February 13, 2004

Soft Xenophobia

The Bit Bucket has an article on the soft xenophobia of the more reasonable immigration restrictionists. I'm in a bit of a quandary. I agree that the soft xenophobia is there but I'm also unhappy about the other part of the article:

The fact that Californians don't do things like Washingtonians--or that Oregonians are annoyed by the presence of Californians--doesn't necessarily make Californians' presence in those states a social cost. And (aside from the purely pragmatic consideration of avoiding an electoral backlash) I don't see why advocates of liberal immigration laws should take those "costs" into account when evaluating immigration policies.

In the computer field, this sort of sentiment is often rendered "it's a feature, not a bug". But for some people, such 'features' are bugs. Who gets to decide? Unfortunately, the article smells of "we know better than you and we wil decide", an attitude that I am deeply suspicious of.

Ultimately, public policy is determined by the public and the xenophobic have as much right to participate and should have their voices heard as much as xenophilic integrationists like me (ie I'm in favor of a rich melting pot experience with lots of assimilated immigrants). Ultimately, the xenophobics cut off their nose to spite their face but in a free country they have the right to do that and we should give them enough societal room to accomplish the task as long as the blood spatter doesn't reach the more sensible among us.

Ultimately, in a free society, costs are determined individually, not collectively. You can ultimately overrule unreasonable cost perceptions but these perceptions must be recognized as existing and be given some status in a free and just society. Interests must be accommodated peacefully or they will eventually mutate and become unhealthy.

Posted by TMLutas at February 13, 2004 12:37 PM