Monday, January 30, 2017

A "Radical Experiment To Fundamentally Transform...Who Is Allowed Into The Country

The L. A. Times says that Bannon and Miller are running:
   ...a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.
...
   The chief architects of Trump’s order, Bannon, Miller and National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn, forged strong bonds during the presidential campaign.
   The trio, who make up part of Trump’s inner circle, have a dark view of refugee and immigration flows from majority-Muslim countries, believing that if large numbers of Muslims are allowed to enter the U.S., parts of American cities will begin to replicate disaffected and disenfranchised immigrant neighborhoods in France, Germany and Belgium that have been home to perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Europe in recent years.
   Within decades, Americans would have “the kind of large and permanent domestic terror threat that becomes multidimensional and multigenerational and becomes sort of a permanent feature,” one senior administration official argued.
   “We don’t want a situation where, 20 to 30 years from now, it’s just like a given thing that on a fairly regular basis there is domestic terror strikes, stores are shut up or that airports have explosive devices planted, or people are mowed down in the street by cars and automobiles and things of that nature,” the official said.
   Counter-terrorism experts have long noted that Muslim immigrants in the U.S. are better assimilated and less likely to be radicalized than immigrants in many European cities.
This is is very, very not good. And I'm someone who's skeptical of "multiculturalism"--a can of worms that has never properly been opened and investigated in our public discussions. I have no interest in actually promoting a fragmented culture, as so much of the left does. I'm also not in favor of promoting a unified or homogeneous culture, either. I view both sides of that disagreement with grave suspicion. The point is: if we have/had good evidence that Muslims will/would  not assimilate, I am inclined to accept that as a reason for decreasing Muslim immigration. I am disinclined to think that we betray our values by refusing to cause that kind of problem for ourselves. But we'd need some damn good evidence for the non-assimilation prediction.
   Though, contra the Times's suggestion, it isn't very helpful to note that Europe has a bigger problem. What we need to know is whether we do or will have a problem here. And I don't know the answer to that question.
   However... Here's a thing about the contemporary GOP: they tell you you're buying conservatism, but what you're commonly going to get is radicals.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

There is a paradox, IMO, in there being more tension in Europe regarding Muslim integration.

For all its vaunted 'liberalism' and open-mindedness, many European countries are all about enforcing conformity and trying to engineer harmony. Hence laws against headscarves and the like.

While in the more 'conservative' US, we generally allow immigrants of all types to assimilate at their own pace. We mostly don't give a sh*t if someone wears strange attire, prays differently and has different dietary rules etc, as long as they work hard and don't hurt anyone else. Sure there are people who make fun of 'freaks' and there is a streak of xenophobia. But the core of 'American-ness' is striving and living and letting live...everything else is fuzzier.

I think this explains why, historically at least, there has been smoother assimilation in the US.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it weird that people Europe as a way to update down their credence that mass Muslim migration will lead to unassimilable terror threats in the US. Like it is the result of some inherent strength of our system rather than luck due to the fact that we haven't seen the same scale of migration Europe has. Disregarding that seems like...more than an error.

It is why I can't stand the debates around it. There are tons of rhetorical moves that just reek of bad faith.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

Indeed. 'Luck' has much more explanatory power than obvious policy differences.

Sincerely,
Mr. Bad Faith

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

Didn't mean to be so snarky about that...

Especially as there are other possible explanations at hand, such as that perhaps we do a better job of screening than the Europeans. Even just by average wait time, we are a tougher country to enter - I've heard the wait averages about 2 years.

There is also the confounding factor that those radicalized Muslims we DO have here tend to be converts or 2nd or 3rd generation, so don't know how that fits into the calculation.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Especially as there are other possible explanations at hand, such as that perhaps we do a better job of screening than the Europeans. Even just by average wait time, we are a tougher country to enter - I've heard the wait averages about 2 years."

Any form of screening will degrade rapidly at scale. It becomes more and more difficult to pick out non-extremists when there are mostly extremists left.

Additionally, cultural norms that permit assimilation will degrade at scale as well. A small immigrant neighborhood in a large city is not going to cause many issues. But if an entire town becomes foreign, then people are going to worry about how much of a grasp they have on their country. Or if you get enough of a concentration that an immigrant group can warp the legal system, like what is seen in a lot of Europe, people are going to freak. And the doomsday scenario, if there are enough immigrants coming into the country without meaningful popular consent (both illegal immigration and refugee resettlement work this way) that voting demographics are structurally altered, then you have created a veritable legitimacy crisis.

