The Long View 2005-04-24: Sleepers: Issues & Diets

Merkel's Boner

Merkel's Boner

Under my heading nothing ever changes, we have this prescient post from John Reilly in 2005 where he correctly intuits that immigration will be the largest domestic political problem across the West. He also notes that the character of the problem is quite different in different places, since the typical immigrants vary quite a bit.

This is an excellent summary of the problem:

In the US, things are somewhat different. The take-off in immigration coincided with the Giuliani era, when urban public order tended to increase along with immigrant populations. (That was not due just to better policing: it helped a great deal that neighborhoods, which had been semi-abandoned, once again had people sitting on the stoops in the evening.) Nonetheless, the acute problem of national identity that Mexican immigration has created in the Southwest, coupled with the astounding indifference of the the political class to the downward pressure on wages caused by an endless supply of new workers, has created a level of resentment in some localities that Washington may not appreciate until the situation blows up.

But even John didn't really understand how far things would go.


Sleepers: Issues & Diets

 

Perhaps the largest single domestic issue throughout the Western world in the next few years will be the movement to staunch immigration from less advanced countries. It will certainly bulk large in the upcoming British elections; where, as Leo McKinstry explained in a recent Spectator piece called The age of unreason, the powers that be seem singularly disinclined to acknowledge there is a problem:

All around I see mounting social anarchy, gross corruption in the democratic process, the destruction of liberty, mass ignorance and brutality, paralysis in the police, the breakdown of the family and the loss of any faith in the justice system. Only last week an Algerian migrant twice refused asylum in this country was sent to prison for 17 years for plotting a terrorist campaign, while a 15-year-old black girl was stabbed to death at a party in east London, allegedly for standing on another teenage reveller’s toes. Yet I am informed that I must celebrate diversity, celebrate the new richness of multi-ethnic Britain. It is all too reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, whose penurious citizens had to queue for food but were told that they were living in a workers' paradise.

In the US, things are somewhat different. The take-off in immigration coincided with the Giuliani era, when urban public order tended to increase along with immigrant populations. (That was not due just to better policing: it helped a great deal that neighborhoods, which had been semi-abandoned, once again had people sitting on the stoops in the evening.) Nonetheless, the acute problem of national identity that Mexican immigration has created in the Southwest, coupled with the astounding indifference of the the political class to the downward pressure on wages caused by an endless supply of new workers, has created a level of resentment in some localities that Washington may not appreciate until the situation blows up. Consider this red meat language from the admittedly somewhat radical group, US Border Control:

President Bush is, literally, ripping this nation apart. There is no question that, unless he and the Congress that he controls, change their views on open borders, mass immigration, exporting jobs and importing "willing workers," our soldiers may soon be fighting a war on a third continent, North America.

According to every poll taken in the past few years, more than 80% of the American people are very much opposed to all of the above. And this figure includes all races, colors and nationalities. Yet, the President has chosen to ignore the wishes, hopes and aspirations of this huge majority of Americans. ...Meanwhile, the American people, from both major parties, are more than just furious; they are ready to take to the streets. They feel a total sense of helplessness because both major political parties have simply decided to ignore them and, as a consequence, they have no place to turn.

Actually, the places where people are most exercised by this sort of thing don't have "streets" in the classic revolutionary sense; it would take a long time to rouse a rabble along the broad roadways of a typical low-density suburb. However, the issue will tell at the polls, for whichever party has the wit to make use of it first.

* * *

This is the sort of story you find on the Internet, and I am pretty sure it's a joke:

Email users suffered a 10 per cent drop in IQ scores, more than twice the fall recorded by marijuana users, in a clinical trial of over a thousand participants. Doziness, lethargy and an inability to focus are classic characteristics of a spliffhead, but email users exhibited these particular symptoms to a "startling" degree, according to Dr Glenn Wilson.

In comparison, we may note Steven Johnson's article in today's New York Times MagazineWatching TV Makes You Smarter, which I am pretty sure is not intended as a joke:

For decades, we've worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common-denominator standards, presumably because the ''masses'' want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But as [the series "24"] suggests, the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less. To make sense of an episode of ''24,'' you have to integrate far more information than you would have a few decades ago watching a comparable show. Beneath the violence and the ethnic stereotypes, another trend appears: to keep up with entertainment like ''24,'' you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships. This is what I call the Sleeper Curve: the most debased forms of mass diversion -- video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms -- turn out to be nutritional after all.

Also in the New York Times today was a column by David Brooks, in which he informs us:

The release of a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that overweight people actually live longer than normal-weight people represents an important moment in the history of world civilization.

This is, of course, precisely one of the gags in the Woody Allen film, Sleeper, in which a man awakes after several centuries in suspended animation. He finds himself in a world in which science has determined that nothing is more healthy than cigarettes and fudge sundaes. Yum.

* * *

This is not to say that people have given up on blackening the reputation of everything you like, as a recent study by one Susan Darker-Smith illustrates:

Young girls who enjoy classic romantic fairy tales like "Cinderella" and "Beauty and the Beast" are at greater risk of becoming victims of violent relationships in later life, a British researcher says...The research, conducted in Leicester in the east of England, is to be presented to the International Congress of Cognitive Therapy in Gothenburg, Sweden, next month...Her study, entitled "The Tales We Tell Our Children: Overconditioning of Girls to Expect Partners to Change", will be discussed by many of the world's most influential therapists.

I have strong doubts about the benefits of fudge sundaes (yum) and I also have strong doubts about this. The women I know with a keen interest in fairy tales also tend to be strapping specimens who know at least one deadly martial art. Tolkien leads to camping, remember.

* * *

They pay you to say these things, but still Jeffrey Bell must have winced when he turned in his copy for the article in The Weekly Standard of April 25, "Tom DeLay, Red Statesman." He regales us with accounts of Republican House Majority Leader DeLay's recent statesmanship, such as eliminating the estate tax in the midst of a runaway budget deficit, and DeLay's promise to investigate why the judges in the Terri Schiavo case followed the letter of the law.

I have no opinion about the charges against the Majority Leader regarding jobs for his family and sumptuous trips abroad paid for by foreign interests. The measure of his statesmanship is that, after 11Sept01, his idea of a response was to lower the capital gains tax (something which the Bush Administration, to its credit, did not include among the emergency measures it requested from Congress).

The term "statesman" in the the Bell article is not unqualified: DeLay is a "Red State Statesman," which is why, according to Bell, the Democrats and the Mainstream Media are after him. What an insult to the people of the Red States! Anywhere else in the country, DeLay would be considered a bagman for business interests, a man with no concern for public policy as such; but in a "Red State," apparently, such a short-sighted person counts as a "statesman."

The Republican Party is going to have enough problems in 2006 and 2008, but DeLay, as Mark Shields remarked, has the singular distinction of having stripped his party of the status of "the reform party."

* * *

Finally, may I note that it was only when I read the issue of The Weekly Standard mentioned above that I learned Fr. Richard John Neuhaus was, in effect, blogging the recent papal conclave from the First Things website.

Did anyone else know about this? And if any of you did, why didn't you tell me?

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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