Saturday, July 14, 2007

Why liberals should encourage immigrants to integrate

Many multicultural theorists, although committed to openness toward immigrants, are not committed to the openness of immigrants to their new home. For them, newcomers, living in an environment hostile to their way of life, need to preserve the cultural practices they bring with them, even if some of those practices - for example, arranged marriages, gender segregation, religious indoctrination - conflict with liberal principles. Group survival counts more than individual rights in the moral accounting of many multiculturalists.

One way to maintain a commitment to openness when addressing the vexing question of national borders is to recognize that cosmopolitanism is a two-way street. Immanuel Kant teaches us that the circumstances in which we find ourselves must always be judged against the circumstances in which, but for chance, we might have found ourselves.

From this perspective, it is unfair that someone who happens to be born in the US is likely to live longer and better than someone born in Kenya. This does not mean that the US must open its borders to everyone from Kenya. But it does mean that a New Yorker should recognize that any advantages he may have over a Nairobian are due to an accident of birth rather than merit. From the perspective of Kantian cosmopolitanism, the least an American can do is to welcome a certain amount of immigration from Africa.

But embracing cosmopolitanism also means that once a society admits new members, those members are obliged to open themselves to their new society. Multiculturalists are reluctant to endorse this part of the cosmopolitan bargain, but liberals must.

One can understand why, living in a foreign country they may perceive as hostile, immigrants opt to close themselves off. Some host countries - France, for example - may be too hasty in demanding that immigrants accept new ways of life. But attempting to live a closed life in an open society is bound to be self-defeating and not something a liberal society should encourage.

An instructive example of the cosmopolitanism bargain came in 2006, when Great Britain's former foreign minister, Jack Straw, raised concerns about the hijab, the full-head covering worn by some Muslim women. Straw defended women's right to wear less intrusive headscarves; yet he also argued that something is seriously wrong when, in conversation with another person, one cannot engage in face-to-face interaction.

Straw was saying that to wear the hijab is a decision to close yourself off from everyone around you. He was not making a xenophobic argument that Muslims do not belong in Great Britain, or a multiculturalist argument that Muslims should be allowed to wear whatever traditional garb they believe best expresses their cultural and religious sensibilities. Nor was he asking for the full assimilation of immigrants into British customs. Instead, through a carefully chosen example, Straw was illustrating what it means to be open to others while expecting openness in return.

Some argued that, in suggesting to Muslim women what they should wear, Straw was interfering with religious freedom. In fact, liberal values sometimes contradict each other. Islam, for example, has historically permitted certain forms of polygamy, but no liberal society is obliged to extend religious freedom in ways that undermine its commitment to gender equality.

Fortunately, Straw's example does not pose such a sharp dilemma. As he pointed out, wearing the hijab is not commanded by the Koran and represents a cultural choice, not a religious duty. So long as other ways are available for Muslim women to cover their heads, agreeing not to wear the hijab is a way of signifying one's membership in a liberal society at minimal cost to one's religious commitments.

For liberals, the question is never whether borders should be completely open or closed; a society open to all would have no rights worth protecting, while a society closed to all would have no rights worth emulating. If one is looking for an abstract principle to follow on questions of immigration, liberalism cannot provide it.

But a liberal society will allow people in and make exceptions for conditions under which they must be kept out, rather than keeping people out and making exceptions for when they should be allowed in. A liberal society will also view the world as teeming with potential that, however threatening to ways of life that are taken for granted, forces people to adapt to new challenges rather than trying to protect themselves against the foreign and unknown.

Finally, a liberal society will not focus on what we can offer immigrants, but on what they can offer us. The goal of openness implied by immigration is worth preserving, especially if both its demands and its promise apply across the board.


Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature

By: Alan S. Miller Ph.D., Satoshi Kanazawa Ph.D. I have excerpted below the four most politically relevant truths. The truths about polygamy lead in to the truth about Muslims

Human nature is one of those things that everybody talks about but no one can define precisely. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, get upset about the influx of immigrants into our country, or go to church, we are, in part, behaving as a human animal with our own unique evolved nature-human nature.

This means two things. First, our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are produced not only by our individual experiences and environment in our own lifetime but also by what happened to our ancestors millions of years ago. Second, our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are shared, to a large extent, by all men or women, despite seemingly large cultural differences.

