The Pope on immigration

Here’s the Pope’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which I gather is an annual event in the Catholic Church: “To Overcome Racism, Xenophobia and Exaggerated Nationalism”. What he says is in one sense typical — it follows the line all respectable Christian religious leaders now follow — but in another sense quite extraordinary:
  • He speaks of “undocumented migrants” as among “the most vulnerable of foreigners,” of “the Christian duty to welcome whoever comes knocking out of need,” of “true acceptance of immigrants in their cultural diversity,” and of “Christ, who through us wishes to continue in history and in the world his work of liberation from all forms of discrimination, rejection, and marginalization.”
  • He “urge[s] Catholics to excel in the spirit of solidarity towards newcomers among them.” “Such openness builds up vibrant Christian communities.” Therefore, “Christians must struggle to overcome any tendency to turn in on themselves.” He further points out that “if newcomers feel unwelcome as they approach a particular parish community because they do not speak the local language or follow local customs, they easily become ‘lost sheep’. The loss of such ‘little ones’ for reasons of even latent discrimination should be a cause of grave concern to pastors and faithful alike.”
  • He further requests that Catholics work with other ecclesial communities to create “societies in which the cultures of migrants and their special gifts are sincerely appreciated, and in which manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and exaggerated nationalism are prophetically opposed.”
  • He notes, however, that “solidarity does not come easily. It requires training and a turning away from attitudes of closure, which in many societies today have become more subtle and penetrating. To deal with this phenomenon, the Church possesses vast educational and formative resources at all levels. I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine.”
What does all this add up to?

First, it appears that every country should have open borders. If they aren’t open, some migrants will be undocumented and therefore become the special objects of hospitality and care. But if we have to welcome and care for them anyway, why not make it official and give all comers papers at the border?

Second, the flood of immigrants should be welcomed by local communities just as they are, and truly accepted in their cultural diversity. No boundaries of any kind may be drawn, because even the hint of a boundary would be latent discrimination. The Catholic Church should use its vast resources to inculcate such attitudes, and work with others to spread them through society generally. That, as all “social concerns” bureaucrats agree, is the prophetic function of the Church.

But what of the local culture? The Pope “also invite[s] the immigrants to recognize the duty to honor the countries which receive them and to respect the laws, culture, and traditions of the people who have welcomed them.” So it appears the net effect is to be a world without boundaries of any kind, in which each is equally present to all others and each respects and honors the particularities of all.

By calling for such a thing the Pope is saying nothing new but simply repeating with his usual intellectual and moral fervor the view all official moral teachers hold today. What he and other moral teachers leave unexplained, however, is how the particularities that are to be honored will be able to exist as anything but individual idiosycrasies in a world utterly without boundaries in which no culture is authoritative because each is equally present and equally honored.

The short answer is that they won’t. A culture is a particular complex of habits, understandings and loyalties that are normative although mostly unstated among a particular group of people. As such, it requires boundaries. A culture can exist as a culture only among a group of people who have grown into it together and feel that among themselves they can take it for granted. Such conditions cannot exist in a group that feels obligated to be utterly and continuously open to numerous new arrivals, avoiding even latent discrimination, and called to honor them in all their otherness.

What the Pope is calling for is therefore not the honoring of culture but the abolition of culture by the abolition of every social setting in which any particular culture can exist. Surely that is wrong. A culture is a mode of being human, and is always particular. Because man is a social animal, participation in culture — and therefore in a particular culture — is necessary for a fully human life. If it weren’t needed, why all the talk in the Church about “inculturation”?

The odd thing is that the Pope seems to understand the problem. He says “The path to true acceptance of immigrants in their cultural diversity is actually a difficult one, in some cases a real Way of the Cross.” He’s quite right. The Way of the Cross is the way of giving up everything that we have and by which we live. The proposed approach to migration does involve something rather like that.

I suppose the question I would put as a citizen is whether something that involves the Way of the Cross — whatever its spiritual benefits for a man like the Pope — can be justified as public policy. Because as a practical matter the destruction of particular culture is much less likely to lead to the vibrant communities of which the Pope speaks than to tyranny, brutishness and mutual hatred.
Posted by Jim Kalb at December 07, 2002 09:42 AM | Send


Magnificent contribution by Mr. Kalb. And he gets to the core of the Pope’s madness (I use that word advisedly). The Pope is calling for ENTIRE SOCIETIES to adopt “the way of the cross,” i.e. for entire societies to sacrifice themselves in the name of Christian charity. Sacrifice according to this Pope is no longer an individual calling; it is something that entire cultures are called to (in theory all the cultures of the earth , but in practice just the cultures of the West). And all the individuals belonging to those societies must be caught up in the same destruction of their culture, regardless of whether or not they participated in the decision.

I am unaware of such extreme antinomian statements ever having been made before in Christian history outside of weird sects. Now they are being made by the Pope.

At a immigration conference in Washington in 1997 I was on a panel where in a moment of excessive fervor I described the Pope, because of his open-borders advocacy, as a “lunatic,” a statement I regretted and apologized for. But with the kinds of things he’s saying now, I think calling him a lunatic is fully justified.

I do not mean offense to Catholics or the Catholic church. But when the Pope ventures outside the spiritual realm and begins telling entire peoples and cultures to commit suicide, he loses any claim to special consideration.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 7, 2002 12:09 PM

As a Catholic myself I can’t disagree with Mr. Kalb or Mr. Auster here. One would almost welcome a personally corrupt renaissance Pope who upholds the core doctrines of the Church to this madness of spinning modern liberal politics as spiritual obligation. At least the “spirit of Vatican II” appears to be coming to a head.

Posted by: Matt on December 7, 2002 1:06 PM

What’s worse is that multiculturalist antinomianism serves managerial totalitarianism. By abolishing all particular human connections and understandings of how things should be it turns the people into an unconnected aggregate unable to rule themselves or resist the powerful.

It’s a repetitive pattern. In China during the Warring States period political thinkers were divided into traditionalists (Confucians), antinomian anarchists (Taoists), socialists (Mohists) and totalitarian fascists (Legalists). As Vitaly Rubin pointed out in his Individual and State in Ancient China, the Taoists ended by providing intellectual ammunition for the Legalists — the antinomians served the fascist totalitarians — through their promotion of irrationalism and deconstruction of moral traditions. By so doing they made it impossible to offer principled resistance to the strongest will. In addition, they developed various mystifying expressions for the incomprehensible central principle of the universe that could just as well be turned to describe the incomprehensible will of the First Emperor.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 7, 2002 4:26 PM

So would it be true to say that in the end cultural indifferentism provides aid and comfort to a general moral indifferentism, not just leaving power to totalitarianism but actually deconstructing its enemies for it? What I know about ancient China would fit in a thimble with room left over, but the pattern sure looks consistent with what has happened in the West.

I suppose the neo objection might be that cultural indifferentism is an exaggerration of the Pope’s position, and that anyway cultural indifferentism isn’t strictly speaking antinomian. That follows the usual liberal pattern of claiming to be formally less radical than it in fact substantively is: of denying an essential _de facto_ characteristic as not formally the case. An analogous but different issue is when liberals who promulgate official policy promoting multiculturalism say that it is all OK because the policy is not one of formal quotas, though why we who oppose them should care about formal methodology remains a mystery. The neos (-Catholic or -conservative either) who promote these positions really do seem to believe this stuff.

Traditionally it was not difficult to see that Christian charity cannot entail the comprehensive destruction of the host by the guest, and that in fact that becomes a sin of (among other things) horrific ingratitude. Why is this so difficult for neos to see now?

Posted by: Matt on December 8, 2002 1:25 AM

And by the way I mean ingratitude on the part of the host. The ingratitude on the part of the guest is obvious; but far worse is the host’s ingratitude to God, in allowing the indiscriminate destruction of God’s bountiful gift of which he, the host, is steward. The motivation may seem superficially to be Christian charity, but isn’t it more akin to laziness and an attempt to purchase a clean conscience with a bloody sacrifice?

Posted by: Matt on December 8, 2002 3:57 AM

Didn’t Christ buy humanity a clean conscience with a bloody sacrifice?

Posted by: remus on December 8, 2002 4:27 AM

It would indeed be true to say that cultural indifferentism provides aid and comfort to a moral indifferentism, both leaving power to totalitarianism and deconstructing its enemies for it. It also provides totalitarianism with a vocabulary of obfuscation. In our own time, for example, “openness to change” and (in religious circles) “not putting God in a box” both mean “doing what you’re told, enthusiastically and uncritically.”

Good point about the liberals and to some extent neos retaining only formal differences from nihilists. I would have thought Catholic Christianity was designed to be proof against that particular problem — God became man at a particular time and place, a dead man rose from the dead and was alive, when you eat the bread and wine you are eating the body and blood and it’s not bread and wine any more. It simply forbids you to turn basic principles into formal concepts that can be manipulated. Say what you like about Fr. Neuhaus, he did point out that if someone talks about the “essence of Christianity” he’s not talking about Christianity because Christianity involves fact that cannot be reduced without remainder into concept.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 8, 2002 7:18 AM

To Remus: certainly; a particular one that is the only one capable of redemption. So there is a close relationship between this and the “what would Jesus do” movement. It is worth noting that God ultimately told Abraham to NOT sacrifice Isaac, and instead sent His own son to the sacrifice later. So this business about Christian charity entailing the complete destruction of the means of charity in the name of sacrifice runs deep. We don’t have the personal power to resurrect, and what we would purport to sacrifice is God’s already not ours.

Mr. Kalb: haven’t we come back to your observation that the Roman Church is the test case as to whether anything traditional and particular at all can survive the liberal hegemon?

Posted by: Matt on December 8, 2002 12:12 PM

I know that Protestantism stresses an individual relationship with God. If I am correct, the New Testament and the life of jesus provide principles for how an individual should live his life. I think the problem is that for some reason the modernists want to apply these principles to the mindset of an entire society, which is not the idea as far as I understand it. I do see the problem, however, because a firm believer of these principles would love to apply them to society, because it affects everyone, and thus has the potential to expose everyone to the charity and love that are the best characteristics of man. It just doesn’t work on a political plane.

Posted by: remus on December 8, 2002 8:37 PM

I don’t understand the reason for calling this Pope a lunatic. The Pope’s statements are no more lunatic than statements made by a great many people who are otherwise rational and not in need of medical care. He speaks and writes thousands of words every year that are perfectly sane. The Pope is the head of a religion, which requires not only reason but also faith. One should expect misunderstanding.

If this discussion were occurring in a bar among friends, one could use the word as a humorous exaggeration while smiling. Used inappropriately in serious writing, the word lunatic is a curse similar to vogue curses such as racist and homophobe. Curses require the opposite of what a writer always wants: they require the reader to question the writer’s credibility.

The Pope does not deserve disrespect. To some he might behave more foolishly than any Pope in history. But the Pope is revered by hundreds of millions of people. He works hard trying to aid people who think him a lunatic while trying to keep an extremely divided Church membership together. He trys to reduce conflict and violence even if some of us (including me) think some of his efforts are counterproductive. The Pope has never cursed an individual as far as I can recall. He is not a politician, whose careers are filled with lies and curses. Politicians regularly appeal to people’s worse instincts and can expect to be cursed. Finally, there is a long history of religious violence, and unnecessarily calling a religious leader a lunatic awakens violent instincts.

But I realize no offense was intended and no one that writes thousands of words a year extemporaneously can be error free. So I am not going to pout. Most importantly, I appreciate the opportunity of responding and look forward to more adventure here.

Posted by: P Murgos on December 8, 2002 8:42 PM

I would suggest that the Pope, or at any rate his representatives familiarize themselves with . Perhaps then a realistic appraisal of Islams attitude toward Rome might emerge.
VFTR commenters should also recognize the Popes immigration message for what it is: a nonsensical message recommending political suicide from an isolated and increasingly irrelevant vatican headed by an elderly Pope near the end of his life

Posted by: Sandysot on December 8, 2002 10:18 PM

Mr. Murgos, in your comment on the blog entry on David Frum

( ), you say,

“The grave danger that the immigration threat poses adds to the unease. We are lucky to have Mr. Auster vigilant and chinking away at [Mr. Frum’s] inconsistencies.”

Wouldn’t you agree we are also lucky to have Mr. Auster vigilant and chinking away at the Pope’s inconsistencies? Or, perhaps that should be, “at the Vatican’s inconsistencies,” for we don’t know, do we, how much this very elderly and Parkinsonian Pope is actually in charge, and on top of things. (I say this to you as one Catholic to another.)

There are policy statements which, whether they issue from governments or from the Vatican, can only be described as lunacy. I don’t see where using the word “lunatic” qualifies as a “curse.” It is a hyperbolic but widely accepted way of saying someone has got things completely wrong.

If the Pope gets immigration as wrong as he got it in that position paper, he deserves as strongly-worded a rebuke as does Abe Foxman or anyone else.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 9, 2002 1:53 AM


I don’t think the Pope or the Catholic Church is arguing for Open Borders…immigration and protection of immigrants, but the Church also recognizes the rights of nations to protect their borders…

I note this from a similar item published Dec 6 by Mexican and US bishops…and from a Nov. 15 document (I understand there is another document soon to be published)

from Zenit News…
“Not Licit to Treat Illegal Migrants Like Criminals, Mexican Bishops Insist”

“…The bishops acknowledged the right of states to protect their borders and the efforts of U.S. authorities to accept hundreds of thousands of Mexicans every year. But they pointed out that if laws and policies “become rigid and inflexible, they block legal migration and cause illegal [migration], giving sway to unscrupulous mafias.”

