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Saturday, December 05, 2015


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It is clear and obvious that such a moratorium is called for and you list many of the reasons. Additionally, I would say that anyone concerned with preserving America and not turning the country into something very different should support an immediate total immigration moratorium, not just for Muslims, like we had for something like forty years in the twentieth century. The current immigration laws that go back to, I think, 1965 have been a disaster, as they give overwhelming preference to non-white, non-European immigrants and allow for these people to bring large numbers of their family over as well. They have dramatically altered the demographics of the country and if we don’t stop this immediately, traditional American will be gone. And by ‘traditional America’, I mean a lot more than just the racial composition of the country.

As I’ve been saying in our conversations here, there is not even a conceptual framework that Americans have for talking about this. Virtually all political discourse in our country, including conservative and libertarian discourse is so conceptually impoverished or blind to the problems that the moratorium, which is obviously warranted, is not even on the radar politically. Until there is a common understanding and acknowledgment of how misguided and destructive to human well-being diversity and multiculturalism are when implemented within a country, and until it is understood and acknowledged how homogeneity is so fundamentally important for human well-being, I don’t think we can even get anywhere. So, again, I think the best we can probably do is map these things out for future people who will look back on western civilization and wonder what went wrong. But perhaps I’m being pessimistic.

>>Virtually all political discourse in our country, including conservative and libertarian discourse is so conceptually impoverished or blind to the problems that the moratorium, which is obviously warranted, is not even on the radar politically.<<

I agree that both libertarians and conservatives are blind to the problems caused by mass illegal and legal immigration. But libertarians are worse since they do have a conceptual framework that justifies 'open borders.'

('Open borders' is like 'open marriage' -- the phrases imply no borders/marriage at all.)

Conservatives by and large are too unintellectual or anti-itellectual to have thought the problem through properly.

But the fiery Judge Jeanneane (sp?)Pirro last night on Fox gave a blistering 'opening' as she call it in which she called for a closer scrutiny of visas.

Trump has now breached the media wall of silence on Muslim entry into the U.S. Per "The Art of the Deal" the billionaire has once again set the terms of the debate and the gabfest begins. (It is beyond me, Bill, that the media and the political consultants still cannot figure out that Trump, being a businessman, is running for president as a businessman.) Kudos on anticipating this issue.

Bill T

P.S. Also a thumb's up for that delightful turn of phrase "effete and epicene".

Hi Bill,

It's been a while. I hope you are well.

People like Trump because he is fearless and because they are sick of wimpy, p. c. 'conservatives.' The immigration question is obviously a legitimate one, so let's discuss it!

"Think of it in terms of cost and benefit. Is there any net benefit from Muslim immigration? No. The cost outweighs the benefit. This is consistent with the frank admission that there are many fine Muslims who would add value to our society."

What is missing from the list is any indication that citizens of one country may have duties of assistance, protection, or, dare I say, love, towards refugees of civil war, religious persecution, etc. There is an immense and I think unmeasurable benefit, which seems to have no place in your calculus, for those thousands upon thousands of poor families struggling to find some kindness in their torn-apart worlds whom we can help. I'm guessing your understanding of the purpose of government doesn't admit of such duties towards non-citizens. I think that is a flaw in it.

Jeremy, why aren’t you taking into account the same “immense [and] unmeasurable benefit” to help one or several of the thousands of people (e.g., homeless people or children that you could adopt or be a foster parent for) that you or your family could help right now? Do you draw boundaries upon whom you let into your house and whom you support like a member of your family even though helping them is an “immense” and “unmeasurable” benefit? Of course you do! A county and culture has (or its members have) the same kind of moral rights and status that you have to preserve and protect your family and preserve your way of life. Do you not see this?

Bill never said that there aren’t reasons to help other people or that we shouldn’t do things to help them. But just as you obviously don’t have to destroy the integrity and safety of your family by turning your house into a homeless shelter, we don’t have to destroy the integrity and safety of our country by allowing large amounts of Muslim immigration.


