Angelina Jolie: “We’re living in an era of mass displacement.” She is apparently concerned over this. Admittedly, our initial reaction was of the sort that gives rise to blonde jokes but we were forced to pause and consider. She is correct: The Middle East is flooding refugees; so is central Africa. Hordes of Central and Mexican Americans are besieging the U.S. and Canada along with increasing numbers of Asians. And Asian places are trying to digest mobile Moslems and other hard-to-digest wanderers. In Europe and the US. as well as in some less storied places, the magnitude of the influxes has reached politically disturbing levels. Ms. Jolie is entitled to her concern.
From another viewpoint, this is same old, same old. American Indian tribes regularly pushed each other out of old lands into new, so with humans since leaving Africa. Whether pushed by Alexander, Rome, Huns, Mongols, drought, or crop failure, masses of folk have inundated other folks’ lands since prehistory; that they are still doing so seems no surprise. Nor does the fact that most of it is a result of human inability to govern ourselves.
One new aspect appears to be our new ability to see this taking shape earlier than we used to recognize such flows. With that, we can analyze and communicate much earlier and much better, but so far, those advantages do not appear to be utilized effectively to ameliorate the high human costs of these enforced migrations.
Worse than that loss of opportunity, we allow our populist politicians to use these conditions – or better, to misuse them – in furtherance of their self-aggrandizement at the expense of masses of suffering people. Politics as ever, trumps real human need. We seem built so.
But human need cuts two ways: Innocent refugees have legitimate needs surely; but no less surely do those whose hard-earned lives and peace are threatened by moving masses. We see no heroes and no villains; we do see rights and duties.
Our newsfolk seek only salable crises, our politicians only a stepping stone toward wealth and power. What seems needed instead, is a rational analysis of what for example, North Americans and Europeans can afford to do for mass flows of refugees. And, heartless though it seems, for how many can they afford to do it? With that in place, the rest is merely operations and enforcement.
When tender hearted observers object at the termination of opportunity for those ultimately out of luck, they must ask themselves whether that is not a better price to pay than the massive overwhelming of everyone?
Today’s “immigration’ politics avoid realism and play upon emotions for crass self-interested reasons, seems to us. Most of us don’t consider the subject overmuch unless we are somehow caught up in it. And it is dishonestly presented in any case., as we see things.
The US has periodically dispatched immigrant Asians and Mexicans to suit political conditions since the late 1800’s. Presidents deported Latinos during the Great Depression and after WWII for political reasons, yet today an Internet search brings up denial of that; it requires patience to locate things like “Operation Wetback” and other political history. We are supposed to accept what our politicians decree for us; never mind reality.
Ms. Jolie is correct; we live in a time of mass displacement. It’s not new; it seems fairly normal for our species. It is destructive to our health and welfare. Nor have we yet evolved a better means for dealing with it. Stalin murdered millions of Ukrainians, sending Russians to replace them; how many Ukrainians does President Putin plan to replace with Russians?
In North America, the government now welcomes cheap labor rather than pleasing the unions by deporting it; a policy reversal. That impoverishes Americans rather than immigrants; whether it is an improvement is a decision.
Thank you, Ms. Jolie, for pointing out the obvious; we have been ignoring it. Now, what?