Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories.

Would be interesting to see a Quebec and Ontario comparison, and an Alberta and Ontario one, although the small size of the Canadian market likely means less variation in texts for English Canada:

The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of immigration that reshaped the nation.

The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.

Hundreds of differences — some subtle, others extensive — emerged in a New York Times analysis of eight commonly used American history textbooks in California and Texas, two of the nation’s largest markets.

In a country that cannot come to a consensus on fundamental questions — how restricted capitalism should be, whether immigrants are a burden or a boon, to what extent the legacy of slavery continues to shape American life — textbook publishers are caught in the middle. On these questions and others, classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters.

Conservatives have fought for schools to promote patriotism, highlight the influence of Christianity and celebrate the founding fathers. In a September speech, President Trump warned against a “radical left” that wants to “erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

The left has pushed for students to encounter history more from the ground up than from the top down, with a focus on the experiences of marginalized groups such as enslaved people, women and Native Americans.

The books The Times analyzed were published in 2016 or later and have been widely adopted for eighth and 11th graders, though publishers declined to share sales figures. Each text has editions for Texas and California, among other states, customized to satisfy policymakers with different priorities.

“At the end of the day, it’s a political process,” said Jesús F. de la Teja, an emeritus professor of history at Texas State University who has worked for the state of Texas and for publishers in reviewing standards and textbooks.

The differences between state editions can be traced back to several sources: state social studies standards; state laws; and feedback from panels of appointees that huddle, in Sacramento and Austin hotel conference rooms, to review drafts.

Requests from textbook review panels, submitted in painstaking detail to publishers, show the sometimes granular ways that ideology can influence the writing of history.

A California panel asked the publisher McGraw-Hill to avoid the use of the word “massacre” when describing 19th-century Native American attacks on white people. A Texas panel asked Pearson to point out the number of clergy who signed the Declaration of Independence, and to state that the nation’s founders were inspired by the Protestant Great Awakening.

All the members of the California panel were educators selected by the State Board of Education, whose members were appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat. The Texas panel, appointed by the Republican-dominated State Board of Education, was made up of educators, parents, business representatives and a Christian pastor and politician.

McGraw-Hill, the publisher whose annotated Bill of Rights appears differently in the two states, said it had created the additional wording on the Second Amendment and gun control for the California textbook. A national version of the pages is similar to the Texas edition, which does not call attention to gun rights, the company said in a written statement.

Pearson, the publisher whose Texas textbook raises questions about the quality of Harlem Renaissance literature, said such language “adds more depth and nuance.”

Critical language about nonwhite cultural movements also appears in a Texas book from McGraw-Hill. It is partly a result of debates, in 2010, between conservative and liberal members of the Texas Board of Education over whether state standards should mention cultural movements like hip-hop and country music. Their compromise was to ask teachers and textbook publishers to address “both the positive and negative impacts” of artistic movements.

Texas struck that requirement in 2018, but its most recent textbooks, published in 2016, will reflect it for years to come.

Publishers are eager to please state policymakers of both parties, during a challenging time for the business. Schools are transitioning to digital materials. And with the ease of internet research, many teachers say they prefer to curate their own primary-source materials online.

How Textbooks are Produced
1Authors, often academics, write a national version of each text.
2Publishers customize the books for states and large districts to meet local standards, often without input from the original authors.
3State or district textbook reviewers go over each book and ask publishers for further changes.
4Publishers revise their books and sell them to districts and schools.

Still, recent textbooks have come a long way from what was published in past decades. Both Texas and California volumes deal more bluntly with the cruelty of the slave trade, eschewing several myths that were common in textbooks for generations: that some slave owners treated enslaved people kindly and that African-Americans were better off enslaved than free. The books also devote more space to the women’s movement and balance the narrative of European immigration with stories of Latino and Asian immigrants.

“American history is not anymore the story of great white men,” said Albert S. Broussard, a history professor at Texas A&M University and an author of both the Texas and California editions of McGraw-Hill’s textbooks.

Here is how the politics of American history play out in California and Texas textbooks, on subjects like race, immigration, gender, sexuality and the economy.

White resistance to black progress is covered differently in the two states.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Continuity and Change,” California, P. 505

California notes the suburban dream of the 1950s was inaccessible to many African-Americans.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 436

Texas does not.

California and Texas textbooks sometimes offer different explanations for white backlash to black advancement after the Civil War, from Reconstruction to housing discrimination in the 20th century.

Southern whites resisted Reconstruction, according to a McGraw-Hill textbook, because they “did not want African-Americans to have more rights.” But the Texas edition offers an additional reason: Reforms cost money, and that meant higher taxes.

Whole paragraphs on redlining and restrictive deeds appear only in the California editions of textbooks, partly as a result of different state standards. Texas’ social studies guidelines do not mention housing discrimination at all.

CALIFORNIA
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Texas says that white Southerners opposed Reconstruction because of tax increases as well as racial resentment. California instead includes primary-source quotations from black historical figures about white resistance to civil rights.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 586; McGraw-Hill, “United States History to 1877,” Texas, P. 555

Both states say that breaches of “racial etiquette” led to lynchings after Reconstruction. But only California, whose edition was written more recently, makes clear that the perpetrators of lynchings also hoped to discourage black political and economic power.

HMH, “American History: Reconstruction to the Present,” California, P. 245; HMH, “The Americans: United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 288

Nevertheless, Kerry Green, a high school social studies teacher in Sunnyvale, Tex., a small town east of Dallas, said she discussed redlining with her 11th graders, adding it as a counterpoint to lessons about postwar prosperity — the optimistic story of consumerism, television and the Baby Boom that is emphasized by her state’s standards.

Ms. Green said she preferred to assign primary sources that “encourage students to explore history on their own.” But she said she would welcome textbooks that contain more historical documents and a greater diversity of voices and themes from the past.

“The textbook companies are not gearing their textbooks toward teachers; they’re gearing their textbooks toward states,” she said.

On gender and sexuality, California textbooks include history that is not in Texas editions.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 624

California states that the federal government failed to recognize nonbinary gender identities and female leaders in its early relations with Native Americans.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 111

Texas does not mention gender roles or gender identity in its discussion of efforts to “Americanize” Native Americans.

In Texas textbooks, mentions of L.G.B.T.Q. issues tend to be restricted to coverage of events in recent decades, such as the Stonewall uprising, the AIDS crisis and debates over marriage rights.

But for recent California editions, publishers wrote thousands of words of new text in response to the FAIR Education Act, a law signed by Governor Brown in 2011. It requires schools to teach the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and disabled Americans.

Peppered throughout California books are passages on topics like same-sex families under slavery and early sex reassignment surgery in the 1950s — text that does not appear in Texas versions.

