Douthat: A Case for Patriotic Education

More on capturing the “the good, the bad and the ugly” and finding a balance, along with age appropriateness for the negative parts:

I have my doubts about America. As a Catholic, my first loyalty is to a faith that predates and promises to outlast our Republic, that was disfavored for much of our history and may be headed into disfavor once again. American anti-Catholicism is far from the worst evil in this nation’s history, but it still instills a special obligation to take critiques of our Anglo-liberal-Protestant inheritance seriously, whether they come from radicals or traditionalists or both.

But when it comes to introducing American history to my own American children, none yet older than 10, I’ve realized that we’re giving them a pretty patriotic education: trips to the battlefield at Concord; books like “Johnny Tremain” and the d’Aulaires’ biographies of Lincoln and Franklin and Pocahontas; incantatory readings of “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

One of my son’s favorite books is an account of Lewis and Clark’s mission that pairs extracts from diaries with vivid illustrations. Laura Ingalls Wilder may have been canceled a few years ago, but she’s a dominant literary figure for our daughters. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” plays in our minivan, and when my eldest daughter tries to win arguments by declaring “I’m a free American!” I let the claim stand, rather than answering her with Catholic critiques of liberal individualism.

I should say that we also deliver doses of realism about slavery and segregation and the importance of seeing history from the perspective of the defeated, from the Tories to the Sioux. (Though many older texts contain those perspectives, however un-P.C. their form; tragic realism is not the exclusive province of the early 21st century.) And we are not home-schoolers; our patriotic education interacts with what our kids learn in school and pick up through osmosis in our progressive state and city.

But having written recently about the race-and-history wars, I think it’s worth talking about what makes patriotic education valuable, even if you ultimately want kids to have critical distance from the nation’s sins.

Here I want to disagree mildly with David French, the famous conservative critic of conservatism, who wrote for Time magazine recently chiding parents who are “afraid children will not love their country unless they are taught that their country is good.” The love for country we instill, he argued, shouldn’t rest on American innocence or greatness; rather we should love our country the way we love our family, which means “telling our full story, the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

To which I would say, yes, but … you probably want to feel a certain security in your children’s family bonds before you start telling them about every sin and scandal.

Admittedly there are families where that isn’t possible, as there are political contexts where young kids need to know dark truths upfront. But we aren’t living in Nazi-occupied France, and there is easily enough good in America, past and present, to lay a patriotic foundation, so that more adult forms of knowledge are shaped by a primary sense of loyalty and love.

Moreover, with families the people you’re supposed to love are usually there with you, and to some extent you can’t help loving them even in their sins. Whereas the nation’s past is more distant, words and names and complicated legacies, not flesh and blood. So if historical education doesn’t begin with what’s inspiring, a sense of real affection may never take root — risking not just patriotism but a basic interest in the past.

I encounter the latter problem a lot, talking to progressive-minded young people — a sense that history isn’t just unlovable but actually pretty boring, a grim slog through imperialism and cisheteropatriarchy.

Whereas if you teach kids first that the past is filled with people who did remarkable, admirable, courageous things — acts of endurance and creation that seem beyond our own capacity — then you can build the awareness of French’s bad-and-ugly organically, filling out the picture through middle and high school, leaving both a love of country and a fascination with the past intact.

And starting with heroism doesn’t just mean starting with white people: From Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King Jr., the story of the African-American experience is the most straightforwardly heroic American narrative, the natural core of liberal patriotism — something liberalism understood at the time of Barack Obama’s election, but in its revolutionary and pessimistic mood seems in danger of forgetting.

This idea of a patriotic foundation hardly eliminates controversy. You still have to figure out at what age and in what way you introduce more detail and more darkness. This is as true for Catholic doubts as for radical critiques: I’m not sure exactly how to frame Roe v. Wade and abortion for my older kids.

In this sense French and others to his left are correct — there is no escape from hard historical truths, no simple way to raise educated Americans.

But still I feel no great difficulty letting my children begin, wherever their education takes them, with the old familiar poetry: Here once the embattled farmers stood / And fired the shot heard round the world.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/10/opinion/sunday/history-education-patriotic.html

Douthat: The Excesses of Antiracist Education

On trying to find a balance and the risk of simplistic dichotomies, in contrast the the more varied realities and situations:

In my last column I tried to describe part of the current controversy over race and K-12 education — the part that turns on whether it’s possible to tell a fuller historical story about slavery and segregation while also retaining a broadly patriotic understanding of America’s founding and development.

