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Are There Earnest Arguments Against Birthright Citizenship?

Are There Earnest Arguments Against Birthright Citizenship?

I.
There was recently a hubbub about Megyn Kelly saying wearing blackface isn’t necessarily bad—that it can be done admiringly.

Among the problems with her idea was that every single time white people have put on blackface, it has been to demean and belittle black people. Kelly was just the latest person from that long and storied tradition.

Nevertheless, many people extended every possible excuse to Kelly. Ben Shapiro was among those insisting “No, Megyn Kelly Isn’t A Racist

Kelly’s comments were ignorant, by her own admission. But that doesn’t mean they were racist. If you knew nothing about the despicable history of blackface, and you donned black makeup to dress up as Michelle Obama, that might make you ignorant, but it certainly wouldn’t make you racist or anything close to it. In fact, we could fairly say that you were making a statement against racism by dressing up as a black person you admire.

Kelly’s comments were borne out of ignorance, so they can’t be held against her. Shapiro is not content to leave it at that though. Even if Kelly wasn’t ignorant, that’s still only “perhaps” racist:

The question is whether you knew about the history of blackface and chose to ignore it anyway. If so, that’s at least racially insensitive, and perhaps racist. If not, ignorance does not equate to racism.

In Shapiro’s view, ignorance is not racism, and non-ignorance is also not racism, so Kelly is definitely not racist. Please imagine the corresponding Venn diagram.

Of course it is possible that she truly actually didn’t know. That she’s been paid million dollars to opine and educate millions of Americans and doesn’t know something that is in middle school textbooks. It’s further possible that all of the many people who might have been in a position to show her the Bing results for “blackface” were ignorant too because they were all blinded by their love of Diana Ross.

II.
There’s a political party in Greece called “Golden Dawn.” Its symbol has an interesting shape that looks vaguely like a swastika. But swastikas are illegal in Greece and it’s right there in their symbol, so it must not be a swastika. Also, when asked, party officials insist it is not really a swastika before admitting that they are nationalist and racist.

But maybe it’s not a swastika. Maybe it’s just a symbol they thought looked cool. Yeah, that’s probably it.

III.
Here is Jimmy Kimmel in blackface as Karl Malone making fun of how black people talk.

The Man Show Karl Malone Aliens

IV.
The entirety of US national history has featured strong disagreement about who should enjoy the full rights and privileges of full citizens. I am going to present my own cartoonized version of history here, but do your own research if you want better.

In general, there have been a lot of arguments as to whether things like owning property, literacy, being able to pay a poll tax, having a clear record, and being able to clear other arbitrary barriers ought to count towards a person’s claim of full citizenship. By and large, these were all proxies for more fundamental claims:

  • women shouldn’t be full citizens
  • black people shouldn’t be full citizens
  • other non-white people shouldn’t be full citizens

If you doubt this, take a look at Louisiana’s Jim Crow “literacy” test. It’s nonsensical and meant to give full control of who can vote to whoever is grading the test.

In the face of this history, people nevertheless put forth the idea that there should be tests to determine who should vote. They will generally claim that they are wholly unconcerned with trying to prevent marginalized groups from voting even though this has been the goal of ever other person who has proposed such tests.

Nevertheless, if we are willing to extend Shapiroian levels of charity, perhaps some of them are ignorant of the history they are invoking and really just think it’s a good idea that has nothing to do with race. It’s entirely possible in a country with 308 million people that there exists one such person.

V.
This brings us to birthright citizenship—that all persons born in the United States are full legal citizens of the United States. A lot of people dislike the concept of birthright citizenship. A majority of Americans disagree with it. That’s why Donald Trump made it an issue leading up to the midterm elections.

Historically, opponents of birthright citizenship have been uniformly racist. The entirety of their concept was that “real” Americans are white people whose citizenship is not questioned. Black, brown, and yellow people are not.

The arguments for this were often intellectualized to appear race-neutral, but they never were, and they often didn’t bother. Here is what happened when a Sikh man tried to become a naturalized US citizen.

In 1919, Thind filed a petition for naturalization under the Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed only “free white persons” and “aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent” to become United States citizens by naturalization.

Thind did not bother trying to argue that non-white people should get to become citizens too. Instead, he, a Sikh man “of full Indian blood” argued he was white:

…he attempted to have “high-caste” classified as “free white persons” within the meaning of the naturalization act based on the fact that both northern Indians and most Europeans are Indo-European peoples.

His case didn’t go well.

VI.
I encourage you to check out Wikipedia’s article on Mexican Repatriation, which I have no memory of learning about in school. It involved the “repatriation” of somewhere between 400,000 to 2,000,000 people to Mexico. Most of them were born in the United States and should have been United States citizens. In fact, many of them were promised US citizenship under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War, which I do remember learning about in school as I was taught America always won all of its wars. These people who were granted US citizenship were even counted as “white” in the 1930 US census.

That all changed rapidly, and this should sound familiar to those paying attention to current-day rhetoric:

a variety of “small farmers, progressives, labor unions, eugenicists, and racists” had called for restrictions on Mexican immigration. Their arguments focused primarily on competition for jobs, and the cost of public assistance for indigents.

And the whole exercise, of course, was about race:

Mexicans were targeted in part because of “the proximity of the Mexican border, the physical distinctiveness of mestizos, and easily identifiable barrios.”

It seems significant to me that the United States kicked out perhaps a million US citizens because of their race less than a hundred years ago under both a Republican and a Democratic administration.

VII.
So, how do we answer Chad’s question here?

I submit, humbly, that there are some earnest people who oppose pure birthright citizenship.

There is an industry that helps women late in their pregnancies fly to the United States, give birth in a US hospital, and then fly back to their home countries. Their children are full US citizens, but they don’t experience the country in any meaningful way.

I’ve spoken with a good number of first-generation immigrants who have lived in the country for decades and have their own children in the United States now. They are not fans of birthright citizenship being awarded to such children. When I pressed a bit further, they said something like the women should have to spend some longer amount of time in the United States.

three babies

ErinPtah through Creative Commons license

At any rate, they find it weird that US citizenship is something that can essentially be bought for the children of wealthy tourists who may have no other connection to the country up until they are due to give birth. Their argument is that is weird, and I believe them to be earnest.

Of course, I can’t really know whether they are hiding latent racism or not. I am pretty sure they have no idea of the history of birthright citizenship and the fact that people not too unlike them were essentially stripped of their citizenship and tossed out of the country when it became politically popular to do so.

Nevertheless, I do believe them.


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Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1. ...more →

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318 thoughts on “Are There Earnest Arguments Against Birthright Citizenship?

  1. I don’t have a strong opinion on birthright citizenship, but I am VERY pro-immigration so I default to being okay with it. I will also confirm I have had very similar conversations with immigrants to those described by Vikram i.e. they are much less in favor of liberal citizenship rules than many Americans. They feel like they did things the hard way and everyone else should do the same.

    Vikram asks:

    “So, is Sam right here?

    From Sam (emphasis mine):

    “You cannot make a good argument to somebody who believes that some people are their literal inferiors. Those opposed to Birthright Citizenship believe that. There is nothing else motivating them.

    Of course he is wrong, but this is Sam being Sam. He sees the world as binary and assumes anyone who disagrees with him has bad motives. Even though I don’t really have an issue with birthright citizenship, I understand the people that do and their motives are not always driven by a sense of superiority. They are driven by a belief that someone here illegally is not really here, thus citizenship should not be passed to their children. Again, I don’t necessarily agree with them, but Sam grossly mischaracterizes their positions here.

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      • Hey Tod! Glad to see you commenting!!! Bat signal worked!

        “Yes, but the important question is to what degree is he wrong?”

        As Obi Wan says, ‘Only the Sith deal in absolutes’. The problem with Sam’s absolute statements is that they mostly claim to know what is in someone’s heart based on him either pretending to or actually thinking most issues are binary.

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          • You should take that up with Vikram then for asking the question. But it is also illustrative because it leads to a discussion of what does motivate opposition. If Sam can’t see nuance on this issue, I would ask if this is a problem unique to him or a more general shortcoming of the Left?

            As I already stated, I am in favor of robust immigration, including birthright citizenship in most cases. But a lot of people aren’t. Some of that is xenophobia/nationalism but it’s also economic, cultural, tradition, history, etc.

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            • I am curious as to how that works. So please don’t think I am challenging you here – I won’t argue with however you respond – I’m just genuinely curious:

              How does the fact that influences might well come from culture, tradition, history, etc. cancel out the possibility of racism?

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              • There is no nuance for racists opposed to birthright citizenship. They hate it that the wrong people are allowed access to the institution. The idea that there is any subtlety here is the purest bullshit.

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                • Sam,

                  Maybe you will respond to me here (instead of that silly thing where you respond to the people responding to me but critique my comment in the process)… So I’m curious about this:

                  “There is no nuance for racists opposed to birthright citizenship.”

                  Do you believe that everyone opposed to birthright citizenship is racist, or just that some people are? And if they all are, how do you know that?

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              • Tod,

                I don’t think it cancels out racism. It means there is more than one reason for opposition, which I don’t think Sam believes. Birthright citizenship is an arbitrary thing and didn’t always exist (history). Many legal immigrants don’t believe it is fair in the way it works for other immigrants (cultural). I’ve had employees from Liberia say that citizenship should not be granted to the children of other Liberians until those people are legal citizens. Again, not saying I even agree with this, but I don’t think they are being racists against their fellow countrymen.

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  2. Probably the most serious academic argument against the Constitution requiring birthright citizenship is from a book by a leading scholar of immigration, Peter Schuck. Links via Balkinization. I don’t have strong feelings on it, other than I am against the “clearing the field” tactics that claim there is no legitimate argument to be had, either because of false certainty conveyed in internet legal briefs or because the racism charge. Both are bad for democracy.

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    • There’s a difference between ‘There is a plausible legal argument that Congress can technically do this’, vs. ‘Congress _should_ do this’. The first is just a constitutional law dispute, the second is a policy dispute…and it’s the policy dispute that is basically always racist.

      That said, their arguments are very very stupid. The main problem is that, they seem to rather base a lot on the idea of ‘consent’, in that the 14th amendment should apply only to those who consent to be governed, and it shouldn’t apply to people who break the law and come here anyway, just like it didn’t apply to Native Americans and diplomats.

      Except…the 14th amendment applies to _babies_. Literal babies. Not their parents.

      They’re basically pretending the 14th amendment says ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States, to parents subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

      It obviously does not say that. It says: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

      Babies cannot consent to be governed by following the law (And also they have broken no law at the time of their birth anyway.) No part of the 14th applies to the parents, and thus no part can implicitly be _congruent_ on the behavior of the parent.

      The reason it didn’t apply to the babies of diplomats is that _babies_ of diplomats have diplomatic immunity. The reason it doesn’t apply to the babies of Native Americans is, under US law at the time, those _babies_ would be tribal members and thus had a special place under US law.

      This entire premise is just blatantly idiotic. Literally no part of the 14th amendment talks about the parents, and thus it doesn’t matter what moronic theory they have about the _parents_ not being under US jurisdiction.

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      • So you think the Yale Law Professor who wrote a book on law and policy concerning birthright citizenship: (a) racist, (b) very, very stupid, (c) blatantly idiotic, or (d) all of the above?

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        • Obviously Yale Law Professors are incapable of believing anything racist or foolish, and I’m sure the same is true of Harvard and Princeton, but I’m not sure to what extent that also applies to the lesser Ivies.

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        • Firstly, I didn’t say that people advancing the argument was idiotic or stupid, I said the _argument_ was.

          And I believe they are arguing it because he’s in a wingnut welfare system that wants racist arguments. The _himself_ may not be racist, but there is a system out there that is willing to pay for law professors and other official sounding people to go on TV and tell racists that what they want to do is possible.

          I don’t know if they _actually_ believe it is true, or they think it’s something that might play in court despite them realizing it’s rather dumb, or if they honestly just want to get wingnut welfare.

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  3. At any rate, they find it weird that US citizenship is something that can essentially be bought for the children of wealthy tourists who may have no other connection to the country up until they are due to give birth. Their argument is that is weird, and I believe them to be earnest.

    A question: Do you believe that birthright citizenship is currently an issue because people calling for its elimination are concerned about “wealthy tourists who may have no other connection to the country up until they are due to give birth?”

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    • My problem with this sort of thing is that it seems to say “I don’t have to deal with that argument because I am dealing with a different argument.”

      But, sure, let’s say that the people who are opposed to Birthright Citizenship don’t care about wealthy Asian people coming here and giving birth but are, instead, concerned about, say, the caravan coming up here and having children that are automatically granted Citizenship.

      To what extent does a triumphant “they’re racist, then!” meaningfully address their argument?

      Worse, if they are reading the 14th Amendment and find a clause that they point to and say “a clear reading of this clause shows that the 14th does *NOT* apply to the people in the caravan!”, to what extent does “they’re racist, then!” perform the social heavy lifting that you’re hoping it will do?

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      • To what extent does a triumphant “they’re racist, then!” meaningfully address their argument?

        It doesn’t.

        To what degree does analyzing the effects of a policy and determining that said policies might be bad for the country and, perhaps even more importantly, go against the grain of who we want to be as a people, count as “a triumphant ‘they’re racist, then?'”

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        • go against the grain of who we want to be as a people

          I’m not entirely sure that I know who the “we” refers to in your sentence. Does it include the people opposed to Birthright Citizenship?

          As for the effects of the policy, are we allowed to see the backlash to the policy as one of the effects of it?

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            • I’m pretty sure that the fundamental problem is one of arguing who “we” consists of and who it doesn’t.

              If we’re down with excluding people who disagree with us, well, I’m pretty sure that we just have to get to haggling after that point.

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                • You specifically said “go against the grain of who we want to be as a people” and I wanted to know who “we” referred to.

                  You said that it referred to the people who agree with you.

                  I’m pointing out that there are definitions of “we” that include a lot more people than that (who, inconveniently, are eligible to vote because they have citizenship, granted by birthright or otherwise).

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        • “One of these days we’ll have to play a game where you pretend to respond to things I say rather than things you wish I’d said.”

          Well, you started the thread with:

          “Do you believe that birthright citizenship is currently an issue because people calling for its elimination are concerned about ‘wealthy tourists who may have no other connection to the country up until they are due to give birth?’ ”

          which, ah, seems like there’s an unspoken “OR ARE THEY JUST RACISTS ENABLED BY DONALD TRUMP” at the end there.

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      • When can you call a racist a racist?

        I think their argument is wrong. The United States is not the only country with birthright citizenship. There are around 33 countries with Birthright citizenship. Most of them are in the “New World.” So we recognize that we are a country where many (obviously there are Native Americans/First Nations residents of the New World) people came from elsewhere first.

        Most of my great-grandparents came here from Europe. My grandparents were born here and were Americans. I think this is true for many Americans. I don’t see how you can deny to others what your family set out to do. So I side with Stephen Miller’s uncle, not Stephen Miller.

        Fears about “anchor babies” or the “caravan” of a few thousand people are fears of being taken over and are a fever dream. Birthright citizenship is the highest American ideal. Vikram’s essay here sounds a bit too much Slatepitchy, “oohh let’s find some non-white people who think Birthright citizenship is odd.”

        There have been factions of white world fever dreaming about being “taken over” by people of color since the 19th century. Teddy Roosevelt was very concerned that white Americans were not having enough babies. There is Tom Buchanon’s rant in The Great Gatsby as a fictional example but very real thought at the time. This hasn’t happened.

        I don’t know what it means to address the concerns of people worried about the caravan. I think their “concerns” and invalid and wrong. Does a doctor need to perform biopsies everytime someone says “I read on WebMD and now I have cancer.”

        My problem with the address the concern remark is that it strongly implies you always have to coddle the right-wingers. Are they that fragile? Do they need a safe space? Or are you afraid that they will just get violent?

        We live in place where people can proudly wear t-shirts that have an outline of the United States and say “Fuck Off, we’re full” between the outline. Besides being disgusting and racist and vulgar, it is untrue. Montana is about the size of California in square mileage terms. California has around 38 million people. Montana has just over a million. We can handle a lot more people.

        But from what I’ve seen of xenophobes, they dislike the idea of living near people especially people different from them. They think it is a contamination. This is racist and wrong.

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        • When can you call a racist a racist?

          What’s your goal?

          If it’s social shaming, I’d make sure that the social shaming would be effective.

          The reddit, for example, had a nice little “TIL” yesterday:
          TIL In a 1945 interview with The New York Times, Alexander Fleming, who won a Nobel Prize that year for his discovery of pencillin, warned that misuse of the drug could result in selection for resistant bacteria. True to this prediction, resistance began to emerge within 10 years.

          Insofar as the term “racist” is an antibiotic, misuse of the term could result in selection for resistant racists. They might be less shamable.

          If your goal is other than that… what? Feeling morally superior or something?
          Well, sure. Knock yourself out.

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          • I see the claim is that you think calling a racist a racist will just get people to be immune and say “Fine, I’m a Nazi loving racist! Fuck you, Jewboy!”

            My issue issue is that I don’t think the anti-birthright or anti-immigrant folks are making arguments. Burt is right that it is a “reform looking for a problem.” Chip is right that it is a statement and based on fear.

            There are not logical, rational, or reasoned arguments that can be made to people wearing t-shirts that say “Fuck off, we’re full.” Or to people who hear what Steve King says and then vote to reelect him. They might not openly use the words white nationalist or racist but their actions show intent. We do this weird dance in American politics and punditry (professional and armchair divisions) where we assume everyone is always open and always acting in good-faith. I don’t think this is true.

