Considering Immigration

Why borders?? Firstly, most are drawn incorrectly, cutting through people groups and communities. Secondly, they're a hassle for most of us law-abiding citizens. Thirdly, they represent something I personally don't value so much: confinement, security, clear-cut boundaries. As a traveler and appreciator of other cultures, they are especially stifling. I want to move freely around the world, and the process of getting a tourist visa (to Russia, to Brazil, etc) is a stressful burden, not to mention a residence visa to live in Germany as an American. I love that within the US and in Europe's Schengen zone, I don't need a passport. It's an epic achievement of the European community - a continent with a long history of war and conflict - that nations can agree on this unprecedented principle. Born in Portugal? Live and work in Luxembourg, no problem.

Unfortunately, it only works when the borders surrounding Europe maintain integrity. This is not a radical right-wing thing to observe. At its logical extreme: can Europe be home to all of India? As much as my heart bleeds for the living conditions in Mumbai, somehow I don't think every citizen there has a right to live in Copenhagen.

As a lifelong leftist of quintessentially American mixed heritage, my inclination is toward free immigration. But above this value: balance. Life is a balancing act, and so is social policy. Maybe the wave of right-wing nationalism isn't totally insane, but instead a reasonable and fact-based reaction to modern real-world events. There are ideologies out there that seek to destroy the West. That's not a fabricated thing. There's evidence. I know people who wear helmets bicycling. Don't you know how unlikely it is you'll fall and crack your head? And yet the urge to protect the body remains...

I am happy to debate this, because I certainly do not know everything. Do you? Are you so convinced of your morality that you cannot even hear opposition? Could you perhaps consider a reasonable counter-argument? How about an alarmist one? That’s what I’m doing now..:

Paul Joseph Watson is a right-leaning personality on YouTube. He supports Trump I think, which I certainly do not. Nevertheless, I watched this video of his, and I must acknowledge its thesis (despite what could be called an aggressive style). I have a hard time arguing it, though these "arguments" could be made, perhaps:

- This is bigoted, full stop. To question free immigration is hateful and dehumanizes outsiders. I won't consider any of this on that basis.

- This guy is alt-right. I don't have to listen to anything he says because I've determined he belongs to a group that doesn't deserve any respect or air time.

- The facts and clips are fake news. It's fear-mongering from the far right. If these news stories were valid, I would have read about them in my liberal channels. 

- Even if these stories are real, they are cherry-picked, and do not encompass the big picture. Most immigrants are totally fine, and deserve to live among the riches of my society.

- Well, it's complicated. Maybe terrorism, rape, gang violence, petty theft, trashed streets, chauvinist attitudes, new rules and an overall spike in crime are simply part of changing times, and we have to accept any downsides for the sake of the ultimate value: multiculturalism.

- The evidence of Europe's failure to integrate the foreign-born and its woes among the masses threaten my ideological stance of human equality across all populations, and therefore even reading this article triggers me. It is easier to simply shut down discussion when the "other side" has a strong argument. 

- Ugh, I don't need to see this! *Ignore*.

Friends: Can you watch this video? Does the thumbnail offend you? What about it is offensive, exactly? Do you support religious clothing that makes women invisible? Do you think it's none of your business? Or are you more offended that a burqa would be used to suggest that immigrants aren't like-minded, and that such a media tactic disqualifies the content? 

I ask you to watch this and consider its point of view. For the last few years, I have considered mine, and will continue doing so by listening to the other side on any given topic. I think it's ok for opinions to change based on new information. I am not becoming right-wing, or a supporter of fascist policies. But I can recognize now that issues stand independent of one another, and change independent of wholesale ideology. I can vote for higher tax rates on corporations, increased minimum wage and the freeing of all non-violent drug criminals from US prisons, while also acknowledging Europe's migrant crisis, and sympathizing with parties that want to limit immigration to those who truly warrant it. It doesn't make me a racist.

I myself have had to go through many bureaucratic hoops to live in Germany. I don't see why others shouldn't have to either. And I actually celebrate German culture. Frankly, I can appreciate that Germans would even demand that, and I'm not sure why more don't. Instead, we have things like this:

By the way, if you're in Germany, you probably cannot even watch this. I was quite aghast that when this video was shared with me, I could not watch it in Berlin (without a VPN) because it is blocked in this country. Such censorship is indeed offensive. How is it justified? If bad ideas are so bad, can’t I be trusted to come to that conclusion? I think the debate around this topic should be allowed to roar as loudly and ferociously as it wants, because stifling it - and the emotions underneath - is counterproductive and dangerous in and of itself.

This much is clear to me: many people (generally conservative in temperament and ideology) are very concerned about immigration. Their concerns are sometimes founded in absurd fears (of death, of the other), and some are rooted in things more understandable (like the changing demographics around them, and what those changes hark). It’s worth listening to other people. There’s probably a compromise worth pursuing.