The Nativism of Mickey Kaus Exposed By Robert Wright
Calls of racism are, of course, legitimate in the U.S. migration debate. Far too often it is brown faces that are suffering. Migrant hate is often an outlet for fear of brown people. But it is by fighting and exposing nativism that we will best undercut anti-migrant attitudes in the U.S. (although it could be my whiteness that is leading me to see things this way).
Nativism is the belief that one person is better than another based solely on the country they were born in. The notion that the interests of a U.S. citizen should be put above the interests of all other humans, is a notion that goes unchecked far too much in the U.S. migration debate. Migrant advocates frequently validate it, too, by engaging in the U.S. migration debate from a national, rather than a global lens.
I was reminded of the evils of this "race-blind" nativism in the bloggingheads.tv clip of Mickey Kaus and Robert Wright, I embedded above. Wright and Kaus debate the morality of the recent federal crackdowns on migrants. Several times Wright asks variations of this question of Kaus (time stamp 8:20):
I would just say, try to put yourself in the position of millions and millions of people who are reading these headlines now. They're in the country. They thought they were kind of accepted and more or less appreciated. And now all of the sudden, they're deeply worried and they're wondering, "can I go to the store?" and blah blah blah. There's millions of people in that position in the country right now. Just stop and try to put yourself in their shoes and then repeat to me what you seem to be saying which is, this policy is fine and is not immoral at all.Robert Wright - BloggingHeads.tv (28 May 2007)
Kaus has no good answer when Wright asks him to put himself inside the shoes of migrants. Kaus tries to make a phony utilitarian argument, whereby this enforcement is inhumane for the people suffering from it, but humane for others that see it and choose to leave the U.S. on their own. We all know that's completely ridiculous.
It's obvious he's bought into the horrifying "attrition through enforcement" policy nativists frequently trumpet, or the misery strategy. There is nothing humane about getting millions of migrants to leave the U.S. on their own. It requires making conditions for migrants in the U.S. worse than the conditions they fled from in the first place. Only in a debate hijacked by nativists does it make sense recreate majority world conditions in the U.S.
I mean nativists have it backwards. The only real solution to the problems association with migration is a more equitable world where people migrate out of want, instead of out of need. The only real solution is to create opportunities in migrants' home countries. Nativists have flipped this debate on it's head and made it so that the solution is recreating the squalor of the majority world in the U.S. Absolute genius.
I've gone on for much longer than I anticipated with this post, but the point I was trying to make, is that no matter how many times Wright asked Kaus to put himself in the shoes of migrants, he couldn't. We didn't even get a Dobbsian, "I've worked in the fields with migrants and respect them" from Kaus.
I can't believe I'm living in a world where we're actually arguing about the morality of these inhumane government tactics.
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