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Radicalization & Degeneration

One of the biggest lies we hear whenever there is a mass terror attack, such as the one against New Zealand’s Muslims, is that the killing was “senseless.” It’s not without reason when ISIS does it, and it’s not without reason when people like Brenton Tarrant, [1] the alleged NZ shooter, do it. The acts are evil, but not senseless; there is a rationale for what they do. To be clear: do NOT read me as saying Tarrant’s acts “made sense” in the general sense of the term; I’m speaking narrowly here, to mean that causation is at work. We need to know this so we can better combat things like this.

I read Tarrant’s manifesto, which is easy to find online, though I’m not going to link to it here. It’s a chilling document, for a couple of reasons. First, it’s grounded in both paranoid, racist grievance, and legitimate, realistic concerns. Second, as with ISIS videos and propaganda, the Internet distributes this stuff worldwide; we may be certain that Tarrant’s manifesto will strike many resonant chords with murder-minded fanatical racists like himself.

Though I don’t want to be part of spreading the manifesto, I do want to talk about a few parts of it, including parts you may not hear about in the media reporting. It’s important to talk about it. I will say here clearly that any reader who in any way attempts to justify this atrocity in New Zealand will NOT be posted. It was a despicable act, and if you pray, join me in praying for the souls of the murdered, and the families they left behind.

That said, some comments on the manifesto (you can read a general NYT report on it here [2]). I read it in the same vein as I read the bloodthirsty Islamist fanatic Sayyid Qutb’s work: as something that we have to understand, because it articulates quite clearly what we’re up against — and that it’s not mere psychotic raving:

  1. Tarrant identifies himself as an “ethno-nationalist eco-fascist.” He says he was first a communist, then an anarchist, then a libertarian, and finally an eco-fascist. He’s 28. This is not a stable person.
  2. He despises conservatives for having conserved nothing. “Conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it,” he writes. He adds, in all caps, “CONSERVATISM IS DEAD, THANK GOD.” He also despises France’s National Front, or whatever it’s called today. He calls them “milquetoast.” He praises the emergence of Trump as a sign of hope, but mocks Trump too. He says his idea leader is Oswald Mosley, the 20th century British fascist. Point is, the idea that Tarrant has any meaningful connection to the mainstream right is nonsense. The man is true radical.
  3. He says his aim is to accelerate history by frightening people and creating conflict. In particular, he wants to cause the US to move to take away people’s guns, and the Second Amendment supporters to respond to this violently.
  4. He wants the US to be balkanized into warring racial and regional factions, to destroy the ability of the US to project power around the world.
  5. He was radicalized by traveling in Europe and seeing immigrant crime, by seeing how many immigrants are present, and how the dispirited native populations are dying out. Overcome by emotion, he decided that he must do something about it.
  6. He said he chose the firearms for his attack specifically to incite an argument within the US, leading to the left attempting to confiscate guns, thereby starting a civil war.
  7. He says he is not a Nazi, but it’s hard to know what to make of his politics except to say that he is a national socialist obsessed with race, and hating capitalism. Plus, he loves the environment (“there is no traditionalism without environmentalism”).
  8. This was a brutal slap: “Above all, don’t be stale, placid, and boring. No one is inspired by Jeb Bush.”
  9. He praises the People’s Republic of China as his ideal state.

Here’s the most important line in the manifesto, one that the rest of us had better have a good answer to, because this assertion, in some form, is going to be with us for the rest of our lives:


What is “degeneration”? According to the manifesto, it consists of:

  1. The decline in native European populations, and native European stock in the US, in terms of numbers relative to non-Europeans within those societies.
  2. Politics and policies within European countries (that is, countries with ethnic European majorities, including the US and Canada) that disempower native Europeans.
  3. Widespread drug use.
  4. The loss of worker rights and stability under the reign of globalist capitalism.
  5. Environmental degradation.
  6. The collapse of Christianity (which he seems to value only as a force ethnically binding Europeans)
  7. Rampant hedonism

Here’s the chilling part: Everything Tarrant identifies as qualities of a disintegrating Western civilization is true. You may think that declining numbers of ethnic Europeans is a good thing, or something that has no particular moral meaning. But it really is happening. So are all the rest.

In no way do I see “radicalization,” at least not remotely in the violent terms conceived of by this mass murdering scum, as the answer to the disintegration he identifies. There is never, ever any justification for what he did. But if we are going to figure out how to stop these things, we have to take seriously the roots of it — this, in the same way we have to recognize the roots of Al-Qaeda and ISIS in specific experiences of Arab Muslims in late modernity. In fact, what Tarrant did, and what the Islamist terrorists do, intersect insofar as they are responses to the profound displacement of peoples and traditions in the modern world.

We are no doubt going to see more Tarrants emerge from the masses of angry young white men radicalized by the world they live in, and from living online. Again, the emergence of the same kind of men from the stresses of Arab Muslim society is entirely predictable.

The temptation many here will have in response to this obscene attack is to deny that it is based in any kind of reality. To do that, though, requires closing one’s eyes to actual conditions in the world. It would be like Russian aristocrats, circa 1900, telling themselves that the communist and anarchist revolutionaries committing acts of political murder have nothing to do with social, political, and economic changes roiling Europe and Russia of the era. That they are just inexplicable acts of savagery caused by the reading of revolutionary tracts.

