Should societies be pleasant or durable?

Ilhan Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia before coming to the United States as a refugee aged 14. Last November she became the first Somali to be elected to the United States Congress, and one of the first Muslim women. She has yet to even take her seat in Congress, but she’s already decided American society needs a radical overhaul:


I have written before about how I don’t think new citizens to a country should be given the vote: if you want a say in how you are governed, feel free to stay at home. I might be persuaded those who have lived 20 years in a country should have the right to vote, but I also don’t see their being denied as a fundamental injustice. The views of those who were born in a country ought to prevail over those of newcomers who chose to relocate, but people are so wedded to the idea of universal suffrage this idea sits well outside the Overton window in the west. The trouble is, universal suffrage is about 100 years old at best, which in historical terms makes it very much still in the experimental stage.

One of the more hubristic characteristics of modern political commentators and activists is they believe their preferred policies mark the end of history, that the societal conditions they have largely imposed on others will be here forever. Few stop to think that the Ottoman empire lasted 600 years before disappearing altogether, so perhaps the jury is still out on 5 years of gay marriage and 40 years of wimmin’s rights. Now it may well be that a society in which religion plays no major role, gays get married, and legislation ensures gender parity in the upper management of big companies is very pleasant and all who live in it enjoy long, healthy, fulfilling lives. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the society will survive more than a generation or two. It rarely occurs to people that pleasant societies might not make durable societies, whereas history certainly suggests that societies built on harsh conditions can prove remarkably enduring.

My point is that any society which allows rank outsiders to enter and immediately set about agitating for radical change probably won’t last very long. Any society which allows foreigners to take part in their national political process such that they attempt to overturn parts of the constitution, suppress free speech, and denounce the population as racist is engaged in a suicide pact. The Founding Fathers stipulated that the US president must be an American; had it occurred to them that Somalis would be running for Congress and seeking to radically change America, they might well have imposed similar criteria for all holders of elected office. Serious countries do not allow their political systems to be infiltrated in this manner: Britain banned Catholics from holding public office for two hundred years, believing them to be a fifth column. Somehow, America has gone from a country which insisted newcomers adopt their values to celebrating those who don’t.

I’m sure there are lots of very good, principled arguments for allowing Ilhan Omar to run for Congress and then denounce Americans as white supremacists, just as I am sure there are sound reasons for allowing known jihadists to roam free in European capitals. But the question is, can a society which tolerates this survive? And if so, how long before it is unrecognisable? This won’t end well.

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29 thoughts on “Should societies be pleasant or durable?

  1. I honestly cannot fathom the incredible level of selfishness and arrogance of running for political office in a country that took me in when I was in need in order to radically change that country.

  2. 100 years before any migrant gets a vote in anything. The same for their offspring and no automatic citizenship either. And no benefits.
    After 100 years they will be reviewed. If they have assimilated and are British in all but perhaps colour they can become full citizens. If they have been scum, jihadis, benefit scroungers etc they should have been deported long before 100 years is up. In the UK the measure should be made retroactive–thanks Bliar–to 1/1/1997. Which would ensure that Jizza would have no chance of being voted in. Unless ZaNu started to concern itself with the problems of the white working class who created them. Unlikely that a shower of middle class Marxist shite will be able to do that.

  3. Mal, it’s because they seem themselves as conquerors. We are cattle to be swept aside and they don’t care if we know it. Personally I’ve had it with immigration from hostile cultures. They have no business being in the country and I’d approve of *any* measures that made them leave.

  4. Tim, your point would be stronger if she was advocating FGM and the burka. As it is she’s just a fast learner who has picked up the identikit nostrums of the left.

  5. According to Tim’s linked Wikipedia article, Ilhan Omar came to the USA in 1995 (dob 1981, aged 14). Thus she has been there for 23 years.

    I agree with Tim that immigrants should live in a country for much longer than is usually required before being accepted as naturalised citizens (I favour 10 years); however, I don’t see the point of naturalised citizenship without the vote. And I desire that further years of residence should be required before standing for elected public office – probably differing with the scope of elected office (eg local, regional, national).

    However, I really do think 23 years is more than adequate for all those things. Tim might not want it for himself, ever: but I would want the opportunity.

    I suggest we think what each of us would view as fair if it happened to ourselves, in all of the circumstances: (i) of forced or similar (eg refugee) ejection from our country of birth; (ii) at the choice of our parents while we were minors; and (iii) at our own choice as adults.

    Best regards

  6. Tim, your point would be stronger if she was advocating FGM and the burka. As it is she’s just a fast learner who has picked up the identikit nostrums of the left.