Human behavior is a product both of our innate human nature and of our individual experience and environment. In this article, however, we emphasize biological influences on human behavior, because most social scientists explain human behavior as if evolution stops at the neck and as if our behavior is a product almost entirely of environment and socialization. In contrast, evolutionary psychologists see human nature as a collection of psychological adaptations that often operate beneath conscious thinking to solve problems of survival and reproduction by predisposing us to think or feel in certain ways. Our preference for sweets and fats is an evolved psychological mechanism. We do not consciously choose to like sweets and fats; they just taste good to us.

The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.

* Humans are naturally polygamous

The history of western civilization aside, humans are naturally polygamous. Polyandry (a marriage of one woman to many men) is very rare, but polygyny (the marriage of one man to many women) is widely practiced in human societies, even though Judeo-Christian traditions hold that monogamy is the only natural form of marriage. We know that humans have been polygynous throughout most of history because men are taller than women.

Among primate and nonprimate species, the degree of polygyny highly correlates with the degree to which males of a species are larger than females. The more polygynous the species, the greater the size disparity between the sexes. Typically, human males are 10 percent taller and 20 percent heavier than females. This suggests that, throughout history, humans have been mildly polygynous.

Relative to monogamy, polygyny creates greater fitness variance (the distance between the "winners" and the "losers" in the reproductive game) among males than among females because it allows a few males to monopolize all the females in the group. The greater fitness variance among males creates greater pressure for men to compete with each other for mates. Only big and tall males can win mating opportunities. Among pair-bonding species like humans, in which males and females stay together to raise their children, females also prefer to mate with big and tall males because they can provide better physical protection against predators and other males.

In societies where rich men are much richer than poor men, women (and their children) are better off sharing the few wealthy men; one-half, one-quarter, or even one-tenth of a wealthy man is still better than an entire poor man. As George Bernard Shaw puts it, "The maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first-rate man to the exclusive possession of a third-rate one." Despite the fact that humans are naturally polygynous, most industrial societies are monogamous because men tend to be more or less equal in their resources compared with their ancestors in medieval times. (Inequality tends to increase as society advances in complexity from hunter-gatherer to advanced agrarian societies. Industrialization tends to decrease the level of inequality.)

* Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

When there is resource inequality among men-the case in every human society-most women benefit from polygyny: women can share a wealthy man. Under monogamy, they are stuck with marrying a poorer man.

The only exceptions are extremely desirable women. Under monogamy, they can monopolize the wealthiest men; under polygyny, they must share the men with other, less desirable women. However, the situation is exactly opposite for men. Monogamy guarantees that every man can find a wife. True, less desirable men can marry only less desirable women, but that's much better than not marrying anyone at all.

Men in monogamous societies imagine they would be better off under polygyny. What they don't realize is that, for most men who are not extremely desirable, polygyny means no wife at all, or, if they are lucky, a wife who is much less desirable than one they could get under monogamy.

* Most suicide bombers are Muslim

Suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, but according to Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, when religion is involved, the attackers are always Muslim. Why? The surprising answer is that Muslim suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran (except for two lines). It has a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex.

What distinguishes Islam from other major religions is that it tolerates polygyny. By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don't get any wives at all.

So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates. By doing so, they have little to lose and much to gain compared with men who already have wives. Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region.

However, polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombing. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. And they do have very high levels of violence. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars-but not suicide bombings.

The other key ingredient is the promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees. However, the prospect is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser.

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.

* Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies.

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both-men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men-the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls-but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.


American liberals took leave of reason after JFK's murder

"Inherit the Wind" is running on Broadway again, night after night pitting the righteously rational Clarence Darrow against the Bible-thumping antievolutionist William Jennings Bryan. The 1955 play--a chestnut of high-school English courses across the country--concerns the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925 and is meant to capture the moment in American history when science and reason superseded, at last, the myth and superstition of foolish reactionaries. It has become something of a liberal sacrament. But as James Piereson shows in "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution," myth and superstition were the essence of the liberal response to John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. It was the liberals who threw evidence and reason to the winds, inheriting the crippling effects of their own bad judgment.

