Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who is the enemy?

By Libby

It's hard to know where to begin with this, but let's start with Mr. Thomas and veracity, which is what set me off in the first place. Thomas claimed that in-migration of Muslims was out of control and that people were fleeing out of fear. If you poke around at the link to the British government's bureau of statistics that I provided you will see that he cited the figures to early 2006 but failed to note that the numbers have sharply dropped since. Where I come from that's called lying by omission. Further he claimed Brits were fleeing out of fear. The government site clearly stated, according to its census, the majority of out-migration was due to marriage and work. So I would call Thomas's statement an outright lie, no matter what his ideological leanings.

To be clear, I don't deny that the influx of immigrants into Britian and America are changing the face of the countries and I understand why long term residents get upset by that. Most people don't like change. It discomfits them. I get that. I suffered from it myself. I lived in lovely downtown Noho for 12 years. When I got there is was an amazing little city full of cutting edge artists. It was a thriving, vibrant, affordable community. It was very white but diverse nonetheless because of the 5 college population that supported it.

By the time I left the town had been taken over and most of the original residents were forced out by in-migrants. The only difference is Noho was taken over by upscale refugees from NYC and Cambridge. They didn't rob our homes, but they robbed us of our former charming lifestyle.

They drove up the property values by overbidding on asking prices for property and once they established their residences they complained about the street life that gave the town its charm in the first place. Suddenly we had noise ordinances and new rules about street vendors and the street scene died. More slowly the local businesses were forced out for the corporate chains the newcomers preferred. They killed downtown as surely as they had dropped a bomb. The last time I visited, there were so many empty storefronts, where once were independent entrepeneurs -- I wasn't sorry I left anymore.

The point being, this is a population problem, not solely an immigration one. The population grows, the planet doesn't. Just as the upscale invaded Noho due to the population pressure on New York and Boston, so the immigrants arrive on our shores for the same reason. Economic pressure and opportunity. The urbanites came to Noho because they could buy for $300,000 what would cost over a million in their cities and the lifestyle was better. The immigrants come for the same reason, if not on the same economic scale.

I've spent time in Third World countries, living among those who live in poverty. I've slept in their huts, danced at their parties and shared their meager food. If you can look into the eyes of a five year old who follows the food to your mouth like a puppy and not understand why someone would take any chance simply to lift their family out of those circumstances, well, I can. And it's useful to remember that when our ancestors came to this country, there weren't any immigration laws. Who's to say how many would have broken the law, if there was one, for the opportunity to do the same?

Curiously, in the early 90s, there was a large crew of illegal Irish in Noho, who over-stayed their visas and couldn't get green cards. I called them friends, not illegals, and indeed unless they confided in you, you wouldn't know. They didn't wear a sign and to my knowledge none of their workplaces were ever raided to check their green card status. Which brings me to the question, how do you know you've seen an illegal immigrant? On what basis do you judge whether they hold a green card? And that's an honest question, because I just can't tell. What's the defining feature so I can take a head count? There's a lot of foreign nationals, even in this little town.

Which finally brings us to defining the enemy and racial profiling. If we're to toss out the ad hominem argument, how do you define blaming 1.61 billion Muslims for the actions of 20? How is profiling now any different from what happened to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor?

It's easy to say you wouldn't mind when there's no chance you'll be held by the authorities for hours after you rode a ferry and talked to your friends on the ride because some hysterical bystander found it suspicious that you were traveling while fitting the profile. Me, I'm pretty sure I'd be pissed off.

I think it's exactly that sort of profiling that contributes to the radicalization of young Muslims. Call it knee jerk liberalism if you will. I call it a dispassionate, pragmatic analysis tempered with compassion.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Jim Martin said...

We know who the enemy is and he wants us dead. I have yet to hear any Islamic religious leader condemn any jihadist act unless it is couched in the usual tribal or anti-Israeli nonsense.
To remain vigilant and to be on guard against terrorist attacks is simply good citizenship.
It comes down to the silly political correctness of airport security when they pull aside a 75 year old grandmother and strip search her or stop a well known politician and not concentrate harder on young Saudis and Pakistanis.
We know who the enemy is and all the feel good nonsense won't change it. The peaceful Muslims should understand this and shut up about discrimination. After all, why are they here except to escape from their murderous brethren. They should know better than anyone who the enemy is.

5:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

By the way, I'm done with the topic. Later, I will post about my beliefs in general so that there is no misunderstanding about my aggressive stance on national security and foreign affairs.

5:59:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I'm tired of this too Jim but I look forward to a defining post as it were, if only because your rhetoric on this surprises me. I felt like I was reading Malkin and I want to understand how you can put hold this position.

