Pondering the Immigration Imponderables

This piece at the Library of Law and Liberty is a nuanced take on the mass immigration from impoverished countries currently being experienced by most of the West. Dalrymple explores the difficult connection between one’s personal experience and public policy. After a touching description of the immigrants who care for his mother-in-law (“they are extremely good people, whose warmth, kindness, humanity and mannerliness were obvious on first acquaintance”), he nevertheless wonders whether such immigration is justified, and acknowledges that the answer to the one question does not necessarily provide the answer to the other:

1. I sympathize personally with the immigrants;
2. I like the majority of those whom I have met;
3. I recognize that, along with many others, I benefit from their presence, though I do not know precisely what the size of that presence ought to be;
4. I do not know what their overall economic effect is;
5. I do not want to see my society changed irreversibly by their uncontrolled influx.

3 thoughts on “Pondering the Immigration Imponderables

  1. john malpas

    After all the effort fighting off the spaniards, Napolian and Adolph Hitler – why would anyone want to believe that the erstwhile british wanted boatloads of foreigners imported.
    I have heard all the propaganda but most of it is lound lies. Nobody asked if London was to be brown.
    And the fact that laws and police were designed to stop all protest must surely tell you what the indigenous population thought.

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  2. Yakimi

    Although I am immensely indebted to Theodore Dalrymple for starting me on my journey to the Right, I’ve always felt that his one blind spot, though not so great as be called a failing, is his optimistic opinion of immigration. I can certainly see why his circumstances would contribute to such an opinion. In his place, with his family history, I would almost certainly think the exact same thing.

    I do like that he acknowledges the tension between his experiences and his conservatism. Few columnists would admit so brazenly to intellectual uncertainty and subjectivity. It is a reminder that Dalrymple’s virtue as a writer is that his opinions are personally and practically informed. Those experiences may lead him occasionally astray, but it is the experience, and not just the conclusion, that makes him worth reading.

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  3. Yakimi

    By the way, an article by the Doctor in The Australian.

    Denouncing the white cop shows leftists’ analysis is only skin deep

    AS a well-known figure once put it, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’’ And he went on to denounce those who concerned themselves exclusively with the former but never with the latter. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’’

    But in the modern world there is a new phenomenon, undreamt of by Jesus: those who see the beam in their own eye but never the mote in their brother’s eye. This is just as blinding, just as inimical to moral clear-sightedness. It is also a manifestation of spiritual pride.

    Reporting of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, by French left-wing newspaper Liberation is an example of this. The newspaper presented the refusal of the grand jury to indict officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson police for having shot dead a young black man, Michael Brown, as racist and nothing else. The possibility that the jury thought, on the evidence presented to it, there was no reasonable prospect that Wilson could be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the alleged crime in any subsequent trial simply did not occur to the newspaper. Racism was the only possible explanation for the jury’s verdict; and, since the jury stood for America and America for Western civilisation, we all stand condemned by that verdict. How wonderful we are to ­acknowledge our sins.

    In its own way, then, Liberation, in common with many such publications, is as racist as Der Sturmer. For it, and them, men think not with their brains but with their skins — or at least white men do.

    It is true that an arbitrary killing by an agent of the state is more ser­ious than, say, a killing in the midst of a jealous private dispute, in the sense that its social effect is so much more harmful. It destroys the idea there is justice in the world; it provokes a generalised, if subliminal, fear.

    But was the killing of Brown entirely arbitrary? His mother said she did not believe Wilson intended to kill her son, but he intended to kill someone: in other words, he had acted from a pure lust for ­murder.

    There is not a shred of evidence for this; and to believe the killing was entirely arbitrary one would have to believe it was entirely a coincidence that Brown had been engaged in a violent robbery only minutes beforehand, and that Wilson’s no doubt panic-stricken and not very professional response had no connection to the victim’s ability to appear menacing.

    In all the hand-wringing over the case, by Liberation and others, a few salient facts were lost from sight.

    When demonstrators held up placards saying “Black lives matter’’, they did not mean those 5375 blacks murdered last year, overwhelmingly by other blacks (93 per cent of black murder victims between 1980 and 2008 were murdered by blacks, about 180,000 in total); political entrepreneurs did not rush to commemorate any of them or turn them to political advantage. What they meant was that black lives matter when they are ended by whites, especially by policemen.

    Here the figures are indeed startling, though also instructive. Between 1980 and 2008, about 12,000 people were killed by the US police (and 2000 policemen were killed). White officers killed twice as many white suspects or felons as they killed black; black officers killed nearly four times as many black suspects or felons as they killed whites.

    More than a quarter of blacks killed by police — about 1300 of 4500 — were killed by black officers; and as black officers represent only a sixth of the force, a black man should therefore be warier of a black policeman than a white.

    (This might not be quite fair, for there would be more black officers in a black area than in the country as a whole.)

    The point is not whether Wilson acted rightly or wrongly but whether the case of Brown is being manipulated for political pur­poses. And, oddly enough, that ­manipulation is deeply demeaning to the black population of the US.

    By concentrating so extravagantly on the death of Brown to the exclusion of so much else that may be said about the case, an exaggerated significance is ascribed to the actions of Wilson.

    By this exaggeration, he is ­accorded the kind of status young children accord their parents: he should have been all understanding, all good, without fault. Since Brown clearly came nowhere near those standards, as a glance at the video of his conduct in the store he robbed amply demonstrates, the world is thereby divided childishly into those who must be held up to the highest standards (the authorities), and those (the people) to whom no such standards apply.

    Nothing could be better designed the keep people in a permanent state of dependence. Thus Liberation is deeply condescending to the objects of its sympathies, as left-wing liberals usually are, and indeed is outright racist. For if Brown had been shot by a black policeman in similar circumstances, the case would not have merited a line.

    Theodore Dalrymple is the author of more than 20 books.

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