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California states that enslaved women faced sexual violence from owners and overseers.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 449; McGraw-Hill, “United States History to 1877,” Texas, P. 443

California mentions the “lavender scare” that targeted thousands of gay men and lesbians.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 486; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 456.

California states that Alfred Kinsey’s research and early sex reassignment surgeries challenged “the postwar ideal” on gender.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 498; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 470.

Both states focus on women’s fight against discrimination in the workplace. Only California says birth control played a role, by “allowing women to exert greater control over their sexuality and family planning.”

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Continuity and Change,” California, P. 627; McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 525.

Stephanie Kugler, an eighth-grade history teacher in West Sacramento, Calif., said she had expanded an idea mentioned briefly in her classroom’s textbook, about women who dressed as men to fight in the Civil War and continued to live as men, into an entire lesson on troops who today would be considered transgender. The students read accounts of those soldiers’ lives alongside more traditional sources, such as letters written by a black Union soldier and a Confederate soldier.

Her goal, Ms. Kugler said, was to “make it really authentic” to talk about diversity in the context of each historical period.

While both states devote many pages to the women’s movement, Texas books, in general, avoid discussions of sex or sexuality.

Immigration and nativism are major themes in American history textbooks.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Continuity and Change,” California, P. 736

California includes an excerpt from a novel about a Dominican-American family.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 609

In the same place, Texas highlights the voice of a Border Patrol agent.

Michael Teague, a Border Patrol agent, is featured in the Texas edition of McGraw-Hill’s 11th grade textbook. He discusses his concerns about drug trafficking and says, “if you open the border wide up, you’re going to invite political and social upheaval.”

Mr. Teague’s story is featured at the end of a chapter on recent immigration, alongside accounts from a Vietnamese immigrant and a second-generation Mexican-American.

That section in the California edition of the same book is devoted to a long excerpt from the novel “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents,” by Julia Alvarez. It deals with intergenerational tensions in a Dominican-American family.

In a written statement, McGraw-Hill said the full-page Border Patrol narrative was not included in the California edition because it would not fit beside the literary excerpt. And at the time the Texas edition was produced, six years ago, state standards called for students to analyze both “legal and illegal immigration to the United States.”

In contrast, California textbooks are more likely to note when a historical figure was an immigrant. And they include more detail on the role immigrants such as Japanese and Filipino farmworkers played in labor movements.

California is one of many states to ask teachers and textbooks in recent years to cover the contributions of specific immigrant groups, including Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, European-Americans and Mexican-Americans.

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Only California states that Levi Strauss was a German Jewish immigrant.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 416; McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 417

California tells the story of Wong Kim Ark, whose 1898 Supreme Court case established birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants; Texas’s edition, which is older, does not mention this case, but does cover the Chinese Exclusion Act.

HMH, “American History: Reconstruction to the Present,” California, P. 247; HMH, “The Americans: United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 289

These additions are part of the reason California books are almost always longer than their Texas counterparts.

California’s Board of Education adopted an expansive 842-page social studies framework in 2016. Two years later, Texas’ school board streamlined its social studies standards, which are now laid out in 78 tightly compressed pages.

Critics of California’s approach say that making state standards and textbooks longer and more inclusive can be overwhelming to teachers trying to move quickly through hundreds of years of material.

Both states emphasize the role of big businessfrom the Gilded Age to the present.

HMH, “American History: Reconstruction to the Present,” California, P. 160

California is critical of wealth inequality and the impact of companies like Standard Oil on the environment.

HMH, “The Americans: United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 235

Texas is more likely to celebrate free enterprise and entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie.

Texas policymakers feel strongly about giving students a positive view of the American economy; since 1995, state law has required that high school economics courses offer an “emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits.” That emphasis seems to have made its way into the history curriculum as well.

California’s curriculum materials, by contrast, sometimes read like a brief from a Bernie Sanders rally. “The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots and what is to be done about it is one of the great questions of this time,” says the state’s 2016 social studies framework.

As a result, California textbooks are more likely to celebrate unionism, critique the concentration of wealth and focus on how industry pollutes the environment.

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California refers to “the income gap” and explains that “changes in tax structures and safety-net programs” and “higher costs for education, child care, and housing” played a role. Both state editions discuss economic inequality in reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the decline of labor unions.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 728; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 687.

The older Texas edition highlights additional Republican critiques of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies, while the California book discusses the threat of rising sea levels.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 749; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 709.

Both the California and Texas 11th-grade textbooks from Pearson state, “The main argument against environmental legislation is that it hurts the economy and the nation’s industries.”

The Texas edition goes further to highlight criticism of federal efforts to subsidize the green energy industry: “Republicans accuse the government of wasting taxpayers’ money, for example by supporting the failed solar manufacturer Solyndra.” The Solyndra controversy was a fixation for conservatives in 2011, when the company went bankrupt after accepting half a billion dollars in federally guaranteed loans.

The Texas book also states that American action on global warming may not make a difference if China, India, Russia and Brazil do not also act.

The California edition does not mention Solyndra or the other nations. However, it does include a section on the threat to American states and cities from rising sea levels, noting that the impact on tourism in Florida could hurt that state’s economy, and that transportation networks and buildings could be threatened.

Pearson said in a written statement that the differences between the books could be attributed mostly to the fact that the California book was published several years later, and that concerns over coastal flooding have become “more heightened in recent years.”

That Netanyahu cartoon wasn’t anti-Semitic

A contrary view by the Israeli comedian, Zeev Engelmayer:

The New York Times’ cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog for Donald Trump that angered the “Jewish world” is actually a clichéd cartoon, though well-designed and certainly not anti-Semitic. It describes two leaders, one blind being led by the other. It’s a caustic image with a vicious tone, exactly what a political cartoon should be.

Netanyahu is depicted as a dachshund, which maybe is a compliment because these dogs are great hunters, and despite their natural suspiciousness, they boast an innate ability to make friends. Behind Netanyahu the dachshund walks his good friend Trump, sullenly, a kippa on his head, symbolizing the strength of his ties with Netanyahu. Trump has been photographed wearing a skull cap — near the Western Wall, for example — so it’s not something an artist has put on him without any justification.

The choice to illustrate Netanyahu and Trump walking with determination, and even against a blood-red background, hints that they’re not just taking an innocent morning walk. They’re on a survivalist hunting trip. What are they hunting? Foreigners? Leftists? The hostile media?

The media said Netanyahu was drawn with an unusually large nose, but a very superficial look confirms that Netanyahu’s nose hasn’t been distorted, certainly not in a way reminiscent of anti-Semitic cartoons, as has been alleged. The complaint that the illustration is anti-Semitic reinforces the feeling that the Foreign Ministry looks for every possible justification to play the victim to silence critics.

