Why the Double Standard?

By John Rhodes on February 28, 2014

I am just now noticing a pattern, a pattern that displays a double standard (Please tell me if I am wrong in my observation I may be tardy in seeing the obvious). A double standard is intellectual dishonesty. It took a recent article in the New York Times article about immigration in Norway for me really to notice a consistent inclination to view with suspicion those who espouse controlled immigration.

In other words, without being simplistic and without excessively generalizing, I have noticed that many of those who, in practice and actual articulated philosophy, are generally inclined to open borders (whether or not they admit this is a separate issue) tend to view immigrants with optimism, as basically good people with no ill will. At the same time, they tend not to view their fellow citizens who dare question the free-flowing influx of immigrants as basically good people with no ill will.

The immigrant is presupposed to be a victim of domestic or global circumstance simply seeking betterment, innocent until proven guilty. The compatriot in favor, in any way, of restricting the immigrant is presupposed to be close-minded and mean, incomprehensibly selfish, guilty until proven innocent.

The double standard, the inconsistency in perspective, of course, raises questions of philosophy of the human person. The real issue here, however, is perhaps that of insufficient philosophical thought, and thus not only of intellectual dishonesty, but of intellectual laziness.

I have encountered very few persons who, philosophically speaking, espouse open-borders, persons for whom national borders — all national borders — are artificial constructs, and thus, for whom the free movement of peoples across the planet is the natural norm. There are many persons who, practically speaking, are open-borders advocates, for emotional reasons, who, when pressed philosophically, retreat. They retreat from their own double standard. So, you are saying we should eliminate our borders? No? Well, practically speaking, you promote this when you denounce any enforcement of immigration law.

Why the double standard? Are such persons indeed blinded by emotion, by "compassion"? Or, in their minds, is the double standard justified because it is simply what goes hand-in-hand with redressing perceived historical injustice and is overshadowed by this "greater good"?

Such persons rarely admit that they are open-borders advocates because they have not given it sufficient philosophical thought. These are the people who, without much thought, expect the United States to be multi-cultural in the name of hospitality, but who are cheerleaders for other countries to fight to save their cultures and thereby remain uni-cultural.

These are the people who will accuse Americans who are proud of American traditions and wish to protect and promote these (and thus are inclined, for example, to want there to be a national language) of xenophobia, but will qualify similar cultural phenomena in other countries as noble efforts.

These are the people who cringe at the mention of the word "assimilation" ("We really hate to do this, and realize it is an imposition, but, for basic societal practicality, would you mind learning English as a second language?"), and are unable to recognize that assimilation is a universal phenomenon. Indeed, a uni-cultural reality — enriched obviously by what the various members of the community bring to the communal equation, with the greatest influence understandably coming from the existent culture — eventually emerges in a nation. In the end, there is always some form of uni-culturalism if there is community.

In my philosophical book, all persons are basically good. The fellow citizen as well as the immigrant is good. The fellow citizen who is concerned with what is happening socially and culturally with the arrival — especially the illegal arrival — of large numbers of peoples from other countries, ought to be presupposed good in intention and sound in observation until otherwise proven.

The New York Times article, which focuses on Norway's controversial Progress Party, precisely makes my point. The controversy surrounding the Progress Party is an example of ears deafened to any sound observations or reasonable questions. The Progress Party is presupposed "close-minded and mean", and so nothing good came come from it; they could not possibly have any valid points. "Ketil Solvik-Olsen, minister of transportation and communication and a deputy leader of the party, said in an interview ... when asked about national values, 'Some people feel they're waking up one morning and their old neighborhood is gone. Strangers move in and people don't even understand what they're saying; we have a generous welfare system, and you feel a stranger in your own neighborhood.'" Unfortunately, such legitimate concerns are not heard.