In his latest column, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post writes about the testimonies of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker and Iraq more broadly. It’s worth examining what Dionne said.
According to Dionne,
The bottom line of the testimony this week from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker is that even after the surge, what gains have been made in Iraq are, as Petraeus put it, “fragile and reversible.”
In fact this is not the bottom line, nor is it anything like a complete picture of what Petraeus and Crocker said. General Petraeus, in rightly saying that the gains we’ve made in Iraq are “fragile and reversible,” immediately went on to say this:
Still, security in Iraq is better than it was when Ambassador Crocker and I reported to you last September, and it is significantly better than it was 15 months ago when Iraq was on the brink of civil war and the decision was made to deploy additional forces to Iraq.
Here are the words of Ambassador Crocker:
Last September, I said that the cumulative trajectory of political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq was upwards, although the slope of that line was not steep. Developments over the last seven months have strengthened my sense of a positive trend. Immense challenges remain and progress is uneven and often frustrating slow, but there is progress. Sustaining that progress will require continuing U.S. resolve and commitment. What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible.
Ambassador Crocker, after discussing the political progress that’s been made in recent months (pension and amnesty laws, de-Baathification, et cetera), also said this:
All of this has been done since September. These laws are not perfect and much depends on their implementation, but they are important steps.
Crocker has also spoken about the positive change in attitude among Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish leaders in Iraq.
Iraq in 2006 was in a death spiral. That has not only been arrested; it has been reversed. Under the extraordinary leadership of Petraeus and Crocker, we have made more gains than even those of us who were advocates of the surge could have hoped for. And the gains have been on almost every front: security, political, diplomatic, and economic. Those gains, while “fragile and reversible,” are also indisputable.
In their testimonies Petraeus and Crocker painted a nuanced, sophisticated, and accurate picture of the situation in Iraq. It would be nice if the war critics did the same.
Dionne also writes:
The administration and its supporters talk incessantly about winning but offer no strategy for victory, no definition of what it would look like, no concrete steps to get us there, and no real sense of where “there” is.
This sentence is riddled with errors.
The United States in fact does have a strategy for victory, one that is fundamentally different than what came before it. The new strategy, being executed and implemented by Petraeus and Crocker, involved sending around 30,000 more troops to Iraq beginning in early 2007; giving them a different mission (one that aims at securing, living with, and winning over the local population); building on the attitudinal shift among the Iraqi population, including Sunnis, against the brutal and extremist ideology of al Qaeda in Iraq; working closely with the Iraqi government to transition the Sons of Iraq (now numbering more than 90,000) into the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) or other forms of employment; working with ISF to target “special groups” (Shia militia) that are being funded, trained, armed, and directed by Iran’s Quds Force with help from Lebanese Hezbollah; reforming the Iraqi police (which had been taken over by militias); encouraging provincial elections to be held later this year, which will give a greater voice to Sunnis who boycotted earlier elections; negotiating a status of forces agreement; helping design new procurement procedures for Iraq’s oil ministry; increasing the scope of the UN’s engagement in Iraq; and much else.
Earlier this week, then, Petraeus and Crocker laid out, in mind-numbing detail, the concrete steps we’ve taken and still need to take in order to achieve a decent outcome in Iraq. As for Dionne’s charge that there is “no real sense of where ‘there’ is”: that statement is also false. Our goal is a stable, self-governing, and peaceful Iraq, one that operates under the rule of law and is an ally of America in the war against jihadism.
None of this is a mystery; it’s been said, in one version or another, dozens of times. What we don’t know – and what we could not possibly know, given the nature of warfare — is precisely when we’ll be able to withdraw most of our combat troops. That depends, as all wars depend, on the facts on the ground, on unfolding events, on contingencies and variables that are impossible to know with certainty. But to pretend that we have “no strategy for victory, no definition of what it would look like, no concrete steps to get us there, and no real sense of where “there” is” is simply and demonstrably wrong.
