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Ellis Island and Unreason

I don't post much on immigration. It is a messy subject, and I'm not informed enough on the reams of statistics and standard apologetical moves to be able to add much to the discussion; though every now and then I get the conceit that I may have something unique to say on the subject.

However, I do quite often take an interest in the various ways in which our politics degenerates into unreason. You can think of it as a lazy man's activity in a target-rich environment. So, motivated by a recent thread of Maximos', I wanted to point out a particular way in which our discussion of immigration degenerates into unreason.

Whether to permit immigration, how much to permit, and under what terms to permit it, is a prudential judgment. Now there isn't anything particularly magical about the term 'prudential judgment'. It just means that the goodness and wisdom of the decision to be made is highly dependent upon the particular facts and circumstances, in addition to our reasons for acting and our act itself.

However, contra its objective status as a prudential judgment, Ellis Island understood as a normative proposition - that is, permitting the relatively large scale immigration into America which occurred a few generations ago - has become an iconic symbol, along with World War II, of what was good about America in the late nineteenth and twentieth century.

Now many readers of What's Wrong with the World are familiar with the dangers of treating WWII as an iconic symbol of what is good about America. One of those dangers is that abstract parallels are drawn to WWII as a way of attempting to justify present wars: as a way of sweeping aside all the particular facts and circumstances which justified WWII. Saddam, goes the narrative, was just another Hitler, and radical measures are always justified in resisting Hitler. Another danger is that everything done by our side in WWII becomes sacrosanct; so moral atrocities committed by our side in the war, like population bombings, are invoked to justify the notion that jus in bello is an outmoded notion for previous times, no longer applicable to our conduct as technologically enabled moderns.

When it comes to Ellis Island a similar iconography seems to be in play, only moreso. In actual fact previous decisions about immigration were prudential judgments: judgments the wisdom and morality of which are highly dependent on the particular facts and circumstances. But Ellis Island is treated as a Principle: as a moral trump card which undermines the foundation of any opposition to mass scale immigration under any, and in particular the present, circumstances. This is a complete nonsequitur. The Iraq war is not justified by an appeal to World War II iconography: it has to be justified on its own terms. An open Rio Grande is not justified by an appeal to Ellis Island iconography: it has to be justified on its own terms. As a matter of rhetoric, taking away the irrational iconography makes the case for each appear dramatically weaker, it seems to me: and it is telling when an appeal to manifest unreason is what it takes to polemically make a position appear strong.

"Prudential judgment" is not code for a postmodern subjectivism in which there is no such thing as an objectively unwise or an objectively morally wrong decision. But it is also most definitely not code for the notion that the particular facts and circumstances can be ignored: for the notion that this iconic pattern is always the right pattern, independent of facts and circumstances: that large scale Mexican immigration is wise and good right now, because Irish immigration was putatively wise and good then. Each prudential judgment has to be justified on its own merits, based on the particular facts and circumstances, and independent of the historical iconography invoked by partisans to a particular view.

Comments (222)

The reason people tend to bring up previous waves of immigration is that many of the predictions of the dire consequences that will result from current waves of immigration were also made about previous immigration. If the supposed nasty consequences of immigration failed to materialize in the past, this should give us reason to be skeptical about whether they will happen this time around.

If the supposed nasty consequences of immigration failed to materialize in the past, this should give us reason to be skeptical about whether they will happen this time around.
Many people who are for a particular war also inevitably bring up how well WWII putatively turned out. (Which remains a meaningless statement unless we qualify for whom it worked out well, even in those cases in which it was justified).

Particular past prudential judgments converted into historically-based icons represent a very poor way to reason about present day prudential judgments, in general.

Zippy said:

"Particular past prudential judgments converted into historically-based icons are a very poor way to reason about present day prudential judgments, in general."

I say:
There's virtually nothing else by which we can wisely shape our proposals.

There's virtually nothing else by which we can wisely shape our proposals.
No other way to reason about present day decisions than by converting messy and arguable historical situations, in which there were many victors, many vanquished, and many victims, into meaningless polemical abstractions?

You can't possibly mean that, so I must have misinterpreted the comment.

Zippy,

There's nothing inherently flawed about making arguments from analogy. In fact, your post itself makes such an argument (analogies to immigration are like analogies to WWII).

Well, sure there's other data by which we can judge. For example, we could take data about the assimilation of immigrants *of the sort in question in the very recent past*. That would be a lot more relevant than data about a totally different set of immigrants from a very different set of cultural backgrounds in the far more distant past. Or we could ask ourselves what sorts of changes are *right now* being made to our culture as a result of the immigration of A or B type of immigrants, and then ask ourselves if those are the sorts of changes we want, and especially if they are the sorts of changes that would be good if they continued happening indefinitely, happened on a larger scale, etc.

There's nothing inherently flawed about making arguments from analogy.
I wasn't criticizing making arguments from analogy. I was criticizing vacuous arguments like "WWII was necessary and worked out great, so the Iraq war is necessary and will work out great", and "Ellis Island worked out great, so the Rio Grande will work out great".

As Jeane J. Kirkpatrick insisted, you simply must have significant historical indicators for your public policy proposals. Without relevant historical precedent for your policy proposals, those policies are simply free to be foolish.

She was arguing against what she called the error of misplaced malleability. She thought that unless you tie your suggestions closely to the past, you will mistakenly think that you can alter the world to fit the models existing inside your head -- which simply cannot be done. History is the best guide for public policy.

Which bit of history? We have an entire chapter of our epistemology book devoted to the a priori defense of induction. I yield to none in my advocacy of the rationality of induction. But there's this little issue called the right reference class. And the principle (one principle) one is supposed to follow is this: Use the smallest relevant reference class about which you have information. In this case, we have some idea of how unrestricted, uncontrolled Mexican immigration is working out in the immediate past. We have even more alarming information about how Muslim immigration is working out. Using the history of the Irish in the U.S. as our inductive reference class for discussing Mexican and Muslim immigration is not rational.

Just a couple of quick comments:

1) There is an interesting and thoughtful double book review of two recent pro and anti-immigration books over at "Commentary":

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/keeping-them-out--letting-them-in-11458?page=all

2) Unfortunately, the reviewer falls exactly into Zippy's Ellis Island trap at the end of the review (and to be fair, he quotes Reagan falling into the same trap). While I agree with the reviewer that America has in some ways thrived over the past thirty years while experiencing massive waves of illegal immigration, like many of the wise writers at WWWtW have already pointed out about the pro-immigration side, he is too quick to ignore the costs.

3) In my mind, the single largest cost is the problem of unwed mothers, and the number for Hispanics in the U.S. is troubling:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2007/12/demographic-disaster-of-2006.html

My guess is that data isn't getting better and based on all we know about kids growing up without fathers, the final bill for all this Central American immigration is only starting to come due:

http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/the-gangsters-of-drew-street-glassell-park/18444/

4) It would be fun to watch Krikorian and Riley in a long-format debate discuss this issue.

Lydia,

Let's say you wanted to know how tall your friend's five year old was likely to be at age 20. Would you suggest that the best way to determine this was by looking at how tall the kid had been in the immediate past? Presumably not. Why not? Because we know, from looking at other kids who grew into adults, that one's height at before the age of five is typically quite a bit different than one's height at 20.

Similarly, if you look at history, the effects of immigration tend to be quite different depending on how recent that immigration is. One cannot conclude, for example, that because recent immigrants are often not very well assimilated to American society, therefore they will never assimilate (and neither will their descendants).

I was criticizing vacuous arguments like "WWII was necessary and worked out great, so the Iraq war is necessary and will work out great", and "Ellis Island worked out great, so the Rio Grande will work out great".

In other words, you were criticizing straw men.

In other words, you were criticizing straw men.

Well, no, not really. We see Ellis Island brought up often in the context of discussing Mexican immigration, despite its almost complete irrelevance to the subject.

Zippy,
I was thrown-off by your comments on Max's thread, as I thought you were suggesting all immigration is of dubious value and were about to take off on the ultimate counterfactual riff; merica, The Unnecessary Country"

I agree with your comments here. The "immigrant story" is a complex, heartbreaking one that is going to carry a good deal of myth and score settling with it, but little in our past experience can be used to justify the current circumstances.

Yesterday and Today have common aspects; foreigners hampered by language and cultural barriers fleeing poverty/oppression to face bigotry, urban squalor and violence. However it is impossible not to note the differences. The biggest being; for most of our history we had cultural custodians who were confident enough to expect and demand assimilation and immigrants anxious to do so. While the methods for enforcing conformity could be occasionally brutal and both the pace and depth of assimilation far from ideal, the fact is; it was achieved.

Can anyone seriously argue that is the case now, or, that one such a development looms in the horizon?


Kevin: I think assimilation is more assured today than ever before. Furthermore, public education and pop culture guarantee the pace will be rapid. In my experience the children of immigrants who start school by age 9 or 10 are completely assimilated by age 20. But the question is: assimilated to what? They are assimilated to mainstream American culture, which today means a certain pop-culture induced mindlessness and indifference, combined with unexamined assumptions of multiculturalism, feminism, egalitarianism, materialism, consumerism, and all the rest of it. Certainly a large percentage of immigration today - apart from genuine refugee situations - does not seem to be good for immigrants or Americans.

Of course my remarks cannot be applied to illegal immigration, which has its own set of dynamics that mitigate against rapid assimilation.

Blackadder, you wrote:

Similarly, if you look at history, the effects of immigration tend to be quite different depending on how recent that immigration is. One cannot conclude, for example, that because recent immigrants are often not very well assimilated to American society, therefore they will never assimilate (and neither will their descendants).

Fine. By your same reasoning one could assert the exact opposite. I.e., one cannot conclude that because the descendants of distant immigrants are sometimes (or even most of the time) well assimilated to American society, therefore all or the majority of recent immigrants will eventually assimilate (and so will their descendants), which seems to be what you're implying. There's a lot more involved with the issue than what history has to teach us about a particular group's ability to assimilate in a culture that was quite a bit different than today's America, as someone else has already pointed out. When the dynamics are changed or altered -- different group of immigrants immigrating to a different America -- then your rule, as you're attempting to apply it (universally), does not work.

But one can look at a five year old's parents and grandparents and predict within a reasonable amount of certainty his probable height and weight and basic body structure at the age of twenty. Additionally one can reasonably determine his future hair and eye color, the tone of his skin, amount of facial and body hair, whether he will begin balding or retain a full head of hair, prominent facial features and so on and so forth. So I think your analogy leaves a lot to be desired.

Jeff, well-said; "assimilated to what?" I guess others have provided the answer; immigration is powerful lever for cheap wages, goods and services
in a nation that is now simply a commercial state.

Mexican immigration has as much in common with a five year old as it has in common with a donut.

Kevin:

The biggest being; for most of our history we had cultural custodians who were confident enough to expect and demand assimilation and immigrants anxious to do so. While the methods for enforcing conformity could be occasionally brutal and both the pace and depth of assimilation far from ideal, the fact is; it was achieved.

The fact that "we" (who are "we"?) no longer have such cultural custodians is not merely coincidental to the fact of earlier waves of immigration. It is a consequence of those previous influxes. A repeated "thinning out," formalization, and, to coin a word, ideologization of American identity has been the price for maintaining social peace between groups that nurse ancient grudges even after generations on New World soil. Multiculturalism, in other words, though it used to be called Americanism and arose, again not coincidentally, as a response to late 19th-century immigration. This is why it is a mistake to refer to assimilation as if there were some unchangeable American essence to which immigrants cleave. Immigrants change in America, but they have also changed, and continue to change America. It is harder for us to see this because we are a product of those changes, but the change is there, nonetheless.

Mexican immigration is difficlut to compare to other waves of immigration (such as Irish, Italian, Polish). At least in the southwest, Mexican immigration is heavily intertwined with the Mexican presence that predates whatever American culture is present here. I sometimes chuckle at the idea of "assimilation" in the southwest where the two cultures have been mixing with each other for 150+ years. The two have been influencing and changing each other the entire time (to the point where there is a distinct Tex-Mex language, food, and music - strong indicia of being its own culture - which has been present here for at least 50+ years if not longer).

It is definitely a different situation, whether one sees that as good or bad.

The fact that "we" (who are "we"?) no longer have such cultural custodians is not merely coincidental to the fact of earlier waves of immigration. It is a consequence of those previous influxes.

Very good point. What other Protestant or secular nation would treat St. Patrick's Day as a practical national holiday?

I'm not informed enough on the reams of statistics and standard apologetical moves to be able to add much to the discussion;

Having offered that, why are you so confident that Ellis Island is a bad analogy? For that matter, what makes you declare that WWII has no utility as an analogy to the Iraq War? It all depends on what lessons you are seeking to impart. Those constructions can be done well or poorly.

As these things tend to do, we are again reduced to talking about California and the southwest, two places that have never had a WASP culture. (Ohio by the way is about the last place west of Appalachians with any sort of WASP culture.) California is one of the largest economies in the world. It has gone from 1.5MM people in 1900 to 36.5MM people today. There is little wonder why the Southwest is growing and spreading its influence. And part of that area is Mexico.

Cyrus,
"The fact that "we" (who are "we"?) no longer have such cultural custodians is not merely coincidental to the fact of earlier waves of immigration."

Which wave of immigrants undermined or overturned our cultural consensus? Stop dancing around and say something beyond the vapid; "immigration brings change", and make a specific, qualtitative judgement. Do you or do you not thing our nations history with immigration has been a net gain for her and her people?

"What other Protestant or secular nation would treat St. Patrick's Day as a practical national holiday?"

One that appreciates and realizes the value of that group's contributions to it. By the way, the famous parade and holiday originated in New York as a show of force. Apparently my ancestors thought the timing and placement of 'Irish Need Not Apply" signs oddly selective, as they never showed up when our hosts needed warriors. When Cyrus gets the time, he can check out the number of Congressional Medal of Honor winners with Irish roots. It's quite dispropertionate to the number of Irish in the general population.

Many people who are for a particular war also inevitably bring up how well WWII putatively turned out. (Which remains a meaningless statement unless we qualify for whom it worked out well, even in those cases in which it was justified).

Zippy,

It amazes me how you've lately relied on very flawed analogies. Attempting to employ a parallel between WWII and Gulf War II (i.e., Iraq War) is just as flawed as your attempt to compare illegal cheap labor with prostitutes.

Moreover, you seem to miss how blatantly more apt the analogy is between current and past mass immigrations since the particulars therein have much more in common, save the particular circumstances that we find ourselves in today (e.g., the war on terror). It is for the latter that I would be more hesistant in accomodating such a notion.

However, the other arguments that have been raised against the mass immigration of today I find particularly disconcerting as well erroneous since the same concerns were raised in the past concerning the mass immigration of yesteryears; which is why I find raising the matter of the latter nevertheless appropriate given the false notions of mass immigration today which find their parallels to those back then.

To think that people still harbor the same fears about mass immigration today as those in the past reflects interalia an attitude not only of prejudice and ignorance but, in particular, one that is glaringly against the Spirit of our Forefathers.

I would have found it more convincing if folks raised more salient issues as that of enemy infiltration by terrorist elements and the like; but to argue the need to prevent further immigrations in order to preserve a 'pure American race' (since past mass immigrations have already contaminated the pool as it is) is too KKK for my taste.

I think the problem with the WWII analogy is that it is used to justify means that are objectively immoral.

Firebombing villages and nuclear bombardment are, at least from a Catholic perspective, objectively immoral acts. That the result of WWII was positive does not in any way justify those means, or argue for their use in future conflicts.

As mentioned, immigration policy is a prudential judgement, so the results of previous immigration policies gives relevant data for determining what our present course should be. They don't settle the argument, but can illuminate the discussion.

One problem with this is that there are icons burned into our memory of action, but none for inaction. Are their terrible dictators that we have not overthrown, without our security being threatened? Sure. Have their been times when America has had more restrictive immigration policies and continued to thrive? Sure. The problem is there is no compelling narrative or inconagraphy associated with those times, so those arguing for action are at an advantage in having their arguments gain traction.

"Mexican immigration is difficlut to compare to other waves of immigration (such as Irish, Italian, Polish). At least in the southwest, Mexican immigration is heavily intertwined with the Mexican presence that predates whatever American culture is present here. I sometimes chuckle at the idea of "assimilation" in the southwest where the two cultures have been mixing with each other for 150+ years."

Same goes for California, which is why I just can't work up a passion for the cultural arguments against Mexican immigration here - legal or illegal. The law and order argument works for me, though, and to some extent the economic argument (although I can see both the costs and the benefits).

I recently asked a friend of mine why he left his village in Mexico. He said the reason was water. There was only one well in the entire village. One had to pay enormous bribes to government officials to get a well drilled. Without water, of course, farming is impossible for most of the year in dry regions. (And who knows? maybe the aquifer is so small and/or depleted that multiple wells would empty it.)

I can't help but be sympathetic. I think our immigration policy towards Mexico ought to be more generous than it is towards Europe, or towards any other country whose former territory we do not presently occupy, and with whom we do not share a common border and 150 years of history.

But what do I know? The whole question is above my pay grade and I feel like a pretender spouting off on this topic. I've sometimes expressed a desire for an immigration "time-out" of ten or twenty years, but this "solution" is really born of exasperation. The ordinary Joe has a right not to concern himself with the details and complexities of immigration policy. He has a right to assume that his government is not allowing criminals or hostile foreign cultures to take root in his country. He has a right to assume that his neighbor is here legally. He can no longer make these assumptions, and so immigration has, perhaps by necessity, entered the political arena where it manifestly does not belong.

Do you or do you not thing our nations history with immigration has been a net gain for her and her people?
Who? Whom? The point I've been fumbling towards is that there is no essential historically continuous American people - rather the state constituted a new American people via 19th-century immigration, and is constituting another new one via post-1964 immigration. The American people who admitted your ancestors doesn't exist anymore except as a corpse to be periodically disinterred and condemned for its sins. 19th century immigration was a boon to the enterprise called the United States, and to the immigrants, but caused the dispossession of the people who already lived here.

JohnMcG:

You've mentioned some good points in your comments; in particular, those that touch on precedence as well as their actual application (i.e., how they are interpreted) in the current context.

Mind you, I harbor no qualms about restrictive immigration policy.

If anything, the matter of our current economy as well as the threat of terrorism, among other things, would necessitate such a policy in the present state of our nation.

What I do take issue with are the several seemingly sinister points being raised against immigration that would go to the extent of even obliterating from the pages of American history the very accomplishments of those immigrants, past and present, which have helped build America into the very world power it is today.

To deliberately ignore these historic contributions made by such immigrants (and their descendants) all for some tendentious notion of some harm having, as a result of such immigration, been inflicted on the 'native' Americans (however that 'nativeness' is defined, I am wholly skeptical) of the time is itself a notion equally tendentious and harmful to the very same extent its holders view it.

Aristocles: You are of course entitled to your views on this matter. What you are not entitled to is insinuations (quite detached from anything anyone has said) to the effect that your opponents are arguing for a "pure American race." Where did that phrase come from? Who even implied that the question here is one of racial purity? No one. Not a soul.

Such insinuations are poisonous to reasoned debate. Please refrain in the future. Capice?

"The American people who admitted your ancestors doesn't exist anymore except as a corpse to be periodically disinterred and condemned for its sins."

Good Lord man, I suspected this was where you were going. All I can do offer you protection from any Celts suffering from Irish Alzheimers, an especially troubling malady that causes those so afflicted to forget everything, but their grudges.

In the meantime, forget you strange paleo abstractions and enjoy the concrete, flesh and blood reality of your fellow Americans.


"Capice?"

More pernicious multi-culturalism. When will it ever stop?