I only did the host country to immigrant side of this. The inverse case holds for similar reasons. At large scale, a migrant group can form self-sustaining polities, strongly deincentivizing assimilation. Inevitable host country hostility feeds anti-assimilation views, creating a vicious cycle.

The same argument can be applied to policing, terror detection, etc.

The problem with migration into the EU is scale; the "success" of US policy is that we were lucky enough not to have been hit with that scale yet (regarding Muslims at least).

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

You are layering on many suppositions there.
First, that we will necessarily scale up to an unmanageable level of immigration? In a nation of 320 million? Just because?
And don't we already have entire cities like Dearborn, Michigan that are largely Muslim? With few issues so far? So even when they are pretty concentrated, they are not really a problem. And in fact, they are spread over many locations, in relatively low percentages: http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2010/08/10/america-s-muslim-capitals.html
How is Europe's legal system being warped by Muslim immigrants? Isn't voting, and therefore control of policy, predicated on citizenship, not residency?
What do you consider 'assimilation'? Do 1 million Chinese in NYC's Manhattan and Flushing Chinatowns not count as a huge concentration of a relatively unassimilated ethnic group? Where is the freaking out?
It seems to me that people who want to move to the US want to do so because they admire our system. That includes Muslims. Do you know any who have immigrated here?
Winston's core point is right: "The point is: if we have/had good evidence that Muslims will/would not assimilate, I am inclined to accept that as a reason for decreasing Muslim immigration."
But we have no such evidence. In fact, we have the opposite. To me, reductionist 'doomsday scenarios' seem very unrealistic.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of things.

"First, that we will necessarily scale up to an unmanageable level of immigration? In a nation of 320 million? Just because?"

Scale problems are not about percent of population, but about absolute value. It is about regulatory systems that cannot cost effectively manage migration over a threshold and what happens when we approach it. The EU has a larger population and more wealth than the US. It is buckling under the weight of two years of large scale migration.

As far as whether it can happen, I would point to advances in transportation technology and many surveys pointing to massive numbers (billions) of people seeking relocation outside their home country, with the US and EU being the most economically advantageous landing spots prima facie.

Like it or not, this is the biggest regulatory problem of the coming century.

"And don't we already have entire cities like Dearborn, Michigan that are largely Muslim? With few issues so far?"

Dearborn comes up all the time in righty propaganda. It is one of the examples I was thinking of when writing the statement. Note the point is not necessarily that something like Dearborn qualifies in a universalizable definition of "problem", but whether enough people will start to consider it a problem that we will have escalating hostility. (Which is happening: Trump)

"How is Europe's legal system being warped by Muslim immigrants? Isn't voting, and therefore control of policy, predicated on citizenship, not residency?"

This absolutely has happened. See the Rotherham sex slavery scandal as probably the most horrific example. Obviously PC turns all this into overdrive, as seen in Rotherham.

"But we have no such evidence. In fact, we have the opposite."

My whole point is we do have evidence. Literally the past two years of European migrant policy is a massive datapoint towards that. I provided a pretty simple model that you can find a host of evidence for from the past two years to explain it. If you are not going to move up your Bayesian estimate after seeing what has happened, you are probably spearfishing.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

Except you are single-sourcing all of the 'buckling under the weight of two years of large scale migration'. So you have a massive datapoint from which you're stripping other confounding factors.

The buckling is also due to economic mis-management, especially a dubious single currency and counter-productive austerity. Immigrants are and always have been the handy scapegoat.

This, combined with opportunism by certain groups, including not only the right wing, but also PC milking for its own purposes, has not helped.

To what extent is it OK to blame the immigrants for the problems? Or put another way, to what extent is the reaction to the immigration *reasonable*? We should always give in to 'escalating hostility'?

I am less interested in the deontological justifications for immigration... like the 'duty' to help shelter refugees (we are a signatory to the Refugee Convention, making it part of our law) and the supposed benefits of a 'multicultural society'... I am more interested in the instrumental value we get from immigration: as a Jew, I believe a greater diversity of cultures assimilating here provides more protection against any one group being singled out for harassment and persecution. This would also explain the widespread opposition of the AJC and other organized Jewish groups to the EO.

The panic about Muslims has all the hallmarks of the 'Ebola freakout', which had politicians running around demanding the full and immediate cessation of travel to and from the most affected countries. Which, the experts told us, would be counterproductive. As it turns out, they were right.