Images depicting politicians as blind people with guide dogs is as old as the advent of political cartoons. James Akin’s infamous one from 1804 shows Thomas Jefferson with the body of a dog. Richard Nixon has also been drawn as a dog, and Tony Blair as a dog wearing an American flag as his collar. American patriots have been depicted as a herd of blind horses.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been portrayed as a wild dog biting Barack Obama’s hand. His nose was made to look a lot longer than Netanyahu’s in this week’s cartoon. Was there any outcry against the Ahmadinejad cartoon or demands to outlaw it as anti-Semitic?

Theresa May was depicted by the graffiti artist The Pink Bear Rebel this year, was she not? She’s seen blindfolded being led by a blindfolded bulldog wearing a British-flag doggie jacket. You can only guess what the Foreign Ministry would say about a cartoon of a bulldog wrapped in an Israeli flag.

Under pressure from the Israeli consul general in New York and the Foreign Ministry, the Trump-Netanyahu cartoon was removed from the internet. The newspaper published a clarification, a half apology, and described the cartoon as offensive and an error in judgment.

A cartoon is by definition an exaggeration that looks for weak points. Sometimes it’s a warning sign: It provides strong, exaggerated images to shock and awaken. That was the case this time, a moment before this duo drags us along with them on a leash on a nighttime stroll.

Source: That Netanyahu cartoon wasn’t anti-Semitic | Opinion

Why Has Australia Fallen Out of Love With Immigration?

A reminder just how different Australia is to Canada, despite some similarities in terms of more opposition in rural areas with relatively few immigrants compared to urban centres. And very few Canadian immigration critics have focussed on crowding issues (save perhaps Grubel) and more on values or irregular migration:

Five days after 50 Muslims in New Zealand were killed in an attack attributed to an Australian white supremacist, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, unveiled a plan he said would address a fundamental challenge to the nation.

But it was not a proposal to combat hate groups and Islamophobia. It was a cut to immigration.

The government’s plan, which had been in the works for months, is a potential turning point for a nation that has been shaped by newcomers since its days as a British penal colony and that has presented itself in recent years as a model of how immigration, properly managed, can strengthen a country.

Now, amid a global backlash against immigration that has upended politics in the United States, Britain and much of Europe, even Australia is reversing course, turning away from a policy of welcoming skilled foreigners that helped fuel decades of economic growth — and transformed a nation once closed to nonwhite immigrants into a multicultural society.

Mr. Morrison presented the move as a reaction to crowding in the nation’s largest cities, which has led to congested commutes and costlier housing. “This plan is about protecting the quality of life of Australians right across our country,” he said.

Such concerns are widespread as views in the country have turned sharply against population growth over the past year. There is worry, though, that these “quality-of-life” complaints have been amplified by — or perhaps have masked — a deeper ambivalence about a new wave of non-European immigration, especially from Muslim countries, along with Africa and Asia.

There’s no denying the rapid pace of change, nor its benefits. Australia’s population has grown by nearly 40 percent, from 18 million to 25 million, since the 1990s, and economists argue that the nation’s record-breaking 27 years without a recession would have been impossible if not for surging immigration.

Most of the 4.7 million foreigners who have arrived since 1980 have been skilled migrants, especially since 2004, when an average of more than 350,000 students and skilled workers arrived each year, according to government figures.

According to the 2016 census, more than one in four Australians were born overseas, compared to 13.7 percent of the population in the United States and 14 percent in Britain. And six out of the top 10 source countries are now in Asia, with immigrants from China (509,558 people) and India (455,385) leading the way.

Many Australians say it is time for these trends to end. In one recent poll, more than two-thirds said their country no longer needed more people. As recently as 2010, a majority of Australians disagreed with that statement.

Mr. Morrison and his Liberal Party — which has often used anti-immigrant sentiment to stir its conservative base — clearly believe that immigration will be a winning issue for them in the national election on May 18.

The government has slowed visa approvals, and plans to cut annual immigration by 30,000 people, to 160,000 a year, a reduction greater than any since the early 1980s, according to archival data.

Mr. Morrison also plans to shift work visas to steer newcomers outside the big cities, requiring recipients to live in those regions for three years before they can secure permanent residency.

‘Birth Tourism’ Is Legal in Canada. A Lawmaker Calls it Unscrupulous.

Good overview of the issues involved and interesting details on the support birth tourism “industry,” My study cited (Hospital stats show birth tourism rising in major cities) and I am quoted along with others:

Melody Bai arrived in Vancouver from China in the late stages of pregnancy with one goal: to give birth to a Canadian baby.

Awaiting her was an elaborate ecosystem catering to pregnant women from China, including a spacious “baby house” where she spent four months, attended to by a Mandarin-speaking housekeeper.

Caregivers offered free breast massages to promote lactation, outings to the mall, lectures on childbirth with other Chinese mothers-to-be and excursions for high tea.

“It’s an investment in my child’s education,” Ms. Bai, a 28-year-old flight attendant, said by phone from Shanghai, months after returning to China with her newborn and passport in hand. “We chose Canada because of its better natural and social environment.”

Ms. Bai is part of a growing phenomenon in Canada known as birth tourism, which is not only generating political opposition, but mobilizing self-appointed vigilantes determined to stop it.

It is perfectly legal.

Under the principle of jus soli — the right of the soil — being born in Canada confers automatic citizenship. But as more pregnant women arrive each month to give birth, some Canadians are protesting that they are gaming the system, testing the limits of tolerance and debasing the notion of citizenship.

In Richmond, a city outside Vancouver where about 53 percent of its roughly 200,000 residents are ethnic Chinese, nonresident mothers account for one in five births at the Richmond Hospital, the largest number of nonresident births of any hospital in the country, according to a recent report.

“Birth tourism may be legal, but it is unethical and unscrupulous,” said Joe Peschisolido, a Liberal member of Parliament in Richmond, who brought a petition against the practice to Ottawa, where the immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, said he would examine the issue.

The practice underlines how Canada, and British Columbia in particular, has become a favored haven for well-heeled Chinese seeking a refuge for wealth and kin away from authoritarian China.

The issue of birthright citizenship gained global attention in October after President Trump said he wanted to eliminate it, though it is enshrined in the American Constitution.

At least 30 other countries, including Canada, Mexico and Brazil, grant automatic birthright citizenship. Others like Britain and Australia have tightened their laws by requiring that at least one parent be a citizen or permanent resident at the time of the child’s birth.

Indicating that immigration could be an issue in federal elections next year in Canada, the opposition Conservative party this summer endorsed a nonbinding motion calling for unconditional birthright citizenship to be abolished.

In the recent report, from the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Andrew Griffith, a former director general at the government department responsible for immigration, showed that the number of children born to nonresidents in Canada was at least five times as high as previously thought — close to 1,500 to 2,000 annually.