Dionne argues this as well:
Supporters of the war say its opponents are locked in the past, stuck on whether or not the war was a good idea in the first place. Whether the war was right or wrong, they say, it’s time to move on and focus on the future. This has it backward. It’s the war’s backers and architects, including the president, who are trapped in the past. They are so invested in the original decision to invade Iraq that they won’t even consider whether the United States would be better off winding down this commitment, relieving our military of the war’s enormous burdens, and redirecting our foreign policy. Instead, they want to push on, hoping that something turns up. They resemble their own parody of liberal do-gooders insisting on continuing flawed and foolish programs no matter how obvious it becomes that their efforts are doing more harm than good.
This “flawed and foolish” program has produced results like these: ethno-sectarian violence decreased by nearly 90 percent and total civilian deaths and coalition deaths decreased by more than 70 percent between June 2007 and March 2008. This is only one metric of progress; there are many others that are matters of public record. But to quote Dionne’s friend Senator Joseph Lieberman, the approach of anti-war critics is to “hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, and most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq.” They are hermetically sealed off from accepting, let alone taking encouragement from, authentic progress. It is a stunning thing to witness.
Dionne’s column gets to a deeper issue. Ambassador Crocker said during his testimony that “almost everything about Iraq is hard.” That is certainly true – and serious mistakes by the Bush Administration in the Phase IV planning has made things far more difficult than they should have been. But the President made necessary adjustments. And no person can seriously dispute that progress has been made, and that if we continue along this path, we have a good chance of achieving a decent outcome in Iraq.
But the critics of the war seemingly don’t care; they have turned hard against it and want to wash our hands of it. On some level they must know that if we followed their counsel the odds are very good that mass death and perhaps genocide would follow; that al Qaeda in Iraq would be revivified; that jihadists would gain a historic victory against America and the West; that Iran would benefit enormously; that the Middle East would become significantly more destabilized; that America’s word would be devalued; and much else. But they are tired and weary of the war and the costs of the war. And so this war now comes down to what many others eventually do: a matter of will. Having put in place the right strategy, will we see it through to success? Jihadists will not lose their will; they are hoping and betting that we will lose ours.
The voices of weariness are understandable; the human and financial costs of this war have been enormous. But those voices are also wrong and Ambassador Crocker is right:
As monumental as the events of the last five years have been in Iraq, Iraqis, Americans, and the world ultimately will judge us far more on the basis of what will happen than what has happened. In the end, how we leave and what we leave behind will be more important than how we came.
President Bush, David Petraeus, Ryan Crocker and others, who have seen good and patriotic people succumb to the weariness, have thankfully refused their counsels of surrender. If one message came through above the others during this past week, it is that Petraeus and Crocker agree with the words of St. Paul: We ought not to become weary in doing good.
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Dionne’s Willful Refusal to Listen to Petraeus and Crocker
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I don’t always agree with Kenneth L. Marcus, the founder and president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. But he is without question the kind of person who might have been nominated in any Republican administration to serve as assistant secretary of education for civil rights. In fact, Marcus served in the same role in the George W. Bush administration on an interim basis. Yet Marcus received not one Democratic vote in the Senate Health, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which just voted 12-11, on party lines, to advance his nomination.
In explaining the controversy over Marcus’s nomination, the New York Times led with an event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have written about that event here. The Associated Students of Madison’s Council last year advanced a resolution to aid an anti-Israel divestment effort on the second day of Passover, over the objections of the sole Jewish representative. In the course of the debate over the resolution, the concerns of Jewish students were not only dismissed but also ridiculed.
Marcus’s crime here is that he wrote a letter urging, among other things, that some of the students responsible be disciplined for their behavior. We are supposed to believe, I suppose, that this letter is a sign that Marcus has an authoritarian streak. But in fact, the student judiciary at UW-Madison, not exactly a bastion of the alt-right, determined that, in the case in question, “Jewish students were the subject of discrimination by their elected representatives.” Although no students were disciplined, one representative was ordered to issue an apology while another was urged to apologize and attend a training course on religious tolerance.
In other words, if the New York Times is to be believed, Democrats stood against Marcus because he is not far enough to the left of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the most left-leaning universities in a universe of left-leaning higher education institutions. He is just too damned hard on anti-Semitism.
