Buchanan Predicts End of White America

Will tribalism trump globalism? That’s the bigger ideological struggle that can be derived from Patrick Buchanan’s latest book, Suicide of a Superpower (2011), which argues not just that the United States are disintegration but that the whole of Western civilization could dissolve.

The former Republican Party presidential hopeful and political commentator fears a Balkanization of America as the country becomes increasingly secular and people of European descent are dying it. “The death of European Christianity means the disappearance of the European tribe,” he writes, “a prospect visible in the demographic statistics of every Western nation.” Read more “Buchanan Predicts End of White America”

Bloomberg Makes Case for Immigration Reform

During a symosium about the future of American immigration policy last week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg described the nation’s anti-immigration sentiment as akin to national suicide. “Every day that we fail to fix our broken immigration laws is a day that we inflict a wound on our economy,” he said. “Today, we may have turned away the next Albert Einstein or Sergei Brin. Tomorrow, we may turn away the next Levi Strauss or Jerry Yang.”

We would not have become a global superpower without the contributions of immigrants who built the railroads and canals that opened up the west, who invented groundbreaking products that revolutionized global commerce, and who pioneered scientific, engineering and medical advances that made America the most innovative country in the world.

But make no mistake: we will not remain a global superpower if we continue to close our doors to people who want to come here to work hard, start businesses, and pursue the American Dream. The American Dream cannot survive if we keep telling the dreamers to go elsewhere.

Bloomberg cited a study that found that more than two hundred of America’s five hundred largest businesses were either founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. “These immigrant rooted companies employ more than ten million people worldwide,” he said, “which is a population larger than 43 states have. And they generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion.” Read more “Bloomberg Makes Case for Immigration Reform”

Europe’s Open Borders Compromised

European officials voiced concern on Thursday over Denmark’s plan to reintroduce customs controls on its borders, abolished under the Schengen Agreement. France and Italy have bickered over the entry of several tens of thousands of North African refugees while Greece is struggling to prevent illegal aliens from entering Europe from Turkey. The free flow of goods, people and services, heralded as one of the great achievements of European union, is in jeopardy. Read more “Europe’s Open Borders Compromised”

Fear of Change Propels Populists to Power

Throughout Europe, fringe movements have been able to maneuver themselves into the political spectrum, rallying anti-immigration forces and a renewed sense of nationalism with considerable electoral success. While the world is globalizing and Europe becoming one, millions of people, from Finland to Italy, want to have no part of multiculturalism and change. Read more “Fear of Change Propels Populists to Power”

Anti-Islamism as Impediment to Growth

For almost ten years, Denmark has enacted policies that limit immigration and promote the integration of ethnic minorities in Danish society. Some now fear that the country’s economic woes can be attributed, at least in part, to its Islam backlash.

Since the start of this decade, Denmark has been ruled by a minority government of liberals and conservatives, sustained in parliament by the Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party) which is known for its nationalistic, socially conservative platform and tough positions on law and order. Since it first participated in the country’s parliamentary elections in 1998, the party’s popularity has risen sharply to stabilize at a little over 13 percent of the vote in recent years.

Under the People’s Party’s influence, Denmark’s ruling coalition has approved of different measures meant to curb immigration to the country, including the enforcement of laws that were designed to prevent marriages from being arranged and forcing migrants to learn the Danish language. Read more “Anti-Islamism as Impediment to Growth”

America’s Not So Original Islam Backlash

Throughout Western Europe, populists on the right have espoused anti-Islam rhetoric for many years. Banning the construction of mosques as well as the wearing of the burqa is now, in some countries, part of mainstream conservative thought. America’s political right is only just discovering the windfall to be gained from Islam bashing however.

Even in the wake of 9/11, Republicans took care not to demonize the Arab world at large. President George W. Bush could be very explicit in stressing that Muslims were not the enemy. In November 2002, for instance, he criticized evangelical Christians who rallied against Islam, noting that, “Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion.” The president promised that America would not “let the War on Terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.”

But it has, as evidenced by the recent controversy over the planned construction of a Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, mere blocks away from the site where once stood the towers of the World Trade Center. A “not in our own backyard” sentiment has exploded even in America’s greatest of melting pots; a metropolis once renowned for its open mindedness and cultural diversity.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, now believes framing the War of Terror as such was a mistake. “This is not a war on terrorism,” he told an audience of two hundred at the American Enterprise Institute last month; “this is a struggle with radical Islamists.”

Sarah Palin, former vice presidential candidate and until July of last year governor of Alaska, has called the construction of the “Ground Zero mosque,” as the project has been dubbed by its opponents, an “unnecessary provocation.” Just one year earlier, in Hong Kong, she was careful to note that the War on Terror “is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations.” At the time, she believed that America was “not at war with Islam.”

Europe has had its fair share of such hypocrisy for several years. Hypocrisy, because instead of undermining the intellectual foundation of an ideology that preaches violence and destruction, Europe’s anti-Islamic rabble rousers have, in the guise of contesting radicalism, focused almost entirely on the symbolic.