I think it's at least worth pointing out that there is no Irish reconquista mythology. The idea that St. Patrick's Day celebrations are an instane of multiculturalism makes me think that the word 'multiculturalism' is getting thrown around _way_ too freely. Cinquo de Mayo, on the other hand, may be. Why? Well, for one thing, because now we have multiculturalism.

And as for the idea that the various generations assimilate better as time goes on, the opposite seems to be true w.r.t. Muslims. Which is disconcerting, to say the least, and which certainly should influence our policy.

I think the problem with the WWII analogy is that it is used to justify means that are objectively immoral.
That is one aspect of it -- that as "the Good War" nothing that was done by our side in it is permitted to be seen as evil. Another aspect of it though is the Good War icon used not to justify internal acts within WWII, but to justify other wars. If our entry into WWII was justified (goes the narrative, and we've all seen it), one cannot argue that the invasion of Iraq was unjust.

So these icons serve both an 'intrinsic' sanctifying function and an 'extrinsic' sanctifying function. To argue that the Hiroshima bombing or the Iraq invasion were unjust is to desecrate the icon. To argue that Ellis Island was at best a mixed good or that mass Mexican immigration might not be wise right here and now is to desecrate the icon.

...the results of previous immigration policies gives relevant data for determining what our present course should be...
I don't think so. There are far more differences than similarities, just as there are far more differences than similarities between WWII and the Iraq war. It is true that we can look at specific concrete data from one to (say) inform tactics in another -- with many, many caveats attached. But that isn't what occurs. Caveats are fighting words. The previous wave of immigration is treated like an iconic representation of unmitigated Good; criticism of it as desecration. Even in a more 'lite' form the previous wave is treated as if it were self-justifying: as if it were not in fact a messy prudential judgment that resulted in a lot of people getting hurt, in addition to being good for other people, and irreversibly - for better or worse, as c matt pointed out, and I am not passing judgment on which - altering our national character.

Just look at Aristocles blow a gasket in this thread, as in the previous one. Once again (and after being corrected once already) he mischaracterizes my statement about prostitutes in the other thread, which I very carefully stated as an illustration about justification, as expressly not a comparison of prostitutes to cheap immigrant labor; and his followup comparison of immigration restriction - other than for security reasons - to the KKK. This is, unfortunately, all too typical in our discourse on immigration.

It was responses like that in the other thread, in addition to resistance to characterizing Ellis Island as anything but an unmitigated good, which prompted me to write this blog post. Ellis Island may have been the Good Immigration, just as WWII may have been the Good War. Many people are hurt even in Good Immigrations and Good Wars, and the fact that some amount of people from somewhere immigrated into someplace somewhen is not a reasonable guide - at all - to current concrete decisions.

At bottom, I think we've lost much of our ability to reason about particular things. We've replaced particular things with abstract idols, the desecration of which we will not tolerate.

Mr. Cella:

What you are not entitled to is insinuations (quite detached from anything anyone has said) to the effect that your opponents are arguing for a "pure American race." Where did that phrase come from? Who even implied that the question here is one of racial purity? No one. Not a soul.

I speak of those comments made in the thread "Words Fail Me" which intimated as much. It appears even the very veneer of such a notion have largely escaped your attention.

Just look at Aristocles blow a gasket in this thread, as in the previous one. Once again (and after being corrected once already) he mischaracterizes my statement about prostitutes in the other thread, which I very carefully stated as an illustration about justification, as expressly not a comparison of prostitutes to cheap immigrant labor; and his followup comparison of immigration restriction - other than for security reasons - to the KKK. This is, unfortunately, all too typical in our discourse on immigration.

If anybody is indulging in mischaracterizations, it appears to be you, Zippy.

Kindly refer to my above posts which, along with others in the mentioned thread, you continue to neglect.

Aristocles: precisely what in the paragraph of mine that you quote is incorrect? You did in fact mischaracterize - at least twice - my statement about prostitutes. You did in fact compare those arguing against you to the KKK.

"At bottom, I think we've lost much of our ability to reason about particular things. We've replaced particular things with abstract idols..."

Look, I for one am getting whiplash trying to keep up with your argument, since it seems you are the one taking refuge in the very abstractions you criticize.

To me, Ellis Island is like; Gettysburg, Fenway Park, Motown, Concord Ma., the Catholic Worker on East 3rd Street and the altar rail at my parish, a place to be revered and loved. I'm getting this queasy feeling Zippy, you're engaging in the same day-dreaming that Cyrus finally shared with us.

Say it ain't so.

To me, Ellis Island is like; Gettysburg, Fenway Park, Motown, Concord Ma., the Catholic Worker on East 3rd Street and the altar rail at my parish, a place to be revered and loved.
I am using "Ellis Island" as shorthand for the immigration wave which occurred through it. I'll quote someone else in the thread on how to characterize it:
The "immigrant story" is a complex, heartbreaking one that is going to carry a good deal of myth and score settling with it, ...

As I have reiterated time and again here and in other threads:

Mind you, I harbor no qualms about restrictive immigration policy.

If anything, the matter of our current economy as well as the threat of terrorism, among other things, would necessitate such a policy in the present state of our nation.

What I do take issue with are the several seemingly sinister points being raised against immigration that would go to the extent of even obliterating from the pages of American history the very accomplishments of those immigrants, past and present, which have helped build America into the very world power it is today.

To deliberately ignore these historic contributions made by such immigrants (and their descendants) all for some tendentious notion of some harm having, as a result of such immigration, been inflicted on the 'native' Americans (however that 'nativeness' is defined, I am wholly skeptical) of the time is itself a notion equally tendentious and harmful to the very same extent its holders view it.

As to the matter of your analogy concerning prostitution and illegal cheap labor, kindly recall in that same thread wherein I specifically asked you for clarification since I could not believe a person of your intellect and supposed moral integrity would have actually compared illegal cheap laborers to mere prostitutes.

"The "immigrant story" is a complex, heartbreaking one that is going to carry a good deal of myth and score settling with it, ..."

Yes, like else everything worth loving, it is marked by pain and struggle but the "waves"(sounds kind of threatening)of humanity that passed through it's portals, made my countrybetter for their coming here. Much, much better.


You? Please try to answer without using the qualifier of "unmitigated good", since very little in the human experience meets that standard and is a phrase that might be shrouding your real thoughts. Cyrus called it a "dispossesion".

Aristocles:

As far as I can tell, your self-quote doesn't retract the KKK reference you made. For that matter I don't really see the pertinence of what you quoted yourself saying at all. I didn't see Cyrus (for example) "obliterating from the pages of American history the very accomplishments... " etc. I just saw him arguing that Ellis Island was not an unmitigated Good. (It wasn't, by the way, just as WWII wasn't). But maybe I missed something he or another commenter said.

kindly recall in that same thread wherein I specifically asked you for clarification
So if you asked for clarification, and I gave it -- indeed I gave it preemptively before you even asked by saying "I'm not equating illegal aliens to prostitutes, btw -- I'm just illustrating that 'they prefer it' isn't a particularly pertinent argument, generally speaking"; if you had clarification in hand then why did you repeat the lie here by referencing my putative "attempt to compare illegal cheap labor with prostitutes"?

Kevin:

Well, now I am confused by your discourse. Do you acknowledge the fact that many actual people were in fact hurt by Ellis Island immigration, that it was not an unmitigated good, or not? You seem very equivocal on the point.

Ellis Island was in fact a dispossession for some people. No large scale wave of immigration occurs without some people being dispossessed, just as no large scale war happens without some people being killed. Dispossession is concomitant to every large scale immigration, just as death in battle is concomitant to every large scale war.

It seems to me that part of the problem here has been caused by a couple of commentators--Cyrus brought it up first, I believe--who are doing what I thin, Zippy called on the other thread "paleoish buying into the narrative of their opponents." In other words, if one set of people say that Ellis Island-era immigration was just perfect and nothing bad must ever be said about it, and irrationally use it as an argument for open borders now (and the borders certainly were not open when Ellis Island was in operation, or we wouldn't have had Ellis Island!), then the paleo-ish response is to start telling us how bad Irish immigration was. To try to undercut the icon. Instead of just saying, "Water under the bridge, and more disanalogies than analogies. Let's talk about things like crime, national security, the Spanish language taking over the Southwest, reconquista nonsense, and so forth. Let's not lose ourselves in slugs back and forth for and against the Irish, for Patrick's sake!"

Spanish and English being spoken in the Southwest is as shocking as German and French being spoken in Alsace-Lorraine.

As someone who grew up in the Southwest (and was just there for a visit a few days ago), I find talk about how the Spanish language is taking over there a bit amusing. Ditto talk about the reconquista. One might as well lose sleep worrying about the Republic of Lakota.

Well, it would certainly be a mistake to treat the icon as an anti-icon in response to the refusal to admit that anyone was harmed or dispossessed. It reminds me of Pat Buchanan's arguments that we should never have entered WWII -- in fact that was one of the things I was thinking of when I brought up the 'paleo error'.

But it is in fact a mistake to treat Ellis Island as an icon, independent of any discussion of present-day immigration issues. Like our entry into WWII it may have been justified, and our nation might indeed be much worse off without it. But also like WWII it was a prudential judgment in a particular time under particular circumstances, not our Mohammed at Mecca.

Zippy,
"Do you acknowledge the fact that many actual people were in fact hurt by Ellis Island immigration..." Sure, Old World grudges carried over to the new home, but the most pain was incurred by those who made the trek, not those already settled.

"Dispossession is concomitant to every large scale immigration..."

Define "dispossession". Do you mean the Wilsons, Roosevelts, Lodges and Bushes would have to share political and economic power with the grandchildren of Italian, Polish and Irish emigres? Sure, but I think that a good thing. Come on, without the new blood, energy and creativity of other stock, this country would never have enjoyed the ride it's been on.

Define "dispossession".
Loss of home, livelihood, and in some cases life.

It is precisely that sort of trivialization of real suffering and injustice on the part of real people that inclines me to view your discourse on the subject as equivocal, BTW.

"The American people who admitted your ancestors doesn't exist anymore except as a corpse to be periodically disinterred and condemned for its sins."

Good Lord man, I suspected this was where you were going. All I can do offer you protection from any Celts suffering from Irish Alzheimers, an especially troubling malady that causes those so afflicted to forget everything, but their grudges.

Either the American population of today is a people in some sense, or it is not. If it is, either it is meaningfully continuous with that of 200 years ago, or it is not. Since most of the ancestors of most of the people living here today did not live here 200 years ago, it is not immediately obvious that such continuity can be assumed. In addition, the United States had industrialization, westward expansion, and the Civil War to change, or perhaps more accurately, create, an American ethnicity.

In the meantime, forget you strange paleo abstractions and enjoy the concrete, flesh and blood reality of your fellow Americans.
Thanks for your concern, but I'm doing just fine. Never better, in fact.

Define "dispossession". Do you mean the Wilsons, Roosevelts, Lodges and Bushes would have to share political and economic power with the grandchildren of Italian, Polish and Irish emigres? Sure, but I think that a good thing. Come on, without the new blood, energy and creativity of other stock, this country would never have enjoyed the ride it's been on.

Again, Kevin demonstrates the fact that HE GETS IT (unless, of course, he is performing some work of satire -- though I sincerely hope he isn't).

At any rate, contingent upon Kevin genuinely arguing for the terms he has hitherto commented, I shall leave the better of the arguing to him.

"It is precisely that sort of trivialization of real suffering and injustice on the part of real people that inclines me to view your discourse on the subject as equivocal, BTW."

O.k., when & where have I trivalized suffering?

By the way, Zippy your analogy to WWII is telling since PJB contends the war should never have been fought. I can only assume you wish most immigration never had been allowed.

Lydia, I understand you're wanting to get past this, but the neo-nativist arguments of Cyrus and Zippy make it very hard to do so. Personally I have no desire to share the same trench with guys who resent my being(or just about everybody else since the mid-19the century)here.

I'll let the 2 camps in this debate fight it out, as both hate the way this country is currently composed.


I actually agree with Auster that we should make more of a fuss about the creeping ubiquity of Spanish as a second American language. It certainly isn't just in the Southwest, either. Here in the Midwest every sign (I mean, every tiny little sign on every aisle) at the local Lowes homeowner's store is in both English and Spanish. Which is unnecessary and distracting. Did someboday say "assimilation"? We don't even have that large of a Mexican population in this part of the country, either. And as for the Southwest, I have heard of a small airport, in the U.S., in which all the flight announcements and other announcements were given over the intercom _only_ in Spanish. That seems...shall we say...extreme.

Aristocles, no satire here, unless you think; "Either the American population of today is a people in some sense, or it is not. If it is, either it is meaningfully continuous with that of 200 years ago, or it is not." a parody of the martini-fueled angst shared by members of the New York Yacht Club. Frankly it sounds too dated to work.

when & where have I trivalized suffering?
In this post of yours.
Zippy your analogy to WWII is telling since PJB contends the war should never have been fought. I can only assume you wish most immigration never had been allowed.
You could assume that if you completely ignored my entire argument, I suppose.

Zippy,

Suppose there is a girl, let's call her Jill, who falls in love with and marries an immigrant, let's call him Carlos. Now if Jill had never met Carlos (say, because he was not allowed into the country) chances are she would have fallen in love with someone else, let's call him Sam.

Question: does it make sense here to say that immigration has dispossessed Sam of his wife? I would say no. It's true that, counterfactually, Sam would have married Jill if Carlos had not been allowed to immigrate. But to "dispossess" someone of something would seem to imply more than this. Dispossession involves not simply depriving someone of something, but depriving someone of something unjustly.

Similarly, it may be true of some person that, had it not been for a particular instance of immigration, he would have had a better job or house than he currently has. It may even be the case that he wouldn't have died as soon as or in the manner that he did. But to admit this is not, I think, to admit that this person was "dispossessed" of his house, job, life, etc. by immigration.

Further, if we are to say that allowing Carlos into the country dispossessed Sam of Jill's love, we must equally well say that preventing Carlos from entering the country would have dispossessed both Jill and Carlos of each others love. Likewise, if we are to say that immigration dispossesses people of their houses, jobs, lives, and so forth, we must equally well concede that restricting immigration also deprives people of their houses, jobs, and lives. There are people who are dead today who would be alive if it weren't for our restrictive immigration policies (and I'm not just talking about the immigrants themselves, though if we are to speak about the trivialization of real suffering and injustice on the part of real people, some consideration of the plight of those trying to get into this country might not be such a bad idea).

Define "dispossession". Do you mean the Wilsons, Roosevelts, Lodges and Bushes would have to share political and economic power with the grandchildren of Italian, Polish and Irish emigres? Sure, but I think that a good thing.
Good how? Good in the sense that, those people having lived in the United States, they were entitled to participate in the political process? Or good in the sense that, had they never arrived in the first place, the Roosevelts and Lodges should have found some Irishmen so as to have someone with whom to share power? Does immigration necessitate power-sharing, and eventually loss, or does giving up power justify immigration? The former makes some sense; the latter sounds like liberal self-loathing. In any event, the loss of political power is dispossession of a sort. So was religious disestablishment in Massachussetts, which used to have an established Congregational church. Which church, by the way, I'm not necessarily defending any more than I am defending bygone WASP hegemony, so don't start. I'm guessing that if this were a discussion of what English immigration did to the Pequot, Kevin would not be arguing that, since Massachussetts now is much wealthier and more powerful than it was when the Indians ruled it, the descendants of King Philip should be happy about it.
Come on, without the new blood, energy and creativity of other stock, this country would never have enjoyed the ride it's been on.
That's true, but it's beside my point, anyway, which very simply all along has been that when new people move in, they change things to their liking. This happened in the past, and will happen again, and if we who are already here would like to keep things a certain way, we'd be well advised not to let in people who will change them. We can be sure that their history will not vindicate our cause.

Here in the Midwest every sign (I mean, every tiny little sign on every aisle) at the local Lowes homeowner's store is in both English and Spanish.

This bothers you why, exactly?

I have heard of a small airport, in the U.S., in which all the flight announcements and other announcements were given over the intercom _only_ in Spanish.

Which airport?

I cannot get worked up over the fact that some would question if it was prudent for the United States to accept previous waves of immigration. I do not have to trace my lineage back very far before I reach ancestors who were immigrants; four generations on my mother's side, five on my father's. But so what? It may very well have been imprudent for my ancestors to be allowed to immigrate to the United States and the great and noble Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And if so, then I am grateful for this imprudence. But such a fact does nothing to change the duty I owe to my native land and my fellow countrymen, a duty to make prudent decisions on immigration today. The fact that I may have benefited from past mistakes does not change my duty to decide correctly in the present.

This bothers you why, exactly?

"[W]hen men cannot communicate their thoughts to each other, simply because of difference of language, all the similarity of their common human nature is of no avail to unite them in fellowship. So true is this that a man would be more cheerful with his dog for company than with a foreigner" (St. Augustine, City of God, lib. XIX, c. 7).

Zippy, your entire "argument" hides something that you feel comfortable only cleverly hinting at. When asked if you viewed immigration a net good, you refused to answer. I know, I know, you're too nuanced a thinker to render such a shallow verdict.

Cyrus, sorry for rearranging the furniture on you, but all in all, you came out o.k. All promises are off though on the new arrivals and the future safety of your heirloom. And given the fatuousness of your arguments here, frankly it makes me ill to think our fates somehow intertwined.

What a nigthmare; choose between paleo-ideologues pining for a mythi past or lefty multiculturalists building a Balkanized future. Again, antipathy towards America, as she imperfectly lives, is their common bond.

It bothers me because language is a deeply cultural thing, and Spanish and English simply are not equally important in America. We are being assured of all this gradual assimilation, but was anyone putting up all the signs in a national chain store (there were no national chain stores, so no) in Gaelic and English, all over the country, when the Irish were coming here? Of course not. It bothers me because it involves treating English as just one language among many *in America*, which *in America* it is not. It bothers me because it sends the signal that those who speak Spanish and live in America don't need to learn to read and speak English, because we'll translate every last little itsy bitsy bit of language in their environment for them, including things that any idiot could figure out for himself just by looking around, from now until the end of time. Which is not how it should be. (To tell you the truth, were I a Spanish-speaking immigrant, I'd feel patronized and insulted. "You think I need you to translate 'exit' for me on the door? For crying out loud!")

I don't know which airport. The statement was made by a VFR reader who had recently been there, and as far as I recall, he did not name the airport. But the claim fits with much else that I know. I see no reason to doubt it.

Blackadder: I'm not talking about opportunity costs, I'm talking about actual dispossession. The reluctance to admit that any actual dispossession actually occurred is part of the iconography of Ellis Island.

Kevin: Thanks for providing some semblance of reason here in the midst of all this Stoddard-ian nonsense that I'm finding in many of Zippy's comments.


Zippy previously commented:

Define "dispossession".

Loss of home, livelihood, and in some cases life.
Posted by Zippy | August 4, 2008 3:20 PM

It is precisely that sort of trivialization of real suffering and injustice on the part of real people that inclines me to view your discourse on the subject as equivocal, BTW.
Posted by Zippy | August 4, 2008 3:22 PM


And, yet, when I had asked previously: "Pray tell, what is this great harm inflicted on the American people by previous mass immigrations that you would cast them instead as the villainous demons who invaded our nation then, causing you to deliberately ignore the historic contributions of these people which have led to interalia our current state of technological advancement?"

He replied with only the vaguest:
"The entire point is that, contra reductionist/abstract views of the matter, there is no aggregate index of 'great harm' or 'great benefit' to an aggregated abstraction called 'the American people'."


You see, Zippy, while you may insist on rather hazy notions of "real suffering and injustice" that you continue to accuse immigrants of deliberately inflicting; I, on the other hand, depend on real facts that demonstrate the aggregate benefit America obtains due to the various achievements made hitherto by such immigrants, leading up to America being on the cusp of technology on several fronts in the sciences.

