Immigration – Is There A Sane Solution?

Immigration is a hot button issue to be sure.

Some believe, (myself among them) that perhaps it’s time to align our immigration policy closer to that which other nations employ.

Denmark is one of the most developed countries in the world. Because of their good educational, political and healthcare systems, all which are underwritten by the United States’ military, many people want to move there. Denmark has an exam that test prospective immigrants on their knowledge of Danish history and culture. This exam has a pass rate of less than 33%.

Libya, yes Libya. The current basket case of North Africa has strict rules about immigration, if you can believe it. What passes for their government even suspended tourist visas for a time.

Iran, astonishingly ranks in the top 10 for difficulty if you want to emigrate. Wait, what? Yes, just in case their human rights record isn’t enough.

North Korea? The penalty for immigrating illegally ranges from 2 years to death. You know, just in case you thought moving there would be a good idea.

immigration @manningthewall.com

Let’s not kid ourselves. These are not the immigrants of today.

Japan requires a 5-year residency in order to apply for citizenship, and the vetting process is exhausting. On the surface, their declining population makes this seem counter-intuitive, but their strides in robotics may make this a wash. Japan is one of those nations that have smoothed the marriage between Eastern Culture and Western Values. Good for them.

Switzerland requires a 12-year residency and complete cultural immersion. You have to acquire citizenship of a municipality before gaining national citizenship.

Austria requires anywhere between 15 and 30 years of residency before applying for citizenship.

Learning From History…

Nations, I have often repeated are Borders, Language, and Culture. Migration and Demographics are what tell the Story of Human History. Any nation that cannot control its borders has no borders, and therefore is not a nation.

The Winter of 406 A.D. saw the Rhine freeze. This ever-important barrier had served to separate the declining Roman Empire from the aggression of the migrating Germanic peoples. Increases in the population of the Central Asian peoples, created enormous pressure, pushing the tribes of the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi westward.

On New Year’s eve, the tribes crossed over the solid ice into what is modern-day France.

Most of the Roman towns on the migration route had been stripped of their garrisons to                    address the more direct threat of the Visigoths who had invaded Italy. Meeting with very little resistance, the ancestors of the modern day French settled into Gaul, displacing or inter-marrying with the Roman and Celtic inhabitants.

Fifty years later, in 476 A.D., the last Roman Emperor Romulus-Augustus abdicated, thus officially leaving Roman Hegemony in the hands of the Byzantines to the East.

The end of Rome as a world power did not signal the end of Western Civilization. Constantinople, would carry Rome’s mantle for centuries to come. The West would cede Rome’s North African Colonies to the encroaching Islamic tyranny, but the forming European states would grow and thrive as the barbaric tribes assimilated and adopted Western Values.

Men like Charles Martel and his descendent Charles The Great would stand firm. The values embodied in the triumvirate of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome would flourish and grow giving birth to the Enlightenment, the Post-modern era, and that outrageously useful i-Phone you’re carrying around.

Who Adapts To Whom?

This can last if, and only if the newcomers adopt Western Values. This requires some hard questions. Do recent immigrants have any experience with or knowledge of western style democracies? Do they believe in human rights? Or to put it another way: Are they making us better or worse? Are they a net benefit?

Political thinker Ben Shapiro takes a libertarian view on immigration, advocating the free flow of labor with one caveat – no welfare state. I can find a lot of merit in this stance. Of course, Shapiro concedes that the welfare state is a reality, and here to stay. I wish it weren’t, but it is. And since it is here to presumably stay, then you need a secure border. There’s no sane argument against this.

We need to be careful if newcomers hail from regions where equality of the sexes and freedom of speech are unfamiliar concepts. The idea is for newcomers to assimilate into the greater American Culture. Not for the newcomers to insist that American Culture adapts to them. The culture clash occurring in Europe is exactly what we want to avoid.

