All posts filed under: Immigration

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity—A Review

A review of The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray, Bloomsbury, 280 pages (September, 2019). Elias Canetti was awarded the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature for his fiction. But the Bulgarian-born German-language novelist also was noted for his non-fiction work about mob violence, religion and tyranny. In the opening paragraphs of his 1960 book on the subject, Crowds and Power, he observed: The crowd, suddenly there where there was nothing before, is a mysterious and universal phenomenon. A few people may have been standing together—five, ten or twelve, not more; nothing has been announced, nothing is expected. Suddenly everywhere is black with people and more come streaming from all sides as though streets had only one direction. Most of them do not know what has happened and, if questioned, have no answer; but they hurry to be there where most other people are. Douglas Murray, an Associate Editor of Britain’s Spectator magazine, has become fascinated by these same themes. In two recently published books, Murray has described (and criticized) this same …

Europe’s Virtues Will Be Its Undoing

Terrible is the temptation to be good. ~Bertolt Brecht We often forget that contemporary Europe was not born, as the United States was, in the euphoria of new beginnings, but in a sinking sense of its own abjection. The crimes of the Nazis affected the entire Old World, like a cancer that had long been growing inside it. Thus, the European victors over the Third Reich were contaminated by the enemy they had helped defeat, in contrast to the Americans and Soviets, who emerged from the conflict crowned in glory. Ever since, all of Europe—the East as well as the West—has carried the burden of Nazi guilt, as others would have us bear the guilt of North American slavery and Jim Crow. It has left us sullied to the very depths of our culture. Isn’t this what the Martinique poet Aimé Césaire contends when he de-Germanizes Hitler and makes him the very metaphor of the white man in general? In 1955, in his Discours sur le Colonialisme, Césaire points to: [The] very distinguished, very humanist, …

Greece: Tensions Rise Again As Migrant Crisis Escalates

For debt-stricken Greece, the migrant crisis is hardly over. The new center-right government is grappling with a surge in migration and deteriorating conditions in the country’s asylum centers. Migration in the Mediterranean has increased in recent weeks to the highest level since the EU-Turkey deal in March, 2016, and Greece is back to being the main entry point for hopeful migrants. So far this year, some 36,000 people have entered the country through its sea and land borders, already surpassing last year’s influx of roughly 32,000. By contrast, the other two European frontline countries, Spain and Italy—both economically and politically less fragile than Greece—have received a total of 26,000 migrants together in 2019. The situation could escalate even further; Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatens to re-open the route for migrants into Europe, if he does not receive adequate international support for his plan to resettle one million asylum seekers from Turkey to northern Syria. (Turkey has nearly 4 million Syrians, by far the biggest group of refugees.) Meanwhile, conditions are worsening at Greek asylum centers. …

Immigration Is Changing America Less than You Think

Few issues dominate current American politics more than immigration. Images of migrants illegally crossing the southern border, and the detainment of those caught by the border patrol, animate both the Left and Right. Central to this debate is America’s large Hispanic and Latino population, mostly driven by decades of immigration from Mexico and Central America. (The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” largely but not entirely overlap). The famous “melting pot” metaphor for assimilation has given way to more sectarian hopes by Democrats that the new arrivals will amplify their numbers, and to fears by Republicans that they will be outvoted. The hopes of the Left were perhaps most famously encapsulated in Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis’s highly influential 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, which forecast a new progressive era largely based on demographic changes. On the Right, white Americans’ fears of becoming a minority in the coming decades helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. Yet from a certain standpoint, the influx of immigrants has changed America far less than imagined. One measure …

Immigration Policy and the Rise of Anti-Democratic Liberalism—the Case of Israel

“Overnight our public sphere changed. The sense of security was gone, we shut ourselves indoors, the parks were overtaken day and night, and we forbade children to go there,” Shefi Paz, the leader of a grassroots movement against illegal immigration to Israel, explained in an interview with the daily Maariv a few weeks ago. Women were harassed on the street,” she said. “It was like an occupation by a foreign army. No law, no authorities would protect citizens.” Paz is perhaps not the person you would expect to find at the front of such a protest movement. She is a 66-year-old lesbian, and a former left-leaning LGBT activist. She now sees herself as firmly on the right. For her, as for some in Israel, and for many in Europe and the US, the issue of immigration has changed the terms of the political debate, shedding new light on issues of justice and class. But above all the debate over immigration policy, it seems, is but a proxy for a far larger struggle over the future of …

