Immigration

Better Than Ebola. About A Draw With Smallpox.

What if we are wrong? What if different kinds of people just plain don't want to live together? What if federal bullying, stamping our feet, and holding our breath and turning blue won't change things?

A powerful current in today's compulsorily appropriate thought is that hostility between groups is anomalous and remediable, an exception to natural law – that it results from poor socialization, defective character, or conservative politics. If only we understood each other we would then love one another. Such is the theory.

But we don't love each other.

When the desired affections fail to develop, which is the usual outcome, we try compulsion. People must love each other, under penalty of law. Any expression of displeasure with another group is punished. We brainwash our children with an almost North Korean intensity to persuade them that groups should cuddle and value one another.

And still it doesn't work. Might it not be just a bad idea?

If one looked around the world, one might reasonably conclude that different groups should be separated, not coerced into proximity. Note that most of the internal violence that afflicts nations occurs between ethnic, racial, and religious groups – not between rich and poor, between those who bowl and those who golf, or between capitalists and socialists. Would it not make sense, when possible, to separate disparate populations?

In the United States, serious violence – riots, burning of cities, not to mention a heavy (and carefully disguised) element of interracial targeting in crime – takes place along the black/white/Latino fault lines, with occasional black/Jewish fighting in New York. Again, race, religion, ethnicity. Different kinds of people don't get along. Why do we not recognize this?

The pattern is universal. In France, horrified fluttering recently arose when Jean-Marie Le Pen, a very anti-immigration sort of fellow, got 17% of the vote in presidential elections. How surprised should we be? France has some five million North African Mohammedans. Antagonism is predictable. When the French were in North Africa, the North Africans didn't like it. Now that the North Africans are in France, the French don't like it. Is there a pattern here?

Tension is high in Germany between Germans and Turks. In India, Mussulmans and Hindus riot bloodily. In Ceylon, Tamils and Sinhalese; in Iraq, Kurds and Iraqis; in Ireland, Protestants and Catholics, in Yugoslavia…in Burundi…. Canadians and Quebecois are not killing each other, but they think about it.

Given that the mixing of disparate peoples leads with remarkable consistency to trouble, and that the price of the trouble can be high, might it not be reasonable to take this into account when making policy? Might it not be wiser to permit, or even to encourage, people to live with their own? In particular, might it not be desirable to discourage immigration from anywhere to anywhere instead of encouraging it in the name of fuzz-headed adolescent enthusiasm, and thus preparing the way for conflagration?

For some it is too late. The United States has lost control of its borders and lacks the political will to do…well, anything. We amount to a dead whale decaying on the beach of civilization. Other countries may yet have time.

We are, of course, unendingly told that to favor separation is to be racist, hateful, and reactionary. It is always easier to call one's questioners names than to answer their questions. But…need one be a racist to favor a comfortable distancing? Or is to do so just cultural good manners and wise politics?

Originally, racism meant a belief that one race was inferior to another, usually one's own. The street definition is a dislike of another because of his race.

I do not regard myself as racially superior to, say, the Japanese. I certainly don't dislike them for neglecting to be white. I've spent time in the Japanese hinterland, crawled the mountains, eaten in remote noodle stands. I like the culture and the people. Passing through Tokyo last week, I reflected (as always) at their superior efficiency and civility. I have no racist notions, by either definition, of the Japanese.

But do I think we should encourage heavy immigration of Japanese (assuming they wanted to come), or they of Americans? No. A very bad idea. Antagonism would result. The differences are too great.

It works this way. Suppose that you are a considerate traveler, American, and go to a foreign town – pick your country -- unaccustomed to outsiders. The likelihood is that you will be treated with courtesy and some degree of curiosity. Should you attempt to learn the language and take an apartment, the people will be flattered by the former and unconcerned by the latter.

Should other Americans come (or Germans, or Chinese), the locals will be unconcerned – at first. The early arrivals will per force adapt to the local culture However, as the numbers reach a certain point, visitors will begin to be seen as invaders. They will cluster together, come to constitute an alien enclave and then, without intending it, to impose themselves on the natives. The ways of the immigrants will inevitably conflict with the ways of the natives.

As an example, American are noisier than most Orientals, prefer informal camaraderie to formal courtesy, and have different notions of proper manners in public. Behavior that is informal and friendly in one society is oafish in another. It isn't a question of right or wrong, but of expectations.

Soon interests will diverge, hostility appear, incidents occur, and retaliation follow. Us-agin-them thinking is natural to people.

Note that in the United States, when blacks move into white neighborhoods, nothing happens – at first. When the proportion of blacks reaches a certain point – thirty percent is a figure I've often seen – the remaining whites flee. The same happens in reverse. When white gentrifiers move into the black city, they clump together. When they become conspicuous by their plenitude, resentment arises among the black population.

By contrast, when groups have their own territory and do not too much come into contact, feelings improve. Neither side feels in danger of being dominated by the other. Thus homogeneous countries tend to be happier countries.

All of this is obvious. And yet we follow policies sure to cause unending trouble, certainly cultural suicide, perhaps catastrophe, because of bullheaded insistence that things be as we wish, not as they are. The spirit of Marxism is much in evidence here – the view that people are amorphous, anonymous, barely sentient putty to be shaped by soulless theoreticians. (Can there be a more contemptuous word for humanity than "the masses"?) For all of this, I think, we will pay a price.

Note: Fred is diving in the Caribbean this week and temporarily can't be screamed at.