Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Break

Loyal Readers:

Between final exams and projects last week, and Spring Break in Mexico Beach this week, I haven't had the usual time and/or inclination to blog. Plus I haven't had any flashes of inspiration (such as they are) that help me produce my best material. Plus the internet connection with the wireless router across the street is rather spotty. (The excuses keep coming, don't they.)

In the mean time, here are a couple of posts over at the American Scene that will make you smarter:

Noah Millman writes "One Law to Rule Them All".

James Poulos writes "Master and Slave Morality in Iraq".

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Consenting Adults"

Here and here, Ross Douthat continues to pound nails in the coffin of the arguments on behalf of legalized prostitution.

There's a lot I could say here, though most of it has been said. I would agree that prostitution is the ideal candidate for subsidiarity, mainly because my concern about it is only that it not bother me. On one end of the scale, the legendary ranches in some of Nevada's more laditudiarian counties are properly the concern of the residents of those counties, but surely none of mine. On the other end, I will happily pass any law necessary to prevent my having to pass a fishnet-clad trollop on the walk with my kids to the park.

But surely the arguments for legalization are sterile; on the contrary, if anything, the momentum is on the side of further federal restrictions. Liberals, having lost (or rather, discarded) the ability to discuss morality in terms other than power and exploitation, have framed their opposition to the trade in those terms: ie. pimps and johns use disproportionate power to exploit the women involved. The notion that the women are somehow victims rather than perpetrators is an absurd caricature of prostitution as it is actually practiced at the level of Eliot Spitzer (for instance). If the caricature is deployed on behalf of increasing the penalties for customers, okay, its dumb reasoning, but whatever. If it requires lowering the penalties for the escorts, then it's time to throw a flag on a foul play.

But that's not really what I want to write about. The subject of today's post is liberals' touching belief in the words "consenting adults" to wave away all objections.

Liberals are exceedingly selective about applying this standard. It does not apply to, say, an employer freely contracting with an employee a wage less than the legal minimum, for instance, nor does it apply to the flesh trade for those who oppose it -- for you see, these are commercial transactions that possess power differentials, and are therefore exploitative.

And sex? It depends. Liberals do not always speak with one voice. Some follow their reasoning to its logical conclusion; others stop well short of that. But pointing out liberal inconsistency is shooting fish in a barrel; it's still not why I'm writing this post.

Whence "consent"?

Liberals invoke "consent", to the extent they do, as in the natural order of things. In my libertarian youth I drank deeply from this well myself, at least in regard to the law; Locke's Second Treatise was one of my favorite reads. But I have come to realize, much as I still value consent, or more broadly, freedom, as a good among many, that it is very much a cultural artifact.

I would say this is particularly true as applied to sex. Without being an historian or an anthropologist, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that from the days of our hunter-gatherer past, sexual access to women has been regarded as a valuable resource. Wars have been fought over it, and when the last blood had been spilt, well, to the victor go the spoils; consent of the women involved couldn't have been more beside the point.

"Phi's in favor of rape!" I can almost hear the usual screeching. Well, no. But I am trying to provide some historical perspective. We have, in fact, done much to prevent rape at the wholesale level described above. But we have done this by (1) building a nation-state capable of defending itself from external aggressors and (2) obtaining "consent of the governed" at a level sufficient to provide effective enforcement of the laws. These have allowed us to carve out a space where a women's consent is a necessary precondition to the lawful engagement of sexual relations. This is as it should be. But to say that consent is always and everywhere a sufficient condition is a different matter.

Whither "consent"?

"The Constitution is not a suicide pact," wrote Justice Robert Jackson, and neither should the abstract idea of "consent" be allowed to undermine the society that protects it.

I heard a striking statistic about the demography of China. I have forgotten the generational span, but the numbers were startling: the generation that is coming of age, there will be 150 men for every 100 women. Now, chew on that for a moment. What do you think the attitude of the (150 - 100) x 1.3 billion chinamen without women will be toward liberal blathering about "consent" will be? Somehow I don't think they will be much impressed. Somehow, I doubt they will be amenable to abstract reasoning of any kind. I will predict, however, that these numbers describe a society that will either (1) launch a war (it won't matter much against whom) or (2) collapse into violent chaos of uncertain outcome.

