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Imagine

A world without borders. You may say I'm a dreamer, but (unfortunately) I'm not the only one.

 
 

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52 Comments

Jim Harris wrote:

It took me a minute to figure out the point of this anti-Absolut-Vodka tantrum. Evidently this trigger is this ad that ran in Mexico.

It just goes to show you that the most deeply felt insult in the world is an unflattering truth. The US really did steal that land from Mexico. Now the rallying cry is to put a wall at the border where we drew it, and make English the national language. There are many Hispanic families in New Mexico and Texas that that never crossed the border, instead the border crossed them. They're one illustration that this Absolut ad makes a fair point.

It makes a fair point, hence the hysterical reaction from September 11th Americans. Who do these Nazi-appeasing cowardly Swedes think they are, making jokes about our sacred border?

It's doubly ironic in 2008. If September 11th Americans truly respected borders, they would have no explanation for the existence of the naval base in Guantanamo, much less what they have chosen to do there.

I can't say how long it will take --- the best we can do is be patient --- but one of these days September 11th Americans will be voted out of office and July 4th Americans will take a turn.

Al wrote:

Who are you dissing more, the Cherokees and Dakotas, or the French?

Rand Simberg wrote:

There are many Hispanic families in New Mexico and Texas that that never crossed the border, instead the border crossed them. They're one illustration that this Absolut ad makes a fair point.

That doesn't follow at all, not that that's unusual for a post from you. Is it your claim that those Hispanic families in Texas and New Mexico would be better off if Mexico still owned that land? Is it your delusion that they believe that? That notion would seem to be belied by the fact that they aren't clamoring to head south over the border. Most of the traffic seems to be one way--the other one.

Just what is the point, "fair" or otherwise? Suppose we did "steal" the land? Who should we return it to? The present Mexican government? What relation does it have with the Mexican government at the time it was "stolen"? How many of the current inhabitants of the land (including the Hispanic ones) do you fantasize would like to become part of Mexico and ruled by the kleptocracy in Mexico City? What would be "fair" about that?

Jim Harris wrote:

Is it your claim that those Hispanic families in Texas and New Mexico would be better off if Mexico still owned that land?

They'd be better off if we opened the border instead of closing it, and if we didn't harass them with English-only laws. Those are the real decisions today and the land theft of the Mexican-American war is a good hint as to the moral way to make those decisions. Of course we shouldn't give back the land, because as you say, there is no way to do that. But US territory is also not a deed registered in heaven and therefore Hispanics aren't trespassers. The history books are quite clear, the border is arbitrary.

The alternative is to say that Hispanics ought to be grateful, even if we don't treat them as equals and even if we slap a quota on the American dream. "They oughtta be grateful" is no way to carry the torch of liberty.

In any case, geez, Absolut Vodka just made a sharp joke that was completely within bounds, they weren't even lobbying. Your fellow ideologue Tom McMahon acts like they filed a UN resolution.

Rand Simberg wrote:

There are many Hispanic families in New Mexico and Texas that that never crossed the border, instead the border crossed them.

Here's a follow-up question, for extra credit, Jim. Do you think that the Tejanos who lived in Texas fought with Santa Ana, or against him? If the latter, were they traitors to their race in defending the Texas Republic against a Mexican dictator? Were they brainwashed by the white Texans into helping "steal" their land from Mexico? Were the (at least) six Tejanos who died at the Alamo dragged there at gunpoint?

Rand Simberg wrote:

The history books are quite clear, the border is arbitrary.

You must have read different history books than I did. By that standard, what border isn't arbitrary?

Which gets back to the original point of the post. You (nuttily) want a world without borders. Sorry, doesn't work, not for long, if we want to preserve our culture and civilization.

Peter wrote:

As long as other nations do not share, and even oppose, this nations values, it is necessary, for self preservation, to regulate our border. Those who come to be part of what makes this nation great, to become Americans, should be welcomed. Those who come to exploit or subvert what makes this nation great are best kept out. And this nation will not survive if we can't readily communicate with each other in a common language.

Jim Harris wrote:

By that standard, what border isn't arbitrary?

That's right, they all are. The point is that governments and borders should exist to serve people, not the other way around. Sure, there should be borders --- like state borders that you have crossed many times --- but those borders aren't property claims, they're just administrative zones.

Again, your comrade Tom McMahon completely misreads what the Nazis thought of borders. It's not that they wanted to erase all of the world's borders, they just thought that German citizenship took precedence. They had no intention of letting inferior people move to Germany, which they viewed as the greatest nation on Earth by any rational measure. In their world vision, Germans would draw the borders and everyone but the Germans would have to live by them.

Those who come to exploit or subvert what makes this nation great are best kept out. And this nation will not survive if we can't readily communicate with each other in a common language.

I'm sorry, but that's just whining. Working a menial job isn't subversion, and two languages is not that big of a deal. If you've ever been to Sweden, you'd know that not only do most Swedes speak English, a lot of them could get 700 on the English SAT. If we're so much better than Sweden, as many on the right insist, then how could bilingualism be a threat to national survival?

