Here’s a short piece from last month on how a small-town mayor lost his job over trying to import Muslim refugees, over the objections of his constituents. The previously popular five-term mayor lost his reelection campaign by a whopping 17 points over this one issue.
Lest you think that local election might’ve been over something other than Muslim immigration, here is the defeated mayor himself: “As much as I said during the campaign that this was not a referendum on refugee resettlement … hindsight, looking back at it, absolutely a referendum on refugee resettlement.” Obvious parallels may be made with November 8, 2016.
The Slate piece sticks with the conventional wisdom that such sentiments are held by irredeemably racist whites. Except for the part where this small town is in Vermont, home of a presidential candidate not exactly known for his right-wing views. It never occurred to the Slate writer nor (until it was too late) the former mayor that people are sick and tired of connected elites forcing Islamic immigration on them over their objections with few arguments in their favor other than “diversity is an absolute good, because reasons” and more importantly, “all immigration opponents are racist dead-enders.”
Tell people they’re racist enough times, even if they live in one of the most reliably liberal states in the union, and they’ll finally give up, agree with you, and vote for the racist. Why not? They’re racist either way in the view of Brooklyn-based journos, right? Wasn’t Trump’s campaign just one long excuse for flyover-country white people to stick it to elites who dismiss them as racist hicks?
Here’s the hard fact: Everyone is tribal. Everyone. Including, of course, the cosmopolitans themselves. White Americans and Europeans are not more or less racist or tribal than Chinese people, or Kenyans, or Arabs. Import large numbers of South Asians to serve as workers in the UAE and guess what you get? That’s right, a huge heaping dose of good ol’ racism without a single white person in sight to blame.
Hell, the Japanese mistreat their tiny Korean minority even though they are of the same race. How do you think they’d feel about Syrian refugees? Here’s a hint: according to this WaPo piece, by Oct. 2016, Japan has accepted a grand total of six. Not six thousand. Not six hundred. Six.
The Japanese get away with it, even though they are a developed First World nation, because they are somehow exempt from the nagging tut-tutting of the diversity/inclusivity-obsessed elites who love to lecture America and Europe. But if prime minister Shinzō Abe had forced refugees upon his hostile population in order to address Japan’s very real demographic problems and curry favor with the Davos set, he’d have been out of power just as sure as that Vermont mayor.
Tribalism is baked into our DNA. You need a lot more than “they’ll do the jobs we won’t do” and “you’re all racist” to overcome that at the polls. And we need better options on immigration than Germany’s policy vs. Japan’s. Sensible immigration plans with sensible restrictions help both parties, but you won’t have power long to implement them if your only argument for your tribalist voters is telling them, in the words of the Slate guy, they “face a choice: stay white and wither, or get diverse and grow.”