There are some caveats worth mentioning here. The particular cultural practices and government policies that led to China' s demographic position are obviously different from the ones at play in the U.S. And for all the beta-male griping about the "woman shortage," and even my own jaundiced view of the hook-up culture, I will acknowledge that the "market inefficiencies" tend to work themselves out by the time women get into their 30s, and adultery and prostitution are as-yet non-mainstream phenomena.

However, this doesn't mean that our own cultural vectors are not pointing incrementally in either the Chinese direction or in some other "non-steady-state" direction all our own. It doesn't mean that every effort to arrest them should be dismissed with the "consenting adults" mantra, or that we should ignore opportunities to improve "affordable family formation".

Jim Manzi approaches the question from a more theoretical angle here.

And here an agreement (perhaps) from a woman living the life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Spitzerian"

I was hoping to get credit for inventing this word, but it turns out to already have another, and rather more reputable, meaning. So I will have to settle for a secondary definition:

Spitzerian (adj): 2(a) Of or relating to the act of procuring commercial sex. (b) having the quality or atmospherics of such a procurement.

Example: "I feel very uncomfortable when handing cash to a young woman. The aura is very Spitzerian; that's why Mrs. Φ always pays the baby-sitter."

Update: In this vein, Ross Douthat points up the cognitive dissonance among liberals regarding the legal status of prostitution.

Meanwhile, something about Donna Hughes' description of imminent changes to federal prostitution law makes me uneasy. Perhaps its the evasiveness: after two pages, I still couldn't say with more than 90% certainty that the Wilberforce Act makes being a John a federal crime. The law itself seems evasive on this point and is probably the product of exactly the cognitive dissonance that Ross describes. For my part, while I would support existing law, I see neither a constitutional nor pragmatic case for further federal involvement.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ridiculous

Ridiculous. That's my one word epithet to describe this story: "Family Sues School District After Son Gets Detention for Wearing T-Shirt With Gun Image."

Question to Fox News: Why is the preposition "With" capitalized but the preposition "for" is not?

Seriously, let me count the annoyances:

  1. A picture of a gun is not a gun. Install metal detectors if you want to keep guns out of schools. But forbidding pictures of guns reminds me of the joke about the (French?) police who chase a criminal into a building. The police want to surround the building to keep the criminal from escaping, but it has too many exits . . . so they surround the building next door, which has fewer exits.
  2. School wardens teachers will often make stupid calls. But I'm bothered that this 14-year-old presumed that because he didn't like it, he didn't have to obey. And didn't.
  3. Why must everything become a federal case? Is there no lower-level authority to which this can be appealed?
  4. No doubt the judiciary will make a hash of this. I'm reminded of the case decided last year (I think) about the kid on a field trip (I think) who unfurled a banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." This bit of mild iconoclasm amused me, so let's have our chuckle, ha-ha, now take the sign down before somebody decides to get . . . I don't know . . . offended maybe, or perhaps too cavilier toward school rules. Add that the "time, place, and manner" might lead many to assume some kind of official endorsement of the banner's message. But he didn't, received a suspension, and sued.

    The judiciary ultimately sided with the school, which is good, but for the wrong reason: the banner's viewpoint was judged to be in favor of illegal drugs, and therefore worthy of supression. (The banner's viewpoint about Jesus evidently never came up.)

  5. Which brings us to the case at hand. A t-shirt is not a banner, so it would be difficult to construe it as official endorsement, even if worn on a field trip. I don't think that the shirt's message is prejudicial to the good order and discipline of a school, but then I like the message, so I may be biased. I would be sympathetic to a dress code that prohibits clothing with any words or pictures, but I'm not very impressed with school officials picking and choosing the messages they like and don't like.
  6. But this is not likely to enter into legal consideration. According to the Bong Hits case, the court must decide whether the viewpoint (armed resistance to terrorism?) is one that may be supressed. Which is exactly the wrong approach.

The Face of Polygamy

Lisa Schiffren comments on this story of a polygamous African family living in New York:

Whatever the current feelings of the participants, such marriages are not love matches. According to the Times story, the women do not come to them freely, nor is any wife an equal partner with her husband. She has, at most, one-third the status that he does — usually much less — and little or no bargaining power. Given the customs of their culture, even when these women are allowed to work outside the home, they are often forced to turn their earnings over to their husband, leaving them essentially working as slave labor.

