Immigrants are often or usually met with some degree of hostility, especially if there are more than two or three of them. It’s difficult to navigate the writings on the topic, even the recent ones, for two reasons. First, the relevant material looks to me like a few islands of scholarship surrounded by a vast sea of invective and of pious wishes mixed. Second, in the US, it’s not easy to locate recent first-hand documentation of words or deeds directed against immigrants, except on the Internet and, to a surprising small extent, on restroom walls. We have to rely instead on stories about the ill-treatment of immigrants. The stories are not always trustworthy because the plight, real or imagined, of immigrants has been massively exploited by a fraction of the Left in ways that must distort reality. Below is some evidence of this exploitation.
Demonstrations by beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) requesting normalization of their status shown on TV invariably incorporate one or a few Mexican flags. Since his inauguration, the demonstrations also include placards inscribed with crude insults toward President Trump. Neither inclusion makes any sense, of course. People brought up in this country are likely to be aware of the fact that brandishing the flag of another country is not a good way to sway public opinion in favor of their admission to this particular country. People reared and living in this country must also know, some of them, at least, that the president is in a position from one day to the next, to sign executive orders helpful to their cause. So why risk annoying him? Someone other than the immigrants themselves must be responsible for the flags and for the placards. Someone else is trying to capture the narrative for purposes other than those of the immigrants themselves. It seems to me the immigrants’ voices are simply being stolen from them. Here is an essay of mine exploring further this topic: “Immigrants’ Complaints.”
Below are two small conceptual contributions to the issue of contemporary native-born American hostility toward immigrants.
[Editor’s note: Here, by the way, is Part 10]
Economist Tyler Cowen linked to the following report in the Washington Post about a supposed increase in enmity between Japanese citizens and Korean expats in Tokyo’s Koreatown. Setting aside all of the hyperbole on the part of the Post concerning rising tensions, and setting aside the interesting fact that there is a Koreatown in Tokyo, and setting aside the fact that there seems to be an increase in nationalism throughout the developed world, I’d like to focus on the Post‘s advocacy of “hate speech” laws. The Post reports:
“Japan is right now at a crisis point,” said Yoshifu Arita, a [Left-wing] lawmaker who is campaigning for new laws to regulate hate speech. “A situation like this — people getting so publicly hostile — never happened in the seven decades after the war until now.” […] In 1995, Japan did accede to the United Nations’ convention to eliminate racial discrimination, including hate speech, but its parliament has not passed legislation to enforce that treaty commitment. Its reluctance, experts and politicians say, stems from a separate war-era legacy — the wholesale suppression of anti-government dissent. Japan created free-speech laws to prevent a repetition of that censorship, and many still oppose the idea of regulating speech, said Kenta Yamada, a media law professor at Senshu University. The Japanese government’s hope, Yamada said, is to reduce hate speech with education and enlightenment, not with new laws.
Now I think we can all agree that ethno-nationalism is a bad thing, and there has been a rise in ethno-nationalism throughout the world since the 2007-2008 economic crisis began. However, I hope we can all equally agree that squelching free speech in the name of an imposed tolerance would be a much, much worse outcome.
“Hate speech,” of course, is ambiguous and invites arbitrary censorship. The fact that the Leftist politician pushing for the assault on free speech is employing the language of crisis does nothing to relieve my suspicions of her intentions.
This piece brought up three more quick thoughts in my mind:
- The report states, in the above quoted passage, that Japan created free speech laws after the war. This is all well and good for the most part, but I’ll never tire of reminding people that the right to free speech cannot be created by government. Free speech is a natural human right, and as such it is impossible for governments to create free speech. For example, what would happen if Japan had not created free speech laws after the war? Would free speech not exist? It’s possible, but this could only be true if governments had laws in place prohibiting free speech.
- Is it just me, or did the reporter – a Western Leftist – come off as sounding a bit imperialistic in his subtext?
- Imagine what a federal incorporation with the US would do for ethnic relations between Koreans and Japanese.
The plight of migrant workers (and hints of Chinese nationalism):
If there’s one takeaway lesson from all the migrant worker stories in the news, it’s that they are quite often treated like crap. Nothing has hitherto expressed this more bluntly than one Wuhan toilet.
“Migrant workers prohibited from entering. Offenders fined 200 yuan,” reads the toilet’s bare concrete slab façade in bright red letters.
[…] Snoot city dwellers may love to hate on those lowly migrant workers who clean their streets, prepare their foods, and build their city, but unfortunately institutional discrimination in China does not end there. Foreigners (and dogs) are now at risk of being barred from certain establishments.