            I’m not going to change the mind of anyone who decides to wear a t-shirt that says “fuck off, we’re full.” You can make it so expressing such a view does have a social cost. There isn’t a after-school special moment to be had hear.

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            • Oh, no. That’s not my argument at all.

              My argument is more like misuse of the term “racism” will get people to say “oh, the shepherd is yelling that there’s a wolf… again…”

              Are blonde dreadlocks racist? Is a white girl wearing a Moana Halloween costume racist? Is Arina Grande wearing a bindi as part of her outfit while singing during a concert racist?

              Is living in one of the most segregated school districts in the country racist?

              If you misuse the term, you will find that there is selection for racists that are resistant to the term.

              That is my argument.

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              • I don’t get how your follow-uo contradicts what I wrote.

                These things are messy and complicated and the problem of systematic racism is that you can end up committing a racist act despite lacking anything close to malicious intent or ill-will.

                Story time: One of my weird political cranks is that I am very anti-school uniform. A friend of mine who isn’t black once sent me a message saying “Hey, school uniforms are very important to the black community for reasons X, Y, and Z.” She didn’t call me a racist, I don’t know where she got her belief form but the basic message was that my view against school uniforms was problematic if black people find them really important and I should just be mindful and shut-up.

                There are always going to be people making silly arguments. We are imperfect humans. I think the blonde dreadlock thing is kind of silly but the school issue is complicated because systematic racism is tough nut to crack.

                But we aren’t talking about dreadlocks. We are talking about people who were t-shirts that can’t be interpreted anyway but vulgar xenophobic racism and the way I read your statement is that you think these people need to have their “concerns” assuaged like they are children going in to get their tonsils removed and are afraid of the concept of surgery. I disagree with that.

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                • We are talking about people who were t-shirts that can’t be interpreted anyway but vulgar xenophobic racism and the way I read your statement is that you think these people need to have their “concerns” assuaged like they are children going in to get their tonsils removed and are afraid of the concept of surgery. I disagree with that.

                  I’m not talking about the importance of assuaging “concerns” at all.

                  Here, let me try a different tack:

                  The story of the shepherd boy who cried wolf should not be interpreted as it being a story about how wolves aren’t bad. If someone mentions the story of the boy who cried wolf, arguments about how, seriously, wolves are bad then they might not be understanding the point of the story.

                  Same for when someone brings up antibiotic resistance. “Are you saying that we should do a better job listening to the concerns of bacteria?!?” would be a question that seems to be besides the point.

                  There are a lot of things going on with the so-called “illegal” immigration debate and birthright citizenship and immediate use of “racism” as a counter-argument cheapens accusations of racism.

                  Already we’re seeing signs of antibiotic resistance.

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                  • There are a lot of things going on with the so-called “illegal” immigration debate and birthright citizenship and immediate use of “racism” as a counter-argument cheapens accusations of racism.

                    Has it occurred to you that we (@saul-degraw, me, et c.) sincerely believe this is false, and that the vast majority of people engaged in anti-immigration activism are not being anything like honest about their motives and intentions?[1] And so to us it looks like you’re just saying, “Well, ignore the fangs and the howling and the fur!”

                    [1] Real wolves are just wolves, but metaphorical wolves are known for their ruses and disguises.

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                    • I’m not questioning your sincerity.

                      I think you’re wrong. I even think you’re making things worse.

                      But if I communicated that I think you’re insincere, let me apologize now.

                      I’m sorry that I communicated that I think you’re insincere. I did not intend to.

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                      • But if you don’t think we’re insincere, what’s the point of asking why we would call anti-immigration activists racist?

                        The answer is simple: we believe that it’s an accurate description.

                        If you think we’re wrong, maybe argue that instead?

                        Otherwise, to paraphrase someone from upthread, it seems like you’re saying you don’t have to deal with that argument because you’re dealing with a different argument.

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                        • I have no doubt that you believe that it’s an accurate description.

                          My argument is not about your beliefs but that misapplication of the term will result in the term not working, in the same way that misapplications of antibiotics will result in antibiotic resistance.

                          And, seriously, we (as a society) seem to be experiencing antibiotic resistance.

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                          • My argument is not about your beliefs but that misapplication of the term will result in the term not working, in the same way that misapplications of antibiotics will result in antibiotic resistance.

                            Rather begs the question of whether the term is misapplied, dunnit?

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                            • Well, I suppose the analogy could be made to the amount of antibiotic resistance found among people who apply antibiotics in accordance with the directions they get from medical professionals versus the antibiotic resistance found among people who use antibiotics all wily-nily.

                              Would you say that the resistance to the terms of “racist” and “racism” in America today are more like the resistance found in the former example or would you say that it’s more like the resistance found in the latter?

                              (I’d say it seems a lot more like the latter.)

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                          • Your argument is irrelevant to me if I don’t believe I’m misapplying the term.

                            And your anti-biotic resistance argument isn’t proof that the term is being misapplied either, even if it were true. Which is a pretty arguable assumption in and of itself.

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                            • Your argument is irrelevant to me if I don’t believe I’m misapplying the term.

                              Fair enough.

                              And your anti-biotic resistance argument isn’t proof that the term is being misapplied either, even if it were true. Which is a pretty arguable assumption in and of itself.

                              Fair enough.

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                              • I think there’s a disconnect in the use of the word misapplied.

                                Calling people that exhibit xenophobic behaviors racist is most likey not misapplying the word at all. I agree with Saul and others here

                                Calling people that exhibit xenophobic behaviors racist is probably bad politics. Like bigot, racist is such a loaded word that complete shuts the conversation, not just with the racists themselves (not that they are open to dialogue), but also with those that are racist-adjacent: people that fail to perceive the structural discrimination pattern that still exists in America.

                                A lot of bigot-adjacent people were able to understand the situation of LGBT people and changed their opinion accordingly. Faster that if we just had had shamed them calling them bigots.

                                If I understand Jaybird correctly, that’s the point he’s trying to make. If I didn’t, well, this IS my point.

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                                • Maybe he is trying to make that point. I see it like the guy who wrote the essay that said “Please don’t call my racist Trump-loving brother a racist.” The guy distributed all the behaviors of a Trump loving loon based on the essay but he wanted special pleading for his brother anyway.

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        • I’ve seen you make this Montana argument before, Saul, and I am really confused by it.

          Do you not care about the environment? How do you reconcile the liberal (I had thought this was a liberal belief, please correct me if I’m wrong, which I may be since i have it and I’m conservative) belief that we need to preserve as many open spaces as possible for wildlife if we decide instead we’re going to pack 30 million people into every state that isn’t already teeming over with them? I suspect you’re picturing cities with a high urban density, only in Montana. But the way most Western communities have evolved over time, you really do need a car to get around most of them. That’s gonna be a hell of a lot more cars on the road and/or a lot of very invasive urban planning to undo the way the car-friendly way that the city historically evolved. The existing inhabitants are going to fight that tooth and nail. Not because they’re racists and “afraid” but because it’s going to be very very expensive, will require a huge invocation of eminent domain, and would drastically alter the fundamental nature of their home.

          I don’t know much, but I know Montana, and Montanans ain’t gonna like that. Not even the liberal ones. It’s called Big Sky Country and those open spaces and wildlife matter to them even though maybe they don’t to you. You aren’t the benevolent dictator of the world, and you aren’t going to get to decide all those things. The voters of the state will and the voters of that state are not going to go for this plan, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

          Let’s say it happens, just the way you want it. Our Benevolent Dictator has thusly decreed it. So how will this plan of yours affect air pollution, water pollution – the NEED for water which is a very, very real concern here in the West? We’ll need more roads, more public transportation, more utilities, more schools, more food, more buildings, more cars, more gas stations, more urban sprawl. None of these things are beneficial to the environment in any way. And every one of our new Montanans will quickly adopt the American way of life. More, more, more consumption. More, more, more pollution.

          I don’t have a dog in the fight here, immigration is something I haven’t made up my mind on and see both sides so I’m not looking to pick a fight, I’m seriously asking. Is the solution that you are calling for really bringing in hundreds of millions of people, like, tomorrow, plunking them down in low-population states, saying screw nature, and then hoping against hope that somehow enough water falls from the sky for them to drink?

          Do you have any kind of practical plan to accomplish this? Do you not see any downsides here? Setting the environmental concerns aside, do you not see how it would require decades and a VERY SLOW influx of people to give us time to build the things we would need to safely house and care for them? Or are you just going to tell them “bring a jacket, cause Montana gets mighty cold in the winter?” Do you not see how even in the best case scenario where America opens her doors to everyone all at once, a free for all, that this would be a situation of horrific human suffering almost certainly worse what they’d just left. We’d have people dying in the streets from cold and hunger and thirst and illness because the infrastructure we need to care for them would not exist. There would be civil unrest, riots in the streets, it would be a freaking disaster.

          And what if they didn’t wanna live in Montana? Gonna force em?

          To enact your plan safely and successfully, we would still have to have some sort of immigration policy and some sort of quota…monthly, yearly, decade-ly…to be sure we would take in no more people in any given time period than we could handle just from sheer humanitarian reasons. Because we don’t want refugees to go from the frying pan to the fire and create a situation here in America that is worse than what they left.

          Thus an immigration policy would still be required. People would still have to be turned away or told to wait in line. If too many people come all at once, some will have to be turned away. If people come illegally, or commit crimes here, some will have to be deported. The Border Patrol will still exist, ICE will still exist. It’s just reality and every Democratic politician is well aware of it. It’s just that since Trump is such a monster, D’s have the moral high ground right now and they can pretend that such limits are not required and talk all this very pretty rhetoric none of which they mean because no one is holding them directly accountable for immigration policy right this very minute.

          This seems like one of those pie in the sky plans where someone says “what we need to do is get from Point A to Point Z!!” with absolutely no consideration of the practical concerns required just to get from Point A to Point B. And then when someone asks “What about Point Q” they get called a racist. Debate over, I guess. And no one ever has to answer the charge that mass immigration with no limitation is going to cause real live poor, immigrant people very very serious harm if we don’t drop the pretense that everyone who wants to come here should get to come here immediately without our having any kind of plan to care for them whatsoever.

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          • I do care about the environment but this isn’t a choose A or choose B.

            You can protect the environment and still advocate for more immigrants. Montana is just an example of a state that is big and largely empty. Montana is beautiful but it can easily hold two or three million people and still be beautiful. California is nice to look at too and has 38 million people.

            China has natural beauty and over 1 billion people.

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            • Also, those millions of people are going to wind up somewhere. It’s not like they won’t exist if they don’t come here, and won’t have an environmental impact if they don’t come to the US.

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          • I think you are way over reading what struck me as simply a snarky comment wrt the idea that America is somehow ‘full’ and there is no room for anyone else to come in.

            Yes, we do need to have policies and controls and plans to deal with immigration. However, those plans should include a recognition, based on a couple hundred years of historical data, that there will periodically be crises that will result in a larger number of immigrants and refugees coming here to seek safety and freedom. People who administer programs for churches and refugee aid societies can and do actually do this – and they always manage to do it with far fewer resources than are available to the US government.

            We’re one of the richest nations in the world. A nation of over 325 million people and 15-20k babies are born here every day. The idea that we can’t take in a few more without descending into chaos and despair and destruction is kind of absurd.

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        • Here’s my standard three map-like things of the US Great Plains. At 516,000 square miles, it’s a bit bigger than Spain. The population histogram in the middle illustrates how empty it is. The prism map on the right demonstrate the complete lack of cities of any size. “Why is it so empty?” is a reasonable question.

          About one-third of it is suitable for reliable farming if you have access to irrigation water. Another third of it is suitable for grazing. The other third isn’t suitable for either. It’s also subject to periodic droughts, flash floods, and monsoon hail storms that will flatten a crop in minutes. Transportation is hard — no coasts, no navigable rivers. Over much of it the climate sucks — the Black Hills in South Dakota will see temperature extremes of about -20 to +110 °F over the course of most years. Tl;dr version: it’s empty for the same reasons that the interiors of all of the wide continents are empty. You’re not going to drop, say, 30M people down in any of those places and be successful.

          If I remember the statistics correctly, >90% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of a seacoast, a navigable river connected to the ocean, or a very large inland body of water.

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        • Agree with the bulk of that, although I think we need a different word than “racist”, we’ve done this to white immigrants and “racist” just feels like the wrong word to describe why the Polish/Irish etc were feared.

          But I’ll add this is one of our crazy-over-the-top killer advantages for assimilation. The American culture is the best in the world at turning immigrants (and especially their kids) into productive citizens.

          Your (grand)parents worries are not your own, go make money.

          There are countries which struggle to assimilate the children or many-times grand children of immigrants; Making them not citizens is a great way to go down that path.

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      • To what extent does a triumphant “they’re racist, then!” meaningfully address their argument?

        Because we need to determine what is the argument.

        A caravan of people are coming whose children will automatically become citizens!” is not an argument, its a statement.

        That this, and the “wealthy Chinese anchor babies” are being presented as self-evident arguments is bizarre and practically begs us to imagine reasons why.

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        • Because we need to determine what is the argument.

          I agree! We should totally figure out the argument!

          That this, and the “wealthy Chinese anchor babies” are being presented as self-evident arguments is bizarre and practically begs us to imagine reasons why.

          So we can deal with our imagined reasons rather than the argument?

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            • Okay, I’ll try to cobble something together.

              Ahem.

              The first sentence of the text of the 14th Amendment states:
              All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

              The clause that says “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was specifically intended to prevent such things as sneaking across the border, having a child, and then yelling that the child was an American citizen.

              The author of the Amendment, Jacob M. Howard, said the following:

              This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.

              (It’s in the big block of text from Mr. HOWARD in the bottom part of the middle column there, under the “reconstruction” heading, if you want to read those words for yourself.)

              As such, a plain-text reading of the 14th Amendment supports birth-right citizenship for people that the Government specifically acknowledges as being under its own jurisdiction rather than under the jurisdiction of another country.

              Heck, even the Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark does not deal with people who sneak across the border but legal immigrants who have permanent residences and who are not doing business as employees of the Chinese government.

              There. That’s the best I could throw together on short notice.

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                  • This thread exemplifies why that is absurd.

                    We don’t know if a problem exists, or what it could be, but lets argue vociferously for my preferred solution!

                    After over a hundred comments, no one has actually suggested what the problem might be.

                    We’ve heard weak fantasies about Euro-Nazis voting by mail, or Manchurian anchor babies implanted here to swing the 2036 elections, but nothing serious.

                    We’ve heard the issue of labor competition, but that has nothing to do with native born children.

                    So no one can actually put their finger on why birthright citizenship should be an issue, but plenty of arguing over what should be done about it.

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                    • So we’ve gone from talking about whether there’s an argument to whether there’s a problem?

                      Okay.

                      It seems obvious that there’s a problem. I’d argue that if Democrats ran on Birthright Citizenship, they’d lose.

                      That indicates a problem. Indeed, one that is larger than can be fixed by crossing your eyes, pointing your finger, and screaming “RACIST!” in as high a register as you can muster.

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              • The clause that says “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was specifically intended to prevent such things as sneaking across the border, having a child, and then yelling that the child was an American citizen.

                Why do so many people seem to think ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ has anything to do with the parents? It _explicitly_ is referring to the people who were just born! There’s an ‘and’ and everything!

                It’s the _people who are born_ who have to be subject to US jurisdiction, not their parents. Their parents are literally not mentioned in the 14th.

                The argument that ‘People who are in the country illegally are not ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ and thus aren’t automatically citizens at birth’ might be some interesting _hypothetical_ statement, but it is, let’s be clear, literally impossible, as people cannot violate immigration law before being born.

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                  • Why do you think his quoted sentence disproves my point?

                    Is it because of the ‘foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States’ part?

                    But…there’s no ‘or’ in that. That’s probably a _clarification_, not list of different things: ‘foreigners, by which I mean aliens, by which I mean people who belong to the families of…’

                    And I point out his statement has _nothing_ about the legal status of these ‘foreigners’ or ‘aliens’. If you want to use that sentence as the authority, it means birthright citizenship shouldn’t apply to…any aliens at all, which makes very little sense, and isn’t how the court has treated it.

                    But the thing is, the discussion goes on to literally address the point we’re talking about. This specific point, on the very next page. The next speaker, a ‘Mr Cowan’ doesn’t want citizenship for ‘gypsies’, and he hypothesized them to be here illegally, _and he explicitly claims they operate outside the law and owe no loyalty to the US_. He seems to believe that the 14th amendment would make them (Because it would be retroactive) and their children citizens. And so does everyone else.

                    Seriously, people who think this quote is a good argument need to start at that link above and look at the last speaker on that page, and read his speech to the next page. And wherever they see the word ‘gypsy’ or ‘zingara’ (Apparently that’s a female gypsy?), read ‘illegal immigrant’, because that’s basically the claim: ‘They’re here illegally, and they don’t follow US law’.

                    It’s super-racist, but worth reading, mostly because of the response. There is a total lack of people responding with ‘No, no, those people are here illegally and don’t operate under US law, so they wouldn’t be covered under ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’. In fact, everyone seems to say ‘Yeah, they’d get citizenship also…which is probably fine’.

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                    • Why do you think his quoted sentence disproves my point?

                      Because it goes in direct contravention to what you’re arguing?

                      Please understand, I’m not arguing that there is only one argument here.

                      I’m arguing that there are two arguments here.

