Super Polarise Me:  Why can’t we have a sensible conversation about immigration?

Have you ever made what you thought was a reasonable point about immigration, only to be immediately derided as some sort of ‘bigoted asshole’ or ‘deluded liberal’?

You could be exactly one of those things. Or, you could be neither.

It could be you are just trying to make sense of a world which you know little of beyond newspapers and television. Maybe you have already picked a ‘side’ to the debate thinking there were only two options; a false dilemma presented via these limited media offerings.

Deluded liberals have been telling off bigoted assholes for a while now, and so the bigoted assholes have learned to STFU and wait to express themselves at the ballot box, a place they can make a whole heap of collective noise without fear of public shaming.

In 1996, bigoted assholes voted Pauline Hanson into the Australian Parliament. In New Zealand, Winston Peters evolved into a bigoted asshole. Then the bigoted assholes in France gave Jean-Marie Le Pen a shot at becoming President. A decade or so later, the biggest bigoted asshole of them all was elected President of the United States.

There is no shortage of academic literature, often written by deluded liberals, explaining how the politicians representing bigoted assholes have come to be so powerful. But very little of it critiques how they themselves, those within the professional class, have failed to usefully reason with bigoted assholes.   

On the campaign trail, deluded liberals want anything from dramatic increases in immigrants to literally open borders. They will point to the hopelessness that pervades developing countries and the misery of war torn nations, they demand that we agree to take more refugees than ever before and ask fewer questions before their arrival. Quite often, deluded liberals don’t believe in God, but are willing fling open the door to  thousands that do.

Anyone that dares question the moral superiority of deluded liberals will immediately be labelled a bigot, or in fact, a bigoted asshole.

Rather disingenuously, some bigoted assholes suggest that before accepting foreigners, we should do a better job ‘looking after our own’. They point to inequality at home, despite regularly voting for parties that offer virtually no respite to those in need.  More often than not, the bigoted asshole will have an irrational fear of terrorism, linking that to our new arrivals.

At best, bigoted assholes seem oblivious to the fact that if it were not for immigrants working in our hospitals, IT departments, aged care and correctional facilities, our core public services would be in [even more of] a perpetual state of crisis.  

Bigoted assholes and deluded liberals have one thing in common though, they are tribal in their beliefs.

The polemic nature of immigration debates (all over the Western world) results in the ‘shout down’ of some fairly reasonable quantitative measures by the woke left. This allows those elected by the bigoted assholes to dog whistle their base and ensure that meaningful discourse is lost in a spectacle where race and culture are conflated and confused.

The plague of polarization extends throughout the Anglosphere and acts to stifle any constructive discussion about how we best integrate new migrants into our respective democracies. The media then feeds this chasm of political cooperation by frequently reporting the immigration politics in other parts of the West, through practically useless 60 second sound bites that provide virtually no critical perspective.

Politically, the bigoted assholes are winning. But they are aided by deluded liberals who have long since abandoned ‘real politics’ for deeper and more abstract philosophical discourse.

Instead of scoffing at the proposition, and notwithstanding the oft used postmodern critique, are deluded liberals really sure that we can’t identify a small but crucial set of universal values? Long before the cultural relativism bus rolled into town, most philosophers agreed that a universal understanding of what is fundamentally good (or bad) is likely an innate quality of every sane-minded human.  

Is it fair to say that these values that form a part of our liberal democracy, are not always the construct of dark hegemonic forces – and that to dismiss them in such a manner is, frankly, absurd?

Meanwhile, can the bigoted assholes accept how useless ‘citizenship tests’ are, particularly when they themselves would be unlikely to pass such a test? Could they ponder for a moment the ridiculousness of having a test that evaluates someone’s adherence to white-anglo norms in a land where their ancestors invaded and displaced those that once had their own set of norms?

Can we not critically evaluate issues that are linked to immigration without such discussions immediately devolving into an ideological shit fight?

It doesn’t seem that way.

So why is it we can’t we have a sensible conversation about immigration?  

I have some ideas, but I don’t want to labelled a deluded liberal or a bigoted asshole.