Steyn questions non-discriminatory immigration

At the end of a long, somewhat shapeless Steynian riff (a.k.a. newspaper column) in the Canadian Western Standard, Mark Steyn touches on the most consequential fact of the modern world: that Western nations no longer discriminate among prospective immigrants on the basis of national origin, race, and religion. He writes:

Forty years ago, it was accepted in Canada, the United States and Australia that sovereign nations had the right to operate discretionary immigration policies—that’s to say, being under no obligation to admit anyone, they could pick and choose whom they did. Today, it’s equally widely accepted that discretionary immigration policies are discriminatory and indefensible: if you’re going to let people in, then all 200 or so nations on the face of the earth are equally valid—Slovenes and Saudis, Japanese and Jamaicans. To orient immigration policy to favour certain sources would be racist.

I wonder how long these pieties can endure….

At issue is not just Canada’s immigration policy but America’s, which under the 1965 Immigration Reform Act accepts immigrants on an equal basis from every nation on earth. It is a policy which tacitly assumes that America has no cultural, ethnic, religious, racial, or civilizational character worth preserving—a policy which ultimately means that society itself does not matter, that only the autonomous individual matters.

The reader who sent me the link to the piece said, “Steyn vaguely implies that non-discriminatory immigration is a bad idea, but sees changing it as impossible.” I think the piece is stronger than that. Instead of remarking, in his usual, flippant manner, “Here’s a problem that is destroying civilization, but, hey, there’s nothing to do about it anyway, so let’s fiddle while Rome burns, Steyn says: “I wonder how long these pieties can endure.” That is very un-Steynian. To suggest that the policy of non-discriminatory immigration cannot last is to say that modern liberalism itself cannot last. So Steyn is to be congratulated. If he wants to fill himself in further on the topic, he could read, if he hasn’t already, Chapter One of The Path to National Suicide, where I discuss the 1965 Act.

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Since the Western Standard requires registration, I’m copying the entire article below.

Pitiful Pieties

Mark Steyn—September 17, 2007

You know the bit in the movie thrillers where the fourth or fifth killing has taken place and the police are sifting through the evidence to see what patterns they can identify?

Ha! That’s fine for Hollywood fantasyland, but, in the real world, law enforcement know better than to go down that route. Let’s say you arrest a bunch of guys plotting to blow up Parliament and behead the Prime Minister. Wow! Who would do such a thing? Who are these guys?

“They’re all residents of Canada and for the most part, they’re all citizens,” said Mitch McDonell, assistant commissioner of the RCMP.

So all these people plotting to wreak havoc on Canada’s Parliament were living in Canada? Anything else that might narrow it down a little more?

Assistant Commissioner McDonnell didn’t think so: “They represent the broad strata of our community,” he continued. “Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed.”

A remarkable case. The more you look at these guys—Mohammed Dirie, Amin Mohamed Durrani, Yasim Abdi Mohamed, etc—the less they seem to have in common. Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed, some spell “Mohammed” with two “m”s, some with one, some have it as a first name, some have it as a last name, some have it as a middle name. The strata don’t come any broader than that.

And as the jihad goes, so goes the Toronto crime scene. When nine citizens die in a single weekend in July, heaven forbid we should suggest these killings are connected to anything more specific than the very broadest of broad strata. Surveying the corpse count, Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario, immediately demanded that the federal government tighten up the gun registry and make the all but total handgun ban even more totally total. Is Mr. Bryant some sort of crude animatronic prototype? The political equivalent of the talking Ken doll, capable of only a handful of robotically droned generalities? Instead of “Come on, Barbie, let’s go party”, the Attorney-General squeaks his new catchphrase: “No gun, no funeral.”

Really? One day in the not too distant future, there will be one surviving legal gun owner in Canada—an octogenarian Newfoundland farmer who still has his grandfather’s shotgun. But doubtless Mr. Bryant will be blaming him for the 20 gun deaths in TO that weekend. Despite the reflex pandering of lazy politicians, there remains no connection between legal gun ownership and murder rates. Actually, that’s not true. If you look at the Top Ten countries with the lowest homicide rates, at least half of them have some of the highest gun-ownership rates in the world: Switzerland, Norway and Finland have more guns than Canada but lower crime rates.

More nuanced types recognize that neither Canadian long guns nor the modest number of legally registered Canadian handguns have anything to do with Toronto gang crime, and suggest instead that we need to crack down on guns coming in from the lawless cowboy country to the south. Well, we could try, I suppose. What level of scrutiny do you reckon would be necessary to secure a porous border strung out across thousands of miles on which 90 per cent of the Canadian economy depends? Canucks are already complaining about increased inspection times on shopping trips south, but if you want to install a huge Maple Curtain along the 49th parallel, go ahead.

And, when you’ve run the numbers for that project, maybe it’s worth asking the Mayor of Toronto and the Attorney-General of Ontario why they cannot do the citizens of a mature democracy the courtesy of addressing the question honestly. There is no “Canadian” murder epidemic or “Ontario” murder epidemic. There is a problem within one very narrow stratum of Toronto society (as no RCMP assistant commissioner is ever likely to say). Innocent Madowo, “a former Zimbabwean journalist living in Toronto”, wrote a column the other day headlined “Our Community’s Scourge”—“our” meaning “black”. But he does his community an injustice. It would be truer to say violent crime is the West Indian community’s scourge, and truer still to say it’s the Jamaican community’s. In contrast to gun-infested Switzerland and Norway, Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates on the planet, and it exports its pathologies to wherever the Jamaican diaspora settles. In Britain, as in Toronto, gun crime is largely a Jamaican gang problem—“Yardies”, as they call them. The only difference is that the United Kingdom has implemented to the nth degree all the policies Michael Bryant wants enacted here, and with the predictable result that the coppers would rather hassle the cranky farmer with the unlicensed shotgun than take on the rather more demanding task of going after Yardies with Uzis.

