The Greek islands near the coast of
A similar rush has overwhelmed America's southern border. In the last two years, tens of thousands of Central American and Mexican citizens have sensed that the Obama administration has suspended border enforcement. Illegal entry into
So, what explains this constant rush of the world's poor families into the West? And why aren't
The human exodus to Western countries is not always explained by a lack of natural wealth elsewhere.
Wars may have driven scores of Afghans, North Africans and Syrians from their homelands to the West, but most of
The allure of the West is certainly not due to Europeans and Americans constantly brainwashing the world about their supposedly superior culture. Just the opposite is true. American media and universities constantly harangue about the race, class and gender shortcomings of Western civilization. President Obama has retold countless Western historical sins and offered apologies for them while abroad.
Nor are Western economies currently booming and thus short of labor.
Nor do millions of refugees hear nice things about the West from their own governments.
State media throughout
So why, then, do millions risk their lives to get into America,
The Western poor enjoy a level of state support and access to technology, health care and security that would make them relatively rich in the
In the West, sexism means something like the glass ceiling that makes it harder for professional women with children to match the career trajectories of their alpha corporate male counterparts. Not so in the non-West, where women are not always even guaranteed a right to vote or to divorce. At worst, gender bias is a matter of genital mutilation, arranged marriages and sexual slavery.
Gays demonstrate over the right to marry in the West; in
There may be riots in
Refuges flood the West not just for economic opportunity but also for Western-style freedom. The state restricts free speech in
Academics in the West may preach past U.S. sins to impressionable 18-year-old students. But refugees from
Millions have decided that it is far better to be immigrants of illegal status in America than native-born citizens inside
What, then, explains the magnetic attraction of the often-criticized West?
Add up the right to free expression, human rights, religious tolerance, constitutional government, an independent judiciary, separation of church and state, free-market economics and the protection of private property -- and everyday life becomes simply far better.
There is one final irony.
The richer, freer and more technologically pampering that life becomes for self-critical native Westerners, the whinier they become -- as if their West is not good because it is not perfect.