Again, you seem to be negligent of the significance of technology and the pivotal role it plays not only in ensuring the dominance but also the very survival of a nation.

Kevin, I hate to sound like a namby-pamby peace maker. It's a role that fits me very poorly, given my personality. But I can't understand why you perceive yourself and Zippy as being at loggerheads in this thread. What I'm reading from both of you sounds like you're coming to much the same conclusions. And surely you yourself know that no one can answer so broadly-framed a question as, "Is immigration a net good?" Good grief! One might as well ask if...oh, I don't know...food is a net good. Or building buildings. I mean, obviously, sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Lydia,

If you were to travel to 1860s New York, I don't know whether you ever would have seen signs written in Gaelic (my understanding is that most Irish people don't speak Gaelic at all, and very few speak it as there primary language). I do know, however, that if you were to travel to various parts of America at various points in history, you would have seen signs written in Italian, or Polish, or Chinese, or German. Not in both languages, mind you. Just the foreign one. In fact, there are places you can go in the U.S. right now where you can see this.

I'm not talking about opportunity costs, I'm talking about actual dispossession. The reluctance to admit that any actual dispossession actually occurred is part of the iconography of Ellis Island.

If you're talking about dispossession in something more than the counterfactual sense I described then you are going to have to be more specific. Cause I for one have no idea what you're talking about.

Lydia, let me restate it. Has immigration, by and large, been a beneficial force in America's development? If one finds exceptions to that statement, clearly elaborate with details, not obscure phrases, academic jargon and sneering references to the iconography surrounding Ellis Island. Cards on the table time.

that you continue to accuse immigrants of deliberately inflicting;

Now you are just making things up again. I never said deliberately inflicting. I said that dispossession of some actual people from their homes, livelihoods, and in some cases lives is concomitant to any large-scale immigration.

That this is even a controversial point at all is a reflection of irrational Ellis Island iconography.

Zippy, your entire "argument" hides something that you feel comfortable only cleverly hinting at.
Remember, I'm authoritarian in my tendencies and intolerant of people imputing positions to me that I don't hold; and this is my post and my thread. If people want to accuse me of cleverly (that is, deceptively) hinting at things I won't say outright, or emulating the KKK, or equating immigrants to prostitutes, they are welcome to make those accusations on their own blogs, where I will ignore them. In my threads here and on my own blog, you have a choice: you can accept that I argue in good faith, however misguided and wrong you may consider me to be, and argue your own position in good faith in return; or you can be careful not to let the door hit you on the way out.
If you were to travel to 1860s New York, I don't know whether you ever would have seen signs written in Gaelic (my understanding is that most Irish people don't speak Gaelic at all, and very few speak it as there primary language). I do know, however, that if you were to travel to various parts of America at various points in history, you would have seen signs written in Italian, or Polish, or Chinese, or German. Not in both languages, mind you. Just the foreign one. In fact, there are places you can go in the U.S. right now where you can see this.
I hate to agree with blackadder, but he is correct. German held on until WWI, and there were many many newspapers in Yiddish, Polish, Italian, German, and a dozen other languages throughout the United States. A multi-lingual public square is not new to America, though the emerging bilingual one is.
Has immigration, by and large, been a beneficial force in America's development?
And again, Kevin, you need to answer what you mean by America. If you don't mean some ethereal essence in the manner of Bush and Rice, then you must be referring to the peoples and political entitites inhabiting it in a certain time and place. America is a historical concept, not a metaphysical one, and its meaning has changed.
"Lydia, let me restate it. Has immigration, by and large, been a beneficial force in America's development?"

I don't know about Lydia, but "immigration, by and large" strikes me as rather meaningless. The answer is obviously yes. There would be no America without "immigration, by and large" just as there would be no Australia or Canada without "immigration, by and large".

Even so, the premise behind the question bothers me. Presumably, if certain kinds of immigration (and therefore certain kinds of immigrants) have NOT been a beneficial force, then it is supposed to follow that said immigration should never have been allowed in the first place, and should not be allowed in the future. The question presumes more racial and/or cultural determinism than is usually justified.

It's sort of like asking whether America would have been better off if certain people had never been born. If the answer is yes, what are the policy implications?


Blackadder, that wouldn't bother me so much. (Unless it was Arabic. Because I think Muslim immigration is a _special_ problem and Muslim neighborhoods are _especially_ problematic.) I brought up Lowes because it isn't doing this as some little local-owned store run by and/or catering to the particularly dense immigrant population in its immediate neighborhood. It's doing it as a national chain store, for all its stores, all over the whole country, regardless of neighborhood, because these national exec types who couldn't care beans about anybody's culture looked at the handwriting on the wall and decided that Spanish just is turning into America's second language. That's the problem in that particular example.

Kevin, I'd say, in the last twenty years, no. You don't need me to write out the longer-than-your-arm list of specific examples from the last twenty years, do you? Longer ago, looks pretty good, but what do I know? Maybe there's stuff I just don't know about.

"You don't need me to write out the longer-than-your-arm list of specific examples from the last twenty years, do you?"

It seems fair to ask for examples. These might include: the proliferation of ethnic enclaves or ghettos; the depression of wages; the disposition of certain groups to crime and other pathologies; the giving of fuel to the fire of multiculturalism. Many more could be listed. The difficulty here is that each of these alleged deleterious effects must be validated apart from the others, and in light of positive counter-effects.

Zippy,

You still haven't given any definite answer as to this "real suffering and injustice" you keep accusing the immigrants of yesteryears of.

Instead, you continue to deliberately overlook real facts and all the various historic contributions made by immigrants with regard to the advances that have built our nation.

Are you really serious about playing ignorant of all the economic, scientific and political benefits America has reaped due to the technological advances made possible by immigrants (either past/present or the descendants thereof)?

Although I can only prove immigrants had made significant contributions to America as far as the arts & sciences goes which helped make the United States the great nation it is today; you & your ilk seem insistent on the notion, even if implicitly, that even absent these, the 'native' American people of the time would nevertheless have progressed likewise (which I very much doubt given the historical evidence).


William R. Kerr. of Harvard Business School stated:

"Immigrants account for almost half of Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers in the U.S. and are prime drivers of technology development."

Go ahead, Zippy: Kick the buggers out of the country and let's just see where we'll be if such people were let go and they were sent back to their country of origin.

Let's test the implicit notion to this extent where we kick out these present-day immigrants and let the 'native' ones have at it.

Perhaps then you will see the 'light' and acknowledge the importance of such people -- not only these but also those immigrants throughout American history who played such an important role in shaping the America of today through variously successful technological endeavors.

Go ahead, Zippy: Kick the buggers out of the country and let's just see where we'll be if such people were let go and they were sent back to their country of origin.
In point of fact, I think they have a grave obligation to return to their home countries (barring some compelling reason not to do so, i.e. in the case of genuine refugees, who don't tend to be among the college educated) and use the education received here to make things better at home, even if we would be better off had they stayed here. Because for me it isn't all about utilitarian measures of whether or not immigration has produced or will produce the greatest good for the greatest number within our geographic boundaries, or whatever.
Has immigration, by and large, been a beneficial force in America's development?

If someone had received a blood transfustion, that would undeniably have been beneficial for his health. This does not imply it would be prudent to give him a transfusion now.

Lydia, Zippy has not confined his comments to the last 20 years. And I think you know it.

Jeff, my initial comment was that the reality of Ellis Island stands in contrast to, and argues against our immigration policy as it's been practiced since the mid-60's. We were then told that Ellis Island is an troubling icon that subverts the case for restriction. I replied such logic is indicative of the kind of moral fatigue that robs one of the ability to make the necesary intellectual distinctions for this topic. Since then, I've come to the creepy conclusion that some here resent everyone who arrived after Dolly Madison's 30th birthday party.

Since then, I've come to the creepy conclusion that some here resent everyone who arrived after Dolly Madison's 30th birthday party.
Well, about half of my genes came through Ellis Island and the other half have been on American soil since before the Revolutionary War. Maybe that is what enables me to see both sides.

I'm getting tired of creepy conclusions, etc. Lets not have any more of that.

At least Harvard Professor Kerr thinks more rightly on the subject:

One implication concerns immigration levels. It is interesting to note that while immigrants account for about 15 percent of the U.S. working population, they account for almost half of our Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers. Even within the Ph.D. ranks, foreign-born individuals have a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes, elections to the National Academy of Sciences, patent citations, and so forth. They are a very strong contributor to U.S. technology development, so it is in the United States' interest to attract and retain this highly skilled group. It is one of the easiest policy levers we have to influence our nation's rate of innovation.

Because for me it isn't all about utilitarian measures of whether or not immigration has produced or will produce the greatest good for the greatest number within our geographic boundaries, or whatever.

Yes, I would imagine, as mentioned earlier, they are more slanted toward the Stoddardian view, unfortunately.

Although, I would more than welcome evidence to the contrary; yet, I am not seeing that.

Perhaps if there were elucidation on what the default position on immigration should be, there would be fewer rash generalizations. In my observances at WWWtW, the default position appears to be that immigration should be proscribed. In part this derives from a cultural adhesion to place. Admittedly, we often witness the term 'mass immigration' bantied about. What is the identity of mass immigration is left to be assumed by the reader but presumably refers to the present situation of Mexican immigration, a people we are generally considered to be at peace.

I would imagine many of the interlocuters here assume a position that immigration and migration should attempt to be reasonably accomodated, with the meaning of reasonable varying significantly. This is quite different from proscription, which appears to be the position of WWWtW contributors.

I think they have a grave obligation to return to their home countries (barring some compelling reason not to do so, i.e. in the case of genuine refugees, who don't tend to be among the college educated) and use the education received here to make things better at home, even if we would be better off had they stayed here.

Why would you think that? More to the point, how is this at all consistent with Catholic teaching on the matter?

"Maybe that is what enables me to see both sides."

Funny, but right now only one side is typing and it's the wrong one.

Why would you think that?
Because we have natural obligations to the countries into which we are born. (They don't trump all other obligations, mind you: it isn't an either/or thing).
...how is this at all consistent with Catholic teaching on the matter?
If you think it is inconsistent, you might want to make the case.

I'm still trying to digest some of this, but I have a couple observations.

1. The "Stoddardian" comments are just cheap shots and cheap tactics. I equate it to the schoolboy who said his classmate was like Hitler "...because Hitler liked Jelly Donuts just like you." aristocles is effectively doing the same thing. Because Zippy dislikes some kinds of Jelly Donuts (some immigration) and because Zippy points out that too many Jelly Donuts can make you fat--aristicles compares him to a eugenicist who also dislikes Jelly Donuts/immigration in an entirely different context and way of thinking.

It's a pathetic tactic regardless of who is right.

2. The fixation with the PhDs is obviously just avoiding the big picture and distracting from what was actually said. It's a simple-minded way of lopping off one infinitesimal aspect of something and pretending it tells the whole story.

I'd like to take you seriously, aristcoles, but you harm your argument, make it seem like you are avoiding the relevant points, and make it annoying to sift through and find your valid points when you do this stuff.

Silly Interloper:

Why don't you take your own advise and first read all my comments before making such rash judgments about my views on the matter.

The details of your above comments give evidence that you've not read my comments in their entirety but rather subjected them to such gloss that reflects mere propagandist tactics you've typically employed in the past, not unlike those I know you've been capable of on other blogs when they are comments made against Zippy.

Thus, it becomes hard for me, personally, to take any of your comments seriously since I've known you to be one who adamantly sticks up for Zippy's position regardless.

To make the point, can you please provide a concise statement of what my arguments are essentially and what issues I've addressed thus far?

A Clue: Zippy continues to insist that there is this great harm inflicted by immigration generally. I argue to the contrary: there has been great benefit done to America by virtue of it.

Go ahead, Silly -- Make My Day.

Zippy,

Are you not familiar with the Church's teaching on the right to migrate?

Why don't you take your own advise and first read all my comments before making such rash judgments about my views on the matter.

Ah. Did I miss something? How silly of me--except that I didn't.

The details of your above comments give evidence that you've not read my comments in their entirety but rather subjected them to such gloss that reflects mere propagandist tactics you've typically employed in the past,...

Well wonders never cease--I didn't realize I had a fan. Regarding my "propaganda," I'm completely open to it being challenged. If it has been such transparent propaganda, I wonder that you didn't call me on it on when you've seen it. (I don't recall ever having a discussion with you on any blog before this.) But if you say it's propaganda, it must be true. Still--don't mind me for actually *demonstrating* that yours are cheap shots, and if my demo is such propaganda, I'm certain some intelligent scrutiny can reveal it as such.

....not unlike those I know you've been capable of on other blogs when they are comments made against Zippy.

Well, if you say I’ve been a propagandist elsewhere--I’m sure it must be true. But if I tried such lame characterizations without any examples to show it, most of my siblings would tell me to “put up, or shut up.” But I’m sure you’re right. Don’t bother.

aristocles: Kevin: Thanks for providing some semblance of reason here in the midst of all this Stoddard-ian nonsense that I'm finding in many of Zippy's comments.

and (responding to Zippy): Yes, I would imagine, as mentioned earlier, they are more slanted toward the Stoddardian view, unfortunately.

Given that you made no attempt at all to compare Stoddard's actual arguments and philosophies with Zippy's--these were clearly a cheap shots on your part. These were gratuitously injected. Anyone can read through the comments above and see that. (Feel free to fill in the context if I’ve missed something.)

Thus, it becomes hard for me, personally, to take any of your comments seriously...

Heavens, I hope not. I’m completely outclassed by most of the interlocutors here. That’s why I’ve limited my comments to someone more at my level.

...since I've known you to be one who adamantly sticks up for Zippy's position regardless.

Such mindless fawning on my part was bound not to go unnoticed. I had hoped that most would simply perceive it to be selective engagement on my part that merely focused upon those topics that drew me to Zippy in the first place. But I was such a fool to think it would get by you. sigh

To make the point, can you please provide a concise statement of what my arguments are essentially and what issues I've addressed thus far?

I already told you that I was digesting both sides of the discussion. I don’t need to submit a report of my summarized findings in order to recognize cheap ploys and distractions. (Goodness--this is another distraction, isn’t it. Hah. I’m on to you!)

A Clue: Zippy continues to insist that there is this great harm inflicted by immigration generally. I argue to the contrary: there has been great benefit done to America by virtue of it.

I think that is a very simple-minded summary of Zippy. I would say the same regarding the summary about you, but suddenly I’m not so sure.

Go ahead, Silly -- Make My Day.

Is this the kind of poser rhetoric that is supposed to show you aren’t like the schoolboy mentioned above?

By the way, Silly, do you know how else I knew you haven't been reading my comments at all?

By your very comment here:

2. The fixation with the PhDs is obviously just avoiding the big picture and distracting from what was actually said. It's a simple-minded way of lopping off one infinitesimal aspect of something and pretending it tells the whole story.

The quote I posted above is hardly an obsession with PhDs and, quite ironically, your above statement merely served to egregiously distract from the whole purpose of the post (which served to illustrate the positive net benefits accrued by the presence of such immigrants in the United States), which is appreciatively underlined by the wise Harvard Professor, William R. Kerr:

One implication concerns immigration levels. It is interesting to note that while immigrants account for about 15 percent of the U.S. working population, they account for almost half of our Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers. Even within the Ph.D. ranks, foreign-born individuals have a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes, elections to the National Academy of Sciences, patent citations, and so forth. They are a very strong contributor to U.S. technology development, so it is in the United States' interest to attract and retain this highly skilled group. It is one of the easiest policy levers we have to influence our nation's rate of innovation.


Scott E. Page, a professor at the University of Michigan, further accentuates the point:

The immigration policies of the United States result in a diverse nation. That diversity — differences in culture, nationality, ethnicity, and religion — contributes to the robustness and productivity of the U.S. economy. More directly, that diversity partly explains why the United States leads the world in innovation and scientific achievement.

Immigrants prove more likely to be entrepreneurs. From 1995 to 2005, more than one-fourth of all high-tech startups included an immigrant as part of their leadership teams. In 2005 those firms employed nearly a half million workers and generated more than $50 billion in revenue. Among them are Intel, Google, Yahoo!, Sun, and eBay.

The impact of immigrants on science is similar. More than a third of American Nobel laureates in science are immigrants. These include the 2007 Nobel Prize winners in medicine, Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies, who both teach at public universities.

As much ability as immigrants possess, they owe part of their success to simply bringing different skills, new ways of seeing, and new ways of thinking. When immigrants arrive in the United States, they bring with them diverse histories, narratives, cultures, and religions. They also bring a determination to succeed. Those two characteristics — cognitive diversity and desire — enable immigrants to make such substantial contributions.


As for myself, noting the various historic contributions made to Science by several immigrants in America's past, I shudder to think what real progress (or lack thereof) would have been made in the absence of such great thinkers.

In other words, the many benefits we enjoy in America today are largely due to these folks (be they European, Asian, etc.).

While it may satisfy you to overlook these things, I, on the other hand, believe otherwise.

Are you not familiar with the Church's teaching on the right to migrate?
Yes, I'm familiar. Do you see it as incompatible with having duties to one's country? You'd have to make that case. I don't see them as incompatible.

Silly Interloper: Thank you for proving my point! That "I know what you are but what am I?" is too sophisticated a rebuttal for my taste. Thank you for your puerile (and futile) attempts at distraction. It was right that you ended up projecting yourself in your comments as well as in your alias! Silly, indeed. I bid you adieu.

Aristocles:

Zippy continues to insist that there is this great harm inflicted by immigration generally.
By now, you must be aware of the various ways in which you've imputed positions to me which are not mine in this thread and the other. If your next post contains an enumerated retraction of each of them, your posting privileges will continue. If it doesn't, don't bother, because I will simply delete your post the next time I check in.

Sure, aristocles. Looks like you have immigration in a nice tidy little box with pretty little ribbons and everything.

Good job.

Silly Interloper: Thank you for proving my point! That "I know what you are but what am I?" is too sophisticated a rebuttal for my taste. Thank you for your puerile (and futile) attempts at distraction. It was right that you ended up projecting yourself in your comments as well as in your alias! Silly, indeed.

Ach. The humiliation. His final comments are clearly a death-blow to Silly. So full of substance and wit. Such mastery of rhetoric and logic. How can you not worship this person, Zippy?!

I bid you adieu.

I don't know Russian. But good bye, fair warrior. (Where is my plastic sword? I must go fall on it now.)

MZ:

Perhaps if there were elucidation on what the default position on immigration should be, there would be fewer rash generalizations.
I can only speak to my own positions. As I think my post implies even if it does not state so outright, I don't have a policy position on Mexican immigration that I recommend. I would have to do a lot more due diligence before I could convince myself that I was in a position to craft a proposal which is wise and good. My expectation is that whatever I did propose, it would not line up neatly with any of the standard positions; but who knows?

On Muslim immigration I am more concretely hawkish. I would not ban Muslim immigration per se, but I do support measures like the Jihad Sedition Law.

"aristocles" and "Blackadder",

You ignored my previous post, so I'll just reiterate my third point about the real costs associated with current levels of illegal Central American immigration:

"In my mind, the single largest cost is the problem of unwed mothers, and the number for Hispanics in the U.S. is troubling:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2007/12/demographic-disaster-of-2006.html

My guess is that data isn't getting better and based on all we know about kids growing up without fathers, the final bill for all this Central American immigration is only starting to come due:

http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/the-gangsters-of-drew-street-glassell-park/18444/"

And before you accuse me of ignoring the benefits to the U.S. I will happily acknowledge there are also benefits to Americans from both legal and illegal immigration.

