Thursday, January 17, 2008

House of Cards

Orson Scott Card of Ender's Game fame has written an article detailing, among other things, why illegal immigration isn't all that bad. I was challenged to read and comment upon it. Having done so, I've concluded that Mr. Card's career as a novelist was an appropriate choice, since he has a firm grasp of fantasy. I hope he doesn't quit his day job.

It may require a couple of posts to critique his long, fallacy-ridden article.

Early on in his piece, Card suggests that a focus on illegal immigration for Republicans at election time has disastrous potential. He then observes prophetically:

This year, though, is one of those pivotal elections that may well set America's future course for decades -- possibly forever. Like the election of 1860, the issues are vital and clear -- and the future almost impossible to read, except that really bad things might happen.

The vagueness of this scare-mongering statement is downright silly; if you remove the reference to 1860, it could apply to any election since the country's founding.

We are a nation at war, with the intellectual and media establishment -- the universities, most television, and most newspapers -- so passionate to stop the war that they seem willing to throw away any chance of victory as soon as possible, lest we win before they can secure our defeat.

I've made clear in the past that I don't take the war seriously; why should I?; the president doesn't. As for victory, I'd like to see Card define it for us. Does he mean creating an Edenic utopia in Iraq, or just annihilating most of the terrorists? The latter is realistically more possible than the former. I firmly believe that instituting a viable, self-sustaining republican form of government in a Muslim country is impossible. Freedom of conscience--liberty of any stripe--is anathema to the basic tenets of Islam.

The Democratic Party is going to nominate someone committed to that position -- ending the war immediately, without possibility of victory. All of its leading candidates are pledged to that position.

Of course, since Card has made no case for why ending the war is problematic, or what true victory means, I don't find this eventuality particularly troublesome.

Up to this point, his argument is that the "show must go on," and only Republicans can be counted on to make it happen.

Too aggressive, and our president will unite all of Islam against us, and then we will have a genuine World War III, for who can doubt that China and Russia would arm and train them to bring us down?

Apparently he's laboring under the delusion that Muslims are rational beings. Muslims do not view American actions with the attitude "Oh, well, they're not too aggressive, yet; I'll just go back to whetting my scimitar. Woman, bring me some goat bladder soup." Instead, it's more like, "An attack against my Islamic brothers is a slight against all the House of Islam." That's how devout Muslims see the situation. It's the most tribalistic, "us-versus-them" religion on Earth. As a tiny bit of evidence, I offer the jigs of joy displayed by "Palestinians" after 9/11. As for China and Russia, does he believe they'll refrain from arming Muslims--despite the benefits derived therefrom--unless and until the guano hits the proverbial fan?

Too timid, and our president will signal our Islamicist enemies that we are back to the weakness of the Clinton years, and they can do what they want, using attacks on the West to boost their prestige and power in the Islamic world.

These "attacks on the West" haven't ended, despite our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember the 2004 Madrid bombings, and the London attacks in 2005? And personally, I consider sieve-like northern and southern borders a perfect match to the description "weakness of the Clinton years."

In other words, we need a president who is as resolute, careful, and moderate as George W. Bush has been (despite the obviously false claims of his enemies).

There are several candidates in the Republican race who might just be that president: Giuliani, Romney, and perhaps McCain (though moderation has never been his hallmark). Each has his virtues, each his problems.

More profundity. We need a president who will be moderate. Perhaps McCain will be, though moderation is not a known quality of his. These are brilliant insights, Mr. Card. No, really. Perhaps bloblike entities from Rigel will land in my backyard and declare a cure for all of humanity's ills, and train said cure's sights on our planet from orbit.

I am a Democrat, and wish fervently that my party would nominate someone I could vote for.
When Democrats defend Republican policies, you know there's something wrong with the GOP.

Here is the great irony: Even as President Bush's policies are leading us to victory in Iraq, which will certainly make the war a huge plus for the Republican Party, the Republican candidates are ignoring the war and beating each other up over an issue that could well destroy the Republican Party for years to come.

I speak, of course, of Mexican immigration into the United States.

Here is the great irony: Even as Mr. Card accepts as a given--without elaboration or evidence--that Bush's policies and the war in Iraq are "leading us to victory," the American people have become less enthusiastic about the war. Simultaneously, U.S. citizens all across the philosophical and political spectrums agree that illegal immigration must be stopped, while Mr. Card believes that focusing on popular, election-winning issues is disastrous for our country. Exactly how does taking the American people's side on an issue that resonates with them lead us into a trap that "could well destroy the Republican Party for years to come."? As I alluded earlier, Mr. Card is a consummate fantasist.

For instance, one of the greatest complaints against "illegal immigrants" is that they are refusing to learn English and are not assimilating. The scholarly in this camp invoke the example of ancient Rome, which invited large, coherent, undigested and unassimilable groups of Germans within the boundaries of the empire.

