Why I disagree with Cardinal Dolan’s remark that “no country is a ‘hole.'”

This is not intended as a post about President Trump’s recently reported remarks about “s**thole countries,” but about what a Catholic cardinal, Timothy Dolan, said in response to those remarks. The Cardinal tweeted that Martin Luther King Jr., were he alive today, would remind people that “no country is a ‘hole,’ no person unworthy of respect.” In this post, I’d like to explain why I think the Cardinal is perfectly right on the second point and absolutely wrong on the first. I’m also going to try to define a “hole,” and make a tentative list of countries which I think would qualify, at the present time. Readers are welcome to disagree, of course.

Background

Claims that President Trump, in a meeting with lawmakers last week, described Haiti, El Salvador and various African nations as “s**thole countries” have been described by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as “basically accurate.” Let me note for the record that Senator Graham, unlike Senator Richard Durbin, who was also present at the meeting, stood up to President Trump directly when he asked why America was taking so many immigrants from these countries instead of countries like Norway. “Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness,” declared Senator Graham. Trump has since walked back his comments, saying that he wants immigrants to come to America from everywhere. Not being an American, I have absolutely no desire to lecture Americans about which countries they should accept immigrants from, or how many people they should take. I’ll just mention in passing that about 60 million immigrants have arrived in the United States since the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1965, and that of the 1,051,031 immigrants who became new legal permanent residents of the U.S. in 2015, just under 10% came from Africa, compared to 42% from other American countries, 40% from Asia and 8% from Europe. I should also add that of the 244 million international migrants worldwide, 19.1% reside in the U.S., where they make up 14.5% of the population, compared to just 10.3% of the population of Europe (2015 UN figures). In short: claims that America is not pulling its weight do not seem to be warranted by the facts.

Frankly, I was baffled by the U.S. media’s characterization of President Trump’s reference to certain countries as “s**thole countries” as racist. Have they forgotten what the term means, I wonder? OxfordDictionaries.com defines racism as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” Trump’s angry outburst was (a) directed at countries, not at “someone”, (b) directed at nations rather than races, and (c) completely devoid of the ridiculous claim that some races are “superior” to others. Likewise, Republican Rep. Mia Love’s vehement insistence that people in struggling countries are “good people” was perfectly correct, but beside the point: good people do not necessarily make a good country. A country, like a cake, is more than the sum of its constituents. Culture matters. Systems of government matter. Good people can have the misfortune to live in a country whose culture is toxic or whose government is tyrannical and evil. That doesn’t reflect on them as individuals, but it does reflect on their country.

There seems to be a strange idea circulating about that if you insult a country, you automatically insult its people. Nonsense. If you insult a country, you insult its government, not its people. The Soviet Union was a terrible country. That doesn’t mean the people living in it were terrible; it means that its government was terrible (in fact, downright evil). The same goes for Mao’s China.

So, how should we define a “hole”?

After reading about Cardinal Dolan’s response to President Trump’s recent remarks, my first reaction was: “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So North Korea is not a “hole”? Seriously? You must be joking, Your Eminence.

But then I started thinking, “How would one define a ‘hole’?” The definition which first sprang to my mind was an intuitive one: a “hole” is a country that you would never want to visit, even with all expenses paid (including plane fares, food, accommodation, trains and buses and time off work). However, I soon realized that you might be willing to visit any country, no matter how awful, if you had a nice enough hotel and plenty of armed security guards accompanying you, to protect you from danger. So I decided to stipulate that if you were visiting these countries, you had to take your family with you, and you could not travel as part of a guided tour, or take a bodyguard with you, or stay in a luxury hotel. That would be cheating – as would spending all your day hanging around inside expensive stores, museums or churches, or riding around in a chartered taxi. Instead, you had to spend as much time as possible outside, in the company of the local people. Also, you could take a guidebook, a phrase book or an electronic dictionary with you, but not one of those fancy smartphones that spits out whatever you want to say in the local language (how lazy is that!) How many countries would you cross off your list then? And which ones?

There were some countries I was pretty sure I’d never want to visit, even if you threw in some extra cash: North Korea, Afghanistan and El Salvador, to name a few. But I realized that despite my travel experience (I’ve been to over 30 countries), there were a lot of African countries which I didn’t know enough about to be able to decide whether I’d want to visit them or not. Would I want to visit Nigeria, for instance? It’s a vibrant, go-ahead country with a booming economy, but it has also been subjected to raids by the militant group Boko Haram in the north. Hmmm.

Crime and violence

So I did some digging around. I looked at the list of countries by intentional homicide rate, and I found that of the top 20 countries, a total of 17 were either in the Caribbean [US Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas, Anguilla, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia and Montserrat], Central America [El Salvador, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala] or South America [Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and Guyana]. Just two of these 20 ultra-violent countries (South Africa and Lesotho) were in Africa. One (Tuvalu) was in Oceania. Topping the homicide list was El Salvador, with a homicide rate of 108.64 – over 22 times higher than America’s and nearly ten times that of the Central American nation of Panama (11.38). The intentional homicide rate for number 20 on the list (Guyana, in South America) was 19.42 per 100,000 or about four times that of the U.S. (4.88), 20 times that of Australia and the U.K. (0.98 and 0.92, respectively) and over 60 times that of Japan (0.31). But if one is going to draw a line, it shouldn’t be an arbitrary one, so I decided to make an intentional homicide rate of 20 per 100,000 my cutoff point, leaving me with 19 countries, since Guyana was the only country on the list that fell just below that threshold. I would regard the level of violence in these top 19 countries as unacceptably high, meriting “hole” status in my book. Poverty does not account for it: as we’ve seen, as the very poorest countries in the world (which are mostly in Africa) don’t even figure on the list. Culture seems to be a more likely cause, when we consider the geographic distribution of the countries in question.

In all fairness, however, I should mention that there are plenty of Latin American and Caribbean countries which are not “holes” by the definition I’ve proposed above: in South America, Guyana, French Guiana, Bolivia and Suriname (with rather high homicide rates of 10 to 20 per 100,000), as well as Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Chile (with fairly moderate homicide rates of less than 10 per 100,000); in Central America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama (homicide rates all between 10 and 20 per 100,000); and in the Caribbean, 14 countries with homicide rates ranging from 17.39 (Dominican Republic) down to 2.78 (Martinique). Haiti belongs in this group, with a homicide rate of 10.04.

I was not successful in finding an online ranking of countries by their overall crime rate (which, by the way, is hard to measure, as international statistics are not always reliable, so it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges), but I finally came across an article by the insurance company Clements Worldwide, which listed the five countries with the highest crime rates (excluding theft) as South Africa, Honduras, Venezuela, Belize and India. The Wikipedia article on crime in South Africa is pretty sickening:

Around 49 people are murdered in South Africa every day.[6]… In the 2016/17 year, the rate of murders increased to 52 a day, with 19,016 murders recorded between April 2016 to March 2017.[11]…

The country has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with some 65,000 rapes and other sexual assaults reported for the year ending in March 2012, or 127.6 per 100,000 people in the country.[14][15] The incidence of rape has led to the country being referred to as the “rape capital of the world“.[16] One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year.[17] More than 25% of South African men questioned in a survey published by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in June 2009 admitted to rape; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person.[18][19] Three out of four of those who had admitted rape indicated that they had attacked for the first time during their teenage years.[18] South Africa has amongst the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world…

Kidnapping in South Africa is common in the country with over 4,100 occurring in the 2013/2014 period, and a child going missing every five hours.