But throughout this thread Zippy seems to be arguing for a nuanced position on immigration, as I also am arguing (i.e. we need to weigh benefits and costs of the immigrants coming here now, both legal and illegal). I would welcome an immigration policy that allowed educated and/or well-capitalized foreigners to continue to come to this country -- a policy that is currently practiced by Canada. I would also allow a certain number of refugees (e.g. Iraqi and Middle-Eastern Christians) into the country based on considerations related to both justice and compassion.

But the above "Jeff Singer" immigration policy tries to weigh the benefits and costs of immigration and even more importantly, tries to make sure that the immigrants who do come are welcomed by the U.S. (and do not have to sneak in, which undermines the rule of law as well as the notion that the people of the U.S. have a natural right to define who gets to become an American citizen and how).

Zippy,

I don't think the right to migrate is inconsistent with having duties to one's country. I do think it is inconsistent with having a duty not to immigrate.

MZ says,

In my observances at WWWtW, the default position appears to be that immigration should be proscribed.
I would imagine many of the interlocuters here assume a position that immigration and migration should attempt to be reasonably accomodated, with the meaning of reasonable varying significantly.
Speaking for myself, not immigration per se, but I'm pretty darned open to proscribing Muslim immigration. For the rest, I can see a point to some "accommodation," but my inclinations on what is "reasonable" move in the hawkish direction of "slowwwly and caaarefully, and stop immigration from particular groups if it doesn't seem to be going well." I think immigration is only going to be able to be done sanely and wisely when our government becomes willing openly and carefully to discriminate in its immigration policies on the taboo bases of religion and country of origin. We used to do so, did we not? We should again.

Blackadder:

I don't think the right to migrate is inconsistent with having duties to one's country. I do think it is inconsistent with having a duty not to immigrate.
They would only be inconsistent if the right to migrate applied always in all circumstances. As I am pretty sure you are aware, when the Church uses the term "right" She doesn't generally use it in that way, that is, to imply "always and no matter what circumstances obtain"; particularly when discussing social doctrine.

As an example, the Church also teaches that there is a positive duty to defend one's country. That duty would make no sense if one had a plenary right to migrate no matter what the circumstances. Being under fire by enemy soldiers is pretty dire circumstances, but I don't interpret the 'right to migrate' as a right for a soldier to desert under any circumstances he chooses.

So no, I don't think the Church teaches anything incompatible with my position. My position is that we all have duties to serve the common good; that those duties manifest as particular obligations to the particular concrete communities into which we are born or into which Providence otherwise places us; and that the sort of immigrants brought up by another commenter, that is, well-off immigrants who come here for a college education, etc have a positive duty under ordinary circumstances (that is, when they are not refugees) to use that education to serve the common good in and through their duties to their home country.

There has been, alas, a lot more heat than light on this thread -- which, come to think of it, goes toward proving Zippy's point about the emptiness of the Ellis Island mythology.

Now, it seems to me that one does not have to look far to find, between the Ellis Island wave of immigration and the one we have been experiencing these last 20 years, differences of a magnitude sufficient to justify basically setting aside the analogy altogether. Here are just a few:

(a) The presence today, and absence in the past, of a long, rugged, shared border between the US and the primary source of immigration.

(b) The presence in the past, and the absence today, of an almost unthinking but very strong pressure to assimilate, pressure that manifested itself in ways political, social, legal, etc. I often point to the story told by Norman Podhoretz, whose grade-school teacher took it upon herself, without any consultation with his parents, to obliterate young Norman's Yiddish accent, during some intensive after-school instruction. This small dispossession of his heritage, which he credits with opening up to him the vast glorious world of the English language, is just the kind of thing that all the force of social, political and legal pressure in our day would prevent.

(c) The recognition in the past, and studious ignorance today, of the fact that the question of loyalty is one that does not readily admit of facile answers, and that organized and committed disloyalty can be a ruinous problem -- especially for a large and pluralistic republic.

Indeed, to my mind it is this latter question -- of political loyalty or allegiance -- that underlies the assimilation issue. At base assimilation or Americanization is about insuring loyalty: insuring that, whatever cultural apparatus the immigrant brings with him to America, he shall grant his loyalty over the United States. And it is here where the current wave of immigration is most worrisome. Several years ago cities across this country were inundated with immigration protesters -- thousands of people marching under the flag of a foreign power. Only fool could pretend this is insignificant.

And then, of course, there is always the issue of law and order, which is not unrelated to the question of loyalty. A man and his son were shot to death, blasted away in a hail of automatic gunfire in board daylight, over a traffic delay in San Francisco some days ago, by an illegal immigrant who had previously been in custody but remained protected under "sanctuary city" policies. The shooter was a member of a particularly vicious gang. Another commenter linked to similar troubles in Los Angeles. Such stories could be spun out at great length, all across the country.

Does this mean that I suspect all Mexicans or Latino immigrants of disloyalty? Hardly. My experience suggests that the great majority are, or desire to be, loyal Americans. (Many, of course, are in the somewhat awkward position of desiring this in the very teeth of the fact that they stand in defiance of the legal regime they want to swear allegiance too.) But this fact does little to assuage the concern that our current policies are indeed exposing us to organized lawlessness and disloyalty, in short that by continuing said policies we are courting disaster, strife and ruin.

In the past, when Ellis Island was in operation, this peril of disloyalty on a large scale was appreciated, and Americans did not hesitate implement measures, social, political, and legal, to address it. Sedition laws, loyalty oaths, various state-sponsored efforts at Americanization, a general confidence in rightness of asking for loyalty from immigrants -- these were the norm in the past. No longer.

Very good, Paul. Excellent. I would point out that our own government is now cooperating in this matter of opposing assimilation. Witness the vast requirements (requirements!) for multi-lingual accommodations, as well as the government's taking it upon itself, at taxpayer expense, to sue employers who require their employees to speak English on the job. You would _never_ have seen that fifty years ago, much less a hundred years ago. Never.

And the flag issue is a very real and troubling one.

"There has been, alas, a lot more heat than light on this thread -- which, come to think of it, goes toward proving Zippy's point about the emptiness of the Ellis Island mythology."

It however, does nothing to to disprove the reality of Ellis Island, which is anything but an "empty" or negative history. To argue otherwise, is to take refuge
in the paleo version of the fever swamp, shrink the size of the coalition seeking common sense restrictions and ultimately lose the larger battle for the sake of issuing provocative rhetoric.

You would think for all the purported disdain for ideological pet causes, that this site would be especially wary to embrace a pose that is derisive towards the true narrative of American immigration. The open borders advocates here do not have the better case, but thanks to this strange diversion, they have the more coherent argument.

In the meantime, in the name of brave iconoclasm I quess come Thanksgiving, we can look forward to reflections surrounding the "mythology" of Plymouth Rock.

Well done.

I have to admit that I am a loss to explain Kevin's truculence on this matter.

The reality of Ellis Island is that it functioned for about sixty years as the first bureaucratic way station for arriving immigrants to America. Some 12 million went through the place, the great majority before 1924, when immigration was drastically reduced. It was not a particularly happy island, often overcrowded with weary people speaking dozens of languages and overseen by petty bureaucrats. I'll wager that few who came through the place remember it with much fondness.

I'll leave it to Kevin to show how Zippy, myself, and others here are endeavoring to disprove this reality.

What we are trying to disprove, or at least throw some cold water on, so to speak, is the notion that Ellis Island can be erected into a symbol or abstraction which ought to function as the guide and inspiration for current immigration policy.

I'm confident that Kevin and I probably agree more than we disagree about (a) current immigration policy and (b) the previous immigration policies. We want a more restrictive policy today, and think previous policies were on balance wise. We do not regard today's policy as an unmitigated evil, nor do we regard yesteryear's as an unmitigated good.

Previous waves of immigrants enriched America in many marvelous ways, for which we ought to be grateful; but there were some real costs. The explosion of urban organized crime; the exposure to European Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Communism, etc.; the increase and intensification of "foreign entanglements," which eventual embroiled us in two European wars; the attenuation of free enterprise under pressure from imported statism; and the growth of welfare state alongside its new constituencies during the New Deal -- to cite some examples.

None of which should be taken to imply a mournful attitude of "we should never have done it!" or some such nonsense. To honor and cherish the memory of the Republic before the troubles of the 20th century is hardly an instance of the "paleo version of the fever swamp"; anymore than honoring the Old Republic before the troubles of the mid-19th century is to pine for a return to slavery.

Speaking for myself, I might in my more frustrated moods be inclined to wonder whether the Ellis Island reality (as opposed to mythology) might be worth revisiting. Certainly our immigration policy today would be improved if every immigrant were sent through offshore way stations for screening before arrival.

But I rather think that such a proposal would earn a quicker accusation of "paleo version of the fever swamp" then merely talking about what once was before the earlier immigrants arrived.

Since then, I've come to the creepy conclusion that some here resent everyone who arrived after Dolly Madison's 30th birthday party.
There you go again, Kevin. This continued insistence on the sinister, creepy motives of your interlocutors says a great deal more about you than about me. In particular, the fact that you insist on seeing yourself as in some important way Irish after probably 5 or 6 generations in this country, and in carrying grudges against the English in America, illustrates better than I could have hoped my point about the imperfection of assimilation of even the 19th century Great Wave of immigrants. If assimilation doesn't mean dropping political grievances and ethnic allegiances from the long-abandoned mother country, it doesn't mean anything at all.

As for myself, and my alleged hostility to anyone who arrived after 1798 (Dolley Madison's 30th year), I'll relate that my father's ancestors were all in Europe in 1900, his mother's parents in Scotland, his father's father, as best as I can tell, in a German exclave in a far-eastern part of what was then the Kingdom of Hungary and now, stripped of its German population and having changed hands several times, is in Ukraine. My maternal grandfather's male-line ancestors came from Glasgow in the 1840s. Some fraction of my ancestors were here before then, but not the majority. My wife is three-quarters Appalachian hillbilly and one-quarter (as I look to each side conspiratorially) Lithuanian Jew. Don't tell anyone at the yacht club! I'd hate to be kicked out. Their bar has the best highballs, and drink is the only cure for my self-loathing!

Kidding aside, and reiterating, there is an understandably strong tendency to idealize previous periods of immigration and to ignore the difficulties and dislocations they involved. Posing the problem of immigration in terms of the post-WWII settlement of 19th century immigration, as the Ellis Island myth does, deliberately elides all of those costs with the object of making opposition to large-scale immigration impossible. It's one thing to ask "look at how well 19th century immigration turned out (after 70+ years), don't you think we should let in millions more immigrants now" and quite another to ask whether we ought willingly to undergo enormous dislocation now and for the next three generations so that our great-grandchildren may possibly enjoy a bigger, stronger country. Or not. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and there are so many reasons already discussed here and elsewhere to believe that present-day immigration is not turning out as well in the short term as 19th century immigration, and will not turn out as well in the long term, either.

Aristocles: It would be lovely if PhDs and entrepeneurs made up the bulk of modern-day immigrants, and if the only way to get PhDs and entrepeneurs to immigrate were to maintain an immigration regime that was permissive to all skill levels, such a regime might be economically justifiable. But neither is the case. The United States could be a great deal more selective than it is, but since so much of our selection occurs through amnesties of illegals, far from selecting an élite of prospective immigrants, we tend more to select the huddled masses while making immigration of the educated and skilled perversely difficult.

P.S.: The No Irish Need Apply signs were, in America, basically an urban legend. http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/no-irish.htm

Paul, what is the "mythology" of Ellis Island?

The reason Ellis Islands holds such a high preferred place within the American imagination is the incredible suffering, heroism, confusion and compassion that occurred when different peoples collided. I referred to this in my first comments, but instead read replies about "dispossessions", qualifiers about the net impact of previous immigration patterns, the charge that "worship of the state" was caused by the multi-ethnic make-up of our nation. This gem came, despite the fact that every war from 1812 to WWI was undertaken during a time of incredible homogeneity within our demographic make-up.

I give you credit for finally stating what others only hinted at; "The explosion of urban organized crime; the exposure to European Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Communism, etc.; the increase and intensification of "foreign entanglements," which eventual embroiled us in two European wars; the attenuation of free enterprise under pressure from imported statism..." Now, that's a mouthful. Wouldn't an updated form of Rum Romanism and Rebellion have sufficed?

If you think you can shuffle the special burden of Woodrow Wilson, F.D.R., Harry Hopkins, the robber barons and a host of other miscreants found in the Social Register onto the shoulders of the rest of us, think again. Don't you think the WASP establishment's special relationship with Britain was a greater reason for our entry into WWI than the arrival of Sean, Anthony and Stanislaw? I mean revisionism can be fun, but only when it's remotely plausible. Frankly, some of this reads like a skit from The Colbert Report.

As for pining about the "Old Republic", let's go all the way and nullify the Louisiana Purchase and go back to the Original 13. I personally promise those seeking entry in the new, old United States will enjoy their interactive experience at Customs. Promise.

Great summaries by Paul and Cyrus. I share in the puzzlement at Kevin's empty sarcasm.

Who are you and what have you done with Kevin?

Paul, he's here and under our control. Sicerely, La Raza

Actually, I'm still a little ticked and excessively caustic even by my standards, after spending too much time trying to 1) understand what Zippy was getting at and 2) repelling a common paleo fantasy.

Your response was the easily the most thoughtful and helpful one. You'll fly right through Customs!

Don't you think the WASP establishment's special relationship with Britain was a greater reason for our entry into WWI than the arrival of Sean, Anthony and Stanislaw?
There was no US-UK "special relationship" prior to WWI, or even really prior to WWII. That said, it's implausible to blame the foreign entanglements that drew the US into the World Wars on recent immigration. One with a pro-British point-of-view could plausibly blame American reluctance to enter at least the First World War on the presence of vast numbers of German (who didn't want to fight their countrymen) and Irish Americans (who didn't want to do anything to help the hated English).

In what sense was the United States ethnically homogeneous after about 1830 or so? It surely wasn't at the time of WWI, when 15% of the population was foreign-born, or before the Civil War, by which time millions of Irish and Germans had already immigrated.

Cyrus, I'm not interested in continuing this with you. Your ignorance is breathtaking - northern Europeans are an ethnically homogenous group, hence the term; "Anglo Saxons". And your presentation skills make you the ideal foil for Open Borders advocates seeking to wedge disunity within the restrictionist faction.

Your ignorance is breathtaking - northern Europeans are an ethnically homogenous group, hence the term; "Anglo Saxons".
Outside of Nordicist fantasy, no, Northern Europeans are not "an ethnically homogenous group," and "Anglo Saxons" doesn't encompass all of them and never has. That is, unless you're working with your own, private definition of the words ethnicity, ethnically, Anglo-Saxon, and Northern Europe, which, judging from the dogged contrariness you've exhibited thus far, would not surprise me in the least.

Yeah, the whole Spanish language thing, is a pet peeve of mine in the sense that many seem to blame it on immigration (Mexican in particular) rather than the misguided accomadation by the natives. If you ever happen to catch Spanish TV, every other commercial is about "Learn English Quick & Easy" programs for sale. Its not that they don't want to learn the language, but "the powers that be" (funny how many of those powers already know both languages) make it too easy for them not to.

The powers that be will hardly do less of that if we have _more_ Spanish-language immigration. And they wouldn't have done it in the first place if they didn't have the excuse of massive and almost entirely unregulated Spanish-language immigration. Certainly no good is being done to immigrants by turning America into a de facto bilingual country, and some, perhaps many, Spanish-speaking immigrants know this. But that doesn't mean that the phenomenon isn't in some sense a result of immigration itself. Moreover, if you keep telling people that they have an entitlement (in this case, to be accommodated in Spanish everywhere they go), they do start to believe you.

Cyrus, are you now going to redefine what "WASP' means and deny it an accurate description of our nation's population for the periods under discussion; the war of 1812 to WWI? How you can categorize a nation of predominantly English, German, Scotch-Irish* settlers has anything but homogenous is beyond me.

Why then, all the heartache about the "myth of Ellis Island", the dispossessions, and loss of the Old Republic? Some trace the latter to the Lincoln Administration, others blame the importation of "European Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Communism, etc." and the arrival of "new constituencies during the New Deal". I am not convinced the "isms' mentioned above, or the centralizing tendencies of American life would have been thwarted had we remained a WASP nation, but do think the already existing trend was hastened by the new arrivals.

*don't get excited, they're a different sub-set of Celts and I'm not going to pull a switcheroo and claim "my people were here before things went downhill." I'll leave that to our Iroquois commenter's.

Los Angeles, Sante Fe, Sacramento, San Antonio, Los Alamos, San Diego are different from New Orleans, Sault Ste. Marie, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Baton Rouge are different from Boston, New Haven, Providence, Baltimore, and Trenton. The first group didn't just start hearing Spanish yesterday. That Spanish is spoken in Wichita is as explainable as French no longer being spoken in La Crosse.

MZ:
I think the resistance though is not to people speaking non-English languages in general, in local areas where immigrants of those nationalities have enough critical mass to do so. Heck, I yield to nobody in enjoying a trip to chinatown. The resistance is to bilingualism: to supplanting English as the language which unites Americans, or to setting up some other language as coequal to English.

As someone else observed, I think (without anything but my own personal experience to back the thought) that this is ironically more an activity of our own elites than it is something driven by immigrants themselves. There is more than one way in which immigrants are being used.

To get behind the drivers would take up a lot of ASCII. The Lowes example is because of the number of Hispanics in the trades and in many areas have taken over contracting. That is a bit more exceptional. On the corporate side, the big driver is the rising Hispanic consumer class and the fact that Hispanics are the largest growing demographic. It's the golden rule: he who has the gold (or will have the gold) makes the rules.

As to equal recognition and being treated as a co-language, I have some sympathy. Quebec has managed to retain a Francophone population, but even with the full weight of government behind them, they are struggling to keep a French identity. With Los Angeles and Miami being two of the big commercial centers for developing Latin America, there is going to be great difficulty not having a significant business class that speaks often in Spanish.

Cyrus, are you now going to redefine what "WASP' means and deny it an accurate description of our nation's population for the periods under discussion; the war of 1812 to WWI?
I'm using the word in its original sense, denoting the northern, mainline Protestant, upper and upper-middle class establishment of largely English (hence Anglo-Saxon) extraction, while recognizing that it contained from the beginning a scattering of those of Dutch, German, and French Huguenot extraction as well, and more broadly to refer to Americans of English (Anglo-Saxon) descent. Strictly speaking, it's anachronistic to refer to WASPs in the 19th century since the term wasn't coined until the 1950s, by which time the class was in eclipse, but I leave that aside. You appear to be using it to mean white Protestant or anyone of Germanic ancestry, except when you mean it to refer to the country club and Social Register set. In the stricter, traditional sense I'm using the word, while the United States was a WASP-governed state until well into the 20th century, its population was not monoethnically or even primarily English at any time past the 1840s.
How you can categorize a nation of predominantly English, German, Scotch-Irish* settlers has anything but homogenous is beyond me.
Via centuries of sometimes forceful assimilation they have become generic white Americans, but this was not always so. The Scotch-Irish mostly went south and west, while there were large sections of the United States full of unassimilated Germans from the time it concerned Ben Franklin in the 1760s until the eve of WWI. By definition, largely endogamous and linguistically and geographically separate groups such as New England Yankees (WASPs) on one hand and Midwestern Germans and Scandinavians, or Appalachian Scots-Irish, are not part of some homogeneous whole. Nor are Dutch, Swedes, Welsh, and Finns in Northern Europe ethnically homogeneous or "Anglo-Saxon."
Why then, all the heartache about the "myth of Ellis Island"
This has been explained repeatedly. The myth is bad history, doubly objectionable when it's being used to beat us restrictionists over the head.
... the dispossessions, and loss of the Old Republic? Some trace the latter to the Lincoln Administration, others blame the importation of "European Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Communism, etc." and the arrival of "new constituencies during the New Deal". I am not convinced the "isms' mentioned above, or the centralizing tendencies of American life would have been thwarted had we remained a WASP nation, but do think the already existing trend was hastened by the new arrivals.
It almost sounds like we're agreeing here.
*don't get excited, they're a different sub-set of Celts and I'm not going to pull a switcheroo and claim "my people were here before things went downhill." I'll leave that to our Iroquois commenter's.
I know the difference, though if there's anyone a Catholic Irishman should hate, it's those Scots-Irish Presbyterians.