In The Toronto Sun the other day, Michael Coren mentioned some of the particular characteristics of Jamaican society: “The levels of fatherless families in the country’s urban centres are staggering. This culture has been transferred to Canada,” he wrote, noting that, in return for pointing out the obvious, he would be damned as “racist”. In fact, there is nothing about being born with a particular skin colour that mandates a dysfunctional culture in which male role models are either absent, criminal or more benignly feckless. Race is immutable, but culture isn’t. Not long before my first child was born, I asked a young Jamaican lady who worked for me in London whether her father had been present at her birth. She gave a huge laugh. “Are you joking?” she said. “He wasn’t present ten minutes after conception.” These were certainly not the qualities Colin Powell, a child of Jamaican immigrants, associated with his community. “American blacks sometimes regard Americans of West Indian origin as uppity and arrogant,” he wrote in his autobiography. “The feeling, I imagine, grows out of an impressive record of accomplishment by West Indians. What explains that success? For one thing, the British ended slavery in the Caribbean in 1833, well over a generation before America did… They told my ancestors that they were now British citizens with all the rights of any subject of the Crown. That was an exaggeration: still, the British did establish good schools and made attendance mandatory. They filled the lower ranks of the civil service with blacks. Consequently, West Indians had an opportunity to develop attitudes of independence, self-responsibility and self-worth.”

Today, “self-worth” is valued, but entirely detached from “self-responsibility”. At a London club last month, a former British heavyweight boxing champion politely asked three young men if they would respect the no-smoking ban. They shot him in the face at point-blank range. He had “disrespected” them. As in Toronto, the perpetrators were black and so were the victims. It’s easy for Canadian media sob-sisters to indulge, as Michael Coren says, in sentimentalized blather about the four-year olds caught in the crossfire. But what are you going to do about it? In practical terms, the guilt-ridden white liberal would rather go on blaming rural white gun-owners and implicitly accept random intra-Jamaican gun-death as just another feature of the heartwarming multicultural mosaic, in the same way that we accept gas-sniffing as a time-honoured native tradition practiced on the tundra ever since the first Innu popped the tank of the first Honda Civic back in 1478. In neither case does liberal “compassion” or multicultural squeamishness seem to be doing anything for the designated victim class.

As for those on the hard-hearted right, no-one is proposing to limit or constrain immigration from Jamaica. Even typing that sentence feels vaguely ridiculous in an advanced western democracy. But let’s suppose the Mayor and everyone else is right and all the guns used in Jamaican gun crime are smuggled in from the United States. What’s easier to quarantine? A vast neighbour with whom we share a land border running across a continental land mass? Or a tiny island surrounded by water? In neither Canada nor Britain nor anywhere else is it politically feasible to propose that perhaps Jamaicans should be subjected to special immigration scrutiny. Forty years ago, it was accepted in Canada, the United States and Australia that sovereign nations had the right to operate discretionary immigration policies—that’s to say, being under no obligation to admit anyone, they could pick and choose whom they did. Today, it’s equally widely accepted that discretionary immigration policies are discriminatory and indefensible: if you’re going to let people in, then all 200 or so nations on the face of the earth are equally valid—Slovenes and Saudis, Japanese and Jamaicans. To orient immigration policy to favour certain sources would be racist.

I wonder how long these pieties can endure. A recent study of terrorist suspects arrested in Britain between 2001 and 2005 revealed that one in four of them was admitted to the country as an asylum seeker. They included, for example, Muktar Said Ibrahim, one of the four men who attempted unsuccessfully to self-detonate on the London Tube two weeks after the July 7th slaughter. In other words, young men taken in and given sanctuary by Britain thank their hosts by trying to kill them. Will any changes be made to immigration procedures? Or will the British simply accept that a one-in-four terrorist/refugee ratio is simply part of the privilege of being a progressive social-democratic society? Just as we accept that allowing parts of Toronto to, in effect, assimilate with Kingston, Jamaica is the price we pay for being able to congratulate ourselves on our boundless, boundless tolerance.

end of Steyn article

- end of initial entry -

American Cassandra writes:

I think you are right, your correspondent is being too hard on Steyn. He does something here also, besides say that non discriminatory immigration is a mistake. (And I don’t think he merely questions it in the piece, I think he out and out concludes it was a mistake, but being glib about all subjects is his trademark). What he does that I liked to see is discuss the absurdity of the gun control advocates who talk about comparative violent crime rates without mentioning race. Years ago, it was extremely common to hear liberals talk about the United States’ murder rate and compare it to Canada’s (and other Western countries), and say that it was because of their gun control laws. What they left out was the fact that the white murder rate in America, and the white murder rate in Canada, were virtually the same. To talk about gun crimes without mentioning the size of the black population, when the black population has a murder rate about eight times higher than the white population, is simply irresponsible or mendacious. The difference is so pronounced that, to gather data about the effects of gun control on crime, one would have to control for race when studying places with different gun control laws.

Now, I have noticed that some liberals still use these arguments, for perceptions of other countries take a long time to change, but, since places like Canada started to have large non white populations, comparing our violent crime rate to Canada’s while singing the praises of gun control has gotten somewhat less popular.

Connecting rising rates of violence with black immigrants, saying non discriminatory immigration was a mistake, and pointing out the fallacy of the gun control advocates? This is a real change in Steyn, and it is showing signs that his first mention of the 1965 Immigration Act during the June amnesty battle was no mere flash in the pan. I am encouraged to see this, because, I used to like Steyn very much, and I still think he is very gifted. (That was in my pre-VFR era).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 19, 2007 07:41 AM | Send

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