American Elephants


The French, Coming Apart. And the Rest of Us Too? by The Elephant's Child

Christopher Caldwell has a fascinating piece at City Journal about “The French, Coming Apart” He writes about Christophe Guilluy who has spent decades in France as a housing consultant in rapidly changing neighborhoods, studying gentrification, social problems, immigration tensions, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and changes in politics and the rise of populist parties.  It is a ground-level look, Caldwell says, at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France.

France’s political system is as polarized as our own, this discussion arises in the midst of a French election which has selected Marine Le Pen described as a far-right nationalist or populist and Emmanuel Macron, a representative of France’s elite who is apt to win decisively, but to represent the status quo which is hugely unpopular. Unsurprisingly, immigration is a major issue. President Hollande’s approval rating is down around 6 percent, Macron represents more of the same, apologizes for French colonialism, and is a fierce defender of France’s open immigration system.

A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. In 16 dynamic urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Douai-Lens, and Montpellier), the world’s resources have proved a profitable complement to those found in France. These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them….

Most of France’s small cities, in fact, are in la France périphérique.) Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy. France’s best-performing urban nodes have arguably never been richer or better-stocked with cultural and retail amenities. But too few such places exist to carry a national economy. When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.

Guilluy shows that if French people were willing to do the work in the prosperous urban centers, there would be no place for them to live. It’s an interesting look at French societal problem, but also at British and American developments. Caldwell calls it globalization, but I’m not sure that it isn’t something quite different. Working class Frenchmen no longer exist in Paris. Multiculturalism, artificial intelligence, freedom of speech, political correctness, socialism. Some of the same effects led to Britain leaving the European Union.  70% of Frenchmen tell pollsters that there are too many foreigners in France. Jews are leaving at the rate of around 7,000 a year, fearing for their safety.

I remember reading, years ago, that the globalist NGOs saw the future of America as the people crowded together in very large high-rise cities with connecting roadways, and the land returned to wilderness in between. One wondered where the food would come from, among other things. but this piece brought back that memory. The big cities of the country are becoming unaffordable, with tiny houses, and apartments made of shipping containers, to crowd more people in. My own sleepy suburb has become a high-rise city with affordable living apartments developing all over. Reports of tiny spaces renting for outrageous sums in the Bay Area abound.

It is an interesting piece and both disturbing and thought-provoking. If you want to be provoked into pondering just where we are going, I recommend it. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes about it as well, but mostly in reference to the French election.

Makes me wonder if in pursuit of “draining the swamp” in Washington D.C. it wouldn’t be a good idea to move some agencies out to cities across the country. It’s getting way too incestuous back there.



What the Heck is “Hate Speech” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

I do worry rather a lot about language, perhaps because I was an English major. More correctly, because the Left attempts to control the dialogue by changing the meaning of words. Immigration or immigrant is one example, by conflating the term with illegal immigrant, illegal alien, (both perfectly acceptable and accurate terms) refugees (and how that word is defined). But I have posed this question before.

The more problematic case of language is much more difficult.  The words are “hate speech.” Exactly what is hate speech? From the current dialogue, it is apparently any speech that you don’t agree with. Clearly that is an impossible definition, yet that is the basic problem in college campuses all across the country.

Students have been taught that they do not have to listen to speech that offends their delicate sensibilities by not agreeing with their preconceived ideas. Enough professors have spoken out in the media to indicate their despair that the students they are expected to teach—simply don’t know anything. They are unfamiliar with the most basic history, geography, civics and science. Not the hard stuff. They don’t know who won the Civil War. They don’t know who we fought in the Revolution. I could go on at length, but just those two missing facts summarize the situation fairly well.

Headlines from the battle: “Student activists demand college ‘take action’ against conservative journalists.” American Thinker.  “Students claim Objective ‘Truth’ is a ‘White Supremacist Myth,”Breitbart. “Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter” New Republic.  “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship” National Review, “Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus” WSJ, “On Political Correctness” The American Scholar  “Report: Women’s and gender studies courses have increased 300% since 1990” The College Fix  “College makes it easier to graduate by requiring students to learn less: The College Fix.  Those are just a few of dozens.