In this column I will try to describe the part of the controversy that concerns how we teach about racism today. It’s probably the more intense debate, driving both progressive zeal and conservative backlash.

Again, I want to start with what the new progressivism is interested in changing. One change involves increasingly familiar terms like “structural” and “systemic” racism, and the attempt to teach about race in a way that emphasizes not just explicitly racist laws and attitudes, but also how America’s racist past still influences inequalities today.

In theory, this shift is supposed to enable debates that avoid using “racist” as a personal accusation — since the point is that a culture can sustain persistent racial inequalities even if most white people aren’t bigoted or biased.

Still, this kind of vision would, on its own, face inevitable conservative resistance on several grounds: that it overstates the challenges facing minorities in America today; that it seems to de-emphasize personal responsibility; that it implies policy responses (racial quotas, reparations) that are racially discriminatory, arguably unconstitutional and definitely threatening to the white middle class.

But the basic claim that structural racism exists has strong evidence behind it, and the idea that schools should teach about it in some way is probably a winning argument for progressives. (Almost half of college Republicans, in a recent poll, supported teaching about how “patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other institutions.”) Especially since not every application of the structural-racist diagnosis implies left-wing policy conclusions: The pro-life and school choice movements, for instance, regularly invoke the impact of past progressive racism on disproportionately high African-American abortion rates and underperforming public schools.

What’s really inflaming today’s fights, though, is that the structural-racist diagnosis isn’t being offered on its own. Instead it’s yoked to two sweeping theories about how to fight the problem it describes.

First, there is a novel theory of moral education, according to which the best way to deal with systemic inequality is to confront its white beneficiaries with their privileges and encourage them to wrestle with their sins.

Second, there is a Manichaean vision of public policy, in which all policymaking is either racist or antiracist, all racial disparities are the result of racism — and the measurement of any outcome short of perfect “equity” may be a form of structural racism itself.

The first idea is associated with Robin DiAngelo, the second with Ibram X. Kendi, and they converge in places like the work of Tema Okun, whose presentations train educators to see “white-supremacy culture” at work in traditional measures of academic attainment.

The impulses these ideas encourage take different forms in different institutions, but they usually circle around to similar goals. First, the attempt to use racial-education programs to construct a stronger sense of shared white identity, on the apparent theory that making Americans of European ancestry think of themselves as defined by a toxic “whiteness” will lead to its purgation. Second, the deconstruction of standards that manifest racial disparities, on the apparent theory that if we stop using gifted courses or standardized tests, the inequities they reveal will cease to matter.

These goals, it should be stressed, don’t follow necessarily from the theory of structural racism. The first idea arguably betrays the theory’s key insight, that you can have “racism without racists,” by deliberately trying to increase individual racial guilt. The second extends structural analysis beyond what it can reasonably bear, into territory where white supremacy supposedly explains Asian American success on the SAT.

But precisely because they don’t follow from modest and defensible conceptions of systemic racism, smart progressives in the media often retreat to those modest conceptions when challenged by conservatives — without acknowledging that the dubious conceptions are a big part of what’s been amplifying controversy, and conjuring up dubious Republican legislation in response.

Here one could say that figures like Kendi and DiAngelo, and the complex of foundations and bureaucracies that have embraced the new antiracism, increasingly play a similar role to talk radio in the Republican coalition. They represent an ideological extremism that embarrasses clever liberals, as the spirit of Limbaugh often embarrassed right-wing intellectuals. But this embarrassment encourages a pretense that their influence is modest, their excesses forgivable, and the real problem is always the evils of the other side.

That pretense worked out badly for the right, whose intelligentsia awoke in 2016 to discover that they no longer recognized their own coalition. It would be helpful if liberals currently dismissing anxiety over Kendian or DiAngelan ideas as just a “moral panic” experienced a similar awakening now — before progressivism simply becomes its excesses, and the way back to sanity is closed.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/03/opinion/antiracist-education-history.html

Can the Right Escape Racism? White identity politics has been partially suppressed before. Here’s how it could happen again.

More from Ross Douthat on the problem of white nationalism/supremacism in US conservatism:

Last week I wrote a column that simultaneously argued that conservatism has a problem with white-nationalist infiltration and that liberalism, influenced by the revival of racial chauvinism in the Trump era, is increasingly tempted to smear mainstream conservatives as racist.