    That’s a good point, but I fear the latter is merely the horse on which the former has hitched a ride.

  7. I’m with zut alors! on this one.

    The idea that American society needs to be radically changed is not a Somali idea. It is an American idea, originating on the left, which now dominates public discourse, and you will not weaken it by excluding foreigners who advocate it.

    By advocating radical reform, Ilhan Omar is not revealing herself as a foreign agent; rather, she is demonstrating how perfectly assimilated she is. I expect she would pass or fail any assimilation test you could devise to the same degree that similarly-aged leftist classmates from her university would.

  8. I suggest we think what each of us would view as fair if it happened to ourselves, in all of the circumstances: (i) of forced or similar (eg refugee) ejection from our country of birth; (ii) at the choice of our parents while we were minors; and (iii) at our own choice as adults.

    It wouldn’t be particularly fair on the individual, but I don’t think societies will survive if they organise themselves to make things fair for the few desperate cases. At some point, the greater good and continutation of society must take precedent, and while “the greater good” has been used to justify all sorts of abominations in the past, I don’t think restricting who defines “the greater good” to *established* members of the society is necessarily a bad thing.

    Put it this way, if 23 years is deemed acceptably long enough to integrate and not be a threat to society, how do you explain someone in a head-covering calling the majority population white supremacists and campaigning to overturn the 2nd amendment before they’ve even taken their congressional seat? I’d rather err on the side of caution, to be honest: if she wants to recreate society in her image, she is free to start with her country of birth.

  9. It is an American idea, originating on the left, which now dominates public discourse, and you will not weaken it by excluding foreigners who advocate it.

    I don’t care if American lefties want to wreck their own society, that’s up to them. But why should they be allowed to enlist help from foreigners?

  10. My personal views on this. I’m a UK national who now lives between two other countries. France & Spain. I regard myself as a guest in both of the latter & am grateful to their peoples for their hospitality. There are aspects of both of them that don’t suit me. But those are things that I’m content to put up with & work with. If I wasn’t willing to do this, I shouldn’t have come here. It’s certainly not my business to try to change them – although maybe the example I set may encourage the locals to change their own ideas. Otherwise, it’s their countries & their societies. I’m a newcomer. What do I know about the checks & balances, the fudges & concessions, the hundreds of years of history have contributed to what they are today? I don’t vote in their elections, even when I’m legally entitled, because I don’t regard I’m morally entitled. I don’t have sufficient skin in the game.
    On the other hand, theoretically, I could still take part in UK political affairs. But I don’t, even though that’s where I’m paying much of my taxes. I’ve left. I don’t see myself returning. I didn’t vote in the referendum on the EU because I’d good reasons for voting in either direction.The UK leaving the EU is likely to cause me considerable problems, so I’d be personally better off if it remained. But I firmly believe Brexit is a better future for the UK itself. Either way, it’s now none of my business. I made it none of my business by choosing to leave the UK. Morally, I shouldn’t tell you what to do. I don’t have skin in that game either.

  11. I bet the yanks are more convinced than ever that they must keep their guns after seeing the French Old Bill in action of recent times.

    If you must have a democratic system then you need to have quality control of the voters, so it should go back to males and property owners only.

  12. “I don’t think societies will survive if they organise themselves to make things fair for the few desperate cases.”

    That’s the function of morality/charity not government. The whole problem is that these two things have become conflated.

  13. Fundamentally most see democracy as an end in itself, with the act of participation in government as a fundamental and inalienable right; a few, mostly Libertarians, see democracy merely as a means to the end of good government, to be abandoned should we ever discover a better mechanism.

  14. But when she took the Citizens Oath she must have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the US. And again when she took office.
    We already have the tools for the job. What we lack is conviction.

  15. It rarely occurs to people that pleasant societies might not make durable societies, whereas history certainly suggests that societies built on harsh conditions can prove remarkably enduring

    Indeed. Look at Calhoun’s mice utopia experiments. If conditions are too easy, the population literally goes extinct – the mice lasted about a year and a half. There’s something about life being a fight that gives animals drive.
    We have made ourselves a world where life is easy, and it results in falling birth rates. We are the beautiful ones, and we’re going to get displaced by others that have more drive unless we can reawaken that spirit. Heinlein was right – A society that loses its militaristic tendencies will be replaced by one that hasn’t.