Bob wrote:

Thank you to Jim for the explanatory link to the Absolut ad.

Rand said:
doesn't work, not for long,
if we want to preserve our culture and civilization.

I'm not sure how you define "civilization", so I'm not sure what to say about that part of your claim, but I think our culture could persist in a "democracy sweeps the world and now we are all friends" scenario.

I'm also not sure what you mean by "border" -- you probably mean absolute sovereignty, but the EU is evolving toward a confederation.

In the current EU, with its porous borders, cultural differences between Italy and Germany have persisted. If, in the future, the EU abolished its borders completely, I would expect its characteristic cultural differences to persist -- southern Italy would remain different from northern Germany.

Can you imagine the USA joining the EU in some form? I think the USA would substantially preserve its culture. Even its political culture, its gun culture, and its relative resistance to regulation could be preserved, if certain accomodations allowing for regional differnces were reached. It is important to remember how similar we are to the current EU, rather than only focus on the differences.

Can you imagine every country on Earth having an American or EU style democracy? I can, and once that is the case, I would imagine the borders could be relaxed (like the current EU) or eliminated (like some future EU). I think regional differences in culture would persist for quite a long time.

I'm a patriotic American, but I think it is fun to do the thought experiment. I anticipate that people will argue why the USA wouldn't be the USA anymore once it joined the EU, but I think a more interesting objection to this scenario would be an explanation for why the current EU border policies have already signifcantly changed the current culture of different EU member countries.

Jim Harris wrote:

This one also deserves an answer:

Do you think that the Tejanos who lived in Texas fought with Santa Ana, or against him?

Most of them were against him, but that's the wrong question. What they wanted ranged from a new deal with Santa Ana, to regime change, to an independent state of Texas. They did not ask the US to annex Texas, and they certainly didn't ask the US to annex another 500,000 square miles from Mexico in the Mexican-American war.

But let's say that they had asked for American annexation, even though they didn't. They still would never have asked for a fence at the Rio Grande or an English-only nation.

Jim Harris wrote:

I think the USA would substantially preserve its culture.

The case raised by the Absolut ad is not the EU, but the border with Mexico. I've been saying that the Mexican-American border is arbitrary, and that we'd be better off with more immigration and political renewal with Mexico. But I'll concede that there is some American culture that I'd miss if we took in too many Hispanic immigrants. Most of all I'd miss rodeos.

Bob wrote:

Jim, I was responding to Rand's challenge - I was trying to imagine any world without borders that would be acceptable to my American sensibilities. The easiest one to imagine is the United States of Earth. The next easiest one is an EU that has grown to encompass the world, allowing limited sovereignty but not borders as we're discussing them. For people who wouldn't be happy with an EU style world: would the United States of Earth would also be unacceptable?

Robert wrote:

Jim Harris said:

But I'll concede that there is some American culture that I'd miss if we took in too many Hispanic immigrants. Most of all I'd miss rodeos.

Isn't the rodeo Hispanic in origin?

ken anthony wrote:

Borders exist because laws exists. The only way to remove all borders would be either to remove all laws or make all laws universal. Some idiots would like to make laws universal which would probably make life in nazi germany equate to the definition of freedom and liberty.

Land is not stolen in wars. Wars decide who gets to decide who the land belongs to. Americans (which includes hispanic Americans like my step-fathers family) paid for the land with their blood. Paid in full.

Let me know when Mexico wants to go to war to change that decision.

Remember the alimo and remember 9-11-2001.

The final war will be God's. He wins.

ken anthony wrote:

So I can't spell Alamo, sue me.

Bill Maron wrote:

We didn't steal it. We tried to buy it and they said no. We fought and still paid for after we won.
Here's one for you Jim. Why do the Swedes speak English at all? If Germany had won WWII, I am sure they would be speaking a lot of German. I actually know hispanic families here in Texas that don't know Spanish since they have been speaking English in their family for 150 years.
"Working a menial job isn't subversion" Coming here to sell drugs, engage in gang activity and other criminal enterprises would be. Shouldn't those moving to a new country assimilate not the other way around? Ol' Tom didn't misread what the Nazis thought of borders. What you wrote bolsters his point. As an example, they annexed the Sudetenland, established a border and then promptly sent 300,000 Slovaks to the concentration camps. Germans would have been encouraged to settle everywhere. Borders worked very well for them.

Jim Harris wrote:

Isn't the rodeo Hispanic in origin?

I may have been making a joke.

Some idiots would like to make laws universal

It's not that laws are universal, it's that rights are universal. At least, that was the view of the idiots who wrote the Declaration of Independence. Laws don't have to be universal, and borders are just fine too, as long as the right to liberty comes first. You have the liberty to move to Florida or even to Canada, and that is as it should be.

Wars decide who gets to decide who the land belongs to.

Yes, that is what the Ottomans said too, but their conquered peoples saw it differently.

Remember the alimo and remember 9-11-2001.

You are free remember the Alamo and to be a September 11th American, but I will remain a July 4th American.

