I had some discussions all day Sunday in New York City will old friends connected to my past experience at the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s and the Paul Rosenfels Community.
Some of that video should appear later, and other materials will also
I wanted to make some specific note of comments regarding my prospect for becoming more directly helpful to other people, especially with respect to the refugee and asylum seeker needs.
One comment concerns the “generous” treatment of refugees in western Europe, especially Germany, where the government reportedly built many new apartments from them. Reportedly, when some time limits expired, some refugees expected to be kept housed in relatively luxury at state expense. And there have been cases of burglaries and sexual assaults reported by a few young male refugees, and prosecutors are unwilling to pursue those guilty energetically for political reasons, leaving female victims without justice.
It was reported that western European governments, especially Angela Merkel’s Germany, have interfered with the press and media, and even amateur bloggers have gotten in trouble. We usually hear this kind of things about China, Russia, and Middle Eastern countries. There is “no freedom of speech” because the Welfare State wants to protect itself.
There was also some discussion as to whether immigration from poor countries is good for established countries today. I’ve written before of the pro arguments from libertarian think tanks like Cato and Niskanen, and of the papers showing long term economic benefits of active immigration. Immigration helps the United States maintain its population at replacement levels. But in Europe, the original populations we think of as “white European” are declining and replaced often by Muslim immigration and by less educated people with higher birth rates, to the point that implementation of Sharia law in some areas can no longer be viewed as a right-wing fantasy. The “Aryan” birth rate plummets despite generous paid family leave, because taxes to support the welfare state (and immigrants) have been so high. At least, this is some of the thinking of the “Brexit” right.
Immigration may also be “brain-draining” poorer countries., who should be given more nudging to build their own infrastructure and economies, even with the help of ideas like private micro-lending.
But does immigration of poor and especially non-white populations weaken the “peoples” of the new host countries? This gets into the taboo topic of genetics and race, that a few libertarian-leanings scholars (not just Charles Murray) have been willing to explore. Here’s a piece from May 2014 by Nicholas Wade in Time Magazine.
Wade argues that populations, separated in different parts of the world, will usually develop some genetic differences that can affect IQ, cognitive sentience, and individual self-concept. One important idea is the ability to delay gratification, which generally is associated with greater cognitive development, “seeing around corners”, and social maturity – and more accomplishments as individuals even at young ages. It’s also generally associated with individualism and relatively liberal social values, but rather literal expectations of the rule of civil law, as we know it in the West. Cognitive ability also resists tribalism and, with some nuance, a lot of religious fundamentalism, or a tendency to be drawn in into cults and mass movements.
Poorer populations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, have lower IQ’s because of childhood disease, poor nutrition, poor maternal care, and a host of reasons. Some practices, like familial intra-marriage, affect genes (as do sickle cell).
It’s also important to remember that, when it comes to race, it’s not really about skin pigment itself (although evolving in a cold climate may stimulate innovation). It’s more about geographical separation for long times. Most Middle Eastern peoples are still “White” or Caucasian. It seems possible that Caucasians in some areas may have inherited some Neanderthal genes, and kept me best ones in adapting to cold climates.
Interracial marriage and child-bearing may improve genetic variety in a people, because the genes of opposite-raced people may be more different with less possibility of genetic disease. But marriage with a people of “inferior” genes because of some factors associated with historical isolation could weaken descendants. So racial intermixing, from a “natural selection” viewpoint, is indeed a mixed bag.
If someone is contemplating becoming involved deeply in helping refugees, that person might want to think about which refugees and asylees, and how valid the moral claim on his or her time or resources seems.
Some asylum seekers (as I noted on a comment posted today on my July 20 posting) may have indeed entered the country under legally questionable circumstances (such as smuggling through Mexico). Donald Trump would be justified in stopping these kinds of entries into the country to start with (but then Trump, appealing to “lower IQ” voters, runs away with his profiling promises. Some (like in my circumstances) might want to consider the “moral” claim underneath. In the LGBT cases, it seems that the most disturbing aspect is that the asylum seeker had expected to return home after expiring a visa, when the home country (like Russia or Nigeria) passed a horrific law, so hosting an asylum seeker would, at least, be making a personal contribution to promoting international human rights.
One fact that I’ve so far overlooked, by the way, is that apparently in the LGBT cases, asylum must be applied for within one year of arrival (Jacob Kerr article from May 2015 in the Huffington index on LGBT asylum problems).
When it comes back to the question as to whether American private citizens should accept more personal risk and sacrifice to help refugees fleeing violence, many good questions arise. Why don’t we have more aggressive sponsorship or housing programs (even involving private homes) for our own homeless or domestic violence survivors? Why don’t we expect rich Muslim countries (like Qatar, UAE, etic) to do a lot more?
All of this sifts down, as I ponder what should be “expected” from me, having “inherited” a house that I don’t fully “need”. I get the potential left-wing lectures (and sometimes hear them). I must say, it could make sense to have responsible person living with me as I get older. I wonder if there are programs to match domestic homeless with seniors, but I never hear about them at local churches. I can imagine the benefits, and the difficulties. If I get involved in this, it should be sometime that I know about and have written about. Yes, the Russian problem sounds like it could be very much my business.
But the skepticism that many people feel about their being expected to welcome refugees and help asylum seekers does have some reasonable basis. Donald Trump, though, appeals to the lowest common denominator – with irony.
As for what I should do (and those Ninth Street Center talk groups would have demanded that I be “concrete” and use my own experience, not externalities in the world), I’m struck how housing someone means letting him depend on “me”. That gets into issues like sponsorship or guardianship (legally murky at best). The person I met with thought that being prepared to adopt or foster-parent children sounds more valid and perhaps prerequisite to housing refugees or asylees from foreign violence or discrimination. And that would be easier to “contemplate” had I fathered my children (at least one). She even thought that it is important for people entering marriages to accept the idea that the other partner may become dependent on them financially (most obviously during motherhood, but also illness). I have to walk back to the irony of the conservative, meritocratic value system that precluded me from feeling interest in parenthood as I came of age.
(Published: Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at 11: 45 PM EDT)