Eastern Europe’s Emigration Crisis

In recent years, most of the debate around the global migration of people has focused on the movement into developed countries and the political battles that ensue. Most famously, Trump has overturned the wisdom of the American political establishment by saying the unsayable on immigration. Politicians from Riga to Rome have won votes (and office) by exploiting similar anxieties. But we seldom talk about the places which, year after year, see more people leave than arrive, and the consequences of countries saying goodbye to some of their best and brightest—often for good. Nowhere is this concern more pressing than in Eastern Europe. According to the UN, of all the countries that are expected to shrink the most in the coming decades, the top 10 are all in the eastern half of the continent, and seven of those are in the European Union. One cause for concern among many of these countries is the EU’s freedom of movement, one of the four “fundamental freedoms” of goods, capital, services, and people that bind the 28. Although most …

Europe’s New Beggars

Recently my wife and I walked along the fashionable shopping street Avenue Montaigne, situated between Place de l’Alma and Champs Elysées in one of the most affluent Parisian districts. Passing the elegant window fronts of Chanel, Givenchy, Jimmy Choo, Luis Vuitton, Prada, Valentino, and YSL, we noticed a woman and child half-lying on the pavement in tattered clothes, appealing to passersby for money. While it was a particularly appalling sight in this prosperous setting, it was not an anomaly in the urban fabric of Paris. Such expressions of extreme poverty and deprivation have, in fact, become sadly familiar features of most Western European cities of late. Indeed, as a result of the European Union’s eastward expansion during the previous decade, and the principle of free movement of persons within the E.U., thousands of rough sleepers, mostly ethnic Roma from the ex-socialist countries Bulgaria and Romania, have arrived in the streets, parks, and playgrounds of the E.U.-15 countries. Contrary to the purpose of free movement, most have not come to work or study, but to beg …

Lessons From a Recovering Identity Warrior

In 1988, my family fled Iran to seek political asylum in Canada. I was 5 years old. When we arrived, we did what all desperate immigrants from war-torn countries do: We found our ethnic enclave and surrounded ourselves in it as much as possible to help ease the transition. During these years, I thought I was the default, the norm. That is to say, I thought I was white. Almost all of my friends were Iranian. We ate the same food, pronounced each other’s names correctly, and our parents spoke the same language at home. I never had to deal with any racial tensions at all. All of the other ethnic groups at school—the Tamils, Latinos and Jamaicans—did the same. Everything fit. My ethnic identity wasn’t something I thought much about. That was until we moved from the multicultural milieu of Scarborough (a suburb of Toronto) to Burnaby, British Columbia, when I was 11 years old. My new school featured only one other set of Iranian siblings amidst a sea of white and Chinese kids. …

A Liberal’s Plea for a Moderate Immigration Policy

Recently, my family was mentioned in an article in the Washington Post Magazine about our dear Salvadoran friends, and their struggles associated with the impending wholesale cancellation of Temporary Protected (TPS) status. As the piece details, my friends stand to be kicked out of the country and forced to make the difficult choice of whether to leave their citizen children behind, or subject them to risk-filled futures in an unstable country. They are faced with this terrible decision because of the Trump administration’s policies, which have ranged from arbitrary to cruelly invidious—policies that have left many people rightly outraged. The answer to this problem though, is not to be found in the growing calls on the Left to “abolish ICE.” The suggestion that we don’t need any border enforcement is as unrealistic as that rhetoric is politically self-defeating. Rather than making practical policy proposals in a sincere effort to solve immigration issues, the loudest voices on both sides of these issues seem content to simply signal purity to their respective bases. This problem is not …