Tag Archives: immigrants

Why "our way of life" is not deserved

Mendicant outside the Kizhaperumpallam temple
CC License - credit: calamur

Recently, after my last argument on immigration, I ended up having a similar discussion with my girlfriend. While she is much more resonable in these debates, nevertheless she too had taken a protectionist stance on the whole issue of immigration. Most of the arguments were similar to the ones I mentioned before but there was one more thrown to the table that I think deserves refutation. It went as thus:

These immigrants, they know that in their own countries and under their own laws, the crimes they do here would be severely punished and this is why they come to our Germany and Europe. They know that here they will just get a “slap on the wrist” compared to where they come from.
If they commit crimes then it is only fair that we send them to the backward country they came from for we (Germans) have worked hard to have the kind of society we do and it’s not fair that they enjoy all the benefits we have achieved and ruin our system.[1. This is not an exact quote but rather the main gist of the argument as I understood it.]

On first take, one would be inclined to agree. Why should we tolerate immigrants who come to our developed countries in order to avoid the horrible societies they live in but yet they cannot respect our laws?

The answer is that this is begging the question. When one asks this, it is presupposed that the 3rd world society people live in is deserved and of their own fault and that when we, as Europeans or North Americans, have a good society, it’s because we are such great and hard-working people and we deserve our way of life.

This is false.

One has to have a very short memory or an ignorance of recent history to believe that the western or developed nations achieved this status by simply being more hardworking than the rest. The nasty truth is that the first world nations have achieved this through imperialism and shameless exploitation of other countries.

Similar to an Objectivist who deludes himself that his status in life is completely self achieved, without taking into account all the societal benefits and luck that allowed him to be who he is, so do the people who express such views completely fail to see that their nation’s status is intertwined irrevocably with the rest of the world and their history.

Great Britain would not have been so great if it didn’t have an India, Australia and Ireland to exploit. US America would not have been so united if the Indigenous population had not been systematically exterminated etc. and this of course does not stop just with history.
Even now wars are being waged by the first world nations, devastating whole societies just because the natural resources are too valuable. Brutal Dictators are being put into power just because they are friendly with the policies of the people in charge and agree to screw over their own countrymen so that first world nations can get the goods. Megacorporations are outsourcing their labour to 3rd world nations so that production, and thus costs, will be cheaper for us. I could go on…

When people from these nations flee their countries in search of a better life, we have to realise that their situation is not their own fault and our countries are partly to blame. Nobody lives in a vacuum and nobody deserves a bad life just because he has been born into it.

The only thing one can say is that they are partly responsible for their own status in life. I say “partly” because this is 90% luck as the where, how and when you were born plays the biggest role and you have no choice in this matter. Still, we have a modicum of control over our own life choices so one can feel at least a bit proud and deserving on what themselves have achieved.

But to extrapolate that and consider that one is deserving of the society one lives in is simply absurd. To further request that people who were not lucky enough to be indigenous in a western nation deserve to be treated worse (i.e. ostracized) is outright wrong.

Kicking the foreigners out

Dret a tenir drets (8)
CC - photo credit: •● planeta roig

I had an intense argument yesterday afternoon with a friend, lets call her S. The argument started from how dangerous it is to talk back to the various immigrants when they make a sexist remark or something similar. The discussion moved to how the government is protecting them instead of punishing them, how they all know each other and how 90% of them are criminals and are only in Germany to exploit the social rights. All the while anecdotal evidence was used to back each point.

During the last and most heated part of the argument, S expressed the idea she thought would resolve this issue. Kick all the immigrants which do not speak the language and are not otherwise “integrated”, out of the country.

This is a sentiment that it seems people everywhere share. I’ve seen it in Greece (Albanians), I’ve heard it from US (Mexicans) and I see it now in Germany (Turkish mostly). The idea that with by kicking the immigrants out, things will magically become better.

There’s various ways one rationalises this. Others think that immigrants are taking over the jobs while others that immigrants do not integrate into a society and thus drag everyone down. I seem to keep running into the second case.

