Thursday, June 28, 2018


Us and them, por Scott Sumner (Econlib):

When I speak with people on the other side of the immigration debate, they often start with nationalistic arguments. But when pressed on the issue it soon becomes clear this is about more than nationalism. Most of the anti-immigration people I speak with do not regard the Asian culture in Silicon Valley as being inferior to the black culture of Detroit, or the Native America culture of South Dakota, or the Hispanic culture of El Paso. When they speak of “American culture” they have something much more specific in mind than people who live in America. (...)

I have recently been stuck by the passion with which many immigration restrictionists discuss the situation in Germany. Viewed objectively, the recent immigration into Germany seems like a net gain for the world. The gains to the immigrants almost certainly outweigh any possible losses to Germany. The other side will then tell me that I’m missing the point, that I need to think in nationalistic terms, not bloodless cosmopolitan utilitarian terms. In that case, however, why would American nationalists (including President Trump) be so upset about the situation in Germany? After all, neither the local Germans nor the immigrant Syrians are members of our “tribe”. Neither of these groups are Americans. We even fought two wars against Germany.

Unless . . . perhaps this isn’t about nationalism at all. Perhaps this is about some other unspoken issue, which makes many people feel that the Germans of Cologne are “us”, whereas both the blacks of Detroit and the Asians of Silicon Valley are “them”.

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