In the light of these facts, I find South Africa’s recent protest against President Trump’s “s**thole” comments to be disingenuous and hypocritical.

Regarding crime in India, the same article notes:

Sexual assault is a major concern in India. More than 33,000 rapes were reported in 2014.

The rate of these assaults is increasing. Rape is one of India’s most common crimes against women.

When evaluating whether a country is a “hole,” one obviously needs to consider whether it is a safe country for women and girls to visit. At the present time, India fails to meet this criterion. See also here.

The Safety Index and the Global Peace Index

I also had a look at the Safety Index developed by the travel company SafeAround. Of the 34 countries identified by SafeAround as dangerous or extremely dangerous, 19 were in Africa (actually, SafeAround lists 20, but Yemen is actually in Asia), 12 are in Asia, 2 (Ukraine and Russia) are in Europe, and 1 (Venezuela) is in the Americas. The 12 Asian countries are Syria*, Yemen*, Afghanistan*, Iraq*, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikstan, Myanmar and Uzbekistan, while the 19 African countries are South Sudan*, Central African Republic*, Somalia*, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, Libya, Sudan, Burundi, Mali, Eritrea, Nigeria, Mauritania, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Rwanda, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), Egypt, Djibouti and Guinea. I’ve asterisked the 8 countries which are very dangerous (deep red) and have a Safety Index of 20 or below. By comparison, Denmark’s is 94.7 (at the top of the list), the USA’s is 67.6, and even El Salvador’s is 50.7, while Mexico’s is 45.8 and Haiti’s is 41.9. I would unhesitantly classify the 8 asterisked countries as “holes,” and some of the remaining 21 dangerous countries as well. Since Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Pakistan all have a Safety Index of well below 30, I’ll count them as “holes” and make 30 my cutoff point. The remaining dangerous countries are more closely bunched together, and have a Safety Index of 30 to 40, so I won’t count them as “holes.” Actually, I’m being very lenient here: countries such as Burundi, Ukraine, Mali, Eritrea, Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia, Iran and Lebanon all fall on or slightly above the cutoff point, with values ranging from 30 to 35.

The Global Peace Index, in its 2017 report, lists 14 countries which it defines as having a “very low” state of peace: North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Central African Republican Republic, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (in descending order). A further 19 countries were listed as having a “low” state of peace: Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Chad, Eritrea, India, Philippines, Egypt, Mali, Burundi, Mexico, Venezuela, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, Turkey, Lebanon and Nigeria (again, in descending order). Two African countries (Botswana and Sierra Leone) received a rating of high, as did five Asian countries (Bhutan, Singapore, Malaysia, Qatar and Taiwan) and two Latin American countries (Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay). Interestingly, the United States’ ranking was 114 out of 170 countries, while China’s was 116. I think it’s fair to categorize countries with a very low state of peace as “holes.” That includes Russia, Ukraine and Pakistan.

A list of “holes” that we’ve identified so far

So where are we now? Using intentional homicide rates, the top five crime rates, the Safety Index and the Global Peace Index, we have arrived at the following list of “holes”:


Europe (2 countries):

Russia and Ukraine.


Asia (7 countries):

India, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea and Pakistan.


Latin America and the Caribbean (16 countries):

Caribbean: US Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas, Anguilla, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Montserrat.

Central America: El Salvador, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala.

South America: Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia.


Africa (8 countries):

South Africa, Lesotho, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Sudan.


Oceania:

Tuvalu.

Why poverty makes more “holes”

Are we done yet? No. Extreme poverty can also make a country a “hole.” So I had a look at the Wikipedia’s list of countries by GDP per capita, as measured by PPP. Actually, there were three lists, put out by the IMF, the World Bank and the CIA. In the end, I decided to use the CIA’s list, because it contained the most countries (198 altogether). I then pondered where to draw my cutoff point. Some useful reference points were provided by the following countries: North Korea 1,800 dollars, Afghanistan 2,000 dollars and Zimbabwe 2,100 dollars. I think most people would consider these countries to be economic hellholes, quite apart from their political systems or their lack of safety. But then again, Uganda’s per capita GDP in PPP terms was the same as Zimbabwe’s. I finally decided to make 2,000 dollars per capita my non-arbitrary cutoff point. It’s a pretty modest cutoff point, really, when you consider that Bangladesh has a per capita GDP (in PPP terms) of 3,600 dollars. That of Africa as a whole is 6,136 dollars. India’s is 6,200 dollars, that of the Philippines is 7,300 dollars, while even El Salvador’s is 8,500 dollars. Of the 26 countries with a per capita GDP of 2,000 dollars or less, 22 are African countries (South Sudan, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Mali, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Comoros, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mozambique, Guinea, Malawi, Eritrea, Niger, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic, Somalia), two are Asian (Afghanistan and North Korea) and one is in the Americas (Haiti).

So the bad news is that Africa now has 26 “hole” countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Mali, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Comoros, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mozambique, Guinea, Malawi, Eritrea, Niger, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic and Somalia. That’s nearly half of the countries of Africa. (These 26 countries have a combined population of around 523 million, or around 43% of the total population of Africa.) Also, Haiti has been added to the list of Caribbean “holes,” on account of its very low GDP per capita.

There is some good news on the horizon, however: real GDP growth rates per capita (PPP) for many African countries are spectacularly high. Here are the World Bank figures for annual growth rates for the period 1990 to 2014: Equatorial Guinea 17.79%, Cape Verde 7.81%, Mauritius 5.72%, Ethiopia 5.43%, Uganda 5.41%, Ghana 5.09%, Lesotho 4.88%, Tunisia 4.85%, Burkina Faso 4.76%, Chad 4.74%, Nigeria 4.71%, Rwanda 4.71%, Morocco 4.61%, Seychelles 4.53%, Egypt 4.24%, Namibia 4.22%, Tanzania 4.17%, Zambia 4.07%, Malawi 3.61%, Mali 3.45%, Sierra Leone 3.36%, Benin 3.26%, Mauritania 3.26%, Algeria 3.21%, Swaziland 3.00%. That’s 25 out of 54 countries in Africa with a real GDP per capita (PPP) growth rate of 3% or more. [Unfortunately, Wikipedia doesn’t list any figures for the CIA.] [Updated – VJT.]

