The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right


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Neo-Medievalism and Civil Wars. Neil Winn. Global Migration, Ethnicity and Britishness. Security in the 21st century: US and European responses to global terrorism. That's my view. Um, two reasons, I think. One, because, um, we recognize at the national level that freedom of movement is essential.

Everyone has the right, er, to move and settle where they want within the nation, and I don't see that a national border makes any difference to that. The other has to do with, er, global justice: that we are really benefiting from the labor of people in the global South. We want their goods, we want their resources, we want their profits, but we don't want them , and that strikes me as morally bankrupt. Cole, to move from a position like mine which is broadly liberal on migration and immigration to yours, which says basically, there should be no limits at all, does seem not only impractical but, just, you might be just stretching the capacity of people to absorb other groups.

Cole : That may be right, but if we look at, um, the way people do migrate, er, most people want to stay at home. They migrate for specific reasons. So there's no reason to suppose that having an open border situation would actually dramatically increase the number of people on the move. McElvoy : Well, yes, but if you had, one would have to assume it would be a pull effect among many and might do so. Everyone has the right to leave any state, um, but that's a right that can be limited in states of emergency; and actually all I'm stating is that let's make, make that parallel with immigration.

McElvoy : Right. But if I leave, I am an absence of something; if I arrive, I add to numbers, I, I may add to the strain on the economy, to welfare services, and to many other things. The moral category is rather different, isn't it? Cole : Well, it is, but not in the way you think. Actually any economist will tell you that people leaving, which is really alarming, um, people arriving is generally an economic benefit.

McElvoy : We, we can argue about whether the numbers leaving and the numbers coming in, whether it's as simple as just adding them up; but what I do want to sort of get to with you, if I could, is this idea: What about democracy? What about what people think? Because there's a very strong body of evidence that most people in democracies don't favor open borders.

They like the idea of control of borders. It makes them feel that that is, that that's an important point for them, of their kind of national sovereignty. Are they wrong? Um, just to give you an example of, in a sense, why they're wrong: I've traveled from Wales to England today. Er, most of the immigration debate is not like that. So that's a bit sort of pie-in-the-sky, isn't it? If it was only a matter of you moving up and down from Cardiff to Bristol, be fine.

Cole : Well, the point is that, the point is realizing that the kind of national border is the exception rather than the rule. People can cross them. McElvoy : You mean, if they don't agree with you. Cole : I think there's clearly a record of politicians, er, stirring up anti-immigration feeling. And there's clearly a record of the media also stirring up anti-immigration feeling. And we know why: because politicians want us to be scared of something, and they want us to be scared of immigration.

And the media want us to be scared of something. The Sentinelese tribe of the Andaman Islands, they're one of the most remote tribes in the world, and the international community recognizes that we should leave them alone, because they respond very badly to outsiders. Would you be completely laid back if a thousand twentysomething Westerners decided to land on the Andaman Islands tomorrow because they just fancied, you know, getting away from things?

Cole : Er, but I don't think you can judge the ethics of migration on extreme cases. Taylor : But why do those, why does that tribe have rights over that island, rather than the Westerners who might want to come in and use it? Taylor : Because you're not really accepting the case that being in a place gives you any more right than not being in that place.

But I don't think you can base, er, the rules of migration around those very extreme cases. The rules about migration to the U. That's exceptional. Isn't that on a continuum? Cole : I don't think it is. I don't think you've seen forms of life being destroyed in some extreme form. I think, if you're talking about national cultures, national cultures do change over time.

They always have. Cities have always experienced change in their, their make-up, in their cultural make-up, and that's normally a good thing, and one thing about London, it's that it's one of the great cities because it has this movement of people through it, it's added to it enormously.

Taylor : So you don't feel any greater sense of compassion towards your own family than you do to a complete stranger? So if I was to ask you to give me enormous amounts of help, then you'd feel no differently than if your brother or your sister or your children had?

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Cole : It would depend on what, on why you needed it; and I think the, er, the call for help and assistance is, is one that I recognize throughout humanity. I may have particular attachments to a member of my family, and I may prioritize them, but I don't think I can prioritize them on moral grounds. Taylor : But doesn't morality have to reflect who we are as human beings, and who we are as human beings is that we do naturally give preference to our family than to strangers; we do naturally feel a closer affinity to people that we have lived with for some time and we share a culture with, than people who are strangers.