According to the document, the dignity and fundamental rights of illegal migrants are ignored when good-faith entrance into a territory is treated as an offense. Illegal migrants “possibly infringe a norm, but are not criminals and it is not licit to treat them as such,” the bishops stressed…”


Posted by: jesus gil on December 9, 2002 5:37 AM

Mr. Gil, I just read your link to the Mexican Bishops’ statement and it’s as looney as what the Pope said.


Posted by: Unadorned on December 9, 2002 8:36 AM

I don’t understand Mr. Gil’s point. The Mexican bishops view illegal entry into a country as “good faith,” apparently as long as the purpose is legitimate (e.g., work, education, medical treatment, joining family). In such “good faith” situations the problem is “rigid and inflexible” laws and policies, which are what cause illegal migration. As a consequence, it’s illicit to treat the entry as an offense even though it’s “possible” violation of a norm. They do recognize “the right of states to protect their borders,” presumably by enforcing documentation requirements and keeping out criminals and terrorists.

Why isn’t that open borders in the sense in which “open borders” is used in discussions of immigration? If I misinterpret them, then what else do they mean?

Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 9, 2002 8:58 AM

What the bishops refer to as a “norm” is what most of us call the *law*. Interesting, isn’t it, how they substitute the language of values for the more appropriate language of law? Deviating from a “norm” is merely a cultural choice, and we’ve all been conditioned to be tolerant of other people’s cultural choices.

Laws, on the other hand, are “rigid and inflexible” if they specify what must be done in order to enter the country legally. Establishing clear, unequivocal rules is intolerant. What’s more, passing such laws is responsible for the appearance of “unscrupulous mafias” who circumvent the rules! According to the bishops, apparently, it would be better to have no rules at all (or only vague ones), which would mean there could be no violations of the rules and therefore no criminals.

But we do have such rules, and illegal immigrants have broken them. This conclusion is unaffected by the fact that, after consideration of the circumstances, we might be prepared to be merciful when it comes to imposing penalties.

Posted by: Charlie on December 9, 2002 12:01 PM

In response to Mr. Murgos’s unhappiness over my choice of words about the Pope, I want to make it clear that I am not speaking of the Pope in his role as priest and bishop. I am speaking of him as one who, entirely outside his function as a priest, is making declarations about politics and the fate of nations. Once he enters that political realm, he deserves no more special consideration than any other public person.

I personally know a priest whom I revere in his priestly role as administrator of the sacraments and preacher of the gospel, yet whom I have no regard for as a person. It is much the same here.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 9, 2002 7:14 PM

A well-known writer sent me this comment about the Pope and immigration and gave me his permission to post it anonymously:

“His statements on immigration have made me lose all intellectual respect for the current pope.

“I used to be interested in his ideas about ‘the culture of death.’ I am no longer interested in anything he has to say outside purely religious questions.

“Whether he is the Vicar of Christ on Earth is entirely another issue, but I think it is high time to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and admit that the Catholic Church has a totally unreliable record on civic and political
issues and has no intrinsic authority or credibility on these questions.

“Sorry if this offends anyone, but there is too much at stake to sacrifice truth to politeness.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 10, 2002 12:11 PM

Mr. Kalb’s article has also been published at Front Page Magazine:

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 10, 2002 12:14 PM

Getting back to Mr. Kalb’s original article, I think that stating the equivalence of the Way of the Cross and open borders is in error. It is true that the Way of the Cross is to give up everything that we have and are — but not in some arbitrary nihilistic sense to whomever comes a-knocking. Giving up your life for Christ does not mean slitting your wrists: it means if anything that you must take special care of yourself because you no longer exist for your own sake. Giving up your life for Christ is a difficult work of preservation and ministry; suicide it is not.

So I think the basic equivalence between open borders and the Way of the Cross is simply in error. Like many modern principles it imitates Christianity but is not authentic Christianity, and this all follows this Pope’s track record of creating confusion by using modernist language in attempts to say traditional things.

That is no doubt troubling to any number of people, perhaps even to the point of creating personal theological crisis. For many protestantism-qua-protestantism is simply not credible, so what does one do when the Pope seems to have gone morally crazy? Isn’t he the primary interpretive authority on faith and morals?

What is needed is a little perspective. The Pope is an important leader and what he says should be considered with respect and seriousness. But in today’s culture of religion-as-blind-faith people find it hard to accept flaws — real, material, important flaws — in God-ordained leaders. The Church teaches “infallibility” it is true, but all that means is that on crucial fundamental questions of faith and morals, in highly specialized circumstances, the Holy Spirit protects the church from doctrinal error. It is a very limited guarantee. No such protection applies to politics (which, again, does not grant license to ignore the Pope) nor to personal conduct (to wit the renaissance Popes).

What all of that boils down to is that in this man’s opinion one can be in complete, respectful disagreement with the Pope on any number of things without immediately becoming a heretic or a liberal dissenter.

In this traditional Catholic’s opinion the Pope’s recent statements on immigration policy specifically are categorically nuts.

Posted by: Matt on December 10, 2002 1:42 PM

> Mr. Kalb’s article has also been published at Front Page Magazine

Bravo! James Kalb is a national treasure. He is one of the few truly great conservative minds alive today. I’d love to see his ideas compiled in book form.

Like Matt, I don’t see that the Way of The Cross equals egalitarianism. That’s more unitarianism than anything else. Christians of all stripes — Scottish Presbyterians, Polish Catholics, Greek Orthodox — see no contradiction between national identity and religious devotion.

Posted by: Jim Carver on December 10, 2002 2:13 PM

I just read the comments over at Front Page and re-read the original article. The only objection I saw there that seems to have legs is the notion that the Pope simply wasn’t talking about immigration policy at all. The objection seems odd. I would think this Pope would be that last person to argue that personal and church-community morality does not translate to public morality. Of course I think too that the Church’s door specifically should be open to anyone in genuine need who comes a-knocking with contrite heart, but if the Pope wanted to make sure his words didn’t get misconstrued as applying to public policy he should have (and probably would have) said so.

Posted by: Matt on December 10, 2002 2:19 PM

A couple of points:

1) Wait until the Pope’s native Poland starts to be overrun by massively overwhelming, identity-destroying Muslim immigration and then let’s see what he says;

2) Parkinson’s disease is associated in about a third of cases with concomitant dementing illness. Enough said? This Pope is too old, sick, and debilitated to continue in office and clearly should have resigned long ago. Those priests nearest to him should ease him gently out … or do they have their own agendas which they now have a golden opportunity to advance, using him as their marionette?

Posted by: Unadorned on December 10, 2002 5:10 PM

[Here’s an e-mail I sent:]

Date: 12/7/2002 11:33:12 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: Cognassier
CC:, SteveSlr

The outrageous pro-illegal antics of the Long Island Catholic Church are finally explained!

Check out this blog entry by Jim Kalb, which is both astounding and nauseating. The current bunch in charge of the Catholic hierarchy at the Vatican espouse in effect open borders, multi-culti within countries, and PC brainwashing of those who resist. CAN ANYONE BELIEVE IT? Obviously, in writing this dangerous, sickening drivel they’re thinking of the 30 million Mexicans in the United States whose presence, they hope, will bolster their dwindling numbers and influence here. (I’m Catholic, by the way.) But what of the Muslims, both here and in traditionally Catholic Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Austria, southern Germany, and elsewhere? Do they not see that their policies would lead directly to the permanent, irreversible Muslimization of Europe’s Catholic countries in less than thirty years from now? Are they out of their frickin’ minds???

Can there continue to be any doubt that the Catholic Church is not sympathetic to the aims of the friends of

Here’s the link to Kalb’s blog entry ,

and here’s the link to the original Catholic document he’s commenting on: .

GREAT detective work, Jim!!!

[Signed, etc.]

Posted by: Unadorned on December 10, 2002 6:01 PM

I agree the Pope’s political statements and actions should not be immune from criticism. It is not inappropriate to refer to someone’s statements or words with a derogatory name. I am concerned about attacking people personally in serious writing for the reasons we all know.

I would urge refraining from name calling for another practical reason. I don’t want to chase anyone away from this great Website. I would like to say a few ugly things about Mr. Farrakhan (who is regularly disrespectful), but I would resist because some of his former believers might wander in here. I especially try (but do not always succeed) to avoid attacking President Bush and most other prominent, legitimate political leaders. I am concerned their followers or sympathizers will react emotionally and exit this site. The audience is far less captive than even television’s audience. For example, I tried reading FrontPage’s reader comments, but I stopped because they are too often repulsive. (Maybe Blogs should have an A-Blog and a B-Blog, each with different rules.)

Perhaps I am somewhat ignorant. This Website, if not a Blog, is similar to a Blog where the usual rules seem more relaxed. In addition, because I am not a professional writer, I could be advocating only one of several acceptable viewpoints on modern serious writing.

I respect the thoughtful opinions everyone has advocated on my diversion. (I suspect by now most are weary with this diversion and want to address the merits Mr. Kalb’s good article.)

Posted by: P Murgos on December 10, 2002 7:29 PM

“I would urge refraining from name calling for another practical reason. I don’t want to chase anyone away from this great Website.” — Mr. Murgos.

Mr. Murgos, you’re right, of course … (why do I feel targeted here? — I’d better try to tone down some of my New-York-City-style rhetoric in this Forum … most people who may wander in here aren’t from there … gotta try to remember that!)

Thanks for your comments!

Posted by: Unadorned on December 10, 2002 7:51 PM

Here’s the response I posted at Front Page to the comments Matt mentions:

“I don’t think the Pope’s comments are only about how local Catholic churches should act when newcomers arrive if local law happens to permit them to arrive. It’s not his style when he speaks of grand public issues to address only the conduct of Catholics among themselves, and it’s not the style of the Catholic Church generally. The Church doesn’t privatize morality and it certainly doesn’t privatize public morality.

“More specifically, the Pope asks Catholics to work with other Christians to create “societies in which the cultures of migrants and their special gifts are sincerely appreciated, and in which manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and exaggerated nationalism are prophetically opposed,” and speaks of “turning away from attitudes of closure, which in many societies today have become more subtle and penetrating.” The “societies” he’s talking about are evidently national societies. He’s calling on Christians generally to take up the cause of migrants and change public attitudes as part of the “prophetic” role of speaking truth to power. And the message as a whole sets forth what the Pope views as the moral truth of the matter and what the right attitudes would be.”

I suppose I should also have referred to the Pope’s citation of “Catholic social doctrine,” since that plainly is not about the way local churches run their private affairs.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 10, 2002 8:51 PM

Shouldn’t we read “undocumented immigrants” as including legitimate refugees? Months ago, Australia was gripped by a crisis when the government decided to take a tough stance on boat people. The government refused to let a commercial ship, filled with boat people rescued from a sinking boat, to reach Australia. Why? Because once they reach port, Australia becomes bound by its own laws to hear their claims of refugee status. So what did the government try to do? They blocked the ship from reaching Australia. (There’s a certain bigotry there in having such “humane” laws and doing one’s utmost to avoid ever having to apply those laws).

One issue that was raised by the Church here was the demonization of those people: they were immediately labelled as “illegal immigrants”. They were presumed guilty even before any investigation is launched as to their claims as refugees. Many of them are undoubtedly lying about their refugee claims, but what about those who aren’t?

The Pope doesn’t attack our respective cultural boundaries either. He in fact invites the immigrants to respect the laws, cultures and traditions of the countries that receive them. He does, however, challenge cultural boundaries in as far as it becomes excessively prejudiced against immigrants. He’s not saying that all such strangers are to be given refugee status just like that. The state has its laws and procedures in place that will undoubtedly take over. But as in the case of the Australian crisis of several months ago, those laws and procedures are useless if these immigrants are not even allowed to land and make their applications. (And there are countries where refugees come from where Australian diplomatic missions or embassies are inaccessible.)

Australia eventually found valid refugees from among those immigrants (they were towed to smaller island nations nearby where they were detained while their applications were processed). It turns out that, of the few thousands who had arrived, at least 300 were later concluded to be genuine refugees.

Here is another example of unwelcome reception: boat people are immediately imprisoned — including women and children — in detention centers. Imagine the idea of imprisoning children! Some of them, including the children, languish in these detention centers for more than a year (I think some wait there for as long as 4 years), while their applications are being processed.

This is the attitude that the Pope is trying to address. For the sake of the genuine refugees, given that many countries signed up to the UN treaties on taking in refugees anyway, there should be a willingness to at least look at their claims objectively. In the meantime, they should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Pope’s message also addressed people on a personal level to try and be more polite towards strangers in a strange land, who may, after all, be innocent of the prejudices against them. Where his message was meant for Christians, the audience should not gripe too much — unless they can somehow picture Jesus Christ throwing out strangers, the marginalized and outcasts.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 10, 2002 11:33 PM

If the 300 innocent people want to hop on board with a few thousand illegals, they can spend in a few days in jail for making a stupid decision. It’s not that bad for a few days, not like they were in with the general population or anything. You can also not assume what Jesus would do in any particular situation because that is pure conjecture and not valid for a factual conversation like those on this site.

Posted by: remus on December 11, 2002 1:20 AM

Mr Tan criticises Australia for placing illegal arrivals in detention centres. I wonder how he thinks that such illegal arrivals would ever be removed from Australia if they were allowed out into the general population. Such a policy has failed miserably in Britain because when courts reject refugee applications the deportee rarely turns up for the flight home. An absence of detention centres is really an acceptance of an “open borders” policy, something that has never quite been accepted here, not even by the Labor Party.

But I have a much more important question for Jeff Tan. If all the Western countries continue to accept large numbers of foreign immigrants, even those with some claim to refugee status, then what will happen to the Western peoples? Where is the long term future then for Europeans?

Surely a moral refugee policy would require genuine refugee seekers to be settled in countries in which they are most easily assimilable, not only for their own sake but for that of the host country.