Yes, and how did the Romans profit long-term from this decision? Opps, well, the outcome wasn't so nice, so let's flippantly disregard it.

I could happily spend many pages pointing out why this is not the clearcut example they suppose it to be, but instead I will simply point out what should be obvious: First generation immigrants rarely become fluent in their new language.

Translation: Your illustration is so ridiculous, it is beyond my ability to refute it.

Meanwhile, the second generation of legal Hispanic immigrant families is becoming fluent at about the normal rate. It's a non-issue. They're not stupid -- they know their lives will be better when they're fluent in English, and even better if they have no accent.

A study by Dr. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies found that high school dropout rates for second-and third-generation Mexican-Americans are 2.5 times those of Americans by birth. The Pew Hispanic Center, not what I'd call an anti-Mexican organization, found that Hispanic immigrants self-segregate in major U.S. cities, and usually attend Latino public high schools. Nationwide, Hispanic enrollment makes up 13 percent of the total; but 85 percent of Hispanic students are concentrated in a small number of schools. These inner city schools tend toward high dropout rates and poor educational records.

Peter Brimelow's Alien Nation makes similar points. Card's assertion that second-generation fluency in English is a "non-issue" is his opinion--an opinion which contradicts factual studies conducted by others.

I can tell you that in my neck of the woods, I see no evidence that these people care one whit about learning English; nor do they typically speak to their children in English. They congregate together, conduct business in Spanish, and insulate themselves from the English-speaking world, for the most part. If you can get by without learning the language, why bother?

The illegals have far less chance to become fluent because they are, essentially, in hiding; the less contact they have with native-born English-speakers, the safer they are.

So keeping them illegal is also keeping them from learning English. Giving them legal status would make it far more likely that English would remain the dominant language in America.

This is patent nonsense. These people are not in hiding; they move about openly in the grocery stores, malls, and throughout the public arena, without fear of apprehension. Perhaps you should get out more. Mr. Card, we're not "keeping them illegal." That's an asinine perspective. They made themselves illegal, when they slipped over the border in violation of American law. Notice that the rule of law plays zero role in this man's evaluation. He suggests that we arbitrarily make them legal; I'm assuming he wants a revocation of our immigration laws, or blanket amnesty; otherwise, how do we "make them legal?"

Another of the big complaints against illegals is "they don't pay taxes."

Well, duh. You can't pay taxes without a social security number. If we gave them legal status they'd have that number, and then they could pay taxes.

Many have phony social security numbers, and even get refunds from the government on taxes they never paid. Duh. Guess you didn't know that. And way to ignore the fact that certain greedy employers hire illegals off the books, pay them cash under the table, and no taxes get paid--by the employer or the exploited illegal alien. I suppose the real scourge of greed doesn't exist in Card's fairytopia.

However, it's a non-issue for another reason: Most illegals are paid so little that their income never rises high enough for them to pay income tax!

Wow! I bet that works out well for them, since they disproportionately land on the welfare rolls: heck, we won' pay no steeenkeeeng taxes; and gringo can foot the bill when we get public assistance! What a country!

So they are paying taxes, at exactly the same rate as any native born low-income Americans. Only the Mexican-haters want to deprive them of any of the benefits that they are, in fact, paying for.

What an intellectual disconnect. He just admitted a few paragraphs above that they don't pay income taxes. Now they're paying at the same rate as the native born? I also enjoyed the cheap shot at the end, where we're told that decrying the invasion demonstrates bogotry.

In fact, I believe that illegal immigrants are, indirectly, paying a far higher tax rate than other low-income Americans. We don't call it a tax, but it amounts to the same thing: I refer to the sharp increase in buying power for all Americans because illegal immigrants work for subminimum wages, thus keeping prices in the stores lower for everyone.

Uh, sorry, but increased buying power doesn't equal an additional tax. And there is no "sharp increase." Economists have determined that, if all the Mexicans went home tomorrow, prices on good likes produce would increase slightly, and that's all. The point is irrelevant, anyway, because the prices--low or high--are set artificially by the presence of aliens in the job market. I'm calling for this artificial construct's removal, by giving them incentives to go home.

Thus far, Card has demonstrated no empathy for American citizens displaced by aliens, or for the depressed wages they earn. I suppose that's the real non-issue, for Mr. Card.

The truth is that illegal immigrants, because they can be cheated and oppressed with impunity due to their lack of protection by the government (which they do pay taxes to support), are subsidizing for all Americans a higher lifestyle than we could otherwise afford.

Is this supposedly an argument in favor of backing off the immigration issue, or for addressing it in a more coherent manner? By the way, I dare you to try that "subsidizing for all Americans a higher lifestyle than we could otherwise afford" crap on Americans who can't get a job for their skill level, or decent wages. I'm sure you'll have a sympathetic ear.

