Your Lying Eyes

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07 April 2006

Other Than That, No Problem

Mickey Kaus has been doing yeoman's work on the immigration front, digging out immigration proponents' arguments and frying them for breakfast. Today he goes after a Latino author/blogger's "16-point Open Letter..." (cutely titled "How Stupid are the US Media?!?!") and makes the important point that Mexican immigrants are particularly scary because they believe they have a rightful claim on 2/3 of the U.S. landmass. In making this point he bypasses a real howler in her point 13:
Tell us in concrete terms what the risks and dangers are being brought to the US by "illegal" immigrants. Now tell us how these problems, if any, differ from the problems caused by U.S. citizens of all other backgrounds. Be precise. Control for economics and educational background. Can't find any? Thought so.
Do you see that? - "control for economics and educational background." Well that's just the point - hispanics have terrible economic and educational numbers - and they don't improve over generations. So "controlling" for these factors is rather silly - that's like comparing two cars and saying that contolling for horsepower, they're the same speed.

Maybe if we stop immigration dead in its tracks, American Latinos will have a chance to assimilate and join the mainstream as have other waves of immigrants from the past. But there are two huge differences now from then. 1) Our society insisted on assimilation. Immigrants publicly debased themselves before the public, pledging how they wanted nothing more than to shed the foreign aura of their birthplace and become a full-fledged American. Today, of course, pandering to immigrants is de rigeur, including the spectacularly stupid policy of bilinguilism. And, perhaps even more important, 2) previous waves came from Europe. We now know that Europeans, on average, are more intelligent - and thus better able to succeed in a modern, market economy - than native North American peoples. Of course, this can't be said on TV or in newspapers, but I think most people understand this. This is why Chinese immigrants do so well even though they're not usually the cream of the crop who arrive her - they are on average actually smarter than Europeans. We can expect Latinos who are of European (Spanish) descent to succeed here - but for others, it's not so likely.

We shouldn't get too teary-eyed over past immigrants, of course. While Italian-Americans are very successful, a large element - particularly that from Sicily - was very destructive, bringing along a murderous crime culture that corrupted American society at the highest levels. Irish immigrants, while generally law-abiding, took several decades before their income and educational began to rise in the late 60's. A culture of patronage (and rampant alcoholism) probably contributed to this delay. Daniel Patrick Moynihan fretted about this mightily in his 1962's "Beyon the Melting Pot." It's not hard to imagine that if the Irish immigration waves were shifted forward only a few decades, the welfare society that erupted in the 60's could have doomed even the Irish (think Belfast).

In the case of Italian immigrants, our country would be alot better off and saved itself a great deal of pain had it had a more selective immigration policy that would have weeded out those with criminal backgrounds or coming from mafia-infested areas. As for the Irish, even the non-institutionalized patronage system almost doomed them. Today, we have no control over our borders, institutionalized welfare and patronage, and a massive surge of immigrants from an ethnic group without any history - here or in their home country - of economic success. Doesn't sound very promising, does it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Irish immigrants, while generally law-abiding"

You're kidding, right? Take a closer look.

April 07, 2006 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well maybe I'm letting my partial Irish heritage color my judgement. I know there's always been that element like the mob-sub-contractor Westies group, but I didn't think criminality was associated with the Irish. So I guess I do need to take a closer look.

April 07, 2006 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, if Fitzpatrick can bring down the Bush admin all is forgiven.

April 07, 2006 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we go back to the mid-19th century the Irish were cetainly a crime problem. I usually think of them as disbursed by the 2oth century but that's not really the case. I guess Honey Fitz and the Kennedy clan would be obvious examples of mid-19th century Irish immigrants. These immigrants were certainly a terrible bane to the Americans of the time. And there were the draft riots in NYC where Irish immigrants slaughtered blacks in the streets - showing that Irish were not only capable of serious crime but not particularly inclined to be loyal American citizens. So point taken.

So, there again, a more controlled influx of Irish, rather than crowding them into east coast tenements, would certainly have been a lot better for all concerned.

April 07, 2006 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They weren't called paddywagons for nothing.

The irish _had_ to flood in rapidly, since they faced starvation at home: at last in the first big potato-famine rush. I don't think an orderly absorption was possible. Look, if illegals coming today had to do it or die, I'd let them in too.

April 07, 2006 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We really weren't prepared for all the Irish coming in I suppose, but we could have maybe disbursed them on arrival a little better.

What about Darfur and other famine events in Africa? We probably won't have to worry about an influx of desperate people from Africa because they're too poor to get here, but I don't think we'd want a million+ refugees from places like that, regardless of how dire their condition.

To some extent though the Irish famine-wave was similar to the current wave. Then the British were more than happy to let us take in the bulk of Irish refugees, and Mexico the same way about their emigrants (though they're obviously not life or death cases).

Maybe we should engineer a communist coup in Mexico and they'll build a wall to keep their people in.