Got to go.

As to equal recognition and being treated as a co-language, I have some sympathy.

You have some sympathy with those who don't want Spanish to be treated as a second American language throughout the entire country, or you have some sympathy with those who do want it to be so treated? Please remember that this isn't (we keep saying this) just in some enclave or enclaves of a particular ethnic group. Nearly every business, all over the country, has a phone tree with Spanish options. Lowes is a national chain. The EEOC tells employers they _may not_ require employees to speak English on the job, presumably not even in the heart of...oh, pick a place...Iowa or Vermont. And so on. So what we're talking about is the entire country being deliberately turned into a place of "Spanish identity."

You have some sympathy with those who don't want Spanish to be treated as a second American language

Correct.

The EEOC has a page addressing English Only rules. http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/national-origin.html#VC
Employers may mandate speaking only English.

Kevin (and those arguing with him),

Rather than make general claims about "dispossessions" related to post-Civil War immigration into this country and suffer your scorn (i.e. "Wouldn't an updated form of Rum Romanism and Rebellion have sufficed?") I thought I'd make Zippy's reference to the "explosion of urban organized crime; the exposure to European Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Communism, etc.;" a little more specific for you:

1) I bet the late Mayor Cermack wishes we could have let in fewer foreigners:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Cermak#Assassination

2) I bet some of Capone's victims wish the same:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_capone#Capone.27s_wealth_and_power_grows_in_Chicago

3) I'm sure Officer Degan would agree:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haymarket_riots#Rally_at_Haymarket_Square

4) And then there is Jane Addams and Hull House, which belies the notion that all those immigrants coming to Chicago were doing a fabulous job of assimilating and adapting to their new home town:

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

These are just a few examples from my beloved home here in Chicago. Let me also say, once again for the record, that many immigrants contributed in numerous ways to make Chicago a great city. But Zippy's point all along is that in the rush to mythologize the waves of mass immigration, we forget that there were also real NEGATIVE consequences of having so many foreigners come to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Employers may mandate speaking only English.

I'm _sure_ the Salvation Army (I believe Steve posted about this) was doing it in some highly discriminatory fashion and could have _easily_ told that their English-only rule didn't fall under the EEOC's guidelines.

/sarc

I'm glad to hear your so sure of yourself, although sure isn't the word I would have used for it. The inability to agree upon basic facts dooms these debates to being little more than ephemeral inclinations.

You mean you think it was plausibly inappropriate for the Salvation Army to require English only and that the EEOC was plausibly right to sue them?

"I know the difference, though if there's anyone a Catholic Irishman should hate, it's those Scots-Irish Presbyterians."

Cyrus,
There is no one a Catholic can hate and reject your suggestion, presumably made in jest. Your breakdown of the WASP family tree reveals a fertile market for sunscreen manufacturers and tough sledding for "Diversity Managers". Which is a good thing, but I suspect some would rather the America you painted with your single brush than the one that is. They are to be pitied.

Jeff, from the outset I've acknowledged the suffering that comes with immigration, but think it fell mostly on the new arrivals, as it still does today.

I am perplexed as to why I should feel morally disarmed by Ellis Island iconography (whatever that means)in the current debate, nor understand what your links brought to the discussion. Other than to remind us of what a great man once said;"The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart."

I'll let you guys fight for restrictions now, by arguing more should have been applied earlier and adhere to a different tack. In the meantime, my sons have Irish, Costa Rican, Greek and French blood coursing through their veins and sometimes I can't help but wonder what my grandkids will look like. Whatever they bring to the mix, one thing will be true; only in America!

I liked what you said;"my beloved home here in Chicago..." because I find when you love your home she loves you back. And I love the America that is, not the one that could have been, or should be. The imperfect, often ailing one, that is.


I'll let you guys fight for restrictions now, by arguing more should have been applied earlier...
I must have missed the part where someone argued that.

Didn't you read Jeff's links and his conclusion?;
"we forget that there were also real NEGATIVE consequences of having so many foreigners come to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

Isn't that the conclusion one should draw - the violence, the alien ideologies and social upheaval would have been less onerous with less immigrants allowed in?

Isn't that the conclusion one should draw -
No. Jeff provided some data, not conclusions, as I read him.

If I provided data on negative effects of WWII, that would not imply the conclusion that we ought not have entered WWII. Examples can be multiplied. Acknowledging the negative effects of prudential judgments is something we ought to be capable of doing without hesitation or hedging. Intransigent unwillingness to acknowledge the downsides of a historical prudential judgment is a hint that the prudential judgment in question has been turned into an icon, against which blasphemy will not be permitted.

Isn't that the conclusion one should draw - the violence, the alien ideologies and social upheaval would have been less onerous with less immigrants allowed in?

Yes. That is a fair conclusion to draw. However, I hope you see that it is quite different from the further conclusion which you are imputing to us -- namely, that "more [restrictions] should have been applied earlier."

Yesterday at 10:44am, for instance, I wrote: "I'm confident that Kevin and I probably agree more than we disagree . . . We want a more restrictive policy today, and think previous policies were on balance wise. We do not regard today's policy as an unmitigated evil, nor do we regard yesteryear's as an unmitigated good."

Merely saying that there were negative consequences, and (above all) that the Ellis Island memory should not be the primary guide of policy today, is NOT THE SAME as wishing the whole project had never been undertaken.

You yourself have argued that "the reality of Ellis Island stands in contrast to, and argues against our immigration policy as it's been practiced since the mid-60's." Very good! This is very similar to what we are saying: that Ellis Island, as fact and icon, does not help us much today.

What's so frustrating is that you seem to be lecturing anyone who even breathes a word about negative consequences of the great wave of immigration. Thus:

"The Great Wave on balance a good thing, but we should not pretend there were no negative consequences."

"NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES!!! Sweet sunshine, man, are you a neo-nativist or something?"

"N-no. I just think we should not hold out the Ellis Island mythology as sacrosanct, beyond all criticism--"

"MYTHOLOGY!!!! My word, have I stumbled into a Know-Nothing conference?"

And so forth.

I want to emphasize that Paul and I are referencing two different conclusions, which Kevin refers to equivocally, when I answer "no" and Paul answers "yes". I answered the question "Isn't that the conclusion we should draw?" as referring to "...more [restrictions] should have been applied earlier [at Ellis Island]", which Kevin said - incorrectly - was what we were (or at least someone was) arguing. Kevin's latest post, read explicitly, changes the subject to a different conclusion; I was referencing the one in dispute.

It is true that Kevin has acknowledged that there were negative consequences in the Ellis Island wave of immigration, but he minimizes them and implies that they were born almost entirely by immigrants themselves. Furthermore, he is outraged when the negative consequences for natives are pointed out by other posters, and says that we are arguing for the conclusion that there should have been more restrictions in the Ellis Island wave of immigration, even though nobody has argued for that conclusion.

I view this equivocity as a bug in his argument, not a feature. We ought to be able to just say outright that yes, many natives were hurt by the Ellis Island immigration wave. Period. It is a straightforward fact of history that this is the case, and the only reason to treat it as blasphemy is if there is something other than dispassionate reason in play.

We ought to be able to just say outright that yes, many natives were hurt by the Ellis Island immigration wave. It is a straightforward fact of history that this is the case, and the only reason to treat it as blasphemy is if there is something other than dispassionate reason in play.

Such assumes the aggrieved party party has a claim. If I run a bakery and Zippy decided to open a bakery, my bakery going out of business hurts me, but I don't have a facial argument that Zippy starting his bakery was an injustice to me, i.e. claiming Zippy harmed me is fallacious.

It seems to me like Kevin thinks the same or very similar arguments against present immigration policy would have caused more restrictions in Ellis Island, so restrictions in the current case would be equivalent to restrictions in the former. More importantly, since he takes the general position that Ellis Island was good on balance in spite of the pain it caused natives, it means that the pain caused to natives in the current case is not a sufficiently good reason to restrict immigration. That seems like a reasonable interpretation of his argument so far, but he can correct me if I am wrong.

FWIW, I don't agree with this formulation, since illegal immigration is a different kettle of fish than legal immigration, no matter the scale. Illegal immigration entails many factors that make assimilation into the culture difficult if not impossible. It is also a dishonest means by which the economic elite maintain a iron grip on their control over wages in this country.

Paul, Ellis Island is a unifying symbol with a heartbreaking, but ultimately redemptive narrative that should be etched into the hearts and minds of all Americans. I do not understand how any conservative could find it a cause for moral disarmament in the current debate on immigration and therefore launch into the de-mythologizing favored by the Left. I resist the effort on both spiritual grounds and in the name of historical accuracy. Perhaps if your words;
"None of which should be taken to imply a mournful attitude of "we should never have done it!" or some such nonsense.", had been issued earlier, or the debate didn't get to the point where they had to issued at all, we wouldn't have gotten to this point. Maybe Zippy didn't feel it necessary to do so, but his rhetoric coupled with the contributions of Cyrus could be rightfully taken as a nostalgic and edgy lament for better, more homogenous days. I know I'm not alone in this interpretation, but will now cease engaging in this debate. It's The Feast of the Transfiguration and if I can't offer illumination here, I'm sure to find it there. In the meantime, hope we're all better from this exchange.

Such assumes the aggrieved party party has a claim.
No it doesn't. Observing the objective fact that your livelihood was destroyed through cause and effect doesn't say anything about who has a claim to what, it just states that your livelihood was in fact destroyed.

Though I do think that many are reluctant to admit the fact that native livelihoods were destroyed, native homes lost, etc. In the Ellis Island mythology the natives are the nonexistent subhumans in the narrative: nothing bad happened to them, and even if it did they had it coming to them. Just as in today's immigration narrative nothing bad happens to the natives, and if it does they have it coming to them.

Maybe Zippy didn't feel it necessary to do so, but his rhetoric coupled with the contributions of Cyrus could be rightfully taken as a nostalgic and edgy lament for better, more homogenous days.
Kevin: you are just making things up and attributing them to other people. This says more about where you are coming from than where those other people are coming from.

I am in fact disputing your cause and effect. That I no longer own a bakery in the hypothetical is an objective fact. The causal claim that my bakery closing was due to Zippy's bakery openning is not an objective fact.

I don't know of the place you speak where absent immigration people don't die, fall victim to crime, lose homes, or lose livelihoods.

I am in fact disputing your cause and effect.
Then you are just flat wrong.
I don't know of the place you speak where absent immigration people don't die, fall victim to crime, lose homes, or lose livelihoods.
If that were at all pertinent it might be interesting. If a car runs someone over, and I say that his injuries were caused by that car running him over, it is no refutation for you to say "I don't know of this place where car accidents don't happen".

As I mentioned way up in the thread somewhere, I think a lot of the problem is that modern people have simply lost the capacity to reason about particulars.

That I no longer own a bakery in the hypothetical is an objective fact. The causal claim that my bakery closing was due to Zippy's bakery openning is not an objective fact.
So if Wal-Mart moves into a small town and puts all the local shops out of business, Wal-Mart moving into town did not cause all the local shops to go out of business? They just went out of business without any cause?

I don't think the word "cause" means what you think it means.

"That seems like a reasonable interpretation of his argument so far, but he can correct me if I am wrong."

Actually Step2 to take one painfully obvious difference between the current Mexican migration and previous waves is the cultural incoherence and disunity being transmitted by our deracinated elites to the new arrivals. The goal here is to make labor as transferable, mobile and abstract as capitol. It is a diabolical agenda that seeks to resolve the ancient spiritual dilemna posed by the one and the many, through political and economic means by subsuming all into a godless one. Any chaos that came with our previous experience was accidental and to be overcome by assimilation into a nation. What is being inflicted now upon migrant and native alike is a planned leveling by social engineers seeking the establishment of a borderless global infrastructure.

There are other differences, but time won't allow. Every here knows the only possible reconciliation of the one and the many is found in Christ. Our elites think differently and scheme accordingly.

I want to make something clear about the EEOC case that Forrest and I were discussing, having now read a longer article on the case than I had read before: Here's how I look at it. Either the EEOC regulations do permit what the Salvation Army did, or they don't. If they do, then the Salvation Army shouldn't be sued by the EEOC (obviously). If they don't, then the regulations are unreasonable and should not exist, in which case the Salvation Army wouldn't be sued by the EEOC. So either the Salvation Army shouldn't be sued, or it shouldn't be sued.

In other words, I view the Salvation Army's actions there as transparently reasonable and the fact that they were sued by the EEOC as a sign of some very bad stuff. This makes me entirely _unreassured_ by Forrest's blithe statement (with link to the EEOC) that English-only employer policies are permitted. Nothing to see here, folks; nothing to be concerned about; move along.

By the way, I would also point out that the SA gave their workers a _year's_ notice that they were going to begin enforcing their on-the-books English-only policy, during which time the workers could learn English. The two women in question didn't and now, by the EEOC's own statement, speak almost no English. Then, when they were fired, they became party to an EEOC suit against the Salvation Army for back-pay, etc., on the grounds that they were "discriminated against on the basis of country of origin." So much for the claim that the creation of Spanish as a parallel language is being pushed for only by elites and not by immigrants themselves.

I note, too, that Forrest's claim that the Lowes policy is driven by the number of hispanics in the contracting business and by the idea that he who has (or will have) the gold calls the tune _also_ contradicts the claim (not made by Forrest, but also supposedly meant to calm the worries of restrictionists) that it is only American elites that are pushing for bilingualism. Either the immigrants qua consumers of Lowes's goods desire this, or they don't. I suppose Lowes could just be _wrong_ in its conclusion that they desire it, but that wasn't what Forrest implied.

Zippy,

For a claim to causal, the noted thing must be essential to the action. That Jose kills Maria is certainly causal. Whether Jose's family has lived in New Mexico for 150 years or just crossed the border yesterday is accidental to the underlying claim.

When Wal-Mart comes, there are fundamental injustices at play. We can go further into it if you want to allege an immigrant openning a business is an injustice.

When Wal-Mart comes, there are fundamental injustices at play.
That may or may not be so, but independent of that normative claim it is true as a causal matter that Wal-Mart puts local shops out of business. You seem to have dug in on a point of manifest irrationality, presumably because of the importance of maintaining the mythology. That tends to illustrate the point of my post.

Zippy,

I would return to my earlier comments. If one wants to say that, in a purely counterfactual sense, many people were harmed by immigration, then I will not dispute this. But I would note that according to that understanding of harm, immigration restrictions harm many more people (both natives and immigrations) than does immigration itself.

If one wants to say that, in a purely counterfactual sense, ...
It isn't counterfactual when a particular Wal-Mart drives particular local shops out of business. It is an actual occurrence in actual reality.
But I would note that according to that understanding of harm, immigration restrictions harm many more people (both natives and immigrations) than does immigration itself.
Perhaps you mean that you would assert as much in a particular case, as a prudential judgment. Or do you mean it as a universal principle?
There is no one a Catholic can hate and reject your suggestion, presumably made in jest.
Obviously it was in jest. That said,if it's not quite hate, you do seem to have, as they say, "issues" with "WASPs." You don't know who they are, exactly, but you're very, very upset with them.
Your breakdown of the WASP family tree reveals a fertile market for sunscreen manufacturers and tough sledding for "Diversity Managers". Which is a good thing, but I suspect some would rather the America you painted with your single brush than the one that is. They are to be pitied.
I have no control over what you do or write, but would appreciate actual responses to points made, rather than sarcasm and imputations of animus and bad faith. For instance, I dispute your claim of early American ethnic homogeneity with facts, and instead of countering my facts or my logic, you respond with glib dismissals. It's maddening.

I suppose you have no problem asserting that a child harms the unwed mother as a purely objective matter.

I suppose you have no problem asserting that a child harms the unwed mother as a purely objective matter.
The string of nonsequiturs isn't helping your case.

You have asserted harm in the most indirect manner possible and fashion it rediculous to question the claim. Applying a similar definition of harm to another case, you call it a non sequitur. I think this thread has run its course.

You have asserted harm in the most indirect manner possible and fashion it rediculous to question the claim.
Disposession of one's home, neighborhood, livelihood, and sometimes even life is not indirect harm, whether the cause is Wal-Mart or large-scale immigration. That it is taboo to acknowledge this manifest fact does not make it any less manifest.

It isn't counterfactual when a particular Wal-Mart drives particular local shops out of business. It is an actual occurrence in actual reality.

That's true. What's counterfactual is that, had the particular Wal-Mart in question not opened, the particular businesses in question would not have gone out of business. If it were the case that the particular local shops would have gone out of business even if Wal-Mart hadn't shown up, then it would make no sense to say that Wal-Mart caused them to go out of business.

Perhaps you mean that you would assert as much in a particular case, as a prudential judgment. Or do you mean it as a universal principle?

What I mean is this: in whatever sense it is true that immigration harms people, dispossesses them of their jobs, homes, lives, etc., it is also true that restricting immigration harms people. Whatever caveats, qualifications, or limitations must be placed on the consequent to make it true must likewise be placed on the antecedent.

Zippy:

My apologies in advance if I had misinterpreted your present and previous position on the matter.

However, to avoid another such conflict, I respectfully ask that you kindly explain your below comments:

Acknowledging the negative effects of prudential judgments is something we ought to be capable of doing without hesitation or hedging. Intransigent unwillingness to acknowledge the downsides of a historical prudential judgment is a hint that the prudential judgment in question has been turned into an icon, against which blasphemy will not be permitted.

Yet, why is it that acknowledging the positive effects (to their fullest extent) brought about by immigrants is being regarded here as heresy? Instead, there is such hesitation and hedging being done so almost deliberately in this regard.

The intransigent unwillingness to acknowledge the upside and merely accentuate only the negatives seems to be the Gospel being herald here, so it seems. If that is not the case, I apologize; however, given the relative overall tone of a majority of the comments being posted here, one cannot help think this to be the case.

Many cite examples of what they believe are the negative consequences of immigration, making these seem so momentous as to outweigh any positive benefits accrued as a result. Yet, the positive effects of such immigration, in comparison, are being dismissed simply as some sort of "nice but trivial" thing that just happened along the way -- however, far from even being rightly considered significant.

Seriously, can anybody here, what with the business acumen many of the W4 contributors have demonstrated in past articles, grasp (or do they simply refuse) to acknowledge the significant extent as to how advances in technology have such positive ramifications for a nation not only scientifically and politically but also economically as well that go far beyond a particular moment in time? The vast and various opportunities that are created as a result which extend onto our current age?

People keep distracting from this fact and conveniently overlooking the positive contributions of past (and even current) immigrants in this regard which have far more reaching positive effects for a nation that reverberate throughout generations as their scientific accomplishments do, in fact, demonstrate and actually play a pivotal role in the development of a nation technologically, politically and economically as well.

The fact that there was a "Capone" does not automatically render such historical contributions null, contrary to current opinion.

People keep distracting from this fact and conveniently overlooking the positive contributions of past (and even current) immigrants in this regard...

As someone who is much inclined to make a fairly strong distinction between immigration a hundred or even sixty years ago and immigration now, I respectfully inquire what significant positive contributions to new American technology have been made in the past twenty years by, let's say, either Mexican or Muslim immigrants who themselves immigrated in the past thirty years.