For instance, Afghani refugees could be resettled in Pakistan (if necessary with the financial help of wealthier nations). Zimbabwean farmers, on the other hand, could legitimately seek refuge in Australia. (Why? Because they could very easily continue their ethnic existence here as part of the majority ethnic culture.)

Such a policy would have the further benefit of discouraging the phenomenon of economic refugees, who abuse the refugee system to seek out a higher material standard of living.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on December 11, 2002 3:41 AM

An imperfectly understood message of American freedom and values has spread world wide. The message of our freedoms has gone round the world but our values, costs and the limits to our freedom are not well known .As a result nowadays immigrants seek our freedom but eschew the values and the cost, nor accept the limits.
Where once the “ teeming masses” waited patiently in their homelands for a place on entrance rolls, now they intentionally climb over fences, jump ship, stow away in aircraft wheel wells or shipping containers, or even worse; enter commercial criminal agreements to smuggle themselves across borders. These days, highly developed ethnic cadres in most nations, aided by American counterparts have identified and targeted the legislated weaknesses in our immigration laws and controls to gain legal OR illegal entry and thereby successfully confer unfair advantage for relatives or others who willingly embrace and/or pay money for those corrupt means. Immigrant sponsors routinely pervert legal means of access by signing false affidavits of financial support for new elderly immigrant relatives whom they quickly throw onto welfare, social security or disability rolls in a short time.
Where once they learned the common language, were tested on American history , swore allegiance to our flag, joined the American military, taught their young to love the new home land,the value of hard work, and went their individual ways to assimilate, now most of them build isolated and segregated enclaves of foreign culture inside our cities, denigrate American values from within its borders, seek political dissension as a way to promote “victim” status and gain immediate access to political power. The more malignant groups associate into anti American activity, thinly disguised as charitable or benevolence associations for their exclusive ethnic and religious associates.
The complexities of the issues surrounding immigration have increased exponentially through the unceasing manipulation of these laws by politicians seeking votes in alliance with the Jesse Jackson style new “rainbow” majority fashioned of the immigrant populations and the “victimized” minorities. Motor voter laws give new immigrants and others voting rights on the day of election, ballots are reuired in non English, and the immigration lawyers and rainbow politicians claiming to be the champions of the immigrants oppose all demands for accountability.

I think we’ve swerved away from any sensible direction to immigration policy. Our survivability as a free and democratic nation is at serious risk. We should stop, take a breather and recalculate the costs of the open door policy. And under no circumstances should we heed the cry to legitimize those who are here by unfair and illegal means.Clean up the mess and start again slowly, this time with more insight.

Posted by: sandy on December 11, 2002 5:50 AM

Jeff Tan, I forget which president it was — may have been Ford or Carter, but not sure — who, when he publicly criticized the Chinese government for not allowing citizens who wanted to to leave that country, was given the following reply by Teng Hsiao Ping: “OK, that can be arranged, Mr. President — how many hundred-million do you want?”

Enough said? (Everyone noticed that shut the president up right quick.)

And as for the Pope — gee, did the Pope really say all that? Mmmmm …. very interesting. Oh, but … uhhh … how about Vatican City putting its money where its mouth is? I’ll pay a little more attention to its crack-brained recommendations on immigration when I see IT take in amounts of totally incompatible immigration proportional to what the U.K., the U.S., and Canada are doing presently, and switch ITSELF from Catholic to multi-culti. Then at least I’ll know the Tranzi priests who operate the Vatican and likely are pulling this enfeebled Pope’s strings behind the scenes aren’t hypocrites.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 11, 2002 8:46 AM

“The Pope doesn’t attack our respective cultural boundaries either. He in fact invites the immigrants to respect the laws, cultures and traditions of the countries that receive them. He does, however, challenge cultural boundaries in as far as it becomes excessively prejudiced against immigrants.”

People want to turn what the Pope says into something quite ordinary and say “what’s the big deal, there are abuses he’s attacking, how can anyone object to that.”

He’s not just calling for good sense, fairness and avoidance of excesses though. He explicitly says that what he is calling for can amount to the Way of the Cross. And he does seem to be calling for the *abolition* of cultural boundaries. He doesn’t call the newcomers to show more respect for the host culture than the hosts are to show for the cultures of the newcomers. And as to the hosts, “mere tolerance” isn’t good enough. “[E]ven latent discrimination” is a grave concern. What’s necessary is “training and a turning away from attitudes of closure” even when subtle, and “struggle to overcome any tendency to turn in on themselves,” so that Christ can “continue in history and in the world his work of liberation from all forms of discrimination, rejection, and marginalization.”

Human boundaries always require some form of discrimination, rejection, or marginalization. The Pope is therefore in substance forbidding any particular culture from being authoritative in any particular place. The necessary consequence, I think, is that culture disappears. And that, I think, is the reason why the Pope speaks of the Way of the Cross — of ultimate self-sacrifice.

To me, it makes sense to say that in Heaven there won’t be particular cultures because particular cultures are a consequence of man’s imperfection. To say that they should be abolished today though really does strike me as antinomian. There won’t be any marriage in Heaven either, and that’s also being abolished today for the same reason culture is being abolished — because it stands in the way of the self-contained worldly utopia of liberalism.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 11, 2002 9:26 AM

Jim Kalb wrote:

>And as to the hosts, “mere tolerance” isn’t good enough. “[E]ven latent discrimination” is a grave concern. What’s necessary is “training and a turning away from attitudes of closure” even when subtle, and “struggle to overcome any tendency to turn in on themselves,” …

It’s remarkable how similar the Pope’s statements are to way out liberal formulae like this statement by David K. Shipler in his 1997 book A Country of Strangers: Black and White in America:

“[T]his is the ideal: to search your attitudes, identify your sterotypes, and correct for them as you go about your daily duties.”

According to this nutty liberal Shipler, we basically are to devote our whole lives to examining our conscience in order to root out any possible trace of discrimination. And that’s what the Pope is saying too.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 11, 2002 10:45 AM

The most obnoxious part for me (in a very obnoxious paper) was this, which comes right out and calls for pro-Tranzi parish-level brainwashing of any who remain skeptical:

“He notes, however, that ‘solidarity does not come easily. It requires training and a turning away from attitudes of closure, which in many societies today have become more subtle and penetrating. To deal with this phenomenon, the Church possesses vast educational and formative resources at all levels. I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine.’ ”

These are shocking and in fact intolerable words, which right-thinking Catholics everywhere should vociferously reject.

I do not think this Pope wrote this or was in any mental condition to approve it. It does not accord with his thinking or personality at all. Until proven otherwise I’ll assume the Pope is being manipulated by Tranzi priests at the uppermost levels of the Vatican.

The Pope should resign. There is little doubt — I’d say NO doubt — that he is cognitively impaired:

1) the degree of Parkinson’s from which he suffers is unlikely to leave cognitive function completely unscathed;

2) apart from whether or not the Parkinson’s itself is affecting his judgment, the heavy medication doses he obviously needs for it, probably involving multiple medications, almost certainly — no, make that CERTAINLY — are clouding his judgment in regard to all manner of mental/intellectual subtlety. His handlers MUST know he’s not up to snuff cognitively. That they nevertheless keep shoving him out into public raises questions about what THEY are up to.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 11, 2002 6:23 PM

Unadorned makes the reasonable point that this obviously impaired Pope ought to resign. I would like to speculate that at least part of the reason why he doesn’t resign relates to the same “way of the Cross” that he is urging on the nations of the world. That is, he sees his own illness and suffering as a sacrifice, as a long-drawn-out crucifixion that he is undergoing for the good of the Church and the world. Therefore, his increasing disfunctionality, instead of persuading him to resign, persuades him that he fulfilling, in a more and more meaningful way, the “way of the Cross.” I therefore expect that he will never resign, no matter how sick and disfunctional he becomes.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 11, 2002 6:37 PM

I don’t know that the Pope is coherent enough to believe himself to be serving a purpose that grandiose. I am more inclined to believe he is just somewhat demented and simply being puppeted around by the powers that by the in the Vatican.

Posted by: remus on December 11, 2002 7:17 PM

“Powers that by the in the Vatican” = “Powers that be in the Vatican”. I myself am slightly demented right now. Lots of work this week.

Posted by: remus on December 11, 2002 7:18 PM

The Pope is obviously physically impaired, but i see no evidence that he is non compos mentis. Even if he were,a lifetime of dedication to the Christian ministry should entitle him to spend his remaining days giving the speeches that are always written for him by the Vatican Curia.
Calls for the Pope’s resignation for mental imopairment or any other reason are a bit over the top.

Its not like he’s Trent Lott for God’s sake.

Posted by: sandy on December 11, 2002 8:11 PM

“Calls for the Pope’s resignation for mental impairment or any other reason are a bit over the top.” — Sandy

Come again?? Did I read that right?? It’s against Catholic etiquette to call for the resignation of a mentally impaired Pope?

Furthermore, if the speeches are written for him by the Vatican Curia, then whom are they coming from — them or him? If he’s too impaired even to be able to reliably approve or disapprove them, they’re coming from them, not him. Does that have theological implications for Catholics?

If indeed there is some tradition that, out of respect, lets a Pope die in office no matter what, then CLEARLY part of that tradition must or ought to include the strict avoidance of controversy in speeches or position papers the moment the Pope becomes too impaired to exercise reliable judgment. Where, then, does the Curia come off sending him out to promulgate this extremely controversial subject matter now?

Posted by: Unadorned on December 11, 2002 8:53 PM

In this world, Catholicism is controversial by nature. I think it’s impossible to “include the strict avoidance of controversy” in anything that the Pope does.

Posted by: remus on December 11, 2002 8:58 PM

Any call for his resignation WITHOUT evidence (you offered none and I saw none)IS over the top.

Posted by: sandy on December 11, 2002 9:14 PM

I still don’t see what makes the Pope’s message so offensive. Nor such a big deal.

If the acceptance of refugees from different cultures are such a threat to one’s cultures then we might as well have a blanket rejection policy on immigrants from such cultures. Say, for example, a policy that only allows European settlers with decidedly caucasian background. At least be clear about it.

And the Pope’s message doesn’t exactly encourage poeople to migrate elsewhere. It’s simply an urge for hosting countries to respect immigrants who manage to get there and give them a chance. He’s not saying that they should be given refugee visas without any processing. By all means they should be processed — in light of today’s terrorist threats, the need for such an investigation cannot be stressed enough. But don’t shoot first and ask questions later.

A few of you (or more?) read the Pope’s message as an invitation to a massive migration from alien cultures invading your shores. Well it was a commemoration day for immigrants and the Pope’s message was simply one that hit the theme. He didn’t issue an all-out bulletin for all countries for some wild reason.

Remus’ swipe at those 300 innocents is hardly fair. Are they to make their own investigations about their shipmates whom they know nothing of, since the ship is packed with people coming from different countries? And what choice would they have? Having been recognized as genuine refugees, that means that they are short of choices and decidedly desperate. Furthermore, they don’t spend “a few days” in jail here in Australia. Many spend more than a year, including their children. What fault of the children’s prompts that? Is it too much to ask that children be given better accommodations where they can at least have access to school and get away from the occasional riots and suicides in the detention centers? Do they really have to see those?

And I mentioned Jesus earlier when I spoke about the Pope’s message when he addresses *Christians* who after all believe in Jesus and for whom the ideals of Jesus are not mere “conjecture”.

As for the swarm of immigrants that might take over the future of Europe, that is a huge risk, to be sure. But many European governments seem to accept this risk as they do accept immigrants after all. More importantly, risks are not the only consideration: one must also consider principles of right or wrong. There must be a reason why governments appear to accept the reasons for a humane refugee policy. Likewise, there must be a way to control the flood of people without completely turning EVERYONE away. The Pope didn’t suggest how that can be done. All he said was, if an immigrant drops by, make him welcome. What happens afterwards, whether you eventually send him home or help him resettle elsewhere, he doesn’t say either. Just don’t absolutely turn him away.

Of course there seems to be a valid point about cultures being taken over. Just look at how the cultures of the Australian Aboriginal people and the North American Indians have apparently been taken over. But these are more civilized times and the assimilation of new people into one’s society doesn’t have to cause a major upheaval.

Another point made was that it is far better for countries, say in Europe, to turn away immigrants and help them or let them resettle where the difference in cultures (between host country and immigrants) is not so pronnounced. Absolutely true, but what do you do when immigrants arrive on a leaky boat and may not make it to the other shores? What if the nearby countries have a policy of shooting down such boatloads of people as their immigration policy? What if their own governments cared little if they lived or die (or perhaps prefer them dead after all)?

I prefer the Australian policy that came after the events I spoke of: they set up missions in the countries from which the immigrants will take to boats, and process their applications there.

BTW I wasn’t attacking Australia as a whole. I was criticizing what the government did at that time. They are softening up even now, having finally admitted that children shouldn’t have to experience detention centers during their formative years. At least one case led to near-suicide for a boy (7 years old I think) who got to see the riots in the detention centers, was separated from both his parents and shuffled about. They’re seriously considering separate accommodations for children with their mothers where they can attend school. Good opportunity there to introduce them to the local culture, too.

As for Mr. Kalb’s rejoinder about the abolition of cultures in the Pope’s call, perhaps there is some truth to that after all. As the visible head of the Church, he is calling on everyone to adopt the Christian culture, overriding secular culture. On the other hand, it doesn’t entirely affect secular culture, does it? Just look at strongly Christian countries like those in South America, Mexico, the Philippines, even the US and Australia. Not only are their people predominantly Christian, even their constitutions make mention of God. And yet their cultures are as different as any could be with clear cultural boundaries among them.

