Saturday, January 16, 2010
Emma Lazarus, Nation of Immigrants, yada yada
President Obama decreed that Haitian citizens living here illegally would get a pass for the time being. A news item about this in the Washington Post brought proponents and opponents of illegal immigration out of the wood work. One proponent made the standard arguments, quoting from the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty, along with the "we're a nation of immigrants" stuff. If you have friends/relatives/workmates making these big-hearted arguments, you might find my rebuttal useful. Here it is [the graph shows US population growth BTW]:
joeyangel1 rebutted those opposed to letting hundreds of thousands of illegals stay by quoting the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty ("give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free)", then invoked the standard leftist arguments that we're a nation of immigrants and that anyone who objects to illegal immigration ought to go back to where they came from themselves.
Well, that's somewhere between fatuous and insane.
Point 1--the Emma Lazarus poem:
Lazarus wrote her poem in 1883. She was campaigning on behalf of fellow Jews in Russia who were being attacked by Russian pogroms.
In 1883 the world's population was around 1.6 billion. America's population was around 58 million.
The world's population has quadrupled since then, and America's--without adding appreciably to its territory--has quintupled.
So yeah, in Lazarus' day America needed immigrants. Now, with five times as many people...it doesn't. Unless they have skills or investment capital we need.
Unless you're invoking our compassion.
Many Haitian are starving today, and they certainly need our help. Many are also deserving people.
Um, according to United Nations estimates, ONE BILLION PEOPLE are starving today. They live in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia. Starving Haitians aren't starving any more or less than any of these other one billion people.
So by your logic, we are morally obligated to take them all in.
That gets you an America with the same demographics as India, which has a middle class about the size of our entire current population--plus a billion starving, illiterate peasants with no job skills other than manual labor.
So quoting Lazarus may make you feel good about what a wonderful, compassionate guy you are, but trying to apply that poem to the radically different situation today is ridiculous. And I seriously doubt you'd actually vote to let those one billion worthy souls move here. If that's true you're a hypocrite as well.
Point 2: "we're a nation of immigrants." I'm not an immigrant. I was born in California, and I've lived here all my life.
If by "nation of immigrants" you mean ancestry, every single nation on Earth is a nation of immigrants except for Kenya/Tanzania and thereabouts, where the human race evolved.
By your logic we'd all have to move back there. Or if you just mean people who displaced other people--and not counting the Neanderthals as people--everyone in Europe today except for the Celts, Basques and Sami, pretty much, would have to move back to central Asia. Mexicans of Aztec ancestry would have to move back to what is now the United States. Navahoes would have to cede much of their territory to Hopi. The Japanese would have to cede Japan to the Ainu, except for those with Ainu blood--which is most of them.
For that matter, I'm 3/32 Cherokee. So 3/32 of me gets to stay? Which 3/32?
I have to assume people make arguments like these because they were never trained to actually think.
Point 3: Applying your logic to the Dominican Republic:
The Haitians occupy 1/3 of the island of Hispaniola. The other 2/3 comprise the Dominican Republic. It's easy to tell which is which if you fly over the island. Haiti is the part with no trees that's turning into a desert.
Now by your logic, the 10 million Dominicans should let the 10 million Haitians walk over the border. Dominica has plenty of trees the Haitians could chop down for firewood, and only 1/3 the population density of Haiti.
So--you're the president of the Dominican Republic. Here come the Haitians, heading for your border, desperate. Your nation isn't destitute but it ain't rich. Taking in all the Haitians will with 100% certainty destroy your country. And BTW they speak a different language and have a different culture.
What would you, with your big compassionate heart....do?
Posted by Ehkzu at 8:53 AM