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                      • Oh, I get you’re playing devil’s advocate. I was just playing along, because I’m honestly baffled at how people think that sentence should be parsed or what it should mean, and hoped you knew.

                        I mean, that’s a really silly quote to try to hang things on. That sentence literally doesn’t say anything about people being in the country legally or not. It just said ‘aliens’ and ‘foreigners’. So under the interpretation that’s a list, instead of just a clarification, it would mean that _no_ aliens or foreigners would get birthright citizenship.

                        Which is…crazy town, and in fact that discussion itself obviously disagrees with it two pages later when it assumes says the children of Chinese migrants _will_ be citizens under this:

                        ‘We are entirely ready to accept the provision propose in this constitutional amendment, that the children born here of Mongolian parents shall be declared by the Constitution of the United States to be entitled to civil rights and to equal protection before the law with others.’

                        https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llcg&fileName=073/llcg073.db&recNum=13

                        No one in the room goes ‘Hey, wait, I thought we were excluding aliens and foreigners from this! Isn’t this just about black people?!’

                        Indeed, the next person to speak is…Mr. Howard, the author of all this…and he’s speaking to make a technical correction to as to pluralization of ‘States’ instead of saying ‘Nonsense! The amendment wouldn’t make _them_ citizens!’

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                        • As someone who has used sputtering incredulity in defense of a broad reading of the 2nd Amendment, lemme tell ya that you might be relying a hair too heavily on yelling “LOOK AT THE TEXT! IT DOESN’T SAY WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IT SAYS!” and expecting it to hold sway.

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                          • Someone playing Devil’s Advocate should be engaging points, not deflecting and changing the subject.

                            Those are the actions of someone just looking to stir up an argument, not engage in one.

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                              • You did it again, I note. Deflecting, instead of engaging.

                                For someone whose whole schtick is some pseudo-Socratic “debate” in which you see yourself as the wise professor, you rarely actually engage anyone’s points.

                                You just change stances, arguments, or otherwise deflect. Like you just did. Again.

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                                • I addressed his argument.

                                  We no longer live in a world where you can point to text and say “it says what it says”.

                                  We live in a world where you point to a clause and say “what this *REALLY* means is…” and then you make something up.

                                  I suppose if wrestling with that is too difficult, you can always talk about the other person personally.

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                                  • Was there ever a time where we just said “it says what it says”? It seems like there have been differing understandings of what the Big C says since the ink was dry. There have always been disagreements on what the authors meant or what this or that meant even by the people who wrote the darn thing.

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                                      • Actually Morat has a point, that after all these comments, I can’t even tell what it is that you are arguing for, or against.

                                        I can’t tell if you are supportive of birthright citizenship, opposed to it, or supportive of those who oppose it, or opposed to those who support those who oppose those who support it, but for entirely orthogonal reasons…

                                        But maybe this is some Straussian reading, where the real point of this entire essay and thread is to demonstrate that there really is no earnest argument against birthright citizenship, because no one really wants to lay out a clear position directly, but instead prefer to zoom off into the arcana of postmodern textual analysis or meta-analysis of culture or any other possible tangent.

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                                        • I can’t tell if you are supportive of birthright citizenship, opposed to it, or supportive of those who oppose it, or opposed to those who support those who oppose those who support it, but for entirely orthogonal reasons.

                                          To what extent should figuring out the motives of the people making arguments be important?

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                                              • Why is it always the Leftwards who are expected to earn Roghtward trust instead of the other way around?

                                                And before you say that there are no Rightwards here that would give us cause to doubt, George Turner just got another of apparently infinite second chances.

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                                                      • Why aren’t they indefinite now?

                                                        And has it occurred to you that I might have fewer complaints about the other Rightwards on this site (who mostly aren’t so bad) if I weren’t constantly watching them jump on Chip, Saul, me, &c. over everything while remaining silent while the likes of Turner constantly go right up to (and occasionally cross) the line of white nationalism?

                                                        I wouldn’t be making those observations if there weren’t people constantly doing that linestepping.

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                                                        • You’ll have to talk to the main editors about that, pillsy.

                                                          But I’m sure that you’ll have the ideologically homogenous community you’re looking for someday. You just have to find a place willing to protect its borders and exile anybody who doesn’t meet some basic standards.

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                                                          • You’ll have to talk to the main editors about that, pillsy.

                                                            The main editors have been frustratingly uncommunicative about this.

                                                            I’m sure that you’ll have the ideologically homogenous community you’re looking for someday.

                                                            I can deal with either an ideologically homogenous or inhomogenous community. But I’m not going to pretend that I’m in a homogenous community when I’m not.

                                                            Of course, the vast majority of problems with this place boil down to the constant low-key assumption that left-leaning posters pretend to believe things that manifestly aren’t so.

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                                          • It’s less the motives then trying to figure out one of life’s minor eternal mysteries: what you are actually arguing for. What proposition do you think is best and why? What should be done in simple declarative statements?

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                                            • What proposition do I think is best?

                                              I think that immigration law needs to be revamped entirely.

                                              I think that immigration is an alloyed good but there needs to be an official effort to move immigrants to an assimilation into American Culture (which would include, among other things, an expectation of functional English literacy).

                                              I think that Birthright Citizenship is a bit of a red-herring but there have been, what? Three? caravans from Central/South America that have been fairly explicitly about crossing the border dreamingly and that’s a problem that results in people yelling stuff like “we should have open borders” right next to people who argue “nobody is arguing that we should have open borders!”

                                              And that sort of thing is going to heighten contradictions. And not in the good way.

                                              And arguing for plain text readings of the Constitution when it suits the purposes of the speaker and arguing for obscurantism when it suits the purposes of the speaker and not having any coherent ruleset for jumping back and forth between the two is a recipe for extra-judicial readings of the Constitution.

                                              And all this will lead to either divorce or war and things are getting worse.

                                              What should be done? A compromise that is not immediately used as a starting point for negotiating on a new compromise 10 minutes later.

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                                              • Something near 100% of people think immigration polices need to be revamped so that is start.

                                                I’m fine with all sorts of english classes, and even basic literacy, but the gov should not be pushing assimilation. That is the bad kind of big gov. Immigrants naturally assimilate over time. BC is the biggest red herring of all. The people most passionate about ending it are anti-immigration. Very few people seem to truly think that though.

                                                Have we even been hearing about the latest caravan invasion? It got dropped right after the election by the RW press and Prez who were pushing it. I suppose it’s still a couple months away from the border though we do have a few thousand troops on a a really crappy camping trip.

                                                The way to a workable compromise is to try to deal with the all immigration issues we have. That was tried in 2013 with the anti -immigration hardliners being the stumbling block. They are the intransigent group that is preventing starting to work on the various issues.

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                                                • the gov should not be pushing assimilation

                                                  Is homophobia okay? Transphobia? Telling spouses that they cannot leave the home without wearing hijab?

                                                  If you think “wait, no, we should tell them that now that they are here, they have to accept gay couples”, then you’re down with wanting them to assimilate.

                                                  Unless you’re okay with homophobes.

                                                  Are you okay with homophobia, Greg?

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                                                    • I always wonder about whataboutism.

                                                      Is my takeaway that I shouldn’t care about these things or that I should? Are you arguing that you are okay with immigrants that agree with the Vice President? Or, for that matter, the President?

                                                      If you want more immigration, I think that there are ways to get more immigration. One is with the acknowledgement that assimilation *IS* expected.

                                                      The proposition that assimilation isn’t important strikes me as being easily proven false by putting different cultural attitudes into question.

                                                      We want immigrants to assimilate. We only get huffy when immigration opponents put emphasis on dumb stuff that they think should be changing rather than important stuff that everybody knows right people think.

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                                                      • I’m arguing that “not transphobic” and “not homophobic” are incredibly terrible metrics for “assimilation”, especially if you’re arguing that the people most resistant to immigration are motivated by a fear that immigrants won’t assimilate… which is easily demonstrated because immigrants allegedly hold views shared by the people anti-immigration activists elevated to high federal office to “protect” them from immigrants.

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                                              • You assert that groups of asylum-seeking immigrants is “a problem”.

                                                Yet from what I can tell, the only support for such an assertion is “because it freaks out a small minority of people”.

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                  • “They might be using some of the stated intentions of the guy who wrote the amendment?”

                    Jaybird, you were here for the Gruber arguments, you should know darn well that authorial intent is meaningless when it comes to legislation.

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              • What about foreigns, aliens who do *not* belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States? They lack diplomatic immunity and thus *are* subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

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      • My problem with this sort of thing is that it seems to say “I don’t have to deal with that argument because I am dealing with a different argument.”

        The thing is, wealthy tourists buying American citizenship for their kids is never going to be more than a marginal problem. Let us agree that a person could, in non-racist good faith, be very concerned about this. What to do about it? If the answer turns out to be a solution that disproportionately harms a bunch of non-white people who aren’t part of the problem being addressed, then you have pragmatic racism. “I’m not racist, but I advocate racist things for non-racist reasons” is not a winning argument. It is not possible to look into a person’s heart, but once actual proposals are on the table, a person’s heart doesn’t really matter.

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        • So, “the problem you’re bringing up is happening and is, technically, a problem but any cure would be so much worse than the disease that we should ignore it.”

          Is that a fair restatement?

          And, from there, “the thing that is happening at a much larger scale should be discussed instead”?

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          • Fair enough, with the addendum that given the US’s history of racism, advocating a pragmatically racist policy for non-racist reasons is unlikely to bring you much benefit of doubt. This is especially true in today’s climate, where there is a wide consensus that calling someone a racist is about the worst thing you can do, without there being a similarly wide consensus against against advocating and implementing racism. The former has been weaponized by racists, who affect great indignation at having their policies accurately characterized and any conclusions being inferred.

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    • Tod Kelly: Do you believe that birthright citizenship is currently an issue because people calling for its elimination are concerned about “wealthy tourists who may have no other connection to the country up until they are due to give birth?”

      Lol. No.

      I think the vast majority of people who oppose birthright citizenship probably oppose it on racial grounds. I merely don’t think, however, that that applies to everyone who might oppose birthright citizenship. Further, I think if some of these opponents were better informed of the history, they might change their tunes and realize how complicated it becomes to deny birthright citizenship.

      Let me also address a question that might be behind your question. I don’t think these people are using rich tourists as a way to beat up on illegal immigrants. They probably *do* think citizenship should be awarded to children of illegal immigrants whose parents have been living and working in the US for an appreciable amount of time.

      As you know, I’m kind of from an odd demo. Most of the people I know aren’t really affected by illegal immigration one way or another. For them, the “birth tourism” business is a vivid issue that they actually think about and things like the border wall are the red herrings they don’t really pay any attention to.

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  4. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the folks Vikram have spoken with who find services that allow women to come and give birth to children and immediately fly back home as generally bad and a downside to birthright citizenship.

    While they are sincere, I also believe they’re highly atypical of birthright citizenship opponents and in premising their opposition to birthright citizenship on this practice are throwing the baby out with the bath water. It would make more policy sense to identify such services and launch investigations into fraud.

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    • Thanks, Chad. I want to mention repeat here what I mentioned to Tod in a comment above:

      I don’t think these people are using rich tourists as a way to beat up on illegal immigrants. They probably *do* think citizenship should be awarded to children of illegal immigrants whose parents have been living and working in the US for an appreciable amount of time.

      As you know, I’m kind of from an odd demo. Most of the people I know aren’t really affected by illegal immigration one way or another. For them, the “birth tourism” business is a vivid issue that they actually think about and things like the border wall are the red herrings they don’t really pay any attention to.

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  5. There’s nothing sacred about birthright citizenship; it’s just the current rule, encoded into the Constitution and, thus, beyond the reach of Congress or the President. Even though one could legitimately argue for a different system, what are the current facts? Is the actual state of birthright citizenship a big enough deal to gin up the amendment process? Who wants it changed that badly? And why? The likelihood that this is motivated by actual knowledge about some genuine problem seems to me slim.

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  6. I think the OP’s headline question ought to be addressed this way:

    Is birthright citizenship somehow a problem for the United States, and if so what harm are we suffering because we have it?

    Maybe I’m cooped up in an ivory tower of white middle-class overeducated-liberal privilege here, but I fail to see any harm whatsoever. And maybe someone with an earnest argument can drag me out of my ivory tower into the gritty real world and morally demand that I participate in problem-solving with them. Or maybe that someone’s argument will be exposed as less than earnest which is where my ab initio expectation lies.

    For now, I can think of two things that might be answers. The first is an abstracted moral indignation that some people are “jumping the line” of the regular legal naturalization process. Which may well be a problem from a respect-for-the-law basis, but the underlying issue there is not birthright citizenship, it is a massively convoluted, slow, and burdensome naturalization process. The second is what I think a bit of testing will reveal other answers (see @george-turner’s questionable comment above) that boil down to “the wrong sorts of people are becoming citizens,” which I hope we can agree is not an earnest argument.

    Provisionally, I’m calling “repealing birthright citizenship” a reform in search of a problem.

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    • I’ll try, I expect to be attacked for this but please don’t LOL.

      I’m just trying to explain for the ivory tower folk what many people who tend to oppose open borders believe. (may not be true, I’m not saying it is, but this is what people who you don’t ever meet in your ivory tower are actually concerned about when it comes to immigration.)

      The perception is, that immigrants who “shouldn’t” be here, who the government hasn’t accounted for in their quota of people we need/can absorb (be they illegal or birthright) are growing up and competing directly for jobs with natural-born citizens of all races and that this is contributing to keeping wages and benefits artificially low. Additionally, this pressure is making a lot of workers mostly in the lower middle class – blue collar and service workers, but also in the tech industry from what I have read https://www.denverpost.com/2016/04/29/working-it-out-do-tech-businesses-see-workers-as-disposable-assets/ – more disposable than they “should” be. Because there’s a constant influx of people who will do the same work for lower pay, worse/no benefits, and don’t care about being treated as plug and play, replaceable worker bees rather than valued employees worthy of respect and job security.

      You guys don’t see this, I don’t think, most of you. Because you are in something of an ivory tower. I doubt Burt really has to worry too awfully much about someone coming along and taking his job if his car didn’t start one day or his kid is sick and he misses a day of work. But others do. Millions of people miss a day of work and lose their job they’ve had for years. Their employers see them as replaceable cogs no matter how long they’ve been there.

      The widespread belief is that the constant influx of low wage, willing-to-be-abused workers is giving employers far too much power. They don’t have to give their employees any measure of job security or fair treatment any more, because there’s always someone else waiting in the wings to take the job. They also don’t have to ever give raises or promotions either – at least not in the long term. Once a long time employee starts to get too expensive, they just lay them off and replace them with someone cheaper. And there’s always someone cheaper.

      BTW this affects African American, Hispanic, and Native workers disproportionately because they’re the most vulnerable in the workplace. The Democrats are hanging onto their votes for now because the Republicans are disgusting but based on comments from people I know, I suspect that if the Dems keep hanging their hats on open immigration, some minority voters will start to jump ship.

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      • I’m not in an ivory tower, myself. I think some people do think the things you point out, and I think they’re wrong. Blue collar jobs disappeared for reasons other than immigration; foreigners are working those jobs in foreign countries.

        They don’t have to give their employees any measure of job security or fair treatment any more, because there’s always someone else waiting in the wings to take the job. They also don’t have to ever give raises or promotions either – at least not in the long term. Once a long time employee starts to get too expensive, they just lay them off and replace them with someone cheaper. And there’s always someone cheaper.

        There’s an irony here: whenever people argue for better job security, fair treatment, better pay they get called communists/socialists/union thugs/lazy/entitled/millennials and are then accused of trying to destroy our country. I’ll give you one guess about which party slings such accusations.

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      • Oh, that’s not risible at all. I think it’s a plausible, sober, good-faith explanation for anxiety about immigration resulting in competition for jobs.

        It suggests to me that resolving that anxiety necessarily must incorporate improving the way employers treat their employees and, at the same time, getting employees to perceive that their employers will treat them fairly. But that is a long way away given current culture and current labor law enforcement mechanism. And that sort of thing may well be an utopian pipe dream.

        So that’s a claim I take, at face value, as a good-faith expression of a good-faith problem and deserves to take absolutely zero flak for articulating it. The problem this concern is relevant to is that of the immigrant who comes here without legal documentation and undercuts the wages that otherwise would prevail in the market for a citizen’s labor, at least within certain sectors of the labor market.

        I don’t see how it’s relevant to birthright citizenship, though. The immigrant who comes here and immediately starts competing in the labor market is driven by a desire for immediate money in exchange for labor. That immigrant’s calculation that any children he or she has while here will become U.S. citizens seems quite obviously secondary at best to the calculation that the money to be made working here outweigh that considerable risk, trouble, and expense of getting here in the first place.

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        • It suggests to me that resolving that anxiety necessarily must incorporate improving the way employers treat their employees and, at the same time, getting employees to perceive that their employers will treat them fairly.

          And, contrariwise, keeping the xenophobic fires burning, so that the threat of dusky-skinned job-stealing hordes at the gates remains a potent bogeyman to invoke in times of electoral need, requires preventing those same workplace improvements.

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        • Not regarding atomickristin but here is where the issue of good-faith or not comes in and the answer is often not.

          Immigration opponent: “Immigrants take our jobs, lower our wages, and are a drain on public resources.”

          immigration advocate: Here are studies X, Y, and Z stating that immigrants do not lower wages, do not take our jobs, and are not a drain on public resources.

          immigration opponent: La la la I can’t hear you…

          When do we get to call out a bad faith actor and/or argument?