Mr. Griffith argues that Canada intended birthright citizenship for those who wanted to live in and contribute to the country. “Since those engaging in birth tourism have no or barely any real link to Canada,” he said, “the practice is challenging a very Canadian value of fair play.”

With its sprawling Chinese food markets, Chinese-language newspapers and large number of caregivers speaking Mandarin, Richmond has become ground zero for birth tourists from China.

About two dozen baby houses are in operation. Visits to about 15 addresses showed that some operate openly while others work under licenses as tour agencies or present themselves as holiday rentals. Some are in homes. Others are in apartments. Many are booked through agents and brokers in China.

In a visit to one, the Baoma Inn, a modern house across from a park, a woman in the late stages of pregnancy could be seen in a second-floor window. A young man who answered the door confirmed that the inn was a baby house before another angrily slammed the door.

But during a telephone call in Mandarin inquiring about the Inn’s services, a man said it offered a one-stop package including “guaranteed appointments” with “the No. 1 obstetrician in British Columbia,” who spoke Mandarin and had “a zero accident rate.”

Customers usually stay for three months, he said, including one month after the birth, to allow time to apply for a passport for the newborn and to recuperate, as is the Chinese custom.

He added that his agency had seven sales offices in China. The bill for a three-month stay at a two-bedroom apartment, not including meals and prenatal care, is about 25,000 Canadian dollars ($18,331).

“The women all go back to China,” he said. “They don’t enjoy any social benefits from the Canadian government and don’t need it.”

Bob Huang, who with his wife runs Anxin Labour Service, a birthing center in the nearby city of Burnaby, said he was frequently contacted by agents in China who wanted a 50 percent commission on every successful referral. He said he preferred to post his own ads on local Chinese classifieds websites.

Some Richmond residents say birth tourism is undermining the community’s social fabric.

Kerry Starchuk, a self-described “hockey mom” who spearheaded the petition championed by Mr. Peschisolido, documents baby houses in her neighborhood and passes the information on to the local news media and city officials.

On a recent morning, she received an anonymous tip on Facebook that as many as 20 pregnant “birth tourists” from China were being housed in a nearby modernist high rise.

Rushing to her minivan, she drove to a parking garage beneath a Chinese supermarket. She then hurried outside to case out a nearby building, suspiciously eyeing a pregnant Chinese woman walking by. After entering the building, Ms. Starchuk was foiled by a locked stairwell, adding the high rise to her list for another day.

Ms. Starchuk complains that birth tourists bump local mothers from maternity wards, a concern echoed by some local nurses, and get access to public services without paying taxes.

She also said the so-called “anchor babies” threatened to burden Canada by emigrating and studying here, and sponsoring their parents to become permanent residents.

Some first- and second-generation immigrants in Richmond say birth tourists have an unfair advantage by jumping the immigration queue.CreditAlana Paterson for The New York Times

The issue has become conflated with resentment in the Vancouver area against soaring housing prices, which some residents blame on an influx of wealthy Chinese.

But Ms. Bai, who had her baby in Vancouver in February, said that given the hefty price she had paid to give birth here — 60,000 Canadian dollars, including housing and hospitalization — she was subsidizing the Canadian health care system and contributing to the local economy.

“My child won’t be enjoying any Canadian health benefits, as we are living in China,” she said.

Since her son is Canadian, however, she and her husband, a pilot, could save about 150,000 Canadian dollars on tuition fees at an international school in Shanghai.

After gaining fluency in English and Western culture, her son could also later attend a Canadian university at the discounted local rate. Eventually, the entire family could emigrate to Canada.

Some first- and second-generation immigrants oppose birth tourists for jumping the queue.

“I don’t think it is fair to come here, give birth and leave,” said Wendy Liu, a Richmond resident of 11 years, adding that she had been repeatedly harassed after Ms. Starchuk mistakenly put her house on a list of birth tourism centers.

Birth tourism at Richmond Hospital recently came under the spotlight because of a so-called “million dollar baby.”

A nonresident, Yan Xia, gave birth there, racked up a bill of 312,595 Canadian dollars in maternity and neonatal care for her newborn because of complications, and then absconded without paying the bill, according to a civil claim the hospital filed at British Columbia’s Supreme Court in April, six years after Ms. Xia gave birth.

Including six years’ worth of interest, Ms. Xia’s bill would amount to about 1.2 million Canadian dollars.

What Can the U.S. Learn From How Other Countries Handle Immigration? – The New York Times

One of the better comparative analyses I have seen, with good charts. If Canada had the same allocation between classes, about 200,000 would be family-class compared to 40,000 economic class  compared to the actual number of 61,000 family and 156,000 economic (2011 data):

Every country regulates immigration in its own imperfect way. Some countries have populations that are 80 percent foreign-born but offer no pathway to permanency. Other countries put up huge barriers to citizenship except for people whose parents were born there.

In the United States, the Senate has struggled, unsuccessfully so far, to pass an immigration reform bill. But the debate has put nearly every category of immigration on the table, from smaller, targeted programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status and the Diversity Immigrant Visa, to big pillars of the immigration system like work-related and family-based migration.

President Trump has called for a shift from what currently makes the American immigration system distinct: its focus on family ties, a framework that accounts for two-thirds of all residency visas, more than any other country. Instead, he and many Republicans would like most visas to be distributed based on employability, with a preference for those who are highly skilled, like doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs.

“In many ways the U.S. immigration system is a relic of the past,” said Justin Gest, a professor at George Mason University who studies comparative immigration policy, referring to how public opinion has changed since 1965, when the family-based system was established. “It is far more generous than I think the spirit of the United States is today.”

The accompanying chart displays selected countries and the circumstances under which each one welcomes foreigners. It’s based on data from 2011, the latest year available for certain countries like China, and shows temporary migrants (like students and guest workers) and permanent migrants, broken down by the basis for their visa: family ties, employment, humanitarian purposes (as with refugees) or under a free-movement policy (as with the European Union).

Note that the data did not capture undocumented immigrants. Although the United States has good estimates on its undocumented population, data from other countries are spotty and harder to come by.

Simply put, the purpose of an immigration policy is to decide what types of people to allow inside the border. What would it look like if the United States adopted rules more like those of Canada, Japan or Qatar? Compare the policies below.

The Mix if We Looked More Like Canada

In 2011, Canada and Australia relied heavily on immigrants who were admitted based on employability, many of whom were allowed to stay permanently. Both countries used a merit-based point system to determine who qualified, assigning a number of points to criteria such as education, language skills and employment history.

Mr. Trump has said that he would like to emulate the Canadian and Australian systems. But Mr. Gest pointed to a blind spot the size of Ohio — the seventh-most populous state — that could be obscuring how similar the systems already are: undocumented immigrants, who are highly represented in the United States in many low-skill industries like farming and construction.