In November of last year, Switzerland imposed a ban on the construction of minarets throughout the country, the only natural effect of which will be a further estrangement of Muslims who merely seek to practice their religion in peace. France, last January, decided to ban the burqa, the full facial veil worn by no more than a tiny fraction of conservative Muslim women living in the West. In France, a mere 2,000 women are estimated to wear a burqa or similar garment but as a result of its ban, all Muslims see their religious freedoms slowly evaporate.

Perhaps Europe’s most infamous of Islamic critics is Geert Wilders from the Netherlands whose Freedom Party will likely become part of the next Dutch government. Wilders has campaigned against what he describes as the Islamification of the Netherlands for many years, proposing to ban the burqa, the Quran and closing Islamic schools. He has consistently criticized the political establishment for allowing Islam to gain a foothold in the 1990s, blissfully ignoring its supposed incompatibility with Western tradition in the name of cultural relativism. His popularity has only increased as a result.

Wilders is scheduled to speak at Ground Zero on September 11 as part of a rally against the Islamic community center being built nearby. American conservatives, including Newt Gingrich, will join him.

Europe’s and America’s newfound backlash against Islam have similar reasons and are fueled by similar factions.

Both in Europe and in the United States, there is a crisis of confidence among intellectuals and representatives of traditional power structures about the superiority of their culture and values.

In Europe, this lack of confidence is older and harkens back to the post-colonial guilt and cultural relativism of the 1960s which led a whole generation of political leaders, mostly on the left, to turn a blind eye on the mounting frustration experienced particularly among the lower classes with a seemingly endless influx of migrants. These people, who traditionally voted for social-democratic or Labor parties, saw their neighborhoods change, sometimes deteriorate; their worlds literally turned upside down because of urban renewal projects; low-incomes jobs being shipped overseas, all the while their political representatives reveled in the wonders of globalization. It seemed to them as though the politicians who claimed to defend their interests simply didn’t know, let alone understand their problems.

Since the turn of the century, this constituency of largely working-class voters has turned to more radical solutions. They supported Jörg Haider in Austria, Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands, Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, People’s Parties in Denmark and Switzerland, and more recently, Geert Wilders. What these political leaders and parties shared were blunt anti-immigration policies, a nationalistic tone and a fierce agitation against the establishment. Although readily identified as “far right,” most actually maintained fairly socialistic economic positions, opposing, for instance, raising the retirement age and favoring a certain measure of protectionism to secure jobs.

In most Western European countries, these anti-immigration platforms are in the process of being institutionalized as part of the political landscape. With the exception of France, all aforementioned parties either have been or are expected to become part of governing coalitions. They subsequently temper their rhetoric while working to enact real solutions, not banning the Quran or deporting criminals whose parents hail from Arab countries but imposing immigration controls and tougher prison sentencing for what is otherwise low level crime.

In the United States, a similar crisis of confidence is developing though it is both more recent and more defined. The Tea Party phenomenon is the most noticeable expression of a mounting discontent among a majority of Americans with what Newt Gingrich calls the secular-socialist machine that is the Obama Administration. Many Americans fear that their country’s traditions are being squandered by the current government in favor of European-style socialism.

In reality, America has been a welfare state for many decades and even most Tea Partiers supports its most pervasive of programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Like the European anti-immigration parties, Republicans in the United States today may strike a nationalistic tone, denouncing the Democrats’ policies as “European” (i.e., foreign) but they usually won’t propose to curb on entitlements. They understand that what’s driving their base is what’s driving disenfranchised voters in Europe: fear, of the future and the unknown, and, perhaps even more so, anger. Politically, it’s much more expedient to try to capitalize on such emotions than offer sound policy alternatives.

In fairness, there have been several Republican legislators who dare to voice bold, libertarian solutions to America’s pressing budget woes and evermore expansive government. They are urging Democrats as well as their own party to discover anew the virtues of austerity and fiscal balance in government and letting the free market reign. But overwhelmingly, Americans, like their counterparts across the Atlantic, agree that there is a place for government in nearly every sector of the economy, no matter the rhetoric.

In essence, the differences between the major parties in the United States are still slim. So when health-care reform came to Congress, most opposition members retorted to scare tactics, warning of “death panels” and denouncing their pro-choice colleagues as “baby killers.” With immigration reform looming, Republicans, again, rather simplify reality than face the inevitable necessity of changing America’s current immigration structure.

By framing the War on Terror as a clash of civilizations and by warning that immigration reform will “open the floodgates” to admit a stream of malevolent, job stealing Mexicans into the country, Republicans are thriving on a nationalistic, increasingly isolationist current of populist fury that is also fiercely anti-establishment. Within a few years, no matter their popularity today and likely electoral successes in the near future, that could easily come back to haunt them, as it did in 2006 and 2008.