Shutting yourself off from the world is not going to work. And you can say the culture into which the immigrants are coming doesn't matter. Doesn't make it true. Here is Peter Bergen on the problem of terrorism:

"Bergen also drew a strong contrast between the threat of homegrown terrorism in the United States and in Europe. In France, one out of every ten Frenchmen is a Muslim, yet “70% of the prison population is Muslim. This is a highly criminalized, ghettoized, marginalized group.” In contrast, American Muslims are well-educated, well-integrated members of American society. Many more European Muslims have gone to Syria to join ISIS. But while “you can drive from Paris to Damascus, you can’t drive from Damascus to Chicago.”

Europe is also haunted by a rise of fascism that threatens to exacerbate the societal isolation that is part of what drives Muslim extremists to attack their fellow citizens.

“The American dream has been a firewall against these ideas. Not completely, because we’ve had these 300 cases. But there is no comparable British dream, EU dream, French dream,” Bergen noted.

Bergen concluded by saying homegrown terrorism is a phenomenon that can be contained and managed. In some sense, it has already been. But his optimism is muted. Despite everything, he said, “Someday, someone will get through.”

Homegrown terrorism in the United States should therefore be understood as a “persistent, low-level threat that will likely go on for a long time,” said Bergen. He then suggested that to stop it we should recognize Muslim communities as an antidote. Indeed, it is often members of the Muslim community who tend to inform on those in their midst who become radicalized. Law enforcement can partner more effectively with these communities, and even enlist defectors of the cause who could serve as a resource to those who may be tempted by radicalism in similar ways."

1:58 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

This is an extremely interesting exchange you guys...thanks for it. I'm learning a lot.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

I'm sure I can learn a lot too.
I don't have all the answers, but I would be very interested in what The Mystic has to say about it.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Except you are single-sourcing all of the 'buckling under the weight of two years of large scale migration'. So you have a massive datapoint from which you're stripping other confounding factors."

It really isn't single sourced at all. I'm just using a huge example from recent memory.

Other large civilizations done in by migration: Rome, Byzantium, virtually every indigenous population of the Americas. The persistent issues of the Balkans also come to mind regarding the dangers of long-standing cultural incompatibility of a migrant group (Muslim turks). If we are going to be less disaster-focused, even in the US, vigilante justice against immigrants at the turn of the century often exceeded violence against blacks (the largest lynching was against Italian-Americans). Eventually we started restricting migration before the Second World War.

"I am more interested in the instrumental value we get from immigration: as a Jew, I believe a greater diversity of cultures assimilating here provides more protection against any one group being singled out for harassment and persecution."

I'm not sure this will work as you think. You are multiplying ethnic fault lines and hoping that diminishes the chance of conflict, but it is really minimizing the chance of conflict most people think of because of recent history (viz. Jim Crow style supermajority oppressing a minority), while creating a fertile space for constant, multilateral conflict among groups that cannot ever achieve any sort of dominance, which they will still want, like it or not.

Think about the Balkans as the result of modern migration, because modern migration can come from anywhere (this is just a technological reality), meaning a mishmash of mind-numbing cultural divisions and grievances with no possible solution. It also means we can't just focus on terrorism. Rotherham wasn't terrorism. There are a bunch of other sources of conflict than non-state cells trying to slaughter innocents for religious PR.

Still, there is definitely instrumental value in immigration, and I'm not saying we should completely close it off (the only absolutists here are the lefties who insanely want to throw the doors open). My concerns are twofold: scale and legitimacy.

Basically we need some sort of tight quota, and a way to stress-test the quotas. Even if the method is primitive for a time we can iterate on it. Also, we need to make sure that migration is done with the consent of the nation. Winking approaches to illegal immigration like in the US and unilateral executive orders by a Merkel to bring in millions are toxic for legitimacy reasons alone.

Both concerns are consistent with allowing migration into a country, but with an eye to the risks.

Also, I'm just going to note this:

"Europe is also haunted by a rise of fascism that threatens to exacerbate the societal isolation that is part of what drives Muslim extremists to attack their fellow citizens."

Social isolation is a massive issue in the US. The spree of mass shooters were all isolated young men. And I doubt that fascism is the root of social isolation in Europe either. More likely its a matter of structural changes in modern society (porn, video games, decay of voluntary institutions,...).

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

I actually found this, about the EO specifically, pretty reasonable:

http://forward.com/opinion/361932/both-the-right-and-left-get-the-muslim-ban-wrong/?utm_content=daily_Newsletter_MainList_Title_Position-1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Daily%202017-02-04&utm_term=The%20Forward%20Today%20Monday-Friday

8:21 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home