Issue of the Century

Immigration and the Tragic Sense of Life

January 12, 2018

We are now in an age of very difficult decisions. Amid demographic changes, nations need to be honest with themselves about what sort of world they want to live in and leave behind. There are severe value judgments to be made. People may say all cultures are equal, but who is prepared to actually live like that? For instance, what non-Muslim in the West actually desires the Islamification of anyplace whatsoever? Are we so tolerant that we want female genital mutilation to become a part of American life? Should the separation of religion and state that the West has long taken for granted be annulled for diversity’s sake? Shall Islam be permitted to punish Muslim women in the West for not wearing the burka? Many Western countries have, in fact, banned the burka. The value judgment they have made—that the burka is wrong in some sense—shows that no one can afford to live as though all cultures were equal. For, without making distinctions between cultures—judging one thing to be better than another—there can be no cultural value at all, because the concept of value is possible only in a comparative sense. To believe all cultures are equal, therefore, is sheer nihilism.

And no wonder. Upon examination, the passion for diversity and multiculturalism that intellectuals display proves to be mere anxious pretense. Hence, then, the profound ignorance of foreign languages and of foreign cultures among the we-are-the-world crowd. Their actual interest is in playing an abstract pseudo-moral game whose function is to divert them from the competitive egotism of their relations. Thus men and women pretend to esteem one another, while also congratulating themselves for their moral enlightenment and intellectual sophistication.

In tragic reality, doing what is best for your own country may entail not helping foreigners to alleviate their suffering. To be sure, that would not be a good decision from a moral point of view, but that does not mean it would be a bad one, either. Good moral decisions are not always available; some situations are just terrible, and we are fortunate today if even a small number of influential persons are capable of understanding them for what they are and acting accordingly. For, where earlier Americans fought in wars and worked with their hands, today we tap keyboards in rooms that are cozy or cool so as to suit our taste, and what we have gained in ease we have lost in clearheadedness and strength of will.

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