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Tuesday
Feb272018

Fortress EuroAmerica

Most progressives, and I would say, most informed people, believe that the greatest threat to our world society is climate change. With climate change and global warming we expect rising ocean levels, increased droughts and increased extreme weather conditions (hurricanes, floods, blizzards, extreme hot and cold spells), as well as changes in the flora and fauna of our planet.

There is a second threat that is just as severe and immediate and partially, but not wholly a result of climate change and global warming. This threat is the intensification of extreme harsh living conditions in certain regions of the world, which will lead to increased migration and immigration pressures on the more developed regions of the world.

Because of war, poverty, malnutrition, drought, and soon, rising ocean levels, some regions of the world are becoming so hostile to human life that the inhabitants of those regions have no choice but to attempt to leave. Below are a few examples. The first is a world map of poverty based on per capita purchasing power parity (ppp). The second is a world map of child malnutrition, sufficient to result in often fatal “wasting” of children under age 5. The third is a world map of wars and armed conflicts.

 1.Worldwide Poverty

 

2."Wasting" Malnutrition in Children

 

3.Worldwide Wars and Armed Conflicts

The point of the above maps is to show that poverty, malnutrition, and war affect generally the same regions and therefore the same populations. Some, although not all, of these regions are the same ones most severely affected by extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes, monsoons and droughts, or are low-lying regions susceptible to rising oceans.

Our human society is organized into countries and our system of world order is based upon national boundaries and governmental structures, along with national and international laws that regulate the behavior of people and the nations they comprise. In some cases, as in the Middle East and some African or even Asian nations, the national boundaries, most often because they were drawn by occupying European empires, are not coincidental with historic tribal regions, leading to ethnic or religious clashes within the boundaries of a single country or alliances across borders that are stronger than national ones. With some exceptions (e.g. the Balkans), European and New World boundaries have a substantial history and most of the residents within a country share a common history and culture (this may be least true of the United States, because of its long history of increasing its population through immigration).

As disparities between regions become more stark and international travel becomes easier, migration from the harshest living conditions to those where life is better and, in fact, more sustainable, is inevitable, but that puts a strain on legal, economic and cultural conditions in the countries to which people want to immigrate. After an initial period of acceptance of refugees from the Middle East and Africa by European countries, cultural and economic stresses within those countries, resulting from the presence of large numbers of immigrants, has led to resistance and in many cases, extreme rejection and even deportation of new arrivals in order to preserve what the long-time European residents feel is their essential culture, values and safety. A similar phenomena, although less intense because the introduction of immigrants has not been so sudden or massive, has occurred in the United States.

It’s easy to either criticize or sympathize with the European response to massive immigration into its borders. The issues are real, and they involve both preservation of cultures and institutions threatened by uncontrolled immigration and prevention of humanitarian disasters if the refugees are rejected. No one has arrived at an adequate solution, but emotions are running high, and are mainly along the lines of preventing immigration. The high emotional tenor of the arguments against immigration are spurred on by racial, ethnic and religious bigotry reminiscent in some cases, of Nazi or Fascist sentiments, but so far this is a minority, and even sympathetic, unbigoted citizens of European countries recognize that there is a problem. In the United States, the cultural and safety issues, despite claims by our president and other political leaders, are minimal, but the  issue of how to meet the needs of refugees and immigrants has split our nation into opposing cultural camps, much as it has done in Europe.

I don’t believe the answer to this dilemma can lie in a hardening of national borders. On the other hand, I also don’t think that our cultural institutions are strong enough to withstand unlimited immigration of people who don’t share the same traditions, are inexperienced with democratic institutions, and who have very few resources other than their own work ethic and desire for themselves and their families to survive.

Not being able to withstand unlimited immigration doesn’t mean not being able to withstand limited immigration, somewhere in between the massive influx of refugees and immigrants that landed in Europe over the last few years and the more meager steady supply of immigrants that has characterized most developed countries in the past. The answer needn’t be severe restrictions. But it makes no sense to try to address the problem simply in terms of whether or not to accept immigrants into developed countries. The conditions causing people to leave their historic homelands need to be addressed, not just by them and their local governments—which are usually resource-strapped, often corrupt, and often at war with someone—but by the developed world that is enjoying great economic prosperity which these people are not able to share.

If we want our world to progress and not to devolve into chaos, then we need to address the underlying issues that are causing whole populations to try to migrate from one place to another out of dire need. In the meantime, we also need to learn how to broaden our own cultures and institutions to be more open to diversity and less protective of our own narrow traditions, so we can accept more of these people without fearing we are losing our cultures. This is a delicate balance and one that is not easily attainable and never attainable completely. Our solutions will be flawed, not matter what we do. But we must address the problem. One thing that seems crystal clear to me is that supplying arms to warring factions in the ongoing conflicts, sanctioning nations in ways that deprive people of food and medicine, or failing to come to the rescue of starving populations, not to mention failing to deter climate change when the developed countries are disproportionately causing it, are not solutions. Neither is simply fortifying our borders and hunkering down inside of them.

Reader Comments (3)

Science does not proceed by consensus. The flat earth, the heliocentric universe and global warming were once hailed as correct concepts based on presumably scientific consensus but these have now been abandoned or modified. Consensus is irrelevant, especially when scientists agree on fact for politically expedient reasons. If people think that climate change is the greatest threat to our world society, I suspect most are walking blindly in someone else's politically-driven mission. There are at least a dozen much more immediate and impactful factors and scenarios that could threaten human society right now.