“If you think of the undocumented as 11 to 12 million temporary low-skilled laborers, then you have a system that looks a little bit more like Canada” in terms of temporary workers, he said. (In fact, Canada and Australia have a much greater proportion of temporary workers than the United States.)

But a merit-based system doesn’t necessarily result in economic payoff, because skills don’t always lead to a job. For example, Canada has struggled to keep its merit-based workers employed since 1967, when the policy was first established.

That’s because some of the very skills and credentials that ushered immigrants into the country were unrecognized once they arrived, so many ended up unemployed or underemployed.

Another reason President Trump might not want to rely too heavily on Canada or Australia as models: Both countries allow in far more immigrants as a percentage of their population. If the United States were to follow their lead, it would involve admitting millions more people.

Or More Like Europe

Historically, most immigrants in Europe have been other Europeans. The European Union allows people to relocate between countries with a level of freedom that is unmatched elsewhere in the world, greatly widening employment pools.

Middle Eastern conflict has created an exception in recent years, spurring a big influx of asylum seekers from war-torn countries. But humanitarian migrants typically make up only a small proportion of Europe’s foreign-born population.

Mercosur, a trade bloc in South America, functions like the E.U., though it allows people to live outside their home countries for only two years at a time, after which they must apply for permission to stay permanently.

It might help to imagine that these partnerships are like Nafta — the policy between the United States, Mexico and Canada that lowers barriers for trade, which President Trump has threatened to eliminate — but instead of goods, the agreements apply to people.

In a system like that, Americans looking for work would be able to expand their searches into Canada and Mexico, but they would also compete against Canadian and Mexican candidates for jobs in the United States.

Or Like Japan and South Korea

South Korea and Japan are so stringent with immigration that they make the United States look lenient. This is partly because of a desire to preserve their cultures, a goal echoed by some conservative groups in the United States.

For example, the Japanese government once offered thousands of dollars to immigrants of Japanese descent to leave the country. And very few people become South Korean citizens without family ties; doing so requires years of residence, an in-person language proficiency test and a written test on customs, history and culture.

On top of stoking racial tensions, these policies have created demographic problems for South Korea and Japan. Both countries’ populations are aging rapidly, social services are underfunded, and many industries face labor shortages.

Some unusual policies, such as Japan’s practice of granting citizenship based on a parent’s Japanese nationality instead of where babies are born, have created situations where three generations of a family may not be Japanese citizens despite having lived in the country all their lives.

Or Like the Gulf States

The Gulf states allow a huge immigrant influx to meet the demand for cheap, low-skilled labor, but almost all of the immigrants are temporary, and they have few rights or protections.

In Qatar, for example, roughly 80 percent of the population is foreign-born. Without them, the skyscrapers of Doha or the 2022 World Cup, for which the government has promised to build more than half a dozen new stadiums, would not be possible. And the Qatari government has been accused of human rights abuses against those workers.

The only way that governments can sustain these heavy immigrant populations is by withholding the generous resources that are granted to ordinary citizens, such as free health care, free college tuition and marriage allowances.

Most Americans would not be comfortable with this approach, said Morris Levy, a political scientist at the University of Southern California who studies public opinion on immigration. “People dislike the idea of a permanent second-class citizen,” he said. “It goes back to a core set of values that people think of as really elemental to being American.”

The Future Is Probably Somewhere in the Middle

Based on the current debate, any solution that Congress agrees on will probably fall somewhere between international models. It could follow some trends that are occurring worldwide.

For example, in many countries, including Canada and Australia, there has been a shift away from exclusively merit-based systems to ones that also consider whether someone has a job offer — something currently done in the United States.

For purposes of immigration, the United States could narrow its definition of family, which is wider than that of any other country, to exclude siblings or adult children who are married.

Although current American policies around family-based migration are the most generous in the world, the results look much different in practice because of limits on the number of visas that can be granted in each category.

“There is a certain mindlessness to family immigration when you take into account eligibility and time,” said Demetrios G. Papademetriou, co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization. “Someone qualifies, but it may take 20 years before a visa is open to them.”

“There is a major undisputed advantage to family immigration, chain migration; it’s become apparently a dirty word,” he said. “You have someone here who will show you the ropes, who will take you in that can set up employment for you. When it comes to immigrant integration, family is very important.”

You could envision a merit-based system that incorporates characteristics of our current system. It could grant points to people who have family members in the United States, or who come from countries that are not highly represented in the current population.

In that case, it might be desirable to pay attention to the weight each category is given and to adjust based on economic and social outcomes.

“That is how you keep a point selection system,” Mr. Papademetriou said. “Everything else is just blind faith or politics. Our system that exists today is just politics.”

While the sputtering negotiations are frustrating for many people, especially for those caught up in the system, academics agree that, in general, these decisions should not be rushed.

“Immigration is social engineering,” said Mr. Gest, the George Mason University professor. “You’re building the population of the future.”

via What Can the U.S. Learn From How Other Countries Handle Immigration? – The New York Times

Why Asking About Citizenship Could Make the Census Less Accurate – The New York Times

Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at U.C.L.A. on the US Census citizenship question along with a study that shows how distrust plays out in different states, reflecting the particular political climate:

It’s a question that used to be on the national census every decade:whether you were a citizen of the United States.

But the Justice Department’s request to return it to the 2020 census for all respondents has unsettled demographic experts as well as advocates of voting rights and immigrants, who say it could lead Hispanic people to avoid being counted. Are they overreacting to a simple question?

We can’t say at this point what the electoral consequences would be, but it’s likely to lead to undercounting. The Census Bureau itself estimates that the 2010 census failed to find 1.5 percent of the Hispanic population. Research conducted that year suggests that Hispanic trust in the census may have been undermined. And from the start of his candidacy up through his reported vulgar remarks last week about Haiti and African countries, President Trump has been fanning anti-immigrant sentiment nationwide.

The Justice Department says it wants to add the question to aid its defense of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (which prevents the dilution of minority populations so their power cannot be weakened).

Supporters of adding the question say it shouldn’t be a problem because the citizenship question has since 2000 been asked on a smaller, recurring census-sponsored survey, the American Community Survey, and because the anonymity protections are strong. But the trouble is that today, everything even remotely political has become a battle over what it means to be an American.

Responding to both the census and the A.C.S. is the law of the land — you must do it or you could be fined. The data collected determines how a lot of money is allocated, as well as the allocation of House seats (and therefore Electoral College votes).

The more people who fail to respond, the more concern there is that we are missing some groups of people more than others, and that the failure to return the form among these group members is not random.