What that means is that many African countries which are “holes” now, because of their very low GDP per capita, won’t remain that way for very much longer. In ten years, the list of “holes” will be much shorter. (For example: a country with a current GDP per capita (PPP) of 1,228 dollars, which is growing at 5% per year, will reach 2,000 dollars and climb out of “hole” status in the space of just ten years.)

UPDATE: The bad news, however, is that if we look at the world as a whole, we find that its GDP per capita (PPP) grew at an annual growth rate of 4.34%, which was exceeded by just 14 of these African countries. Also, if we look at the 42 countries whose GDP for per capita (PPP) grew at an annual rate of less than 3% for 1990-2014, we find that 19 of those countries were African countries: South Africa 2.82%, Senegal 2.79%, Kenya 2.76%, Republic of the Congo 2.59%, Guinea 2.18%, Cameroon 2.14%, The Gambia 2.14%, Togo 2.08%, Djibouti 2.05%, Niger 1.98%, Gabon 1.89%, Cote d’Ivoire 1.88%, Comoros 1.54%, Guinea-Bissau 1.48%, Madagascar 1.23%, Burundi 0.53%, Zimbabwe 0.39%, Central African Republic -0.07%, Democratic Republic -0.39%. What’s more, nine of these countries belong to the 22 countries identified above as having a GDP per capita (PPP) of 2,000 dollars or less.)

Low freedom ratings make three more holes in Asia, and one in Africa [UPDATE]

A country may also be described as a “hole” if it is totally unfree. Freedom House, in its 2016 Table of Country Scores, gives 10 countries (not counting disputed territories such as Tibet, Crimea and Pakistani Kashmir) the worst possible rating (7) in all three of its categories: political rights, civil liberties and freedom rating. The countries are Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Sudan, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Saudi Arabia. Most of these countries are already on our list, but four are not. Three of these (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia) are in Asia, while one (Equatorial Guinea) is in Africa.

So, what counts as a “hole” and how many countries are “holes”?

We now have two European “holes,” 10 Asian ones, 17 from the Americas, 27 from Africa and one from Oceania, making a total of 55, out of 200-odd countries. (Updated) That’s about a quarter of the world’s countries. A “hole” can be non-arbitrarily defined as a country which:

(i) has an intentional homicide rate of at least 20 per 100,000 people; or

(ii) has a very high [top five] overall crime rate (excluding theft); or

(iii) has a Safety Index of 30 or less; or

(iv) has a Global Peace Index of “very low”; or

(v) has a GDP per capita of 2,000 dollars or less in PPP terms; or

(vi) has the worst possible rating (7) from Freedom House in political rights, civil liberties and its Freedom Rating. (Updated)

Whose fault is it, and does it matter?

Finally, I’d like to reiterate that calling a country a “hole” doesn’t necessarily mean that its misfortunes are entirely, or even principally, its fault. Some countries are innocent victims of meddling by foreign powers; others are victimized by dictators that seize power.

Nevertheless, if we’re really being honest, I think we’d have to admit that in today’s world, most countries’ troubles are largely home-grown, being generally caused by dysfunctional cultural values, religious bigotry and political corruption. It is easy to point the finger of blame at outside forces: the legacy of Columbus, or of slavery, or of colonialism, or of Pax Americana. And let us acknowledge that tens of millions died as a result of the conquest of the Americas and the slave trade, not to mention the awful toll of colonialism in the Belgian Congo and in British India.

But let’s face facts: Columbus lived 500 years ago, slavery was abolished in most countries well before 1900, and the majority of African countries have been independent for at least 50 years. There has to be a time limit on blaming past injustices for present misfortunes. If 50 years isn’t enough time for a country to turn itself from a “hole” into a thrifty but economically and politically stable country, then I ask: what is?

“What about poverty in Africa?” you ask. Surely the West is principally responsible for that? The Wikipedia article Economy of Africa paints a different picture, however. Consider this inconvenient fact, taken from the article: “Although Africa and Asia had similar levels of income in the 1960s, Asia has since outpaced Africa.” It’s surely fair to ask why. The article continues:

“One school of economists argues that Asia’s superior economic development lies in local investment. Corruption in Africa consists primarily of extracting economic rent and moving the resulting financial capital overseas instead of investing at home; the stereotype of African dictators with Swiss bank accounts is often accurate.

That sounds like a home-grown problem to me.

Colonialism is often blamed for Africa’s woes. But consider this fact:

“Analysis of the economies of African states finds that independent states such as Liberia and Ethiopia did not have better economic performance than their post-colonial counterparts.”

The effects of colonialism were decidedly mixed. The colonialists did lots of evil things, but it was what they didn’t do that caused more harm to Africa, with many historians arguing that they should have done more to develop Africa’s infrastructure and open up the continent:

Historians L. H. Gann and Peter Duignan have argued that Africa probably benefited from colonialism on balance. Although it had its faults, colonialism was probably “one of the most efficacious engines for cultural diffusion in world history”.[30] These views, however, are controversial and are rejected by some who, on balance, see colonialism as bad. The economic historian David Kenneth Fieldhouse has taken a kind of middle position, arguing that the effects of colonialism were actually limited and their main weakness wasn’t in deliberate underdevelopment but in what it failed to do.[31] Niall Ferguson agrees with his last point, arguing that colonialism’s main weaknesses were sins of omission.[32]

Language diversity is also a huge problem in Africa:

“African countries suffer from communication difficulties caused by language diversity. Greenberg’s diversity index is the chance that two randomly selected people would have different mother tongues. Out of the most diverse 25 countries according to this index, 18 (72%) are African.[40] This includes 12 countries for which Greenberg’s diversity index exceeds 0.9, meaning that a pair of randomly selected people will have less than 10% chance of having the same mother tongue. However, the primary language of government, political debate, academic discourse, and administration is often the language of the former colonial powers; English, French, or Portuguese.

Maybe some readers would still argue that the West (including America) should give more money to Africa. Not so fast:

“Growing evidence shows that foreign aid has made the continent poorer. One of the biggest critics of the aid development model is economist Dambiso Moyo (a Zambian economist based in the US), who introduced the Dead Aid model, which highlights how foreign aid has been a deterrent for local development.”

Economic protectionism in developed countries hampers Africa’s growth, as well:

“When developing countries have harvested agricultural produce at low cost, they generally do not export as much as would be expected. Abundant farm subsidies and high import tariffs in the developed world, most notably those set by Japan, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, and the United States Department of Agriculture, are thought to be the cause. Although these subsidies and tariffs have been gradually reduced, they remain high.”

Trade, rather than aid, is the best way to help Africa escape poverty. To the extent that the West is harming Africa, it is largely by refusing to trade with it. And if there is one country that deserves much of the credit for Africa’s astonishing growth in recent years, it is China, which has stepped up its volume of trade with Africa and invested heavily in local infrastructure.

A plea for balance

As for US intervention in El Salvador: let us remember that its UN-brokered peace agreement was signed back in 1992, more than a quarter of a century ago. Despite decades of peace, the GDP growth rate in El Salvador averaged a measly 0.72 percent from 1990 until 2017. That can hardly be America’s fault. Nor can the sky-high homicide rate be blamed on America.

