Why strong-borders advocates should ignore attempts to ‘guilt’ them over migrants

Why strong-borders advocates should ignore attempts to ‘guilt’ them over migrants
In Mexico, Oct 2018. CBC video

When even the pope is trying to guilt the audience of mankind over the false dilemma of “borders” over “human rights,” it’s time to order All Stop.

I suggest that everyone is free to not even listen to lectures from the left about migrants.  This is not because migrants aren’t human beings for whom we should have compassion and care.  It’s because they are.

The migrants aren’t the people we are free to ignore.  No, that demographic is the scolding left.

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And the reason is that when the scolding left is issuing lectures, its concern is not the migrants.  The scolding left’s concern is the borders.

What people always circle back to, no matter what the “hook” of their conversation, is what their priority really is.  And the scolding left always circles back to weakening national borders until they are no longer functional.

There are many things we can do when we are confronted with migrants, some of whom are in need.  Most of them are not in great need; most of them are looking for something they think will be better than what they had.  That’s fine.  Plenty of our own ancestors came to America on that basis.  But it’s not an emergency for other people’s policies.

A meaningful but still small minority of migrants is actually fleeing persecution in fear of their lives.

Should we have compassion for them whatever they came from?  Of course.  But there are policy options other than rendering national borders non-functional.

Yet it’s always eroding the functionality of borders that the left comes back to.  That’s what their priority is.

If the left actually cares about the migrants, it isn’t evident.  Here’s what you do when you care about the migrants as people: you go.  You get your own butt down to Mexico, or Guatemala, or Honduras, and you wear durable clothing that isn’t all that pretty, and you let your hair and makeup go, and you shut up lecturing or berating other people about what they should be doing, and you hand out food. You administer medical treatment. You set up schooling. You help people to help themselves – not to memorize catechisms of guilt against other people, or go find lawyers in other countries to bring lawsuits for political purposes.

You don’t organize caravans whose purpose is to assail the integrity of borders.  You don’t encourage people to set off and become migrants for the purpose of overwhelming borders.  That’s not helping people.  That’s pursuing a political goal.

If you, with your own little butt down in Guatemala, discover that there are parts of the country run by cartels where the government doesn’t control the countryside, and that that really is driving victimized people to leave (which it is, although that accounts for a small minority of the recent migrants), you also have options.

But weakening the borders of Mexico or the United States is not an option for addressing that problem.  No condition that’s bad for migrants can actually be addressed by eroding national borders.

The nation you come from can probably help Guatemala fight the cartels, restore order, reduce corruption in government, and increase public safety and opportunity in Guatemala.  If it’s the United States, it certainly can.  We had a good 20- to 30-year track record going, of giving just that sort of help to Central America, until the Obama administration started dismantling it early in this decade.  (The reasons appear to have been ideological, and had to do with aligning Washington with socialist factions inside the nations of the region at the expense of longstanding civic, law enforcement, and military cooperation with the existing governments.)

If you care about the migrants as people, you don’t just dismiss the underlying problem of Guatemala, or the other nations the migrants come from.  You don’t insist that the only solution for the migrants is unfettered access to the United States, as if Guatemala doesn’t matter, and as if there aren’t and shouldn’t be any national borders between Guatemala and Detroit.  (Or Toronto, for that matter.)

Being opposed to effective national borders isn’t compassion.  Ignoring the fates of other nations isn’t compassion.  It’s politics.

Moreover, if you care about people in general – people as human beings – you don’t oppose borders, or regard them as a systemic problem, and you don’t insist that the solution for problems is weakening borders to the point that they are meaningless.

The only way rights have ever been enforced is by sovereign national governments.  The only way liberty and opportunity have ever been protected is by national governments.  Without national governments, the rights and moral significance of individual people have no effective meaning for our earthly arrangements.

Nations are what make it possible for us to survive and thrive – which tribal peoples can’t ultimately do – without being enslaved into empires.  It’s no accident that our modern concept of liberty, with its tolerance of dissidence and initiative, arose with the rise of the nation-state.  It was necessary and inevitable.

Without the nation-state, there can be no liberty.  Empires – supranationalist entities – don’t confer it, and tribes can’t tolerate it.  Neither is organized to protect liberty, and neither recognizes a charter to.

Borders are what make civic protections and quality of life possible.  It is not compassionate to wish them away; it is profoundly wrong.  And it is actively evil to guilt people over them, instead of reaching out to give actual aid and comfort to those in need.

So feel free to ignore the guilting lecture-fest.  Just stop listening, and let it echo in a void until it fades away.  Do, however, advocate for national policies that will improve conditions in the vast majority of the earth’s territory that is not the United States.  Give to meaningful, effective organizations that change lives, and through them communities, near our borders and further away.  If you can, participate in their work.

Believe in the possibilities and the future of people in other nations.  It is deeply ignorant to assume that people can only thrive by coming to America.  Material life has improved for almost everyone on earth in the last 50 years.  Political and civic life can use adjustment in a lot of places, but the solution for that is not knocking down borders.  Knocking down borders doesn’t address that problem at all, plus it kills off the ability of other nations to help foster the needed adjustments.

All that said, be sure to ponder what good immigration policy will be for the USA – not as an emergency situation, but on ongoing principle.  Immigration can demonstrably be a net positive (and I don’t mean just by focusing on “meritorious” immigration).  I favor robust immigration myself.  I love like my own life the fact – not theory, but fact – that anyone willing can truly assume the identity of “American.”

However, it is essential in this matter as well for thoughtful people to ignore attempts to guilt them.  Requiring assimilation to our national civic culture is indispensable.  It is right, righteous, and morally good to levy that requirement, especially in America where our civic culture is about liberty, opportunity, and tolerance.  If you don’t believe in those things for other people, as well as yourself, you don’t belong here.

No emergency that ever happens will have as its solution the weakening of national borders.  The “need” to hand someone an open-ended veto over border enforcement is a political straw man.  Don’t even listen to people trying to lay a load of guilt on you about that.  Laying guilt on other people is never the solution to anything.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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