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      • I understand the political value of being aware of what s**t people believe so we can deal with it. Most of the time, however, we already are aware of it, and can’t figure out how to deal with it. In the absence of some practical suggestions along that line, I do get tired of arguments based on what “the perception is” or what “[t]he widespread belief is” instead of what’s so.

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  7. There is an industry that helps women late in their pregnancies fly to the United States, give birth in a US hospital, and then fly back to their home countries. Their children are full US citizens, but they don’t experience the country in any meaningful way.

    I’ve spoken with a good number of first-generation immigrants who have lived in the country for decades and have their own children in the United States now. They are not fans of birthright citizenship being awarded to such children. When I pressed a bit further, they said something like the women should have to spend some longer amount of time in the United States.

    To be clear, is these folks objection to birthright citizenship only in the context of birth tourism, or whatever the term for this is? I ask because I imagine this is a fairly small portion of birthright citizenships relative to undocumented immigrants who are actually looking to move to the USA. If the tourism is their only objection, it seems like ditching birthright citizenship is kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    I have a friend who immigrated to the US as a child (she’s now early middle-aged). She generally favors harsher immigration restrictions on the grounds that she had to work hard to get here and its not fair to cut the line etc. And I find her sentiments very sympathetic, I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we worked hard for something (or our parents did, in her case) and then saw someone else break the rules and get that same thing without going through what we did. But, frankly, that’s a dumb justification for making or refusing to change policy. If the rules are overly burdensome, unjust, or achieve bad outcomes, then the fact that we’ve applied them previously is no reason to retain them. Now, one can absolutely dispute the “if” portion of that statement, but if one believes, as I do, that it is true, then the fairness argument doesn’t really move the needle.

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  8. There is an industry that helps women late in their pregnancies fly to the United States, give birth in a US hospital, and then fly back to their home countries.

    Ok, that is cheezy as hell. Let’s just provide that up front. But before you want to amend the US Constitution, let’s ask ourselves how big a problem this is.

    How many people per year do this? How many babies result? What happens to those particular US Citizens? Do they move here? Or do they just get an easier time at the border when they are adults? And if they move here, what kind of citizens are they? Do they have jobs? Are they independently wealthy?

    I think the principle that “all men are created equal” (expanded to apply to all people, of course) is so important it’s worth tolerating a little skeeviness. Of course, to hear the Trumpists talk, it’s ruining America.

    Show me.

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    • From what I understand, there are prestigious Chinese schools that give slight weight preference to foreigners. A child born in America would be an American Citizen and thus a foreigner and thus get a small bump when trying to get into the prestigious school back in China.

      Is this a problem for the US? I’m pretty sure it’s not.

      I mean, apart from the obvious gaming of the system and the fallout from people pointing to it and saying “look, they’re gaming the system.”

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      • One of the problems is that such babies, upon turning 18, get to vote in the state and district where their parent’s last resided in the US, and they get to vote in that district for the rest of their lives, even if they declare that they have no intention of ever living in the US (which is a change in US law). So some right-wing billionaire could fly nationalist Poles, Hungarians, and various other Eastern Europeans to the States to have babies, and 18 years later we could have millions of extra white nationalist voters who’ve never lived here, and those voters could be in key battleground states.

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        • That doesn’t sound correct to me. All voting has a residency requirement. I’m pretty sure when you register to vote you can’t use an address you don’t currently live at, just because your parents lived at it once years ago.

          I.e., I’m not sure that US citizens who haven’t lived in the US since before they turned 18 actually _can_ vote. They have a conceptual right to do so, but to actually practice that right, they have to register somewhere, and to register somewhere they’d have to live there at that time!

          This is solvable, of course…fly them over at 18 and stuff them in some house for a month or so, long enough to establish residency, register them, and then fly them back. But…that’s getting a bit silly.

          Also, let’s not forget…this become expensive because US citizens have to pay US income tax. Granted, if they don’t ever come back to the US, there’s not much the IRS can do about that…

          Really, if this starts happening, the solution is probably ‘Tighten residency requirements’, not anything to do with citizenship.

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          • AmericansAbroad.org/how-to-vote

            US citizens resident abroad are eligible to vote in all Presidential and Congressional elections. (If you were born abroad to a US citizen parent, and never lived in the US, you may be entitled to vote in the state in which your American parent last lived. Check with the election authorities in that state to determine your status.) It does not matter how long you have been living abroad, whether you ever intend to return to the US, whether you have voted before, or whether you maintain a residence in the US. However, in order to vote you have to be registered. To register to vote you need to use the last residential address where you lived in the United States. This is NOT where you will receive your absentee ballot however this is the address you need to register as a US voter because it determines your voting district. Many states require you to be registered at least a month before election day.

            Further down it details how this came to be (how the sausage got made) and says:

            Under the Uniformed and Overseas Americans Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), Americans living abroad can vote in federal elections via their state of last residence with no time or “intent” limitations.

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        • Yeah, I think you are pointing to a different problem, which is residency fraud. I’m fine with prosecuting people who claim to live somewhere in order to vote, but don’t actually live there. I don’t think that all of them are Chinese or birthright babies, though.

          And, I would ask, how big of a problem is this? How many people would it take to tip the vote, and how many of these “tourist baby voters” are there? In one district, in one state, in the country? How many votes would be swayed, assuming they all voted the same way?

          I’m not saying we shouldn’t investigate. I’m saying we should allocate resources in accordance with how big of an impact it’s going to make.

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  9. George, going forward, don’t mention anything anything with relation to Nazis. Your comments involving them have a tendency to skirt the border in ways we’re not going to litigate the acceptability of.

    So no more Nazis for you, no matter how academic you think the reference might be.

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  10. My sister is a birthright citizen. My family immigrated here, and she was born prior to my parents being naturalized. I would bet that the vast majority of birthright citizens are born to families making the US their permanent home. I know that some nations have an ethnic definition of citizenship; when I read Pachinko I was shocked to find that fifth generation Koreans in Japan were not citizens. If the US used ethnic definitions, who would get in? A nation of Mayflower descendants as full citizens with the rest as second class residents like Koreans in Japan seems like a bad idea to me.
    On birth tourism: can anyone enumerate any bad thing that these scions of rich Asian families have done? Rich Asians of my acquaintance have been really good citizens, family oriented, law abiding, hard working, entrepreneurs with great cuisine.

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  11. I’ve spoken with a good number of first-generation immigrants who have lived in the country for decades and have their own children in the United States now. They are not fans of birthright citizenship being awarded to such children.

    I’m not sure how being recently naturalized makes these folks opposition to the practice more earnest than others. Seems like the specific gripe is the same in both cases, no?

    Maybe what you mean is that recently-immigrated folks opposition to air-drop citizenship isn’t motivated by racism because they’re recently immigrated ethnic minorities? Doesn’t that beg the question, tho?

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  12. I can understand someone who went through the burdensome modern process of naturalization being opposed to “line jumpers.” However, I always marvel at those who get all sanctimonious about (primarily) illegal immigrants from south of the US with the line, “they’re breaking the law.” Because if someone’s ancestors came here many years ago, the process was much easier–the “law” was easier to obey. In fact, if a person has ancestors who have been here long enough, there may have been no naturalization process (I think–was there a process in the late 18th, early 19th centuries?). So the claim “my ancestors came here illegally” seems to lack some perspective. And while there may be reasons to worry about illegal immigration, we should probably have a bit more sympathy for those coming here in the same manner many of our ancestors did. We should probably not be so angry about it (unless we’re Native Americans). And we probably shouldn’t be locking up children for fuck’s sake.

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  13. So there’s this thing about how certain moral objections are stronger among those who are politically liberal and others among those who are politically conservative.

    Among the conservative folks, “unfairness” defined as someone getting something they didn’t earn even if it doesn’t cost anyone else anything, is apparently a more objectionable thing (never mind the extent to which this is consistent with typical conservative policy positions, this is just about knee jerk moral feelings).

    Let’s say you’re considering a subway system where some tiny percentage of passengers don’t pay their fare. There’s always enough room in the trains, so the fare jumpers aren’t preventing paying passengers from riding. And it doesn’t cost any more to run a train with one more passenger, so they’re not costing the system anything – they’re just not contributing fares.

    A pure economic utilitarian will look at the cost of fare enforcement, and the likely outcomes – how many fare jumpers are there; at a given level of enforcement effort and cost
    – how many former fare jumpers will pay (because they were not paying out of risk calculus and selfishness)
    – how many will continue fare jumping (because you haven’t overcome their risk tolerance yet)
    – how many will simply switch to walking instead (because they never had the money for train fare at all) (maybe including some measure of the social cost of hindering the destitute from reaching useful social services)
    – how many paying passengers will be annoyed by the extra enforcement and stop riding
    …and find the enforcement to be worthwhile or a waste of money, and proceed accordingly.

    But a “fairness” purist will see things differently – they’d rather spend more money on enforcement than they recover in fares, if it means they don’t have to sit stewing in unfocused resentment, trying to gauge whether each of the people on the train with them today is a no-good rotten fare jumper. If there’s no way of making it affordable to operate the subway and ensure only people who paid ride the train, they’d rather shut the whole thing down and just not have functional transit in their city, lest someone ride it for free.

    This is cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    When wealthy people fly to the US, pay out of pocket to give birth to babies who will be US citizens, and fly home – what does it cost Americans? They don’t get taxpayer funded medical care, their children will grow up wealthy and educated enough that should they later move here they will be overwhelmingly likely to contribute more in taxes than they consume in social services. But they didn’t earn their citizenship in some vague ill-defined way.

    So, rather than accept that a definitely useful program that benefits many thousands of people, including some vanishingly tiny percentage who take advantage of it in a way arguably definable as “abusive” – they’d rather throw the whole thing in the garbage.

    It is possible that some of the people who feel this way, feel so without regard to the race of the people they think are “abusing” the program. It’s still a dumb argument, even if it’s not a racist one.

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    • In Canada there is similarly a tempest-in-a-teapot of outrage about “birth tourism”, which is basically a dogwhistle for racism against Chinese people in Vancouver, tied to the perception that Chinese people in particular are driving up the cost of housing by buying expensive condos as investment properties but not actually renting them out.

      Never mind that any Chinese person you see in Vancouver is almost by definition not one of the problematic absentee condo-owners, since they’re actually present in Vancouver to be seen.

      Never mind that the actual number of “tourist” births in Canada is so vanishingly tiny it’s not even a rounding error on a rounding error.

      It’s the principle of the thing dammit. And of course that’s a bulletproof argument against accusations of racism, because no position is too stupid to be about the principle of the thing.

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    • And what if Americans started going to the Carribean and Central America to have anchor babies? We would quickly have more voters in those countries than the natives. With 330 million people, we could easily take over the entire region – and Mexico, vote in whoever we want, and then just annex them regardless of the opinion of the actual natives of those countries.

      And by the arguments being presented, it would be racist to oppose such actions on our part.

      Some common sense restrictions might be in order, and are common elsewhere.

      In Australia, birthright citizenship is limited to those who have one parent who is an Australian citizen or legal permanent resident, or who lived their first ten years there.

      The Dominican Republic excludes children born to people who are in transit, or who are there illegally.

      In Germany, one parent must be a resident for eight years prior to the birth.

      For the UK, a parent has to be a legally settled there, or a citizen, by the child’s 10th birthday.

      Unrestricted birthright citizenship no longer exists anywhere in the EU, with Ireland having been the last holdout. Ireland changed its law in 2005 when a Chinese person went there from the UK to have a baby, and then used the baby to claim UK permanent residency as parents of a “dependent EU citizen.”

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      • And what if Americans started going to the Carribean [sic] and Central America to have anchor babies? We would quickly have more voters in those countries than the natives. With 330 million people, we could easily take over the entire region – and Mexico, vote in whoever we want, and then just annex them regardless of the opinion of the actual natives of those countries.

        This bogeyman assumes that “anchor babies” would be somehow subject to control over overwhelming influence that would get them, 18-21 years after their birth as part of a massive but somehow sub rosa plot to infiltrate and overwhelm the local electorate, to then vote for annexation by some other nation. We are then supposed to project such a plot back to the United States as the recipient and not the perpetrator of this sort of generationally-long reverse-imperialistic plot.

        But the fact of the matter is, the citizen children of immigrants from south of our border — when they do register to vote at all — are not going to be subject to that sort of control by calculating partisan manipulators willing to tell lies to extend their political power. I can be confident about that because they tend not to register as Republicans.

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      • George Turner: Some common sense restrictions might be in order, and are common elsewhere.

        In Australia, birthright citizenship is limited to those who have one parent who is an Australian citizen or legal permanent resident, or who lived their first ten years there.

        The Dominican Republic excludes children born to people who are in transit, or who are there illegally.

        In Germany, one parent must be a resident for eight years prior to the birth.

        For the UK, a parent has to be a legally settled there, or a citizen, by the child’s 10th birthday.

        I imagine there are laws on the books in those countries outlining those rules.

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  14. Jaybird: When can you call a racist a racist?

    What’s your goal?

    One very useful goal is to identify arguments we don’t have to waste brain cycles on. So, we don’t have to vilify the person necessarily – because we are all problematic sometimes. We all sometimes say something racist.

    It’s just, we have limited mental bandwidth. If we can accurately flag certain arguments as dumb racist stuff, whether such arguments are vanishingly rare or overwhelmingly common from any particular person – then we can free up mental bandwidth for arguments that are worth our time. Including arguments from the exact same person whose argument we didn’t bother reading yesterday because it was the dumb racist stuff they’ve unfortunately got stuck on when it comes to this particular topic.

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    • Oh, if we’re just talking about individuals, I’m sure that flagging certain people as “racist” and then just ignoring stuff they have to say would be a real time-saver.

      The problem is that this debate seems to be a national one rather than one against one guy who, let’s face it, is a racist.

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    • I’m working on a response to this now that I’ve reread it properly (or more properly, I guess) and I’ll get to it a bit later.

      But the short version is this:
      Is it possible for a statement to be both Racist and True? (Or Sexist, or Homophobic, or Transphobic, or Fatphobic, or whathaveyou?)

      My assumption is that it is. And *THAT* will eventually create problems. Maybe even big ones.

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      • Is it possible to demonstrate that a statement can be both Racist and True (Or Sexist, or Homophobic, or Transphobic, or Fatphobic, or whathaveyou)?

        I imagine it would be. Let’s start with a statement P that has a truth value that is such that P is True and ~P is False. (Or, hey, let’s say that P is False and ~P is True.)

        Now you get to engage in the old game that takes the form:
        I am resolute. You are stubborn. He is pig-headed.

        So through use of careful adjective choice, you can have the statement P have either ameliorative or pejorative connotations but in a Racist (or Sexist, or Homophobic, or Transphobic, or Fatphobic, or whathaveyou) way.

        So you can say P and have it be Racist.
        Or you can say ~P and have it be Racist.
        Or you can say P and have it not be particularly Racist.
        Or you can say ~P and have it not be particularly Racist.

        And no matter which of those you choose, it has *NOTHING* to do with whether the statement P is True or False.

        Right? This is something that we’ve all seen, right?

        Now, if I can somehow create a connection in people that ties a truth value to Racism (or Sexism or whatever), then I can get them to avoid Truths by saying that a statement P (that happens to be True) is actually Racist.

        And if I meet someone somewhat recalcitrant and says “But statement P is True!” and goes on to explain using ameliorative terms, I can just rephrase their statement using the pejorative terms and ask whether statement P remains True.

        And none of this has to do with whether statement P is true or not.

        But if I can tie racism to a truth value in your head, I can get you to actively avoid truths that are inconvenient for me by rephrasing them in such a way that is Racist (or Sexist, or Homophobic, or Transphobic, or Fatphobic, or whathaveyou) and I can get you to do the active work of not believing P or ~P without having to prove or demonstrate anything more than ameliorative or pejorative adjectives.

        And we can shut off entire lines of thought by just pointing out that those lines of thought contain WrongThink.

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  15. I can’t imagine a good argument *against* the upper middle class to rich folks of the world having a blood tie to the United States.

    I mean yeah, give me your tired poor huddled masses and all that, but also definitely give me your folks that get upgrades on Emirates and Singapore Air.

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  16. I mean, there are principled non-racist arguments against birthright citizenship, just like there are principle non-racist arguments for Voter ID. But just as I actually believe Barry Goldwater wasn’t racist, those people with principle non-racist reasons have no problems allying with actual racists.

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  17. The cutting the line argument for immigration never made much sense because there are many lines to citizenship in the United States. At its fastest pace, asylum can lead to US citizenship in about six or seven years. An alien could arrive in the United States, get asylum under a year if the system works optimally, which is very rare, apply for LPR status one year after the asylum grant, and citizenship five years after becoming an LPR. Meanwhile, another immigrant could spend years on a non-immigrant visa before getting green card status on some type of immigrant visas. People awaiting family petitions could be years outside waiting for a visa number to become available. People who become LPRs through a US citizen spouse get to apply for naturalization within three years rather than the usual five years. Some cases proceed along the proper times. Others take a long time.

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    • Yep. And frankly while rich people flying in just to give birth does sound like unfair line jumping, let’s face it, rich people who want to immigrate will go to the front of the line anyway.

      When a billionaire wants to buy a big house here and settle here, how likely is it that they are going to have to wait years before being allowed to do so? Visa will be granted instantly and if they want a green card, especially if they’re opening a factory or line of stores here, how long will that take?