It’s rather funny to think about the Pope as advocating the abolition of cultural boundaries, considering that the Church has for centuries been accused of being too unyielding about its own cultural (Christian) boundaries. :-)

Lighten up, people. The message was from the Pope and his audience (the only ones willing to listen) are of his flock. That being the case, members of that audience should not gripe. And don’t worry too much because secular heads of states don’t really give too much of a fig what the Pope says anyway.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 11, 2002 9:22 PM

Unadorned- To clarify:

At this late stage of his life,if the Pope were mentally incapacitated ,he should still be able to fulfil whatever role he is capable of performing with dignity,including the ability to speak the words that others write for him just like Chris Burke,the down’s syndrome actor on Life goes On.Whats wrong with that?

Posted by: sandy on December 11, 2002 9:28 PM

The pope’s message doesn’t encourage people to migrate elsewhere? I can assure you that even the lowest standards of living here are better than in Mexico and any number of other third-world countries. So if we open the borders, everyone that could would immigrate here, no?
It is the responsibility of the 300 immigrants to know who they are on-board with. If I am stupid enough to be bringing water to the Enron execs, do I not lose my job and face possible investigation? Ignorance is no excuse to the law.
Your presumption that the immigration situation under the current policies in certain European countries and Australia will only have a few immigrants ‘drop by’ is complete naivety. Many citizens from these third-world countries will openly tell you they never even dream of the possibility of being happy in their native lands, and logically as many of them as possible will risk their lives, which are not worth living in their native lands, to live more comfortably. Ask any impoverished 3rd-world citizen, and I dare you to tell me that they say otherwise.
Also, who in their right mind wants to immigrate to Mexico or the Phillipines? Those are the countries that people are leaving. They are not in the same situation as the US, Europe, Australia, etc.
Quit comparing apples and oranges and get your facts straight for the sake of this website and all rational, fact-based conversations everywhere. Any philosophy as vapid as your “right and wrong” is surely inapplicable to situations where the very existence of nations hang in the balance. Is it right to kill someone? There is no simple answer. If they are attacking your children and your wife and you, you tell me would not kill them if they threatened to kill you? Blanket morals are not only stupid but, well, really stupid.

Posted by: remus on December 11, 2002 9:50 PM

Both Jim Kalb 9:26am and Remus 9:50pm appear to have dissected and quartered the Pope’s message,its meaning and certainty of result quite well.
Compliance would require every country to drop every barrier and the most severe effects would fall on in the U.S. because citizenship here is preferred over all other states.

Posted by: sandy on December 11, 2002 10:35 PM

“Any call for [the Pope’s] resignation WITHOUT evidence (you offered none and I saw none) IS over the top.” — Sandy

I don’t mean to belabor this because of course we don’t have reports from the Pope’s doctors.

But we can surmise quite accurately.

Parkinson’s disease early in its course doesn’t start to affect cognitive function in most patients, it is thought — unless it be in extremely subtle ways. In a large minority of patients, however, it does. That’s “early in the disease.”

When it reaches the advanced stages, as it has in the Pope (I saw him on TV the other month and his disease is quite advanced indeed) the disease itself (ie, the disease, not the medication one takes to control its symptoms) impairs cognitive function to varying degrees in most patients. The impairment may be overt or subtle but subtle impairment completely disqualifies someone from being Pope if being Pope requires an intact ability to deal with complex ideas.

The stage of the Pope’s Parkinson’s disease probably obliges him to be on at least two and perhaps three different medications. One of them, and perhaps two of them, are certainly being used at high doses, given his condition which I saw on TV. A patient in his condition likely would be taking L-dopa/carbi-dopa, together with a dopamine agonist, both at higher dosages, and possibly also a third drug, selegiline.

The first two are powerful medications fraught with the potential for side-effects at the higher doses, among which are subtle and not-so-subtle cognitive ones.

The combination of 1) the Pope’s advanced Parkinson’s disease and 2) the medications he certainly takes for his disease, together with 3) his advanced age (advanced old age in general makes patients more susceptible to medication side effects and also to the ravages of the disease itself) — the combination of these things makes it a virtual certainty (I’d say we can drop the word “virtual”) that the Pope’s cognitive function is not up to the job he is called upon to do.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 11, 2002 11:19 PM

Unadorned your medical analysis here provides an excellent example of how to provide evidence for a properly supported argument. My doubt, however, lies with how conscious the pope has to be to do his job. As far as I understand, at least a large part of the pope’s views are written for him by the ruling committe at the Vatican. I am hesitant to believe that the Catholic church would even elect a largely independent intellectual to the position, as to maintain control over the issues. These are assumptions, and I do not know the details of how much input the Pope has over what issues he discusses.

Posted by: remus on December 11, 2002 11:52 PM

Well I certainly seem to have bothered Remus with my opinions, haven’t I?

Where did I say in my post that people would want to migrate to Mexico or the Philippines? I was citing them of the example where, despite strong Christian influence, remain culturally diverse, hence my opinion that the Pope’s message, where it may be seen to push for a common Christian culture, does not abolish cultural boundaries.

My post also mentioned that, yes, there would be the risk of massive migration:

“As for the swarm of immigrants that might take over the future of Europe, that is a huge risk, to be sure.”

So there was no cause to cite my views as naive.

As for the “vapid” philosophy of right and wrong:

“More importantly, risks are not the only consideration: one must also consider principles of right or wrong.”

I never advocated a blanket morality. I said we must *also* consider the principles of our actions. If you believe that such principles should be totally excluded in policy-making then please say so. Otherwise, please read the posts clearly before showing your version of rational and intelligent discussion.

On the other hand, Remus’ view that 300 refugees of war and persecution, children and babies in tow, can manage to investigate the other 1700 people on the leaky boat they are taking, still strikes me as unrealistic. Most of these are uneducated, they sold everything they had to pay the fare, they had travelled across a few borders, fleeing who knows what sort of danger, and they wouldn’t know what the other refugees speak. How on earth are they to conduct such an investigation? Think about it Remus: if you were fleeing some hell-hole that is in civil war, where many in your family have already been killed, if you are just about broke, and stuck in the middle of nowhere, unable to speak the local dialect, and the only hope offered to you is some country in the middle of nowhere that MIGHT take you in, and you are desperate enough to get on a boat that will be overloaded and has an even chance of sinking, would YOU investigate the 1700 or so people on the boat? How? Can you speak their dialect? Do you think you’ll live to see the following day if you ask them intrusive questions?

And when you talk about the existence of nations hanging in the balance? You’re only thinking about yours aren’t you? I mean, who cares about those other nations where thousands die from hunger or war daily?

And again: lighten up! The Pope didn’t submit a bill in Congress! His message was a general message to the world, an invitation, a verbal push. And for all the length of his message, you can comfort yourself with the fact that most governments will not even read the invititation, and will NEVER open their borders as the Pope suggests. I will comfort myself with the thought that parishioners will read the message and be nicer to the new people in the parish who can barely speak the local dialect.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 12, 2002 12:26 AM

In an e-mail discussion of the Pope’s statement on immigration, in which some people were defending his view of immigration as the “way of the cross,” someone made the following very insightful point:

May I remind everyone that the Way of the Cross is a way of being tortured to death? Any volunteers? Don’t throw around the propaganda of self-sacrificial imitatio Christi if you don’t really mean it.

“Turn the other cheek” is immoral when it amounts to turning not one’s own cheek but that of one’s entire society, i.e. someone else’s cheek. When this is combined with self-congratulation for the act of sacrificing someone else posing as self-sacrifice, it is downright nauseating.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on December 12, 2002 1:37 AM

Jeff Tan writes “And when you talk about the existence of nations hanging in the balance? You’re only thinking about yours aren’t you?”

Jeff, one of the most fundamental tasks we have as adult men is to honourably defend the existence of our own nation. It is not an accusation that cuts very deep that someone takes responsibility for their own nation before that of others.

Furthermore, you are refusing to address the issue that taking children to alien lands is not in their best interests. They will inevitably be caught between two cultures and be forced to live without any sustaining ethnic identity.

Nor is it the case that coming to Australia is the only option for such people. Most arrive via several other countries: for instance, most Afghani refugees lived in Pakistan, and then travelled to Indonesia, before attempting entry into Australia.

Why not stay in Pakistan, and work hard to improve the conditions of life there, and enjoy the prospect that your children will be able to maintain their ancestry and their religion?

Posted by: Mark Richardson on December 12, 2002 3:07 AM

Jeff Tan writes: Most( of the 300)..are uneducated,..sold everything to pay the fare,..travelled across..borders, fleeing.. danger.
Your personalization of individual hardships is both presumptive and anecdotal.This is a rhetorical tool worthy of Chomsky.It romanticizes the epidemic and illegal immigrant traffic.When you speak of individual hardship to refute societal wide issues you are putting a “pretty face” on a monster problem to counter Remus and the other VFTR commenters valid points.Human suffering has been in the race of man since its beginning. All people are equal only before God, but their society IS their birth state.I would never deny your human warmth and sympathy but all the risks of unbridled immigration work against the technologically advanced people, by attacking thier society(read state here).

Posted by: sandy on December 12, 2002 6:14 AM

Part of the problem is that people don’t want to face the fact that when you make policy it has far-reaching implications. It seems to me that it is immoral to make policy without taking those implications into consideration, though.

Suppose for a moment that every single one of the millions of immigrants to the US is an innocent fleeing outright persecution. Then suppose that they are all carriers of harmful disease. Christian charity demands compassion to be sure, but it does not demand mass entry without quarantine. Entrants must be healthy (culturally assimilated) before entering the general population, and only certain volumes of immigrants will be assimilable at any given time. Modify the original assumption to something more reasonable, e.g. that a tiny fraction of immigrants are actually fleeing persecution, and it is clear that current policy is ludicrous. At this point we have reached such an unhealthy state that we are not, in the long run, doing anyone any favors by keeping the borders open in the radical sense in which they are now open.

Radical open borders policy such as we have had in the US for several decades is like personally sharing needles with the addict to make sure the addict doesn’t feel marginalized. It is neither genuinely compassionate nor morally responsible. Not even Mother Theresa could take care of the sick without also keeping herself healthy.

This insistence that in order to help the sick we must make our entire society sick is not the Way of the Cross: it will mean the death of Christian charity.

Posted by: Matt on December 12, 2002 11:43 AM

After reading the document in question, I think there is more than a bit of overreaction and hyperbole in some of the posts that critique it. First, while it does have the Pope’s “name” on it, if you know about these things, you will recognize the consenus bureaucrateze that all such pronouncements carry, and then understand that it is not a binding document of any sort, nor, necessarily, something that represents the Pope’s considered judgement on all aspects of the immigration question. For those who see in this a plot to destroy national sovreignty, I admire you diligence, but I don’t see it in the document. It is vague and wishy-washy, and does not address the responsibilities of nations, so I think it is best read as guidance for individuals. Period. Target audience? African Catholics, perhaps? Balkan communities? I don’t know, but there seem to be some pretty direct refrences to ethnic cleansing and other events that are certainly on the Vatican’s radar screen—and don’t have anything to do with the US, or even the problems of the US/Mexican border.

Posted by: Leo Scanlon on December 12, 2002 5:30 PM

“Target audience? African Catholics, perhaps? Balkan communities? I don’t know, but there seem to be some pretty direct refrences to ethnic cleansing and other events that are certainly on the Vatican’s radar screen—and don’t have anything to do with the US, or even the problems of the US/Mexican border.” — Leo Scanlon

Then let them state clearly who the target audience is: “This is for all you Balkan Catholics out there who may have been thinking of being mean to your Kosovar Muslim neighbors, as payback for something their ancestors did to yours in the thirteenth century … .”

Posted by: Unadorned on December 12, 2002 6:09 PM

The notion then is that the document, which calls upon all of the “vast resources” of the Catholic Church to inculcate some particular ideas, should not be taken seriously as addressing Catholics in the U.S.? The alternatives seem to be that either the document is what the strong critics say it is, or that it is wishy washy and incompetent and sends the wrong message. In either case it invites criticism.

Posted by: Matt on December 12, 2002 6:11 PM

Mark says: “Jeff, one of the most fundamental tasks we have as adult men is to honourably defend the existence of our own nation.”

I agree. What I mean, however, that living in the same planet means we can make concessions when our neighbors are in need. If this is not true then why do countries like the US, Australia and many other developed countries have refugee-intake policies? Why is it part of the UN agenda? Because many countries are capable of lending a hand, and it’s acceptable to do so when necessary.

I don’t condemn thinking of one’s country first. It’s like that pre-flight instruction (in airlines I’ve flown with) about putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping someone else. It’s practicality.

Mark says further: “Furthermore, you are refusing to address the issue that taking children to alien lands is not in their best interests.”

I never said that it was best for the children to be moved away from their native lands. In fact I agree with a policy that helps resettle refugees where they are more culturally comfortable. My post said:

“Another point made was that it is far better for countries, say in Europe, to turn away immigrants and help them or let them resettle where the difference in cultures (between host country and immigrants) is not so pronnounced. Absolutely true, but what do you do when immigrants arrive on a leaky boat and may not make it to the other shores?”

I was saying that AT THAT POINT when they’ve already arrived, don’t turn them away. You don’t necessarily have to give them automatic refugee visas either (I said that in my post too), but let them land and make them welcome.

Mark says: “Nor is it the case that coming to Australia is the only option for such people. Most arrive via several other countries: for instance, most Afghani refugees lived in Pakistan, and then travelled to Indonesia, before attempting entry into Australia.”

Which is why I said that subsequent relocation may occur, but that does not exclude letting them land in the meantime:

“What happens afterwards, whether you eventually send him home or help him resettle elsewhere, he doesn’t say either. Just don’t absolutely turn him away.”