The line of thought seems to go like this:

  • Immigrants come to our country
  • Some of them do not care to work and abuse our social programs
  • The government seems to protect them (insert anecdotal evidence)
  • All the dangerous criminal gangs we run into are foreigners. Our countrymen would never act like that.
  • Thus the solution is to kick the criminals out of the country since they do not want to be like us.

Now I understand how one can be exasperated with their government when they hear the anecdotes of how they always seem to take the side of the immigrant. I was told a specific example of a guy getting stabbed by some teen Russians because he tried to stop a fight and the government decided to not punish them  because “their life would be ruined”. The guy went into the hospital apparently and he was told by the Russians that “they would finish the job when you get out” and the Government again didn’t do anything about it. Examples like these can really make your blood boil and lead one to espouse radical positions.

The underlying sentiments people express is that

  1. The Government should be on our side
  2. Foreigners are more dangerous and thus should have less rights.

The first point is wrong, not because the government should be on the immigrants side, but because the government should be fair and neutral to where one’s parents happened to fuck in.
I wholeheartedly oppose the Government falling over itself to please other cultures or religions. If a muslim woman wants to wear a burqa in their job where business clothes are the norm, then, tough. If the business is not prepared to allow other employees to wear whatever they want, then she should not be allowed either. Just because one comes from a culture where one thing is the norm, it should make the society where they go to, to conform to it.

On the other hand, if that muslim woman did a crime then the solution is not to judge her by islamic law or to kick her out of the country. The solution is to treat her exactly the same as any other person. No entitlement because she’s foreign but no extra punishment (like deportation) either.

The second point is the one that mostly annoys me however. It is something that passes into racism quite neatly. People do not realise what they are really advocating when they request that someone be treated differently solely because of their birthplace. When I called S out on it with “What you are advocating is racist” I got the immediate reply “I’m not a  racist“. Good thing that I has seen this video just recently

But that’s exactly it. Whenever I tell S to do something about the problems her response is that “People who complain in Germany are called Nazis.”

When your solution to the problem is racist (kicking the foreign criminals out), then people will unfortunately come just to that conclusion. When I hear stuff like “All Russians know each other” or “The Turkish don’t want to integrate” then alarm lights start flaring in my head. Generalisations like this are the precursor to more nasty stuff.

But I can foresee one asking: “If indeed the majority of criminals are immigrants, wouldn’t it make sense to get rid of them?“. Why is this wrong? Because they are basing the argument on correlation. It is not an inherent characteristic of an immigrant that he’ll become a criminal in another country but it is a very likely outcome that a poor & desperate will. The reason that so many criminals are foreign is because so many foreigners are poor.

stop poverty
CC - photo credit: Stitch

I do not know how the German society is, or how welcoming (and indeed my experience is that they can be quite hostile) but when your society does not accept someone as it would accept one of your countrymen, you lead them to povertry and desperation. Once you get a good number of such people, their mentality shifts to considering all of your countrymen as hostile bigots.
Once this happens, it starts feeding upon itself and things like ghettos start popping up. Convince a sufficiently large group of immigrants that your society is hostile and they will become an opponent. They will abuse your laws and form into criminal gangs in order to survive.

It is also because of how a society works that a class of people are impoverished and some of them turn to crime. Were you to kick all foreigners out, the same system would necessitate that part of your middle class be impoverished in order to keep the wheels turning. You would still have the same criminal elements, only now they would speak your language (in slang) as well.

When you tell me that “Germans do not always carry a knife on them” it is because all Germans you know are middle class and this is because the low class is now comprised from the impoverished immigrants. Kick them out, and you’ll start seeing Germans, Greeks or Americans in their place.

One final thing that annoys me is when I tell people to do something about the problems they have in their society. I tell them to speak, to be active, to think of solutions and I get the same response: “Nothing will ever change”. This kind of defeatism is exasperating especially because when you explain that nothing fixes itself and you have to fight against poverty or change the current system, I end up hearing “Kick the foreigners out”