I've heard some complain with resentment that the illegals don't want to be citizens, that they wave the Mexican flag and despise America.

First, I know for a fact that that is not the feeling of most Mexican immigrants, legal or not.

Mr. Card, I stand in awe of your apologetic prowess. I mean, if you say it's a fact, it must be, by virtue of the fact that you said it. I'm convinced. The massive numbers of illegal aliens thronging the streets in protest marches, waving Mexican flags, pictures of Che Guevara, and historically illiterate signs screeching "THIS IS A STOLEN CONTINENT!" and "ANGLOS: ILLEGAL INVADERS SINCE 1492!" are mirages experienced by those thirsting for Mexican blood. Reconquista movements--such as MEChA, the Mexica Movement, and La Raza--are figments of deluded minds, si? The rewritten national anthem ("Nuestro Himno"), MS-13 and other well-heeled street gangs, and the obtrusive leftist slogans all point toward loyalty and true expressions of Americanism. What was I thinking?

Second, why should illegal immigrants not feel greater allegiance to Mexico? America keeps telling them that they don't belong here, they aren't welcome, there's no road for them to have legal status and never will be.

Mr. Card, you're either a liar or willfully stupid. America has perhaps the most liberal immigration policy in the world, with the possible exception of Canada. Mexicans already have a road to legal status, you dunce; it's called immigrating legally to the United States. It's called following the law. Ever heard of it? Are you suggesting that legal immigration to the U.S. by Mexicans is impossible?

Understand that when Card mentions a "road to legal status," he's referencing blanket amnesty. It's the only logical deduction available to us.

This one is obvious: Because we declare all these illegal immigrants to be criminals and threaten to deport them if they're caught, they can't cooperate with the police to report the real criminals who hide among them and prey on them.

The more of Card's tripe that I read, the more convinced I become that he's a blithering idiot. If someone's an illegal immigrant, he is--by definition--a criminal. Get a dictionary and look up the word "Illegal" sometime. It'll be a mind-expanding experience. Illegal entry is a misdemeanor; reentry after deportation is a felony. As for deportation, there's very little threat of that at present, and you know it. People afraid of deportation do not parade about the streets, waving Mexican flags. That I must point this out speaks volumes about your intellectual honesty, or perhaps your intellect--full stop.

As for criminals "preying on them," let me just go all nativist for a second and say that I'm much more concerned about illegal alien criminals preying upon my fellow citizens. I'm a bigot that way.

I ask you, please, to look closely at the way our current immigration laws contribute to or cause all the problems that actually worry you.

I'm fond of Card's baseless assertions. Aren't you?

If we converted the status of all our present illegal immigrants to legal immigrant or legal migrant worker status, then key changes would happen instantly:

1. All these immigrants or workers would come under the protection of laws they already are taxed to support: Minimum wage, health and safety laws, and so on.

Hm, I had no idea that our focus should be on protecting the "rights" of illegal aliens. I was under the silly impression that domestic security and the best interests of Americans should take priority.

2. These immigrants would now have an incentive to report the criminals who, after all, prey mostly on them.

Yes, because people with criminal mentalities become pillars of your community, when you wave a wand and make them law-abiding citizens by nullifying immigration laws. One question Card doesn't address is that if your first act upon entering a country is a knowing violation of its laws, why should others believe that you won't continue breaking those and other laws?

3. Coming out of hiding, it would be far easier for these immigrants, and their children, to learn English and become full participants in American culture.

Assuming, of course, that they want "to learn English and become full participants in American culture," which is a case he hasn't made. Nor does he tackle the subjects of bilingual education, or America's once-prevalent and now nonexistent assimilation incentives. The "melting pot" was tossed out long ago.

If we took any of these rational steps (which are called "amnesty" in tones that suggest it's a hideous disease) we could come far closer to a solution to all the problems that the anti-illegal-immigrant faction claims as their reasons for opposing amnesty.

No, it's not a disease; it's just a decision not to make someone pay the just penalties for his acts. Amnesty has cultural ramifications which Mr. Card doesn't relish discussing, so he pretends they don't exist. Rather than attacking those on the opposite side, I'd prefer an explanation for why he's pro-amnesty and anti-anti-illegal-immigrant. In other words, why are you pro-invasion, Mr. Card?

I laughed out loud when I heard Mitt Romney state that if you give amnesty to illegals, it will just encourage more illegal immigration.

I laughed out loud when I heard someone state that if you give amnesty to burglars, it will just encourage more burglary. I laughed out loud because I realized that some people are so stupid, they can't comprehend this basic truth. Generally speaking, when you reward bad behavior, you get more bad behavior. This isn't rocket science. Are teenagers more or less likely to become promiscuous when you hand out condoms like candy on Halloween? Since Reagan's 1986 amnesty of illegal aliens, has illegal migration into this country markedly increased, remained static, or decreased? (Hint: it's the first one).


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