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  18. So, I don’t want to attack you because I know this is a common perception and argument, but I’d like to make two points.

    1) I know of literally no Democrats who are advocating open borders. Possibly there is someone out there, but if so they are outliers. It is not the position of the party, no matter how many times Trump and his ilk repeat the lie that it is.

    2) This

    atomickristin: Once a long time employee starts to get too expensive, they just lay them off and replace them with someone cheaper. And there’s always someone cheaper.

    has little to do with immigration. My dad was forced into early retirement because after 30 years managing a chain department store, the corporation decided they could get a kid fresh out of college to do the same thing for less. They did that to a lot of his peers too. The kids that replaced them weren’t illegal immigrants or immigrants of any kind. They were mostly 20-somethings born and raised in the Midwest.

    So the fact that this sort of thing is happening has less to do with immigration – let’s face it, most immigrants are not going to small towns with few job opportunities so they aren’t taking jobs from the folks living there – and more to do with how companies have *always* treated workers, especially workers not protected by unions. And the way unions have been systematically dismantled and weakened (and vilified to the people who would most benefit from them) is not because of the Democrats.

    I’m only a generation or two removed from steel mill workers and coal miners, so I know the history. Both mines and mills used ‘divide and conquer’ to keep workers in line. They made sure to promote an idea of group vs group so it was always the fault of *that ethnic group over there* – and never the owners! – that you couldn’t get better pay or benefits or job security. In the mills they deliberately divided job classifications by ethnic group – and claimed it was based on science! some races/nationalities were just *naturally* better suited to certain jobs, you see. That let them foster prejudices and resentments between groups of workers to prevent them from joining together to organize and collectively demand better.

    So be angry about corporate policies forcing a race-to-the-bottom for blue collar and other workers, but don’t let them con you into thinking the problem exists because of immigrants. That game is a scam, and one they’ve gotten away with running for far too long.

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  19. Also, no one’s taking the bait about Jimmy Kimmel impersonating Karl Malone, so I will.

    It’s easy for me to say that I never understood the bit as mocking black people in general. It always seemed to me that Kimmel was poking fun at Malone personally. Kimmel started doing the Malone impression way back in the early 1990’s as a voice-only comedian on a Los Angeles morning radio show, which would not have involved him altering his appearance in any way, although he did deepen his voice and change his speech patterns to get in character.

    But as I say above, I lack standing to offer more than my admission about my interpretation. I’m certain I’m not alone in having thought of it that way. Today, I can see that I may well have thought as I did because I get to be in a position of sufficient racial privilege as to have been likely to have overlooked how troublesome the bit was. It’s perhaps in the nature of privilege that it’s hard to see when you’re enjoying it and it’s hard to see when you’re worrying about something that actually isn’t so important. (E.g., one is not condescending towards women as being somehow weak when you hold a door open for a woman as a courtesy. One is not anti-feminist by virtue of exhibiting common social courtesy. Except, of course, when you are doing it to condescend.)

    I can also say that having googled through two pages of links on a search for “Jimmy Kimmel Karl Malone blackface” I can see that someone did decide to try and make it into A Thing. So many of the headlines of the links were similarly-worded, such that I had to wonder if it wasn’t orchestrated somehow, which in turn made me wonder if it wasn’t motivated by whataboutism left over from a response to a previous controversy.

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  20. I’m going to say some things here that some of you will not like so let me lay out my own position first.

    I’m in favor of immigration. I’m happy to welcome folks of all color, languages and orientation to our shores. We need more immigration not less. We need more diversity not less. America is an imagined identity where anyone who believes in our dream should have a potential path to be able to call themselves an American. My only concerns about immigration is how hodge podge and slap dash the US policy is and how poorly managed the process has proven to be. Like more than 80% of Americans I think legal immigration is a good thing and I also think common sense reforms (including a clear path to citizenship) should be available for undocumented workers already here.

    So that is my stance. When you find yourself grinding your teeth at the comments below take a deep breath and go back and read the first paragraph.

    Meanwhile, or those of you who dismiss the more fearful concerns of others as racist and xenophobic I have a couple of questions.

    1) Do you think “those racist people” are a fringe movement? Many comments are in the vein of “Let’s just ignore those crazy people.” But 34% of Americans worry personally about illegal immigration a great deal and 24% worry a “fair amount”. More than 40% of Americans favor ending programs where immigrants can sponsor relatives to come here. 50% of American’s favor or strongly favor legislation to ban “sanctuary cities”. These are substantial groups of people. (take a look at the Gallup poll in the link above).

    2) To what end will calling wide swaths of people racist effect a positive outcome for prospective immigrants or your point of view? What is the end game? There are many reasonable people in that group. In fact there is a fringe of hard core anti-immigrant fear mongers and then there’s a lot of folks in the middle in favor of common sense reform to varying degrees who are rather more fearful than you or I. It seems to me that painting with too broad a brush is counter productive. More importantly we are going to dilute the word “racist” so severely that people will no longer feel stung by it. When everyone’s a racist, no one is a racist. The social power of the “racist” label is in ostracizing. The worst possible response to charges of racism isn’t anger and defensiveness – it’s the eye roll.

    We keep falling into the same trap – and maybe that’s just the way of it. We have a sort of iron belief in progress – that we arrive at some settled truth as an anchor and we are progressing from there. We think we should no longer have to explain certain things – we hate fighting the same battle over and over again. Yet new generations come along and need to be persuaded.

    And yes, we have to keep persuading. These attitudes exist and they are here. They rise up when conditions are ripe and some demagogue comes along willing to stoke the embers. Then these ideas pick up fellow travelers out of fear and angst. These attitudes are not going away. They are on the rise again in Europe as we speak. Indeed they may part of our DNA – part of our evolutionary story. The one question that haunts me is (with apologies to Jack Nicholson), “What if this is as good as it gets?” That’s why we have learn again to love and care for each other as people.

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    • Mark,

      “More importantly we are going to dilute the word “racist” so severely that people will no longer feel stung by it. When everyone’s a racist, no one is a racist. The social power of the “racist” label is in ostracizing. The worst possible response to charges of racism isn’t anger and defensiveness – it’s the eye roll.”

      Over-use of the word racist might be one of the most frequent debates on this site. I think I can accurately sum up the position of the site’s liberals as, “Why should I not label a racist a racist?” They will suggest that you must shine a bright light on racists, not self-edit your speech to appease them or play nice. I do understand that position, but I also think that the primary problem is not that they are labeling racists, but that they see racism everywhere. It’s the bogeyman behind nearly every issue we discuss. On this site, it’s Godwin’s Law, with Racism! being the final outcome, not Hitler.

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      • Eh.

        To take one obvious example: If you argue for years about the ur-importance of religious freedom on this site when we are talking about religious people who are white, and then turn on a dime and argue against the most basic religious freedoms when the issue is religious people who are not white, I think it’s okay for me to question if your underlying motivation is really your deep respect for the Constitution.

        I agree that labeling everything as racist is unhelpful at best and likely harmful at worst. But just as unhelpful at best and likely harmful at worst is refusing to acknowledge the possibility of racism as a motivating force in anyone (including ourselves) in any circumstance. There are a lot of things that happen in this world (and this country!) that cannot be hand-waved away with “that’s just white liberals being shrill.”

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        • The problem with systematic racism is that it forces people into really no good decisions sometimes. It is particularly fraught in regards to education. Most Americans can’t afford private school. So a lot of people end up moving to the suburbs once their kids hit 5 or so because the property tax base means good school funding and good schools.

          What does a good school mean to a lot of people? It seems to generally mean that the kids have educated and professional parents and the overall background of the population does not suffer from any of the social problems that come from poverty.

          Erik Loomis on LGM generally calls this a racist act. He is strident and is tone as a non-parent can sound rich but he isn’t also wrong. The best thing that a good, white progressive could probably do is to stand firm in a city and send their kids to public schools in the city. But then LeeEsq points out you become an evil gentrifier and urban school districts generally have not great records at running their schools because of a wide-variety of problems.

          I’m sympathetic to both sides here. It is a hell of a problem and I don’t know if there is a solution.

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          • “The best thing that a good, white progressive could probably do is to stand firm in a city and send their kids to public schools in the city.”

            I have been a public school advocate for a very long time and for years I believed that the parents of wealthier kids became de facto advocates for poorer kids attending the same school by participating in the PTA, serving on school boards,, fighting for resources, etc. It was a good argument for busing and desegregation programs. The problem is that the research doesn’t support this conclusion. What’s the answer? Lift people out of poverty and their kids will benefit.

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              • You are entitled to your opinion. I mean, I disagree with you, but I’m not sure what else you want me to say. I am terrible at math, but I’m a whiz with Excel so I fool coworkers all the time. It’s also really not necessary to teach all those historical dates and stuff that i used to have to memorize during my undergrad. As long as I have a general timeline in my head, i can Google the rest in seconds. It’s a bright new world out there.

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          • Erik Loomis on LGM generally calls this a racist act. He is strident and is tone as a non-parent can sound rich but he isn’t also wrong.

            Yep. Watch me not care. This sort of thing btw is one of the reasons I think a lot of “racism” charges mean “not a democrat”.

            So, question time. I saw a number of my colored coworkers at parent-teacher conference time this week. Meaning like me, they’ve moved away from the inner city to a functional suburb school system for their kids. Is it racist for Blacks to do what’s best for their kids or is that purely a White thing?

            The best thing that a good, white progressive could probably do is to stand firm in a city and send their kids to public schools in the city.

            My wife talk about people like that every now and then. Two PhDs who apparently didn’t care about their (now adult) kids’ education, and their kids reflect that.

            Valuing the collective over your kids is bad parenting.

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        • “But just as unhelpful at best and likely harmful at worst is refusing to acknowledge the possibility of racism as a motivating force in anyone…”

          I don’t know that any of us are saying no one is ever motivated by racism. The problem is that, at least on this site, the conservatives are always on defense because all roads seem to lead to one conclusion. I wish I could remember if that was always the case BSW but honestly can’t remember. And as I have been arguing for years here, it seems to be a tactic designed to cast someone with a different policy preference as an irrational monster, thus eliminating actual debate.

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          • I wish I could remember if that was always the case BSW but honestly can’t remember.

            I don’t think there is any doubt it’s more pronounced today than it was several years ago.

            On the other hand, I think the landscape that people who are genuinely concerned about civil rights are reacting to has shifted in ways I don’t think anyone here truly foresaw. (I know I certainly didn’t.)

            Back in the League days, to take just one example, it never would have occurred to me that a sitting POTUS would publicly criticize a judge for being un-American simply by virtue of his race.

            If you’d told me that a future Chief Strategist for the White House would have, prior to being in that position, run a political advocacy publication that put triple parenthesis around the names of Jews — in part so that it’s readers would know who to harass online for just being Jewish — I would had thought you were a tin-foil-hat-wearing crank.

            For that matter, if you would have told me that one of our own front page writers was going to scold the media for painting a neo-nazi who ran his car into a crowd of protestors as the bad guy rather than the protesters, I might well have banned you for being a troll.

            I don’t know if a big chunk of people in this country always thought this stuff but were afraid to say it for fear of being shamed and now feel more comfortable, or if the media they consume has recently convinced them to believe things they used to think were reprehensible, or it’s something else entirely. Regardless, though, something significant has shifted in this country. And I think it’s OK to point that out, and to attempt to reverse it.

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            • “I don’t know if a big chunk of people in this country always thought this stuff but were afraid to say it for fear of being shamed and now feel more comfortable, or if the media they consume has recently convinced them to believe things they used to think were reprehensible, or it’s something else entirely. Regardless, though, something significant has shifted in this country. And I think it’s OK to point that out, and to attempt to reverse it.”

              I don’t want to believe in Trump Derangement Syndrome, but increasingly it’s also hard to ignore. I mean, seriously, I think some of our commenters here and lots of people I know in real life have gone off the deep end in their hatred of Trump. He totally deserves every ounce of hate that goes his way, but when the opposition becomes irrational themselves, hasn’t Trump sort of won the crazy battle? If all the conservatives are going to get painted with the same brush unless we sign some declaration of opposition, I don’t see how intelligent people still get to debate ideas here without at least one side doing it in fear.

              Is racism in the United States a real thing? Absolutely. Does it lurk behind every bush? No. Unfortunately, at least on this site, it seems that the latter is becoming the default position of our liberal commenters. At this rate, if some people are looking for an echo chamber, you might actually get it.

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              • I don’t know what to say. If you think picking a guy who triple-parenthesized Jews to run the White House is a big “meh,” or that being concerned about that is some kind of liberal derangement, we probably just need to agree to disagree.

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                • I’m not saying that Trump isn’t a problem. I can’t stand the guy and most of my conservative friends agree. What I am talking about is what seems like your suggestion that seeing racism behind every bush when talking to any conservative is justified because of the douche bag in the WH. Most of us were commenting on this site long before Trump and while we may have disagreed and some of us didn’t particularly like one another, we mostly figured out have to discuss ideas like adults. Now the conservatives are being asked to prove their non-racist bonafides if we want to continue that conversation.

                  What I am reading in Mark’s comments and what I have seen several of the conservatives on the site, myself included, is us practically begging you all to remember who we are and let’s go back to debating those ideas. Instead we’re being told that conversation will be impossible unless we first go on record as disavowing Trump/Republicans/Racists/etc. It’s like a bad version of the Mccarthy Hearings.

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                  • I didn’t start reading this site until early 2016 (or the very tail end of 2015).

                    Where is the trust supposed to come from? Especially when “conservatives on this site” included absolute racist fuckheads like notme, dand, and Art Deco.

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                  • What I am reading in Mark’s comments and what I have seen several of the conservatives on the site, myself included, is us practically begging you all to remember who we are and let’s go back to debating those ideas.

                    I don’t know what to say. I don’t believe I’ve ever called either one of you a racist. Other than a couple of people who were so over the top they’ve been banned, I don’t believe I’ve ever called anyone here a racist.

                    I do want to talk about politics and culture. It’s just that I think in 2018 race is a part of that — more than it has been in previous times. If a pubic figure inspires more loyalty from a big chunk of this country because he says abhorrent things, I think that’s worth exploring. If you’re response to me doing so is to dismiss whatever I say by telling me I just call everyone and everything racist, then like I say, I think we just agree to disagree, because it seems to me that you would prefer we just not talk about this topic at all.

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                    • Tod – there’s a difference between talking about race as part of a national conversation and being accused of racism in the majority of conversations that take place on this site as of late. No, you have not called anyone a racist. But plenty of your fellow liberals here have, or at the very least they bring race into nearly every conversation which then forces all the conservatives to play defense. It’s accusatory and not conducive to good dialogue. Read my exchange with Pillsy. “It’s more important to disavow a racist politician than discuss their policy proposals.” If that’s the standard for dialogue, I don’t see much potential for actual conversation going forward.

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                      • Mike, 2 things:

                        1) It seems to me there’s a pattern in these threads where the response to “look at these policies that are racist/rooted in racism” seems to be “Gah! you liberals are always calling all conservatives racist!”

                        Isn’t the broad brush to assuming insult/bad intent from anyone who’s liberal just as bad as assuming racism as motivating factor for all conservatives? It shuts down conservation in exactly the same way.

                        2) Is it possible that liberals are bringing up racism more because they’re reacting to the apparent belief of the GOP establishment that what motivates their base is racism?

                        I may be wrong in this, but it occurred to me in listening to after election takes today and recalling the campaign ads (that really I had tried to tune out for the last few weeks), that yes, a lot of liberals view those conservatives who support Trump as racist, but it seems like that belief is even more strongly held by the GOP leadership.

                        I mean, look at the ads were run during the campaign. What was the GOP message? I don’t know about other local elections but where I am the ads tended to demonize Latino immigrants, and particularly show them as scary hordes of MS-13 (with possibly hidden ISIS operatives mixed in that *terrifying* caravan). A few even skated narrowly close to Willie Horton levels of support ‘law&order’ GOP candidate because – Eek scary black dudes! Toward the end of the election Trump put out a campaign ad that was so racist that even Fox pulled it. At least two GOP strategists on the radio were defending playing that stuff in Texas because they felt it was what got Cruz re-elected.

                        Is it a surprise then that some liberals, particularly young people who don’t remember a different GOP, are starting to think conservative = racist, when they’re getting that message not just from liberal media but from conservative media and politicians?

                        So, if you are upset about being tarred as a racist because you lean right – and you have a right to be upset about that – maybe you should be complaining at the *conservatives* who promote that idea. The message is coming from inside your house…

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                        • Yeah. One thing that has absolutely annihilated my patience for this kind of thing is the endless insistence on the part of many people, including , that we give the benefit of every doubt to conservatives who ally with racists and support policies that have disparate racial impact while allying with those racists, but there isn’t the tiniest bit of reciprocity there.

                          Every liberal mention of racism is presumed to be in bad faith and silencing debate. The idea that the Left must make every concession and is solely responsible for keeping debate open, no matter how the Right behaves, is… sadly typical of this site and the broader culture.

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                          • “…that we give the benefit of every doubt to conservatives who ally with racists…”

                            The problem here is that policy is being held hostage to intent. If I’m telling someone I agree with a policy proposal for non-racist reasons, why can’t we talk about the policy? My motivations don’t really matter. If you see a potential outcome that disproportionately affects a certain race, that’s a fair debate point. Questioning my moral intent IS derailing and it’s essentially a personal attack.

                            “…and support policies that have disparate racial impact..”

                            See my above comment.