FOr the moment let me just say that the people who are being stopped are by an large are not jihadists, many of them are not are not even Middle Eastern, they're just dark skinned. Further, profiling is a stupid way to try to catch them. If we're serious about finding those that wish to do us harm, narrow focused intelligence is the way to go. What concerns the most about your position is that it's exactly that sort of thinking that allows the administration to trample our civil rights with widenet surveillance that does more harm than good. It ties up our intelligence assets on wild goose chases.

The "enemy" has always been there and you still have a greater chance of being killed in a car accident than you do in a terrorist attack. That's not a "feel good" position, it's an empirical fact. Funny, I just never expected you to cave into the politics of fear.

By the way, I guess I read more than you do because I see Islamic religious leaders condemning the violence all the time, but you have to look for it. The media is too busy drumming up paranoia over the jihadists to bother to mention it prominently.

It's too bad we don't live closer. What we really need is a couple of hours over some beer to hash this out in person. Typing it takes too long.

8:39:00 AM  
Blogger empty said...

I have yet to hear any Islamic religious leader condemn any jihadist act unless it is couched in the usual tribal or anti-Israeli nonsense.

This particular canard has been repeated so often by bigots of all stripes that a few years ago Juan Cole compiled a list and links to other lists of "Islamic religious leaders" condemning terrorist acts and put it up as a permanent sidebar on his site. The fact that he had to do this is a testament to the laziness of knee jerk bigotry. The internet allows you to browse major newspapers (in English no less) from many predominantly muslim countries. It is not very difficult at all to find the reaction of "Islamic religious leaders" to jihadist acts. Of course that would require actual (shudder) work.

10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

This is idiotic and I am done.
Yes, that is exactly what I mean.
Empty, that's a pretty weak list and as to the name calling, that's the sign of a limited intellect.
I will not align myself with those that are unable to see anything other than through a leftist perspective.
To be compared with Malkin is beyond the pale and to say calling the police ties up intelligence assets sounds like something Gonzales would say.
See ya.

10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous rockync said...

I'm sorry, I sitting here laughing a little, even though prejudice is not a funny matter. Influxes of immigrants has gone on in various countries since time began. Let's see,in this country alone, first the English showed up; can you imagine the grumbling going on in the teepees over that? Then we've had an influx of Irish and Italian and Cuban and Mexican and now Middle Eastern. Someone is always in the crosshairs of hatemongers. Funny how the same people can't seem to grasp that their own ancestors were probably immigrants. All fear tactics aside, exactly how has the immigration of all these different people so adversely affected this country? When the economy starts to tank, gov't is quick to pull out the immigration card. They're stealing our jobs and using up our resources, blah, blah, blah.
I simply find it hard to believe that intelligent citizens of the 21st century can get so mired in dark,ignorant propaganda.

10:37:00 AM  
Blogger empty said...

It comes down to the silly political correctness of airport security when they pull aside a 75 year old grandmother and strip search her or stop a well known politician and not concentrate harder on young Saudis and Pakistanis.


God, you are lazy Jim. No, it isn't "silly political correctness," it is about the only way you can do random checks and have any chance of success. Let me do this by the numbers. We will even accept your assumption that all terrorists are muslims.
1. There are over one and a quarter billion muslims in the world. These include people from every race on the earth. There are about 40 million chinese muslims, about 20 million Russian/Bulgarian/Bosnian/etc. muslims - many of them blonde and blue eyed, more than a hundred million African muslims, and so on and so on.
2. You only need a few - the number nineteen comes to mind - to perpetrate a terrorist incident.
3. If it was known that the government was only looking for people who fit a specific profile it would be very very easy to pick people who did not fit that profile.
4. Therefore, the checks HAVE to be random. You can insert a bias towards a particular profile - young brown men for example - but there HAS TO BE A RANDOM COMPONENT.
5. To make sure that the bias of the checker does not mess up your random algorithm you have to insist that the checker check the person the algorithm tells him to check. Otherwise, for example if the checker had your prejudices, he might decide to overlook the blonde Russian dude. From time to time the algorithm will pick out your saintly grandma. But that is a price you pay for having that randomness component in there.
6. Therefore, while the check procedures allow the checker to check additional people the checker might find suspicious, they do not do not allow the checker leeway in terms of rejecting the algorithms recommendation to check.

It is not "silly political correctness," it's math! There are entire shelves in your university library devoted to randomized algorithms and random testing. I am sure you don't have time to study all of them but if you are going to blog about something do take some time to read up on it.

11:28:00 AM  

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