To tell you the truth, as a consequential matter, I'm not at all sure that even if you came up with something it would justify our present de facto open borders position w.r.t both of these groups, particularly the latter. But it seems to me to be another example of the very "lumping" strategy against which the main post is directed to compare, oh, I don't know, Einstein or Bohr to the present immigrants being brought in under our present policies and to imply...what?...that we should keep up the present policies in the hopes that someday some other great inventor will, unbeknownst to us, cross the Rio Grande and use his opportunities in the U.S. to make the lives of all mankind much better.

And remember, I speak as the person around here who is always trumpeting the value of material progress.

Cyrus,
I do not have a problem with WASP's, patience for those who seek moral elevation through victomology, or blight my drinking experience by passing the hat for I.R.A. gunmen, while trying try to reduce faith as the recruting tool for their ethnic-political gang.

I do have a problem with your often false, contradictory assertions that include time-wasters like this one on common culture;
"North America used to have one, and it was what is now referred to scornfully as WASP." Agreed, but then this;
"Strictly speaking, it's anachronistic to refer to WASPs in the 19th century since the term wasn't coined until the 1950s, by which time the class was in eclipse, but I leave that aside. "
What's the point in refuting the very nomenclature you employ?

Another example is your claim that Irish Need Not Apply signs didn't exist when the tragic antagonisms between nativists and my ancestors are well-documented including church burnings, street brawls, et al. Again, what's your point? Could it be motivated by the same source as your sneering references to Sirhan Sirhan?

I won't even raise your criticism; "the state itself must become the focus of loyalty" because of America's "mulit-ethnic make-up", or that we are no longer truly a nation because our population is no longer "continuous".

Come on man, find somebody to love, somebody like America and stop trying to score obscure points to support a joyless ideological jag.

Lydia:

Did you even look at the papers of Harvard Professor Kerr, which I alluded to in an earlier post as well as that of Scott E. Page?

I apologize, but I guess the scientific sympossiums I've attended automatically renders me ignorant on the subject.

The fact that you "do not know" doesn't automatically disqualify that there are vast numbers of research groups in the country conducting prominent research for the American people in areas as Cancer and AIDS which are primarily comprised of immigrants.

From my own field, I can appreciate the diversity of thought required to make innovation happen (since you can't actually make innovation happen on mere fiat alone) and how having a group of 'like' minds actually prevents this from ever occurring since people themselves tend to think within the narrow confines of their own culture, experience, etc.

This had manifested itself in my gradual investigation into various inventions throughtout American
history, having discovered, as Professor Kerr did in one study, that much of these came about by
immigrants.

Yet, as W4 reader T. Chan rightly commented elsewhere, this is a topic for a whole other thread.

Lydia:

To prove the point, you can personally deport this "Mexican" (an illegal immigrant, in fact!) from our country:

Dr. Alfredo Quinoñes-Hinojosa's

EXCERPT:

Dr. Alfredo Quinoñes-Hinojosa's first step towards becoming a renowned brain surgeon was more like a leap—at 19 years old, he hopped the border fence from Mexico to become a migrant farmworker in southern California. Gradually, he learned English, went back to school, and excelled, eventually winning scholarships to the University of California, Berkeley, and later to Harvard Medical School. In this interview, hear from "Dr. Q"—as his students call him—about his days as a farm laborer, his approach to medicine, his thoughts on mentoring young doctors, and more.


VIDEO:

Meet Dr. Q

Great, Aristocles, you came up with an example. Good for Dr. Q. Does that mean (I already raised this concern) that because of the existence of Dr. Q., we should have open borders with Mexico, no screening, no such things as illegal immigrants, and so forth? Hardly.

I totally disagree with the silly idea that racial/ethnic "diversity" leads to technological or intellectual innovation. And frankly, I'm surprised you'd bring up something so hackneyed and obviously false. Don't you know a mere liberal talking-point when you see one? Do you really believe we're going to be more likely to find the cure for cancer or new energy sources by getting one hispanic, one white, one Middle Easterner, etc., in a room together rather than (God forbid) having a group of all white guys or all hispanic guys working together on some given problem? Do you also believe that "women's ways of knowing" mean that you need to have a few women thrown into the mix to make sure we think of the female ideas in invention (whatever the heck those might be)? I mean, really, since when have you been channeling the University of Michigan's defense team?

Btw, and fwiw (I'm not sure how much), I did say "new American technology". So I'll watch the video later and see if Dr. Q. came up with new American technology. Being a great brain surgeon, while a wonderful thing, isn't the same thing as coming up with new American technology.

Does that mean (I already raised this concern) that because of the existence of Dr. Q., we should have open borders with Mexico, no screening, no such things as illegal immigrants, and so forth?

Well, no. But it does answer the question you asked. If you didn't think the answer important, why ask it?

Do you really believe we're going to be more likely to find the cure for cancer or new energy sources by getting one hispanic, one white, one Middle Easterner, etc., in a room together rather than (God forbid) having a group of all white guys or all hispanic guys working together on some given problem?

I have no idea. Immigration, though, doesn't simply change the ethnic composition of the pool of people working on a given problem. It increases the size of the pool. And that, I would think, does increase the chances of solving a given problem.

I do have a problem with your often false, contradictory assertions that include time-wasters like this one on common culture; "North America used to have one, and it was what is now referred to scornfully as WASP." Agreed, but then this; "Strictly speaking, it's anachronistic to refer to WASPs in the 19th century since the term wasn't coined until the 1950s, by which time the class was in eclipse, but I leave that aside. " What's the point in refuting the very nomenclature you employ?
How do these statements contradict each other? The Northeastern 'WASP' establishment attained unquestioned dominance over the entire country after the Civil War, prior to which, at a minimum, it had to compete with the opposing Southern élite on a national, if not a local or regional, scale. Its hegemony peaked at the turn of the 20th century, and began to decline inexorably as the 20th century wore on and non-WASPs, first and most notably Irish and Jewish, worked their way into the commercial, industrial, and political élite.
Another example is your claim that Irish Need Not Apply signs didn't exist when the tragic antagonisms between nativists and my ancestors are well-documented including church burnings, street brawls, et al. Again, what's your point?
I'll ignore your speculation as to my motives. Yes, there were (two-sided) conflicts between Irish immigrants and natives, but the imagined history of generalized anti-Irish persecution and bigotry summed up by the references of Ted Kennedy et al to NINA signs is, well, mythical. No, this is not to say that there were never nativist riots or church burnings, but that they were and are more important as stories, endlessly-repeated, to reinforce Irish-American cohesion, than as events in and of themselves, and that in fact, the Irish gave at least as good, or better than, they got.
I won't even raise your criticism; "the state itself must become the focus of loyalty" because of America's "mulit-ethnic make-up", or that we are no longer truly a nation because our population is no longer "continuous".
I didn't write the bolded part, Kevin. As I've thought about it, it seems that there was no such thing as an American people prior to Civil War. The fact that nearly half the country was willing to flock to the colors of its states, and that the prior 50 years or more had been marred by crisis and sectional conflict, seems to undermine any case for a particularly strong American national identity. Look at the regional responses to the Louisiana purchase, or the Wars of 1812 and with Mexico. It took industrialization, mass media, the telegraph, the railroad, the brute fact of conquest, and yes, immigration to make a people out of the peoples of the United States. Two world wars and a 40 year pause in immigration helped, too. To return to my comment, though, the federal state and its institutions necessarily were the focus of loyalty. It's not usually a controversial statement to assert that a pluralistic, frankly imperial, state must have as its focus of loyalty either religion, which is ruled out in the American instance in no small part because of religious pluralism, or some civic religion in which the state and its institutions are sacralized, which is what in fact the US did. This began at least with the Civil War and remains with us in the form of Americanism and the propositional nation. Americans are a people constituted by a state, rather than America being a state constituted by a pre-existing people. Given enough time, and with very limited influxes of new peoples, America would likely become something of an ethnostate like all the other ethnostates cobbled together over centuries from the remains of previous nationalities. But it isn't one yet, and more immigration, and even more so, the way our government deals with "diversity" exert a disintegrative force which is no longer counteracted by other tendencies of assimilation.
Come on man, find somebody to love, somebody like America and stop trying to score obscure points to support a joyless ideological jag.
Find somebody like America to love? What? Already have, and I'm enjoying myself and my life immensely, though I sometimes forget what precisely we're fighting over. My wife is due to give birth to our first child any day now. I'm on top of the world. Anyway, please stop trying to peer into my head. You're not seeing what you think you're seeing.

I totally disagree with the silly idea that racial/ethnic "diversity" leads to technological or intellectual innovation. And frankly, I'm surprised you'd bring up something so hackneyed and obviously false.

As I'm sure the many scientific discoveries and innovations made possible by past immigrants (largely responsible for America's development into the world power it is today) also disproves this 'so hackened and obviously false' notion since without these peoples, I'm certain that the native population at America at the time would've come to the same level of technological sophistication all on its own.

Suffice it to say, please acquaint yourself with several of the discoveries made by immigrant people, whose backgrounds, knowledge and skillset made such innovation possible.

There are scientific journals out there that account for such discoveries and contributions.

Try Science Direct. That's a good place to start.

Though people think that it is 'racist' to think of black people as having more superior athletic abilities as far as the sport of basketball is concerned or Asian people as having far greater mathematical skillsets (although I am still rather ticked off that a former Asian colleague of mine in university could actually do calculus in his head whereas I can't!); nevertheless, there are certain qualities uniquely inherent within certain peoples (and their backgrounds) that enable them to advance in certain areas of endeavors more so than others.

The research groups I have been involved with speaks to this truth (by the way, 'white' people are in it as well and even they acknowledge this). These groups have such diverse kinds of people who capitalize on the other's skillsets.

As Blackadder rightly stated, such diversity does increase the chances of solving a given problem due to the various viewpoints from which a problem is viewed and attacked.

Believe me, that diversity plays to very great advantage -- especially when you are attempting to compress time-to-market in a field heavily-dependent on but the pragmatic application of rather nascent scientific research; accelerating the steps from conception to breadboard and all the way up to actual product all the while satisfying the whims of the various stakeholders involved is a challange that seems almost impossible.

Thank God, I am but an observer to these events and not an actual participant.

What's counterfactual is that, had the particular Wal-Mart in question not opened, the particular businesses in question would not have gone out of business.
Not really, unless when I kill Bob it is 'counterfactual' to say that if I hadn't killed him he wouldn't have been killed. As MZ Forrest doesn't seem to know what 'cause' means, you don't seem to know what 'counterfactual' means.
Whatever caveats, qualifications, or limitations must be placed on the consequent to make it true must likewise be placed on the antecedent.
Only if we are only capable of reasoning in generalities - dehumanizing generalities - and not in particulars.

Yet, why is it that acknowledging the positive effects (to their fullest extent) brought about by immigrants is being regarded here as heresy?
It isn't. I acknowledge all the positive effects you have discussed.

Lydia,

Just curious, on this remark:

"Do you really believe we're going to be more likely to find the cure for cancer or new energy sources by getting one hispanic, one white, one Middle Easterner, etc., in a room together rather than (God forbid) having a group of all white guys or all hispanic guys working together on some given problem?"

You are aware of the technological race that was occurring during WWII, right?

The theorists who monumentally made possible America's birth as a world power were immigrants, the likes of Hungarian-born Leo Szilard, Italian Enrico Fermi (you know, a damn Italian, no less) and, of course, there is Einstein.

I'm almost certain that without these people, the native Ameican population at the time would have done well on their own and that America's fate would have been a better one!

Not really, unless when I kill Bob it is 'counterfactual' to say that if I hadn't killed him he wouldn't have been killed.

Well, that would be a counterfactual. Perhaps before you start accusing others of not knowing what something means, you should make an effort to find out yourself.


Only if we are only capable of reasoning in generalities - dehumanizing generalities - and not in particulars.

As I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, I am unable to formulate a proper response.

Zippy:

I acknowledge all the positive effects you have discussed.

Thank-you.

It just seems that, for the most part, they're being largely dismissed simply as something trivial without any serious due consideration at all.

As I've reiterated time and again, such have far more reaching effects that reverberate all throughout the evolution of an entire nation, significantly influencing its development technologically, politically and economically.

I certainly agree that Asians specially excel in mathematics, though, relevantly, the difference in IQ between both of these together and blacks is significant. Please note that those who laud "diversity"--as in the U. of M. case--are looking for diversity per se. They are certainly not looking to maximize results or else (heretical as it is to say it) they would scarcely be looking to increase the population in their groups of some racial groups _at all_. Hence it is not "diversity" that is the generator of accomplishment but ability, and if we really were to apply the insight that certain types of intellectual abilities, particularly those that are heavily G-loaded, tend to cluster within certain groups, we would have a great deal _less_ sheerly racial/ethnic diversity in our universities rather than more.

Please notice too that the presence of many immigrants (and for purposes of the present debate I still object to lumping all immigrants together) among those who have accomplished things hardly proves that _diversity_ per se generates good results in terms of inventions, etc. (and even Blackadder didn't say that it did, though perhaps he agrees that it does). How many of the immigrants throughout American history that you wish to laud (if you do it in some even-handed fashion) for great contributions via hugely significant innovations and discoveries were Asian, Jewish, or even of some European ancestry? (And I'm sorry, but I have to add that as great a guy and as good a brain surgeon and as committed a researcher as Dr. Q sounds, he isn't an inventor or discoverer, and that's what you, Aristocles, keep bringing up.)

Actually, what Blackadder said was that having a larger number of people working on some problem increases the chance of solving it. I'm not even sure that's true. It depends obviously on who the people are. But it has little to do with immigration per se anyway, for obvious reasons.

And consequentially, I think we have to look at the whole picture. Consider, as an analogy, out-of-wedlock conception of children. Suppose that somebody started listing all the great illegitimate children in history and what they had gone on to do. (I'm an illegitimate child myself, though not "great.") Would any sensible person think that *even in terms of consequences for society* this means we should encourage more out-of-wedlock conception of children rather than discouraging it, because look at all the great people we'd miss if men and women had refrained from intercourse out of marriage?

P.S. One reason I bring up the analogy at the end is because you, Aristocles, saw fit to make a point of the fact that Dr. Q. was an illegal alien. So did the video, which I've now watched. How charming. Yet supposedly (supposedly) we're all agreed in opposing illegal immigration. Or aren't we? After all, if Dr. Q is an argument for something relevant to immigration, he seems to be an argument for how important it is that forever world without end 19-year-old ambitious Mexicans be allowed to jump over fences in California and never be deported. Otherwise, look what we'd miss. Or maybe we should just take down the fences and open the floodgates even more, and not ask any questions or stop anybody. But that doesn't seem like a conclusion we should draw, now, does it?

"My wife is due to give birth to our first child any day now"

Now, that Cyruss is something to truly celebrate! Best wishes on your new life as a father! Nothing can possibly top it. Charles Pequy said there is no more revolutionary figure than the Christian father. After 18 years, I know what he means. Be well.

How many of the immigrants throughout American history that you wish to laud (if you do it in some even-handed fashion) for great contributions via hugely significant innovations and discoveries were Asian, Jewish, or even of some European ancestry?

Presumably quite a lot. Of these, what proportion were made by people who had recently immigrants? My guess would be very small. If one were to go back to, say, 1870 and ask for a list of technological innovations made by Chinese or Irish-Americans, you probably wouldn't be able to come up with much. In fact, it was commonly thought, both of the Chinese, and of the Irish, and of the Jews, that they were genetically less intelligent that whites, and that they weren't capable of much besides menial labor. Given how wrong each of these conclusions turned out to be, I would think that we should perhaps be a little wary of drawing the same conclusions about Mexican immigration based on the same sorts of evidence that was present in the prior cases.

Suppose, though, that there is some Mexican gene which makes it highly unlikely that Mexican immigrants or their descendants will ever make any profound scientific or technological contributions to American society. Does that mean that Mexican immigration is a bad idea? Not really. For one thing, inventions and discoveries are only one of the benefits immigrants provide. For another, even if it's true that, say, only Europeans, Jews, and Asians make good inventors and innovators, that doesn't mean immigration from other parts of the world won't increase the amount of invention and innovation present in American society. There is, after all, a little thing called comparative advantage.

Blackadder, you keep bringing up points that appear to be intended in support of Aristocles and yet are going in quite different directions. For example, "Hey, invention and innovation aren't everything" may or may not be all very well and good, but Aristocles has been staking his claim that diversity makes America great (sounds like a slogan from some liberal think-tank, or maybe just from the telephone company!) on some list of immigrants who have made America great over the years through innovation and invention. And for what it's worth (in response to your point about recentness of immigration), Fermi, Szilard, and Einstein all were themselves immigrants, within their own lifetimes. They were also all Jewish, if that needs to be mentioned, so hardly such a "diverse" group as Aristocles would like us to think. I mention them partly because of your recentness of immigration argument (these guys didn't need to wait for their descendants to show us what they could contribute) and also because Aristocles brought them up to show us how important "diversity" is for America to get on, or even perhaps survive at all!

And without wishing at all to hijack the thread, I'll just throw in that no, we don't have "the same sort of evidence" concerning IQ and race now as in the 19th century.

Lydia,

With all the posts wherein I've been re-iterating the gist of my arguments, it amuses me that you missed the entire point of my subsequent posts.

It revolved specifically on the various historical contributions made by immigrants that enabled America to excel technologically, politically and economically; which current immigrants (as Dr. Kerr of Harvard alluded in his paper) continue to do so to this day.

My subsequent posts were meant merely to provide a possible explanation as to why this might have been the case as far as these immigrants go (e.g., cultural background, inherent skill sets, knowledge, experience, etc.) and why they, not the native population of American at the time, were able to produce such innovations in scientific thought and invention.

And, Lydia, please acquaint yourself first with several of the various innovations made possible by such immigrants that gave rise to the technologically advanced nation you see before you prior to your putting the "Immigrants Need Not Enter" placard out at customs.

For such innovation is not restricted merely to the triumvirate indicated above.

For my part, I would gladly list the extensive contributions made by such immigrants that led to the development of America and help propel its evolution as this great nation.

However, that's far too great an endeavor to justifiably capture all the intimate and elaborate details into just one post.

Lydia,

I confess I haven't really been reading Aristocles contributions to this thread (no offense, Aristocles, but with over 170 comments, one has to be selective). My comments are intended not to bolster anything in particular he has said, but rather to rebut the claim that immigration in present day America is really bad.

You're right that Fermi, Szilard, and Einstein were all Jewish immigrants. You know what else they were? Atypical. Trying to argue the net benefits or costs of immigration based on a few particular individuals such as Albert Einstein or Giuseppe Zangara doesn't make much sense.

Blackadder, I actually agree with your last sentence. But I'm not sure that you and I would go the same direction with that agreement.

Aristocles, it looks like you're reasserting that diversity makes America great. _You_ introduced the word into the discussion; I didn't. I wouldn't have attributed that to you if you hadn't pushed it. I don't at all see how I've missed your point. Looks like I'm understanding it quite correctly.

I actually agree with your last sentence. But I'm not sure that you and I would go the same direction with that agreement.

Really? I thought your position was that previous immigration was just fine, it's only recent immigration that's been a problem.

Lydia,

Did you not read what I just posted?

Here it is (since you seem to be insistent on presenting your strawman called "diversity" so as to mislead people by this pejorative association): It's about the important role immigrants play in promoting and preserving the very well-being of our nation, as such historic contributions prove (again, not limited to just the few previously mentioned).

Blackadder:

Well, that would be a counterfactual. Perhaps before you start accusing others of not knowing what something means, you should make an effort to find out yourself.
If you hadn't written that paragraph, that paragraph by you would not have been written.

(Hint: tacking double-negative syntactic sugar onto a factual statement doesn't turn it into a counterfactual; and certainly not into the sort of counterfactual required to do the work of dismissing the concrete harm done to particular natives when there is mass-scale immigration).