Now whatever the rules might be, it seems to me that your moral code denies our very humanity.

The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right

I think what we feel attachment to are people we encounter. I was discussing this with students this morning, and someone made the point that if I encounter people, it doesn't matter whether they're members of my family or my race, if they need my help, I will give it to them. Um, so the people I encounter every day, they may be strangers or they may not be strangers, but my moral commitments to them are the same.

Buerk : Dr. Cole, thank you very much indeed. Um, what would you say to one of those African survivors stumbling ashore on Lampedusa? It's a difficult decision for anyone. Buerk : So what would you do with these people who are illegally trying to get to Europe in such a sad and tragic way? These, these, er, tragedies of people crossing the Mediterranean are not going to go away if we have an amnesty. Amnesties have been tried in Spain, twice, they've been tried in the United States, they've led to more people coming over.

If you want to stop people dying in the Mediterranean you can either go the route that they try in, er, places like Japan and Singapore and make life unbearable for illegal immigrants and therefore crack it down to almost zero or you have open borders. You think that's right. The bit that comes to mind in the Scriptures for me is that very moving bit in Matthew 25 where Jesus goes, you know, er, "You saw me in prison, you didn't do anything, you, you didn't give me any food, um, I was a stranger and you didn't welcome me," and they go, "When was that?

West : Well, I would say the, the attraction of, um, this is what one might call universalism, the idea that we're all responsible to everyone in the world equally, just as much as we are to our compatriots, is that it sort of superficially resembles Christianity.

Fraser : But that doesn't seem to have affected your position. Fraser : But let's just not talk about the Church, let's talk about the harder stuff, which, I understand the practical stuff, I'm just trying to get you into the sort of more of the moral, theological stuff, is that, you know, constantly in Jesus' teaching there's stuff about the stranger, there's stuff about the other, there's stuff about the Good Samaritan, and our moral responsibility is always to this person who is more other than us, rather than same as us. West : But there's a difference between a moral responsibility and the law.

The law still has to stand; and the law sometimes, as you know, is not always, um, compassionate, and can't always be compassionate. Fraser : So you actually think the moral bit and the legal bit go in two different directions here. West : I don't think everything that's moral should be legal, and I don't think everything that is illegal should be moral, if you get my drift. Fraser : I mean, I agree with that. Fraser : So inasmuch as this is the Moral Maze , then you're siding with me, saying this is actually a really problematic thing to do.

Um, but also, you know, unintended consequences around the world. Fraser : Of course, er, from a selfish point of view, your churches and my churches would be completely empty if it wasn't for immigration. Buerk : Yes, we often fail to top that, Giles. West : No, of course not. And, you know, there's no doubting that our idea of what we think of, um, someone's rights is based on the natural injustice of us being born in a rich country where we all have pretty good lives, and lots of people are born in very poor countries.

There's no doubt about that. Fox : But in that sense, then, there's a kind of almost a moral responsibility that they don't accept their fate, and that, oh, you know, that there's at least a something morally courageous about not accepting your fate, and trying to do something about it. But can't a nation-state try and win the argument with its own people, democratically as it were, to open the borders, that this would be actually something that would be a positive thing?

I mean, there's no freedom in that, that's just a recipe for chaos. I mean, America at the time had no, had no welfare state, it was a completely different world from what we are now. West : But I mean, America is, is a country that in a sense has built an ideal, not that there's myth-making, but I don't think, er, America's necessarily, er, an ideal society that we should want to aspire to.

There is always a, a pay-off for, between sort of diversity and solidarity. You know, you can at one level, at one end of the spectrum, you've got sort of Sweden, which is a country which is sort of traditionally very homogenous but also very egalitarian, then you've got sort of Brazil at the other end, which is, um, you know, extreme inequalities, and America is towards the sort of Brazilian end.

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It is, after all, the United States of America, which does, after all, represent something positive. You don't want to be writing it all off. We don't want to be like the Swedes, do we? West : I'm not, I'm not anti-American. Um, I wouldn't say, you know, but I'm certainly not anti-American, but it's not the only example of a diverse society, and it's always had restrictions on, you know, its borders to a certain extent.

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The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right
The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right
The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right
The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right
The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right
The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right

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