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Works and Days

Liberal Illiberalism

March 18th, 2012 - 11:30 am

That moral obtuseness, along with hypocrisy and pseudo-scientific bombast, is why Gorism has imploded. In short, radical environmentalism is a sort of medieval sect that terrorizes the less well-off.

Multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is another unkind dogma — the very notion that all cultures are professed equal, and those in the West often have a particular obligation to elevate illiberal and intolerant systems above their own in recompense for their supposedly ill-gotten prosperity and success. This week, SheikH Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia — not a minor voice in the world of Islam — announced that he wished, according to his reading of Koranic-inspired statute, that all the churches in the Gulf region be destroyed. That threat was met with silence in the West. We know that had the pope said something equivalent (e.g., Europe should be free of mosques), we would have heard loud denunciations, perhaps even a declaration from President Obama that he did not wish his daughters growing up in a world of such religious bias.

But again the press said little or nothing — even though Abdullah’s creepy declaration will spur Muslims even more to persecute Christians, most of whom are Arabs who have been Christian for millennia. Nor does the liberal establishment worry much that Jews are fleeing the Middle East, Africa, and other “third-world” countries, largely because of a new anti-Semitism, fueled by radical Islam.

All over the Middle East, Christians and Jews are treated as untermenschen (only in Israel are they safe), and in immoral fashion we believe that our multicultural fides exempt us from the fact that we are quite callous and unapologetically uncaring over the plight of tens of thousands.

Illegal immigration. Unfortunately, illegal immigration has turned into an abjectly immoral enterprise. Here I won’t dwell on the usual moral dimensions of massive influxes — illegal immigration makes a mockery of federal law in a way that would not be sustainable if the law were so assaulted in other areas; it undercuts the wages of U.S. entry level workers; it results in billions of dollars in remittances, often from subsidized senders, that leave the U.S. economy to Mexico; and it burdens insolvent states with entitlement costs bornd by the strapped general population.

Instead, I am curious why an abstract fact of legal or illegal entry into the United States has become a de facto “Latino” issue. There is zero concern voiced by Democrats over illegal aliens in general, unless, as in the case of the president’s aunt and uncle, they are well-connected. By that, I mean no political leader announces, “We are quite cruelly deporting those who overstay their visas or arrive without one, and just this month unfairly deported 10 South Korean students, 6 Nigerian workers, and 4 Russian tourists.” There is no interest in pondering how to free more Cubans from a totalitarian Castro regime that has systematically jailed and sometimes executed dissidents.

California Latino politicians are instead interested in the issue entirely on tribal grounds, not just out of empathy for those of the same ethnic background, but more practically in political terms of advancing their own careers as self-appointed tribal spokesmen in a multicultural system where hyphenation brings dividends. If the Mexican border were secure, and 1 million French Canadians were pouring into the U.S. without English, legality, education, or capital, the Latino community would be calling for border enforcement, expressing worry about the unfair competition to entry-level American workers, decrying the cost and separatism in providing French-English official documents, and regretting the mockery made of the law. It is hard to recall a comparable example in the history of two nations, in which millions of foreign nationals fled their own nation to a neighboring one, and then immediately made claims upon their new hosts, often in deference to their home country that they had just abandoned due to its failure to provide them basic services and opportunities.

And yet to suggest that illegal immigration has morphed into an issue of ethnic chauvinism, predicated on ignoring the law only in one particular instance — illegal entry into the American southwest from citizens of Mexico and some regions of Latin America — is to incur a charge of racism. How Orwellian that — a largely race-based lobbying effort, aimed at a single ethnic constituency, defends itself by alleging “racism” on the part of any who would so identify its own unapologetic motives as such.

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