The government dedicates tremendous resources to reminding people to return their census form and even sends people to the doors of households from which no form has been filed. Mostly, it gets results. But if the reason for not filling it out is distrust of government, additional efforts at compliance by government might fall flat.

For the 2010 census, the Spanish-language television network Telemundo sought to improve census participation by writing a story line into one of its most popular telenovelas, “Más Sabe el Diablo.” In it, the character Perla meets a Latino census worker at her father’s empanada stand and is encouraged to apply for a job with the census. The plot shows Perla being trained and learning about why the census asks the questions it does and how it safeguards confidentiality. The idea was that a popular character on a TV show could do more to assuage the fears of a community than the government could.

Matthew Trujillo, currently at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Elizabeth Paluck, a Princeton University psychologist and recent MacArthur Award winner, studied the network’s efforts. Mr. Trujillo and Ms. Paluckasked 121 Spanish-speaking Latino adults across three states to watch either a four-minute clip from “Más Sabe” that showed Perla talking about the importance of completing the census or one that included Perla talking only about family. One of the states was Arizona, which had just passed a law requiring police officers, in the course of an unrelated investigation, to investigate a “reasonable suspicion” that a person was in the country illegally.

Subjects in the experiment completed a survey before and after watching one of the clips. (Which one they watched was determined at random.) Upon leaving the lab, they were able to take a flier about the census and choose either a generic “Latino Pride” or census-specific “Be Counted” sticker.

The results of the test showed that people who saw the census story line were more likely to have positive attitudes toward the government generally — unless they lived in Arizona.Latino residents there, under threat from the newly passed law, were not moved by Perla’s story line.

The study also revealed that, on average, seeing Perla’s experience with the census made people, including those in Arizona, more aware of it. They were also more curious: 86 percent took a flier about the census as they left, compared with 69 percent of people who saw the other clip. Finally, the census clip prompted more people to take and wear the “Be Counted” sticker as they left — if they lived in Texas or New Jersey. In Arizona, people in both groups avoided the “Latino Pride” sticker.

The results suggest that if Latinos in the United States feel generally threatened by the Trump administration, it may be hard to persuade them to overcome their negative views of government and return the 2020 census.

California officials are so worried about Latino nonparticipation — and the potential loss of a seat in Congress and billions of federal dollars — that they are discussing aggressive multilingual advertising campaigns.

In the 2010 Telemundo study, it mattered a bit how much people liked Perla as a character. This is both good news and bad news for the Census Bureau as it faces 2020. With TV content booming, there is no shortage of popular characters who could be seen talking about the census.

On the other hand, today’s networks may be reluctant to participate the way Telemundo did in 2010. Given the current climate, even they may be unsure of the government’s intentions, particularly as it relates to those who are undocumented or whose national origin may not be in keeping with the president’s view of being American.

via Why Asking About Citizenship Could Make the Census Less Accurate – The New York Times

As Trump Tightens Legal Immigration, Canada Woos Tech Firms – The New York Times

Another story on the Canadian immigration advantage:

A Flatiron district artificial intelligence start-up was recently looking to expand, adding new engineers who happened to know a niche computer language.

The people it hired hail from Morocco, Belarus, France, Georgia and Canada. But they are not working in New York. They are in Montreal, where immigration policies make it possible to get work permits within two weeks, and the Canadian tech industry is aggressively trying to woo foreign companies.

“It’s becoming less and less sexy to be going to the United States,” said Tim Delisle, 26, a founder of the start-up Datalogue, which uses artificial intelligence to prepare and synthesize data for other businesses. He added that skilled foreign workers crave the greater stability that he said immigrants have in Canada compared with the United States.

While much attention has been paid to President Trump’s policies cracking down on illegal immigration, the administration has also moved to restrict legal immigration, especially in the tech industry, which draws many workers from abroad. In April, Mr. Trump introduced an executive order, Buy American and Hire American, which included requests to reform a visa program known as H-1B as a way to benefit American workers.

The program awards 85,000 temporary visas annually to highly skilled foreign workers in what are deemed “specialty” occupations through a lottery. Between application and legal fees, the process of applying for one H-1B visa can cost a company up to $6,000, lawyers say, and can take months; it is also as uncertain as roulette, with hundreds of thousands of applicants for the spots.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security published a set of proposed rule changes that would make the visas even harder to qualify for, to ensure that only “the best and brightest” foreign workers were selected. It also hoped to eliminate a work permit for spouses of some of these visa holders.

In contrast, Canada’s immigration agency in June started the Global Skills Strategy for high-skilled workers from abroad to get a work permit in two weeks.

“That is, excuse my English, goddamn fast,” said Hubert Bolduc, the chief executive of Montreal International, a public-private partnership that recruits foreign companies to move to Canada and offers support once they arrive in Montreal. “We’ve been loving government on this because we know it’s a talent game.”

In 2017, the organization conducted eight international recruiting missions, in London, Paris, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its directors have made several informal visits to New York, where it came this month to woo a video game company.

With the Trump administration’s immigration policies, “We’re almost saying, ‘Don’t come,’” said Sunil Hirani, the co-founder of trueEx, an electronic global interest rates exchange, also in the Flatiron neighborhood. He came to New York as a child 40 years ago from India. “How can you have a ‘Come to New York City’ program if the people of New York City are going to get kicked out? How do you sell that?”

Last year, trueEx’s chief executive and president, Karen O’Connor, was looking at options to expand the company’s computer engineer group. A consortium related to Montreal International invited her to Canada for a visit that made her feel like a foreign dignitary, she said. There was the elegant lunch, the precisely coordinated meetings with potential business partners and a visit to the Montreal Stock Exchange.

Ms. O’Connor said the 50-person company could save more than $1 million in wages if it hired engineers based in Montreal. In part, that was because the cost of living was far less compared with New York and because the company could qualify for certain tax benefits.

But after Mr. Trump was elected, trueEx hesitated, to gauge the climate; now, it is again considering expanding north of the border in 2018, Ms. O’Connor said, in part because it got a spot site visit from the Department of Homeland Security this summer to verify employment records for its H-1B visa holders. They were in order, but the company’s executives found the process nerve-racking.

Photo

Datalogue’s founders, Tim Delisle, left, and Bryan Russett, in their Montreal office. “It’s becoming less and less sexy to be going to the United States,” Mr. Delisle said. CreditRenaud Philippe for The New York Times

“My advice to other companies would be: Hold on for dear life, but explore other options,” Mr. Hirani said.

But John Miano, a lawyer who represents American workers who say that they have lost jobs unfairly to low-skilled H-1B visa holders, thought it was “posturing” for companies to say they are moving north of the border to find the best talent. “The problem is, you got to go to Canada,” Mr. Miano said. “The reality is, the place to do business is still the United States.”