To be sure, Marcus has also been criticized for failing to adopt the Obama administration’s deeply controversial positions on how schools should handle sexual assault allegations and for having–as nearly any Republican appointee in any of the past several administrations would have–reservations about affirmative action policies. But, in his capacity as president of the Brandeis Center, Marcus is best known for being a tireless opponent of anti-Semitism. The Brandeis Center has also condemned hatred of and violence against Muslims. The Times acknowledged that, during his stint in the Bush administration, Marcus “reinforced protections for women and Jews as well as Muslims and Sikhs who faced religious discrimination in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
The Democrats knew that they did not have the votes to block Marcus. So their vote was symbolic. But what does it symbolize that a mainstream Republican appointee with an extraordinary record of combating anti-Semitism, and a respectable record of combating other forms of discrimination and hatred, merited not one Democratic vote? The only answer I can think of is this: It is all right to say you are against anti-Semitism, but it is unacceptable to act too vigorously against it. Such action offends those on the left who will tolerate no opposition to their mission to demonize the Jewish state. Democrats, sure of their Jews, seem determined to hold on to those who do Jews harm.
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But they fight.
On the eve of an ill-fated government shutdown in 2013, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a column that captured the sentiments of liberal opinion makers perfectly: This was all talk radio’s fault.
Senator Ted Cruz, the avatar of the ill-conceived effort to prevent ObamaCare’s implementation, had undertaken this quixotic campaign at the explicit behest of right-wing radio hosts and their listeners. Kristof observed that liberals had spent the last 20 years feeling victimized by the explosive popularity of conservative talk on the AM dial, but it was, in fact, the right that had been bamboozled. Ted Cruz and his blinkered constituents were about to charge headlong into a meat grinder in service to the careers of a handful of entertainers, none of whom had skin in the game. Whoever got crushed in the shutdown circus, they’d come out with ratings intact.
“The right-wing echo chamber breeds extremism, intimidates Republican moderates and misleads people into thinking that their worldview is broadly shared,” Kristof wrote. “And that’s why Republicans may lead us over a financial cliff, even though polling suggests that voters would blame them.”
Kristoff and the cadre of progressive opinion-makers who agreed with him had a point. To the extent that millions of conservative talk-radio consumers had become convinced that a shutdown designed to “de-fund” the Affordable Care Act had any chance of success and was not destined to backfire on Cruz and his party, the right had locked itself into a “suffocating echo chamber.” Republicans are still struggling to break the hold talk radio’s lotus-eaters have over them. But even as Republicans are making an effort to extricate themselves from that trap, liberals are settling into it.
“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket,” reads the apocryphal quote attributed to Eric Hoffer. “The Resistance” has matured past the movement stage and is now an enterprise. A number of industries have sprung up with the aim of commoditizing anger at the Trump administration and nostalgia for the last one.
Few have enjoyed more success in this venture than Obama administration alumni Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Dan Pfeiffer. Their podcast—Pod Save America—has become a sensation, generating 1.5 million listeners on average per episode. These former Obama speechwriters and communications officials travel the world, preaching the gospel of Resistance and blending entertainment with activism. They’ve built a modest media empire around their brand: “Crooked Media,” named in honor of the epithet with which Donald Trump branded Hillary Clinton.
Like talk radio in 2013, the Obama administration in exile is making demands of Democratic legislators. If Democrats adhere to them, they would force the government into a shutdown. And Crooked Media is organizing effectively to achieve their aims.
“At least 41 Senate Democrats need to say: we will not fund a government that rips away health insurance from 9 million children or deports 700,000 young immigrants from the only home they’ve ever known,” the website insisted. That is to say, Democrats should insist on a long-term funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as legislation making the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) permanent. All of this, they insist, should be tacked onto a short-term continuing resolution that funds the government for another month. That’s not happening; it’s an unrealistic ask that only hardens liberal partisans in the grassroots against an achievable compromise. It’s therefore not unreasonable to conclude that an achievable compromise is not in this media outlet’s interests.
Pod Save America isn’t just offering a suggestion for their would-be activist listeners; they’re holding their hands through the process. The podcast has published a regularly updated “whip count,” featuring the names of Democratic senators and their office telephone numbers, identifying who is publicly for or against a continuing resolution that doesn’t include their demands. They not only ask their listeners to call Democratic lawmakers on their behalf, they provide a script for listeners to follow to make sure their demands are heard. And in case you are confused, the podcast’s hosts have included a video of their call to Senator Dianne Feinstein—a reliably liberal California Democrat who is nevertheless facing a potent primary challenge in her one-party state because she is viewed as too accommodating toward Republicans in the minds of a liberal activist class.