And let’s hear both sides of the story, too. Quartz magazine has just published a long and indignant tirade enumerating the past wrongs suffered by Haiti at America’s hands, including a 19-year occupation by U.S. marines from 1915-1934, during which thousands of innocent people died under a racist government. But the article fails to mention that the U.S. occupation dramatically improved the island’s infrastructure: “1700 km of roads were made usable, 189 bridges were built, many irrigation canals were rehabilitated, hospitals, schools, and public buildings were constructed, and drinking water was brought to the main cities.” Let’s give credit where credit’s due, I say. And let’s also ask, fearlessly: what is it that continues to hold some countries (like Haiti) back, long after the Marines departed?

And above all: let us not be afraid of calling a “hole” what it really is. Before we can change the world for the better, we need to confront it in all its ugliness. And with that, I’d like to conclude my response to Cardinal Dolan. Over to you.

315 thoughts on “Why I disagree with Cardinal Dolan’s remark that “no country is a ‘hole.'”

  1. vjtorley: it is up to each country to decide whether to open its doors to migrants from all countries on humanitarian grounds, or whether to restrict immigration from countries known to have high levels of violence, on prudential grounds.

    Oh, so your answer to whether the unpleasantness of the country justifies opposing the migration of its citizens here is “yes”. Hmmm.

  2. Joe, to Vincent:

    Oh, so your answer to whether the unpleasantness of the country justifies opposing the migration of its citizens here is “yes”. Hmmm.

    And on “prudential grounds”, no less.

    Come on, Vincent. To oppose immigration from “shithole countries” on “prudential grounds” is ridiculous. It presumes that if you’re from a “shithole country”, you’re probably a shitty person and should be kept out. But the US needs more Norwegians, because none of them are shitty. Think Anders Breivik.

    It’s indefensible to paint with such a broad brush either way.

  3. Faizal Ali,

    Ah, I see. So it’s the fault of the brown and black people in America that it’s such a shithole.

    Or maybe it’s a shithole because of how it treats the brown and black people who live within its borders.

    I have to say, your posts here are about as racist as one can get without ruining his bedsheets by cutting eye holes in them.

    It appears that you suffer from severe reading comprehension problems. Here’s what I actually wrote in my response to you:

    Most of the differences you cite boil down to the fact that America is more multicultural than Europe, and somewhat more religious.

    How, one wonders, would sheltered Europe cope with America’s level of ethnic diversity? Not very well, I imagine.

    The causes of higher maternal mortality rates among women of African-American descent are complex, and include hereditary factors (higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes) as well as institutionalized racism (see also here).

    Thus for black Americans, the level of violence in the community borders on totally unacceptable, going by the criteria I suggested. This is obviously an issue America needs to address.

    And from my OP:

    And let us acknowledge that tens of millions died as a result of the conquest of the Americas and the slave trade, not to mention the awful toll of colonialism in the Belgian Congo and in British India.

    I defy any fair-minded person to read the foregoing statements and conclude from them that America’s problems are “the fault of the brown and black people.”

  4. Hi Professor Felsenstein,

    Oh, so your answer to whether the unpleasantness of the country justifies opposing the migration of its citizens here is “yes”.

    keiths:

    To oppose immigration from “shithole countries” on “prudential grounds” is ridiculous. It presumes that if you’re from a “shithole country”, you’re probably a shitty person and should be kept out.

    Let me quote again from the 2013 Pew Forum survey:

    In South Asia, high percentages in all the countries surveyed support making sharia the official law, including nearly universal support among Muslims in Afghanistan (99%).

    To quote Wikipedia: “Afghanistan is an Islamic republic where Islam is practiced by 99.7% of its population.

    99% is not 100%. But it’s pretty darned close. And there’s something else too: taquiya:

    In Islam, Taqiya or taqiyya (Arabic: taqiyyah, literally “prudence, fear”)[1][2] is a precautionary dissimulation or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution.[3][4][1][5] Another term for this concept, kitmān (lit. “action of covering, dissimulation”), has a more specific meaning of dissimulation by silence or omission.[6][7]

    This practice is emphasized in Shia Islam whereby adherents are permitted to conceal their religion when under threat of persecution or compulsion.[3][8] However, it is also permitted in Sunni Islam under certain circumstances.[9][10]

    OK, so imagine you’re an American immigration official, interviewing an Afghani citizen who’s applying for residence in the United States. So you ask him: “What do you think about sharia law?”

    He laughs. “I’m an educated man. I don’t hold with such nonsense. Live and let live, I say.”

    Now, he may be telling the truth – in which case, if you refuse his application, you’ll be denying an innocent and enlightened man the opportunity to reside in the land of the free and the home of the brave. But there’s a very good chance, statistically speaking, that he’s dissimulating, and that he’s really a fanatical bigot – an educated bigot, to be sure, but still a bigot.

    What would you do? I certainly know what I’d do. “Better safe than sorry” is surely the appropriate maxim here.

    But the US needs more Norwegians, because none of them are shitty. Think Anders Breivik.

    When did I ever claim that would-be immigrants from any region of the world should be allowed to enter the U.S. without being questioned by immigration authorities? That would be ridiculous. And if you look at the Wikipedia article on Breivik, you’ll see lots of red flags that would trigger warning bells for any competent immigration official, including his 2010 visit to Prague, in an attempt to buy illegal weapons.

  5. vjtorley: You need to dig a little deeper, when comparing the U.S. with other countries in the industrialized world. Most of the differences you cite boil down to the fact that America is more multicultural than Europe, and somewhat more religious.

    Vincent, you are having your cake and eating it too.

    For all the “holes” you have mentioned in the OP, you are waving away any mitigating circumstances:

    There has to be a time limit on blaming past injustices for present misfortunes. If 50 years isn’t enough time for a country to turn itself from a “hole” into a thrifty but economically and politically stable country, then I ask: what is?

    But suddenly, for the US this does not apply and if we dare compare it to European countries we are comparing apples and oranges because the US has “chosen to take on more challenges than most other developed countries.”

    So what has prevented the US from overcoming those challenges in the past 50 years?

  6. vjtorley: OK, so imagine you’re an American immigration official, interviewing an Afghani citizen who’s applying for residence in the United States. So you ask him: “What do you think about sharia law?”

    He laughs. “I’m an educated man. I don’t hold with such nonsense. Live and let live, I say.”

    Now, he may be telling the truth – in which case, if you refuse his application, you’ll be denying an innocent and enlightened man the opportunity to reside in the land of the free and the home of the brave. But there’s a very good chance, statistically speaking, that he’s dissimulating, and that he’s really a fanatical bigot – an educated bigot, to be sure, but still a bigot.

    Ah, right. We should not allow Muslims to migrate to America, because Muslims are mostly all liars.

    What a totally non-racist thing for the totally non-racist Dr. Vincent J. Torley to say.

