When I first saw this New Yortk Times headline - "Let Syrians Settle Detroit" - I confess I misconstrued it as a proposal to let the post-industrial dystopia's fate be settled by some grand Hunger Games proxy war fought by Iran-backed thugs with chemical weapons and blood-soaked ISIS armies full of gung-ho western jihadists. But no, the Times wants to move bazillions of Syrian refugees in to revitalize the Motor City, and thereby, as Tim Blair's droll headline suggests, turn Motown into Motown:
Arab-Americans are already a vibrant and successful presence in the Detroit metropolitan area.
I think that's a very subtle reference to Dearborn.
A 2003 survey by the University of Michigan of 1,016 members of this community (58 percent of whom were Christian, and 42 percent Muslim) found that 19 percent were entrepreneurs and that the median household income was $50,000 to $75,000 per year.
What confidence can we have that traumatized war refugees can be transformed into budding American entrepreneurs? We cannot know for sure. But recent evidence of recaptured children from the clutches of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and victims of violent crime across five continents reveals that they become more active citizens than similar compatriots who have not suffered from these traumatic events.
What a fascinating study. If that's how you make "active" citizens, let's drop the entire student body of Oberlin in the middle of Somalia and see what they're like when they get back.
Nevertheless, at least one Republican candidate was proposing this idea two years before the Times. Mark Krikorian writes:
In 2013 Jeb Bush called for admitting more immigrants to "repopulate" Detroit:
'It just seems to me that maybe if you open up our doors in a fair way and unleashed the spirit of peoples' hard work, Detroit could become in really short order, one of the great American cities again. Now it would look different, it wouldn't be Polish...But it would be just as powerful, just as exciting, just as dynamic. And that's what immigration does and to be fearful of this, it just seems bizarre to me.'
This wasn't a one-time thing. A couple months later he said again, responding to an immigrant questioner, 'I think Detroit would do real well if we started repopulating it with young, aspirational people, people like yourself.'
Jeb Bush is running as this season's calm, reassuring, won't frighten-the-horses candidate who'll suck up all the money that might otherwise go to wild'n'crazy frothing loons like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, or whoever. Why, he's such a normal, reasonable chap he's even hot for action on "climate change". Can't get more normal than that, can you?
And yet he has some of the weirdest ideas of any candidate. It was often said of his brother that, to compensate for his preppy Waspy Connecticut Kennebunk blueblood background, he became exaggeratedly Texan, to the derangement of the left. Jeb seems to have taken it to a whole other level, and become exaggeratedly multicultural and, indeed, on his wilder shores, post-American. Aside from that business of self-identifying as "Hispanic" on his government paperwork, there seems to be a broader psychological impulse at play. David Frum:
Jeb Bush's enthusiasm for immigration, even when the immigrants are unskilled, even if they break the law, goes so deep that he even sometimes ventures to suggest that the personal characteristics of immigrants are to be preferred over those of the native-born. Here for example is an informal Jeb Bush speaking to a friendly interviewer, National Review's Jay Nordlinger, early in 2014. "If we're going to grow at 4% a year, we have to have young, aspiring people be able to create dynamic activity. And we can't do that with our existing demographics."
Bush seems to have something more in mind than just the the familiar (if overstated) claim that immigration can counter the aging of the population. He seems to think that there is some quality in the immigrants themselves that is more enterprising—more dynamic to use his favorite term—than native-born Americans. This is not only a positive judgment on the immigrants themselves. It is also a negative judgment on native-born Americans.
That judgment is not always unwarranted, as in the case of the Democrat/union/welfare/race-huckster axis that has totaled Detroit. But, if you regard remorseless mass immigration as an existential threat to advanced societies, this doesn't seem to be one of those issues on which Jeb seems likely to triangulate. A man who wants to Islamize Detroit because it's worked out so well in Dearborn would seem an odd choice even for the Stupid Party.
~On the subject of ethnic tensions, I wrote the other day about the post-election Disunited Kingdom, where Scotland, Ulster and Wales are going their own way, but the English are obliged to keep being British. Reader Jim Gibson responds:
At the risk of constructing a strained analogy (and respecting your general aversion toward the Beatles), it seems to me that England's position in the Union might be a bit like that of Paul McCartney in 1970. He kept that group together when the other three wanted to leave, coaxing them back into something that they had pretty much given up on. In the end, though, Sir Paul was the one who dropped the ax, broke up the group, and got the headlines (much to John's expected chagrin).
So maybe England will go that way – suddenly releasing its own self-titled album in a big publicity-splash – or maybe not. Whatever the case, maybe a post-British England will come up with "Live and Let Die." But it might just end up handing us "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" instead.
Give England Back To The English? What do you reckon? If England is Paul, is Scotland George and Ireland John? Wales is definitely Ringo.
Alternatively, if the United Kingdom is an Abbey Road album cover, why is England barefoot?