If there is a government shutdown, it would be folly to lay the blame at the feet of the hosts of one popular podcast, or even its many imitators. The folly would belong to Senate Democrats who, as NBC News accurately put it, “have enough votes to block the spending bill in the Senate and prevent Republicans from keeping the government up and running.” But these lawmakers are only following the will of their voters. And their voters, much like Republicans in 2013, seem more interested in the fight than what that fight is supposed to achieve. That’s a familiar kind of inchoate rage. These and other liberal entertainers are following a trail blazed by Republicans. And if Congress avoids a shutdown at the last minute, don’t worry. We’ll be here again in a month.
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Another dubious honor.
What is it with the Harvard Kennedy School’s penchant for celebrating dishonorable characters? First came a speaking invitation and fellowship for the traitor formerly known as Bradley Manning. The Kennedy School disinvited Manning following a public outcry in September, but now its leadership has awarded a fellowship to an equally odious figure.
I’m speaking of Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian blogger and vehement apologist for the Tehran regime. Last week, the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy named Derakhshan a fellow for the spring semester. The fellowship brings together “experienced journalists and practitioners who focus on some of today’s most pressing issues: race relations, the urban/rural divide, the role of algorithms in society, and climate change, among other topics,” Shorenstein Center Director Nicco Mele said in a news release.
Derakhshan’s fellowship will focus on technology entrepreneurship, presumably drawing on his experience as one of Iran’s first bloggers in the early aughts, work that won him the moniker “the blogfather.” The Shorenstein release presents Derakhshan as a dissident of sorts, who “was imprisoned in Tehran for six years for his writings and online activism.” Yet spending time in the mullahs’ jails doesn’t necessarily make someone a dissident–or worthy of a top journalism fellowship. Derakhshan has spent years viciously assailing real dissidents, and he has a long record of public statements in support of the regime, its leadership and security apparatus, and its conspiratorial and anti-Semitic worldview.
Start with the anti-Semitism. In December 2015, amid the popular frenzy over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Derakhshan took to his English-language Twitter account (he also maintains a Persian account) to note that the villain of the movie was identified as “Supreme Leader,” which is also the title of Iran’s ruling theocrat. Wrote Derakhshan: “A Supreme Leader in the new star wars [sic]? What is the very pro-Israel J. J. Abrams hinting at?”
The tweet played on the canard, rampant among Iranian Islamists, that Jews use Hollywood influence to plant pro-Israel and anti-Iran messages in the minds of global audiences. In the real world, there is no evidence that J.J. Abrams is “very pro-Israel”–other than his Jewish last name, of course.
Uncovering devious Jews based on their last names is something of an obsession for Derakhshan. When a Georgian-American chess champion, Nazi Paikidze Barnes, announced that she was boycotting a 2017 tournament in Iran over the hijab requirement, Derakhshan blasted a message to like-minded activists on the social-media network Telegram, asking them to “research her name in Hebrew.” The “Barnes” last name (her husband’s) had Derakhshan wondering: “Perhaps her husband is Israeli-American?” Eventually one of his comrades wrote back to say that Barnes “doesn’t appear to be a Jewish name.”
Then there are the odes, published on his blog, to the Iranian regime. In June 2007, Derakhshan declared that “I’m proud to be Iranian, not because of Cyrus [the Great], but because of Khomeini, a true anti-colonial leader who created the only true post-colonial state in the world, Islamic Republic of Iran.” That would be Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, who executed thousands of secular dissidents, issued a death fatwa against the British novelist Salman Rushdie, and transformed Iran into an Islamist total state.