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                            • My motivations don’t really matter.

                              I think this is wrong for several reasons.

                              The most important is actually the most generic: politics is about many things, but one of them is dealing with the fact that people have differing conceptions of the good, and it can be very difficult to even debate those without bring motivations into it.

                              Second is more specific, but racism, in both the past and present, has often been advanced under pretexts, either for legal reasons (common with a lot of Jim Crow laws) or for purposes of respectability. This means, to me, that motives are deserving of particular scrutiny, and in fact both here and elsewhere, I can think of times where they’ve fallen apart with just a little prodding.[1]

                              Finally, having racist allies and advancing a policy they like for racist reasons is, IMO, morally fraught. It can be hard to avoid [2], but what is less hard to avoid is directly appealing to those racists in racist terms. To take a different example, and maybe a less explosive one because it’s much older:

                              Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act for reasons that were not facially racist [3]. Naturally a lot of racists supported him for that reason. But he took it a step further and in his Presidential campaign used that opposition to appeal directly to segregationists, often in pretty racist ways.

                              Using racist appeals to advance an agenda that isn’t necessarily racist is, IMO, unquestionably racist, just as using racism as a tool for any other sort of material gain, and that is what Trump-supporting anti-immigration activists are doing and endorsing. Because Trump is racist, supports anti-immigration measures for racist reasons, and very publicly and enthusiastically makes racist appeals to other anti-immigration racists.

                              Where does that leave anti-immigration policies? IMO, basically nowhere. Nothing is going to pass in a durable way [4] without some degree of consensus and buy-in from the Left and for that matter the remaining scraps of the pro-immigration Right, and that’s just not going to happen given the incredibly repulsive form the anti-immigration Right has sculpted itself into.

                              [1] Like in that “assault weapons” example you commented on.

                              [2] Seriously, this is a pretty direct consequence of believing racism is highly prevalent.

                              [3] But were, in my opinion, extremely misguided and pretty disreputable on their own.

                              [4] And if the anti-immigration movement is actually satisfied with the current Trumpian shit-show with ICE et c., that is more damning than anything I could ever say about them.

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                              • Here’s the thing though… Let’s say I thought you were advancing policies because you were secretly X and I told you so every time you discussed an idea. Could you convince me that you aren’t X? Would it be worth your time to do so?

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                                • The answer to both questions is, “Possibly.”

                                  It depends on the policy, the “X”, and the evidence you would need to see to believe that I am not secretly advancing X.

                                  And if, well, I were in a coalition with people who were X, and I was out there making X-based appeals to them in order to advance that policy, well, I probably couldn’t do it and I don’t think I should be able to do it.

                                  And if the coalition were like that, and very prominently so, even if I wasn’t engaging in X-based appeals myself? I think, “Well, look, is it worth it to back people who espouse X to get this policy?” is a fair question to ask me.

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                              • Finally, having racist allies and advancing a policy they like for racist reasons is, IMO, morally fraught.

                                Even here accusations of racism are STILL mostly a way to shut down conversations that should be happening.

                                Example:
                                Teacher A is a racist and refuses to teach in a school because it has black students.

                                Teacher B isn’t a racist and refuses to teach in the same school because she was physically attacked in a similar school(*).

                                Calling Teacher B a racist seems intrinscially “in bad faith” and a way to avoid talking about legit issues.

                                (*) BTW, Real person.

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                                • OK, calling Teacher B racist in the scenario you described would be in bad faith.

                                  But say after Teacher B got insufficient traction for whatever reason, she started going around to racists and talking about how violent black students were in order to get their sympathy and support in some political battle?

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                                  • But say after Teacher B got insufficient traction for whatever reason, she started going around to racists and talking about how violent black students were in order to get their sympathy and support in some political battle?

                                    She was attacked by a white student, but refusing to work in all schools of that socio-economic class mostly eliminates Blacks.

                                    If we’re going to have a conversation about violence in schools, there’s going to be a strong racial overtone. If we’re going to be implementing anything like a policy, a lot of the faces of the students involved are going to be dark.

                                    To answer your question, good policy is good policy even if Teacher B had to get racist votes (or voters) to implement it. Similarly bad policy is bad policy even if it had the best of intentions (Bill Clinton cranking up the war on drugs to help the Black community comes to mind).

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                                    • She was attacked by a white student, but refusing to work in all schools of that socio-economic class mostly eliminates Blacks.

                                      Probably not as much as you think, but… that’s really structural racism. One thing that drives structural racism (like other structures) is people doing completely unexceptionable things that have a disparate racial impact. Wanting to avoid working in an unsafe environment, for instance.

                                      But… that’s not the only thing that builds and sustains it. Another thing that contributes is people who want policies that they see as a benefit (rightly or wrongly) that aren’t necessarily racist and they need those racist votes (and dollars, and grassroots pressures). And those racist votes, like all votes, come with strings attached.

                                      We saw it with some of the New Deal programs, with the FHA, with the crime bill, with a lot of 20th century urban planning, with anti-communism—all distorted to a greater or lesser extent by the need to keep racists in a coalition, in ways that imposed considerable disadvantage on African Americans (and other minority groups) in ways that still echo.

                                      And going forward, you may come to depend on those racists in ways that keep making the situation worse, where suddenly you find yourself in the position of either voting for the racist or voting for the guy who will do something you really don’t like. And it’s easy at that point to say, “OK, I gotta vote for the racist,” but it came to that because last time around, you depended on the racist and gave him the leg up in your own party.

                                      And if other factions in the party take a faceplant, due to, oh, the Iraq War, and the financial crisis, and the collapse of the resistance to same-sex marriage, well… you may just find that the racists are the ones left standing and they’re driving your party around like a car.

                                      You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only joking.

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                                      • And if other factions in the party take a faceplant, due to, oh, the Iraq War, and the financial crisis, and the collapse of the resistance to same-sex marriage, well… you may just find that the racists are the ones left standing and they’re driving your party around like a car.

                                        It’s not _just_ that. Political parties have done that sort of thing before, ended up with a base that thinks dumb things, and they’ve been able to guide themselves off it. It might take a decade or so, but it’s doable. The Republicans should have weened themselves off homophobia, and off racism, and off a bunch of other stuff, well in advance of _now_. Political parties shift and change, and they could have done it.

                                        I think everyone has forgotten just how _much_ the parties used to change. The Democrats and Republicans both constantly changed over the years. They’d have a successful message, get in power, do some of it, overreach a bit, get voted out, tune their message, and be back.

                                        LBJ supposedly said the Democrats lost the South for a generation with the Civil Rights Act, and that (probably fake) quote should have been mostly correct…but we’ve just finished up the _second_ generation of the South being lost, because the Republicans not only stopped changing, but then threw things in reverse.

                                        This is because, going back to the 90s, the Republicans had just had a great deal of success with Reagan, but discovered without his charisma, under Bush I, those policies were not as much a winner and resulted in the election of Clinton. This _should_ have been a point for them to change their messaging, like before. (As I’ve said many times, it would have been very possible to make same-sex marriage a _conservative_ position on the grounds of being pro-marriage.)

                                        Instead two things happened: 1) Instead of changing positions slightly to work with Clinton (Who was pretty conservative himself) they decided to go for impeachment, and 2), They slowly started handing control of their ideology to the right-wing radio and Fox News, which by 2002 or so meant it was _entirely_ out of their hands. (Hence why Bush II couldn’t get immigration reform.)

                                        In a way, the Republican party has been screwed by their own semi-random success. They barely squeaked though 2000 because the Democratic candidate screwed up his own election (again) and then a lot of bad luck and the Supreme Court, they got reelected in 2004 _soley_ due to a war, and by the time Republicans lost in 2008 they not only lost control of their ideology but had officially lost control of their party, with the right-wing media creating the Tea Party as basically a coup of the Republican party.

                                        …and then, those winners _doubled down_ in 2010 with gerrymandering. Which gave the Republicans a lot of seats, yes, but also meant the party could never change, never wrestle itself to new positions, because of the farthest right candidate will always win the primary. Or not even the ‘farthest right’, whatever candidate the far-right _media_ thinks is most exciting.

                                        The devil’s hand that the Republicans shook wasn’t racists…well, they did exactly that, back during the civil rights era. But they were reconsidering that by the 90s. The tide was turning. Racism was slowly being pushed to the back-burner.

                                        It’s just then, for no real reason, they turned around and shook Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes’s hand, and _those guys_ will shake anyone’s hand or say anything to get ad revenue, and at some point elected Republicans had to please them more than the actual party…and they don’t care a damn about the party. If those people could, they’d elect _bears_ to Congress, and then breathlessly report on the daily bear-maulings and how bears are going to kill everyone.

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                                        • I agree with a ton of this, but I question how much was avoidable. A ton of this is technology driven (talk radio, internet, etc).

                                          As much as I dislike a political party which drifts to the whims of the masses, I suspect I’d dislike a “top-down we will tell the masses what to believe” even worse.

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                                          • I agree with a ton of this, but I question how much was avoidable. A ton of this is technology driven (talk radio, internet, etc).

                                            Except the Democratic party didn’t do this. I mean, I can’t even list what the Democratic version of those guys would have been, but if it had been profitable to push an extremist liberal message and constantly challenge the Democratic party from the left, surely someone would have done it. People did try. Especially since the Democrats actually were pretty centrist at that point whereas the Republicans were not particularly.

                                            The problem wasn’t the existence of those people. There have always been people trying to stir up conflict for ratings. Interparty conflict, intraparty conflict, whatever. The addition of fake news might change the scale a bit, but this all started back in the 90s and isn’t due to fake news…fake news is an extreme version _of_ the existing problem, not the problem itself.

                                            The actual problem was Republican politicians _getting in bed_ with those media people back in the 90s, which resulted in those media people then having power when new candidates _challenged_ the Republican politicians….and the most exciting side to take in any conflict is the farthest from center, so the media people always took that position.

                                            So the Republicans happily got spittle-spraying nonsense that was aimed at Democrats…and were utterly shocked when those same people started calling _them_ RINOs and causing primary runs against them from the right.

                                            The Democrats never got in bed with those people, thus didn’t hand over their power to people who take the most extreme position they can take to get ratings.

                                            As much as I dislike a political party which drifts to the whims of the masses, I suspect I’d dislike a “top-down we will tell the masses what to believe” even worse.

                                            It’s not ‘telling’ them anything. Parties take political positions, which are basically the average of their party delegates plus their actual elected officials. Those positions, in turn, shape the base. Indicate to the base what is important and what isn’t. The majority of votes care for maybe a fourth of a party’s platform, and how they think about the rest of the issues is set by the party. It’s a feedback loop.

                                            The far-right media, by introducing a rather persistent pressure in part of that feedback loop (specifically, always getting the farthest right candidate nominated), pressured this loop in a certain direction. And…there’s always pressure, but this pressure was rather extreme and has completely distorted the party at this point. They’ve managed, as part of this loop, to pull some people to fairly racist and absurd positions, but…they can’t get everyone, and people keep getting disgruntled and leaving.

                                            The far-right media has no incentive to stop this. The far-right media actually do _better_ when the right isn’t in power. They can scream and yell and have made-up scandal after made-up scandal.

                                            The far-left media, to the extent they exist, would presumably like the same thing, they’re having a field day under Trump, but they literally can’t change anything. Because they don’t have a significant fraction of the left’s base listening to them, because the elected Democrats didn’t _teach the left_ to listen to them. (Which is one of the reasons they are so much smaller.) So the far-left media does not control who gets elected.

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                                      • …that’s really structural racism… people doing completely unexceptionable things that have a disparate racial impact. Wanting to avoid working in an unsafe environment, for instance.

                                        True all of that, but right there I think we broke the language. We’re trying to use the same word to describe Hitler, Dylann Roof, Trump, and Teacher B.

                                        I get why, we’re trying to create a society which doesn’t have disparate impacts. However this language means Teacher B has the choice of being a racist or being beaten occasionally by her students. So we’re teaching her that being a racist is a good, necessary thing… and she’s the bulk of the un-woke country.

                                        And then we’re just shocked that pointing the magic wand of accusations of racism at things doesn’t have the desired impact.

                                        And those racist votes, like all votes, come with strings attached.

                                        The racist vote, as a percentage of the population, has died down to the point where being Black might have been an advantage for Obama running for President. It was certainly part of him getting the nomination and it didn’t prevent him from being President.

                                        The Bulk of the country is now Teacher B, and thus she’s the bulk of the problem. I seriously doubt viewing her behavior through the lens of “racism” is useful.

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                                        • I don’t think Teacher B is really a “racist” any more than someone who buys a hamburger at McDonald’s is a capitalist. And for the most part systemic and structural problems need to be addressed as structural and systemic problems.

                                          But when it comes to politics and political coalitions, all of a sudden we are talking about enacting structural changes for good or ill. And that’s one of the places where it really matters if you have racists with power.

                                          As for the vote, maybe? There’s evidence both ways, and even if it’s a vote loser now (much less certain following Trump’s election), well, parties can wind up beholden to interest groups that cost them votes on net, but which the party actors rely upon too heavily (for money, organizational support, primary votes) to just cast them aside.

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                          • Every liberal mention of racism is presumed to be in bad faith and silencing debate.

                            It’s well deserved. Afaict, “silencing debate” is the entire purpose of accusations of racism or nazism. Trump is compared to Hitler because Hitler killed tens of millions of people ergo we must stop Trump as our FIRST priority.

                            Every GOP President or Nominee has faced the same rhetoric, but *this* time you’re serious. Just like you will be the next time and the time after that and the time after that. 20 years we’ll look back at this and the number of people killed by Trump and his minions will be zero. Blacks will still be voting. The economic boom we’re experiencing will have done far more for people than Trump’s rhetoric did against.

                            I can easily explain why Trump is vile and these policies are terrible for the country without needing to imply Trump is going to murder tens of millions of people or bring back Slavery. In other words, even against Trump a lot of these liberal accusations seem to be made in bad faith.

                            “Presumed to be in bad faith” is the default assumption when “Nazi” or “racist” can be replaced with “not a Democrat”… and as long as all indications of racism are supposed to lead to Hitler or the Old South.

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                            • “Blacks will still be voting.”

                              This is increasingly irrelevant (as a “things are really fine” argument, not as evidence of them working their asses off to be heard) as their votes become worth less and less in some areas and all kinds of shenanigans take place at the voting stations. And pretending the reasons for that *aren’t* racist (on the part of people like Jack Kemp, the ones with the actual power), but merely coincidental, would require me to lie.

                              Why should I lie to keep you from feeling like I’m in bad faith? That actually *would* be arguing in bad faith, and it’d also be a slap in the face to people who are negatively impacted by his racism. (Including people I know personally, who I care about.)

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                              • This goes to what I was discussing with above, too, where I don’t know whether racism is a good strategy for gathering votes [1], but because it also remains a powerful tool for suppressing votes. If it didn’t pay off politically there would likely be a lot less of it.

                                (Also, it’s Brian Kemp who is engaged in antidemocratic skullduggery in GA. Jack Kemp, while I disagreed with him on any number of issues, was by accounts very sincerely opposed to racism.)

                                [1] Less than it once was to be sure, but I don’t think it’s powerless.

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                            • ” I can easily explain why Trump is vile and these policies are terrible for the country without needing to imply Trump is going to murder tens of millions of people or bring back Slavery.”

                              So why don’t you then? I honestly do NOT think you are a racist in the sense you are using the term (or any sense other than the one in which it’s water we’re all swimming in and need to check ourselves from time to time), which is why I don’t understand why you don’t spend more time fighting / arguing against Trump and his policies from your own perspective, and less time complaining that other people are fighting him wrong.

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                              • Dark Matter: ”I can easily explain why Trump is vile and these policies are terrible for the country without needing to imply Trump is going to murder tens of millions of people or bring back Slavery.”

                                Maribou: So why don’t you then?

                                Below I’ll quote myself, the two posts I put up yesterday on this. In the thread you’ll find a lack of disagreement, which implies a lack of discussion.

                                Dark Matter: They don’t have math on their side….

                                The anti-immigration crowd is still deeply wrong on the facts. They have emotion, but nothing else. That means addressing that emotion (economic growth is my favorite solution) is probably the solution while convincing them that they’re racists isn’t.

                                Dark Matter: …[birthright citizenship] is one of our crazy-over-the-top killer advantages for assimilation. The American culture is the best in the world at turning immigrants (and especially their kids) into productive citizens…

                                There are countries which struggle to assimilate the children or many-times grand children of immigrants; Making them not citizens is a great way to go down that path.

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                                • FWIW, I almost said “Why is this the first post I remember seeing you do this on in a dog’s age *at all* then?” but then I thought that sounded even more cranky and unkempt so I left it out. Possibly that should have been a clue that I didn’t need to say anything at all.

                                  In any event, please do more of that. I apologize for not acknowledging it.

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                                  • please do more of that

                                    The problem is darn few people on this forum disagree, so someone else can post my point and I’ll nod my head, or I’ll make “one” post and the point is settled.

                                    Years before Trump, I had a month long 100+ post discussion with someone on a different forum who was deeply opposed to immigration. It was sparked by me posting something like I did on this thread (or me responding to the polar opposite). Immigration was clearly his *first* issue and he was worried it’d destroy the country.

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                            • Every GOP President or Nominee has faced the same rhetoric, but *this* time you’re serious.

                              It’s dose-response. I’m not saying it never happened with Romney or McCain, because I know it did, but with nothing like the same intensity, frequency, or (before he won) with any buy in from his own party.