Demographics & Values

Rome as a nation did not survive the Germanic Migrations of the early first millennium. But  they shared enough cultural values to enable a degree of assimilation. The Frenchman today relates to the Republican values of the Roman who lived 2,500 years ago. It’s safe to say that the German building his homestead in Alsace shared similar principles with the Gaul farming next to him.  Both no doubt frowned upon “honor killings,” sanctioned incest, and welcomed the good habits of sanitation, hygiene, and the rule of law.

Not all was rainbows and unicorns, of course. In fact, during the Middle Ages, it should be noted that some nation states flirted with big-government feudalism. This was a system that created unnatural restraints. Trade, art, and the sciences did not flourish as much as they would during the coming Renaissance.  But this is a subject for another article.

Demographics are everything. It is what makes the language and the culture within the borders. Culture is simply that which we value. Bill Maher of all people asked that if Germany was 51% Muslim, would it still be Germany? We need to ask the same question for the United States. If we were 51% fascist, would this still be the United States of America? If 51% of the people votes via referendum for a complete and immediate re-distribution of wealth, would we be the same country?

Selah.

About Phil Christensen

The trail behind me is littered with failure. The trail before me remains to be seen.
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7 Responses to Immigration – Is There A Sane Solution?

  1. David Penchansky says:

    Phil,
    Read with interest your post on immigration. It has been much on my mind lately.
    1) As I understand you, you advocate that we strictly adhere to a skills determination to decide whom we let in as immigrants. If they can contribute to society in some way that we need, then we let them in on a path to citizenship. Have I correctly represented your position?
    2) Is that the ONLY reason you would favor letting people in. Consider the following: Should we let people in who are seeking political asylum from oppressive regimes, if they can demonstrate that their lives were in danger? Should we let in people who are family members of people who are American citizens? Wives? Children? Parents? Should we let in farm workers since it appears that native-born Americans are not interested in those kinds of jobs?
    3) Further, in my own family, my grandparents (and in one case, my great-grandparent) came here with no skills, but a determination to work hard and make a place for their family. My paternal grandfather didn’t assimilate very well. He spoke little English. Were we wrong to let in immigrants from places where for economic or political reasons (often both) they could not thrive where they lived?
    4) There is a significant difference between foreigners who come to our country, when compared to people going to countries in Europe or Asia. The countries that you mentioned are defined ethnically. (I am describing, not prescribing.) Our country, from its beginning, has not been defined ethnically. This is where the white supremacists get it so egregiously wrong. We have always been an amalgam of cultures and ethnicities. People come here, sometimes for economic advantage, sometimes for political freedom. Their children go to our schools, and they (hopefully) take on our values as a society. This has been our strength.
    5) In your review of history, you described the Islamic expansion in the following way: “The West would cede Rome’s North African Colonies to the encroaching Islamic tyranny.” There are a few problems with this statement. First, European civilization at this point was no bastion of freedom and democracy (divine right of kings and all that). You also conveniently leave out Muslim Spain, which in the middle ages was indeed known for its tolerance and the explosion of knowledge and discovery. This contrasted dramatically with conditions in Europe at the time.
    6) That brings me to my discomfort with your broad sweeping treatment of “Western Civilization.” If one defines “Western Civilization” as commitment to democracy, self-determination, the rights of women, a serious commitment to justice and fairness – I agree with all those things but I am not sure we can characterize it as Western Civilization – our civilization has done a lot of things that do not accord with those values. If you want to say that those values began in Western Europe during the Enlightenment, you have a case to make – but to then characterize it as uniquely a description of the West, you lose me there.