Derakhshan has similarly warm feelings for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S.-designated Iranian terror army that, among other things, has been spearheading the slaughter in Syria on behalf of Bashar Assad. The IRGC, wrote Derakhshan in August 2007, is “associated with pure patriotic and Shiite ideals about justice and sacrifice.” He added: “It’s no accident that the birthday of Imam Hossein, the central icon of the Islamic Republic’s ideology, was chosen as the official day to celebrate the” IRGC. In June 2008, Derakhshan railed against the “Iranian reformist-turned-exiled opposition” for attacking Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Holocaust-denying former president, “to justify themselves and make their puppet masters at the State Department and Hoover Institute [sic] happy.”
Most egregiously, Derakhshan has accused prominent Iranian dissidents and thinkers of spying for the U.S.–while the regime imprisoned these figures. As Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar at the Wilson Center, was languishing in the nightmarish Evin Prison in 2007, Derakhshan blogged:
I know speaking against Haleh Esfandiari is like suicide these days. . . . [She] has become a symbolic victim of the ‘most repressive regime on the planet.’ . . . Haleh Esfandiari was the first Iranian fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1995. . . . And we all know about NED’s roles and functions in countries where the U.S. wants to bring about its favorite governments such as in Venezuela and the rest. Some even suggest that the links between the CIA and NED are undeniable. . . . Given what we know about NED today, I believe, anyone in any country who has had any ties with NED and its affiliate organisations . . . deserves to be charged and fairly and justly prosecuted.
When another jailed scholar, the Iranian-Canadian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo, confessed to fomenting a “soft” revolution in a statement broadcast on Iranian state television, Derakhshan insinuated that Jahanbegloo was likely guilty as charged:
In a key section of the interview – which is not yet available in full in English translation – the political-science lecturer and philosopher describes how some American think-tanks provided him with research opportunities and financial support so that he could conduct comparative analysis of socio-political change in contemporary east-central Europe and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Jahanbegloo describes how this research gradually led to a strengthening of his ties with these think-tanks, and how he eventually realised that the main people interested in the research were intelligence officials and those associated with the United States state department, who sought to use it to help form their polices towards Iran.
Jahanbegloo then expresses regret that he was deceived by a quasi-academic structure that effectively treated him as an unofficial analyst for foreign intelligence services. He says that if he knew politicians were exploiting his purely academic activities, he would have never got involved with such institutions in the first place. The last point strikes me as a little odd, since I know Ramin personally from the time he lived in Toronto; I know that he is not so naive as not to realise what think-tanks do and where the research they pursue ends up being most useful. But I also understand how, for professional and economic reasons, a serious scholar could be dragged into such a dark and dangerous game.
He concluded: “Sometimes the trigger for a person to confess to his or her mistakes is not torture by a brutal bunch of interrogators but his or her honest and couragous [sic] encounter with the larger picture to which he or she is contributing.”
A spokesman for Harvard told me that Derakhshan’s fellowship didn’t concern “Iran or politics related to Iran.” Indeed. The real concern here is the Kennedy School’s revolting moral negligence.
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Observers on the right must have been confused by the controversy that erupted following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recent appearance on Fox News. What he advocated sounds at first glance like common sense.
“When we admit people to our country, we should be like Canada,” Sessions said. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” Based on these comments, you could be forgiven for thinking a plague of unskilled illegal immigrants had descended upon the United States. Rest easy; a combination of increased border enforcement and a tightening labor market—trends that predate the Trump administration—resulted in a decline in the low-skilled illegal immigrant population.
The statistics are beside the point. The attorney general is packaging unsavory preconceptions about immigrants in a marketable pitch to centrists based on meritocratic assumptions. The fact is that Jeff Sessions is not qualified to determine who will or will not be a “successful” immigrant to the United States.
Sessions’s vision of a meritocratic immigration regime assumes that success is beyond the reach of under-educated immigrants—a judgment based only on his own preconceptions. That’s not just immodest but antithetical to conservatism, a philosophy which, at root, recognizes that the billions of daily interactions and events that we call the economy routinely frustrate those bold enough to issue predictions about its trajectory. Sessions’s vision of a meritocratic immigration system really isn’t that meritocratic at all; not if it is based on his presumptions about who should and who should not have the chance to prove their worth.