And those nine children, at least some of whom are American by birth — what do they learn of being free citizens in a democracy from the values they imbibe in this familial structure? The boys become autocrats; the girls become servants. They will never be free men and women, equal and responsible. It’s a longer argument for another day, but allowing this barbaric import to thrive in the U.S. will undermine all the advances that women have made in the past 150 years with regard to education, financial independence, and political and sexual equality. Polygamy, like slavery itself, cannot co-exist with true democracy.

What Schiffren champions here -- democracy and equality for women -- could be championed by liberals; indeed, they should be so championed, were liberals not morally paralyzed by their own multicultural devotion to the third world. As things stand now, not only do liberals fail to criticize the treatment of women by our African imports, but they attack those who do as being, by some weird paradox, the real sexists.

Schiffren continues:

It’s time for the Magassas to be sent home, and for an example to be made so we can avoid the situation the French find themselves in. France has so many people living in polygamous families — somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 — that politicians are powerless to rein in the practice, since the polygamists can vote and riot, and they have the critical mass in their own neighborhoods to elect their own representatives. Nor do they assimilate. If we allow the same thing to occur here, the next thing you know, parts of the United States will live under sharia law. Failure to prosecute is an invitation to just that.

Well said. And how tragic that it must fall to conservatives to uphold the best of liberalism.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ethnic Cleansing in California: Homeschooler Edition

This case became public late last week; I only heard about it this morning. The upshot is that a California Appeals Court has ruled that homeschooling is illegal in California unless the parents have degrees in education.

How do we drive the hated Christian conservatives -- with their tiresome resistance to the totalist state and their aggravating habit of voting Republican -- from our jurisdiction? Easy: by identifying that which is unique to their way of life and using the law to attack it. They will then flee or perish. Gun control was Stage 1. Now for Stage 2.

As I read the press coverage (helpfully compiled by the HSLDA), I rested easy at first. Looking at the narrow family-law circumstances of the case, I thought, surely a decision as incandescently awful as this one would be quickly overturned, probably by the courts and certainly by the legislature. But then, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Two members of the state Senate Education Committee, Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena (Los Angeles County), the panel's chairman, and Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, declined to comment Friday on the issue or the court ruling.

So . . . the two (Democrat) politicians with the most legislative power over education can't summon a single word in the defense of parents seeking to educate their children at home? Perhaps they were too busy pouring the cool-aid.

From the Time article I read perhaps the most novel understanding of privacy in existance:

The [Department of Children and Family Services] then turned to the courts to mandate that the children attend public school so that teachers might spot evidence of abuse (a charge the parents deny).

Chew that over for just a second. According to the Fourth Amendment, if the police wish to violate your privacy in order to gather evidence against you, they are required to appear before a judge and show probable cause to believe that you are, in fact, guilty of a crime. But in California, if the state fails to show probable cause, they can require you to bring your private affairs to them to look over . . . for seven hours per day, five days per week.

For those of you to whom this sounds reasonable, imagine for a moment that abortion was illegal (as I believe it should be). Now imagine a Department of Children and Family Services requirement that all women submit to a government supervised pregnancy test every day so that it can keep track of pregnancies, the better able to root out illegal abortions. That is exactly what's in play here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Can Christianity Help Us Fight Islam?

Vera addresses a difficult question:

[T]he current versions of Western Christianity are obviously insufficient to keep the unwanted influences of any other religion out, and the versions that were in force during the times of Charles Martel or Isabel la Católica are unacceptable to us. I am not convinced that there is any usable version of kinder, gentler but tougher Christianity between the two.

The other problem is that . . . I don't trust clergy as potential defenders of religious freedoms. Think about all the Islamic trouble is the last few years, starting with the blasphemous cartoons. Some of the clerical voices rose in defense of the secular society and the freedom of speech, but there was just too many of "respect for religion? yes, yes, please, us too!".

Convincing someone who rejects both the moral and metaphysical tenets of my religion that a politically and socially empowered Christianity is nonetheless useful to her is undoubtedly a pretty steep hill to climb. So naturally I have to give it a go.

What are the costs?