For almost thirty years now, the Republican Party has understood that preaching family values and talking of America as a shining beacon of Christendom is more likely to attract voters than volunteering solutions that either slightly or starkly differ from the left’s. Newt Gingrich stills describes the United States as “an intensely religious country that believes our rights come from God” while simultaneously trying to appeal to the small-government conservatives and libertarians in the Tea Party. Perhaps the November midterms and remaining years of Barack Obama’s presidency will determine whether those two, seemingly opposite, sentiments can be mixed to revitalize the Republican base.

Open the Borders

The United States were built by immigrants and up to this very day, The Economist has argued, “The greatest strength of America is that people want to live there.” So why is the country turning so many people away?

The immigration debate flared up again last April when the state of Arizona passed a controversial law that enables racial profiling in an effort to find and extradite illegal aliens.

Although the situation along the Mexican border is worsening, President Barack Obama was quick to join in criticism of Arizona’s law. His Justice Department is reportedly considering taking legal action against the state.

The difficulty with the border issue is that drug and human trafficking go hand in hand. The violence these criminal activities produce is mostly to blame on America’s futile war on drugs rather than an inability to secure the border. Indeed, border patrols have quadrupled in recent decades and it hasn’t stopped the problem.

Speaking at the American University’s School of International Service in Washington DC on Thursday, President Barack Obama recognized this fact when he reminded his audience that today, the United States have “more boots on the ground near the southwest border than at any time in [its] history.”

Many of the eleven million estimated illegals currently residing in the country didn’t cross the Mexican border under cover of darkness but came in legally and subsequently overstayed their visas.

“The overwhelming majority of these men and women are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children,” said the president.

What’s more, immigrants are of enormous value to the country. The president described immigration as a “steady stream of hard-working and talented people” which has made America “the engine of the global economy and a beacon of hope around the world.” To this day, he said, “America reaps incredible economic rewards because we remain a magnet for the best and brightest from across the globe.”

So why is America denying itself this enormous growth potential?

That’s what John Stossel wondered earlier this week when he noted that often overlooked in the debate about the Mexican border issue is that “every year,” the United States “turn away millions of smart, hard-working foreigners for no good reason.”

Based on State Department waiting lists, Stossel pointed out that it would take a computer programmer from India so much as 35 years to get a green card that allows him to work in the United States. A thirty year-old Mexican with little more than a high-school degree would be so far down on the list, he couldn’t get in for over a hundred years. “If he wants to work in America, why would he even bother to get on the legal list?”

Many fear that immigrants “steal” jobs and many lawmakers are only too eager to perpetuate that illusion. But it’s simply not true. According to Philippe Legrain of Forbes magazines, “Just as working women haven’t deprived men of jobs, immigrants create jobs as well as filling them — both when they spend their wages and in complementary lines of work.”

“Allowing people to move freely is not just a matter of economic self-interest,” according to Legrain. “It is also a moral imperative.” Freedom of movement is a basic human right that should not be denied to people who had the bad fortunate of being born in a Third World country.

People will always crave freedom and opportunity. America prospered when it admitted foreigners who were willing to work for a living and contributed to the economic and intellectual growth and development of the country. In times of economic hardship, the need for free immigration is all the greater.

The American Dream Lives

The United States have always profited from immigration and up to this very day, argues The Economist, “The greatest strength of America is that people want to live there.”

The newspaper cites the story of a Korean immigrant who was startled, when he first came to the country, by its riches. “The roads are so wide, the cars so big, the houses so large — everything is abundant,” he said. Yet that was not why he became a citizen. For immigrants, America is the land that offers “the chance to be whatever you want to be.” Or, in the words of The Economist: “it is a place where nearly any immigrant can find a niche.”

Nearly all Americans are descended from people who came from somewhere else in the past couple of centuries. And the variety of countries from which immigrants come — roughly all of them, and usually in significant numbers — is unmatched. No matter where an immigrant hails from, he can find a cluster of his ethnic kin somewhere in America.

The size of the land, the diversity of its people and the many different cultures, traditions and governments spread over more than fifty states allow virtually every man and woman to find a place to their liking. America continues to be magnet for talent therefore. “Economic growth depends on productivity, and the most productive people are often the most mobile.”

As the world globalizes, creative minds have little trouble moving from country to country. According to The Economist, “They tend to pick places that offer not only material comfort but also the stimulation of being surrounded by other creative types.” And, as economist and Nobel Prize laureate Robert Lucas argued, “the clustering of talent is the primary driver of economic growth. ”

America’s openness toward innovation and the freedom it offers for talent to prosper have shaped American progress for centuries.

Even President Barack Obama appeared conscious of this fact when he declared in his State of the Union address that “it’s our ideals, our values that built America — values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still.” He stressed the “spirit of determination and optimism” which has always been at the core of American society.

As the country moves to impose stricter immigration laws, it is important to remember this history.

In spite of recent experiences, government in the United States has traditionally been one of limited interference in peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Yet the country knew progress and became one of the wealthiest in the world. A closed economy that protects its own industries, restricts immigration and seeks isolation from foreign markets can never sustain growth. The American experience proves that openness toward people, products and capital from abroad do not threaten a country; they bring it even greater prosperity. Americans today should remember that.