I came across this interesting quote in an opinion piece about the recent (and glorious!) vote by the British to free themselves of the dictats of European bureaucrats: “[A]re people who are legitimately worried about an almost overnight cultural transformation of their country really racist, or just concerned about the economic fallout from unfettered immigration?”
I wondered how this might apply to our situation in the United States. Is it really racist to want to prevent your society and culture from being transformed by the influx of people from other countries? Don’t people who are already “here” have the right to say, “Stop! I don’t want my country to change quite so fast! And if it means that some people who are in line to get into the country must wait, or even turn around and go somewhere else—so be it”?
Surely we as a people have a right, in fact a duty, to only allow people into the country who add to the net well being of the whole. We don’t have an obligation to let people in just because they want in, or because it will benefit them.
Australia, which knows a thing or two about immigration by dodgy characters (since it was originally a penal colony), assigns a point system for allowing people into the country to work. The more skills you have, the higher your education, the more you will contribute to the Australian economy, the higher your points. What, ultimately, is wrong with that?
If, at the beginning of the 17th century the Indians of the Eastern Seaboard had been in a position to say to the Pilgrims: “Yo! Get back on your ship and go home! We don’t want to lose 90 percent of our population to smallpox. We’d prefer not to be pushed out of our own country and be slowly enslaved. We don’t want to be forced to give up speaking Algonquian and take up English.” Wouldn’t that have been better from their standpoint?
I’m not assigning moral points in this discussion, by the way, just practical ones. I’m happy that the Pilgrims landed, and that lots of other British colonies were established and that the United States came to be. But from the point of view of the indigenous people who were already here, it was a less than optimal result. Of course, they had all of that cultural diversity to look forward to. And they got it, good and hard.
Do we want to be in the position of those indigenous people? No, we want to welcome immigrants who will honor our traditions, treasure our constitution, speak our language (I know, that’s asking a lot) and other things that good neighbors do. Hopefully, they won’t bomb movie theaters or open fire on rooms full of people.
I was having lunch with a good friend recently—a friend who supports allowing Syrian refugees into the country. I asked, “What if you knew for certain that a certain percentage of those refugees were terrorists, would you still let them in?”
She said yes she was willing to take that chance.
I’m afraid I’m of a somewhat less kind heart. We in this country are engaged in a mighty discussion of this issue. It remains to be seen whether the kind hearts, or the hard hearts, or some compromise position, wins the day.