A Home Invader Program?

Thomas Sowell

6/14/2007 12:01:00 AM - Thomas Sowell

People who are pushing for a "guest worker" program show not the slightest interest in what has been happening under guest worker programs in Europe. Facts are apparently irrelevant.

So is logic. Guests are people you invite to your home. Gate crashers are people who come without being invited. Home invaders are people who break in, despite doors that have been shut to keep them out.

If the discussion of immigration laws respected either logic or honesty, we would be talking about a program to legalize home invaders instead of a guest worker program.

As for facts, guest workers from Third World countries have created centers of crime and violence in Europe, and some guest worker communities have become breeding grounds for terrorists.

Just as crime and violence in American inner cities have led not only to "white flight" but also to a flight of the black, Hispanic and Asian middle classes, so in Europe much of the native-born European population has fled from cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Brussels.

Joel Kotkin's classic book "The City" noted the "influx of immigrants" who were "recruited to Europe during the labor shortages of the 1950s and 1960s" who have become "an increasingly angry and sometimes violent element in what long had been remarkably peaceful urban areas." Another classic book -- "Our Culture: What's Left of It" by Theodore Dalrymple -- found a similar pattern in France. Long before the Muslim riots in Paris which shocked France and the world, Dalrymple pointed out how immigrants in France had become a major source of crime and violence, not only in Paris but in other parts of the country. The housing projects immediately surrounding Paris have become concentrations of "several million" Third World immigrants -- a population filled with "the hatred it bears for the other, 'official' society of France." They are not appeased by "the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity." What they want is what most people want -- respect -- and this cannot be given to them, least of all by the French welfare state. In order to feel self-respect, the young especially "needed to see themselves as warriors in a civil war, not mere ne'er-do-wells and criminals." This anti-social vision has been supported and even celebrated by many intellectuals, much as both black and white intellectuals have celebrated the senseless brutality and cheap vulgarity of rap music in America. What may be especially relevant to the situation in the United States is that the immigrant parents and grandparents of the violent youths came to France with a very different view. They were glad to be in France, which for most was a big improvement over where they came from. "They were better Frenchmen than either their children or grandchildren," Dalrymple noted. They would never have booed the French national anthem at a public event, as the later generations did -- and as the American national anthem has been booed in Los Angeles. The later generations were not born in the Third World countries from which their parents and grandparents escaped. They were born in France, and resented not having the same prosperity as other Frenchmen. Here again, the media and the intelligentsia in France, as in the United States, tend to turn differences in achievement -- "gaps," "disparities" -- into social injustices rather than reflections of differences in the things that create achievement. One of the things that make many people such passionate advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants from Mexico is that so many Mexican immigrants are hard-working, decent family people. That was also true of many Third World "guest workers" in Europe, who were glad to be there, but whose children and grandchildren have developed very different and very poisonous attitudes -- with the help of activists, demagogues, and the media. Today's illegal immigrants are too often analogized to early 20th century immigrants from Europe. But their situation is far more similar to that of contemporary "guest workers" in Europe.