Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's A Compliment

Mosque near Ground Zero? I'm for it. It should help to exemplify tolerance and religious freedom. That doesn't mean it will, but the potential exists. Opposition to the mosque? I understand it, but the tone of dissent should not descend into namecalling and generalizing, as has unfortunately been the case.

Anchor babies? It's not a nice term, for one thing, but it's also a compliment. You're saying certain people take great risks to ensure their children are born in the United States of America rather than somewhere else? And you're offended by this? I, on the other hand, am honored. And in any event, why should the children of illegal immigrants suffer consequences for the decisions of their parents? This is not to say the concept of birthright citizenship produces no undesirable results, but I believe the revocation of citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants would inflict far more damage.

Many of the concerns about integration, immigration, and assimilation actually serve as a major compliment not only to the United States but to the entire western world. Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States are where a great many people from other parts of the globe want to be. There are, of course, some Westerners who would rather be elsewhere and that's fine too. We may refer to developing nations as "Third World" but that doesn't make every country with a low GDP a filthy, disease-infested dump with a revolution every year.

Indeed, despite their reputations, which range from mediocre to, in some cases, completely neutral due to lack of information, "poor" nations aren't all bad. Yes, South Africa and Mexico have their share of squalor and social upheaval, but they are big countries with plenty of livable space. Botswana, Costa Rica, Ghana, and Chile all possess reasonable measures of stability, not to mention beauty.

But back to the point. Why aren't some of us more flattered by the idea that people from poor countries want to come hang with us in the developed world? Is there a perception that they are coming to take away what we have? Or that they "don't fit in"? What is it that creates anti-outsider sentiment? The instinct for self-preservation? Fear of the unknown? While clearly the West cannot simply throw the gates open and extend a hand to every one of the hundreds of millions worldwide who lack adequate food and water or are stuck in repressive political regimes, it makes little sense to lock ourselves down when we profess to be "open" and "free" societies.

The long-term goal is to make everywhere in the world livable but the feasibility of this objective may prove very daunting. I am no follower of Thomas Malthus so I don't feel threatened by overpopulation per se. Overpopulation may present problems in certain parts of the world, most notably small, crowded, and poor Asian countries like Bangladesh, but if you check the population density of Niger, Chad, and Mali or even non-Saharan countries like Liberia and Zambia, it's easy to see that their poverty is not brought on by overcrowded conditions. But even if overpopulation is not a major concern, distribution is. Is it realistic for three to four billion adults to have iPads and drive hybrids to drop their 2.4 kids off at school on their way to jobs at the software engineering complex or the space science center? Clearly, it is not. Progress will be, and always has been, incremental.

In the meantime, let's not give up on immigration. It has been both necessary and desirable in the past and there's no reason to suspect otherwise about the future.


Post a Comment

<< Home