Middlebury has become famous for rioting to refuse to listen to Dr. Charles Murray, a noted social scientist.  Claremont students refused to hear Heather MacDonald. It was very clear that the students had no idea whatsoever what the speakers represented, or what they might say. In the case of Dr. Murray, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a far-left fringe group made false claims about Dr. Murray). In the case of Heather MacDonald, it was “Black Lives Matter” giving a completely false impression of what she might say. Sad. The kids in both cases would have profited from and learned something valuable from the speeches.

The students are wrapped up in the idea that they should not have to listen to anyone with whom they might disagree, and completely ignorant of the facts. The fault lies with faculty and administration who should have packed up the offenders the following morning and sent them home to perhaps be admitted the following semester — if they had learned anything. That’s what happened to friends of mine for significantly lesser offenses, but that was a long time ago.

You see how the words “hate speech” have corrupted the situation. There is no such thing as hate speech. There are inflammatory words, there is incitement to riot,  there’s shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, but I submit there is no such thing as hate speech. We are watching daily, people thrown in prison, sentenced to hard labor for 15 or 20 years, as the fat junior Kim just did to two Americans, as happens throughout the Middle East — and some people can’t get it through their heads that the Freedom of Speech guaranteed to us by the Constitution matters. There aren’t all that many places in the world where you can’t be jailed for speaking your mind. In a moment in time when the language out there (do you read the comments?) has been vile, insulting, vulgar, and just plain offensive. Well, we do live in interesting times.

ADDENDUM: Over at the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson also wrote about Hate Speech, and wrote even more thoroughly about what it is and isn’t, and it’s very well done. The photo at the top of his post is not of college students, but of older folks with pre-printed signs from the “antiwar committee” urging viewers to “Stop the War on Muslims at Home and Abroad,” “Unite Against Islamophobia,” “End Racism,” and “Stop Racism, Islamophobia and War!” It should be observed that there is no war on Muslims, no such thing as Islamophobia, our problems with radical Islam have to do with their war on the West, their habit of chopping off heads, throwing people off of tall buildings, or burning them alive if we don’t submit to their radical religion. We have not yet declared war, since Obama abruptly pulled the troops out of a hard-won peaceful Iraq, but he has left a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran for his successor to deal with. Again the Federalist photo is a good example of using language inaccurately to make their point, which thanks to our Constitution, they are completely free to do. But we are also completely free to make fun of them.



Sanctuary Cities Are an Embarrassment by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday the Department of Justice fired off letters to “nine jurisdictions which have been identified by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General as having laws that potentially violate 8 U.S.C.§ 1373. The letter reminds the recipients that if they want to receive certain financial year 2016 funding from the Department of Justice, they have agreed to provide documentation and an opinion from legal counsel  validating that they are in compliance with Section 1373. All documentation must be submitted by June 30, 2017, the deadline imposed by the agreement.”

All very formal language, but the nitty-gritty is this section of the agreement:

Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

Not subtle, but straightforward. Lefties promote a politics based on feelings rather than facts, and they get all confused about immigrants who are good, to be loved and protected because this is “a nation of immigrants,” and of course everyone wants to come to America, and said Lefties need their lawns mowed and windows washed and roofs cleaned, and they don’t want to pay exorbitant prices for such menial work.

Most large American cities have been inflicted with gangs, often MS-13 from Central America. Chicago, as of this afternoon, had 31 people shot, five of them killed and 26 wounded, just this weekend. That city’s toll for the year so far adds up to 973 people shot with 168 fatalities. Chicago reportedly has some of the strongest anti-gun laws in the country. But it isn’t the guns that go around shooting people— guns are inanimate objects. It’s the shooter that is the problem.

The Left also seems unable to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, refugees, those who have overstayed their visas and the long, long list of people —4.4 million—who have applied to come to America to become citizens and are waiting patiently in line for their turn. Note that there is no wait list for green cards for future employees in high tech. Texas is reeling under new cases of mumps, a disease that had been thought ended in this country. TB is also on the rise.

ICE has issued detainer notices for criminal aliens being held in sanctuary cities, meaning that they are to be detained until ICE can pick them up for deportation. The sanctuary cities are simply releasing them. Makes the officials who have decided to be a “sanctuary” feel good, and puts the people of the city in danger. Sanctuary cities are an embarrassment.