Jim Harris wrote:

We didn't steal it. We tried to buy it and they said no.

Yes, a lot of car thieves say the same thing.

Coming here to sell drugs, engage in gang activity and other criminal enterprises would be.

So the government should wait until they do those things before declaring them illegal.

I actually know hispanic families here in Texas that don't know Spanish since they have been speaking English in their family for 150 years.

So therefore the government needs to enforce it with a law? Why not let them mind their own business?

Germans would have been encouraged to settle everywhere. Borders worked very well for them.

Exactly, Bill! The Germans used military conquest to redraw borders, and only enforced them for non-Germans. They never wanted a world without borders.

Bill Maron wrote:

I've read that July 4th American from you since you first posted it. The founding fathers would be appalled to see you write that about yourself AND Barry. You can write it if you want but I think you and Barry are more May 1st Americans. BTW, if he wins at the convention, he'll get creamed worse than McGovern. Not because of the "Changyness" but he really is just a left wing politician from IL, no different than Durbin.

Leland wrote:

Texas rebelled against Mexico. To say Texas was stolen is to say the 13 colonies were stolen from Britain. If an idiot believes otherwise, then apparently they don't consider themself a citizen of the US because they do not recognize the sovereign territory of the US.

Rand Simberg wrote:

In the current EU, with its porous borders, cultural differences between Italy and Germany have persisted. If, in the future, the EU abolished its borders completely, I would expect its characteristic cultural differences to persist -- southern Italy would remain different from northern Germany.

Actually, given current demographic trends, and their lack of desire to control their borders, or maintain their culture, they'll both come to resemble each other greatly--under sharia law.

Immigration, democracy, multi-culturalism: pick any two.

Jim Harris wrote:

The founding fathers would be appalled to see you write that about yourself AND Barry.

No Bill, the founding fathers made their case with the Declaration of Independence, and their philosophy was that if you agree with it, then fine. They did not make you fill out an application to be a registered supporter of the Declaration. And I do agree with it. All men are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Government is by consent of the governed. Those words are golden.

What really would have appalled the founders is the idea that America was born again on September 11th. Then came a day of fire! You are either with us or against us! That talk is odious to the Declaration and the Constitution. The idea of keeping our victory methods at a distance from our own sovereignty, at a military base in Cuba, is especially odious to our founding principles.

Jim Harris wrote:

Texas rebelled against Mexico.

With the complicit involvement of a powerful friend, just like the Panamians who rebelled against Colombia. But let's pretend that Texans had acted alone. Did California rebel against Mexico?

under sharia law

Aha! So that's why we need that border fence, to defend America from the onslaught of Catholofascism.

I mean, yes, all borders are artificial, but they're not equally artificial. The Mexican-American border is especially dubious.

Bob wrote:

Rand said:

>Immigration, democracy, multi-culturalism: pick any two.

It is hard to figure out what is meant by "culture", but most people would say that the USA has all three of the elements listed above. The melting pot model need only apply to political assimilation to maintain the American way of life, and so far, every group of immigrants has politically assimilated.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Jim Harris the time-traveling telepathic of obfuscation?

Anyway I liked the Absolut Nazi Sweden ad, in fact I was thinking of making something similar myself to illustrate to Swedes just how offensive many Americans would find the original. Sweden's collaboration with National Socialist Germany isn't something most Swedes are particularly proud of (and in fairness that was the case right there and then too and many Swedes did a lot of work against Nazi Germany from the beginning) so it should get the point about rearranging borders across (if I made the map I would do an early one from the start of the war including Sweden by default as Nazi from the beginning).

Another alternative would be to remove parts of Sweden that have at various times belonged to Norway (and which some Swedes living in those parts jokingly say they want given back to Norway, including themselves of course ^_^). However that would likely be considered far too benign by most Swedes to achieve the same effect as the original ad.

One thing though: the ad was made by an Argentinian and I'm not sure any Swedes even saw it before it got used (still doesn't explain why anyone working for Absolut in Mexico thought this would be a good idea).

Absolut have effectively destroyed their brand with this ad, their ads used to be somewhat clever at times playing with the word Absolut but now everyone will remember these ones instead. It's like if McDonald's made an ad targeted at porn addicts with their golden arches as tits, not a good idea.

Rand Simberg wrote:

...most people would say that the USA has all three of the elements listed above.

Then most people would be wrong. We haven't (yet) surrendered to full multi-culturalism. We continue to demand that people obey the laws of this nation, and not those of the nation and culture from which they came, and we openly declare our own culture's superiority, something that is anathema to transnationalist progressives like Jim. You cannot grant the vote to a large number of people who don't share your cultural values, and expect to retain them for long (including the cultural value of representative and constitutional democracy itself--something that is alien to much of the world).

The melting pot model need only apply to political assimilation to maintain the American way of life, and so far, every group of immigrants has politically assimilated.

Yes, the US has done a good job, to date, of assimilation. Much better than Europe and the UK, which are slowly being culturally and politically overwhelmed by their growing Muslim populations. But we're under increasing pressure here (such as Muslim cabbies demanding that they not have to transport seeing eye dogs, or customers carrying alcohol, or demands for prayer rooms, and foot baths in public toilets in universities).

