Old World Shit

Immigration generates a variety of negative and positive effects, many of which are negative or positive depending on one’s position as host nation or migrant.

In my view, one of the most negative effects of immigration is the tendency of immigrants to bring with them to the new world the political strife of the old world.


Here is Shadi Hamid, a Sunni, retweeting a Taiwanese American on her “mixed emotions” regarding Trump’s apparent recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty. This is a good illustration of the problem.

For those who don’t know, Hamid’s position is that America should exert her military power in the Middle East to benefit Sunni Islam. This explains his sympathy for the Taiwanese girl who would like to see America doing more to exert her power to benefit Taiwan. Both, I’m assuming, are first or second generation immigrants who want their new host nation to get involved in old world shit—shit that concerns neither the native American stock nor immigrants from places like Mexico or Nigeria. Imagine that an eighteen year old moves out of his parents’ house because they are constantly fighting and getting violent with each other, and the first thing he does upon taking up residence at a friend’s house is to cajole his friend to intervene in his parents’ fights, even though the friend doesn’t know his parents and has no idea why they fight or whose side to be on. Not cool.

On one hand, I don’t begrudge Hamid’s or the Taiwanese girl’s desire to defend their people (indeed, I agree with a lot of what Hamid writes regarding secular liberalism and Islam). Tribalism is a natural human instinct, and only progressive urban whites seem inclined to disavow their own kind.

On the other hand, I do begrudge Hamid’s and the Taiwanese girl’s desire to hijack their new country’s systems to address their old countries’ problems. For them, America is a tool, and they don’t seem particularly interested in what’s good for America or Americans in their decision to wield that tool for their own tribal ends. Staking a position in the Chinese/Taiwanese fight is certainly not in America’s interest. Nor is meddling in the Sunni/Shia vortex, but of course, that ship has already sailed. But as an American, Hamid shouldn’t be exacerbating the problem by cajoling his new countrymen into joining his side in a fight that does not or should not involve us.

As David Goldman has long pointed out, the traditional bargain for immigrants to America was that they gained liberal access to all the benefits of American society on condition that they gave up their old world identities and stopped being involved in old world bullshit. Of course, different ethnic groups honored this bargain on different time frames (the Fenians were futzing about as late as 1880). By and large, however, the bargain was honored—by the Italians, the Germans, the Greeks, the Slavs. It was even honored by the first wave of Mexicans in the middle of the twentieth century (my grandparents made sure their kids grew up speaking English and dating gringos). America is indeed an immigrant nation, but historically, it has been a nation of immigrants willing to give up their immigrant identity and to forge a new American one grounded in commerce, a Protestant work ethic, and Anglo political structures.

The trend lately is just the opposite: more and more immigrants refuse to give up their old world identities. They adopt an American identity, to be sure, but it is the quintessential hyphenated American identity bemoaned by the Bull Moose. Dual identity is the emerging norm. Immigrants’ children learn English (although that may begin to change in California); they dress like Americans; they consume American media. However, thanks to new technologies, they also keep a foot in the old world, which means we now have a growing immigrant population that is bringing more and more old world shit to the United States—like Hamid and the Taiwanese girl.

(Let me admit that, unfortunately, America’s political elite has, if not created, at least made worse a lot of the old world shit that immigrants are fleeing. America is not as innocently isolationist and non-imperialist as it was before the World Wars. As always, the exploits of the Washington establishment have consequences for everyone but themselves.)


  1. Zimriel said:

    I would argue that since America is a Pacific nation as well as an Atlantic one, keeping Taiwan (and Japan, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia) on side is in our interest.

    Unfortunately the Taiwanese lady you’ve quoted didn’t make that argument, and left it to me. Because as you point out she doesn’t care about our interests.


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