Yesterday at church much was made of the necessity to shelter dreamers from deportation, because it’s the “charitable” thing to do.
It is, of course, the charitable thing to do to look after those who need it, but there is an epistemological confusion when one applies moral standards meant for individual humans to whole nations.
I keep running into this with the idiots that think the only time we should use our military abroad is when we DON’T have a guiding interest in doing it, too, and it drives me just as nuts. It might be a beautiful and kind thing for a person to be disinterested in their acts of aggression or defense, (if a little daft. You should generally use enlightened self interest) but for a nation it can be suicidal.
It’s as though people think of nations as “that guy down the street” and of course if that guy down the street is running around punching people just so everyone will be afraid of him, or even if he won’t take “nothing from nobody” in the sense that if you look at him sideways he punches you, he’s not a very nice guy and he should refrain from being a jerk.
Now, nations can be jerks, too. But sometimes being a jerk as a nation is a good thing. Because nations aren’t people.
In fact, I think the entire misbegotten idea of the UN is that nations are people, and people in kindergarten, and we just needed a kindly teacher, or something.
It failed, because nations aren’t people. They’re not even groups of people.
Nations are groups of people wrapped around an idea (that is an identity) and claiming a territory. They’re insanely dangerous things, because nations have governments and those things tend to grow out of control and get up to all sorts of no-good. It is possible — theoretically — to have a nation without a territory, but then things get really fuzzy and metaphysical and it makes my head hurt, so let’s not do that. I already have cough from hell. I actually suspect that will be a new morph for nations by the end of this century, because of people’s location not having as much to do with whom they socialize with or where they work as it used to have. But it’s almost impossible to be completely independent of territory, absent teleportation, because you’re still stuck with the physical conditions of your terrain, weather, and whatever your neighbors are up to.
In this, nations are like people: they have a body, ie. a physical location.
As far as nations are tolerable and necessary they are so to provide protection, rule of law, and several other benefits to the people living in a certain territory.
The people of such a territory can choose collectively (or singly, if it’s say an absolute monarchy) to let people in, or to provide charity, or even to go kick the nation down the street, because it’s been buzzing us with its stupid war planes, and if we let it keep doing that, then sooner or later it’s going to bomb a majority of our citizens, which would be bad.
It used to be, in less enlightened times, that nations also had very few qualms about, say, going to war to steal a warm water port, because its people really could do with one. Or with taking more territory to expand, also known as colonies. Actually both of these still go on to a great extent (see China and the grabbing of African resources) but now they’re dressed in ohter clothes, and are frowned upon by all the Western nations. Most of whose citizens think of the nation as an individual.
So take the dreamers and — because this was part of the thing, and it made my eyes roll back so far I saw my brain — their families. Say it’s the charitable thing to do to open our arms to them, their families and their hyper extended families.
Okay. But I recall no — not one — command for nations to be charitable. There’s a lot about individuals being charitable. But why should the nation be charitable? What will it get out of it?
Well, it gets to help all those poor little kids, who got brought here without their say so. Um. ‘mkay. That’s nice, I guess. It also gets to keep the parents who knowingly broke the law to bring them. Um…. that might be charitable, but aren’t we on thin ice, here?
Won’t doing this cause more people to drag, bring or send (anyone remember Obama’s children’s crusade, with unaccompanied minors being sent on an hellish journey sometimes all across the Americas because he announced they wouldn’t be sent back) their minor children, in what is manifestly an act of child abuse (the conditions of the journey alone dictate that) in order to eventually get in themselves? As charitable individuals, is that something we want to encourage? And as a nation, is that something we want to encourage? The immigration of people who are willing to exploit their own children?
And as for all their relatives coming in on the back of these poor children… my head really hurts. How is that charitable?
More importantly, how is it charitable to the people already here to flood the country with illiterate, untrained, technologically ignorant people? Don’t we have enough of those ourselves and shouldn’t we be more concerned with helping/elevating them, than with importing more people to take the jobs available to them?
And then it comes back to Nations aren’t individuals. They don’t have a mandate to charity. They have a mandate to protect their own people and make their territory as safe and prosperous as possible. Seems to me that if you’re protecting your territory for your own citizens, you don’t want to encourage a mass invasion over the border. Because that would be the opposite of all those things.
But Sarah, you say, we are a nation of immigrants, and many of those who came in were illegal and illiterate.
Yeah. I know. Though the economic effects on the people here weren’t always pretty, either. But most of our mass immigration waves of the past came into a country at a level of technology where they could be brought up to speed in almost no time, and where most of what needed was willing hands, willing backs, and an enthusiasm for work.
We live in a far more complex world now, and as Mark Steyn asked the other day, what is the benefit to any technological nation of importing illiterates?
Also the nation of successful immigrant waves was a nation sure of itself, one that demanded immigrants adapt. Not a nation that was so scared of its own shadows it didn’t allow citizens to display the flag in a school lest it offend immigrants.
One thing no nation can afford is balkanization: the splintering of its culture into many subcultures that lack even a common language. Partition of territory tends to follow that.
And no nation can allow its neighbor to send over people convinced they own half of its land. (The whole Mazatlan nonsense.)
Land is not magical. By itself, it doesn’t change the culture of those who live in it. Just because we are “charitable” and allow people to move here, it doesn’t make them any more prosperous. In fact, if they keep their culture and don’t adapt, it’s likely to make all of us less prosperous. More so for “refugees” from the Middle East where the culture has been strangling all developments for centuries.
Individuals not being nations can change their culture. All the more so if they immigrate alone or with a very small group.
So, yeah, I’m not anti-immigrant. (It would be pretty coming from me) I just think a nation, not being a person, should choose its immigrants on the principle of “this person would be a good addition to the nation and make us all better off.”
Most nations in the world do that. They pick and choose, and if you want an education in how tight immigration can get look at the paperwork to immigrate to Mexico.
Should we be importing people? Probably. At least I don’t see any way to stop it. There will be people like me, mad in love with the idea of America; there will be people who see a better future for their kids here; there will be people who just want to come. But the country should not treat this as a charity. We cannot in point of fact take all the hungry of the world onto ourselves, and if we could it would work the same as any redistribution. Once they get a fraction of what we have, and are unable to produce more, we can all starve together.
In the US, as in most western cultures, we’re fuzzy on what’s “individual” and what’s “nation” and the duties of each. So we get this “charity” nonsense.
A nation’s individuals can be charitable. They can reach across the boarder and help other individuals. They can even (and perhaps should) form charitable organizations that do things like job training.
But the nation as a nation has no business in charity. Yes, I know, we do something like in foreign “subsidies.” We have no business in that either. It’s a form of Marxism infecting thought and people believing if we feed the wolves a little, they’ll eat us last. A lot of our government’s money abroad actually impairs other nations’ development and makes things worse in the very long run. And that’s when it’s not dane geld.
As for the dreamers? Yeah, they were brought over through no fault of their own. And if they meet the same requirements as the other immigrants: speak English so they can transact all their business in English; are self supporting; have no criminal record, they probably should get a green card. It’s dangerous, mind, because it encourages more of the same.
OTOH if we don’t extend our benevolence to the parents, it’s probably not fatal. Provided they match the requirements above. And we won’t be rewarding outright law breakers.
But at some point we must realize Lady Bountiful is a great role to play with other people’s money and other people’s security. It is not a sane or safe one for a nation.
It’s neither charitable to encourage people to use children in this way, nor is it charitable for the people already here to be importing more people who will need all kinds of support and all kinds of public assistance, and who, more often than not, make no effort to assimilate.
It is the opposite of charity.
And religious leaders who don’t understand this, might have other moral failings.