Mark also said: “Why not stay in Pakistan, and work hard to improve the conditions of life there, and enjoy the prospect that your children will be able to maintain their ancestry and their religion?”

This sounds like a very good idea. Obviously, floods of immigrants points to problems at home that must be solved to stem the flood, aside from other symptoms just as serious, e.g., casualties of civil war, famine, etc.

Sandy writes that I oversimplify/dress up the issues of excessive immigrant intake. I agree that it is a very serious problem, but my short description of the plight faced by the immigrants is itself recognized by media reports as well as official reports submitted to the immigration department here in Australia. I wasn’t trying to make the problem look “good”. I was pointing out that the problem exists, however, and must not be excluded from these discussions. Yes, there is a major risk for countries taking in refugees, but the refugees won’t go away simply by ignoring them either. Thus, refugee migration should be CONSIDERED, along with ramifications, of course. They should not be completely ignored.

When I countered several views in my past posts, I was trying to clarify certain misrepresentations. For example, it really is unrealistic to think that desperate refugees would have the ability to do a background check on their shipmates. I was also pointing out that I never advocated a blanket morality of right and wrong, and that I never denied that floods of immigrants presented dangers to hosting countries, too.

Thanks to Mark and Sandy for polite rebuttals. :-)

Matt rightly points out issues such as diseases that immigrants may carry. Not to say that they are “unclean” in some way, but different continents do breed different organisms which, while benign in their native territories become dangerous elsewhere. Quarantine and other safety/security precautions must naturally be in place. A policy that looks at all the issues, without completely shutting the doors on immgrants, is the best way to go. If the nation, of course, is unprepared to receive immigrants AT ALL, then their policies should reflect this.

BTW I went through the Pope’s message a second time and I found the following:

“it should be a day of serious reflection on the duties of Catholics towards these brothers and sisters” —> He’s addressing Catholics,

“I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine.” —> teachers and parents, particularly to suppress racism and xenophobia

“The “cosmopolitan” make-up of the People of God is visible today in practically every particular Church because migration has transformed even small and formerly isolated communities into pluralist and inter-cultural realities….. These communities, therefore, have new opportunities of living the experience of catholicity, a mark of the Church expressing her essential openness to all that is the work of the Spirit in every people.” —> and parishes as a whole, to make needy strangers welcome.

He never addresses this to governments, and never talks about things like automatic refugee visas, assimilating cultural divergents, etc. So again: PLEASE LIGHTEN UP! :-)

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 12, 2002 10:25 PM

Mr. Tan seems to have plenty of interlocutors at this point, so I’ll leave most of the individual points to others.

Just to clarify my own earlier remarks, I was not referring to biological disease e.g. the introduction of foreign agents into the human body. I was referring to cultural disease. The indiscriminate introduction of vast numbers of foreign bodies into a culture creates a cultural disease in much the same way as the indiscriminate introduction of vast numbers of foreign bodies into a person’s body creates physical disease. That doesn’t imply anything about the moral status of any particular foreigners-in-themselves, of course.

Posted by: Matt on December 12, 2002 10:56 PM

” ‘I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine.’ —> teachers and parents, particularly to suppress racism and xenophobia” — Jeff Tan

Jeff, it’s not “racism” or “xenophobia” to want to preserve your country’s traditional ethnocultural character from destruction. Is that so very hard to understand? It seems we’ve had this same conversation with Mr. Gil, Jane, Monnica, and others, and that seemingly simple point is ever a stumbling block.

What’s so hard to grasp?

One man’s “racism and xenophobia” might be another man’s love — love of his heritage, perhaps. Don’t you see that?

I once heard an interview with Bob Dylan in which the reporter asked him about his protest songs. Dylan took umbrage with the question, saying he didn’t write protest songs. The surprised, skeptical reporter asked him what kind of songs he wrote, putting the question a bit sarcastically, since everyone in the world at that time considered that Bob Dylan wrote protest songs. Dylan answered, “I write love songs. They’re love songs.”

It may be the U.S.’s size that makes the threat of loss of its heritage hard to imagine actually taking place. Well … make no mistake: if the present volumes of incompatible immigration continue, we’ll see our traditional ethnocultural heritage effaced just as surely as if we were tiny Andorra.

It’s starting already.

This particular passage in the Vatican statement was one of a number which were almost laughably objectionable.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 12, 2002 11:13 PM

Unadorned, I agree with mostly everything your say but I think your approach does not work in this situation. Specifically, “One man’s “racism and xenophobia” might be another man’s love”. I love hearing the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the Campus Coalition for Peace and Justice (which are both laughable organizations) cry that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. These types of relativist arguments put our founding fathers on equal footing with the likes of Osama Bin Laden.

The fact is, while racism and xenophobia do play a role in the anti-immigration movement, they are merely radical variations of cultural preservation and pride.

It is better to argue that Mr. Tan is generalizing those definitions to include all those who do not instantly endorse egalitarianism. He is distorting the very language that allows us to protest with words rather than strap bombs to our backs and run into large immigration ports screaming “I love [insert Western nation here]”.

Posted by: remus on December 13, 2002 4:02 AM

” … Unadorned, I agree with mostly everything your say but I think your approach does not work in this situation. Specifically, ‘One man’s “racism and xenophobia” might be another man’s love.’ “
— Remus

Remus, once again you’re completely right, of course, and thanks for pointing that out. The poor wording in my comment gave the impression I was conceding (what is an utter, absolute falsehood) that our side was motivated, however microscopically, by “racism and xenophobia.” My wording seemed moreover to imply that I was asking the other side to agree those two motivations were justified under certain circumstances.

Racism and xenophobia are never justified, as far as I can judge. I never meant to imply aught else. These two motivations are totally absent from the side I support in the immigration debate — namely, and voices equivalent to it such as Craig Nelsen of, Robert Locke of, Roy Beck of, Steve Sailer of, Richard Poe of, and of course Larry Auster and Jim Kalb, among many, many others.

Our side is not motivated whatsoever by racism or xenophobia.

What motivates us is the opposite: love of all the earth’s different races, ethnicities, cultures, nations, and — where there are multiple distinct nations combined within one country, such as in China, India, Belgium, and Switzerland — all countries … and that absolutely without exception.

The great Irving Kristol was once discussing, in National Review Magazine, his observation that some Jews personally preferred those Christians who were less Christian.* (This sort of sentiment is found not only among Jews vis-à-vis Christians, of course, but among Christians vis-à-vis Jews, and in fact universally among ethnic groups the world over.) Kristol, a Jewish-American, pointed out why he rejected such an attitude, saying simply, “I don’t want Christians to be less Christian, because I don’t want Jews to be less Jewish.”

Embedded in that one-sentence gem of wisdom by Kristol is an important, deep principle (which happens to be both perfectly selfish and perfectly altruistic at the same time) — but it needs a clear head to see it. Everybody get it? I’ll wait ….

Our side in the immigration debate is like Kristol’s comment. An ethno-cultural group desiring normal group self-respect and healthy, normal group self-love for its own members cannot logically, morally, or even practically wish the opposite for other groups it deals with. And it has the right expect to be viewed the same way in reverse.

(* The article may have been entitled something like, “Why I Won’t be Celebrating Christmas This Year,” and it appeared around a decade ago, if memory serves.)

Posted by: Unadorned on December 13, 2002 1:38 PM

It seems to me that there are several issues that got mixed up:

1. what to do with refugees/asylum seekers who arrive on leaky boats/in dire circumstances?

I think it should be acceptable to let them land, give them medical attention and provide basic needs, then process their application. The results could be (a) they get to stay (b) they get relocated to another country where they will nonetheless be safe from whatever they were running away from (c) they get booted out as they’re not refugees after all

2. what to do with illegal immigrants

Actually I never mentioned these before. As they are illegal, the logical thing would be to send them home (with penalties, perhaps). However, what if they’re illegal immigrants AND refugees? Meaning that they were running away from civil war or famine or some other serious reason to run, but had actually managed illegal entry without applying as refugees? Then I suppose the immigration policies should apply: see if they can fit in as refugees and so on. If not then off they go.

The Pope’s message does refer to these illegal immigrants as “vulnerable”. I think he meant the ones who are genuine refugees who sought to escape dire circumstances back home, e.g., famine or war, threats of violence. Illegal immigrants who are running away from criminal prosecution back home are hardly vulnerable.

3. Protecting one’s cultural boundaries

I totally agree to this. Taking in immigrants (those who were considered fit to stay after all) doesn’t mean exchanging the local culture for those of the newcomers. On the contrary, I’ve always thought that the newcomers should do their best to fit in. It’s only fair to their hosts, after all. In fact, in my experience as a third generation migrant, to do otherwise would sow confusion, especially among the children. I’ve seen first hand among relatives, friends and students how damaging it can be for immigrants, up to the 2nd or 3rd generation, to excessively protect their original culture when they’ve already been uprooted from their original homeland. For the children, they grow up confused about who they are and what group they belong to. If they do not learn to bend to the local culture, they end up being strangers for life.

See? I do get it. I never condemned a citizen’s right to protect his/her own culture. I do, however, share the view of the Pope that this protectiveness *might* be carried too far to the point of xenophobia and racism if it isn’t properly balanced with a healthy outlook on immigrants. We know that his happens in hate crimes everyday. This is the sort of over-protectiveness that should be corrected. And it starts with being open to strangers —- NOT TO LET THEM TAKE OVER THE LOCAL CULTURE, but simply in making them part of the community. So it is THEY who must bend, but the community must make them welcome and thus receptive to blending in. If the community shuns them then their reaction would be to stand aloof, hold on desperately to their own culture, and never become part of the community. That’s how you might cultivate dissidents in your backyard. The other alternative is a whole lot better: they’ll look different (until they inter-marry with the locals), they might sound different, but if they feel welcome then they’ll become “more local than the locals” and won’t be strangers anymore.

Loving and protecting your own culture is NOT xenophobic or racist. But it can lead to that if that love and protectiveness goes too far and fosters fear, suspicion and aloofness of/towards strangers.

So Remus, Unadorned: I am sorry if you thought I was lumping culture-loving citizens of the world together with xenophobics and racists. I wasn’t and wouldn’t. Think of those groups of people as being on the same spectrum where xenophobics and racists are on the extreme end. Egalitarians (the excessive ones) would be on the other extreme end, I suppose. I understand that those with a healthy love of their own heritage are in the healthy middle of the spectrum. Those same people would have a healthy outlook towards strangers and what makes them different.

A note on egalitarianism: in as much as Christians may foster it (in varying degrees), it is only in terms of faith and morals. It has nothing to do with the 4th of July, Cricket, Footy or Thanksgiving. As one of the old apologists for the Christians wrote (not sure who; maybe St. Justin Martyr?), Christians are excellent citizens as their faith fosters civil cooperativeness (to Ceasar what is to Ceasar’s BUT to God what is God’s). They shouldn’t affect nor threaten secular culture.

And again: the Pope was talking to Catholics and Catholic parishes about letting the immigrants settle into the parish. He wasn’t addressing government policies. Lighten up!

BTW, I like what Kristol says. I suppose it stands to reason that, whether Jewish-American or Christian-American, they should nonetheless be American. On the other hand, I also think that, Christians here or Christians there should nonetheless be Christians. :-)

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 13, 2002 9:36 PM

Some interesting reports on the asylum/refugee intake of Australia:

“4. We are told “queue jumpers” take places away from other refugees in other parts of the world. That is not true. The Australian Government’s quota of 12,000 has not always been filled.

5. We are told asylum seekers are illegal. That is not true. Under international law, to which we have committed ourselves, a person is entitled to make application for refugee asylum in another country when they allege they are escaping persecution. They cannot be penalised for their means of arrival in a country, however irregular that arrival may be. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The 1951 Refugee Convention makes clear governments should not discriminate against asylum seekers…

There are illegal people in Australia. They are not boat people, they are people who have had a visa and overstay. Most have come to Australia by air. They include 5000 from Britain.

6. We are told Australia has been one of the most generous countries in accepting refugees. That is not true. In 2002 Australia’s quota is 12,000. That number has been static for three years. In the early 1980s we took 20,000 or more for a number of years. Tanzania hosts one refugee for every 76 Tanzanians. Britain hosts one for every 530 Britons. Australia hosts one refugee for every 1583 Australians.

7. It has been claimed Australia is second only to Canada in the number of refugees it takes. This is untrue. Many countries accept refugees without an official quota. Seventy-one countries accept refugees and asylum seekers. Of the 71, Australia is ranked 32nd. On a per capita basis, we are ranked 38th. Of 29 developed countries, Australia is ranked 14th. Per capita, the US takes twice as many refugees as Australia.

8. It has been claimed we are being swamped by hordes of boat people. That is not true. More than 300,000 refugees arrived in Europe to seek asylum last year. By contrast, 4174 reached Australia by boat or plane. In 2000, Iran and Pakistan each hosted more than one million refugees. The real burden of assisting refugees is often borne by developing countries - certainly not by Australia.

9. We have been told they are not refugees. That is not true. In 1999, 97 per cent of applicants from Iraq and 93 per cent from Afghanistan who sought asylum without valid visas in Australia were recognised as genuine refugees. Under Australian law, they were eligible to stay here”

source: Former Liberal Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser (

“Last week the ABC’s Lateline showed video footage taken inside the Curtin detention centre. It revealed scenes of asylum seekers banging their heads against concrete walls, of faces slashed and bloodied, of Afghan refugees in a state of hysteria and indescribable despair. The following night Lateline assembled a panel of three women who had worked at Woomera recently. One told us that hardly a day went by without some serious attempt at self-harm. Another said she had become involved in four cases where children had tried to commit suicide.

Over the past decade or so fewer than 15,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by boat. Of these only a few thousand have been allowed to live in the community.