There is truth in the notion that under-educated, low-skilled immigrants are no benefit to some Americans, but not because they are unlikely to be successful. Precisely the opposite; they are more likely to be successful, shutting low-skilled Americans out of the market. Those on the left who revel in the condition of the native-born Americans displaced by this phenomenon shouldn’t laugh too loudly. Whether they recognize it or not, they are the mirror image of the right’s hardliners. What’s more, they are helping fuel the polarization that led to the ascension of an administration that ran explicitly on a restrictive approach to immigration.
Outgoing Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez, a man with ambitions for higher office, exemplifies the blinkered radicalism of the left when it comes to immigration. This week, Gutierrez announced his opposition to the Trump administration’s desire to end “chain migration,” the practice by which American green card holders and U.S. citizens transfer their family members into the United States. Gutierrez insisted that American residency should be transferable to an immigrant’s siblings, parents, spouses, and children, regardless of whether or not they’ve demonstrated the capacity or interest to assimilate into American society. That’s not meritocracy; it’s charity.
Of course, there are those on the intellectual left for whom meritocracy is an illusion indulged only by those who don’t know the extent to which their successes are not their own. That’s the view of Linfield College English Professor Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, author of The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant, who claimed the “logic of meritocracy that is built on this racist assumption that everyone has had the same access and opportunities.” It’s the view of columnist Jo Littler, who insists that “meritocracy is a myth.” Western democracies like the U.S. and the U.K. are closed systems in which wealth and opportunities are reserved for those with connections to people with an abundance of wealth and opportunity. Meritocracy “is a smokescreen for inequality.”
What these successful opinion-makers have marketed as wisdom is really just blinding resentment. In the United States, in particular, there are no rigid class strata, and there most certainly isn’t any closed loop that guarantees the wealthy that status in perpetuity. “Citing tax scholar Robert Carroll’s examination of IRS records,” National Review’s Kevin Williamson observed, “Professor [Mark] Rank notes that the turnover among the super-rich (the top 400 taxpayers in any given year) is 98 percent over a decade—that is, just 2 percent of that elusive group remain there for ten years in a row. Among those earning more than $1 million a year, most earned that much for only one year of the nine-year period studied, and only 6 percent earned that much for the entire period.” Among those who found their way onto Forbes Magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans in 2016, a record 42 of them were immigrants from 21 different countries. Together, they have a combined net worth of over $250 billion.
Among liberals, however, this kind of old-school class envy is practically passé. What’s really in vogue isn’t resentment toward American capitalism but American culture. For many on the post-Marxist left, race and identity have supplanted wealth and power as the traits by which structural haves and have-nots can be identified and pitted against one another. For nearly two decades, liberal ideologues have debated whether assimilation into American society was possible or even desirable. Not only does assimilation represent the tacit acceptance of and submission to American racism, but it is the surrender of cultural heritage and traits that are superior to America’s heterogeneous soup of appropriated customs. “Assimilation, instead of bringing upward mobility, brings downward mobility,” Aviva Chomsky wrote in 2007. “It’s not lack of assimilation that keeps them marginalized—it’s assimilation itself.”
As the decades have shown, and as the literate left would likely concede, assimilation continued apace, and it has not yielded a racial hierarchy. A 2015 study conducted by Harvard sociologist Mary Waters for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that immigrants, particularly second-generation immigrants, are integrating into society faster than migrants of earlier generations. This is not without its setbacks; the strain on U.S. English language programs in schools and the evidence suggesting low-skilled migrants “appear to be filling low-skilled jobs that native-born Americans are not available or willing to take” increase social tensions. But assimilation is occurring, and all parties are richer for it.
America in the 1990s and 2000s experienced an immigration boom and, as historian Arthur Schlesinger said, “Mass migrations produce mass antagonisms.” Even though the undocumented and legal permanent-resident populations have leveled off since the collapse of the economy in 2008, America’s politics haven’t caught up with the trends. As the light and heat around immigration fade, so, too, should the insufferable generalities about immigrants bandied about by opinions makers on both the left and the right. At least, that would be ideal.
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Podcast: Is America in decline?
So Trump pays off a porn star and it isn’t even the biggest story of the day. On the second COMMENTARY podcast of the week, we explore all angles of this peculiar state of affairs. What does it say about us politically? What does it say about us morally? And what does it tell us about the condition of the American soul? Give a listen.
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