Me:
Only if we are only capable of reasoning in generalities - dehumanizing generalities - and not in particulars.
Blackadder:
As I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, I am unable to formulate a proper response.

Evidently.

Aristocles, excuse me? _Who_ brought the term 'diversity' into this? That's a _strawman_? Okay, I don't have time to do the cutting and pasting here at this precise moment, but please do search 'diversity' on this page, and you will find that it was you who advocated diversity _repeatedly_ as a force for innovation. First you did it with a quotation from somebody else, which you appeared to endorse. (He used it several times just in the one quotation.) Then you used the term yourself in this connection. Then you scoffed at my rejection of the idea that diversity fuels innovcation, which sure sounds like you think it does do so.

Aristocles:

It just seems that, for the most part, they're being largely dismissed simply as something trivial without any serious due consideration at all.
That is certainly not my intention. My intention is not to permit the concrete harm done to particular natives by mass scale immigration to be dismissed as simply trivial without any serious due consideration at all.

tacking double-negative syntactic sugar onto a factual statement doesn't turn it into a counterfactual

Right. So if we take a factual statement:

"Zippy is always right."

Adding double-negative syntactic sugar, so it becomes:

"Zippy is never not right."

Does not transform the statement into a counterfactual. What of it?

You seem to think that "If you hadn't written that paragraph, that paragraph by you would not have been written" is not a counterfactual, but a factual statement onto which "double-negative syntactic sugar" has been tacked. If so, then simply removing the double negative would transform it into a factual statement. But "if you had written that paragraph, that paragraph by you would have been written" is pretty clearly not a factual statement (note the use of the words "if" and "then" and "would").

How recognizing any of these trivialities is supposed "to do the work of dismissing the concrete harm done to particular natives when there is mass-scale immigration" is beyond me. Care to explain? Or would you prefer to keep making glib dismissals?

So, near as I can tell, BA, you think that when Wal-Mart causes local shops to go out of business, we can turn that fact into a non-fact by phrasing it as a counterfactual (the way you use the term counterfactual)? Have I got it? So therefore any concrete harm caused by Wal-Mart opening in a small town or by mass immigration into America can be dismissed by phrasing it as a counterfactual?

What power your words have.

Lydia,

Would a diagram help?

Again, the 'diversity' comments ('diversity', strictly speaking, as that specifically indicated within the context of my comments and not that in your liberal gloss) were meant ONLY as a possible explanation as to WHY the positive contributions by immigrants were possible as opposed to the native population not having been capable of achieving similar progress on their own.

It is NOT at all my primary argument.

Though there seems to be a consistent aspect of your subsequent comments that is beginning to show, which itself is all too revealing, unfortunately.

Zippy,

Noted. Although I might disagree as to the level of net benefit/harm we are attempting to address here.

Aristocles, it sure doesn't sound like a mere "possible explanation." You got positively up in arms when I ridiculed the idea that racial/ethnic diversity leads to technological advances. You were welcome at that point to say that that wasn't what you meant. Instead of which, you inter alia quoted what I said about getting a Middle Easterner, a hispanic, etc., all in one room to search for a cure to cancer and responded to it by listing three brilliant Jewish guys, whose actual ethnicity you tried to paper over by calling them "Hungarian," "Italian," etc., and implied thereby that this meant that I was wrong about ethnic diversity. But I leave it to people to read your own comments and decide for themselves.

Though there seems to be a consistent aspect of your subsequent comments that is beginning to show, which itself is all too revealing, unfortunately.

That's enough to make me laugh. Ah, yes, and _who_ was it who first brought up innate intellectual racial differences? I'm laughing my head off. It was you. You, you, you. What did you say?

Though people think that it is 'racist' to think of black people as having more superior athletic abilities as far as the sport of basketball is concerned or Asian people as having far greater mathematical skillsets (although I am still rather ticked off that a former Asian colleague of mine in university could actually do calculus in his head whereas I can't!); nevertheless, there are certain qualities uniquely inherent within certain peoples (and their backgrounds) that enable them to advance in certain areas of endeavors more so than others.

But when I pick up on that and point out some facts in connection with innate intellectual differences, correlated with race, that don't fit so well with the "ethnic variety [do you like that word better than 'diversity'?] is so very important for innovation and the advance of the nation" theme, why, then, I start to sound like "something evil this way comes" to you. I get it. How very, very typical. Innate racial ability references are fine, but only on the pro-immigration (that is, the liberal) side of the argument.

Although I might disagree as to the level of net benefit/harm we are attempting to address here.
Well, I'm not attempting to address some utilitarian measure of net benefit or harm at all, FWIW, other than to make the point that such utilitarian abstractions tend to be highly problemmatic, and are often used to paper over a complexity of concrete events some of which are really good, some really bad, many somewhere in between.

So, near as I can tell, BA, you think that when Wal-Mart causes local shops to go out of business, we can turn that fact into a non-fact by phrasing it as a counterfactual (the way you use the term counterfactual)? Have I got it? So therefore any concrete harm caused by Wal-Mart opening in a small town or by mass immigration into America can be dismissed by phrasing it as a counterfactual?

Nope.

Lydia:

It's amazing Lydia how you continue to cling on to your misperceptions rather than the actual things being said.

My primary argument being:

"It's about the important role immigrants play in promoting and preserving the very well-being of our nation, as such historic contributions prove (again, not limited to just the few previously mentioned)."


Yet, you, on the other hand, intimated that the native American population were (are) just fine on their own.

Thus, I presented the bit about Einstein et al., which proved the contrary since it is the more commonly known example that disproves such a blatantly false notion.

There are a series of others that you just do not want to countenance since you're rather satisfied with your own ignorance on the matter.

You keep neglecting, time and again, how the native population was unable to reach progress on its own without benefit of such immigrants.

Instead, you insist on this narrow-minded notion that "America needs no damn immigrants and we can manage on our own, Thank-you!"

You stubbornly REFUSE to acknowledge the reality that it was the immigrants that help build our nation.

I'll leave you then to your own fantasy rather than my having to wake you up to the facts.

Blackadder:
Nope.

Great. So can I assume that we are agreed that Wal-Mart and mass immigration both cause (among other things) actual harm, and not merely counterfactual harm; and further that this real harm must be a factor in any prudential judgement about how and under what conditions to permit building a Wal-Mart and/or mass immigration?

Zippy:

Well, I'm not attempting to address some utilitarian measure of net benefit or harm at all, FWIW, other than to make the point that such utilitarian abstractions tend to be highly problemmatic, and are often used to paper over a complexity of concrete events some of which are really good, some really bad, many somewhere in between.

I would buy into this statement (I know you've said it before in the Maximos thread); however, in several of your comments, you keep repeating this 'concrete harm' done by immigrants to the native population (without any mention of the positive benefits) as if to give the impression of a utilitarian measure of net harm that should somehow disqualify all notion of immigration altogether.

Aristocles:
First, while Lydia has demonstrated time and again a breathtaking ability to take care of herself, I am not going to put up with your disrespectful tone and insinuations with respect to her any more than I would w.r.t. myself. Cool it.

Second, w.r.t. this:
Thus, I presented the bit about Einstein et al., which proved the contrary [to the proposition that American natives would have been fine on their own] ...

I don't for a moment assume that you've accurately characterized Lydia's position; but I suppose the "proved the contrary" claim depends on what you mean by "fine". Lots of people lived perfectly fulfilling lives before Einstein. It is entirely possible that some of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings would object to the characterization of the effects Einstein has actually had in the world as unmitigated goods. That isn't to lay blame for any of that on Einstein personally, of course; but once again I think we see idealizations of reality at work.

Einstein was a great scientist, and made tremendous contributions to our knowledge of natural science and to our success as a nation, at least under some measures of success. But there seems to be an implicit notion in your writing - perhaps this is unfair and you could clarify - that there would be no value in an America without Einstein, and that his actual effects on the world were an unmixed good.

...you keep repeating this 'concrete harm' done by immigrants to the native population (without any mention of the positive benefits) as if to give the impression of a utilitarian measure of net harm that should somehow disqualify all notion of immigration altogether.

And again, you are reading things into my writing which are not there. Indeed in the main post I specifically disavow that kind of categorical notion: the main theme of my post is that whether to enter a war, whether to (and under what conditions to) permit immigration, and whether to permit Wal-Mart to build a store in East Podunk are prudential judgements.

The entire point of my post is that it is irrational to treat these kinds of concrete historical prudential judgements, situated in particular circumstances, as (either positive or negative) idols to which we can appeal to trump all reason and shut down discussion.

Zippy:

I'll leave the matter concerning Lydia aside; however, as to the bit about Einstein --

I think you failed to take into account that Germany was close to developing nuclear capability on their own had it not been for Einstein et al.

They had two independent operations at work in developing such capability.

Have to rush out at the moment, so if you're really interested in this topic; we can certainly explore it further in a subsequent post.

Aristocles: I'm not failing to take anything into account. I'm just objecting to the characterization of Einstien's actual effects on the world as an unmixed good, and to the implicit notion (which I've given you the opportunity to clarify) that an America without Einstein would be an America not worth living in. At best the latter depends on a whole lotta speculation on your part leading to a conclusion that an America without Einstein wouldn't even exist, and the former is just plainly false. But I don't want this thread to devolve into speculations about Americas with and without Einstein, since it is beside the point and the thread is certainly long enough already.

So can I assume that we are agreed that Wal-Mart and mass immigration both cause (among other things) actual harm, and not merely counterfactual harm; and further that this real harm must be a factor in any prudential judgement about how and under what conditions to permit building a Wal-Mart and/or mass immigration?

Yes, in the same sense that restricting immigration and/or the building of a Wal-Mart also causes actual harm, which must be a factor in any prudential judgment, etc.

Yes, in the same sense that restricting immigration and/or the building of a Wal-Mart also causes actual harm, which must be a factor in any prudential judgment, etc.
Great. I don't have any idea what you were talking about with the counterfactuals thing, then.

It follows, then, that in at least some conceivable circumstances the government will have a duty to protect the native population (for which it is directly responsible) from actual harm by either Wal-Mart or foreign immigrants (for which it is not directly responsible in the same manner); and that this responsibility must be taken seriously and factored into any prudential judgement of whether or not to permit the building of a Wal-Mart or foreign immigration.

Zippy:

Got my experiment going, so was able to get back.

As to this:

"I'm not failing to take anything into account. I'm just objecting to the characterization of Einstien's actual effects on the world as an unmixed good, and to the implicit notion (which I've given you the opportunity to clarify) that an America without Einstein would be an America not worth living in. At best the latter depends on a whole lotta speculation on your part leading to a conclusion that an America without Einstein wouldn't even exist, and the former is just plainly false. "


No speculation at all.

Absent Einstein, Germany would have developed nuclear capability before we did (there are a substantial amount of data to support this) and the whole war would have been decided in favor of the original Axis of evil.

Thus, it is not that "an America without Einstein would be an America not worth living in"; it's rather that America needed Einstein or else the America (as the world power we know her today) would not have existed at all and Germany would have used this very weapon against the Allies (e.g., us), resulting in their victory instead of ours.

It follows, then, that in at least some conceivable circumstances the government will have a duty to protect the native population (for which it is directly responsible) from actual harm by either Wal-Mart or foreign immigrants (for which it is not directly responsible in the same manner)

The bit about directly vs. indirectly responsible doesn't follow, exactly (and depending on how much relative weight one wishes to give harms to natives vs. harms to immigrants, could be inconsistent with the Catholic view of things), but sure. One can't rule out the possibility that the harms from immigration might outweigh the benefits from it at some level below what would occur absent any restrictions. I doubt that even the fiercest open borders advocate would really disagree with this, as even they would presumably make an exception for people who pose national security threats, and so forth.

Yet, you, on the other hand, intimated that the native American population were (are) just fine on their own.
Instead, you insist on this narrow-minded notion that "America needs no damn immigrants and we can manage on our own, Thank-you!"
Now, I just don't get where I said anything at all like this. Surely, throughout here, I've been implying a contrast: It looks to me like (this is a conjecture, and defeasible, but one I think plausible) America gained more on balance from long-past waves of immigration than from the one that is currently going on and has been for about the last twenty-thirty years. There are a lot of plausible reasons for this. One, but only one, of them is that America herself kept the earlier waves from becoming tsunamis and took a firmer hand at assimilating the people she admitted.

But in any event, since I've been making this implicit contrast and objecting again and again to your just listing all immigrants as immigrants and putting them in one big lump (I even used the word 'lumping' up above), I can't see how anybody could conclude that I'm saying that there was some "native American population" (and who would that have been?) that would have been just fine (and as Zippy implies, we should define 'fine') without the contributions of anyone who, at any point in America's history, could have been called an "immigrant."

Now, other people have been pointing out, reasonably enough, that there were costs as well as benefits even to that earlier immigration. This is probably something to which I myself haven't previously given enough thought. The one thing that has been mentioned that resonates with what else I know is the importation of sympathy to Communism. Come to think of it, I already knew that was true. But it doesn't even necessarily mean (as other people have pointed out) that we should have done something different at the time. But in any event, remember that _I_ was the person saying that we don't need to duke it out over the value of the Irish. Right? So where does this picture of me come from as saying, "America has never needed any damn immigrants, thank you?"

I guess it must come from the fact that I'm fairly hawkish and restrictionist in my inclinations concerning immigration right now. Well, we have special problems right now--like the fact that our elites are fools and knaves and are trying to destroy our country with multiculturalism. And then there is the fact that if we even went back to many rules that obtained about immigration long ago, we'd look so hawkish that everybody's hair would stand on end. And that's even while still allowing immigration to go on. But with a lot more care. And maybe, just maybe, we'd then get some of these trumpeted benefits anyway and miss out on the harms that can be seen right now, from the overloaded emergency-rooms-as-socialized-doctor's-offices to the airplane hijackings to the honor killings to...

There are, as Thomas Sowell says about pretty much everything, no solutions in public policy, only tradeoffs and compromises.

I don't have any idea what you were talking about with the counterfactuals thing, then.

Evidently.

Sorry, couldn't resist. :) Seriously, I could try and explain, but would it really be worth it at this point? I don't think so.

Aristocles:

No speculation at all.
If that (no Einstein, no USA) is what you see as no speculation at all, I'd hate to see what you consider to be speculation.

BA:

The bit about directly vs. indirectly responsible doesn't follow, exactly ...
It doesn't follow that a government is, like the head of a family, primarily responsible for the welfare of the community under its jurisdiction; it is just true that a government is, like the head of a family, primarily responsible for the welfare of the community under its jurisdiction. That wouldn't excuse doing something wicked to outside persons or communities, of course. But there is most definitely a primacy of purpose and corresponding authority. This is basic subsidiarity.
I doubt that even the fiercest open borders advocate would really disagree with this, as even they would presumably make an exception for people who pose national security threats, and so forth.
Nevertheless, simply stating as much outright in the post above resulted in a thread with nearly 200 comments, on a site that isn't exactly frequented by open borders types.

"...on a site that isn't exactly frequented by open borders types."

As a nation of immigrants, many of whom have heard the parable of the Good Samaritan and are often only 2 or 3 generations removed from their own landing, this issue is going to be racked with a lot of deep and conflicting emotions.

It is an American tradition to welcome the great unwashed, obviously with varying degrees of enthusiasm - we are not a Camp of Saints. For Catholic's used to mixed parishes and who take solace in the universality of their Church (Latin Mass in a Fillipino-Slavic parish is a foretaste of heaven), it is natural to welcome the family in flight to Egypt. Similar dynamics are at work in all Christian communions.

The response to the premise and argumentation in this post underscores all of this. Without another round of useless finger pointing, the results from this focus group suggests phrases like "the myth of Ellis Island" are sure-fire losers in the battle to affect dramatic changes in our current immigration policy.

Some will say if such is the case,it only confirms the strange hold this alleged myth has on the American psyche. I disagree. It says something good about the basic decency of our people that we openly suffer from the tension that comes when torn between the moral wisdom that says; "charity begins at home" and the equally compelling desire to always welcome Christ when he comes to us in his various disguises. Ironically it is this very nobility of spirit that is exploited by our elites in their cynical game of mass manipulation. And the very spirit that will be lost in a new commercialized Tower of Babel.

We must act and speak wisely in this battle.

I know I promised to leave awhile back. This time I mean it. Thanks for your forbearance. May justice triumph in the end.

Zippy,

If the point of your post was that it was justified to restrict immigration in cases where national security was implicated, you probably could have been clearer.

Kevin:

the results from this focus group suggests phrases like "the myth of Ellis Island" are sure-fire losers in the battle to affect dramatic changes in our current immigration policy.
I don't care about political marketing. That isn't my thing. What I care about in this post is that mythologizing historical prudential judgments makes our political discourse insane.

BA:

If the point of your post was that it was justified to restrict immigration in cases where national security was implicated, you probably could have been clearer.
There you go again, attempting to trivialize. The point to the post - one point of the post - is that restricting immigration is a prudential judgment in general, that mass scale immigration always harms some natives in ways that go well beyond national security, that the primary responsibility of government is for the well-being of natives, and that all of these things need to be taken seriously in any formulation of immigration policy. Furthermore, your many attempts to trivialize in this thread are the opposite of taking them seriously.

Lydia says: "I can't see how anybody could conclude that I'm saying that there was some "native American population" (and who would that have been?) that would have been just fine"

1. The native American population that I have been bringing up is the very same that Zippy keeps repeating in his posts, such as the one above (however, now he uses the word "some" whereas before it was applied generally) where he speaks of a concrete harm done to the 'natives'.

2. I thought that was the message implicit in your posts, that the natives would've been fine all their own; that an effort made by a research group that included various immigrants would yield the same results as a group that comprised purely 'white people' (your words).

3. In addition, you keep insisting that the current lot of immigrants are of no value at all to the United States, in spite of what Harvard Professor Kerr said here:

One implication concerns immigration levels. It is interesting to note that while immigrants account for about 15 percent of the U.S. working population, they account for almost half of our Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers. Even within the Ph.D. ranks, foreign-born individuals have a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes, elections to the National Academy of Sciences, patent citations, and so forth. They are a very strong contributor to U.S. technology development, so it is in the United States' interest to attract and retain this highly skilled group. It is one of the easiest policy levers we have to influence our nation's rate of innovation.

The fact that you aren't aware of the current achievements of such people doesn't make it any less true.


Other Excerpts:

Recent evidence indicates that productivity growth in the United States has been generated largely by advances in technology (Basu et al., 2001; Basu, et al, 2003). Technological improvements largely have been driven by the rate of innovation, which has been increasing in recent years as measured by the rapidly growing number of patents awarded to US industries and universities (Hall, 2004; Kortum, 1997).

The United States remains at the cutting edge of technology despite frequent complaints about quality deficiencies in its secondary education system. Indeed, among the major developed countries and the newly industrialized countries, the United States ranks near the bottom in mathematics and science achievement among eighth graders.

What may reconcile these factors is that the United States attracts large numbers of skilled immigrants that enter directly into such technical fields as medicine, engineering, and software design. Moreover, the education gap is filled by well-trained international graduate students and skilled immigrants from such countries as India, China, Korea, and Singapore (the last two of which rank at the top in mathematics and science achievement). Certainly the United States sustains a significant net export position in the graduate training of scientists, engineers, and other technical personnel. It is likely that international graduate students and skilled immigrants are important inputs into the U.S. capacity for continued innovation...

(source: THE CONTRIBUTION OF SKILLED IMMIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS TO U.S. INNOVATION)


At any rate, I leave further reflection to you. I can't help you get pass your gloss unless your willing to objectively look at the facts.

However, I don't really blame you; even certain principle scientists who should be intelligent enough to look at the facts without bias suffer from similar gloss as well.