The response was varied, but a common critique from the left was that any defense of individual conservatives from the charge of racism is basically irrelevant to the underlying structural reality that the Trump era has exposed — which is that the American right’s coalition is founded on racism, endures because of racism and has no future as a morally decent force unless it is essentially refounded, its racist roots torn out.

One of the more temperate versions of this argument was offered by New York magazine’s Eric Levitz, taking on my own essay and a column by Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner calling for conservative institutions to make themselves inhospitable to white identity politics. Such calls are well and good, wrote Levitz, but they wildly understate the challenge:

“… racism has been fundamental to American conservatism, and the G.O.P. in particular, since the mid-20th century realignment of the parties — even as its purportedly defining tenets have proven to be negotiable, from small government to antagonism toward autocrats to reduced deficit spending. None of this precludes the existence of nonracist conservatives, to be sure. It just makes them some of the least influential people in their movement, and renders their claims to broader relevance akin to shouting into a void.”

Levitz goes on to catalog various conservative policies, from border detention camps to voter-ID laws, that reflect the deeper-than-Donald-Trump influence of racism on the right. He argues that the various conservative factions have consistently made their peace with racism and racist policies since Richard Nixon, not just since 2016. And he suggests that since “the Republican Party would collapse without support from racists,” there is probably no path to a nonracist G.O.P. that doesn’t involve the total defeat and total reconstruction of the party.

Levitz is right that there is considerably more racism on the right than Republican Party elites wanted to believe pre-Trump and that the elite has conspicuously failed to confront its more overt and toxic forms — which is part of how we ended up with a birther as the president of the United States. In the longer view, he’s also right that white identity politics has been important to the conservative coalition since the 1960s, when the strategic and policy choices that the Nixon-era Republican Party made — in effect, rallying voters who opposed the Great Society’s vision of racial redress — ensured that a lot of racially conservative and racist white voters would migrate into the G.O.P.

Ross Douthat: Four Things That Are Not White Nationalism

His list:

  1. It is not white nationalism to recognize limiting principles on liberal universalism, and a justifiable role for particularity — ethnic, cultural, religious — in many political arrangements.
  2. It is not white nationalism to believe that countries like the United States would be better off with more babies.
  3. It is not white nationalism to believe that growing ideological uniformity in the commanding heights of culture makes American politics more polarized.
  4. It’s also not white nationalism for conservatives to try to find ways to persuade and reel back people on the right who are tempted by bigoted ideas

As always, it is the specifics that indicate whether the beliefs and principles are inclusive or exclusive, positive or negative.

Useful reminder not to automatically label or dismiss:

The American right in the Trump era has a racism problem. It’s fed by a Republican president who race-baits, a media ecosystem whose guardrails have collapsed, the lure of far-right ideas after various center-right failures and the influence of toxic forms of internet community on impressionable minds.

At the same time, the American right in the Trump era faces a liberalism that’s eager to discover and condemn racism where it does not actually exist. Positions that any de-Trumpified conservatism would necessarily hold are conflated with white nationalism, figures who opposed Donald Trump are hammered as enablers of racism, and progressives indulge a political fantasy in which the racist infiltration of the mainstream right is an opportunity to delegitimize conservatism entirely.

The coexistence of these two realities was usefully illustrated in the last two weeks. If you want evidence that bigotry on the right is a bottom-up problem as well as a feature of the president’s birtherism and Twitter wars, just read last week’s SplinterNews exposé on the email group where a cluster of youthful and not-so-youthful right-wingers gathered to play at white nationalism while holding down normal jobs for conservative publications and institutions. What was reported in the piece I can confirm anecdotally: Every extended conversation I have with 20-something conservatives includes a discussion of how to deal with racist flirtations in their peer group.

But if you want evidence that unjust delegimitization is happening as well, consider that in the very same period that the email exposéappeared, a succession of mainstream media outlets served up bogus accusations of racism against prominent and not-so-prominent conservatives.

A Defeat for White Identity What the midterms tell us about racial backlash and economic populism.

Ross Douthat’s take:

Running for president in 2016, Donald Trump sold two kinds of populism. One appealed to white tribalism and xenophobia — starkly in his early embrace of birtherism, recurrently in his exaggerations about immigrant crime, Muslim terrorism and urban voter fraud.