  2. 1. Best interest must supersede misguided altruism for a nation to survive.
    2. I am in favor of granting political asylum, at a trickle. If we grant it to all claimants, than we will be overwhelmed. A nation that cares about it’s identity can not allow its heart strings to be tugged too much. Should Israel grant the Right of Return to the over 5,000,000 “Palestinians?”
    3. Your grand parents, as well as mine came here when the United States was still relatively empty.
    4. The unification of the United States depends on values, not ethnicity. (Do we agree on something here?) “Diversity is our strength” seems to ring hollow in light of Abraham Lincoln’s statue getting torched in Chicago, among a book full of anecdotes I could list. In fact history has shown that diversity plus proximity equals conflict more often than not. To use a metaphor, cultural diversity should be a seasoning, not our main course.
    5. “Explosion of Knowledge?” That’s somewhat hyperbolic. Plenty of governments, including ours have managed to get the trains and/or stage coaches running on time after ruthlessly dealing with dissent. Let’s not credit these people with establishing Mayo Clinics and Carnegie Libraries in every hamlet. I’ve read accounts from both points of view, and I’m not convinced either way. Putting Islamic Tyranny inside quotation marks – as if the Islamists didn’t rape and burn their way across North Africa – is your prerogative. I did refer to Europe’s middle ages, something you “conveniently” chose to ignore. (ha, ha – see what I did there?)
    6. Well then I’ve lost you.

    • David Penchansky says:

      A few responses:
      You said: “These are not the immigrants of today.”
      In what way are they not the immigrants of today? You imply that they do not share American values. That is not my experience. The biggest difference between when my grandparents were immigrants and today is that the ones that concern you do not come from Europe, they are not white. Please remember that at the turn of the last century Italians, Jews, Greeks, were not considered white. The immigrants today that I know (mostly Muslims) love American values of democracy and equality for women. And they came from countries that did not value either. Certainly there are many who hold anti-democratic and anti-women values, but that has always been true.

      You said:
      “The West would cede Rome’s North African Colonies to the encroaching Islamic tyranny,”
      As I understand you, you are trying to make a case that European values are qualitatively better than the values of the darker-skinned people (that is, not from Europe). I do not deny the expansion of Islam was accompanied by atrocities. Do you actually claim that they were worse than the atrocities committed by Europeans in North America, South America, Africa, Asia? Or the atrocities they committed against each other in the interminable European wars. Whence your claims of European superiority? My mention of Andalusia (Muslim Spain) was only to point out that at a time when Europe was in the heights of intolerance, when it was nearly impossible to be a Jew or a Muslim in Europe without severe persecution, there existed in the Muslim world a tolerant society where Jewish and Christian culture and practice was allowed to flourish.

      You said:
      if the newcomers adopt Western Values
      So what exactly do you propose? Should we give a test? An interview? Who decides what degree of “American values” the person must hold before we will let them in? Who decides? Do you not allow for the possibility that people come here and become “infected” with American values? I have seen that happen again and again.

      You said:
      We need to be careful if newcomers hail from regions where equality of the sexes and freedom of speech are unfamiliar concepts.
      Do you not understand that people come here exactly because they come from places where our freedoms are not valued? That has always been the most significant reason why people came here, from the Puritans and Quakers until now.

      You said:
      “Rome as a nation did not survive the Germanic Migrations of the early first millennium. But they shared enough cultural values”
      OK, I admit to being a bit shaky on the history here, but this does not ring true. The German barbarians SHARED VALUES with the Romans, so the barbarian conquests were not as bad as an influx of darker complexioned Muslims and South Asians to Europe? I don’t see any evidence of those shared values. Perhaps the Germanic tribes assimilated those values when they conquered the people in the Roman Empire. Your argument sounds to me as a pre-chosen explanation to fit your ideological commitment to the superiority of European races.

      You said:
      “In fact, during the Middle Ages, it should be noted that some nation states flirted with big-government feudalism”
      My understanding is that ALL of Europe was governed by economic feudalism in the Middle Ages. Which ones weren’t?

      You said:
      “It is what makes the language and the culture within the borders. Culture is simply that which we value.”
      Good definition.