    You were questioning my reading comprehension earlier. I wonder what it says about your reading comprehension that you drew the above conclusion from a Wikipedia article that said this:

    The doctrine of taqiyya was developed at the time of Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 148 AH/765 AD), the sixth Imamiya Imam. It served to protect Shias when Al-Mansur, the Abbasid caliph, conducted a brutal and oppressive campaign against Alids and their supporters.[24] Religious dissimulation or Taqiyya while maintaining mental reservation is considered lawful in Shi’ism “in situations where there is overwhelming danger of loss of life or property and where no danger to religion would occur thereby”. Shi’is lived mostly as a minority among a frequently-hostile Sunni majority until the rise of Safavid dynasty. This condition made taqiyya doctrine important to Shias.[8]

    and:

    In Sunni jurisprudence protecting one’s belief during extreme or exigent circumstances is called idtirar (إضطرار), which translates to “being forced” or “being coerced”, and this word is not specific to concealing the faith; for example, under the jurisprudence of idtirar one is allowed to consume prohibited food to avoid starving to death.[41] Additionally, denying one’s faith under duress is “only at most permitted and not under all circumstances obligatory”.[10] Al-Tabari comments on sura XVI, verse 106 (Tafsir, Bulak 1323, xxiv, 122): “If any one is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts him, in order to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him, because God takes his servants as their hearts believe.” This verse was recorded after Ammar Yasir was forced by the idolaters of Mecca to recant his faith and denounce the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Al-Tabari explains that concealing one’s faith is only justified if the person is in mortal danger, and even then martyrdom is considered a noble alternative. If threatened, it would be preferable for a Muslim to migrate to a more peaceful place where a person may practice their faith openly, “since God’s earth is wide.”[10]

    Hmm. In my experience, bigots and racists quite commonly misconstrue the concept of taqiya in exactly the way you did right here. What an interesting coincidence.

  7. petrushka: Thanks for a moment of sanity. I personally don’t thing the current support for mass immigration has anything to do with compassion.

    My definition of a “shithole country”

    … a country whose agenda has been hijacked by the Left bent on social engineering for the long-term future in quite deliberate fashion

    Why the migrants to Germany? The Left wants a lockhold on electoral majorities in the future. How so?

    Fast forward to 3:07 for an interesting data point

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYmTFL9nbRQ

    This statement is being repeated in city councils – Landestage – & even in the Bundestag!

    The Left wants to beat Canada in a post-modernist definition of state without national identity and no border so everyone can replace their national anthyms with the Internationale … scratch that… with the lyrics of Jon Lennon’s song Imagine

    Goddamit – no – I am not making any of this up

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNPrUZ0Qf3U

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-94NXJHyBM

    Kafka could not dream this sh!t up in his worse nightmares…

    Lenin and Stalin had a euphemism for morons like these: “useful idiots!”

    Europe is done for… it has no future!

    https://www.steynonline.com/7298/imagine-there-no-imagination

  8. TomMueller: My definition of a “shithole country”

    …a country whose agenda has been hijacked by the Left bent on social engineering for the long-term future in quite deliberate fashion.

    Awesome definition of ‘shithole’ Tom. Briefly, anywhere that has a political stance you disagree with. And, incidentally, Every government deliberately engages in social engineering to benefit the long-term future to one extent or another.

  9. Joe Felsenstein: Oh, so your answer to whether the unpleasantness of the country justifies opposing the migration of its citizens here is “yes”.Hmmm.

    Joe – I think you are missing the point.

    If another jurisdiction declares itself as an enemy of the USA – and goes so far as to declare war on the USA – and even mounts successful attacks on the USA, on the scale of Pearl Harbor even

    … yes, than I would agree that opposition to the USA from any such jurisdiction is indeed justified.

    Of course, Canada’s Prime Minister is taking a different tack than the USA’s President. We just allowed 60 ISIS terrorists to return to Canada because of military setbacks in the ME obliged them to flee and seek shelter in Canada. So – how is Canada going to deal with these criminal terrorists? )

    Drum roll please:

    After conducting this research, the Canadian government came to the conclusion that the best way to de-radicalize terrorists was to create podcasts, poetry, and “art-based pedagogy” to empower terrorists to see the evils of ISIS.

    Yeah – wish us good luck with that!

    Joe – Perhaps you missed my earlier responses to your noble sentiments

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/why-i-disagree-with-cardinal-dolans-remark-that-no-country-is-a-hole/comment-page-1/#comment-210279

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/why-i-disagree-with-cardinal-dolans-remark-that-no-country-is-a-hole/comment-page-1/#comment-210280

  10. walto: Awesome definition of ‘shithole’Tom. Briefly, anywhere that has a political stance you disagree with.And, incidentally, Every government deliberately engages in social engineering to benefit the long-term future to one extent or another.

    SCREW YOU walto

    this isn’t funny anymore!

    Sweden now has the highest rape statistics anywhere in the world except perhaps Lesotho Africa.

    Prepubescent girls are only recently getting gang-raped in numbers so horrifying that the government has locked down freedom of the press and refuses to let the public know how bad the problem is.

    Meanwhile – entire cities are becoming no-go zones in Sweden and get this: a police station had to be moved at great expense, because it was too dangerous for the police to have their offices in the old location!

    Meanwhile, other cities which are not yet no-go zones witness police advising women and girls to no longer walk outside after dark because the danger presented by migrants is so great, the police can no longer afford protection

    and… this really gets me…

    Leftard politicians are criticizing police for being so conscientious, demanding no further public warning be given in future because it makes Sweden’s policies look bad… oh oh… but don’t forget – favored neighborhoods inhabited by Swedish politicians get extra police protection dontchya know!

    Yeah – of course correlation is not causation… go to hell!

  11. God, what a nonsensical post, Tom. From the opening insult to the stupid inferences from Sweden’s government policies to its rape rates. Where do you get this nonsensical stuff anyhow, some right wing site based in a survivalist bunker in Galveston? Infowars?

    Well, wherever you find it, it’s dead stupid.

  12. Rumraket: So you must have done those experiments. A large number of independent Christmas and Easter celebrations have been conducted, in public squares of Aleppo, Mosul, Berlin and Stockholm, and there were recorded a statistically significant larger number of violent attacks in Berlin and Stockholm, compared to Mosul and Aleppo?

    Impress me by confirming you’re not just making this up.

    Goddamit

    It has indeed been a long time since I have witnessed such a disingenuous specimen of specious sophistry

    ISIS has only been just been neutralized in the ME and Aleppo and Mosul only THIS YEAR have enjoyed freedom from ISIS…

    … so a data set of several decades would not be available for statistical analysis… now would it!

    godamit!

    OK – let’s compare two data points:

    Christmas in Aleppo and Christmas in Berlin:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-25/christmas-liberated-aleppo

    http://www.dw.com/en/the-attack-how-terrorism-came-to-berlin/av-41851670

    BTW – have you heard of Merkel-Lego?

    https://tinyurl.com/y7xz2ycv

    The cost in Berlin alone over Xmas this last year cost over 200 000 Euro!!!! This price tag does not include the astronomical price tag for additional police and military to protect civilians.