Zippy:

You wonder why I note that, on the whole, your comments more so tend to accentuate a net negative effect rather than consider any actual positives?

Look at what you wrote here:

"The point to the post - one point of the post - is that restricting immigration is a prudential judgment in general, that mass scale immigration always harms some natives in ways that go well beyond national security, that the primary responsibility of government is for the well-being of natives, and that all of these things need to be taken seriously in any formulation of immigration policy."

It appears that only a net 'harm' is the basic message here when it comes to immigration; thus, such 'harm' should not be allowed to occur (i.e., immigration should not be allowed) since it threatens the very well being of the native population.

From the general tenor of your comments, you make it seem as if immigrants can only bring harm and are actually a threat to the well-being of natives without any mention whatsoever that immigrants can also promote the very well-being of natives as well, as those alluded to above.

If this is not at all your intent, the very articulation of your statements as in the form above seems to suggest otherwise.

Also, I'm rather curious -- why whereas before the 'concrete harm done to natives' was applied generally; however, in the most recent one above, you found it necessary to modify that to 'some'. Who, I ask sincerely, is the 'some' here?

Aristocles:
I feel like I've mostly tuned out at this point, but just briefly, the following is simply not true:

Absent Einstein, Germany would have developed nuclear capability before we did (there are a substantial amount of data to support this) and the whole war would have been decided in favor of the original Axis of evil.

Thus, it is not that "an America without Einstein would be an America not worth living in"; it's rather that America needed Einstein or else the America (as the world power we know her today) would not have existed at all and Germany would have used this very weapon against the Allies (e.g., us), resulting in their victory instead of ours.


A: In history, the atomic bomb was irrelevant to defeating Nazi Germany, and Germany was nowhere near building an atomic bomb before her defeat in May 1945. The US didn't have one yet, either. If Einstein, Szilard, Peierls, Fuchs, Teller, and Fermi had all been on the moon, Hitler would still have lost because their work on the Manhattan Project had nothing to do with his defeat.

B: Beyond co-signing the famous letter to President Roosevelt, Einstein's actual contribution to building the atomic bomb was nil. His early work in Switzerland and Germany provided much of the theoretical understanding that made the bomb possible, but his presence in America between 1939 and 1945 was irrelevant to the project beyond him lending his prestige to the letter. Your point stands insofar as it was other immigrants who did much of the heavy lifting in the project, though we should not dismiss the contributions of native-born Americans, either, like Seaborg, Lawrence, and Alvarez.

... however, now he uses the word "some" whereas before it was applied generally ...

That is simply, flatly untrue. In fact in my singular other post on immigration at W4 I focused in particular on one group of "some natives" harmed, and made the point that other natives benefit by exploiting immigrants.

I've repeated to the point of it becoming a mantra that in part the unreason in our discussion of immigration reflects a loss of capacity to reason about particulars. That you may be just catching up to that fact doesn't mean that I haven't emphasized it over and over again in this discussion.

If a father permitted some needy strangers to move into his house, and this resulted in some of his children being enriched by the experience and some of them being harmed, while some of those who moved in were enriched and others were harmed and exploited, what verdict would we pass on his fatherhood?

That would depend on all the particulars: the question is not subject to generalization. Which is precisely the point.

Zippy,

I fail to see how I've trivialized anything. I said that even open borders advocates would accept immigration restrictions for national security reasons. You responded "simply stating as much outright in the post above resulted in a thread with nearly 200 comments." If your post had, in fact, simply said this, it probably wouldn't have generated so many comments (I say "probably" instead of "certainly" because many of the comments on this thread don't seem to have much to do with what you wrote in any case). But as you yourself now seem to acknowledge, your post did not simply say that some immigration restrictions might be justified on the basis of national security.

Cyrus,

Thanks for the thought you put in that post!

Unlike other responses, yours at least treated specific details in the matter.

However, I believe you're neglecting this one fact from an investigating US Air Intelligence officer who reported:

"A team of German scientists directed by the accomplished physicists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman appeared to be well ahead of peers in other countries in theoretical research into nuclear energy. In 1938 Hahn and Strassman had split the atom when they bombarded uranium with neutrons. They had termed what happened fission. Neither of them knew that they had taken the first steps toward the development of an atomic bomb. Germany thus stood on the threshhold of becoming far more powerful than before World War I."

In said report, it conveyed the monumental importance of the contributions made by the exiled scientists such as those already mentioned that helped bring about our nation's atomic weapon capability.

You expressed several good points though; however, I believe you overlooked the possibility that if Germany had gone on to develop the technology ahead of the United States and had we not the benefit of those immigrant scientists; I think it would have been an inevitable conclusion that Germany would have, indeed, won the war since with such capability they would've utilized it to decimate the various nations of the Allied forces.

I don't see how Zippy can come to a different conclusion in his rather sarcastic dismissal "no Einstein, no U.S." response.

My point in the matter is that, yes, there would have been a United States, but it would be far different from the one that exists today (and I'm not merely speaking of it not having become a world power).

At any rate, that's for a whole other thread altogether. Thanks though for your thoughtful response.


Zippy:

The latest comment of yours I was addressing (as similar previous ones) just seems to invoke a "BEWARE OF IMMIGRANTS" kind of ominous warning (as if to discourage immigration altogether and to imply that only harm can come of it) due to the negative context in which you keep presenting it. The main focus of such comments appear to be on some 'net harm'.

Yet, as Cyrus had rightly indicated, this thread has indeed already run its course in more ways than one.

Thanks for your patience. The End.

You expressed several good points though; however, I believe you overlooked the possibility that if Germany had gone on to develop the technology ahead of the United States and had we not the benefit of those immigrant scientists; I think it would have been an inevitable conclusion that Germany would have, indeed, won the war since with such capability they would've utilized it to decimate the various nations of the Allied forces.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If Hitler had the Bomb by 1944, he would have won WWII. Sure. But he didn't have the bomb, and the Allies didn't need the atomic bomb to defeat him, as proven irrefutably by the fact that they defeated him without it. I suppose we could imagine a different Hitler, one who didn't loathe the Jews so much and wouldn't have driven all those with money and foresight out of Europe. Though such a Hitler would not have been Hitler, but just another Napoleon. Bad enough, but not *Hitler*. We can spin counterfactuals 'til the cows come home, of course. They don't prove anything. We don't know what might have happened, only what did happen.

As things actually happened, the German nuclear program was undermined by the severe limitations of the German economy and the inability of the Germans to obtain heavy water, adequate supplies of graphite, and uranium ore. Building the bomb wasn't just a matter of theory, but an enormous and tremendously expensive engineering project. Germans knew about fission, but never even built, if I recall correctly, a reactor, which was only a first step as one major technical problem after another presented itself. It is true that fear of Germany getting the bomb was a major goad to the American program, but in fact the Germans were still years away when Hitler shot himself.

Really, for Germany to have built a bomb, Hitler would either have had to delay war and concentrated on building a bomb which, at the time, no one was sure could actually be built, or won the war and built it then.

Can you tell me where you found the quote?

BA:
I think your gloss on the exchange is just plain wrong; that at each step you attempt to trivialize and narrow the scope of what I said before and then get what you see as my agreement with your trivialization so that you can say "gotcha", when where I have expressed agreement it has been with my own prior statements not with your trivializations of them; and that that sort of rhetoric is more suitable to high school debate than here.

But I also view going through it with you in detail as a complete waste of time. You demonstrated that with your whole tergiversating 'counterfactual' sidetrack, and you are demonstrating it again here. Stop wasting my time.

Aristocles:

The main focus of such comments appear to be on some 'net harm'.
No, no, no, no, and again no. You are reading that into it; you have been reading that into it since before I even wrote this particular post. My focus on harm is on actual particular harms to actual particular natives, not "net harm". I don't know how many times I've said that, but it is enough times that I am getting really tired of hearing myself say it.

This is a good thread. I could not read it all, but did read much and skimmed the rest. There are a few things that I did not see here:

1) No prior immigration wave came here from anywhere outside what we used to call Western Civilization or Christendom, which is precisely why comparisons to Ellis Island are non-sequitur. Our current mass immigration sources are aberrations made possible by the insidious provisions within the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965.

2) The only true constant regarding immigration to America is that there have always been great pauses; this is the first time that mass immigration to our nation has continued unabated into a third generation. When something is unprecedented as this, rational comparisons cannot exist. It is better to look elsewhere, such as the Roman Empire, to see what might happen if diasporas become intransigent within a nation. It ain't a pretty picture.

3) It is these very pauses that have facilitated assimilation, and it should be argued they are necessary. There was a half-century lull in immigration after the Constitution was ratified, then a wave. Then there was a lull during the Civil War, and then a mini-wave, a lull, and then what we call "The Great Wave," to which America's response was: ENOUGH! And so, Congress imposed another pause through the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, which based it's tiny ethnic and national origin quotas for future immigration upon the makeup of the nation in the 1890 census. It stayed on the books for 41 years. By 1960, this nation was more homogeneous of soul and character than it had ever been. Leftism cannot take root in such a sturdy firmament, so it's adherents set to work to weaken it. It should be argued that pauses are more important than immigration.

4) This so-called "nation of immigrants" belief system is simply nonsense. How can the very people, our founding generations, who coined the term "immigrant" in 1790 to differentiate themselves from and to slur the few newcomers of that era ever be included in the category that they, themselves, considered repulsive? The fact is, those ancestors of ours were all British citizens one day, and Americans the next. They went from colonists to citizens of a new nation. Calling them "immigrants" infers that they came and assimilated to something; they did no such thing! They brought their own culture, folkways, mores, religion and heritage with them and settled an unowned, untamed land. Over time, their experiences differentiated this people from its motherland enough that breaking free of it was not all that earth shattering; but thanks to compatible immigration ever since, England has remained "our motherland," and Europe its kith and kin. If trends continue, Mexico will be the motherland of future generations of Americans; it will cease to have the common threads that birthed it. It will be something other than the "posterity" our founding fathers referred to in the preamble of the Constitution. That, to me, is a post-American vision that turns my stomach and perturbs my soul.

5) If we look at America's historical immigration patterns combined with looking at the nations to which immigrants repatriated after trying it here, we quickly find that the likelihood of someone to stay, and presumably to assimilate, increased as their point of origin was closer to England. From the great wave, Italians originated at the greatest distance from our mother country and repatriated at the highest rate. Between 1/3 and 1/2 of them left. German immigrants' repatriation rate was half-that.

Our Mexican immigrants are almost entirely Mestizo, by far the most differentiated group that has ever set up a diaspora shop here. It may be politically incorrect to even notice such things, but it also may be culturally suicidal not to notice and take action to thwart.

6)There's a lot of chatter about WWII in the thread. I'd just like to add: What if Johnson-Reed never was, and several more millions of Germans and Italians had continued to come between 1924 and 1940? Isn't it reasonable to conclude that these groups would have remained in diaspora, rather than being forced to assimilate, because their numbers were insufficient to resist becoming part of our nation? Is it unreasonable to conclude that we either would have had to build internment camps for these groups, or not to join the war at all?

No prior immigration wave came here from anywhere outside what we used to call Western Civilization or Christendom.

Were China and Japan part of Christendom? I didn't realize. Also, I had thought people from Latin America were themselves primarily Christian. I guess I was wrong.

The only true constant regarding immigration to America is that there have always been great pauses.... It is these very pauses that have facilitated assimilation.

Here is a chart showing immigrants as a percentage of the U.S. population. The percentage during what you call the "pauses" was often higher than what we have now.

What if Johnson-Reed never was, and several more millions of Germans and Italians had continued to come between 1924 and 1940?

Good question. One thing that probably would have happened if it hadn't been for Johnson-Reed, a lot of German and Italian Jews wouldn't have died in the Holocaust. I doubt that interning German and Italian Americans would have been necessary absent immigration restrictions (I also doubt that it was necessary in the case of the Japanese), but if the choice was between having people sent to internment camps for a few years and having them die in the gas chambers, I don't consider that a tough call.

Blackadder, if the number on the Y axis of that chart you linked is supposed to denote the percentage of the US population that is foreign born, it is woefully, laughably wrong. The official census figure for the foreign-born population of the United States for 2000 was 11.1%, not the 1% in the chart. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html. In 2004, it was almost 12% http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2004/August/20040809150255cmretrop0.7581903.html & http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/p20-551.pdf.

Cyrus, didn't you know that "immigrant" means anyone with a foreign-born ancestor within the previous four generations? ;-)

(Blush) Actually, even that self-serving fabrication doesn't make any sense. Maybe it refers to anyone with an ancestor born on a different continent within the previous N generations?

I'm stumped.

Were China and Japan part of Christendom? I didn't realize. Also, I had thought people from Latin America were themselves primarily Christian. I guess I was wrong.

I said "wave," not a tinkle down a gnat's leg. Your bringing up the Chinese (who were excluded by Congress in 1882, the few here basically forced by prudent intolerance into permanent diaspora in just a few locales) and Japanese, aren't relevant to a discussion about mass immigrations. And that is what we are really talking about: Diaspora fomenting mass immigration. Constantly arguing by use of exceptions to the rule and trying to get people emotional about the few who are exceptional is disingenuous, at best.

People from Latin America are merely recently Christian, and most, while it is changing a bit with protestant infiltration, practice a form of Catholicism that has adopted the superstitious aspects of the tribal beliefs held by the converted. Latin America isn't, never was, and never will be of Christendom or Western Civilization at all. From one perspective, it's barely legitimately Catholic, considering all the modifications to it the Vatican had to tolerate given the natives' propensity toward superstition, idol worship and odd ritual.

Here is a chart showing immigrants as a percentage of the U.S. population. The percentage during what you call the "pauses" was often higher than what we have now.

The chart is off, and you are wrong.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine asked for help with a spreadsheet about this very subject for a report he was doing. I've posted it as HTML here:

http://movementyouneed.com/act.htm

Our main source of information was here:

http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/documents/CT1970p1-02.pdf

You can have at it, if you like. But we spent a long time double checking everything since 1850, so I doubt you'll find anything off.

For other data, we used various US Government and American University (not "the" American University) studies (Virginia and Wisconsin if recollection is correct). What we found was that the census count of foreign born prior to 1850 was only done in estimates and probably included British citizens who migrated here prior to and during the revolution. We found some decent "guestimates" that removed those likely born abroad but living here before the end of the revolution; that's what we used for our totals up to 1850.

The highest percentage of foreign born ever, according to census, was 14.8% in 1910. The lowest was in 1970, at 4.7%. After that, Hart-Celler kicked in and launched us to where we are today, which is likely far beyond that previous high of 14.8%. The depth of our problems depends on whether Bear-Stearns' report of 2005 was more accurate than the US Census. I suppose you'll have to decide for yourself which entity had reason to attempt exactness and which had reason to understate, and then draw your own conclusions.

OK, I found where the chart came from. The discrepancy is at least partially explained in the narrative:

The chart shows the percent of US population, in any given decade, that can be attributed to legal immigration during the prior decade.
I suppose "legal immigration" is contrasted to "counterfactual immigration".

I'm trying to figure out how the percentage of the U.S. population that are foreign-born could be higher at times when fewer people were coming here from foreign shores. During those times, were those who were not foreign-born dying like flies, thus decreasing their percentage in the population? Were the foreign-born from the previous generation going abroad to give birth to their children and then returning with them to the U.S.?

This is not exactly sarcasm. I'm genuinely puzzled as to how the claim is even possible.And that puzzlement does make me suspicious.

Two quick points because I just can't resist:

1) While I generally like most of what R.E. Finch has to say, I think this is an oversimplification:

"How can the very people, our founding generations, who coined the term "immigrant" in 1790 to differentiate themselves from and to slur the few newcomers of that era ever be included in the category that they, themselves, considered repulsive? The fact is, those ancestors of ours were all British citizens one day, and Americans the next. They went from colonists to citizens of a new nation. Calling them "immigrants" infers that they came and assimilated to something; they did no such thing! They brought their own culture, folkways, mores, religion and heritage with them and settled an unowned, untamed land."

First of all, our ancestors weren't all British -- there were French, Dutch, Polish, Germans, and maybe some Spanish in the U.S. of 1790. We should be especially thankful for the French and Polish volunteers who fought for the colonists against Britain. There were also Indians ("merciless savages" in Jefferson's words) and despite Tom's characterization, some Indians were peaceful and some Indian customs were "adopted" by the newcomers.

2) Going back to the whole discussion of new immigrants contributing to scientific innovation -- it is laughable that aristocles keeps quoting that study, which is a study of "skilled immigration", not Central American, unskilled, peasant immigration. Which is not to say that some Central American immigrants don't go on to do great things. But there is a real difference between an immigration policy that selects immigrants for the skills (or capital) they have and weeds out the rest.

I also wanted to defend Lydia by pointing out that anyone interested in the topic of innovation (and invention) should track down a recent "New Yorker" which had a fascinating article about an American company that basically was formed with the sole intention of inventing new, useful, marketable products. How did the guy who started the company (which is so far successful) go about creating an 'invention company'? He sought out really, really smart people who were already successful in their respective fields (computer science, chemistry, engineering, etc.) and put them in a room to brainstorm. In other words, he didn't seek out a "diverse crowd" in the sense that aristocles was thinking about diversity -- he sought out high IQ individuals, who had a diversity of practical and intellectual knowledge.

So again, modifying American immigration policy to more closely mirror Canada's (without Canada's blind spot when it comes to Muslim fanatics), would be a good place to start with respect to immigration reform.

What does Canada do? (I don't know at all.)

First of all, our ancestors weren't all British -- there were French, Dutch, Polish, Germans, and maybe some Spanish in the U.S. of 1790. We should be especially thankful for the French and Polish volunteers who fought for the colonists against Britain. There were also Indians ("merciless savages" in Jefferson's words) and despite Tom's characterization, some Indians were peaceful and some Indian customs were "adopted" by the newcomers.

That some were born in non-British territories, the Americans of the founding generation were all British subjects. Yes, there were those from other places, but very few (aside from slaves) who were not of Western European origin; that is, they were peoples with long parallel histories and shared heritage. I have never seen any Spaniards listed in the census information I've reviewed, but I suppose there may have been a few.

Those generations were people who, for the most part, had lived through two key binding events as children or young adults: The Great Awakening and the French & American war. The Great Awakening lubricated individualist desires while the French and Indian War, just 13 years before our Declaration, united the colonies in (British) patriotic fervor. Put the two together and there are seeds for revolution.

People these days are ignorant to the fact that the vast majority of items these people had available to read were steeped in Calvinist doctrine. If the GA never happened, it is questionable that the nation would ever had gotten out from under Britain. It would have been unlikely that Quakers, Anglican Tories and the like would have found enough cause to revolt over their differences with Parliament and the Crown.

Administrative note:

I just approved R.E. Finch's post here, which had been held up by the SPAM blocker. (I don't know if that changes what anyone wants to say, but a comment appearing midstream where it wasn't before deserves a heads-up).

What does Canada do? (I don't know at all.)
Canada has a points system that awards points for college degrees, fluency in English and French, and the like. Canada's rate of legal immigration is among the highest in the world, but they tend to be much more selective. I think Maximos could go into more detail about the US immigration system - he's mentioned his travails with it in the past - but basically we have country quotas, family reunification, various work visas for "temporary workers," and then periodic major and minor amnesties. A system for suckers, in other words.

Zippy: Having read their explanation, About.com's chart should be exhibit A in a "How to lie with statistics" display. I don't think Blackadder was trying to be deceptive, but I suspect About.com was.

Aristocles, if you're still reading: How about we decree open borders for Nobel Laureates? Just show up at customs with your Nobel medal, and get whisked through.

R.E. Finch: Do you have a link for the 2005 Bear Stearns report you mentioned?

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