      You said:
      If we grant it to all claimants
      Nobody is in favor of granting every claim of political asylum. I know well two people who applied for political asylum (one successfully, one not), and it is a laborious and exacting process, as it should be.

      You said:
      “United States was still relatively empty.”
      Huh? So now your argument is that we don’t have any more room for immigrants? Again that is not my experience. I have watched in my own community influxes of Hmong and then Somalis, and there has been ample room for them to establish themselves, get jobs, establish businesses, send their children to college, and now, hold political office. It’s wonderful to see.

      You said:
      “that diversity plus proximity equals conflict more often than not.”
      Of course it does. But out of the conflict comes a net good. You might just as well say that marriage of two people produces conflict, so nobody should get married.

      Your stated position is one that can be identified as White Nationalism. It is not an American value.

      • In what way are they not the immigrants of today?
        The concepts of ordered liberty are lost on them.

        Your assertions on Islamic Spain are repetitious. As is so often the case, I find myself straining to avoid going over the same points with you.

        As I understand you, you are trying to make a case that European values are qualitatively better…
        You should have stopped there. We are talking about Western Values, (ordered liberty, and the endowment of rights from the Creator for example).

        So what exactly do you propose? Should we give a test? An interview? Who decides what degree of “American values” the person must hold before we will let them in? Who decides? Do you not allow for the possibility that people come here and become “infected” with American values? I have seen that happen again and again.
        Values are adopted through assimilation, which occurs optimally when newcomers are allowed in at a trickle.
        What do I propose? Only the most reasonable thing imaginable: Hit the pause button.

        Do you not understand that people come here exactly because they come from places where our freedoms are not valued?
        And they are coming in such numbers that there is no incentive to assimilate.

        “Rome as a nation did not survive the Germanic Migrations of the early first millennium. But they shared enough cultural values.” OK, I admit to being a bit shaky on the history here, but this does not ring true.
        Come back to the when you are less shaky.

        My understanding is that ALL of Europe was governed by economic feudalism in the Middle Ages. Which ones weren’t?
        Feudalism was strong in England, and France, some of the Germanic principalities (spotty in others), Poland, and some of the Slavic states (again, spotty as much of Eastern Europe was contested between the empires of the Russians, Mongols, Turks, and Byzantines). Not particularly strong in the merchant states of Italy, the Netherlands and in post-Viking Scandinavia. I bring up Feudalism to point out that Christianized Europe was not some beatific paradise.

        So now your argument is that we don’t have any more room for immigrants? Not at pre-WWII rates.

        And Finally:

        1. The biggest difference between when my grandparents were immigrants and today is that the ones that concern you do not come from Europe, they are not white. Please remember that at the turn of the last century Italians, Jews, Greeks, were not considered white.

        2. As I understand you, you are trying to make a case that European values are qualitatively better than the values of the darker-skinned people (that is, not from Europe).

        3. The German barbarians SHARED VALUES with the Romans, so the barbarian conquests were not as bad as an influx of darker complexioned Muslims and South Asians to Europe? I don’t see any evidence of those shared values. Perhaps the Germanic tribes assimilated those values when they conquered the people in the Roman Empire. Your argument sounds to me as a pre-chosen explanation to fit your ideological commitment to the superiority of European races.

        4. Your stated position is one that can be identified as White Nationalism. It is not an American value.

        This kind of rhetoric which you choose to employ has poisoned the national dialogue for decades. It’s also blatantly phony. In our past discussions, I would have said “disingenuous,” but I think I’ve pointed this out before and I’m done being polite. Fix this.

  3. David Penchansky says:

    Fix this?

    You began your essay with the story of the Germanic tribes crossing the frozen Rhine, and overrunning the Roman Empire. Your point, as I understood it, was that as the tribes overran the civilized Roman Empire, so in a similar manner the hoards from North Africa and the Middle East are overrunning Europe and North America, and it must be stopped or we will be weakened from within and our civilization will collapse. Your essays are “manning the wall.”