The first responsibility of a government is to protect its own citizens, their life, liberty, property, and way of life. A government that fails to control its borders or allows the legal immigration of extremists bent on destroying the country of which it is the government is failing in its very first duty.

There is no moral right to immigrate. It follows that there is no moral obligation for any nation to allow immigration. This is entirely consistent with taking in refugees. But acceptance of refugees is supererogatory. I am not opposed to it. In fact I would support it in the case of Christian refugees from Syria and other countries. After all, the USA did play a role in destabilizing the whole region.

But no Muslim refugees, at least not at the present time. So I would apply a "religious test." Is that not perfectly reasonable given the destructive nature of Islam?

I would not oppose helping Muslim refugees just so long as we don't bring them here.

Anon - I can't really see the relevance of your point. I did not claim that there is an absolute or overriding duty to help those in need, just that there is a duty, and that it should at the very least be given due weight and factored into the considerations above. I deny the empirical claim that letting a few thousand refugees in would have anything like or analogous to the consequences of turning my (one bedroom apartment) into a homeless shelter.

Bill (if I may) - I agree that protection is the first responsibility, but I don't think it's the only responsibility. I also do not think rights are more basic than duties. I'm a bit wary of rights talk at all, but it seems to me far more clear that we (collectively) have a duty to help refugees (when doing so will not undermine our own safety, etc) than that there is no right to immigration. So if duties and rights are connected the way they are often taken, I guess I do think there is at least a prima facie right to immigrate. So we disagree primarily about both what sorts of duties attach to states, and the, it seems to me empirical, question about what is at stake for us in allowing in refugees.

(FWIW, I think there are other considerations in favor of allowing and against disallowing that you don't discuss, centered around the perception our actions give rise to to moderate Muslims. The fanatical side insists that there is a war between the West and Islam. The moderates are not so sure, they want to believe co-existence is possible. When Western countries tell suffering and desperate people they are not wanted because of their religion, it will make the fanatical ideology look that much more attractive.)

Jeremy, you refer to letting in “a few thousand” refugees. Is that really what you are concerned about? Are you saying that you agree that we are clearly not required to let in the hundreds of thousands as is being discussed, but that we should let in some extremely limited number of a few thousand? Is that what you are arguing for?

I think the intellectually serious dispute about Trump's proposal to temporarily deny Muslim non-resident aliens entry into the U.S. is grounded in the conflicting Wilsonian and Jacksonian concepts of America. (We can ignore the Left because they will say anything in their pursuit of power.)

Wilsonians think America is, in essence, a country where all people can flourish because it is dedicated to the universal ideals of the human condition to which everyone aspires if not frustrated by oppression. Therefore Wilsonians tend to favor open borders and nation-building. They argue that "American Way" is natural to each and every human being who will become a liberty-loving citizen of a democratic capitalist republic given the opportunity to do so.

Jacksonians think America is a NATION defined by history and geography with a distinctive character and culture that Americans rightly protect and preserve. It is a mistake to pigeonhole Jacksonians as nativists or worse, bigots, as Wilsonians are wont to do; one of the defining distinctions of the American character, according to Jacksonians, is the belief that America is the shining city on a hill. It is the place where human beings best flourish regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or creed IF AND ONLY IF they can and will assimilate. Therefore Jacksonians tend to favor limiting immigration to those who will assimilate and are dubious of military action overseas unless American lives and interests are at stake.

The political conflict between the Wilsonians (the "establishment") and the Jacksonians (ordinary Americans) defines the current divide. This conflict has been brewing since identity politics took hold after Word War II with increasingly fierce contests every 20-25 years -- to wit, Thurmond, Wallace, Perot, and now Trump. This contest may be the one finally fractures the current party system. It will be interesting to see.

Good analysis, Bill. The key notion here is assimilation. Those who can't or won't assimilate should not be let in. My mother came from Italy when she was ten speaking Italian. She became fluent in English and she named me "William,' Not 'Guglielmo'!

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