Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Worlds Collide

Too many Americans on the left (and some on the right) look down on those who oppose mass unassimilated immigration as mere racists who are too ignorant and poor to know better. These snobs are wrong. Dangerously and totally wrong.

George Friedman, in his discussion of Geert Wilders, writes of the nature of this struggle between worlds in the debate over immigration:

In some countries, such as the United States, immigration and nationalism are intimately connected. Since economic opportunity requires speaking English, immigrants must learn English and their children learn loyalty to the regime. It is an old story in the U.S. But when there is no opportunity – as in many European countries – assimilation is impossible. And when the immigrant chooses not to integrate, then something else happens. The immigrant is here not to share the values of the country but as a matter of convenience. He requires toleration as a human, but he does not reciprocate because he has chosen to be a guest and not a citizen in the full sense of the term.

For the well-to-do, this is a drama acted out of sight. The affluent do not live with poor immigrants, and if they know them at all, it is as servants. The well-off can afford a generous immigration system because they do not pay the price. The poor, who live in neighborhoods where immigrants live, experience economic, linguistic and political dislocation associated with immigration, because it is the national values they were brought up with that are being battled over. It is not simply jobs at stakes. It is also their own identities as Dutchmen, Americans or Poles that are at stake. They are who they are, and they battle to resist loss or weakening of this identity. For the well-to-do, those who resist the immigrants are dismissed in two ways. First, they are the poorer citizens, and therefore lack the sophistication of the wealthy. Second, because they are poor, they are racists, and nationalism is simply a cover for racism.

Thus, nationalism turns into a class struggle. The wealthy are indifferent to it because their identity derives from their wealth, their mobility and a network of friends that go beyond borders. The poor live where they were born, and their network of friends and beliefs are those that they were born into. In many cases, they have lost their jobs. If they also lose their identity, they have lost everything.

For people of the so-called "compassionate" Left, they find it so depressingly easy to demonize people who are being destroyed by problems the upper class Left will never face because of their money and social status.

Perhaps it is because I am of two worlds that I resent the left-wing assault on Trump supporters as evil, ignorant, racists even as I do not like Trump himself (he is a former liberal and personally distasteful--although I never feared him and hoped he'd do as well as he is doing so far on policy).

I was, as I've noted, born in "Deplorableville." Born and raised in Detroit, I received an education from good schools and live in Ann Arbor, "Elitesville," if you will. It is a slice of our coastal elites right here in flyover land. Contempt for the people I grew up with as family, friends, and neighbors is obvious.

I enlisted in the Army National Guard not--as so many in Elitesville truly believe--because I couldn't hack it in the civilian world. I enlisted because it was my duty to defend America, and at 26 I was running out of time to fulfill that duty.

[Mind you, my duty was easy, peacetime duty. I can only say I was almost sent to war in 1991. "Almost" is the same as "not sent," in the end. I will feel guilty about that as long as I live when so many suffered from real service, truth be told.]

I never learned to share that contempt for good and decent people playing by the rules others wrote, despite my education and zip code. So many who make that transition, perhaps fearing rejection in the new world, reject their past to avoid that fate. I remain with a foot in each world, in my heart at least, even if I no longer have the real fear of lost jobs and identity that the working class has.

I worry my children will lack the balance I maintained and because of their education and zip code will be firmly residents of Elitesville. I try to help them maintain respect for the problems and people of Deplorableville. It would break my heart if I fail.

Yes, the "why do they hate us?" debates flourished on the Left after the 9/11 terror attacks to justify as a reaction to American policies why some Moslems could become jihadis who slaughter us in our buildings with our own planes.

But the Left will never have a heart-felt debate about why working class Americans--or Europeans--hate mass immigration when it wrecks their jobs and their identities. And why they responded to the one politician--imperfect as he is--who heard their cries for help. Ah, empathy and compassion.

For God's sake, do read it all. We should all want America to prosper under Trump out of empathy and compassion for fellow Americans. And if that isn't enough for you, from true fear of who could come next.