                              And Trump doesn’t just get it because he’s not a Democrat, he does it because he praises (both here and abroad) and even hires members of the racist far right, is much more openly racist than other politicians of pretty much any stripe who actually win elections.[1]

                              Will he murder millions of people? It’s very unlikely.

                              Will Richard Spencer or David Duke murder millions of people? It’s even more unlikely.

                              But no one hesitates to call them Nazis.

                              [1] I mean there’s Steve King, who… is a big Trump supporter.

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                      • Mike, I both understand and agree with you if the policy we’re talking about is a tax on peanut butter.

                        But if the policy we’re discussing is police training, stop & frisk, how to deal w/ BLM vs. Proud Boys, the caravan, border child separation, immigration, etc., it seems a bit of a calculated dodge to say that it’s rude to bring race and people’s attitudes toward it into the discussion.

                        This actual post is a post about race and our attitudes toward it when it comes to immigration. Why should race and our attitudes toward it be out of bounds here?

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            • I had never heard of “triple parentheses” until your comment here, Tod, and I just googled it. What a horrible thing.

              I’m late on this train, but maybe everyone should “triple parentheses” themselves to show solidarity? Or will that backfire? Just a thought (and tangential to this conversation).

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              • That’s already happened. There was a Google plug-in that automatically put the triple parenthesis around Jewish names, so people like Johah Goldberg at National Review and tons of conservatives just started adding parenthesis to their names.

                I think it’s died out now.

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                  • Yes, and tons of his non-Jewish conservative readers added parenthesis to their names.

                    You see, the GOP has pretty much zero tolerance for anti-Semitism (we’re the people who back Israel no matter what), while the left has about 100% tolerance for anti-Semitism, with the BDS movement being very big on campus, popular black leaders who denounce Jews, and now a Muslim Congresswoman who tweets

                    Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel

                    Ocasio-Cortez’s campaing manager constantly posted inflamatory rhetoric about “evil Jewish landlords”, and yet she won handily.

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                    • George Turner: You see, the GOP has pretty much zero tolerance for anti-Semitism

                      ::rolls eyes:: Pull the other one…

                      I’ve been part of a rather large synagogue for going on 20 years now. It splits roughly 80/20 in terms of liberal/conservative, but even the conservatives will say the GOP supports Israel primarily because of Christian Evangelicals who see a Jewish state there as a necessary condition for their longed-for Apocalypse.

                      Further, ‘zero tolerance’ is a pretty baldfaced lie given that Steve “proud to make Breitbart a platform for the alt-right” Bannon was installed in the White House as Chief Strategist, tolerance and even welcome were accorded Richard Spencer and his ilk, neo-Nazis in ‘Unite the Right’ on display Charlettesville, Steve King meeting with and praising actual Nazis in Austria, etc. etc. etc.

                      Yes, the far left does tar all Jews with anti-Israel sentiment and disgust at Bibi’s stupid policies. I have no problem calling that anti-semitic. I do have a problem with the idea that it means

                      the left has about 100% tolerance for anti-Semitism

                      . Again, I’ll note 80% of my large synagogue tends to lean left, as does the majority of the Jewish population in the US, and they do not in fact have much tolerance for anti-semitism.

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                      • Steve King met with Jewish leaders in Austria after having been to Auschwitz on a trip sponsored by a Holocaust awareness organization, which paid $8,310 to sponsor him and his wife for the trip, where he spent days touring Poland Holocaust related sites, met with Holocaust survivors, went to awards ceremonies for Poles who saved Jews from the Holocaust, and watched films on the Holocaust.

                        To the press, this apparently makes him a Nazi, and all you’ll hear about is that he met with an author tied to the right-wing in Austria, Caroline Sommerfeld. Note that the Austrian right is very unlikely to be upset at being overrun by hordes of Jews, which they’re not, but they are probably worried about wavesof Muslim immigrants – many of whom want to kill Jews. Indeed, Sommerfeld is a fan of the battle against the Turks in 1683 at Vienna. She’s married to a left winger, but that didn’t prevent her kids from getting expelled from school because of her political views.

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                        • This kind of spin is so ridiculous it’s actually offensive. You really see nothing wrong with taking a trip paid for by people trying to promote education about the Holocaust and anti-semitism and then turning around and using the free airfare to go meet with Austrian neo-Nazis and tell them how much you agree with their views?

                          And the assertion that he met only with an author ‘tied to the right wing’ is a a flat out lie. King spoke to the Unzensuriert, a publication associated with Austria’s Freedom Party, which was founded by a former Nazi SS officer and is now led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who has a history of involvement with neo-Nazis. During the interview he talked about the ‘Great Replacement’ a white supremacist idea that goes back to Nazi Germany and was used then to promote genocide.

                          Nor is the recent trip an isolated incident. King met with Strache and another neo-Nazi leader previously, promoted Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, and more recently Faith Goldy, Toronto mayoral candidate who appeared on a podcast for the Daily Stormer, a prominent neo-Nazi website and promoted the idea that there is a “white genocide” underway. And then there are all the neo-Nazi’s he’s approvingly retweeted. Not to mention his own statements, like “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

                          So, wrt Steve King, kindly don’t whiz on my shoes and try to tell me it’s raining.

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                        • This is, as I expect from you, grotesque spin:

                          King described his travels in Poland as a “very, very powerful experience” but also described later visiting historical sites separately from the From the Depths group to get a “Polish perspective” on the Holocaust.

                          “I asked them what was worse, was it the Nazis or was it the Soviets?” he said Thursday. “And they don’t know the answer to that because the Soviets occupied them longer, may have killed more of them, but it was over a longer period of time.”

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                          • Also the reason that the Austrian far right isn’t worried about being “overrun with hordes of Jews” because about 70 years ago a member of the Austrian far right murdered almost all of the Jews in Austria.

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                        • Okay,

                          As I said yesterday, “No more Nazis for you”… even in the academic sense. Maybe that wasn’t entirely clear to you. Next time I will try to be more clear.

                          Be that as it may, you need to take a break from this site. Two weeks. And when you come back, I need you to be more responsive to those around you. When it comes to making people angry, you are both highly good at it and indifferent to when you’re doing it.

                          That’s not going to work. Either you know you are doing it, in which case you’re hanging out in the border of acceptability which, as we said, we’re no longer going to indefinitely allow… or you’re not paying attention. And we need you to pay attention.

                          Two weeks is relatively light. The next one is likely to be twice as long. And please note, any attempt to circumvent a suspension is treated more harshly than most infractions.

                          In addition to this comment, I will be emailing you.

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          • Define “conservatives.” Do so without reference to an individual politician or a political party.

            My attempt to do so is this: “A person who believes that the government should buttress prevailing norms and institutions, and individuals should adhere to norms and comply with institutions, and norms and institutions should change, if at all, but slowly.”

            There are precious few of that sort left.

            There are some who want to talk about limiting the power of government generally. Those people are closer to those who would rightly bear the label “libertarian,” in my estimation, and I hope some of them feel a twang of conflict of interest when they see Republicans invested with government power using to expansively. A sight they’ve been treated to a lot over the last two years.

            As for Republicans? There are two sub-species now in public life. One of them pursues the rainbow of an economy that is always expanding at an ever-increasing pace. We can call them “Reverse Keynesians” for their propensity to stimulus-spend tomorrow’s dollars during times of economic growth. The other are nihilists whose central animating ethic is “pwn teh libz.” Thing is, both of these types claim the label “conservative” and act as if it were self-evident that in so doing, they have completed a public morality purification ritual.

            It’s no wonder those who identify as “conservative” feel on the defensive these days when put to some sort of test where an intellectual justification for the current state of political affairs must be defended with something more intellectually robust than “Because we have the power and you don’t.”

            And it’s not just here where that discomfort lies; Tuesday’s election demonstrated that despite a whole lot of charisma and brand-name voting, a critical mass of voters isn’t really happy with what the people calling themselves “conservatives” have been doing with that power. What’s amazing to me is how powerful the gaslighting, charismatic Gish Galloping, and mudslinging is — the elections oughtn’t have been as close as they were.

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            • I think my friend Burt’s definition of conservatives, while incomplete, is a mostly fair one, and would fully agree that a lot of what is wearing the dead carcass of the republican party and calling itself conservative these days is indeed nihilists who see that the C-word label was good business for the last 20 odd years, and figured it was as good a business plan as any to cash in.

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              • Conservatives waged a war on the term liberal for years and eventually the Left began to use ‘progressive’ as an alternative. Curious to see what the Right will adopt if they equally decide to use a different term going forward.

                My concern here though is that of course it’s the guilt by association thing. This is probably the most angry I have seen the Left in my political life, so I understand the impulse to burn the Right to the ground. My question for our little community is whether or not they actually want us to participate freely in the conversation going forward, or is there an expectation that we follow some new rules of engagement as a mea culpa for our side of the aisle?

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                • AFAIC, a conservative who actually approaches a public issue from the “norms and institutions” perspective I outlined above in a principled way is a welcomed fellow-citizen from whom I want to hear and learn, and with whom I want to dialogue and collaborate.

                  FWIW, , I identify you as such. And many others here — the whole premise and mission of this site filters to attract people of good faith to thus engage and share perspectives.

                  When I venture out into the wider world, I get less assurance that someone I’ve come across with be similarly principled, thoughtful, or at the very least willing to rise above partisan tribe. When I collect news from various sources, I see Republican Party leaders demonstrating by example the opposite of the sort of intellectual posture and public behavior that I find from the small-c conservatives with whom I enjoy interacting on these pages. It is little wonder that those who look to these political leaders follow their dismal example.

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      • Why would we ever believe a denial of racism from someone who also denies the Donald Trump is racist?

        Because that last is pretty much the de facto position of the entire Republican Party and all but a small if honorable fringe of the conservative movement at this point.

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      • I actually think what’s happening, dwyer, is due to social media, people of color can actually show how much racism they deal with on the daily and the immense racism that is baked into American society is actually being discussed outside of relatively closed off communities of color and some very left wing whites and unshockingly, conservative and moderate whites are doing their best to ignore and downplay and talk about how people are diluting the words racism by trying to do the terrible thing of claiming that things beyond a burning cross on your front yard is racism.

        I mean, to be blunt, whenever I see some story about “clams of racism going too far due to the intolerant left,” I click through and 90% of the time, nope, pretty damn racist stuff going on.

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    • Do you think “those racist people” are a fringe movement?

      Obviously not. De jure white supremacy is well within living memory, and they’ve clearly captured a major political party, what with installing an open racist as President.

      Which, by the way is at the very least a very powerful argument. Trump won his primary on the strength of the support he got from the anti-immigration movement, which put him over the top in a crowded intra-party contest despite the fact that he was manifestly a terrible choice for President.

      To what end will calling wide swaths of people racist effect a positive outcome for prospective immigrants or your point of view? What is the end game?

      I mean, we happen to believe it’s true? And while I don’t believe, “I’m not racist!” is necessarily a lie coming from someone who opposes immigration, it is true sufficiently often that there’s no trust in the denial[1]. This is, effectively, insisting on charity, but such insistence really only ever seems to flow one way.

      No one ever insists to anti-immigration activists that they’ll have to win over or persuade some people who disagree with them, and it’s made more difficult for them when roughly half the country, more or less, thinks that their movement is, at it’s core, racist in intent, and is very clearly led by racists. No one ever tells them that we sincerely believe that they are motivated by racism, have solid evidence to that effect, and maybe it’s time for them to prove otherwise.

      [1] How many immigration opponents have you seen who support Trump acknowledge that he’s racist but that they support him anyway? Why would I trust someone’s denials if they won’t even admit that Trump is racist?

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      • “How many immigration opponents have you seen who support Trump acknowledge that he’s racist but that they support him anyway? Why would I trust someone’s denials if they won’t even admit that Trump is racist?”

        That’s a red herring because if they DID admit he was racist they would immediately be slammed for getting in bed with him, even if they have different motives. Liberals on this site are obsessed with getting admissions from conservatives. It’s bizarre. Just debate the merits of the policy, not question the motives behind it. Geez, it’s almost like you all intentionally do it to stifle debate or move the debate towards a morality discussion where you think you have the high ground.

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              • I certainly don’t have any obligation to do so as I have never supported anyone on the Right like King. Maybe you all could just put together some kind of memo for the conservatives on here to sign? Y’know…list out all the national politicians you believe are racists and we can just say we don’t support them and move on?

                But then, of course I wonder what happens when one of us supports a policy that King also supports…what does that mean for you all?

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                • I certainly don’t have any obligation to do so as I have never supported anyone on the Right like King.

                  To be blunt, how are we supposed to know things like this when the first priority of conservatives around here seems to be never saying anything negative about any other conservatives?

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                  • Are you suggesting it go something like this?

                    Liberal: “Can you believe Steve King sponsored a bill that would lower the sales tax on peanut butter by 5%? What a bastard!”

                    Conservative: “I actually think it’s a good idea because peanut butter is delicious and packed with protein but just for the record, Steve King is totally a racist.”

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                    • Yes. Being clear that you are not on King’s side is vastly more important than whether a 5% peanut butter tax doesn’t go too far enough.

                      We have reasons to be distrustful. Maybe accept that as a boundary condition for a change. Especially if you want the benefit of the doubt in turn.

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                      • So, is that like a one-time thing the conservatives could do, or do we have an obligation to do it every time someone brings up Steve King? Do I ever get to actually talk about peanut butter?

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                        • I understand that hosting is expensive, but it’s not that expensive.

                          And really, how often do people bring up Steve King to talk about anything but the fact that he’s actually a huge Nazi?

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        • That’s a red herring because if they DID admit he was racist they would immediately be slammed for getting in bed with him, even if they have different motives.

          Yeah because that’s actually not a good thing to do. It’s a bad thing to do.

          They would deserve to be slammed for it.

          Liberals on this site are obsessed with getting admissions from conservatives. It’s bizarre.

          It’s a natural reaction to the conservatives on this site who are obsessed with denying anyone (or at least any conservative) is ever motivated by racism, and claiming liberals just say it because we cynically want to foreclose debate.

          You think we’re all lying about racism. Why should we assume you’re all telling the truth about it?

          . Just debate the merits of the policy, not question the motives behind it.

          The two cannot be cleanly separated.

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      • No one ever insists to anti-immigration activists that they’ll have to win over or persuade some people who disagree with them…

        They don’t have math on their side.

        Given that everything is racist if the Dems want to view it that way, it’s easy to assume both that the anti-immigration crowd are racists, and that they don’t find the claim convincing. Certainly no more than a charge of racism is going to convince me that I should act against the interests of my kids.

        The anti-immigration crowd is still deeply wrong on the facts. They have emotion, but nothing else. That means addressing that emotion (economic growth is my favorite solution) is probably the solution while convincing them that they’re racists isn’t.

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    • I think people like Saul, Chip, me, and other left-leaning people on this site are quite declarative in our notion that the white supremacist wing of the Republican Party is not a small part of it.

      ” To what end will calling wide swaths of people racist effect a positive outcome for prospective immigrants or your point of view? ”

      What if indeed, wide swathes of people actually are racist and that it’s largely people of color calling the racism out because for the first time in American history, they actually have the ability and voice to do so?

      Well, then, as a right-leaning pro-immigration person, you have tow choices. Continue to ally with the racists because you like deregulation and tax cuts or think abortion is wrong or ally with the people of color whom you have no quarrel with.

      A moderate immigration bill on the model of George W. Bush could likely pass the House & Senate tomorrow even if Trump would veto it, but pro-immigration Republican’s refuse to do because they fear the base they’ve cultivated and frankly, if they’re too afraid to call them out, that’s on them.

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    • I think slavery is the original sin of the United States along with Native American genocide. I think we are still suffering for these sins and fighting over them. Lots of people will still argue blue to their face that the War of Treason in Defense of Slavery was about legitimate things. It wasn’t, it was a War of Treason in Defense of Slavery.

      Pillsy points out below that De Jure White Supremacy and Jim Crow are well within living memory. My parents were in their last year of high school/first year of college when the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed. We just saw Brian Kemp disenfranchise about a million people in order to make his victory for the Governor’s seat more certain.

      There were also the vulgarities I mentioned above.

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    • “When everyone’s a racist, no one is a racist. ”

      Speaking as someone who remembers feeling that way once, I think you’re wrong.

      Instead of reading ‘everyone’s a racist’ as ‘everyone is an utterly horrible human being’, you can read it the way it’s meant the vast majority of the time by the vast majority of the people who say it, as a variant on the very old insight, and instead accept that:

      when almost** everyone sometimes does something wrong, but can learn and change and be better, almost everyone can learn and change and be better. (Particularly if that type of something has been baked into our dominant cultural messaging for hundreds, and, in some ways, thousands of years.)

      And, in the particular case of racism, that leads to hope, and the belief that no one needs to be trapped passively experiencing the negative results of racist actions simply because the person who does them, enables them, protects them, or keeps benefiting from them without doing anything to counteract them, isn’t a *real* racist, ie isn’t violent or virulent or immediately incredibly dangerous in the eyes of themselves and their friends, and thus doesn’t deserve social ostracism.

      People can act in racist ways without being social outcasts. They can need to change their behaviors without being social outcasts. (I don’t care about their beliefs if they aren’t negatively impacting other people, which, yes, includes hurtful speech – I wouldn’t legislate it except when it becomes a threat, but I’ll sure as hell call it out, because it does hurt people and it is wrong.) They can need to be proactive about fixing stuff instead of shrugging and accepting the benefits that it being broken gives them.