On one typical occasion the (Australian immigration) minister was asked how he could justify the continued detention of the family of a traumatised six-year-old boy who no longer ate or drank or spoke. He answered thus: “Well, I do look at these issues in the context of humanitarian considerations and there are a broad range of issues that I have to look at, firstly in terms of whether or not we give up a refugee place that could otherwise go, in this case, to four other people, whose circumstances would, I suspect, be far more compelling.”

For him a broken child has suffered an “adverse impact”; people who go on hunger strike or sew their lips together are involved in “inappropriate behaviours”; refugees who flee to the West in terror are “queue jumpers”; those who live without hope in forlorn refugee camps are “safe and secure”; while those who are dispatched to tropical prisons financed by Australia are part of the “Pacific solution”. “

source: A/Prof Robert Manne, La Trobe University

I’m just pointing out that there has not been a flood of asylum seekers coming into Australia — not even before the tougher deterrents of the last two years. And also that there is a need to balance border protection with humanitarian concerns. Not the sort that the immigration minister there was saying — who apparently thinks that a 6-year-old who starves himself and no longer speaks is probably not suitable for society after all.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 14, 2002 1:44 AM

Jeff, first of all, your disposition towards sentimality makes me think that you cannot analyze the situation rationally. In every one or two your posts, whenever you describe the Immigrants, you include some stupid anecdote that does not really provide anything to the discussion.

Sure there is police brutality from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they should stop enforcing the laws. It’s about what is the biggest cost to the society, culturally (I hope), socially, and economically. Until Australia has no more poor population, then it can worry about trying to save refugees from other country, who all have nothing to contribute (economically), but everything to gain.

You said in your earlier post that they count 2000 people on one boat. I find it hard to believe that one boat contained half of the number of asylum-seekers from the entire year. Also, I am hesitant to trust statistics without seeing the definitions of the term and the measuring conditions, because it is easy to manipulate vague figures. The Tampa Bay Herald had been reporting for months before the election that McBride and Bush were dead even, but Bush won the election by a landslide. I wonder how hard it would be to ask only people that were Democrats. Just an example.

I do understand that Australia does have an obligation to follow international law concerning asylum, but if the problem is getting out out of hand (truthfully I don’t know), then they can either make a factual presentation to the international community (minor cultural changes don’t move most politicians, particularly not anyone that plays strictly by International Law), or they can continue to suffer. I am not in a position to know how the game is really played, but I doubt that Australia is in a powerful enough political position to stand up to the international laws, or it’s current leaders have simply resigned to accept high immigration simply because it is the status quo and it’s not an immediate threat so it goes by ignored (like the US), or simply don’t care.

The idea that every refugee is going to be polite enough to stop by for an interview and plea their case individually is somewhat ridiculous. The idea that the government could logically analyze at what level of suffering someone should be let in, is ridiculous also. Thus, the “four other people, whose circumstances would, I suspect, be far more compelling”. You going to find out everything that’s wrong with every refugee-seeker’s life and add up suffering points and whoever has the most gets in?

Rid your postings of the sentimentality and, if possible, tell me which research committee investigated the immigration Numbers that Mr. Fraser quoted, and where I can find the background on their methods of collection and analysis.

Posted by: remus on December 14, 2002 5:48 AM

Jeff Tan, thanks for making my day when you said,

“Loving and protecting your own culture is NOT xenophobic or racist.”

That sentence contains the distilled essence of our side’s replies to many of the unjust accusations leveled at us.

In regard to a country’s Christian duty to welcome exceedingly large numbers of immigrants, remember that not everything Jesus preached was meant to be followed to the letter:

And lo!, one came, and said to [Jesus], “Good master, what good shall I do, that I have everlasting life?” Who sayeth to him, “What askest thou me of good things?  There is one good God.  But if thou wilt enter to life, keep the commandments.” He sayeth to him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “Thou shalt not do manslaying, thou shalt not do adultery, thou shalt not do theft, thou shalt not say false witnessing; worship thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The young man sayeth to him, “I have kept all these things from my youth; what yet faileth to me?” Jesus sayeth to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, and sell all things that thou hast, and give to poor men, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, and follow me.”

And when the young man had heard these words, he went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “I say to you truth, for a rich man of hard shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. And eftsoon I say to you, it is lighter a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than a rich man to enter in the kingdom of heaven.”

When these things were heard, the disciples wondered greatly, and said, “Who then may be safe?” Jesus beheld, and said to them, “Anent men this thing is impossible; but anent God all things are possible.”

(St. Matthew 19, 16-26) ( )

Posted by: Unadorned on December 14, 2002 10:52 AM

Thanks, Unadorned, for pointing that out. Yes, I do understand the reality of an imperfect world.

Remus, thanks for pointing out the same thing in cases where countries sign up for treaties whose stipulations they cannot completely live up to (or would not want to for practical reasons).You’re right, that is reality.

My apologies if my posts seemed sentimental. But my points, just like that of the Church, are indeed ideals. They get toned down by reality but we nonetheless have to strive for them when we can.

As for the stats and figures I posted before, I don’t have the scoop on which sources were exactly quoted by Mr. Fraser and A/Prof Manne. But you are welcome to look at the statistics website of the Department of Immigration:

The briefs are here:

I do assume that both Mr. Fraser and A/Prof. Manne are credible enough and competent enough to draw those figures out. As a former prime minister, Mr. Fraser probably knows a thing or two. The government commissions such research into the effects of immigration to universities and other competent bodies.

The same figures are often quoted by lobbyists for asylum seekers and have never been refuted by the government. The stats that I saw in the government website appeared (to me) consistent with those quoted by Mr. Fraser. The government’s defense of its tough stance has always been the presumption that asylum seekers are mostly bogus and pose threats to national security or the way of life in Australia. They have never, as far as I know (and I’ve been following this issue in Australia since that incident last year) released actual figures to prove their point.

As for counting the “suffering points” of asylum seekers, consider what Mr. Fraser pointed out: Australia is NOT maxing out the quota for refugees. Mr. Fraser’s other contention was that the static limit of 12,000 for asylum seekers/refugee/humanitarian visas for the last few years can be raised higher. Australia is somewhat larger than the average European country.

My “sentimental” tones when describing the asylum seekers are meant to humanize how we view asylum seekers. The other extreme is to demonize them and consign them as nothing more than statistics without considering that they are human beings. But refugee policies are based on humanitarian considerations, and as such are also sentimental. Is it therefore irrational to indulge in these sentimental thoughts? I do not think so, because it is an attempt at making the picture clearer. It adds the human dimension to their plight. If there is anything false in my “stupid anecdotes” then prove it. You may want to ask around in case someone you know may have had the unfortunate experience of seeking asylum or fleeing from famine or war.

As far as I’m concerned, more data means a more informed and rational decision. Such “stupid anecdotes” may not be empirical but many public policies are based on more than empirical data. Some are even based on simple common sense. In any case, these “stupid anecdotes” are not to be taken as empirical data (unless competently extracted from the asylum seekers themselves) but should nonetheless be factored in. I certainly don’t see what is so incredible about the idea that refugees of war are probably not in the position to investigate the backgrounds of their shipmates. If you, Remus, were referring to the Lateline report from actual workers in the detention centers, then I can’t see how firsthand accounts from professional counselors/medical staff would be anecdotal.

As for the 2000 asylum seekers by boat, I understand that we haven’t had boats arrive after that incident. So, 4100 or so asylum seekers last year sounds about right. I think I saw 4160 in the Immigration Department’s website.

And, no, the arrival of asylum seekers here hasn’t gotten out of hand. Neither before nor after detention centers were introduced.

Remus, yes, it is ridiculous to think that refugees will politely “stop by for an interview and plea their case individually.” Instead, they are desperate enough to take to boats, not considering safety precautions such as overloading, and are apprehended before they can land (often they must be rescued from their sinking boat by the navy, or in last year’s case, by a commercial vessel) and then are brought to detention centers. That is when their applications are individually heard and subsequently processed. I’ve never heard of large groups of asylum seekers coming in undetected. Australia, is, after all, surrounded by sea, and the navy is very competent when it comes to border protection.

Finally, I invite you to read this:

It is an article, complete with quotes from government documents released during a Senate inquiry, about how far indifference can go. If we were to think without sentimentality of any kind, we can simply state that “the navy played it cautiously when an overcrowded boat of asylum seekers were known to be heading towards Australia.” To be “sentimental”, we would instead say “more than 300 men, women and children drowned on international waters needlessly despite foreknowledge by a competent navy, within rescuing distance, that this boat was overcrowded.” I say “needlessly” because, had the government been a bit more “sentimental”, they might have gone off to pluck the asylum seekers off their doomed boat and brought them back to Indonesia as a matter of rescue. Or they might have let them off at one of the Australian islands off the coast and processed their refugee applications there.

I am sure that Remus will once again object to my sentimentality. After all, one might argue that if those asylum seekers were stupid enough to board an overcrowded boat then they got what they deserved.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 15, 2002 9:30 PM

Maybe the Pope’s point of view is Jesus tells us to have faith and to be perfect like Jesus. If we have faith and do our best trying to be perfect (that is, do good works such as opening borders), God, by means of miracles, will ultimately (perhaps after much persecution) save Catholics and certain others from the ultimate consequence (death of all Catholics) that would otherwise logically follow from an open borders doctrine with Islam (or with Mongol-like societies). This would explain the Way of the Cross reference.

Posted by: P Murgos on December 16, 2002 1:48 AM

It’s curious to see Robert Manne and Malcolm Fraser quoted as authorities on VFR.

They are the two Australian liberals who have most pursued the idea that Anglo-Australians are the oppressor majority.

Jeff Tan is following, politely, in their footsteps. For instance, he raises an accusation of an incidence of violence against illegal migrants in a detention centre.

What he neglects to mention are the frequent acts of very coarse violence committed by illegal arrivals against Australian detention centre workers. The worst cases have involved serious stabbings, and one female worker lost her baby after being bashed in the stomach with a brick.

Mr Tan, are not European Australians worthy of some humanitarian feeling for their physical protection? Are you conscious of the fact that you neglect to consider the welfare of Australians?

You talk of numbers. Within the last twenty years there are suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney whose ethnic composition has changed at least twice. How can you have any settled way of life in these circumstances? Wouldn’t any group of people quite reasonably be concerned about their long-term group survival in these circumstances?

Mr Tan, I think you are lacking in sympathy for the millions of Australians who don’t wish to be extinguished either culturally or racially (the two go together) whether by legal or illegal immigration.

No refugee policy which fails to respect this can be considered moral. A policy which attempted to be moral would resettle refugees in countries to which they were most ethnically compatible.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on December 16, 2002 3:57 AM

Ive read with interest each of Mr. Tan’s posts. IMHO He wears emotional blinders which prevent him from seeing broader foundational issue of world Islamic immigration. His focus has been on the individual anecdote.He uses the “new media” device of controversy “aint it awful” for generating sympathy: on suicide attempts by six year olds in refugee camps: sinking boats;coarse violence; the screams of the dying innocents.He uses the term “asylum seekers” deceptively as a cloak of entitlement for wanderers who seek infiltration,economic improvement and eventual domination not relief from political oppression.He doesnt believe in, so cant see the organizational strength and political muscle inside the immigrant groups of common Islamic origins.He first takes note of them whiile on their journey, never asks what their route is or why they move always toward the west.Ask why they NEVER seek asylum in another islamic country.They wont be welcomed. Muslims knows them to be soldiers pushing the frontiers of Islam forward.Thats why the so called palestinians are still in gefugee camps in Lebanon after fifty years.Islam doctrine, embued in ALL its believers, neither respects nor recognizes non Islamic states or cultures, except transiently while the march to world domination proceeds on every front, in every land reachable by them.Its adherents are bound world-wide by Islam only and nothing else exists, except temporarily for them.Australian faces Islamic murder of its citizens in Bali and a “peaceable” invasion of Islams soldiers that Jeff Tan labels asylum seekers.

Posted by: Sandy on December 16, 2002 6:48 AM


I never said that violence was committed against detainees. Certainly not by detention workers. I was pointing out their misery.

And please, you refer to the detainees as illegal migrants. As Mr. Fraser points out, international law regards these people as asylum seekers or refugees. If this is not true then it would be strange indeed why the government hasn’t simply thrown them out and is in fact processing their asylum applications.

You surmise that I am lacking in sympathy for the millions of ordinary Australians. I have never said to place the asylum seekers’ needs (for safety, etc) above those of the citizens. Obviously, the citizens come first, but the asylum seekers should also be considered.

I must ask: are there any figures that point to the conclusion that asylum seekers have a greater propensity to harm the locals than other groups among the locals? If not, then shouldn’t we withhold judgment? For example, in Sydney, 1 in 100 Australians are allegedly Lebanese-Australian, and the vast majority of them are allegedly law-abiding:,5744,4693908%255E21207,00.html

You mention the turnover of ethnic composition in suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, and this is an evil caused by immigrants who threaten the long-term survival of groups of (local) people. Why did you say “survival”? Did these groups of people get killed off? Are you sure it was the arrival of immigrants that caused the movement of groups of people? Are you sure that the movement of ethnic groups is a bad thing? Some would suggest, for example, that such a movement is part of an evolution process whereby the immigrants are moving around and eventually dispersing.,5744,4307913%255E21207,00.html,5744,4728199%255E21207,00.html

The former article alleges that most Australians are quite tolerant of immigrants and that thing called multi-culturalism.

Ironically enough, the second article presents prime minister Howard as the new champion of immigration, confident that, as in the past, Australia can move forward with cultural diversity (not in spite of).