The other was an economic appeal, aimed at working-class voters hit hard by de-industrialization who found the existing Republican agenda too libertarian. Trump promised to protect entitlements and replace Obamacare with something more generous; his anti-immigration arguments were about jobs as well as crime; he promised lavish infrastructure spending and trade deals that would bring back factory jobs; he pledged to make the G.O.P. a “worker’s party.”

When this combination of appeals delivered victory, it set off an interminable debate about whether to look at Trumpian populism primarily through the lens of race or economics. Interminable, but crucial, because the answer would say a lot about whether a less tribal political alignment is possible — with Democrats winning back blue-collar whites or Republicans building a pan-ethnic nationalism — or whether we’re doomed to a permanent racial polarization of the parties.

The strongest argument for privileging economics is a simple one: Trump won millions of working-class white voters in the Midwest, the constituency and the region hit hardest by globalization, who had previously voted for Barack Obama. If you voted twice for the first black president, this argument goes, your main political motivation probably isn’t racism, and the fact that Trump ran as an economic populist seems like a more important explanatory fact.

The rebuttal, the case for privileging race, relies on a raft of studies, the most recent one summarized by Vox’s Zack Beauchamp just weeks before the midterms, which show that those Trump-Obama switchers were more likely to express racially conservative attitudes and hard-line anti-immigration views than they were to have suffered recent economic setbacks.

The hypothesis floated by these studies’ interpreters is that the combination of Obama’s presidency and Trump’s deliberate race-baiting had an activating effect on white anxiety. Racial backlash against the first black president was more limited in 2012 because Romney didn’t play to racial fears, but the backlash escalated, and flipped more white voters, once the next Republican nominee did.

I’ve taken swipes at these studies, but I’m more frustrated by the way they’re used by pundits than by the work itself, which does tell us two important facts — that Trump probably won getting-by-O.K., working-class Americans rather than the truly desperate, and that Obama-to-Trump switchers had to have a certain indifference to minority concerns (which is what many social-science measures of “racial conservatism” pick up) to tolerate his more bigoted appeals.

At the same time these kind of studies often treat immigration as a strictly-racial issue when it’s understood by many voters as an economic one (which is why African-American and native-born Hispanics can be immigration hard-liners). They elide the fact that you can base your vote on economic issues without being maximally economically anxious. (Given the G.O.P.’s historic brand as the party of business, you might expect a successful Republican economic-populist pitch to pick off the less anxious working class voters first.) And they encourage a slippage in liberal analysis where a voting bloc’s susceptibility to identity politics get described starkly as a “white nationalism” that implicitly places those voters beyond the reach of reason — even when they voted for Barack Hussein Obama four short years before.

Which brings me to the recent midterms, which offered a natural experiment in the race-versus-economics question — because, as president, Trump has been more plutocratic than populist on many issues, even as he has kept up the tribalist provocations and, just before the midterms, used the migrant caravan as an excuse for race-baiting.

If the Obama-Trump voters were primarily motivated by racial anxiety, you would expect his approach to consolidate them for the G.O.P. — especially with a strong economy, with the Democrats putting up lots of minority candidates, and so on.

But white identity politics failed to hold Trump’s gains. Some of the biggest swings against the G.O.P. were among middle and lower-income Americans, not just among affluent suburbanites. The Upper Midwest swung back toward Democrats. And among whites without college degrees, Democrats improved on Hillary Clinton’s showing by eight percentage points — identical to their gains among college-educated whites.

This doesn’t mean that the racial fears Trump stoked didn’t bring some Republican voters to the polls. But it proves that white-identity politics isn’t simply destiny, that Democrats can reach wavering white-working class voters instead of writing them off, and that if Republicans want to hold them, then actual economic populism — with its potential pan-ethnic rather than racially polarizing appeal — is a better bet than what we’ve gotten too often from his White House.

In what is not the most optimistic time for race relations in America, I call that good news.

Source: A Defeat for White Identity

The Necessary Immigration Debate: Ross Douthat

Further to my earlier post on Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) and Jeremy Bickles (To Ross Douthat, white immigration is the only good immigration – Salon.com) Douthat continues his arguments, placing too much weight IMO on Putnam’s social cohesion and trust theories and not enough on economic factors and the general fragmentation enabled and accelerated by social media.

Equally striking that his emphasis on the societies that have major social cohesion issues and political impacts while being silent on the exceptions (to date) like Canada, where GSS, Census and other data indicate much less of a problem:

One important task for a columnist is figuring out which ideas can be usefully argued over and which ones can’t. The responses to my column last week urging Democrats to negotiate with Stephen Miller and Donald Trump on immigration, because a deal hammered out with restrictionists would have more durability and democratic legitimacy, were helpfully divided between the first category and the second.