      The eruption of racism into its virulent, massacre-ing form is terrible in a way that everyday misery and mistreatment, or even more so structural racism that no one is *doing* exactly, but lots of people are cheerfully and ignorantly shoring up, aren’t terrible. But refusing to confront and change the everyday racisms is where the virulent eruptions come from. They’re the underground lake the geyser springs up from, and if you don’t drain the lake – no matter how uncomfortable it is and how much you sometimes have to fight your own fight-or-flight mode to get there – there will always be the risk of another geyser.****

      ** I only say almost here because my personal experience of evil is that some (a small minority) people in this world are so horrible they just can’t be fixed or worked around, and some of those people are, among other things, full of deep wells of various kinds of hatred.

      **** Apologies to any geyser enthusiasts out there if this is a terrible, scientifically inaccurate metaphor, it’s late and I’m at work and very tired.

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      • (I would note that simply making any tiny whiff of racism result in immediate and total social ostracism by all parties would *not* at all drown the underground lake. that’s a plug in the hole of the geyser, not a drain of the lake below. which is probably why literally no major activist movement ever attempts such a move, though plenty of nutjobs, overly fierce 20 year olds, anxious people with tumblr accounts [nb not ALL … I mean, I’m an anxious person with a tumblr account], mean-girls-of-all-genders, trolls, counter-insurgents, and PR departments have done so. And even some legit but very fed-up, cranky, and rightfully pissed off people who were just TIRED, and had suffered a lot, and were thus lashing out – though that last category doesn’t have much follow-through tbh. However, plenty more people, by an order of magnitude or two, have freaked out, gotten defensive, and accused entirely reasonable folks of doing exactly that when they were nowhere near it, but rather just holding people to a standard based more on their actions than on their self-justifications.)

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      • As someone who can get defensive when my own bigotry (not just racism, but also racism) gets pointed out–or when I think it’s being pointed out, or when my own privilege is exposed in a way that’s uncomfortable to me–I really appreciate this comment, Maribou.

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  21. I wonder how many people who think the word racism has been diluted basically think the same as this Ron DeSantis voter.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/election-results-in-florida-and-georgia-prompt-soul-searching-for-african-americans/2018/11/07/c27e7c40-5ae5-11e8-858f-12becb4d6067_story.html?utm_term=.29bf5ccf96b7

    “But she ended up voting for DeSantis, partially because she wanted to see an end to racial divisions. In Cooper’s eyes, tensions between races in Madison only worsened after Obama’s election in 2008. Black neighbors just started seeing everything differently, she said. They seemed consumed with Obama as the first black president and less concerned about how he was affecting the economy in Florida.

    “That trickled down to everything,” Cooper said. “Now everyone is so worried about the other race.” She said she felt that a vote for Gillum, who had accused DeSantis of using a racist slur after he warned Florida voters on TV not to “monkey up” the state, would worsen those tensions.”

    Especially since I’ve seen people basically make this basic argument before here.

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  22. VB, could you provide your definition of “racist” such that Megyn Kelly’s statements qualify for that term? I can’t say I put a lot of research into this but it seems to me that she was just questioning a taboo, not indicating any negative opinions about black people.

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  23. Willful ignorance of historical racism is a form of racism in itself. It’s racist to not be bothered to understand why something should be taboo and use it as a talking point in front of millions (thousands? I don’t know her ratings) for entertainment value and profit, instead of educating yourself instead.

    When thousands of people have put enormous amounts of effort into explaining why something should be taboo, and the reasons have to do with its role in, as Vikram puts it above, “belittling and demeaning black people” both historically and in the present day – when the taboo is strong enough that “admiration” will not be what nearly any black person anywhere in this country takes from someone putting on blackface – then questioning that taboo isn’t just some innocent question. It requires thinking less enough of black people – the ones she works with, the ones who were watching the show, etc. – to not bother learning the same respectful approach to stuff that almost universally bothers them, and taking that botheredness seriously, as compared to how she would and has treated taboos that relate to other people’s suffering.

    At least that’s what I think is racist about it.

    Vikram may differ.

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    • (Now, would I have fired her, no, I would have worked with her to help her understand why she screwed up, set some goals/expectations around her studying on why she screwed up, and encouraged her to do better and take positive action to patch up both her image and the hurt that she caused. There are a lot of people who have some weird racist beliefs who aren’t at all vicious or intransigent racists, and Megyn Kelly learning some stuff and sharing it with others has worked some real change (for SOME people at least) in other areas…. I would’ve wanted to try it in this one too. I mean, at least I would have tried that, if she was willing to bend and no one who worked with her saw it as the last in a long line of problems she’d been causing them. But that’s one of the 8 million reasons why I’ll never be in charge of anything that’s as PR oriented as television shows …)

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      • I think the problem for Kelly there was that it came out that she had defended blackface before, and folks had spoken up and educated her on it, but she then claimed after this time that she had still no idea about the history. In other words, she demonstrated zero evidence of being willing to learn and lied about the whole thing when called on it.

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        • That would make sense and makes me think less poorly of whomever fired her. (And honestly, I have not paid much attention to the surrounding circumstances which is why I had those caveats in there.)

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  24. Out of curiosity, is it fair to make distinctions between types of immigration?

    A Venezuelan immigrant who came here on a work visa
    An Indian immigrant who came here on a travel visa
    A Polish immigrant who, for whatever reason, doesn’t have any documents demonstrating that he or she is here in the country legally

    Is it possible to rank these immigrants differently on an okay/not okay to have kids while here or is doing so automatically racist?

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    • I love how everyone fixates on the word racist, as if it is some magical incantation and by litigating it, they can justify whatever they want.

      No one after all this time, has put forward a plausible explanation for why we should want to restrict birthright citizenship, immigration or asylum, but are somehow vehement in their insistence that these people should be turned away or deported to suffer whatever fate happens.

      There isn’t any moral defense for this.
      Regardless of motivation, it is ugly in its consequence, and an abandonment of everything that America has claimed to stand for.

      So in response to the OP, no, the comments here have demonstrated conclusively that there are no earnest arguments against birthright citizenship.

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      • Imagine, if you will, someone pointing out that we shouldn’t do something because it’s not Christian. Like because it denies the Immaculate Conception or something.

        Like we can’t even explore a particular avenue of thought because it denies the Divinity of Christ.

        Does that help?

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        • That’s a bizarre form of moral relativism.
          That welcoming newborn children of immigrants, or refugees, is some strange religious notion instead of a traditional norm widely shared.

          Once again, and I do need to press this point.
          What is the argument for why we should eliminate birthright citizenship?

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          • You’re wasting your time. You’ll never get an answer; only the assertion that one could be against birthright citizenship for non-racist reasons. And of course one could, but in the absence of any evidence of a problem worth solving and any specific program to solve whatever the alleged problem is, that’s not the way to bet.

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            • But the only arguments for unrestricted birthright citizenship are wildly racist. Rich liberals want to make sure that their illegal Hispanic maid’s children get to vote the way they’re told to vote (If mom wants to stay employed).

              You see, Democrats are replacing blacks, who have accumulated way too many rights for liberal whites liking, with illegals, who basically have no rights. But those illegals might start climbing the ladder of success, which will just replicate the problems liberals had with their black servants, so the plan is to force Hispanics to forever compete for jobs and housing with each year’s fresh crop of illegals, in effect kicking that bottom rung of the ladder out from under them so as to make a permanent underclass of poorly educated, poorly paid workers who will have no choice but to do the bidding of their rich liberal white masters.

              And of course anyone who opposes this is called a racist, so that the Democrat’s comfortable, servant-filled plantations aren’t threatened by Republicans yet again. The only other threat they face is from Asians, who work harder and smarter than they do, so they work to make sure Asians can’t get into good schools in any appreciable numbers.

              If racism explains everything, then I guess it explains everything.

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              • I haven’t made an argument for unlimited birthright citizenship, and don’t even have strong feelings about it. All I say is that, for good or ill, that is the current rule, baked into the Constitution, and that I have yet to hear anyone explain what the problem with it — birthright citizenship, not immigration in general — is and why it is a big enough problem to be worth ginning up the Constitutional amendment process for some unspecified other system. What I have heard doesn’t encourage me to extend the benefit of the doubt.

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                • It doesn’t need a Constitutional Amendment. It’s baked right into the 14th which says “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” People here without the knowledge or consent of the federal government are not under the “jurisdiction thereof” or they would’ve been deported.

                  The second paragraph of the 14th says “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas who don’t have valid Social Security numbers are definitely “Indians not taxed.”

                  That’s why Trump said he can just sign an executive order and make it so.

                  Yesterday he changed, along with the support of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, US regulations so that newly arrived illegals cannot qualify for asylum unless they arrive at a port of entry.

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                  • It doesn’t need a Constitutional Amendment. It’s baked right into the 14th which says “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” People here without the knowledge or consent of the federal government are not under the “jurisdiction thereof” or they would’ve been deported.

                    I, and most of the rest of the legal profession, disagree with you.

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              • This is the kind of weaponization of other people’s suffering in service of one’s own rhetoric that I was complaining at Chip about the other day. I follow the argument, and what error you’re trying to get at in other people’s arguments, but the cure is worse than the disease.

                And significantly worse than the one I was complaining about.

                I don’t tend to notate this kind of thing from you, because I have NO expectation at this point, , that you will at all change your ways, but I find it utterly repugnant when people are so cavalier with other people’s pain.

                You should be ashamed to think of this as a serviceable argument, and not something you are better than doing. I feel like the best parts of you are far better than this.

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      • Chip, respectfully, how are you not getting this? The argument from many anti-immigration people is one of economics. Competition for jobs, pressure on social services, etc. Now, I don’t agree with them, but I understand and I certainly don’t think all of them are racist.

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        • Chip may want to speak for himself, but I thought he was asking not about immigration restriction in general — for which there are non-racist economic arguments, not very good, but non-racist — and the topic under discussion, birthright citizenship. The arguments over that probably aren’t economic because it is small potatoes. Or so we are entitled to think for all anyone has said.

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          • I hear concerns claims all the time that birthright kids get access to food stamps, WIC, etc which the non-legal parents theoretically benefit from. I haven’t researches this but my gut tells me even if they are right, it’s an insigificant drain on our economy. Still, basing your opinion on bad facts does not equal raciam.

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            • CJ notes it correctly, that while immigration broadly may have various arguments, there aren’t any arguments floating around as to why birthright citizenship is a problem.

              And its weird, that in a thread specifically devoted to that very topic, after hundreds of comments, nothing has surfaced.

              No one even bothers to present a case- its just assumed, axiomatically, that this is some problem that we should be up in arms about.

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                  • “If that is really the argument, we just need to determine if any of them are plausible.”

                    That’s an absolutely fair conversation. But it also means that people could see birthright citizenship as problematic and it not be because they are racist.

                    At the end of the day, 90% of the claims of racism I see on this site are because a liberal refuses to accept someone could have rationally and logically thought through an issue and arrived at a different conclusion, so they assume it is based in hate. This goes back to a previous conversation about it being much harder for liberals to understand the perspective of conservatives than the other way around.

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                    • So if the argument is that birthright citizenship is harming the wages of lower income workers, are there other ways of improving wages?
                      Such as restricting the practice of offshoring labor to low wage countries?
                      Or mandating higher minimum wages?
                      Or an expanded EITC?
                      Or wage supplements like socialized health care?

                      Trust me, speaking on behalf of all liberals everywhere, we really, really want to have this conversation!

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                      • This is getting repetitious, but the subject at hand is not immigration, legal or illegal, in general, but birthright citizenship. There are lots of economic arguments, good or bad, about immigration, but I haven’t yet seen anyone even try to show that the economic impact of birthright citizenship is anything other than small potatoes.

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                        • Shh…
                          I’m hoping to lead this to, “Newly born people enlarge the labor pool, therefore the government may strictly limit the size of families by whatever means necessary“.

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                      • Were you to believe he had some other motive, it might be because he has said in so many words that his psychological challenges, as a result of having been in combat, include being obsessed with and craving conflict in all forms, but especially verbally / depictions and discussions of violence. You might think that was his motive.**

                        I mean, that’s what I think his motive is and it has the benefit of being a motive he’s laid sincere claim to.

                        However, that doesn’t allow for or excuse anything – as a mentally ill person myself with some very strange PTSD issues, I don’t mind sympathy and forgiveness, but the idea that I lack moral agency as a result is, to my mind, laughable.
                        He should be held to the same standards of behavior as anyone else. And I certainly agree that some of his behavior is blatantly, inexcusably racist.

                        Just, if you honestly wanted another motive to consider, that’s the one I’ve settled on.

                        You’re also well within your rights to not care what I think about it, of course, or to not believe any of that is true. But it rings true to me.

                        *********

                        ** I’ve been thinking about that particular motive a lot lately, completely aside from George, because of how much physical violence and pain and suicide in the world emanate from someone who suffered violent trauma and/or combat experience in their past, the sort likely to give a person PTSD symptoms. Lots of PTSD sufferers don’t have symptoms that could lead to violence or self-harm at all, of course; and those of us who do still have moral agency, so plenty of us – the vast majority of us – DON’T allow, let alone cause, harmful things to happen to other people because of our pain… or at least we might slip up sometimes but in general it’s damn well leashed. Most PTSD sufferers, statistically and in my own experience, make the world safer and gentler, if anything, not more dangerous. Still. The outliers in the direction of violence are extremely unpleasant all the way up the scale to utterly horrifying and despair-generating, and it’s been on my mind. A “how much is society responsible for all this violence not just in the usual or immediately obvious ways but also because perpetual war and because perpetual child abuse?” sort of thing…

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                    • 90% of the claims of racism I see on this site are because a liberal refuses to accept someone could have rationally and logically thought through an issue and arrived at a different conclusion,

                      Do racists rationally and logically think through their positions? Seems to me they do.

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                    • 90% of the claims of racism I see on this site are because a liberal refuses to accept someone could have rationally and logically thought through an issue and arrived at a different conclusion,

                      Orrrr…its that when conservatives make a claim about wanting to end birthright citizenship because of their concern for working class wages, and are offered half a dozen different ways to improve the lives of working class people, they pass them all up, in pursuit of the one single goal.

                      Seriously, is there a “conservative plan to improve the working class wage” that doesn’t make people laugh out loud?

                      And even if we strip away the context and history of the players involved, ending birthright citizenship is perhaps the least effective method to do the job of improving the wages of the working class.

                      So the claim that someone “rationally and logically thought through an issue” and came to the conclusion that ending birthright citizenship would help the working class, is…preposterous.

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                  • Not exactly my own concern, but in the ballpark. We’ve built expectations, here and abroad, of a particular lifestyle. It’s water and energy hungry. If (when?) the day comes that the lifestyle has to be cut back — less personal transportation, less flitting off to Europe, less floor space per person, whatever — it would be easier if there were 350M Americans instead of 450M. Or with my parochial hat on, if there were 70M people between the western edge of the Great Plains and the Pacific than 100M.

                    If the real climate change pessimists are right, it’s already too late. The UN says we’ve got ten years to start adjusting. On the days when I’m particularly pessimistic, I think that Trump’s policies are going to look rather kind and gentle by comparison to where we might get.

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          • William R. Horton (born August 12, 1951) is an American convicted felon who, while serving a life sentence for murder (without the possibility of parole),[1] was the beneficiary of a Massachusetts weekend furlough program. He did not return from his furlough, and ultimately committed assault, armed robbery, and rape before being captured… (wiki)

            Bush’s ad with Horton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC9j6Wfdq3o

            Bush’s more famous ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtw5gNmG8Zo (Horton isn’t in the turnstyle mostly it’s white guys).

            One can reasonably question whether releasing convicted felons (in prison for life without the possibility of parole because of murder) should be trusted to be released unsupervised for a weekend of crime.

            Was there a whiff of racism there? Sure why not… although Horton’s crimes were extreme before he was furloughed. He could have been the nastiest piece of work Mike put on the streets.

            Is the accusation of racism an effort to trainwreck the conversation because the Dems don’t want to talk about the amazing lack of judgement this program showcased? Also yes.

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  25. At any rate, they find it weird that US citizenship is something that can essentially be bought for the children of wealthy tourists who may have no other connection to the country up until they are due to give birth. Their argument is that is weird, and I believe them to be earnest.

    I have to ask: so what? Just about every country on earth has some way to get yourself a passport if you’ve got enough of something to offer. What threat does it pose?

    There are European countries with birth rates barely at or below replacement where immigrants born and raised there are effectively barred from citizenship but where someone born and raised in America or Canada can get citizenship through a passport The anti-immigration folks generally have a problem with the former group but not the latter.

    Why do we have to pretend that these immigration issues aren’t about what they’re about? What do we gain from doing that?

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  26. I have to wonder how opponents of birthright citizenship imagine this would work if we were to change from jus solis to jus sanguinus? Because unless you’re a naturalized immigrant you are a birthright citizen. There is literally no other way for you to prove your status beyond your birth certificate stating you were born on U.S. soil. I looked at images of a few birth certificates online and it will list your parents but there’s no checkboxes saying mommy or daddy is a citizen.

    So if I had to prove citizenship by blood I’d be hard-pressed to do so. I guess I would have to find naturalization papers on one my ancestors somewhere and establish a chain of citizenship inheritance?

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  27. I’m going to do what I probably should have done four days ago and shut this down. (Note: Made the decision a couple hours ago but was away from the computer and not in a position to act until now, so this is not in response to the most recent comments specifically.)

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