But the Jim Harrisses of the world view assimilation as a bad thing, and think that immigrants shouldn't be required to adopt the language of the land to which they've immigrated, and should be allowed to maintain their allegiance to their home nation and culture. In Canada, there is growing pressure to allow Muslims to use sharia to govern their family relations (which would be a huge setback for women's rights). The other problem is that we've never had to assimilate so many at once as are presented by the current wave of people from south of the border. Quantity has a quality all its own.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

About the Argentinian side of it how about an ad in which Argentina is part of Chile? Not that it ever was the case but I'm pretty sure most Argentinians would find it offensive considering the relations between them and Chile are rather chilly.

Or better yet how about pasting a Union Jack on their country and calling it Greater Falklands? They wouldn't fail to get the point.

ken anthony wrote:

It's not that laws are universal, it's that rights are universal. At least, that was the view of the idiots who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Jim, so you think the founding fathers were idiots? Very revealing.

My point which you danced away from is that knowing where you are let's you know what set of laws you must comply with. With a clear border I know when I travel if I'm in the juristiction of Canadian, Mexican or American laws and protections. Not only that, if I don't like the laws of my land, I have the option of moving to another that I might prefer. Universal laws don't allow that.

The founding fathers looked to God to understand our human rights; today some people (often idiots) look to a special interest (often harming others rights in the process.)

Which rights do you see as universal? In case you don't understand it, some rights are limited.

Jim Harris wrote:

something that is anathema to transnationalist progressives like Jim

More like libertarian transnationalist. Everything that I have to say about nationalism is libertarian.

You cannot grant the vote to a large number of people who don't share your cultural values, and expect to retain them for long

That's basically saying that democracy works only when everyone agrees. The libertarian answer is that it's not the government's business to engineer a vague grab bag of attributes called "culture". Obeying the law and basic loyalties and duties of citizenship are all that it can and should demand. (Frankly it sounds a little hypocritical to bite your nails about this here, given that you didn't sound all that upset with Walt Anderson when he proved to be a colossally disloyal American.)

But the Jim Harrisses of the world view assimilation as a bad thing, and think that immigrants shouldn't be required to adopt the language of the land to which they've immigrated, and should be allowed to maintain their allegiance to their home nation and culture.

You're lumping together ten things that I never said and don't believe with one thing that I did say and stand by. First, assimilation is not a bad thing, it's a good thing. Just because the government shouldn't force people to do something, that doesn't mean that it's bad --- that's libertarianism 101. What business does the government have to tell me to drop the flamenco and square dance, or to stop using chopsticks and eat meatloaf. None! The government should let assimilation take its own course, so that American culture can take in all of the best things in the world. You yourself said that you like Mexican food, but here you want the government to slap a quota on chile rellenos.

As for language, again, what is the big problem with learning a little Spanish? New Mexico is more than 1/3 Hispanic and is bilingual for all intents and purposes. Does that make New Mexico an unstable banana republic? Of course not. They have no problem translating the basics into Spanish, their state government looks just like other state governments. In fact you've applauded them for their planned spaceport.

Also, a real appreciation of Hispanic culture is very different from the saccharine multiculturalism that you have in mind. If Americans study Cervantes, is that "multiculturalism"? No, Cervantes is part of the canon of European culture. Without Cervantes, the pot would never call the kettle black, and no one would tilt at windmills.

The only part where you have a case is allegiance to the laws and the nation. Yes, immigrants should obey the laws and be loyal to America. The only problem area is laws that are aimed against them, that they can't obey and still be American. Those laws are written to defend an artificial border, as if it were drawn by God, that Absolut Vodka is completely entitled to ridicule.

The other problem is that we've never had to assimilate so many at once as are presented by the current wave of people from south of the border.

That is just not true. According to the census, the US is now 11% foreign born, but in 1910 it was close to 15%. So we're not all that close to the record. Moreover Canada has a higher-fraction foreign-born than the US does and it's doing fine. The war on immigration is not aimed at any real crisis; it's little more than a tantrum over seeing and hearing some Spanish.

Jim, so you think the founding fathers were idiots?

No, I was being sarcastic. I admire the founders. While you are free to remember the Alamo, I will recall the Declaration.

With a clear border I know when I travel if I'm in the juristiction of Canadian, Mexican or American laws and protections.

So sure, make a clear border, no problem. There is also a border between South Dakota and North Dakota to tell you which state police is on patrol. But it's just a border and not a fence or a wall.

Which rights do you see as universal?

Among others, the liberty to live and work where you can get a job and afford your own property. Who doesn't deserve that right?

Fletcher Christian wrote:

"Can you imagine every country on Earth having an American or EU style democracy?"

The EU is a democracy? News to me.