Datalogue’s expansion to Montreal, Mr. Delisle’s hometown, evolved swiftly. He and a partner founded Datalogue in 2016 at Cornell Tech in Manhattan and were lucky when a tech mogul, Charles E. Phillips Jr., the chief executive of Infor, gave him two desks on the fifth floor of Infor’s elegantly restored Flatiron headquarters.

By spring 2017, Datalogue had grown to five employees and had raised $1.5 million in seed funding. But to bring in more engineers would have cost thousands of dollars in visa fees, Mr. Delisle said, and even then, the process would not be guaranteed. Canada has a burgeoning artificial intelligence sector, and the company opened its Montreal office in April in the trendy Mile End neighborhood; it raised another $1.5 million in seed funding by November.

Still, Mr. Delisle said that his company has better access to customers in New York, and for that reason he has kept seven employees there for sales and marketing.

While tech is still thriving in New York, where it is the fastest-growing industry in the city, losing offices or whole companies to Canada could be a concern, said Kevin Ryan, an entrepreneur who had founded a half-dozen start-ups. The multiplier effect of the start-up world is a powerful one.

“When someone decides not to come here to join a start-up, and they go to Toronto, some of them may break off and start a new company across the street,” he said. “The wider impact will be felt, literally, for decades.”

Mr. Delisle agreed. “I’m not necessarily scared for New York; there’s phenomenal programs there,” he said. “I am more scared for the broader policies being applied right now.”

According to the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group, immigration has always been central to the economy of New York. Forty-eight percent of the city’s small-business owners are immigrants, and 45 percent of the work force in the city is foreign-born.

“The No. 1 priority of business today is where they can get the talent they need from the global talent pool,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, the chief executive of the group. “There’s not much a locality can do to incentivize, but we can try to keep the global pipeline open.”

Stimulating the city economy was the impetus for New York City’s Economic Development Corporation to create a program called International Innovators Initiative, or IN2NYC. The idea was to provide H-1B visas that were exempt from the government-imposed cap because entrepreneurs would work in partnership with city universities.

The program was announced in the spring of 2016 and received 144 applications in the first round. The second round, coming on the heels of the Trump administration’s travel ban, attracted half that number. The program received only 41 this fall.

Perhaps even more telling is the small number of foreign entrepreneurs who received visas: six. The IN2NYC program had envisioned at least 25 working at once, but the process, officials say, has been delayed by government challenges to the visas.

One company that was initially rejected has appealed — and set up shop in Canada while it is waiting for a decision.

via As Trump Tightens Legal Immigration, Canada Woos Tech Firms – The New York Times

The Nazi Next Door Is Real—and Unspectacular | Noah Rothman Commentary Magazine

I agree with Rothman here.

Understanding the banality and normality of someone with unacceptable views does not mean accepting the views but rather helps one avoid one-dimensional caricatures, a lesson that applies to both the ‘left’ and ‘right’:

Six million Jews. Nine million Soviet civilians. Nearly 2 million Poles. Over 500,000 Roma and Yugoslavs. Approximately a half million more religious minorities, homosexuals, political criminals. Up to 10 million Chinese, Indochinese, Indonesians, Koreans, and Filipinos. Millions of soldiers. All told, the conduct of fascist regimes in the mid-20th Century resulted in between 50 and 80 million deaths. These rather elementary historical facts are, apparently, necessary preamble. If you’re going to engage in any rumination on National Socialism, neo-Nazism, or a predisposition toward racial separatism, it’s apparently necessary to tell readers exactly how they should think about those anti-social traits.

That’s the only logical conclusion available to those who have perused the cascade of criticism heaped upon the New York Timesfor publishing a profile of a self-described white nationalist who might have otherwise been unidentifiable. Indeed, that was the entire point of the piece. “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland” explored the views and lives of Tony Hovater, the “Nazi sympathizer next door,” and the white supremacists with whom he was surrounded as they tried to integrate into an Ohio community.

The profile explored not just Hovater’s views but his tastes, which is what seems to have sent Times readers into a state of manic agitation. The piece and all who were involved in its publication were savaged for “humanizing” a neo-Nazi by noting that he, too, shops at the local supermarket and enjoys “Seinfeld” references.

“It is completely insane that big U.S. media keep printing the anti-Semitic garbage of *actual Nazis* without even bothering to correct them,” wrote Toronto Star correspondent Daniel Dale. He specifically cited Hovater’s Holocaust denialism and the Times’ dispassionate retort, which held that six million dead Jews is a “widely accepted” figure. “Why does the NY Times keep normalizing Nazis?” Arizona State University journalism professor Dan Gillmor asked. “This article does more to normalize neo-Nazism than anything I’ve read in a long time,” FiveThirtyEight analyst Nate Silver complained. He theorized that the Times’editors greenlighted this “deeply sympathetic portrait of a white supremacist” because of their collective sense of guilt over failing to appreciate the issues that animate Donald Trump’s America (a theory that both underestimates Trump’s America and likely overstates the collective self-consciousness at the Times).

The outcry grew so deafening that a Times editor felt compelled to apologize for publishing what the critics saw as a soft-focus human interest story about a man with monstrous views.  Among the criticisms of this piece offered by liberals like Quartz editor Indrani Sen and Vox.com’s Ezra Klein was that a gauzy portrayal of a neo-Nazi seemed to be the profile’s only purpose. “[I]t doesn’t add anything to our understanding of modern Nazis,” Klein offered.

But it did.

The article did not begin and end with an exploration of the items on the Hovaters’ wedding registry. It delved into both Hovater and his network’s thinking regarding how they intend to integrate into acceptable society. It was a deeply disturbing portrayal of a racist movement that is beginning to eschew shock tactics in favor of infiltration and the persuasion of what the profile’s subject called “normal people.”

It described Hovater’s social media habits, which are shared by much of the alt-right—a useful detail for those who may be interested in preventing white nationalists from blending into society without a hitch. The profile explored Hovater’s reading, music tastes, and the evolution of his political thinking. It detailed his affinity for Vladimir Putin, his hatred for the press, and his disgust with United States as it is currently constituted.  If you’re interested in identifying neo-Nazis in the wild, this is all useful information. The piece also described Hovater’s life at home, where he minced garlic, cooed over his cats, and talked about having children with his future wife. For the Times’ critics, this was unacceptable. “That evil is also banal is not new,” Klein quipped. Not so. Apparently, for those who were scandalized by this profile, it is.

Undergirding the left’s revulsion over the “normalization” of an American Nazi is the idea that some—not them, of course, but the vulgar multitudes—will be tempted to embrace white supremacy because a welder in Ohio enjoys  “Twin Peaks.” This is not prudence but pretension. These liberal critics imagine themselves enlightened enough to know evil when they see it in print, but not you.