The argument-ending rejoinders ran as follows: Trump is a racist, Miller is a racist, and making major deals with them normalizes presidential bigotry. Since I agree that Trump’s race-baiting is disgraceful, I respect that rejoinder, and I don’t think my own arguments are likely to dislodge people from a firm point of moral principle.

But another kind of response is worth disputing. Instead of making a moral judgment, it purports to make an empirical one, implying that the serious case for immigration restriction is all but nonexistent, and that negotiating with restrictionists is therefore like negotiating with flat-earthers.

I want to challenge this view by expanding on two points that I mentioned last week, both of which offer reasons to regard immigration as a normal policy question with costs as well as benefits to any course you choose.

First, as mass immigration increases diversity, it reduces social cohesion and civic trust. This is not a universal law, as the economics writer Noah Smith has pointed out; there are counter-examples and ways to resist the trend. However, it is a finding that strongly comports with the real-world experience of Europe and America, where as cultural diversity has increased so has social distrust, elite-populist conflict, and the racial, religious and generational polarization of political parties.

Moreover, the trust problem is not a simple matter of racist natives mistrusting foreigners, since social trust is often weakest among minorities — which is one reason why the most diverse generation in American history, the millennials, is also the least trusting. So you can see the political effects of distrust even if you ignore the Trump Republicans entirely: It’s one reason why campus politics are so toxic, why Democrats struggle to keep their diverse coalition politically engaged, and why the Bernie-Hillary contest produced so many cries of racism and sexism.

Then linked to these ethno-cultural tensions are the tensions of class, where mass immigration favors stratification and elite self-segregation. In the United States, as in France and England, regions and cities with the largest immigrant populations are often the wealthiest and most dynamic. But this doesn’t mean that poorer regions are dying from their own xenophobia, as is sometimes suggested. The hinterlands are also filled with people who might want to move to wealthier regions (or who used to live there) but can’t because an immigrants-and-professionals ecosystem effectively prices out the middle class.

It is a testament to immigrants’ grit and determination that they can thrive working long hours for low wages while living in crowded housing with long commutes. But the social order of, say, the Bay Area or greater Paris is not one that can serve for an entire country — and it ill-serves not only lower-middle-class natives but also the descendants of the immigrants themselves, whose ability to advance beyond their parents is limited by a continued arrival of new workers who compete with them for jobs and wages and housing.

Thus our rich and diverse states also often feature high poverty rateswhen their cost of living is considered, while second and third-generation immigrants often drift into the same stagnation as the white working class …

… And they do so out of sight and mind for the winners in this system, who inhabit a world where they only see their fellow winners and their hard-working multiethnic service class. Which in turn encourages them toward mild contempt for their fellow countrymen who don’t want to live under a cosmopolitan-ruled caste system, who feel alienated from the Californian or Parisian future.

For some pro-immigration Republicans this contempt is Ayn Randian: We’ll all be better off with more hard-working immigrants and fewer shiftless mooching natives. For pro-immigration liberals it’s the predictable cultural triumphalism: The arc of history is long, but thanks to immigration we won’t have to cater to heartland gun-clingers any longer.

In both cases there’s a fantasy of replacement that’s politically corrosive, and that’s one reason why Donald Trump is president and Jeb! and Hillary are not.

Now all of the foregoing is one-sided. It leaves out the real advantages of immigration, economic and humanitarian, which are part of the policy calculus as well — as is the recent decline in illegal immigration, and the fact that the problems I’ve identified are more manageable in America than Europe. Hence my own view that keeping current immigration levels while bringing in more immigrants to compete with our economy’s winners and fewer to compete for low-wage work represents a reasonable middle ground.

But the calculus is not simple, a middle ground is actually worth seeking, and recent immigration plays a role not only in America’s greatness, but in our divisions and disappointments as well.

via The Necessary Immigration Debate – The New York Times

To Ross Douthat, white immigration is the only good immigration – Salon.com

While the most effective rebuttal to the Douthat piece can be seen in Noah Smith’s Twitter thread, https://twitter.com/NatalieBrender/status/958009393588486144, this article also is powerful:

President Donald Trump’s immigration policy is, increasingly, in the hands of his policy adviser, Stephen Miller. To most, Miller’s history and views should disqualify him from handling the sensitive topic. Even top Republicans have said that they had little faith in Miller’s bona fides.