I am British, and I think that we ought to leave the EU as soon as practically possible. And the main reason is that laws in the EU are made by bureaucrats who have not been elected, and rubberstamped by a so-called parliament with no real power whatsoever, and then gold-plated by further layers of bureaucrats in Britain in order to make them even more expensive and inconvenient to comply with.
Not to mention the fact that the EU takes 4 billion per year more out of Britain than we get back, in order to prevent grossly inefficient French farmers from rioting and to prop up the corrupt governments of southern Europe.

If there was real democracy at the European level (for example, an elected European head of state) I might think differently.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Wow, Jim. I'm in awe. I'm used to seeing straw men from you, but I've never seen such a huge, marching moron army of them in a single post.

Leland wrote:

Just a few more thoughts...

Texas wrote a Declaration of Independence and then fought to defend their independence. The only pretend happening is the foolish notion that this didn't occur.

California also had a successful rebellion.

The only reason Mexico is Mexico is because Mexico declared its independence from Spain about a decade before Texas and California declared indepedence from Mexico. Indeed, Texas and California both were provinces of Mexico for less time than they were provinces of Spain. Don't see an Absolut add pretending Texas was stolen from Spain.

Bob wrote:

Fletcher: I agree with your criticism of the EU. When I said "EU style democracy", I was referring to the style(s) of democracy found in EU member states. Moreover, the issue is really about borders, not democracy. I took Rand's blog post as a challenge to imagine an acceptable world without borders, and although this thread has become a discussion of the US-Mexico border, I find think there is more insight to be gained from looking at the EU's policy on internal borders than to think about the EU's external immigration policy (as Rand did), or to look to the US-Mexican border. I think the EU is a great model for how to protect both sovereignty and regional cultural diversity while relaxing borders. I think the future of the EU is worth thinking about as a model for a world which, I believe, will eventually become an entirely free and democratic one.

Rand: Like Jim, I also thought about the connection between resisting multiculturalism and libertarianism.
It seems to me that the market will take care of a lot of the issues you seem concerned about. For example, if a taxi company doesn't want to pick up a seeing-eye dog, I, a mainstream Democrat, might feel the initial impulse to urge legislation, but I would expect libertarians, Republicans, and perhaps even Rand Simbergs (if there are more than one - see another of yesterday's blog entries) to simply allow the market to punish companies who get a bad reputation. As for non-commercial issues, like foot baths at public universities: bid deal. Students (and their parents) demand all sorts of things. Sometimes they even get what they want. The Republic will survive the demand for footbaths, and should footbaths be installed, I would imagine the Republic would not only survive but will have a little less foot oder.

Rand Simberg wrote:

if a taxi company doesn't want to pick up a seeing-eye dog, I, a mainstream Democrat, might feel the initial impulse to urge legislation, but I would expect libertarians, Republicans, and perhaps even Rand Simbergs (if there are more than one - see another of yesterday's blog entries) to simply allow the market to punish companies who get a bad reputation.

I'd be all in favor of that, if taxis operated in a free market. Unfortunately, they're heavily regulated, with the government handing out tokens and creating artificial scarcity.

The Republic will survive the demand for footbaths, and should footbaths be installed, I would imagine the Republic would not only survive but will have a little less foot oder.

The problem is that they're getting a footbath in the door, so to speak. It won't stop there, and once one gives in to such demands, it establishes the precedent, and makes it harder to refuse the next demand.

And this particular religion seems to be privileged. Can you imagine the outrage if Christians demanded crosses in the bathrooms, so they could worship there? The Republic would survive that too, but you know and I know that it would never be acceptable. I see no difference, since the footbath requirement is a religious one, not for hygiene.

Bob wrote:

I'm trying to take your point seriously, so please don't misunderstand. I've seen a range of bathroom facilities at universities, and religious and cultural mores do actually play a part in how bathrooms are set up. That's my whole point, but I'll illustrate it with a few examples: Back when I was in college, one dorm had a wall of showerheads, and the guys showered communally. It was generally no big deal, except for the "don't drop the soap" jokes. Younger alumni have told me that these showers were torn out and replaced with individual stalls and the reason why made me laugh -- homophobia. In another dorm I lived in, the toilets were in a different room from the showers, and while it was a men's room, girls who had stayed over in the men's dorm on weekends tended to slip in late at night to use the toilets. One year, this was fine - I found it weird to do a number 2 knowing there was a girl (or at least someone with painted toenails) in the next stall, but I got over it. Another year, several very Christian students made a big fuss about how females must never enter the men's room. That fuss was put in context when later that year I visited Hampshire college in Mass. which, at the time, had entirely co-ed bathrooms, and I knew someone who had raunchy stories about co-ed showers at Oberlin (please don't destroy my fantasies with the facts about that!)

Jim Harris wrote:

California also had a successful rebellion.

What California had for one week in Sonoma in 1846 was one of the fakest "rebellions" in world history. It does also point to the disingenuous nature of the Texas independence movement that, in the end, screwed both Mexico and the Tejanos. Portraying the Mexican-American War as popular secession is also hypocritical, given that when Texas wanted real independence 20 years later, the US government crushed it. (But hey, Washington was on stronger moral ground the second time.)

The problem is that they're getting a footbath in the door, so to speak.