Fortunately, the Justice Department is putting them on notice. May save some lives. We welcome legal immigrants. but there is no reason to favor illegals over people who wait their turn.



Accomplishment and Denigration: Goes With the Job. by The Elephant's Child

The President of the United States of America is often referred to as “the most powerful man in the world.” Well, yes, but there are all sorts of other superlatives that can be supplied. Maxine Waters keeps blathering on about impeaching Donald Trump and simultaneously claiming she never said any such thing. Democrats are clearly suffering from ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome,” which apparently results in not only psychiatric and psychological disorders, but ‘Trumporrhoea —” insomnia, exhaustion and gastrointestinal disorders. Pity that.

Presidents and noted politicians are simply ordinary human beings, with an oversize dose of ambition and self-regard, and a taste for the limelight. I suspect that most of us have no desire at all to run for office, even an important one. Once thrust into the spotlight of national attention, it’s almost impossible to escape. The media will deal with politicians depending on their political orientation.

“It would be difficult for those,” as Roger Kimball says, who get their news from outlets like “the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC or CNN to have any sense of Trump’s stupendous accomplishments these past three months.”

Illegal border crossings are down by more than 90 percent. Sanctuary cities are on notice that defying federal law may lose federal grants. The Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline are moving ahead, and coal production is next. If Congress or agencies want a new regulation they have to get rid of two first, and executive orders are aimed at getting rid of inefficient regulations. The stock market is up about 2,500 points since the election and 3 percent growth may be on the horizon. That’s a pretty dramatic start. Do read the whole thing. And getting this U.S. citizen released from jail in nice too.

Aya Hijazi, a dual US-Egyptian citizen and her husband Mohamed Hassanein founded Belady, an NGO that promotes a better life for Cairo street children. They had been in prison in Cairo for three years, and her acquittal and that of her husband and four other humanitarian workers came about as the result of President Trump’s intervention.

That’s really a remarkable amount of accomplishment. Restoring deterrence, one bomb at a time, is pretty impressive as well. As historian Victor Davis Hanson notes, “the only thing more dangerous than losing deterrent power is trying to put it back together again.” Well done.



Terminally Annoyed by The Left. by The Elephant's Child

In the waiting room at the veterinarian today,  I was reading the new May copy of the Seattle Met magazine. Featured article concerned the tragic people who hailed from the countries affected by Trump’s travel ban, before it was halted by illegal judicial hold. (The order from the Seattle judge was clearly improper, because the president has clear authority under the Constitution to do precisely what he did.) It was, however, upheld by the 9th Circuit, which is so far left that it has become the most overruled circuit in history. Nevertheless, the magazine apparently went to print before this all became apparent, so their article was intended as a pity piece of how these people were suffering under the abusive Trump order, which only lasted for 6 months in any case.

Some abuse. Some of the seven people were students, another was unable to return home to visit because he then would not be able to get back in the U.S. There was no discussion of how long these people had been in this country, whether they were working/applying for citizenship, illegal or what. It was a sad tale of presidential abuse, and a typical leftist trick of attempting to conflate the entire immigration issue.

The Left wants open borders. They believe that immigrants will be more apt to become Democrat voters, particularly when immigration from countries like Cuba has been halted by the Obama administration. Escaping from a Communist country suggests that they might not automatically become Democrats. Obama worked hard at distributing refugees to voting districts where they might alter the future vote, or where increasing  population numbers would shift the vote.

To achieve their ends, Leftists work hard at failing to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, ignore drug-dealing, sex-trafficking, and murderous gangs that have accompanied Obama’s lax border controls. Americans who object to illegal immigrants are supposed to be the bad people, not the illegals (“No human is illegal” say the signs). The fact that most countries have far more restrictive immigration laws than we had under the Obama administration is never mentioned. Mexico has a wall on their southern border, with guard towers, I believe. Canada’s immigration laws are more restrictive than ours. “We are a nation of immigrants” they proclaim, as if that had anything to do with anything. Apparently the United States is the only country in the world that is supposed to have completely open borders, and if you don’t believe that — you are a bad person.

This is false. We are quite entitled to admit those who are most apt to be a benefit or can contribute the most to the United States, and those who most want to become Americans. That is only basic common sense.

