are not that extreme, anare friendly and affable and nonviolent. It's genuinely sad to me that many of these people are sullied by the actions of their coreligionists and that their collective presence in our country, even on balance, is too costly for the preservation of the American way of life.

The existence of good and decent Muslim Americans and Muslim immigrants does not change the fact that the au courant restraints on our freedoms that we now endure are a direct consequence of the artificial introduction of Arab and Muslims into a republic made up largely of European Christians. Our nation was, until recently, accustomed to an inherited and historical balance of liberty that only was sustainable because of a great deal of shared values and interests among the essentially homogenous, or at least largely European, American population. (Yes, I know African-Americans lived with and among Americans of European ancestry. This doesn't disprove my main point. They were throughly cut off from any foreign influence and never constituted any kind of subversive or anti-American force; that said, I hope we can agree that America's history of black-white relations is not always a happy one.)

We are now searched at airports, eavesdropped on by the FBI, forced to pay for long foreign wars all in the name of the counterfeit "freedom" to have aliens from the third world living alongside of us. Wouldn't it just be cheaper and easier not to let this relatively small group of total immigrants to come in at all? How many more folks should be allowed to "study" here the way Khalid Sheik Mohammad and Hani Hamjour did?

It's no more contrary to freedom to keep foreigners out of our country because of their strange and illiberal religion, than it infringes on natural liberty if I have walls around my home and don't invite a stranger in. Real lovers of liberty should see that our freedoms depend upon restricting immigration from incompatible and hostile cultures, particularly from Muslims.

If not, in a rights equivalent of Gresham's Law, the false freedom of open borders will replace all the actual freedoms we've come to cherish: free travel, physical safety, privacy, and the rule of law. We'll rearrange our entire lives and destroy all the values of liberalism, rather than question the dubious premises of multiculturalism.

Thankfully, the First Amendment says absolutely nothing about separation of Church and State or some requirement of "nondiscrimiantion" in religion when it comes to immigration policy. It instead prohibits the establishment of a religion. Last time I checked, there's no government-supported Church of America. So I think we're OK.

In particular, the Constitution as a whole says essentially nothing about how we should treat foreigners and their often strange religions when they are merely asking to be allowed to immigrate here. As in other areas, aliens may be treated with less regard than citizens when they are seeking the privilege of entering our country, i.e., those entering through Customs may be searched without probable cause.

The Founders set up a protective and tolerant regime for multiple Christian denominations, which also protected a smattering of deists, atheists, and Jews. No Muslims were in our midst then, though their perrenial savagery was soon made known in the Barbary Wars.

Islam threatens our society both through terrorism and the widespread illiberalism and separatism of Muslim communities--consider the horrible situation in places like the Netherlands and France, where riots break out all too often, and politicians have been murdered simply for defending the native and inherited freedoms of their societies.

It's no more sensible to let these folks into the country than it would have been to allow Germans in during WWII.

I try always to be fair and flexible, though. Who wants to have a needlessly provocative debate on the demerits of Islam? I'd be more than willing in the name of social peace ande the First Amendment to cut off all immigration from everywhere into the United States. That way we needn't have even the appearance of religious influence on this important decision.

Deal?

curtisstrong

Deal?

Actually, Roach, you can go to hell. My wife is an immigrant. We´re currently going through all the outrageous immigration procedures. No immigrants, huh? You´re an idiot. Hmm...

Tourists?
Foreign NBA basketball superstars?
Those who are married to citizens?
Talented foreign lawyers/consultants?
Foreign investors?
...etc.

You´re out of your mind.

I´ll agree that the country could conceivably limit immigration to such an asanine degree, but no person with 1/16 of a brain is going to agree with such a foolish proposition.

Are you also going to limit tourism in Hawaii? What about Puerto Rico or the Marshall Islands? Honestly, you really come up with some retarded things sometimes.

And to keep things clear, Islam doesn´t threaten our society. Mexicans don´t threaten our society. Shredding our constitution does. Most of those people that are currently in the country, are CITIZENS! What makes you think that your constitution destroying un Americanism is somehow superior to the hard working American construction worker (who happens to be of Mexican descent)?

If you want to talk about illegal immigration, fine. At least that has some sort of rationality behind it, seeing as that is against the law. But the American born children of those people are the same under the law as you. Whether or not they listen to Mexican music, play the trumpet, drink tequila, or work in construction, they are the same amount of "American" as you. None of that means that they are murderers, or criminals of any kind. If there happen to be some that are criminals, then we have a criminal justice system to deal with it. I´d love to have a long discussion about how to make the criminal justice system work, but I suppose that´s something different.

Back to the immigration craziness. Immigration is necessary for a country to recruit the talented from abroad. It is necessary for people who marry cross cultures to have a good quality of life. It is necessary to help educate those who want to learn more about our culture and our success. It is necessary for our economy.

And so long as there is an immigration policy, group discrimination, especially religious discrimination so overly broad as yours, is prohibited by our constitution. You´d lose 9 to 0 on this one at the Supreme Court. So no more of your headlong assaults on the basic document of our country.

Would you like to export all of the Muslims as well? What about Latins? African Americans? Chinese? Japanese? Mediterraneans?

Somehow, it seems with all the repurcussions of your discrimination, our country would become a much, much worse place.