In other words, give them an inch and they'll take a mile. That's exactly the same hysterical attitude that's on display in every other kind of religious intolerance. Somewhere in the vast free world there are a few foot baths for Muslims, and boom, next thing you know, we'll all have to bow to Mecca five times a day. That's the same attitude that once led restaurants to ban yarmulkes: The next thing you know, they reasoned, the Jews would ban pork statewide.

Besides the crybaby nature of this argument, it is a sizable straw elephant, given that the original Absolut Vodka ad was about the Mexican-American border. If you railed against Catholofascism instead, it would at least be relevant.

And this particular religion seems to be privileged. Can you imagine the outrage if Christians demanded crosses in the bathrooms, so they could worship there?

Christians in America have demanded and gotten a vast array of religious concessions. They have a monopoly on official religious holidays in America. They also demanded and got monotheism on our currency in the 1950s. If you have money in your wallet, you're carrying around homages to God. So yes, there is a privileged religion in America, but it isn't Islam.

The only grain of truth in your position is that the Christians no longer win them all in America, they only get a fraction of the theocracy that they once enjoyed. But certainly American Muslims get a lot less than that.

Again, though, it's entirely off topic from the great sin of the Absolut Vodka corporation, which was to make a joke about the Mexican-American border.

Bob wrote:

Now that the web exists, it occurred to me I could easily fact-check the old story about co-ed showers at Oberlin.

One google search later: They seem to have existed, but predictably, the stories were not at all raunchy -- on a feminist website, co-ed showers are described thus: "for the most part it became something like having coffee together - just naked..."

Even if co-ed showers were entirely non-sexual, I think many people of different religious faiths would be opposed. And I can imagine a minority religion that would even be in favor. But so what? Surely religious people should have no special say in what is only a hygiene matter!

Rand Simberg wrote:

Even if co-ed showers were entirely non-sexual, I think many people of different religious faiths would be opposed. And I can imagine a minority religion that would even be in favor. But so what? Surely religious people should have no special say in what is only a hygiene matter!

So, Bob, you have no problem with this?

Will wrote:

I thought the original ad was amusing and original and I can understand why it would play well in 'latin' countries. I thought the 'Nazi-world' was hilarious and quite a dig at the Swedes. But all this other stuff you guys and gals are talking about? Much ado about nothing. Can't anyone just LAUGH at a joke anymore without analysing it to death and getting 'offended' ? Yeesh, what a bunch of cry babies!

Bob wrote:

>so, Bob, you have no problem with [A charter school (funded by the public) that crosses the line by incorporating Islam into the curriculum]?

Of course I have a problem with it. Believe me, as I was the only Jewish kid (and 1 of 3 non-Christians) in my high school, I am very sensitive to separation of church and state issues in the public schools.

I just don't see it as evidence of a problem with either immigration or multiculturalism -- people are always trying to sneak religion into public schools. My evangelical high school English teacher assigned the bible "as literature", and my evangelical science teacher pulled me aside "because I liked science" to send me home with video tapes teaching creationism.

As someone who is very glad my family escaped Europe, you aren't going to see me excluding immigrants based on their religion! I don't think you would want a religious test either, so I'm not quite sure what point you are making by providing the link. (But it was an interesting link, so thanks anyway!)

Tuition vouchers for state-accredited private schools would probably solve this particular problem, and while abandoning an absolute commitment to the public school system makes my liberal heart ache, it probably is a good idea to let the market decide which schools get attended.

Rand Simberg wrote:

My point is, that as a result of creeping multi-culturalism, there is a double standard, in which things that Christians do are jumped on immediately, but when it comes to Islam, there is an internal conflict within the multi-culti community because, it not being a Christian, it must be good, but the misogyny and fatwahs and hatred of the infidel are troubling, because they seem...intolerant. There's no way a Christian school would have gotten away with this for so long.

And once again, the foot basins are not for hygiene--they are an explicit part of a religious ritual, and crosses in the same venue wouldn't be tolerated for a minute.

You don't want to exclude immigrants for their religion? Well, when their religion includes intolerance for me and mine, I have no trouble excluding them at all. Based on polling, a significant percentage (by no means a majority, but a significant percentage) of the world's Muslims would have no problem with decapitating you for no reason other than your religion as a Jew. Do you think you can share a country with folks like that? I'm not sure we should have to share a planet with them, or will ultimately be able to.

Bob wrote:

I hadn't realized that you were looking at it as a case of the perpetrators getting a pass. I understand your complaint about political correctness, but I don't think it is the whole picture at all. As Jim pointed out, all sorts of Christian conventions are completely accepted as part of this nation's culture, even though they have no more place in publicly funded secular life than Islamic ones would. They get a pass, not because of political correctness, but because of conservatism.

I found your last paragraph kind of shocking. I'm shocked that I'd have to argue that people's thoughts are their own business, and if someone wants to be a bigot and think about decapitation and religious intolerance, that's their problem, not mine. I feel like humming a few bars of Die Gedanken Sind Frei...

