Friday, October 07, 2016

Immigration and Honesty

I have heard it any number of Americans say that many immigrants think that they are better than Americans. I recommend the American thing to do: See it from their side.

Say you are 12, and you come from the former Soviet Union. You have put a vast effort into your education. You have been doing 4 hours of homework every day. You have been learning all sorts of advanced material that is very difficult to learn. You have better work habits – and more ambition – at age 12 than many people do when they are adults.

Then you come to America. The people there have put in nowhere nearly the same effort as you have into their education. They think that your knowledge is worthless. They think that you are a know-it-all or worse. They think that the only thing that matters in life is common sense and social skills. How are you going to react if you are 12?

In my adult life, I have had to separate the legitimate from the illegitimate. It is legitimate to be angry at people who have not put the same effort as you have but treat you like dirt. It is not legitimate to feel malice to a whole country, even if you are Jewish and the country is Germany or if you are Iranian and the country is Israel or the United States. I have long since gotten rid of the malice, largely as a result of the input of many other people, some of whom were trying to be helpful and some who were not. This then makes it possible for me to advocate for the perspective of immigrants in a much calmer and more reasonable manner.

I have heard it said by many that immigrants should assimilate. In fact there is a place both for those who do and those who don't. Countries – and America especially – grow largely by putting into themselves valuable things from elsewhere. Very little of any kind of good is done by Muslims who go into disadvantaged communities and gang-rape young women or tell men there to beat their girlfriends and wives. But much good is done by any number of others. Americans dine at Mexican restaurants, drive Japanese cars, watch movies made by Jews, look at sports played by black people, hire Indian programmers. All of these people do as much – if not more – for America than do those who simply assimilate.

In my family, some assimilated and some did not. My parents assimilated into America, and they've lived fairly comfortable lives. I did my own thing, and my life has been less comfortable. However I made bigger contributions. There is a place for people like them, and there is a place for people like me.

One thing that does happen when cultures mix is both of them scrutinizing one another. On all sides, we see such sentiments as “is nothing sacred any more”? If they mean immune from scrutiny, then no, nothing is and nothing should be. There are no sacred cows, not even the Jews. If someone has a legitimate criticism of the Jews – as opposed to a ridiculous one – I will listen to it. This process works for the betterment of everyone. They are alerted of the wrong things in their behavior, and they can improve.

This is why I have absolutely no use for political correctness. Political correctness does not teach everyone to be tolerant; it teaches everyone to be insincere. If someone thinks that the Jews are evil, I would rather hear that than have them pretend to be nice to me while actually wanting to kill me. That way I know what I am dealing with, and I can find workable ways to deal with it. I believe that the rest of the population – Jews or anyone else under the sun – deserves the same actual respect.

The participants of political correctness have obviously not learned their historical lesson. Their historical lesson is a country that was once known as Yugoslavia. The Tito government preached a line that is very much similar to political correctness. However what people were thinking or feeling was totally different from what they were being taught. They pretended to be brothers, while they actually wanted to kill one another. Because they were not allowed to articulate their actual thoughts and feelings, they had no way to express them and then negotiate workable solutions. A false solution was imposed on the population, without allowing the population to create real ones. And when Tito government was no more, the country exploded in ethnic hatred. None of this would have happened if people were allowed to express their real thoughts and feelings. What would have happened instead was that people would have been able to see each other's actual attitudes and then find workable ways to deal with one another.

Being Jewish, I do not need political correctness to defend me. I can do so myself, and so can any number of others, black, Jewish, Native American, what have you. If someone bears ill will toward Jews, or Russians, or immigrants, I would rather hear that. Then I know what I am dealing with. And this makes it possible for me to find workable ways to deal with it, including correcting their errors. Which of course I have been doing – extensively – with all sides in the debate.

I believe that it is high time for that actual honesty. Let people express their actual thoughts and feelings. Then they will be able to understand one another enough to create actual solutions. Do not impose a false solution upon the population. Trust the population enough to allow it to create real ones.


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