But, to New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, Miller — the man who has displayed xenophobic and sexist traits since he was a high school student — is bringing to light something Americans should be debating: Do we really want immigrants?

Douthat suggested Sunday that Miller should be a point person on any immigration deal, saying that Miller can appeal to the “conservative” base that successfully blocked bipartisan immigration reform in 2013. And Douthat seemed to be in Miller’s camp, writing that Miller has some good points in not wanting immigrants:

>The foreign-born share of the U.S. population is near a record high, and increased diversity and the distrust it sows have clearly put stresses on our politics. There are questions about how fast the recent wave of low-skilled immigrants is assimilating, evidence that constant new immigration makes it harder for earlier arrivals to advance. . .

Douthat’s displeasure at immigration boils down to the fact that he may have to speak to someone who doesn’t speak English, even though his complaints don’t match the rhetoric of the guy at the end of the bar:

The present view of many liberals seems to be that restrictionists can eventually be steamrolled — that the same ethnic transformations that have made white anxiety acute will eventually bury white-identity politics with sheer multiethnic numbers.

The Stephen Miller wing of negotiations — that starts with the White House and goes down to the Freedom Caucus, with a long detour through the pages of Breitbart — is the dominant one. And that wing doesn’t want to “bury white-identity politics,” despite the fact that “America” has successfully absorbed other cultures for generations.

Remember that, at one time, the problem was that there were too many Irish immigrants coming into the country. At another time, it was Germans. And remember that those cultures gave Douthat the culture and the food that’s now interwoven in Americana — because even apple pie isn’t all that American.

But the fundamental problem is that in the United States, you can’t eliminate cultures that aren’t white. The U.S. wasn’t founded on an ethnic identity. Native to the country are the Native Americans. There’s a Mexican contingent that lived in the Southwest before it was part of American territory. Puerto Ricans, Samoans, Chamorro, Filipino and Haitians are all American citizens, by birth, because American territory is vast and doesn’t simply cover just White Settlement, Texas.

But Douthat’s claim overlooks one major error that completely blows up his entire argument. You can’t assume that America is built on a white identity — neither then nor now — without realizing that the country was built on the backs of black slavery and of land that once belonged to Native Americans. And Westward expansion was powered thanks to a Chinese-built transcontinental railroad.

Unfortunately for Douthat, white America hasn’t done as much as he may think it has.

via: To Ross Douthat, white immigration is the only good immigration – Salon.com

ICYMI: Ten Theses on Immigration – Douthat, The New York Times

Buried in Ross Douthat’s concerns regarding immigration and integration, is an endorsement of Canadian and Australian approaches:

As someone who is (obviously) skeptical of the elite-level consensus on immigration’s benefits, I’m glad to see the G.O.P. and conservatism tilting away from George W. Bush/Rubio-Schumer “comprehensivism” on immigration policy. But I also think that the stampede to Trumpism is being unduly influenced by a conflation of the American and European situations. Europe faces a real, potentially deep and epoch-defining crisis — a refugee problem that could threaten the very foundations of the continent’s post-Cold War order. America faces a much more normal sort of policy quandary, to which the ideal political response could reach the destination that Salam proposes in his essay — sharper limits on low-skilled migration and a more Canadian or Australian approach to immigration as, effectively, recruitment  — without huge and wrenching shifts, mass deportations, religion-specific entry bans, and all the rest of the Trumpian bill of goods.

So while we should be guided, no less than Europe, by a greater prudence than our leadership has shown to date, we should also recognize that what is (for Germany especially) now a crisis Over There remains as yet an opportunity for us.

Source: Ten Theses on Immigration – The New York Times

The Promise and Peril of Pope Francis – NYTimes.com

An interesting reflection by Ross Douthat of the NY Times on religion in the West, how the centre is “hollowing out,” with the more orthodox, traditional or conservative tendencies becoming relatively stronger. Some interesting longer-term implications for many religions:

But the test of his [Pope Francis’] approach will ultimately be a practical one. Will the church grow or stagnate under his leadership? Will his style just win casual admirers, or will it gain converts, inspire vocations, create saints? Will it actually change the world, or just give the worldly another excuse to close their ears to the church’s moral message?

The Promise and Peril of Pope Francis – NYTimes.com.