Her second objection is the easiest to address. Undoubtedly, Vera has drunk too deeply from the well of hyperbolic left-wing agitprop claiming that the religious-right-wants-theocracy. But while there is much in their agenda she wouldn't like, let's at least understand what it is:

Abortion. Overturning Roe would "take us back" to 1973. But America in 1973 was not a theocracy. It was a society with a whole lot less of everything abortion claims to cure: crime, bastardy, and failed marriages. And I would add that, to the extent that an end to abortion increases total fertility, then it would solve the problem that immigration claims to cure: an ageing, declining population.

To extent there is such a creature as the "religious right," it is unified by this issue. When you move beyond it, the movement becomes progressively more divided, but let's try to find some other issues.

Pornography. Whatever the artistic merits of Fanny Hill, the book was banned until 1966. Although that particular SCOTUS decision was subsequently overturned, the genie never went back in the bottle. But even if we did suppress pornography, we'd go back to the 1950s, and America in the 1950s was not a theocracy. It was society with a whole lot less of what pornography claims to cure: sexual assault.

School Prayer. Up until the 1940s, this was a local issue, and the practices of schools in this regard reflected the expectations of their local communities. But America in the 1940s was not a theocracy; it never, that I know of, forced a Jewish girl to bend her knee to a Christian God. Someone could argue that "school prayer" is a proxy for all manner of issues involving the role of religion in the public sphere generally, and I will tend to agree, but before you complain, specify in your complaint a practice adovcated by a Christian conservative with an actual following that has a chance of being implemented by the jurisdiction in which you actually live. The fact that the public school in a tiny Baptist town in the South might ask minister to teach an elective Bible class does not affect you if you live in Brookline, MA.

That's it! The balance of the religious right's agenda is defensive; they fight being put upon the secular state, fight having unelected judges impose their will, fight to keep their private affairs private, beyond the reach of the state.

But, okay, at the margin, a socially vital Christianity means that Jews and atheists will confront higher levels of official fealty to opinions they don't share. To the extent they believe abortion, porn, and nihlism are the defining features of democracy and freedom, then there is real costs to them of political Christianity.

What are the benefits?

Is there an upside? Are the social and political benefits to a society, in the context of resisting Muslim agression, of a political/social reinvigoration of Christianity sufficient to justify it to someone such as Vera?

After 9/11, news reports told us that the churches filled up. And what did those who wandered in to their local, say, Methodist or Episcopal church hear? A reading of Psalm 83?

1 Do not keep silent, O God!
     Do not hold Your peace,
     And do not be still, O God!
2 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
     And And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
3 They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
     And And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
4 They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
     And That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

5 For they have consulted together with one consent;
     And They form a confederacy against You . . . .

12 [Deal with them] who said, “Let us take for ourselves
     And The pastures of God for a possession.”
13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
     And Like the chaff before the wind!
14 As the fire burns the woods,
     And And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,
15 So pursue them with Your tempest,
     And And frighten them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
     And That they may seek Your name, O LORD.
17 Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
     And Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
18 That they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD,
     And Are the Most High over all the earth.

Probably not. Probably they heard very little to fortify them for the struggle ahead, and when the final history of Western Christianity is written, this will be the moment we chose suicide over survival.

But the political correlations are still beneficial in several ways:

  1. Christians are more likely to serve in the military, and therefore put their lives on the line to defend our country.
  2. Christians [and let me count Mormons for now] are more likely to have large families, and thereby keep our demographics from collapsing.
  3. Christians are more likely to oppose immigration, at least judging by their partisan alliances.
  4. Christians are more devoted to our actual constitutional traditions, and highly resistant to the moral claims of Muslims.

Granted, this may not be the Christianity of Charles "the Hammer" Martel. But it is not nothing. It may, in fact, be enough to save our civilization.

Sgt. Raymond is BACK!

. . . after a long hiatus to work on a Master's degree. He's posting at the Bulletproof Pimp, holding forth on abundant life, and the obstacles thereunto.

Of course, his return could not be complete without the two of us crossing swords on theology, as we do here and here. And in the end, though we will believe as we will about the Creation and Fall, at least know what you are rejecting. It isn't hard; my seven-year-old could tell you this much:

Q. 10. How did God create man?

A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?