But then again, you´ve always seemed to have a certain pinache for that.

Roach

What?!? Your wife is an immigrant? Well, that changes everything.

curtisstrong

Well argued, Roach.

It seems, that flying in the face of all constitutional jurisprudence has brought you to an ultimate culmination of rational thought.

That is to say, your interpretation of the constitution is ridiculous. Only the most shameless people on earth could interpret both the establishment clause and the free excercise clause to mean that the constitution only prohibits the country from forming a national religion. That´s not the jurisprudence, that wasn´t the intent, and the only reason that you propose it now is because you feel superior to Muslims because of your birth into Christian society. Not only are you intellectually dishonest, your use that dishonesty and religious bigotry to promote your own worldly success. You´d have made a good Pope back in the Middle Ages.

However, we´ve (unfortunately for you) moved past religious, absolutist rule. We are a society of laws, ruled by the law. Ruled by the constitution and it´s interpretation. Forbidden from rule by the mob. Forbidden from imposing our religion on others.

This is the conservative position, everyone. The conservatives like Roach have these ends in the back of their minds.

Send all the Muslims back to the Middle East (whether they´re American or not).
Destroy diversity.
Go back to state sanctioned racial segregation.
Send all the Latins back to South America (whether they´re American or not).
Interpret the constitution to only forbid the national government to make a state sanctioned "Church of the USA."
Perhaps the states could do this themselves. In fact, better that the states do this themselves and force everyone to become Christians.
White Christians, preferrably.
Women should stay at home, taking care of children.
The white males should rule the world because we´re all so trustworthy and wonderfully pleasant.
We have nothing to learn from others.
We wouldn´t want Iran to help us with Iraq.
If any minorities stay in the country, they should stay in their little food stands selling burritos or falafel.
Minorities shouldn´t do anything that the majority of white Christians don´t like.
Anyone resembling a Middle Easterner should be put in a secret prison and tortured until unreliable information is obtained. Only that way we can be sure that the USA won´t be attacked by Muslims.
Muslims are all evil.
Latins are out to destroy America.
Even though it is preferrable for any immigrant (hopefully there won´t be any, but in the unfortunate case that any make their way into the US) to completely adopt "our" culture, we find it morally repugnant to educate or help them in any way. They might steal our jobs.
Rednecks who are violent alcoholics are tolerable, however, because they look like us.

This is where Roach is headed. Quite a delightful person.

ctw

curtis:

OT, the 12/5 post "The Median Justice, Again" at

http://balkin.blogspot.com

suggests that without regard to whether or not the lemon test survives (which I think is likely based on my recently acquired understanding that it's really just a summary of multiple tests scattered throughout previous rulings), SCOTUS estab clause rulings may nonetheless lean more in the pro-religion direction with the new court composition.

-charles

Roach

Have you not noticed something kind of apparent in recent years: the Muslim world is violent, and regions where Muslims and non-Muslims live along side one another tend to devolve into a situation where Muslims are a turbulent minority or an oppressive majority. Think India, France, Thailand, or even Lebanon.

Bury your head in the sand, if you wish, and let that ignorance masquerade as enlightenment if you wish. Reality is knocking on the door, and it knocked pretty hard on 9/11.

As for, "You´d have made a good Pope back in the Middle Ages." Well, that's the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day. I like Urban II myself.

Frederick Hamilton

Obviously, all Islamic Jihadists wanting to kill us are Muslims, and all Muslims are not Islamic Jihadists. The trick is to DISCRIMINATE against the Jihadists and still allow freedom loving, moderate Muslims to live and mingle with us. Difficult outcome to acheive.

Pro Gress

Wait.

curtisstrong's wife is an immigrant, and I think that ends this whole debate right there. Those of us whose wives are native-born Americans have no right to discuss these issues of national importance.

BAC

CURTISSTRONG: "He knows about separation of church and state. He knows about due process of law. And he doesn´t care."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-10-cabbies-culture_x.htm

CS: "Roach wants to destroy the constitution in search of a way to save America. This is just what stupid people try to do."

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Suicide-Pact-Constitution-Inalienable/dp/0195304276

CS: "I´m glad that America has come to mean more than the rich white man."

http://www.nascar.com/

CS: "My wife is an immigrant."

http://www.russianladies.com/indexppc.cfm?eckpage=K20576&track=fromgoogle

CS: "Only the most shameless people on earth could interpret both the establishment clause and the free excercise clause to mean that the constitution only prohibits the country from forming a national religion."

http://www.constitution.org/ussc/032-243a.htm

CS: " Islam doesn´t threaten our society. Mexicans don´t threaten our society. Shredding our constitution does."

http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/products/060910/merch008216/index2.html?cm_mmc=online_google-_-adwords-_-technology-_-paper%20shredder&gclid=CKfz7cWz_IgCFTaDGgodfhFnqQ

CS: "And so long as there is an immigration policy, group discrimination, especially religious discrimination so overly broad as yours, is prohibited by our constitution. You´d lose 9 to 0 on this one at the Supreme Court."

CS Also says: "I´ll agree that the country could conceivably limit immigration to such an asanine degree." (Sorry no link.)

CS: "They condemn without trying to help."

http://www.fahrenheit911.com/

CS: "You´d have made a good Pope back in the Middle Ages."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Urban_II

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