  16. “Fundamentally most see democracy as an end in itself, with the act of participation in government as a fundamental and inalienable right; a few, mostly Libertarians, see democracy merely as a means to the end of good government, to be abandoned should we ever discover a better mechanism”

    Democracy is an element of constructing a solid form of government but the limitations on democracy are as important. The liberal (little l) ideas of rule of law, property rights, etc have existed for hundreds of years whereas a broad franchise is extremely recent. Democracy in undeveloped countries (without the other elements of a strong state) often degenerates into a path to power for a strong man (one man, one vote, one time), or majority oppression of a minority (then a civil war). Democracy is a very flawed tool and needs to be balanced by other elements to give a robust structure of government.

  17. I don’t care if American lefties want to wreck their own society, that’s up to them. But why should they be allowed to enlist help from foreigners?

    Consider it this way. When you have high immigration, foreigners join all parts of society. Why should one particular part be exempt? Should the Newcastle-plumbers-union not allow Polish plumbers to vote for their leaders? An elementary school advisory committee? Some local county’s council? Where do we draw the line?

    Or is it her opinions which are wrong? Is it her demand that everything change? Should we allow her to run if she wants nothing to change because the US is perfect? What if she thinks the 1950’s US was perfect, and she wants to roll the clock back? Who will have the power to decide what an immigrant may or may not advocate?

    I think this is one of those problems which is best solved by simply reducing immigration. If the foreigners are few, or obviously assimilating as a general rule, then their pressure for change will not be resented, and will not greatly augment local lefties’ demands for change. Other solutions are likely to create more problems than they solve. If you have any mechanism for excluding immigrants from politics, you will quickly find it applied to other segments of society, whatever is expedient for whoever is currently in charge.

  18. Where do we draw the line?

    We draw the line somewhere below national-level politics. Perhaps they can vote at local level, I don’t know. But at national level? I don’t think so.

    Should we allow her to run if she wants nothing to change because the US is perfect?

    No, she shouldn’t be allowed to run regardless.

    Who will have the power to decide what an immigrant may or may not advocate?

    The question is moot if you do not allow them to participate in national-level politics.

    I think this is one of those problems which is best solved by simply reducing immigration.

    I agree, but I see no reason why we cannot do both.

  19. Fundamentally most see democracy as an end in itself,

    Indeed, whereas in fact it’s (usually, to a point) the best means to an end. But democracy doesn’t mean universal suffrage either, which is another point which seems to have been forgotten.

  20. We’re not short of “foreigners” in high office, and never have been.
    James I, William III, George I (and George II didn’t speak English either), Disraeli, Lloyd George, Gordon Brown and the current Mayor of London.
    The record is, I admit, somewhat mixed.

  21. Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    Is she saying anything which say, Tommy Robinson isn’t albeit from a more authoritative position? And would her voice be even necessary if lunatic foreigners were not allowed to hold public office in the first place?

  22. The Pedant-General on December 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm said:
    ““I don’t think societies will survive if they organise themselves to make things fair for the few desperate cases.”

    That’s the function of morality/charity not government. The whole problem is that these two things have become conflated.”

    There’s a doctrine in law about this the “slippery slope”. It’s why hard cases make bad law. All illegal immigrants should be returned unless they really have a good asylum case. Anyone without papers who is not a real asylum case should be locked up and deported if necessary to a camp in a third country. It would reduce illegal immigration to a trickle.

  23. Calhoun’s experiments were on overcrowding – very far from “utopia”. Remove the predators and provide food and water ad lib, standard conditions for lab mice. Except we usually keep them at most 6 to a cage and don’t let them breed excessively. Calhoun let them breed indiscriminately. And the crowding was largely voluntary as well.

    Even then, cannibalisation and eating your newborns is pretty standard behaviour for rats and mice respectively.

  24. Despite the “Minnesota Nice” effect, I suspect that the end result of all this is going to be tears.

    Omar represents the results of a set of very bad choices made by a bunch of people in Minnesota, and in the US government. If you ask yourself, “How on earth did a bunch of Somalis chose Minnesota, of all places, to settle…?”, what you’ll find is an unholy alliance of activist church groups, federal agencies, and a bunch of stupidity that’s beyond belief. We basically pay these people to come to the US, settle, and then parasitize the country, and all out of a sense of noblesse oblige that’s straight out of Aesop’s fable about the frog and the scorpion.