Mr. Piereson is not concerned with showing yet again that, yes--in defiance of all conspiracy theories--Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman on that fateful day. "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution," Mr. Piereson explains, is less about "the assassination itself than the political reaction to it and the lasting consequences of that reaction." It is one of the best accounts we have of why liberalism--which "owned the future" in 1963--fell from grace and has yet to recover.

During his presidency, Kennedy had repeatedly criticized the irrationalism of far-right-wing anticommunists and their segregationist cousins. It was a turbulent time, lest we forget. In April 1963, the police in Birmingham, Ala., had set dogs upon peaceful civil-rights marchers, and in June segregationists in Mississippi assassinated NAACP leader Medgar Evers. In October, protesters in Dallas had harassed Adlai Stevenson, Kennedy's United Nations ambassador. Dallas was a notoriously segregated city, and the John Birch Society (whose members thought President Eisenhower had been under communist sway) were a part of the city's political culture. The society's Dallas leader was Gen. Edwin Walker, whom Oswald had tried to kill in April by shooting at him through a window in his home. (Oswald just missed.)

Thus when Kennedy was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, it was widely assumed that his killer was the kind of hate-filled reactionary who believed Kennedy to be selling out America to Soviet Communism and to be showing too little resistance to the civil-rights movement. Such an assumption was buttressed by the great liberal intellectuals of the 1950s, such as Richard Hofstadter and Daniel Bell, whose writings had attempted to show that segregationists and the followers of Joe McCarthy--with their "paranoid style" of politics, in Hofstadter's phrase--were insecure, backward-looking extremists who threatened America's bright future.

In the minds of liberals, then, Kennedy's killer should have been a right-wing fanatic. But he wasn't. Oswald was a man of the hard left. He had defected to the Soviet Union. When he found that country too bureaucratic, he returned to America and began proselytizing for Fidel Castro and his supposedly new brand of the third-world revolution. Nor was Oswald an irrational, discontented Dostoevskian loner, as some depicted him. He was in fact a joiner of movements and something of a self-defined intellectual who thought that his mixture of Marxism and anarchism made him smarter and more sophisticated than his frivolous peers.

Jackie Kennedy was distraught at the nature of Oswald's political identity. Her husband, she said, "didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. . . . It had to be some silly little communist. It even robs his death of meaning." But not for long. As Mr. Piereson explains, Jackie carefully planned JFK's funeral to resemble that of Abraham Lincoln. The staging was such a success that, for many, Kennedy came to be seen as a martyr to civil rights. The Kennedy legend began to take hold.

Jackie's impulse may have been self-regarding, but it also served the country's need to end segregation. More problematic was the argument of James Reston, the influential New York Times columnist, who just after the assassination argued in a column called "A Portion of Guilt for All" that Kennedy had been crucified on the altar of American violence. Brushing aside the evidence, he insisted that "all of us had a part in the slaying of the president." This claim was but a step from what became the standard-issue 1960s argument that American was a "sick society."

But Reston was the soul of reason compared with the conspiracy theorists who laid the assassination at the feet of a shadowy business cabal or the CIA--or even, foreshadowing Oliver Stone, Lyndon Johnson. It turned out that the paranoid style described by Hofstadter was equally a property of the left and the right.

Mr. Piereson's own argument is persuasive and well-presented, but liberalism was never as reasonable as he assumes. The irrationalism that exploded later in the 1960s had been a component of left-wing ideology well before. Herbert Croly, the liberal founder of the New Republic magazine, was drawn to mysticism. In the 1950s ex-Marxists fell over themselves in praise of Wilhelm Reich and "orgone box," hoping that sexual therapy might replace Marxist theory as the toga of the enlightened. And in the very early 1960s a veritable cult of Castro, informed by Franz Fanon's writings on the cleansing virtues of violence, emerged among intellectuals searching for an alternative to middle-class conventions.

It's not reason that is at the heart of modern-day liberalism but rather the claim to superior virtue and, even more important, to a special knowledge unavailable to the unwashed or unenlightened. Depending on the temper of the time, such virtue and knowledge can derive disproportionately from scientism or mysticism--or it can mix large dollops of both. "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution" lays bare the long-ignored failure of intellect that hastened the decline of American liberalism. If liberals can belatedly come to grips with their failure to acknowledge Oswald's political identity, they might be able to celebrate a revival that involves more than a Broadway show.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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