    You will note that no such expense is required in Aleppo today.

  13. walto:
    God, what a nonsensical post, Tom. From the opening insult to the stupid inferences from Sweden’s government policies to its rape rates.Where do you get this nonsensical stuff anyhow, some right wing site based in a survivalist bunker in Galveston?Infowars?

    Well, wherever you find it, it’s dead stupid.

    Oh yeah

    Go tell that to Norway!
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/why-i-disagree-with-cardinal-dolans-remark-that-no-country-is-a-hole/comment-page-1/#comment-210279

    I have provided enough data points for you to peruse… check them out before wasting bandwidth and my time.

    Before I go – I will remind you of another data point I already offered you

    One of the oldest and largest Jewish communities in Europe was Malmö, Within a decade, Judaism is on the brink of extinction there! Malmö has become so dangerous, that refugees are claiming that city is now more dangerous than the shit-holes they originally needed to flee to begin with

    As a result, refugees are fleeing Malmö and seeking refuge elsewhere.

    Somewhere in that story lies a lesson… can you figure it out?

    https://www.wochenblick.at/kriminalitaets-hochburg-malmoe-jetzt-fliehen-sogar-die-fluechtlinge/

  14. TomMueller: Somewhere in that story lies a lesson

    I suggest it’s best when intervention reduces chaos in some community struck by war, famine or other catastrophe rather than creating or exacerbating it.

    ETA refugees would rather stay in their home community. Having it, say, raised to the ground by bombing causes them top flee.

  15. Alan Fox,

    It is quite simple really,

    We all agree that offering asylum is (well not always) made with altruistic intentions… Joe is without question an altruist and deserves praise for his sense of decency

    But I ask everyone to reexamine more carefully, a Hobbesian choice from a German POV:

    Everyone understands that Current policy will inevitably bring more criminals (many Salafists and former ISIS) i.e. murderers and rapists into Germany,

    That means current policy will inevitably result in the murder and rape of more INNOCENT Germans, not to mention innocent asylum seekers.

    That means we in the West are all supposed to magnanimously accept a policy which will result in the murder of countless German innocents and the rape of countless German girls because Germany is to be motivated by good intentions…

    In short –the Left justifies current policy, because to do otherwise would lead to an even greater slaughter of a greater number of innocent Syrians as well as other oppressed peoples suffering genocide… the increase in Germany’s violent crime is an unfortunate but necessary price to pay

    Trust me – I have summarized the Left’s argument correctly, at least from a German POV.

    Here is where I disagree:

    The Left is correct that the West cannot stand by and do nothing while innocent Syrians and others suffer genocide and atrocity

    We are obligated under the UN Charter (Germany especially) to intervene whenever and wherever Genocide occurs! That means the West has a moral obligation to send in the military, together with “boots on the ground” when necessary. Will the lives of German soldiers be lost… Yes, that too represents an unfortunate but necessary price to pay for rescuing Syria. The difference is that a successful military operation will prevent the suffering/deaths of countless millions as compared to the lucky few who wash up on European shores.

    So where are we – let us now juxtapose two unfortunate but necessary prices to pay, for two alternative versions of altruism, according to a cost-benefit analysis.

    I suggest that the price suggested by the Left is too costly, for minimal results and goes nowhere near addressing our stated goal of opposing genocide and atrocity wherever it occurs.

    http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2017-09/verfassungsschutz-salafismus-deutschland-gefaehrder-terrorismus

  16. TomMueller: I suggest that the price suggested by the Left is too costly, for minimal results and goes nowhere near addressing our stated goal of opposing genocide and atrocity wherever it occurs.

    A reasoned argument, are all refugees vetted before being admitted, what is the demographic makeup of those refugees( age, sex) , what percentage of refugees have been convicted or charged with crime?

    What the right’s solution to this issue of refugees and to their allies such as the Greeks?” A successful miltary operation” I am sure would be widely supported in the abstract ,could you flesh out what that would consist of?

    Please no links to Sputnik News.

    ETA: ninjaed by Alan

  17. Faizal Ali,

    Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on taquiya which you cited:

    Religious dissimulation or Taqiyya while maintaining mental reservation is considered lawful in Shi’ism “in situations where there is overwhelming danger of loss of life or property and where no danger to religion would occur thereby”.

    The way I read that, the quote would seem to imply that if you honestly believe that by remaining in a country, you’d lose everything you have, but you could prevent that loss by fleeing the country, then dissimulation may be justifiable.

    I’m not sure what Sunni Muslim jurists would have to say about that, however. But I do know one thing about human nature: most human beings, religious or otherwise, would lie in a situation like that.

    More food for thought: https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/taqiyya.aspx

    Anyway, I feel that the exchange between us has gone on for long enough, so I will end it here. If you have anything you’d like to add, please feel free to do so.

  18. Tom:

    The problem is the West caused the chaos in the middle east, and the current policies are not helping.

    If I were a cynic, I might think nations have decided they need a level of terrorism to justify their CIAs and Homeland Security apparatuses. Job security.

  19. I always thought that Jesus Christ accepted everyone…even the people from the “holes”…

    Weren’t his followers former prostitutes, tax collectors, homosexuals, extortionists, alcoholics, even murderers? Maybe even former atheists…

    I wonder: What would Jesus say if he were to comment on this blog?

    Would he discriminate anyone because of his nationality, origins, or background?

  20. stcordova:
    Tom Mueller quotes ZeroHedge.Me likes.🙂

    Zerohedge is a source of data… I am less iinterested in zerohedge’s spin on a story than examining the data they present.
    I do the same with left wing news sources

    The data provided in the European Press is gobstoping !!!

    What the typical man on the European street now accepts as acceptable is beyond credulity

    The Visegrad nations of four remain outliers and remarkable in their refusal to succumb to this new Zeitgeist – the last refuge of European sanity

  21. petrushka:
    Tom:

    The problem is the West caused the chaos in the middle east, and the current policies are not helping.

    If I were a cynic, I might think nations have decided they need a level of terrorism to justify their CIAs and Homeland Security apparatuses. Job security.

    With all due respect and appeciation for what you communicate: I agree with your sentiment but fear you over generalize and oversimplify what has occurred

    The left have taken control of the press and education in Europe. Detritus still remaining from the 1968 riots are still in control on campuses and in the press! They have managed to convince a generation of Europeans that the Left alone has a social conscience and that the Right represent pecuniary and political self interest. The fact of the matter is that entirely the contrary is true!

    The terrorism in the ME owes its existence to foolhardy foreign policy emanating from left wing corners. I remember reading an insightful Israeli op-ed castigating Obama’s venal foreign policy (as enabled by Hillary). They predicted that American incompetence would result in an escalation of ME bloodshed by being a codependent to Iranian madness and furthering a Turkish dictatorship. At the time, I thought they had overstated their case. Today, I remain amazed by their prescience!