"If we want our world to progress and not to devolve into chaos, then we need to address the underlying issues that are causing whole populations to try to migrate from one place to another out of dire need." The world does not need to progress to avoid chaos, it simply needs to remain stable. The headlong pursuit of achieving alleged progress is the actual mechanism that is driving the world toward chaos. It's unwise to think that you can simply move entire populations of people into foreign lands and alien cultures and not think there isn't going to be violent conflict as a result. These internecine struggles are already lighting the fuse of civil war in many countries, an outcome which should come as a surprise to no one.

I question the specific definition regarding the "dire need" of many migrants. Who is defining "dire need" and why should some people receive benefit while others are left to fail in their own unique circumstances of "dire need?"

Diversity is of tremendous benefit when it comes to generating thoughts and ideas, especially those that will solve problems. Diversity is horrific when it comes to the values and goals of a society. Without unity and integration of purpose, nothing can be accomplished. A country will die a quick death when there is incoherence and diversity of function and objective. That's why no country will ever be known as the Diverse States of America. It's a stupid and unsustainable concept.

If any unenlightened people out there still cleave to the racist concept that "diversity" has anything to do with skin color or sexual orientation, they must alter their prejudiced thinking right now. Every person is simply an individual with their own unique set of thoughts and beliefs. No person should be so broadly and inaccurately defined as one inherently belonging to a racialized sub-group, an ethno-state or any other marginalized or dominant group without first fully understanding the full range of that person's unique beliefs, thoughts, hopes and expectations. Once that is accomplished, you'll find that any person will only fit into a group of one- the unique array of self that they alone possess.

February 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

Annamaria’s Amazing Journey
As told to Lucy Wilson

Annamaria is not my subject’s real name.


The hardest moment: saying good-bye to Papa, his brown face lined with care and sorrow. I promised I’d return in four or five years. Twenty-five years, three children and two partners later, I am still waiting to visit my parents in Mexico. For sixteen years, until I left Mexico for the United States of America, I watched my mother struggling to feed a family of six, sometimes with nothing but a handful of flour and a few peppers. I watched her hauling water from the well and trying to keep the house from breaking down to its component parts: scraps of metal, pieces of wood, paper to fill the crevices and block the wind. I did not want to be old at forty. I wanted a better life for myself and my future children. I wanted them to have at least a high school diploma, perhaps a military career, or a respected profession like nursing.

But first I had to walk for a week to the banks of the Colorado River. I was so close, but Mother Nature had other plans. Torrential rains had flooded the river basin; crossing was out of the question. For a month I lived with families so poor that my family’s home looked warm and comfortable by comparison. What was I doing? Was I mad, at sixteen, to leave my brothers and sisters, my parents and friends? To risk robbery, rape, even murder on the long, dangerous journey? We waited a month for the raging river to recede and the current slow to merely treacherous. I made myself useful to the women who took me in, fed me and healed my cuts, bites, lesions from toxic insects, bronchitis and a deep, gravelly cough. This journey was a challenge even for my strong young body.

The day of the crossing arrived at last and we set off to find the narrowest part of the river with the gentlest current, not an easy combination to find. We also looked for fallen trees that could support us in our scramble for the other side. I have never been as afraid for my life, but neither had I ever felt so close to God, my Father, whose will would prevail. So I crossed—shivering, teeth chattering as much from fear as cold. The rotting tree I clung to felt slimy but I pulled myself along its length until I was forced to swim in rough water. I gave myself up to the current, holding my head above water, and when my feet touched ground again they were standing on American soil.

My journey was far from over. I had arrived in New Mexico, but my sister and brother-in-law lived in the Coachella Valley, a town called Indio in the desert east of Los Angeles. We jumped on a freight train heading northeast and found ourselves nearly drowning again in a container car filled to my chin with bleached flour. A close encounter with a large dog trained to find illegals could have ended in deportation, but the dog walked by as though I was not there. When the train slowed down passing through Indio, we prepared to jump but my foot caught in the ladder. I screamed and threw my weight against the trapped foot and it broke free. I had survived.

That was twenty-five years ago. Today I run a successful small business. My children have all graduated from high school; one is in the military and the other is following in her brother’s footsteps. The eldest studying nursing. I have lived the American Dream, but I am persona non grata in the country I risked my life to make my home. I cannot go to Mexico to visit my elderly parents because of the Trump Administration’s border control policies. My children, who are American citizens, fear that I’ll be picked up in a random ID check and deported on the spot.

To whom does America belong? The native people? Europeans and their descendants? Transplants from Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean? Most Americans or their ancestors came to the New World in search of freedom and the promise of a better life. Have we the right to deny “the homeless” and “tempest tost” access to shelter and comfort? Have we the courage and compassion, in the immortal words of Emma Lazrus, to “lift [our] lamp beside the golden door”?


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus
November 2, 1883

March 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLucy Wilson

"Annamaria's Illegal Journey"
as told to an actual American citizen.

"I abandoned my family of birth, illegally entered a foreign country, trespassed a railway and ultimately stole an opportunity that I had not rightfully earned."

She is and should remain persona non grata in terms of her illegal status. Her children are right to fear her deportation. It would be just.

Any land ultimately belongs to the organization of people who are strong enough to keep it. That's why the primary duty of any government is to protect its people from foreign invasion. This has always been true. Those people have the right to admit or deny anyone seeking to become part of that group. This too, has always been true.

As far as the awful and misapplied poem of Emma Lazarus.....it's a poem. It's not policy, legislation or a constitutional amendment. It's a piece of poetic whimsy espousing some maudlin and dubious concept of virtue, nothing more.

March 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

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