I believe in the marketplace of ideas, and I believe that tolerance will sell better than intolerance and censorship. As for immigrants: if they meet all the current criteria and there is no evidence that they will actually be violent, let them in, no matter what horrible thoughts they might be thinking -- the American experience will convert the vast majority of them.

Rand Simberg wrote:

I found your last paragraph kind of shocking.

You're apparently pretty easily shocked.

I'm shocked that I'd have to argue that people's thoughts are their own business, and if someone wants to be a bigot and think about decapitation and religious intolerance, that's their problem, not mine.

It becomes yours when they act on it, which many of them do, when they get a chance. You don't think that when something like thirty percent of Muslims in Britain think that the subway bombings were justified, that the UK may have a problem with assimilating their immigrants? Do you really think that we should welcome to this country people who hand out candies, and ululate and cheer when they hear about the twin towers falling? I'm a little shocked that you want to admit people to the country who want to kill you.

I believe in the marketplace of ideas, and I believe that tolerance will sell better than intolerance and censorship.

I agree. Unfortunately, part of the problem is that the people calling for intolerance and censorship are the Muslims. They don't believe that their religion should be criticized in any way, and they riot and threaten head chopping when they perceive the slightest slight to it (e.g., the Mohammed cartoons). Haven't you been paying attention to what's going on in Canada, where anyone who is critical of Islam gets hauled before the so-called Human Rights Commission? These are not people who accept the basic values of this country or of the West--of pluralism, tolerance, freedom of expression, and so on. It would amount to cultural suicide to bring them in in huge numbers, as we can see from what's happening in Europe. Particularly since they are outbreeding us.

Jim Harris wrote:

There's no way a Christian school would have gotten away with this for so long.

That Muslim charter school in Minnesota absolutely ought to lose its charter. It's a blatant violation of separation of church and state. But if you think that Christian schools can't get away with the same thing, then you just don't know what you're talking about. State-funded religious instruction is a loophole the size of Montana in the charter and voucher school system, and it's not even the only scandalous loophole of that size.

Here for instance is a run-of-the-mill charter school in Florida, which happens to also be a Baptist Church. It's just as blatant as the Muslim school in Florida: The pre-K program is openly Christian, the after school programs can be religious for all the students, the fact that the school is a church is a big hint, and the school staff lists a lot of connections to Christian schooling. The only difference between that and your example is that there is no scandal. If anyone raised a stink about this charter school, a pack of Christian conservatives would fight back.

So sure, none of these schools should get state money, because what's going on is pretty blatant. But it won't be easy. A lot of the Christians involved with these charter schools feel that they have a good thing going. They'll be sore with the Muslims for spoiling it.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is that the people calling for intolerance and censorship are the Muslims.

Yes, it's the old argument of the Know Nothings: We're for tolerance, so we can't let in the Catholics, because they're intolerant.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Yes, it's the old argument of the Know Nothings: We're for tolerance, so we can't let in the Catholics, because they're intolerant.

Jim, I'd say that you're the Know Nothing, given your apparent ignorance of recent and current events in this regard.

Bob wrote:

I strongly disagree with you Rand, but rather than address your beliefs head-on, I'm trying to think through the foreign policy implications (as opposed to immigration implications) of your beliefs about Muslims.

Since "the Muslims" don't believe in "pluralism, tolerance, freedom of expression, and so on", do you believe our efforts in Iraq to help them establish a free and democratic country are doomed?

What about the democracy movement in Lebanon?

Do you think your beliefs about Muslims have any implications for US policy toward our NATO ally, democratic Turkey (where the Israeli airforce trains)? What about the new democracies of Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia? What about Bangladesh and Indonesia, where democracy has a foothold?

Rand Simberg wrote:

I strongly disagree with you Rand

No way to respond to that absent an explanation of just what it is that you disagree with. That Wahhabi Islam is intolerant? That they want us to convert or die? That they believe that Jews are "pigs and apes"? That it's not a great idea to have large numbers of immigrants with such beliefs, and have them taught in Saudi-funded madrassas in this country, or Europe? Other than the latter, these aren't "my beliefs." They are well-documented facts, even if you prefer to remain in denial about them.

If there were large numbers of unreformed Nazis wanting to enter the country, would you say, "Come on in! Freedom of expression will carry the day!"? That is exactly what you're dealing with with Islamists, right down to the fact that Mein Kampf remains a best-seller in the Middle East, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler's ally during the war. Many in the Middle East, and particularly in Gaza and the West Bank would like to finish what he started.

Since "the Muslims" don't believe in "pluralism, tolerance, freedom of expression, and so on", do you believe our efforts in Iraq to help them establish a free and democratic country are doomed?

I didn't intend to paint with that broad a brush. I was referring to Wahhabis, not all Muslims, though Islam itself, if followed rigorously, is problematic in that regard.