The Left wants cheap foreign workers to replace high cost Americans. Disney’s forcing high-tech workers to train their cheaper replacements or risk losing any severance pay was a dramatically ugly act. Wealthy Leftists desire for cheap servants isn’t very attractive either. There are real long-term concerns about Muslim immigrants who want to replace the American constitution with Sharia law—we should never admit anyone who arrives wanting to overthrow our government. You are not a bad person to expect such standards.

These are the tactics of the Left, and the reason for all the names we are called— racist, bigot, nativist, etc. etc. etc. If you do not think their way, you are a bad person. How many times lately have you hesitated in something you thought or said, because of what the Left might think of you?

But then, when we welcome the new dishes and foods immigrants bring as they open restaurants, we are accused of “cultural appropriation,”so there you go.



Immigration. Legal and Illegal, and the Difference. by The Elephant's Child

As promised, ICE has expanded their campaign to deport illegal immigrants with criminal records. They have announced the seizure of 368 illegals in seven states and Washington D.C. That’s a 250 percent increase over the 106 deportations announced a week ago.

ICE especially targeted members of the violent MS-13 gang and those illegals who had been charged with sex crimes against kids. In just one five day roundup in and around Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, 82 illegals from 26 countries were arrested. Of those 82 individuals, 68 of those had previous criminal records for crimes like robbery, larceny and drug distribution. Two of the remaining 14 had ties to MS-13, two had final orders for removal, and two had pending local charges. The remainder had unlawfully entered the United States in violation of immigration laws.

158 were arrested in Texas. ICE is targeting convicted criminal aliens. The simple notion that President Trump means business has significantly curbed the flow of illegal immigration across the border.

Activists frequently contend that the United States is a “nation of immigrants”, which, if you go back to the 1630s is accurate, but has nothing to do with anything. Immigrants currently represent about 13.5 percent of the American population, the highest percentage in over 100 years. But then they consistently say that we have 11 million illegal aliens in the country, but they have been using the same number for years, and there is a strong suspicion that nobody knows. Everyone likes to think of America as welcoming and open, but this is not the case. Countries have borders and laws that determine how one becomes a legal immigrant.

Immigrants are apt to band together with others of the same background, and often engage in the same occupations. There is often a language barrier. Americans are frequently suspicious of those who do not speak their language. This has been going on since the beginnings of the country, and is well documented in books like David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed and Bernard Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America. New waves of immigrants were not always welcomed, the Scots-Irish went to the Carolinas, the Germans to Germantown in Pennsylvania, the Quakers to Pennsylvania and of course the Dutch to New York.

We don’t know much about how many can be comfortably absorbed by the nation’s schools and infrastructure. Here is a map from the Center for Immigration Studies showing the percentages of  public school students from immigrant  households. In 1980, about 7 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes, in 1990, it was 11 percent and in 2015 about 23 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes or almost one in four, in 700 immigrant-heavy districts.

In 2015, between one-fourth and one-third of public school students from immigrant households were the children of illegal immigrants. The remainder were the children of legal immigrants. This is simply a reminder that there are real costs for illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration encouraged both legal and illegal immigration. They believed that immigrants would be more likely to support the Democratic Party, and made an effort to settle immigrants and refugees in districts where they would help to switch the vote to Democrats. You might notice that Obama ended the acceptance of refugees from Cuba, who were unlikely to support the Democrats after Communist Cuba.

For those who claim that we cannot afford a wall on our southern border, or those who think a wall would be mean, there is a cost for illegal immigrants—schools, welfare, the courts. During a lifetime of an illegal immigrant they create an average fiscal burden of $74,722. If a border wall stopped between 9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross the border, the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.

Those on the Left usually consider the case of immigrants or refugees as a matter of feelings. If you do not sympathize deeply with those who want to come to the United States legally or illegally, then you are a bad person. Not all refugees want to leave their own countries, they just want temporary safety. Those on the Left believe in open borders, the more the merrier. I believe that countries get to choose how many immigrants and who they are.

Sweden has just had a belated wake-up call, learning that some of the migrants they welcomed to their country steal trucks and drive them into crowds to kill as many Swedes as possible. And a CNN reporter just had a wake-up interview with a Syrian refugee.

Not what the CNN host expected. Her expression is priceless.



Victor Davis Hanson’s Take on the Decline and Fall of the Left by The Elephant's Child




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