    Where it is going to end, when the average Joe and Jill figure out that they are now second-class citizens in their own country? No telling, but I can about guarantee you that it won’t be pleasant. Trump’s election is only the opening bell in the festivities, and if these trends continue, there’s no real telling where it ends. The next civil war in the US is going to be between the leftoids, the populations they’ve sponsored coming in, and the rest of us. The interesting thing is, I strongly suspect that a lot of the “invaders” are going to be looking around at the other parties brought in, and then the calculations about whose side everyone is going to take are going to blow up. There’s already signs that the ethnic replacement program in Southern California isn’t going according to plan, as the Hispanics supplant the blacks, and the resulting conflict starts turning blacks off of the Democrat teat. Commentary I’ve heard from both sides, over the years, doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence in the future. I think there’s going to be a race war in this country, but the “white patriarchy” is going to wind up sitting it out while the Hispanics and blacks fight it out for top dog. The whole thing is a disgusting, self-created mess, brought on by the immigration policies put into place back in the late 1960s by that stalwart hero of the Left, Teddy Kennedy. End point? Who the hell knows, but I doubt seriously that it’s going to work out to be a peaceful assimilation.

  25. Jonathan: “…you will not weaken it by excluding foreigners who advocate it.”

    The Left only ever convert – why give them easy access to do so?

  26. I’m in Minnesota, now represented by the lovely Ms. Omar, and not very happy about it.

    Kirk (above) calls it essentially right. In Minnesota, Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities both harvested a ton of government money to bring in an entire community of Somalis – 80,000 in Minnesota alone, most of whom ended up concentrated in Little Somalia in the Twin Cities.

    So, Omar gets a built-in constituency right at the start, and it’s a politically-active one.

    But she’s a racist Islamist feminist woman (?!), and so she automatically became a cult leader to much of Minnesota’s rather large wealthy white progressive community, too. I suspect she’ll hold office here for so long as she desires.

    Point is, she won her seat in Congress not in spite of her status as a radical feminist Islamic woman, but specifically because of it. It won her the immigrant votes (which are considerable here) and it also won her the adulation of the native libs. (This is a far-left state, an island of prog piety in a more conservative Midwest region.)

    If there’s any comfort to be taken here, it lies in the fact that she won’t be working to change Minnesota. Minnesota is already there. The seat she won by 80% – representing our Twin Cities urban district – was going to go to some ultra-progressive without question. We might as well get some entertainment out of it.

  27. Is she saying anything which say, Tommy Robinson isn’t albeit from a more authoritative position?

    Absolutely. She provides insight into the Eastern/Arab/Muslim mentality. Her recollections from her youth about how, as a girl, she would be blamed for anything that a man did to her, provide a very forceful example of the prime difference between the West and the Middle East. In the West she would be judged on whether she did right or wrong – in the East, on whether she maintained honor or brought shame. She punctures the monopoly of all those self-appointed representatives of Muslim communities, whose demands are always (coincidentally) in accord with a supremacist, separatist, and dominating Islamic mindset. I am sure she has inspired many people in the west to resist Islamic domination, precisely because she rejects those who purport to speak for her. The good she has done, I think, counter-balances a the harm of a hundred Ilhans. Tommy Robinson cannot give us this insight, because he turns to the Koran to explain Muslim behavior, and does not attempt to identify cultural behaviors which predate the Koran. He is a close observer of Islam, but an external one. Hirsi Ali comes from the inside.

    Which is not to say that all immigration is always a net-benefit, or that large flows of immigrants are not substantially different than small trickles. My point is that by having a two-tiered political system, you will not only lose the benefits of the occasional Hirsi Alis, you will also suffer the consequences of having a two-tier system. I asked where the line should be drawn, and you said somewhere under the national-political level. But I’m sure that you have observed that the line on hate speech, for example, is not currently drawn where you think it ought to be, and in fact its main characteristic is that it is moving faster and faster in the wrong direction. It moves because it is convenient for the elites that it move.

    Consider precisely the case of Tommy Robinson, if such a two-tiered system had been in place for the last 20 years. Imagine him walking into the Oxford Union to give his speech. Is he going to say anything which one of our members can’t say (albeit from a more authoritative position)? Why did we invite a Luton chav anyway? And he’s not really English, anyway, he’s Irish! Well, practically Irish. Send him out to clip the rose bushes, shame to waste his time. And you would lose his testimony, whose power stems precisely from the fact that has lived where we have not, and seen what we have not.

    Of course, Tim Newman would never drawn the line in such a place, but we cannot always trust our elites to be as reasonable as Tim Newman, and we can’t trust the line not to wander. It’s reasonable to have a clear line for citizenship. But once you grant citizenship, it’s best to keep the playing field level, because it’s much easier for politicians to try to wiggle that line in a way which suits them, or to torpedo each other by suggesting they are more pure than their opponent according to this new measure.

    If you have a sane immigration policy, you will get immigrants minus their culture. Then let them spread out on the political map without attempting to influence where they concentrate. Within two generations they will be indistinguishable from the natives. The harm they do will balance the good.

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