    But apparently you realized a flaw in your argument – specifically, that the combined Northern Germanic tribes and Roman civilization created Europe, the civilization you so highly value. Therefore, you added a proviso to your historical picture – the Germanic tribes were similar enough to the Romans that the combination somehow worked. But the current threat (you say) is different, and much worse.

    Even with my shaky history, I know that the Germanic tribes spoke from a different language family, they had a different religion, and were divided in terms of their physical features – they looked different from each other – different complexion, different colored hair, different colored eyes, different distribution of hair on the body. I can’t think of anything they had in common that would make that mix of people any more or less dangerous. Neither group was particularly committed to democracy or the equality of women, freedom of speech. There is only one difference that I can see. Both the Germanic people and the Romans tended to be lighter-skinned than people from the Middle East or Africa – they were “white” in the current parlance.

    I do not understand why you are upset about my discussion of Islamic culture. As I understand you, you make the claim that Islamic savagery is much worse than European savagery. I have offered two counter-examples. The first is that both savageries are equally heinous. The second is the existence of a tolerant Islamic culture at a time when people in Europe were not so developed. So do you or do you not believe that Islamic savagery is worse than European savagery in history? If not, we have no argument. If yes, on what basis do you think that?

    Finally, you are upset that I identified your essay as espousing a white nationalist ideology. Is that what I am supposed to fix – my rhetoric? If you are NOT espousing a white nationalist ideology, please explain this. I understand white nationalism as espousing two things. First, the superiority of European (white) civilization, and second, the danger to the European societies when people from other cultures move in, which would result in diluting the strength and superiority of white culture. If you answer two questions, it will help me to understand. First, do you accept that definition of white nationalism? Second, how does it or does it not represent your views in the essay you posted?

    • There are reams of scholarship on this. I’m going to suspend my usual rules and do a cut and paste:

      The term Romano-Germanic describes the conflation of Roman culture with that of various Germanic peoples in areas successively ruled by the Roman Empire and Germanic “barbarian monarchies”.

      These include the kingdoms of the Visigoths (in Hispania and Gallia Narbonensis), the Ostrogoths (in Italia, Sicilia, Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, Dalmatia and Dacia), the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Sub-Roman Britain and finally the Franks who established the nucleus of the later “Holy Roman Empire” in Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Lugdunensis, Gallia Belgica, Germania Superior and Inferior, and parts of the previously unconquered Germania Magna. Additionally, minor Germanic tribes, like the Vandals, the Suebi, and the Visigoths established kingdoms in Hispania.

      The cultural syncretism of Roman and Germanic traditions overlaid the earlier syncretism of Roman culture with the Celtic culture of the respective imperial provinces, Gallo-Roman culture in Gaul and Romano-British culture in Britain. This results in a triple fusion of Celtic-Roman-Germanic culture for France and England in particular.

      Dennis Sherman, Joyce Salisbury: The West in the World – 2006.

      Time to let it go.

      You are confused because your accusations of “white nationalism” didn’t have the expected effect. I’m sure in the past bringing up race sent those with whom you disagreed into defensive fits. This is an over-used tactic, and it doesn’t work here. I can’t even credit you with good intentions. It’s not that you “misunderstood,” you know there is no “white nationalism” in anything I’ve written but you’ve used that lie so many times, it’s become second nature. If you want to continue to obsess over race, and use meaningless terms, go right ahead. If you despise your country so much that you want to see it changed from one that values liberty, to one where we are all behaving like good little automatons, you are free (for now) to espouse such views. Just don’t expect any cooperation from me.

      Otherwise, do a little self-examination and fix this.

  4. Sandra Wiesemann says:

    Did you really block Dave? If so, I am surprised and disappointed. I always liked your interactions. It gave a good view of two different sides. I don’t think I was ever blocked by anybody, but my comments have been removed and it is so aggravating. If a person makes a challenging comment, they should be open to the response to the challenge.

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