A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

And no account of sin, death, and misery would be complete without this:

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.

When is a Cookie just a Cookie?

Answer: when you offer it to a married woman.

When you offer it a single woman, it's a status play, and that vestigial chimpanzee part of her brain fills the cookie with all kinds of social significance.

I discovered this quite by accident when my wife sent me in to work with several boxes of cookies, more than I could ever eat. Normally, I would leave them by the coffee mess, except here we don't have a coffee mess. So I walked them around the cube farm. "Wanna cookie?"

However lame this may have been, when it was all over, I looked back and realized that all the married women to whom I had offered a cookie had accepted it. All the single women had not.

It's very simple," Mrs Φ explained later. "Single women know perfectly well which are the men for whom they would maintain a romantic interest, and they are very careful not to do anything that might be construed by any man not in that category as encouragement."

The flip side is that men then feel entitled to interpret any act of charity precisely as encouragement.

And so it goes.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Coming Feminist War on Engineering

Via Steve Sailer, this story, and its implications for the future of Science and Engineering in America, is the scariest thing I have seen all year.

On a lighter note, this story (via Juliette Akinyi Ochieng) . . . well, let's just say that Ann Althouse has decended into self-parody.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Quarterlife

A few months ago, I came across the website for Quarterlife, which premiered on NBC last week. The "episodes" are put online about 10 minutes or less at a time; when I discovered it, the series had posted less than an hour's running time. Seeing as how there is now about six hours worth, I guess I can count myself as an early "fan", notwithstanding I will now spend several paragraphs trashing the show.

The show revolves around a group of beautiful twenty-somethings sharing a couple of apartments in what I take to be southern California. Debra works for her father, which arrangement she hates, and she eventually wanders off to New Orleans for vague humanitarian reasons. Dylan works for a magazine, which is cool, but has to take direction from a boss, which is most uncool. Lisa is a barista with aspirations to be an actress or singer, but she implausibly suffers from self-esteem issues. Jed, Danny, and Andy (the geek) are all trying to start their own film business making commercials -- but see, they're artists, and hate having to make products that their clients actually want to buy, which may have something to do with why they are so unsuccessful. Danny eventually gets a job at a car dealership, but literally walks away because being working in sales is "phony". (Who knew?) Eric, presented in the show as the coolest, most authentic of the bunch, doesn't have a job at all, but wanders around the country from left-wing protest to left-wing protest, and lectures everyone about -- wait for it -- global warming. (Pretty original, huh? I bet you never saw that coming.)

So, the characters lurch around between moral preening, low-level personal crises of various kinds, and bitching about the HUGE imposition of the "adult" world in, you know, expecting them to earn a living. Which frustration is understandable, since the necessities of their lives -- beer, stylish clothes, sex -- seem to fall from heaven as manna (even Andy the geek gets lucky). For their part, the adults -- Debra's Dad, the car dealer trying to get a commercial, the landlord who owns the apartment building -- these are all portrayed as being unthinking materialists living unauthentic lives who deserve to have their own ambitions frustrated by the artistically superior protagonists. Why this is, is never exactly explained.

The voyeristic appeal of the show isn't exactly hard to figure out: we love watching stinkin'-cute young people being vulnerable (i.e., accessible) in ways few of us get to witness in real life. I'm not sure how many twenty-somethings actually live like this, though no doubt it is the kind of life to which many aspire. I will give the show credit for a certain level of plausibility, but one plot thread left me skeptical.

Lisa, the aspiring singer/actress, is recruited into a local band on the cusp of getting some recognition from some kind of web-based contest run out of Los Vegas. The band hasn't "made it" yet, so it's not clear what the band members do for money. (Remember, money never seems to be a significant issue for anyone on this show whether the characters are employed or not.) Lacking any actual knowledge about the music industry at the start-up level, I would think that the band is some kind of collaborative enterprise. But this is not the way the band is portrayed. The band has a charismatic leader; all the other members are dramatic nullities. It surprises no one when the leader takes Lisa to bed almost immediately.