I have never thought of Muslims at all until you brought it up. I am certainly not pushing for the cause of Islam as I am Christian. In fact, my life is forfeit as far as Islamic soldiers you mention are concerned (I assume you meant those of bin Laden’s ilk). I was simply talking about asylum seekers. Decades ago, they were Vietnamese boat-people. More recently, they were Kosovars. Lately, yes, they have been Afghanis, who I assume are Muslims. In other places in the world, the refugees would African.

I am not an expert in world Islamic immigration. The Pope’s message did not single out Muslim refugees. And I wouldn’t have a clue that all the Muslims moving to the west are Islamic soldiers preparing to infiltrate and eventually take over the world.

I have never ruled out a relocation policy so that refugees can settle down where they would be more comfortable. Neither do I see how the murder of Australians in Bali is related to the issue of immigrants brought up from the Pope’s message.

My point has ever been: let them in, see to their medical needs, process their refugee applications, or relocate them if it is for the best.

Again, I repeat, as this keeps getting missed in all my past posts: let them in, see to their medical needs, process their refugee applications, or relocate them if it is for the best.

I mentioned relocation or resettlement in my Dec 11 and Dec 13 posts.

And again, the Pope was talking about the parish level where immigrants should be made part of the community.

Please, please do not again bring up the idea that I (or the Pope’s message) expressed a desire for an open borders policy with automatic refugee acceptance. I did not and neither did the Pope’s message. It may in fact be helpful to know that the last major message from the Pope was about revitalizing the role of the parish in community worship. So perhaps he really had the parish in mind in this message about immigrants.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 16, 2002 10:34 PM

Jeff Tan, I’m curious — how did you vote in the VFR immigration poll? Below I’ve pasted a reminder of the choices. If you didn’t vote, how would you have voted? You’re in Australia, of course, so answer in terms of what you’d prefer for Australia.

“Of those who responded to our poll on American immigration policy, 54.7% said the key principle should be stopping large-scale immigration, 29.1% re-introducing a ‘national origins’ system, 12.8% maximizing the economic benefit to us, 1.2% keeping much the present system, and 2.3% expanding immigration.”

Posted by: Unadorned on December 16, 2002 11:59 PM

I’m not familiar with a ‘national origins’ system. Also, what does voting for ‘maximizing economic benefit’ entail?

With the first option, I have reservations about what it means by ‘stopping’ the immigration (does this mean zero intake?) and ‘large-scale’ (is 500 a month large-scale?).

Off-hand I’d say that Australia should keep the present system. What bothers me more, really, are driving asylum seekers out into sea or detaining them indefinitely. This is based on my understanding that, before such deterrents, the quota for refugee/humanitarian visas hadn’t been swamped over, sometimes not even maxing out. It also bothers me that the government tactics included demonizing asylum seekers before even seeing them — before even knowing where they came from, what they were running from, they were already branded as illegal immigrants. It sort of flies in the face of having a refugee/humanitarian policy in the first place, as it flies in the face of international law about refugees.

To be honest, I’m not sure that Australia stands to lose with a steady intake of immigrants. Their immigration policy has always had a positive quota because Australia is, according to their own immigration policy, under-populated and there is concern for a shrinking workforce. There is a large migration of Australians to other parts of the world, e.g., the US and UK, where they earn more, apparently.

The Immigration department also reports that immigrants have so far been contributing so-and-so amount of money into the Australian economy. I’m not an expert in those figures, though, but they’ve got it posted in their office, I believe, and on their website.

There should also be control measures in place, however. The quota doesn’t have to increase radically. Since there are obvious dangers to uncontrolled intake of immigrants, the government should also enforce a policy where immigrants go through a probationary period prior to being given permanent residence. At the end of this period, say 5 years, then they can then be assessed for permanent residence, taking into account the contributions (or harm inflicted!) to society (skills, taxes). As they are only on probationary status, they may yet be sent away.

Also, we know that the government, as any would, are worried about the impact of retirement-age pensioners. Hence, they’ve been strict on family reunification categories for immigrants, especially in the case of aged parents of immigrants. We feel that the government can head this off by having parents of immigrants waive certain benefits that ordinary residents have, e.g., pension or health care. This is most likely acceptable to immigrants who earn enough (e.g., those in IT) to cover the medical and living expenses of their parents. I wouldn’t mind such an arrangement for my wife’s parents (mine have passed away already).

The problem that I can see is that there will always be those who will try to paint these control measures as unconstitutional, hence the danger that they will be removed in the future, e.g., through a Supreme Court ruling. However, I think such control measures are necessary for any immigration program that is reasonable for immigrants and likewise for the native Australians.

These control measures are probably flawed, though, but they were the first thing that came to mind when I disucessed the immigration issue with a friend of mine. He’s expressed his own anxieties about the growing immigrant population. He was receptive to my suggestions, but there must be something wrong with them — because I’ve never heard of anyone in parliament proposing them.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 17, 2002 2:10 AM

I wish I could appropriately verbalize what I really want to say. In a nutshell, governments are meant to be rational organizations that serve its people and nothing more. The entire idea of humanitarian law is not only impractical but suicidal. Charity and compassion are individual traits, and cannot be assigned to organizations like governments. A government is an organization of individuals, but it has a life of its own, and it is one of rational, prudent judgement and nothing more. Any attempt to pursue humanitarian ideals or any other such CRAP, for lack of a better word, will only result in a corruption of the ideal, since governments are organizations that outlive individual ideals and are incapable of truly FEELING anything. Thus the idea that a government should act because someone’s situation deserves compassion is worth about as much as an aboriginee.

Posted by: remus on December 17, 2002 3:29 AM

Remus, I liked your post and felt you were onto something, for instance when you said, “The entire idea of humanitarian law is not only impractical but suicidal.”  There may be something to that — I’ll have to think that through a bit.  Reading it, I thought of “humanitarian law” leading where part of our intellectual class seems to have arrived: to the position of Harvard Prof. Noel Ignatiev that the white race must be abolished, to the position of the liberals and leftists that the U.S. must be abolished through excessive incompatible immigration, and to the position of Prof. Noam Chomsky that policies must be forced on Israel through which that legitimate nation most assuredly will perish.

Then I came to your last sentence, and that hurt me to read.

Our side respects all races, religions, and ethnic groups, our own included, and wishes them all well, our own included. We fight for ours because it’s ours and because who will if we don’t? It’s like fighting for your own life, home, and children. To fight for ours does not mean we have aught against others. On the contrary, feeling how much we love ours makes us respect the feelings others have about theirs all the more.

We don’t undertake that fight we because we lack respect for others, but precisely because the true respect which our side feels for others — a respect which Tranzis lack, for example — allows us truly to respect ourselves.

You’re young and you’ll learn these things. There are pitfalls along this path of fighting to preserve one’s own ethno-cultural group from extinction. One pitfall is the trap of not respecting the dignity and intrinsic value of other groups. I am of the opinion, by the way, that this Muslim bashing which has swamped our country in the aftermath of of 9-11 is partly an example of that and I wish it would stop. When the Tajik and Uzbek forces led by the Americans under the war criminal Rumsfeld were doing things like herding Pathan POWs (their ancient tribal enemies) into giant shipping containers and then lobbing grenades in there to kill them en masse, while laughingly telling the press that the POWs must have smuggled grenades in there under their baggy clothes in order to commit mass suicide as a last gesture of defiance, I was nauseated and so should every American have been. (I favored America fighting that war — but I didn’t favor Rumsfeld, who was completely aware of these and other atrocities and didn’t care about them — fighting it using war-criminal methods.)

As for the Australian aborigines, their intrinsic worth as humans is the same as yours and mine. If they’re not worth much, then neither are we, who are surely worth no more and no less than they. Therefore it is wrong to talk about them as if they are not worth as much as we. (We’re talking, of course, about intrinsic human worth here, not practical fitness for some task such as scoring high on the SAT, or entering some profession, etc., for which every group on earth has some members who are qualified and some who are not.)

Whites don’t have the IQ of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, who are smarter than we are on average. So are Ashkenazi Jews, whose IQ is as much above whites in general — a standard deviation — as whites’ is above U.S. blacks. (You mentioned — well, you can go to that site and read all about this stuff there.) Does that mean our intrinsic human worth is less than theirs? If it doesn’t, then neither is the Aborigines’ intrinsic human worth less than ours.

It’s common and normal for college-age people such as yourself to look at IQ, physical appearance, social standing, or material possessions as the mark of the intrinsic worth of individuals, and therefore as the mark of the intrinsic worth of the groups those particular individuals make up. When you’ll have advanced a couple of decades further along, as I have, you’ll value the humanity of each individual — his immortal soul — more than anything else, in recognizing his worth, and you’ll see — you’ll feel — the equalness of us all, in terms of that.

To see that is not to disregard the legitimacy of the existence of ethnic groups and distinct nations. There is no contradiction whatsoever in respecting everyone’s humanity on the one hand, and recognizing the sacred right of ethnic groups, nations, and ethno-cultural traditions to exist and to thrive into the future, on the other.

In fact, there’s probably a contradiction — and a very grave one — in the opposite.



Posted by: Unadorned on December 17, 2002 9:31 AM

Jeff Tan and ALL VFTr’s:

Mr. Tan: Your posts plead for the rights of Australian boat people you blithely label asylum seekers.You’ve never said what they are seeking asylum from. So far you refuse to inquire who they are. You proudly plead ignorance of where they come from and of the causes of Australia’s immigration problems.I believe your refusal to learn and your ignorance of the real issues o marks you as unwitting AND willing to support criminal invasion of the country you call a homeland.
You seem to like citing to other URLs, so here are tow that you and our fellow VFTR commenters need to look at befor any of them continue to exchange idead with you.

Would you do everyone at VFTr a favor and look at these-then write to us and give us your opinion ON WHAT THE CITES SAY?before continuing the debate on your terms only
Thanks a lot.I have no doubt of your sincerity-but the sincerely who are ignorant of the issues are the first to get trampled in the war on terrorism.

Posted by: Sandy on December 17, 2002 10:05 AM

Sandy is right to note that Jeff Tan wishes to conduct the debate on his terms only.

One aspect of this is his tendency to quote liberal authorities, such as Prime Ministers, the Australian and Age newspapers, the UN, the Immigration Bureau and so on, as value neutral, legitimate, trustworthy, “rational” agencies.

Jeff Tan has announced himself to be a Christian, so I wonder if he pays such respect to these agencies when they seek to legitimise abortion, pornography, prostitution and drugs.

Jeff Tan also doesn’t wish to recognise the long-term effects of foreign immigration on Anglo-Australians. So far he has only gotten as far as asking me what I mean by “survival”. I take this as a kind of dodge. It’s pretty obvious that continuing large-scale foreign immigration will lead to intermarriage, a blurring of racial lines, and a loss of awareness of a distinctive ancestry and heritage. In other words, the obliteration of Anglo-Australians, or even European Australians, as a distinctive ethnic group.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on December 17, 2002 4:57 PM

Thank you, Sandy, for the links. I’ll look at them immediately and then post again. I can’t claim to be an expert. I have read a few of the past VFR posts/articles by Mr. Kalb and one by Mr. Auster. I am chewing and trying to digest. I do see the rationale behind their concerns (and yours).

Mark’s point about the survival of Anglo-Australians is also understandable, but I contend that inter-marriages are personal choices that people make and are not by nature wrong. (BTW I really wasn’t sure what you meant about the survival of groups in that last post. Thanks for clarifying.) Commitment to one’s culture is, I think, more important than one’s ancestry, if it’s a question of preserving one’s culture. I can tell you from experience (I’m pure Chinese by blood, but I’m a Filipino) that, among relatives and friends, the desire to keep the bloodline “pure” usually goes hand in hand with looking down on other racial/ethnic groups. Those of my kin who think this way are the most vocal in stereotyping other races as being this way or that way. I’ve heard one aunt say that “all are thieves!” Several times. I am always amazed at her audacity to look down on the people who granted her parents a safe haven. Obviously, despite having been born in the Philippines, she does not see herself as a Filipino at all. Filipinos are very receptive of other races, and while our sense of humor may poke racial fun once in a while, racial hate crimes do not occur among Filipinos (except the small group of Muslim militants of bin Laden’s ilk in the South).

I understand the point of view of Remus about governments and the inappropriateness of applying humanitarian concerns with them. However, I have to take exception to his comment about aborigines. I believe Unadorned has made the point clear about their worth as fellow human beings.

I also tend to think that governments, even while considering the welfare of its citizens in socio-economic terms, may yet legitimately consider immigration policies for humanitarian reasons. Not all refugees are unskilled and unfit for society. A farmer from Afghanistan, for example, can continue to farm here. A laborer can do the same things anywhere. And it is entirely feasible to expect the children of refugees to contribute to society. While the large Vietnamese population of Australia has its share of gangsters who harm rather than contribute to society, there are also many among them who are productive citizens. There are many groceries, restaurants and small businesses run by Vietnamese who do very well and are productive members of Australian suburbs. There are many professionals — doctors, nurses, IT professionals — who are children of Vietnamese refugees.

It is true that I post ideas according to my terms. My objective is in fact to present the other side for you to consider. Consider: if I hadn’t posted at all: would there have been such a prolonged discussion? I can say at least that, on my part, these discussions have helped me understand the issues better from your perspective (and I am grateful for that). I am hoping that I have also presented a different angle for you to consider.

As for my being Christian, Mark, yes, I go against the idea of legitimizing prostitution, drugs, abortion and pornography. That is probably not relevant to this blog, however.

BTW in case it was a shock that I’m not Australian after all, I apologize. When I mentioned Australia for the first time in my posts, I was simply providing an example vis-a-vis the immigration issue. As someone pointed out, the Philippines isn’t exactly a favored immigrant destination so there was little to use as an example there. I’ve been in Australia since 1999, however, and a few years before that as well, and I have kept abreast of the immigration issue here as much as I can. My perspective, then, is that of a third generation immigrant in the Philippines. I truly wasn’t considering the immigration issue as an issue of migration by Islamic people. Given my background, I tend to consider the issue in general without thought for the actual origins of the immigrants.

