Friday, November 23, 2018

Dear Hillary and Barack, I don’t negotiate with terrorists and neither should you.


Maybe the problem is immigrant bears?

I’m not going to give a laundry list of the stupid stuff people have said in the two years of global hysteria since fascism began again to awaken and raise its ugly head.

***Update: Obama just told me that listening to Rush Limbaugh is "essential for democracy." No, it isn't.

We live in disorienting times, when core beliefs are being challenged by a seemingly never-ending tide of vile, well-funded nonsense and lies that threaten to overwhelm much of the progress we have collectively made as a species over the last 70 years. The global system of rights and freedoms is under assault in some of the wealthiest and freest countries in the world. Nuclear war is once again a very real possibility. People are at each other’s throats over how women should dress while California burns to the ground and no one appears to pay any notice. I get it. It’s scary times.
Global anti-immigrant populism has so far brought us such catastrophes as the Trump Presidency, Brexit, Indian nationalism, Bolsonaro, the Five Star Movement and whatever the hell is happening at Facebook. Given this, it can sometimes seem like desperate times call for desperate measures. And so pundits and politicians alike reach for the most obvious fix: stop immigration.
The latest to add her voice to this project of far-right appeasement is Hillary Clinton, who seems to have woken up yesterday to the fact that people hate immigrants, it’s not getting better, and it’s destroying the world. And not just in Europe and America. I’ve lived in a lot of countries, and people pretty much hate immigrants everywhere and it’s caused numerous wars from Burma to Ivory Coast.
The fact that fears of immigration drives far-right populism has led some of the great minds of today, like many great minds of yesteryear, to declare that immigration has become so “toxic” that it needs to be stopped before it destroys the world. People should stop moving around! Moving around is causing fascism! If we all stopped moving around, fascism would just go away — poof! Like David Bowie at the end of Labyrinth! “You have no power over me, Steve Bannon!” we would shout as he turned into smoke.
But there is no way to “stop immigration.” Immigration has been happening since the dawn of human history. And as long as there have been immigrants, there have been governments trying to stop those immigrants or control where they go. Numbers go down…and then they go back up again. And all the while, almost everything that is awesome comes from immigration. Pizza? Yeah, that was immigration. Meanwhile, there’s almost no evidence that immigration is bad for the economy and lots of evidence that immigration is good. It is not correlated to crime rates. It is not correlated to a loss of “identity,” whatever that even means. Just ask any New Yorker if pizza ruined their identity.
None of these facts matter, though, because people just do not like immigration, period. Peoples’ hatred of immigrants is in no way correlated to how many immigrants they’ve actually met. People who were themselves immigrants even hate *other* immigrants. It’s completely irrational. Given this total irrationality, it might seem like the only response to anti-immigrant feeling is to stop immigration. Kind of like when your three year old develops a sudden dislike for that weird mask you bought at the craft market. You can either try to argue with them, try to explain that the mask is a harmless piece of wood, but in the end, it’s probably easier to simply take the mask off the wall and put it in the closet.
Sadly, it’s not going to work. “Curbing migration,” as Hillary so charminglyput it in her Guardian essay entitled “What to do! How do we stop it! Someone, do something! Brexit aaaaggggghhhhh!!!!” is neither possible, nor will it prompt a rational response from the body politic. When people are behaving like irrational 3 year olds, they will continue to be afraid of the mask even when it is in the closet. The power of the mask to cause fear is much stronger than any methods you could ever take to decrease that fear. All you have to do is say “mask” and your toddler will again be reduced to tears.
Hence the core problem with appeasement as a solution to anything. We cannot reflexively choose our candidates or set our migration policy based on other peoples’ racism, no matter what Bernie says, even if those people are threatening to let the whole world burn down if they don’t get their way. I don’t negotiate with terrorists, and neither should you.

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