Turkey has been secular for almost a century, but recent revival of fundamentalist Islam there is troubling. I suspect that it may result in a civil war, the outcome of which is of importance to the overall war. Lebanon's primarily problem is Syrian aggression, which is secular Ba'athist, not Islamic, though (as was the case with Saddam) the regime doesn't have a problem with using Islamic movements like Hizbollah to achieve their own ends. This is unlikely to be resolved until Assad is removed as Saddam was, which may occur as a result of the next war that they start with Israel, either directly or by their Hizbollah proxies.

But to answer your question, I do believe that reform of the religion is possible, and Iraq is probably the best place for it to occur (one of the many reasons that it made strategic sense to go there), as the traditional cultural leader of the Arab world. The current signs of reconciliation between Kurds, Shia and Sunni, with the isolation of the Iranian puppet Sadr, is encouraging in that regard (something that will no doubt sadden Jim Harris, who wants to believe that it is Maliki whose strings are pulled by Tehran).

If it's not possible to reform Islam peacefully, this war is going to come to a very ugly end, as the war against Japanese and German totalitarianism did, but we will prevail, regardless. At some point, when provoked sufficiently, the Jacksonians will come to the fore. The Islamists have no idea what they're in for if it gets to that point.

Jim Harris wrote:

If there were large numbers of unreformed Nazis wanting to enter the country, would you say, "Come on in! Freedom of expression will carry the day!"?

Yes, I would, because I'm a July 4th American. If they are unreformed Nazis, then over time justice and freedom will reform them. Maybe not every last one, because there will always be a few losers left over, but at least the vast majority. That is exactly what happened with the Klan, many of whom indeed thought of themselves as pro-Nazi and thought of Jews as pig-dogs. The Klan was also the worst terrorist group in American history, but eventually the rule of law caught up with them.

the isolation of the Iranian puppet Sadr, is encouraging in that regard (something that will no doubt sadden Jim Harris, who wants to believe that it is Maliki whose strings are pulled by Tehran).

Actually, neither Sadr nor Maliki nor Hakim is a "puppet" of Iran, that's the wrong word to use. They are all pro-Iranian, but it's true that Sadr is not as pro-Iranian as the other two, because Sadr is even more radical than the Iranians. It certainly wouldn't sadden me if we did isolate Sadr, rather I'd be relieved, because he is at least as brutal and far more Islamist than Saddam Hussein was.

What is sad is that people like you think that Sadr has been isolated. He certainly hasn't: He still has 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament, he still runs Sadr City, and he still controls the health ministry. The gun battles between Maliki and Sadr are what passes for an election campaign in Iraq these days, and it doesn't look like Maliki gained many votes by them.

Bob wrote:

Busy evening - I wanted to write a complete reply but I only wrote what is below. Pretty similar to Jim's comment as it turned out.

Rand, This is just a reply to only one sentence in your very thoughtful set of answers to my question about foreign policy: You asked "If there were large numbers of unreformed Nazis wanting to enter the country, would you say, "Come on in! Freedom of expression will carry the day!"?

Yes, I would. As you've guessed, I hate Nazis and I don't wish them on America, and I hope they and their ilk stay out, but... ...one of my heroes is David Goldberger, the Jewish ACLU counsel to the Nazis, who won the Nazis the right to march peacefully through Skokie, home at the time to largest number of holocaust survivors in America. I can't think of a better way to say "we're better than you" than to show the Nazis that the American system is so unafraid of them, and so dedicated to freedom, that our system will protect even them.

Rand Simberg wrote:

I supported the ACLU in that as well. But it's irrelevant, since you both seem to have missed the modifier "large numbers" (a condition that did not apply in Skokie). That means, whole large communities of them--men, women, children, all with the freedom to own and bear arms. The Nazis who marched in Skokie had already been marginalized by the defeat of Hitler and his ideology. The new Nazis in the Middle East have not.

Jim Harris wrote:

That means, whole large communities of them--men, women, children, all with the freedom to own and bear arms.

That description certainly fits the Klan. More to the point that you're trying to make (or rather in contradiction of it), Israel is 20% Arab and 16% Muslim, not counting the Palestinians. Israel has to cope with some severe problems, but a revolt from its own Muslim citizens is not one of them. Israel is also bilingual: Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages.

Actually, even in Europe, none of the hyped up violence and chaos from its Muslims goes as far as America's racial strife with blacks. Our homicide rate is higher than theirs.

The lesson in all of these cases is that fearsome minorities are much less of a threat to the state if you treat them as equals rather than as enemies. It's not that multiculturalism is any kind of vital be-all, rather that live and let live is the best policy. If people like you kept your shirts on, we wouldn't be perfectly safe by any means, but we would be a lot safer.

Bob wrote:

Thomas Friedman wrote an interesting article about the Muslims of India back in 2002. He pointed that they are the largest Muslim minority in the world, and despite ethnic unrest against Muslims in Gujarat, the Muslim population is peaceful and is well-integrated into Indian society. I just went to look for a copy of it and found that the Indian government is promoting the article:

http://mea.gov.in/bestoftheweb/2002/08/14bow01.htm

It is a great article, I strongly recommend it, and even if it glosses over some issues, I think it expresses a fundamental truth.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on April 8, 2008 8:11 AM.

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