Victor Davis Hanson, writing for National Review, takes up the immigration issues facing the West. His assessment is that the West suffers from a “schizophrenia” of a sort, where those of us in the West accept “one-way” immigration as a given.
Westerners accept that these one-way correspondences are true. Nonetheless, they are incapable of articulating the social, economic, and political causes for the imbalances, namely the singular customs and heritage that make the West attractive: free-market capitalism, property rights, consensual government, human rights, freedom of expression and religion, separation of church and state, and a secular tradition of rational inquiry. Much less are they able to remind immigrants from the non-West that they are taking the drastic step of forsaking their homelands, often rich in natural resources, because of endemic statism and corruption, the lack of the rule of law, religious intolerance, misogyny, tribalism, and racism — the stuff that does not lead to prosperous, safe, and happy lives.
People are literally dying to get to the West. And why would they not want to leave behind massive poverty, violence, political upheaval and the chaos that is the Middle East, Latin America, the Balkans? Here in the U.S., we are still seeing thousands of children being sent here from their homes in Latin America, but according to Hanson, the West seems unable to find fault with anything or anyone: simply send us more people.
Government has abjectly failed in Latin America. These governments are at most indifferent to their people’s departure, and often encourage them to leave. Elites callously see multiple advantages in losing their own people, especially when remittances arrive in the billions of dollars and provide sustenance for those whom the government cannot or will not assist.
The exodus is sometimes seen as a safety valve: Potential dissidents and revolutionaries head northward rather than going to Mexico City to demand social justice and reform. Within the United States, communities of poor immigrants can serve as powerful lobbying groups for even more immigration — as they do now in Europe as well. Amnesties and blanket naturalizations eventually create bloc voters. In the United States, anchor children draw in more immigrants. The home government is never blamed for forcing out its own; the new host is always faulted for not being more welcoming.
Our ignorance, indifference and blindness, says Hanson, results in chaos in the West as well.
Immigration to the West will remain a moral and intellectual embarrassment until Westerners insist that newcomers arrive in numbers that can be assimilated, that they meet meritocratic criteria that are ethnically blind, and that they come legally and on the terms adjudicated by the host. Europeans and Americans need not be chauvinistic, but they do need to be candid about why people leave one country for another. From such knowledge comes realization that the best way to stop mass, illegal immigration is for other societies to emulate Western paradigms so that there is no need to emigrate — after all, Japanese and Singaporeans do not hide in cargo boats to reach California. But to do all that, Westerners need first to understand their own culture and then to defend it.
Will we in the West be able to learn from failed immigration policies? Will we be able to find the courage to say, “This is not working for us. We will not lose our country, our culture, our way of life. We will reform”? We shall see.
Read “The Strange Case of Modern Immigration” at National Review.