    So what about Trump?

    He assembled his military leaders and asked two questions: can ISIS be beaten, and if so what was required?

    The results speak for themselves

    I am no fan of Trump… but I despise the alternative even more

  22. Alan Fox:
    TomMueller,

    What would you consider a successful military operation? Who do you think is being successful at the moment?

    Russia and Iran are successful for the moment, because the have already filled the vacuum left by Obama’s ignoble retreat

  23. J-Mac:
    I always thought that Jesus Christ accepted everyone…even the people from the “holes”…

    Weren’t his followers former prostitutes, tax collectors, homosexuals, extortionists, alcoholics, even murderers?Maybe even former atheists…

    I wonder: What would Jesus say if he were to comment on this blog?

    Would he discriminate anyone because of his nationality, origins, or background?

    All God’s children , though He seemed a bit pissed at the money lenders at the temple.

  24. J-Mac:
    I always thought that Jesus Christ accepted everyone…even the people from the “holes”…

    Weren’t his followers former prostitutes, tax collectors, homosexuals, extortionists, alcoholics, even murderers?Maybe even former atheists…

    I wonder: What would Jesus say if he were to comment on this blog?

    Would he discriminate anyone because of his nationality, origins, or background?

    Jesus would discriminate based on faith in him, conclusions, about who gets into heaven. never mind a shorttime stay in a country.

    This thread has jumped around.
    However its a histopric and moral right and duty not to let in enemies who would hurt your people. This because its a contract between the people and the government that the government will protect the people OTHERWISE the contract for the people to obey the government is made null and void.
    Therefore Trump must keep out enemies. Therefore since its impossible to discriminate between good ones and bad ones in some country thats creating these enemies THEN all people from those countries must be kept out.
    Its a gift, a lottery, to get in the first place. They are undeserving of such a great reward of a great nations stuff.
    NONE OF THIS most are good and only a few bad. There is no justification or excuse for allowing any humans in from these nations which are clearly creating terrorists.
    Its Trumps only possible reply or he is breaking the legitamacy of american government.
    i think everyone should be taught a lesson once more about a peioples right to decide who.how many can come in.
    No immigration/migration/students/workers for the next few years.
    Teach them a moral, legal, political, lesson. Canada too.

  25. Here are the opportunities that America provides for someone of non-white descent:

    https://www.nasa.gov/astronauts/biographies/jonny-kim/biography

    Summary:
    Dr. Jonny Kim has been selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He will report for duty in August 2017. The California native trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in Mathematics at the University of San Diego and a Doctorate of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

    Education:
    Graduated from Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California, 2002. Earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, summa cum laude from the University of San Diego, 2012. Earned a Doctorate of Medicine from Harvard Medical School, 2016. Served his medical internship at the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, 2017.

    Experience:
    Kim enlisted in the Navy as a Seaman recruit following graduation from Santa Monica High School in 2002. After completion of training at Naval Special Warfare, he was assigned as a Special Warfare Operator to SEAL Team THREE in San Diego, California. He served as a combat medic, sniper, navigator and point man on more than 100 combat operations spanning two deployments to the Middle East before accepting the Navy’s commissioning program in 2009. Kim was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) into the Medical Corps following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2012. At the time of his selection in June 2017, Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine with Partners Healthcare at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Kim for President!

  26. J-Mac: I always thought that Jesus Christ accepted everyone…even the people from the “holes”…

    Weren’t his followers former prostitutes, tax collectors, homosexuals, extortionists, alcoholics, even murderers? Maybe even former atheists…

    I wonder: What would Jesus say if he were to comment on this blog?

    Would he discriminate anyone because of his nationality, origins, or background?

    OK, this is scary.

    J-Mac sounds more reasonable than Tom Mueller

    I want to go back to discussing evolution, please.

  27. vjtorley: The way I read that, the quote would seem to imply that if you honestly believe that by remaining in a country, you’d lose everything you have, but you could prevent that loss by fleeing the country, then dissimulation may be justifiable.

    I don’t think that is what is implied in the passage. But, sure, I could see someone doing that. Do you think only Muslims would?

  28. Faizal Ali,

    Seeing as you asked me a question, I’ll respond.

    I don’t think that is what is implied in the passage. But, sure, I could see someone doing that. Do you think only Muslims would?

    Heck, no. As I said above, “most human beings, religious or otherwise, would lie in a situation like that.”

    I also want to make it clear that I do not oppose immigration from Muslim countries per se. Indonesia and Turkey, for instance, are fine with me, and probably quite a few African countries as well. I just worry about taking people (of any religion) from countries where the vast majority of people hold profoundly anti-democratic views. That’s all.

  29. vjtorley: I just worry about taking people (of any religion) from countries where the vast majority of people hold profoundly anti-democratic views.

    Unless something’s changed recently, being found guilty of blashphemy in Pakistan exposes you to the death penalty. Would you refuse the offer of help to refugees who were under threat of blasphemy charges because the vast majority in Pakistan supports (if indeed they do, I don’t know) the death penalty for blasphemers (otherwise read non-Muslims)?

  30. Faizal Ali: I don’t think that is what is implied in the passage.But, sure, I could see someone doing that.Do you think only Muslims would?

    I think you missed VJT’s whole point!

    Of course humans are not angels and of course any and all denominations include scoundrels who hypocritically resort to mendacity and subterfuge when dealing with “non-believers”

    The point you seem to be missing is that no denomination has codified such dishonesty as acceptable, and even expected, misbehaviour when dealing with “non-believers”; none except Islam.

    OK… maybe a little more than a century ago the Mormons, as well, although I am unaware of any codification of their overt dishonesty, which in any case is no longer practiced by Mormons

    Now am I NOT saying all Muslims are diabolical jihadi bent on destroying us , their declared enemy, by all means available including Taqia?

    Of course not. Muslims are no different than say Jews and Christians whose understanding of their relation to God and to their fellow man has evolved to more enlightened levels

    I have some very close Muslim friends and I was honoured when they participated my wedding and our children’s baptisms/ confirmations/ etc

    When discussing such delicate topics with them, they point out that Bible includes references to horrific practices which are no longer acceptable; including slavery, subjugation of women and child abuse

    I think we are all agreed so far…

    So if I indelicately press the point further; such as full facial covering of women in public; my Muslim friends are quick to explain that the origins of many of the practices I identify, only go back 50 years and represent cultural and not religious practice.

    My Muslim friends are no less horrified than I with what they themselves deem primitive and barbaric CULTURAL practices (female genital mutilation jumps to mind)

    Mind you… if you think about it, some atavistic Christian and Jewish groups still practice some attrocities which are no less repulsive

    So, are we in agreement so far?

    The salient conclusion is that multiculturalism is inherently incoherent! Some cultures are so inferior they have become repulsive to modern Western sensibilities! Such statements do NOT represent racism but rather represent the very same opinions of Muslims and others eager to integrate and enjoy the benefits of Western society.