April 07, 2006 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Nice detailed post here. You make a good point in that too often, the open-borders pro-immigrationists get all dewy-eyed about Ellis Island and previous waves of immigrants-- while forgetting that some waves of immigrants were successful, and others were definitely not. Many immigrants were extremely destructive, prone to crime and quite damaging to societal cohesion. The 9/11 hijackers, after all, were legal immigrants. (This should be a reminder to anyone making that recurringly idiotic statement that "millions of immigrants are fine, so long as they're legal.")

The problem with the immigration debate today, is that too many Americans have a distorted sense of history, as though the country has always had its arms open, letting immigrants flood in and consistently benefitting in the process. That may have been the case in the early days after the Revolution to an extent, when the Germans, Scandinavians and Irish streamed in to take advantage of the cheap and abundant land in the Great Plains. But once the frontier had closed, high immigration levels also had detrimental effects on things like wages and crime, and some groups (such as the Sicilian crime families) had a terrible effect.

BTW one other thing to add, since you sort of refer to this in the post-- I think that those of us in the immigration reform movement, need to start keeping a very wary eye on the English Only or Pro-English crowd, many of whom are actually Open Borders advocates in disguise. Some of the Pro-English people claim to be on our side and even join the immigration reform groups, but then turn out to be Trojan Horses who attempt to gut needed reforms. In my small immigration reform group a couple years ago, we had a guy from the Pro-English side of things whom we allowed in on our meetings. However, we ultimately kicked him out when we learned that he was handing out literature advocating pretty much open borders and 3 million immigrants annually, his schtick was that "the high numbers are OK so long as they learn English." We thought it might have been an anomaly, but then the same basic thing occurred with two other pro-English folks more recently.

I don't know where to begin about how incredibly stupid this argument is, but the problem with at least a large fraction of the Pro-English crowd is that they're slaves to superficiality. The language itself is less important than the cultural beliefs (and *work ethic* above all) of the people, and also the sheer numbers and carrying capacity of our cities. We could invite in a couple million English-speaking immigrants from Bangladesh, Nigeria or Jamaica every year for example-- and then our cities would still choke and collapse in the midst of the crime, gang warfare, wage depression, environmental ruin and overcrowding.

The language is just a surface facade for what's underneath, and that's the failure of the Pro English open borders people-- millions of third world immigrants wouldn't suddenly transform into diligent and productive citizens upon learning English, they'd still be prone to the same criminal activities and social miasmas as before. (If anything, the crime might get worse-- they'd be better able to communicate with their intended robbery victims.) It's not a common language as much as a shared underlying culture, of tacit beliefs, that bind us, and some crash English course won't suddenly transform the millions of Third World gangbangers we're allowing in every year, into productive Americans who respect the Constitution and praise the Founding Fathers. Besides, the sheer numbers themselves are pushing our economy to breaking. The only solution lies in reducing the numbers of immigrants allowed in each year-- the *legal* as well as the illegal-- down to more manageable numbers, like around 120,000 or so at most. It's the legal levels that are the real sticking point. Even if we could deport all the illegals tomorrow, the US would still fall apart within a couple decades from the millions of Third Worlders who come in through "legal" channels (aka the chain migration provisions of the 1965 and 1990 laws).

April 07, 2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger Glaivester said...

Maybe we should engineer a communist coup in Mexico and they'll build a wall to keep their people in.

Not necessarily. Didn't East Germany in the cold War [unofficially] encourage the emigration of East Germans who were economically useless? Didn't they actually wink at people getting out as long as the people getting out were a net drain on their economy without whom they'd be beter off?

April 08, 2006 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They were able to identify "economically useless" people as they left? How did the powers that be do that - were the potential departers required to bring a financial statement with them as they approached the border?

April 08, 2006 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry Elder opined that the Irish changed from a ghetto underclass culture, so blacks could do it.

One problem, Black America lacks one thing we micks had that they don't, The church.

It was a lot of work but the church with its school system had an effect that can not be duplicated.

I know from experience. In the working class suburb, I attended a papist academy run by nuns. I hated them and eventually they suggested I leave.

Well, at public high school, I never had to study and still was able to keep my head above water.

I'm not religious and the parochial schools are a shadow of what they were (though still superior to gov. schools, hardly overachievement that). I think I might be homeless today had they not been there for me.

Such institutions will never be duplicated and the Irish experience in this country would have been different and not better.


April 10, 2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

The Irish also lacked one important thing that blacks had too much of - an overactive sex life. The Irish never suffered anything near the illegitimacy rates that blacks had even back in the good old days.
I appreciate your thoughts on parochial schools, but the real difference lies in the relative disparity in innate cognitive skills - probably the real force behind your effortless high school experience, rather than nun-terror.

April 11, 2006 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nun terror was not all that bad. The difference between parochial school discipline and that of the public school was that the papists kept doing what state education had abandoned. We heard tales from older people about the evil principal with the wooden spoon.

The biggest form of terror the nuns wielded was the threat of exposing our misdeeds to our parents who would look askance at our actions with extreme prejudice..

The mythology of sister school concentration camps has been a bit overdone. People as adults remember school as being a gulag, because that is what it is and to some degree must be. They remember an hour of detention as solitary or the time Sister Leonardine shook you because every day for a month you forgot your milk money becomes criminal abuse.


April 12, 2006 7:57 AM  

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