If you wish, we can talk about the Philippines and its cultural makeup. However, immigration hasn’t been the issue back home. After all, it served colonial masters (Spanish) from the early 16th century until almost just before the second World War (American). It wasn’t inter-marriage that destroyed the original Filipino culture, and I don’t think the current generation would like to go back to that original culture anyway, as it is so alien from the prevailing one, which is largely influenced by Spanish and American (colonial) culture.

Posted by: Jeff Tan on December 17, 2002 6:25 PM

Unadorned, you will meet few people in your life that are as compassionate as I am on an individual basis. I am also only very minutely concerned with the attributes that you mentioned that many people my age use to define someone’s value. While I do realize that on some level, all races and ethnic groups are humans, I do not feel the need to respect any group in particular simply because we are capable of breeding. I honestly believe that certain groups have demonstrated themselves to be capable of only a very minute understanding of what it even means to be human.

In the case of the aboriginees, I must retract my statement, not because I feel a necessity to respect some ethnic group I know nothing about, but because I do not know enough about them to make such a universal statement. There is no rational justification for my statement, and it was actually born out of a desire to antagonize Mr. Tan, which is infantile and has no place in this forum, and which I regret sincerely.

I do, however, take issue with your claim of an ‘intrinsic value’ that one possesses simply by being human. I take your definition to be the human consciousness and at least some understanding of creative thought. I do not, however, believe that these traits have any intrinsic value. Charles Manson was most certainly a human, and most certainly possessed any possible trait I could think of that gives one the ‘intrinsic value’ you refer to. While he had these traits, he obviously had no appreciation for or understanding of what it means to be human. If men without the least understanding of what it means to be human could exist in our society, why could there not be entire societies of them? I am merely talking a concept now, and I cannot say anything about the aboriginees in particular because I know very little about them.

In all honesty, however, I do not feel pity for the plight of anyone that believes in the Koran and Muhammed as the son of God. If you read that website I posted a few weeks ago, you will understand what I mean. I do feel that the senseless slaughter of people (or even animals) is not only senseless but detrimental to the murderer’s sense of humanity, and wrong. If a human has passed the age of humanity but still has no respect for or understand of humanity, do they possess the intrinsic worth you speak of? Valuing those who are incapable of realizing their self-value is the same type of self-sacrifice as accepting immigrants who have suffered immensely, but in the end want merely to destroy us and value nothing of our compassion.

Posted by: remus on December 17, 2002 6:34 PM

Remus, you are extremely bright but you have this sort of intellect-centered brashness that keeps many intellectual twenty-year-olds from seeing things like the existence of the soul, and the existence of God. You just posed about fifty questions, each one of which would need a small book to answer. All I can say is come back in twenty years, and we’ll talk.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 17, 2002 6:51 PM

A failure on your part Unadorned to explain your position then resorting to a corrolation between lack of spirituality and intellectual brashness is probably wrong. This is the same sort of reaction I get in discussion with people who counterattack my anti-immigration arguments with emotive pleas of humanity. Can you please just reply with a resonable counterargument of the main points?

Posted by: stephen on December 17, 2002 7:43 PM

Your reply to Remus gives the impression that having been bested in debate you dropped out of it by an unattractive linguist dismissal of his words. Who knows, maybe in twenty years he’ll have compassion for you hold back his intellect and argue on fairer terms

Posted by: sandy on December 17, 2002 7:55 PM

I don’t think one can look a baby in the eye and not recognize that every human being starts life with an intrinsic, and even precious, value. The fact that it is possible and perhaps even tragically common for human beings to self-destruct does not mean that the value never existed in the first place. So maybe Remus would be happy with a formulation in which every human being has at least the after-image of intrinsic value?

Posted by: Matt on December 17, 2002 8:18 PM

Unadorned and Matt,
Your speculations about everything from my character to my spirituality are not only baseless, but entirely out of place. Matt’s guesses as to what might make me happy are entirely misplaced in this forum. I am surprised you use the situation of a newborn baby, because I already specified that the obligation to appreciate life only lies on those who are physically capable of understanding. Babies, obviously, are not. It is also possible that if a very primitive people, which I know the aborigines are, were primitive enough, they could lack the intellectual capacity to understand any of the characteristics that we define as human.

Only those who respect life and creativity deserve your respect, Unadorned. Humanity’s instincts to ask why, to be concerned with spirituality, and to seek knowledge and attempt to create are entirely born out of intellect. The only thing that seperates us from animals is that we ask why. THAT is the intrinsic value you speak of, and it is not intrinsic at all. Those who don’t care have no value as humans, other than as possible organ donors.

Posted by: remus on December 17, 2002 8:50 PM

The intrinsic value that we are born with, Matt, is merely the possibility of understanding. One’s appreciation for the miracle that is life, in all of nature, is part of that humanity. It is not intrinsic to our births, though. The capacity is, assuming that we are born without severe intellectual defects.

Posted by: remus on December 17, 2002 8:53 PM

Remus made a legitimate rhetorical analogy between values in his argument; i.e. that certain government action has as much value as an aborigine.Technically he supplied no values for either end of his equation but left it for the reader to infer a value system.Im sure he equated two items he thought had low value on his scale of values.You may disagree with his scale of value or his argument but to attempt to dismiss him on personal grounds of age,situation or experience is such lack of ordinary respect that it got a deservred condemnedation

Posted by: sandy on December 17, 2002 9:28 PM

Remus, you seem to say that some groups of people, either because of their wrong behavior (Muslims who sympathize with Al Qaeda or otherwise hate us, for example), or because of their limited understanding (primitive groups in parts of the world), don’t necessarily deserve our full respect.

You’re right that we shouldn’t respect the wrong that groups do or the ignorance in which groups live. But those defects don’t take away from the wrongdoers or from the ignorant their intrinsic humanity. I don’t know a way to show that. You must take someone’s word for it, and wait until you are able to see it. You will be able to see it later. What you will see is that people are all the same — you, me, aborigines, Muslims … everybody. We all have the human soul.

Each group also creates its distinctive rich ethno-cultural characteristics and heritage which of course it may abandon if it wants to, but has the right also to keep if it wants. Every time an honest pollster asks Americans if they want their traditional ethno-cultural identity extinguished through excessive incompatible immigration, they say no. But the government won’t listen. The government is wrong not to listen, and the people are right to protest, those who do.

“It is also possible that if a … people … were primitive enough, they could lack the intellectual capacity to understand any of the characteristics that we define as human.” — Remus

Yes, but there are no people that primitive in the world. Furthermore, people don’t have to understand human characteristics (though all people on earth do, you can be sure) to qualify as human. They need only possess them.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 17, 2002 10:39 PM

If I read your post correctly you argue for the innate “humanity” of everone regardless of their race, creed, color, national origin, past crimes, murderous intent,Islamics and aborigines. All people are the same we all have the human soul.

I believe that the soul is from eternity comes into time and enters each human at conception, where it resides until death,when it returns whence it came- to the Godhead. Soul IS before personality develops. From birth babies have no self awareness(not sentient).They remain only as potential until the developing personality adds value through education,maturation and self awareness.

The soul you mention confers no common behavioral bond among humans, because soul is a manifestation of bodily attachment solely to the eternal, but earthly value and its judgments occur through the brain chemistry and personality which exist only in time, is not eternal and is subject to human free will of the person to do good or evil.To judge people by soul implies no behavioral absolute,substitutes a label called the soul as a band-aid over evil behavior.

Judge people by individual and collective(cultural) behavior.This is required of you by your sentient developed brain, not your soul,which IS before you had personality,sentience, awareness, attitudes and culture from which values spring..

Posted by: sandy on December 17, 2002 11:19 PM

Remus apparently misinterprets my use of the word “happy” as meaning “happy in an emotional sense” rather than intellectual acceptance. I disagree that a living, breathing, laughing baby is valuable only as a potentiality, if that is what Remus intended to say. I view it as manifestly true that a human baby has an intrinsic worth in himself that cannot be reduced to potentialities or particular seperable attributes. It may (or may not) be philosophically possible for that intrinsic worth to be destroyed, but it (this intrinsic worth) exists ontologically as surely as anything else (including for example a rock or a tree) exists.

So if it is true that this intrinsic worth exists ontologically in every human baby then even if it is destroyed in the process of that baby becoming an adult, its afterimage — its ontological truth as history — remains. So the statement “every human being has intrinsic worth” becomes ontologically true when “human being” is understood as the totality of every human life.

I presume nothing about Remus’ age, intellect, history, or emotional state.

Posted by: Matt on December 17, 2002 11:40 PM

I shouldn’t have insulted the aborigines. Now posts are coming with disclaimers at the end.

Posted by: remus on December 18, 2002 12:01 AM

Actually, I simply wanted to distance myself from Unadorned’s invocation of Remus’ apparent age and from the notion that I was imputing anything at all about Remus personally, since Remus explicitly stated that he thought it was my intent to impute things about him personally. My disclaimer had nothing to do with the aborigine comment.

Posted by: Matt on December 18, 2002 12:47 AM

If God has created each of us with a soul then we all have as part of our nature an aspect of the sacred. This gives a certain dignity to human life. It is through this that we have a sense of the worth of all human life.

This does not, of course, mean that we accord the same respect to every human individual (no, I don’t respect Charles Manson), nor that individuals or peoples are equal in all things.

Australian Aborignes had a woefully low level of material advancement (the Tasmanian Aborigines actually went backward in their technology, losing the ability to make implements with which to fish). There are also major dysfunctions in many Aboriginal communities, such as binge drinking, domestic violence and so on.

But still, I’ve liked the Aborigines I’ve met. They’ve been friendly and open. I hope they manage to preserve themselves as a people, and I hope they maintain at least some aspects of their culture.

I think most Australian traditionalists feel the same. We just don’t like it when liberals fabricate, or selectively emphasise, stories of Aboriginal oppression in order to demoralise the Australian mainstream.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on December 18, 2002 4:09 AM

A curious act of defiance against the liberal establishment has occurred in Australia. Abbas Aly, a Sydney Muslim, had applied to the Baulkham Hills Shire Council to open a prayer centre.

Similar establishments in other Sydney suburbs have been linked to Islamic radicalism. There were an unprecedented 5000 formal objections lodged against the application by residents (any more than 50 is usually regarded as significant).

The council voted 10 to 2 against the prayer centre on the grounds that it was not in the public interest and “not considered to be in accordance with the shared beliefs, customs and values of the local community.”

Sounds like a statement in defence of a particular culture and community to me.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on December 18, 2002 5:43 AM

For Remus’ passing remark about the aborigines, he should be required to appear on Aborigine T.V.and before aborigine news commentators to apologize and explain his mental intent, then do a personal appearence mea culpa tour of all the aborigine cities during which he’ll agree to meet with the aborigine caucus and espouse any cause they choose.Lastly he should be publicly censored and then fobidden to use his intellect ever again.

Posted by: Sandy on December 18, 2002 3:22 PM

“Lastly, [Remus] should be publicly censored and then forbidden to use his intellect ever again.”
— Sandy

That was a funny little satire, Sandy — congratulations on it — but the last line was unfair. Use your intellect as much as you can, by all means. Nobody said not to. Never stop using it, in fact — ever.

BUT … use your heart too, where necessary. The heart is stronger than the intellect, and the brain centers which represent “the heart” in the central nervous system are mostly what make the real, essential, fundamental you — not so much the cerebral cortex.

All people are morally equal. That’s the meaning of what our forefather Thomas Jefferson wrote when he put “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal … ” into our country’s Declaration of Independence.

There are no exceptions to that: Aborigines, rich white residents of Malibu and Sands Point, stone-age Indians in the Amazon jungle, the most primitive Negro folk in remotest Africa, the latest batch of American, European, and Japanese Nobel Prize winners — all are morally equal to each other, and all are “worth” the same amount — namely, the value of a human soul.

To be ignorant of that fundamental truth leads straight to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. On the other hand, to misinterpret it as meaning not “morally” equal, but “equal in ability,” leads straight to the Cambodian killing fields of Pol Pot and Khieu Sampan.

I would rather see everything I hope for politically go down to utter defeat than be forced to compromise with someone who could not see that truth as Jefferson saw it and as the men who signed what he wrote saw it.

Those on our side who cannot see it must simply withhold judgement until later, when see it they surely will.

Years ago, when I first read these words of the great Southern Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor: “As far as I am concerned, we are ALL ‘the poor,’ ” I didn’t quite understand them. The passage of about fifteen years made their meaning become crystal-clear to me. If you can’t see it, Remus, give it time and it will come.

Posted by: Unadorned on December 18, 2002 6:11 PM

I appreciate that you are speaking from the heart and can sympathize with your appeal to our hearts.

The Declaration of Independence does say all men are CREATED equal,but it grants them ONLY LIBERTY to pursue happiness in the lives they already have. The grant is Liberty.Life and Happiness can not be granted by government fiat.

I dont think you meant to say that all people ARE equal but that they were CREATED EQUAL by the Eternal Godhead in the ineffable quality of soul.

As I said in my prior post,I believe soul is the bodily attachment to the eternal.It cannot be known, inspected or valued, since knowledge,inquiry and value judgments are products of the chemical cerebrum: which is also where our emotions reside even as they run away with our imaginations.

It is the intellect that makes the assignments of moral values and labels all humans as being equal.And its also the place one mans “universality of human value” is another man’s sentimental appeal to emotion.

Posted by: sandy on December 18, 2002 8:57 PM
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