    There exist Islamists (let’s not call them Muslim since they disgrace the legacy of the prophet) who do not share such “enlightened” or evolved viewpoints AND see themselves as enemies of the West. They are determined to destroy the West and all it stands for (segue to anti-Zionism)

    So where does this leave us?

    There exist unwelcome “assholes” (whether or not their countried are “shithole”) who have no place in our society because they represent a threat to our society. To state the obvious and declare such individuals are unwelcome to our shores, does not represent racism. Common sense is not racist!

    Make no mistake … not just Islamists: much of what I write applies no less to other inferiour/repulsive cultural mores. I share some of my Bosnian (also Muslim) buddies’ revulsion to certain Serbian immigrants to Canada.

    Don’t take my word for it- just ask a heroic Canadian Muslim, Tarek Fatah. He is quick to point out that Canada is racist in the extreme: namely the racism of reduced expectations and the tolerance of intolerance!

  31. Joe Felsenstein: Oh, so your answer to whether the unpleasantness of the country justifies opposing the migration of its citizens here is “yes”.Hmmm.

    Joe… I hear ya

    Did my post Faizal Ali, immediately above, manage to address your concerns?

  32. Corneel,

    Vincent, you are having your cake and eating it too.

    For all the “holes” you have mentioned in the OP, you are waving away any mitigating circumstances:

    There has to be a time limit on blaming past injustices for present misfortunes. If 50 years isn’t enough time for a country to turn itself from a “hole” into a thrifty but economically and politically stable country, then I ask: what is?

    But suddenly, for the US this does not apply and if we dare compare it to European countries we are comparing apples and oranges because the US has “chosen to take on more challenges than most other developed countries.”

    So what has prevented the US from overcoming those challenges in the past 50 years?

    Fair question. First of all, let’s remember that America is not a “hole.” Let’s look at the definition I arrived at in my OP:

    A “hole” can be non-arbitrarily defined as a country which:

    (i) has an intentional homicide rate of at least 20 per 100,000 people; or

    (ii) has a very high [top five] overall crime rate (excluding theft); or

    (iii) has a Safety Index of 30 or less; or

    (iv) has a Global Peace Index of “very low”; or

    (v) has a GDP per capita of 2,000 dollars or less in PPP terms.

    The USA has an intentional homicide rate of at 4.88 per 100,000 people (less than a quarter of the cutoff figure). However, for one particular ethnic group (African-Americans), it’s close to the cutoff figure. It’s not one of the top five countries in its overall crime rate (excluding theft). Its Safety Index is 67.6, which is higher than that of France (64.1) and just below that of Belgium (69.7). Its Global Peace Index is “medium.” And its GDP per capita in PPP terms is 57,300 dollars. For American blacks, it’s 44th in the world, between Lithuania and Portugal, or around 29,000 dollars in PPP terms.

    The overall picture which emerges is that America is not a “hole,” even though its homicide rate for African-Americans is alarmingly high. But as I pointed out above, life expectancy for African-Americans is higher than that for people of African descent anywhere else around the world.

    As for Europe being “better” than America: I wouldn’t deny that many European countries have a higher level of social cohesion (and, of course, safety). My quarrel is with liberal Europeans who lecture Americans and tell them they’d be a lot happier if they could only learn to “be more like us.” As I see it, these liberals are brazen hypocrites, because they don’t practice what they preach: their countries are generally a lot less ethnically inclusive than America.

    But if some Europeans want to regulate immigration in the interests of promoting social stability, then I have no quarrel with that, provided that most of their compatriots agree. Poland and Hungary have evidently chosen to go down that path. That’s their choice.

    Finally, my original, intuitive definition of a “hole” was a country which no rational person would want to visit, even with all expenses paid. America certainly doesn’t fall into that category. And I should know – I spent three months traveling around America by Greyhound bus back in 1994/95, and I managed to visit 34 states!

    So what has prevented the US from overcoming the challenges of overcoming the legacy of racism in the past 50 years? I would say: socially and economically misguided policies. Sadly, the black-white wage gap has actually grown since the 1970s, even though black-white differences in academic achievement appear to have narrowed during the 20th century.

    If I had to give a prescription of my own, it would be an unconventional one. The Great Society approach, tried in the sixties and seventies, failed: you can’t solve the problem by throwing money at it. Personally, I would suggest the following measures:

    (i) abolishing zip-code restrictions, which force black children to attend crummy schools staffed by mediocre teachers;

    (ii) investing more money in programs to prevent early childhood diseases, which can stunt children’s IQs. African-American children are twice as likely to suffer from these diseases;

    (iii) instituting a school program where African-American children would be encouraged to find “study buddies” and academic mentors, in order to broaden their horizons;

    (iv) free college education for African-American students whose parents’ income is below average and whose SAT score puts them in the top 10% nationwide. This provision would, of course, come with a “sunset clause.”

    Those are just a few ideas of mine. I don’t know if anyone will ever adopt them, and I don’t know if they’d work, anyway.

  33. Hi Alan Fox,

    Unless something’s changed recently, being found guilty of blasphemy in Pakistan exposes you to the death penalty. Would you refuse the offer of help to refugees who were under threat of blasphemy charges because the vast majority in Pakistan supports (if indeed they do, I don’t know) the death penalty for blasphemers (otherwise read non-Muslims)?

    If a refugee has been publicly charged with blasphemy, then it’s a fair bet that he/she does not hold extremist views, so I’d let that person in.

    By the way, about 64% of all Muslims in Pakistan (and 76% of those who want sharia law) support the death penalty for apostasy. I don’t know what the figures are for blasphemy, but I imagine they’d be at least as high.

  34. newton: A reasoned argument, are all refugees vetted before being admitted, what is the demographic makeup of those refugees( age, sex) , what percentage of refugees have been convicted or charged with crime?

    What the right’s solution to this issue of refugees and to their allies such as the Greeks?” A successful miltary operation” I am sure would be widely supported in the abstract ,could you flesh out what that would consist of?

    Please no links to Sputnik News.

    ETA: ninjaed by Alan

    What does ETA mean?

    Regarding “successful military operation”; how about UN peacekeepers in Cyprus?

  35. TomMueller: Did my post Faizal Ali, immediately above, manage to address your concerns?

    Sorry, I’m not actually reading your posts here, since I think ignoring them is the most appropriate response to such bilge.

  36. vjtorley:

    If a refugee has been publicly charged with blasphemy, then it’s a fair bet that he/she does not hold extremist views, so I’d let that person in.

    So you’d let me them in if they’d already been charged with blasphemy, but not if they were non-Muslims in danger of being charged with blasphemy and executed?

    How compassionate of you, Vincent.

  37. Tom Mueller:

    What does ETA mean?

    “Edited to add”. It’s a way of indicating that something has been appended to a comment after its initial posting, to prevent confusion.

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