It probably says something that this is the only instance among the show's innumerable acts of fornication that rises sufficiently above our culture's background noise of sexual immorality to inspire a post complaining about it. Be that as it may, in this particular instance, the writers took a particularly long leave of reality. Is it really likely that this guy could, essentially, bring his girlfriend into the band, something that no other band member gets to do, and nobody else resents it? Granted, he's clearly calling the shots, but seeing as how nobody's making money yet, isn't his status as leader granted to him contingent on the expectation that he uses his authority to advance the common project, and not just to, um, sleep with the lead singer?

I may not be articulating this very well. It kind of goes to the reason why, for instance, the military, and other large corporations as well, issue rules governing "fraternization" between ranks, particularly when the relationship overlaps a superior-subordinate relationship. It's an abuse of power even when consensual, and it undermines good order and discipline.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Talking Sense on Immigration

Via Bobvis, I came across Vera's Log, written by an American (Jew?) living in Finland (or lived there in the past, I'm not sure which). The woman has some, um, interesting stories. But what attracted my attention was her writing on immigration:

Not that the US doesn't have immigration-related problems, but in general it is doing much better than Europe. Which makes me wonder: how come all the people who like to advertise the joys of immigration in other countries rarely mention the US, and never mention Israel? These are undoubtedly the two first-world countries that have accepted the most immigrants with the best success.

One can wonder whether the better integration is the result of higher tolerance, or the higher tolerance is the result of better integration - I suspect that both are to some extent the case - but I think that both ultimately stem from the fact that the US doesn't usually take shit from its immigrants. Public assistance for refugees is not for life, unless the refugees are elderly; the immigrants who commit more or less serious crimes are deported regardless of what awaits them back home; and if you want to teach your children your native culture, language and religion - well, it's a free country, your time and your money. Americans will often welcome the immigrants and mean it, they will hire the immigrants, but if the immigrant cab drivers decide that their religion doesn't let them transport passengers carrying alcohol, Americans will also explain to them in no uncertain terms that this is unacceptable.

I never really thought of us here in America as living in a libertarian paradise, but then I guess its all relative:

Europe, on the other hand... I know the situation firsthand in Finland, but I follow it in the rest of Europe, and it's quite similar, with some differences, but the general impression is that Europe wants to accept the most unacceptable things and tolerate them through the clenched teeth. Nobody seems to expect the refugees to integrate, or to work, and many of them don't, because the public assistance is forever. Half of the population of some immigrant groups don't have jobs, or know the local language, but damn, we gotta teach them their native language, culture and religion, and arrange their own time in the swimming pools. Europeans keep the violent refugee criminals here, because to deport them is somehow considered equal to death penalty (why? most refugees are not in an imminent danger of death), and then complain that refugees commit a lot of crime.

This is an important point. Many commentators (neocons, mostly) supporting immigration will point to the Irish, the southern and eastern European immigrants of the turn of the previous century and say, see, nativists complained about them, too, and here they are, successfully integrated, unremarkable Americans except for their surnames, and even those aren't so remarkable anymore.

There are several problems with this narrative; for one thing, it skips over a lot of detail: the New York Draft Riots, Sacco and Vanzeti, various ethnic mafias. But what I want to focus on here is that we aren't the same country anymore. And it's not just multiculturalism, "diversity", and affirmative action, although these play their role.

Back then, immigrants either succeeded and thrived, or they failed and went home . . . or starved. And nobody missed them. We just don't allow that anymore. We don't allow people to live the kind of life that even our legal minimum wage will buy. Never mind the direct transfer payments or EITC; we socialize all manner of services that are disproportionately consumed by immigrants: public education, medical care (in ERs), police protection (Latin immigrants and their offspring commit more crime), etc. Today, failure doesn't mean starvation. Failure means government subsidy.

This is not a call for returning to the nineteenth centure, and it wouldn't matter if it was: we are never going back. But given that we aren't going back, we must realize that the engine of assimilation no longer works as it once did, and our immigration policy must adapt to this reality.

Vera continues . . .

It is, IMO, an immigrant's responsibility to integrate into a new culture, but if you feed them indefinitely, don't deport them for serious crimes, and try to encourage them to retain their culture as much as possible, is it any surprise when many of them live on welfare, commit crimes, and don't even bother to learn the language?

Unfortunately, none of this is likely to improve, in either Europe or America. We just aren't willing to practice the kinds of discrimination that motivate immigrants to assimilate to mainstream cultural, behavioral, and economic norms.