This is a censorious impulse. It represents the left’s troubling allergy to moral complexity. A man can have cats, buy barbecue sauce, love and be loved like the rest of us, and also be a beast of unspeakable prejudice and cruelty. Likewise, just because an organization calls itself “antifascist” doesn’t render it morally righteous when bands of “antifascists” form marauding bands with the intent of putting anyone who looks like a Trump supporter in the hospital. And so on.

Increasingly and to its detriment, the left in the age of Trump has convinced itself that its adversaries are, or ought to be, one-dimensional monstrosities with a monomaniacal devotion to undermining all that they hold dear. The New York Times should not be catering to children who lash out when their adversaries are depicted as fully formed human beings. The objection here is not to reportorial standards at the Times but to a set of facts the objectors cannot stand.

via The Nazi Next Door Is Real—and Unspectacular | commentary

What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz – The New York Times

Gives a good sense of the criteria Facebook uses,  allowing more than what I would consider hate speech.

Take the quiz at their website for the contrast between Facebook, your responses as well as NYT readers (spoiler alert: Facebook classified half of these as hate speech, I classified 5 of the 6):

Have you ever seen a post on Facebook that you were surprised wasn’t removed as hate speech? Have you flagged a message as offensive or abusive but the social media site deemed it perfectly legitimate?

Users on social media sites often express confusion about why offensive posts are not deleted. Paige Lavender, an editor at HuffPost, recently described her experience learning that a vulgar and threatening message she received on Facebook did not violate the platform’s standards.

Here are a selection of statements based on examples from a Facebook training document and real-world comments found on social media. Most readers will find them offensive. But can you tell which ones would run afoul of Facebook’s rules on hate speech?

Hate speech is one of several types of content that Facebook reviews, in addition to threats and harassment. Facebook defines hate speech as:

  1. An attack, such as a degrading generalization or slur.
  2. Targeting a “protected category” of people, including one based on sex, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disability or disease.

Facebook’s hate speech guidelines were published in June by ProPublica, an investigative news organization, which is gathering users’ experiences about how the social network handles hate speech.

Danielle Citron, an information privacy expert and professor of law at the University of Maryland, helped The New York Times analyze six deeply insulting statements and determine whether they would be considered hate speech under Facebook’s rules.

  1. “Why do Indians always smell like curry?! They stink!”
  2. “Poor black people should still sit at the back of the bus.”
  3. “White men are assholes.”
  4. “Keep ‘trans’ men out of girls bathrooms!”
  5. “Female sports reporters need to be hit in the head with hockey pucks.”
  6. “I’ll never trust a Muslim immigrant… they’re all thieves and robbers.”

Did any of these answers surprise you? You’re probably not alone.

Ms. Citron said that even thoughtful and robust definitions of hate speech can yield counterintuitive results when enforced without cultural and historic context.

“When you’re trying to get as rulish as possible, you can lose the point of it,” she said. “The spirit behind those rules can get lost.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said that the company expects its thousands of content reviewers to take context into account when making decisions, and that it constantly evolves its policies to keep up with changing cultural nuances.

In response to questions for this piece, Facebook said it had changed its policy to include age as a protected category. While Facebook’s original training document states that content targeting “black children” would not violate its hate speech policy, the company’s spokeswoman said that such attacks would no longer be acceptable.

White Nationalism Is Destroying the West – The New York Times

Good piece:

When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of jihadists (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on Islamic State attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing the Islamic State, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.

But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.

Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.

The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.

Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.

Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.

….

“It’s the great replacement,” his friend added, echoing the title of a 2010 book by the French writer Renaud Camus, which paints a dark picture of demographic conquest in the West. “They want to replace us.”

As Mr. Camus explains in the book: “You have a people and then, in an instant, in one generation, you have in its place one or several other peoples.” He finds it scandalous that “a veiled woman speaking our language badly, completely ignorant of our culture” is legally considered as French as “an indigenous Frenchman passionate for Romanesque churches, and the verbal and syntactic subtleties of Montaigne and Rousseau.” In Mr. Camus’s eyes, groups like Pegida are heroic. He praises the group as a “liberation front” that is battling “a colonial conquest in progress” where white Europeans are “the colonized indigenous people.”

Ms. Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, has a similar fear, and she sees birthright citizenship as the vehicle for replacement. Although she doesn’t use the term favored by many Republicans in the United States (“anchor babies”), she insists, as she told me in an interview last May, that “we must stop creating automatic French citizens.”

This argument has a long pedigree. It can be traced back to the Dreyfus Affair, when the virulently anti-Semitic writer Maurice Barrès warned that immigrants wanted to impose their way of life on France and that it would spell the “ruin of our fatherland.” “They are in contradiction to our civilization,” Barrès wrote in 1900. He saw French identity as rooted purely in his bloodline, declaring, “I defend my cemetery.”

Today’s version of the argument is: if you have foreign blood and don’t behave appropriately, then you don’t get a passport.

Calais and Charlottesville may be nearly 4,000 miles apart, but the ideas motivating far-right activists in both places are the same. When white nationalists descended on Charlottesville in August, the crowd chanted“Jews will not replace us” and “you will not replace us” before one of its members allegedly killed a woman with his car and others beat a black man; last week, they returned bearing torches and chanting similar slogans.

Just as Mr. Trump has plenty to say about Islamic State attacks but generally has no comment about hate crimes against Indians, blacks and Muslims, the European far-right is quick to denounce any violent act committed by a Muslim but rarely feels compelled to forcefully condemn attacks on mosques or neo-Nazis marching near synagogues on Yom Kippur.

Doing so might alienate their base. Alexander Gauland, a co-leader of the newest party in the German Parliament, is adamant that his Alternative for Germany is “not the parliamentary arm of Pegida,” although he did acknowledge in an interview that “a lot of people who march with Pegida in Dresden are people who could be members, or friends, or voters” for the party. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Gauland and Ms. Le Pen would never admit to being white nationalists, but they are more than happy to dog-whistle to them and accept their support.

Those who worry that a godless Europe and an immigration-friendly America are no match for Islamic extremists have ignored an even greater threat: white nationalists.

Their ideology is especially dangerous because they present themselves as natives valiantly defending the homeland. Because they look and sound like most of their co-citizens, they garner sympathy from the majority in ways that Islamists never could. White nationalism is in many ways a mirror image of radical Islamism. Both share a nostalgic obsession with a purist form of identity: for one, a medieval Islamic state; for the other, a white nation unpolluted by immigrant blood.

If the influence of white nationalists continues to grow, they will eventually seek to trample the rights of immigrants and minorities and dismiss courts and constitutions as anti-democratic because they don’t reflect the supposed preferences of “the people.” Their rise threatens to transform countries that we once thought of as icons of liberalism into democracies only in name.