Ian Bogost has an interesting piece [3] explaining why it is impossible to say for sure what Tarrant really meant in this manifesto, and what is sarcasm (e.g., he baited the black American right-wing commenter Candace Owens in his manifesto). Bogost points out that social media, though, is made for creating chaos.

The world is undergoing unprecedented upheavals caused in part by technology, and certainly amplified by technology. This is only going to get more severe. We also live in a time in which masses of people have genuinely been uprooted from all sources of stability. The greatest task for political leaders, it seems to me, is to figure out how to keep society relatively stable during this long period of tumult. Encouraging identity politics and mass immigration, especially during a time of rising social instability, are suicidal for stable polities.

It seems clear to me that it in no way requires one to endorse Tarrant’s vile crimes to recognize that like splitting the atom, the unwinding of Western civilization is going to release some extreme energies. It already is. It is simply bizarre to think that all Europeans are going to acquiesce gently in the overwhelming of their nations by immigrants in this century. Most will, I think, but it is reasonable to expect that more and more violent fanatics like Tarrant and his hero Anders Breivik will arise. I believe we should take Tarrant seriously when he says that what radicalized him most of all was traveling to Europe and seeing with his own eyes the withering away of the continent’s ancient peoples. His way of responding to it is demonic — but what he is responding to is real. Douglas Murray’s great and sober book The Strange Death Of Europe [4] is the thing to read on this topic.

One last point. In his manifesto, Tarrant says that it’s “laughable” to expect immigrants to the West to assimilate to a decadent, dying culture like ours. This brought to mind something I heard in New York last week. A man told me that two Romanian immigrant friends of his are thinking of returning to Romania to educate their children because they don’t want their kids infected with the decadence transmitted by the US education system. I don’t blame him at all. I think of Mark Bollobas’s decision to move to Hungary, the country from which his parents defected in the 1960s. Excerpt from something he wrote for this blog [5] late last year:

Like many children of immigrants, I was raised to know that I have to work harder, and be better everywhere than those who were “local” to get ahead. And it’s all true. But I was also raised in a Hungarian household. While my parents made every effort to assimilate, I was raised in a household that took pride in being Hungarian. I didn’t support Hungary in sports or anything tribal like that, but I was proud when Hungary did well. I appreciated the poetry, the folk music, the heritage, the history, and so forth. And every time I went back to Budapest, I felt so so comfortable. No one asks “where are you from?” because although I don’t sound like I am from here (I have a British accent in Hungarian), I am from here, and people recognize that.

My decision to move back here to Hungary — I say that even though I wasn’t born here — has been reinforced by this fact: Hungary understands that holding on to its cultural identity is essential to its existence as a society we can understand.

Culture changes over time, of course, but it normally does it slowly as we creep towards a more civilized future.

England doesn’t feel more civilized — quite the opposite. It feels more feral. And the UK has just accepted its fate.

And so, Tarrant’s line — radicalization is the rational response to degeneration — played out in a different way in Mark Bollobas’s life. He moved to his ancestral homeland, where he would be poorer in material ways, but richer in many other ways. In my case, I propose the Benedict Option, and live in consciously countercultural ways, trying to be more and more like this in the face of this increasingly repulsive culture. For his part, Brenton Tarrant became a fanatical racist, fascist, mass murderer. Radicalism takes many forms. We have to resist the berserker form, but resisting it cannot mean pretending that the society and culture we are creating is good and healthy and worth defending. It’s not. I mean, for God’s sake, just look. [6] I see Tarrant as a manifestation of the same diabolism.

It’s more radical to work to build the kind of culture that is life-giving, and to create new forms within which it can be lived out, than to give your life over to murdering innocent men, women, and children. This is true whether you are an ISIS terrorist, or a white nationalist terrorist. Those devils bring nothing but pain and death. They are no solution.

Finally, on the concept of degeneration, look at this old song by a French Canadian band. The song is called, of course, Dégénération. It’s about generational loss of spirit and culture:

Some people who live through this turn into bloodthirsty maniacs, like Brenton Tarrant. There is a better way. There has to be. It’s not going to come through the Democratic or Republican parties, and it’s not going to come through the established institutions of the church or academia. Nor can you buy it on Amazon.com. The materials are there to make it ourselves, but it requires discipline and community. As I’ve said. [7]

UPDATE: Reader Brendan McNeill:

Rod, I live in Christchurch and yesterday was a dark day for our city, our nation and our muslim community. Nothing justifies the evil actions of Brenton Tarrant. Our prayers are for those who are in hospital, and those suffering the loss of their loved ones.

In many ways we are still raw, and in disbelief that this should happen in our city. Already there are questions about our security services, how could they not have known and prevented this tragedy? Why was Tarrant not on any security watch list? But what kind of surveillance state we would need to prevent all atrocities before they happen?

I appreciate that you have gone beyond the ‘senseless killings’ narrative that dominates our political discourse. To even admit that western civilisation is unraveling is something few if any of our politicians will do publicly. I sense they are ill equipped to confront the reality of evil as expressed in this act, and at one level who can blame them?

However, to ignore the social currents that are set up by those factors you address in your post, including identity politics, demographic decline, mass migration and the ideology of multiculturalism, is to fuel rather than mitigate the problems that are partly of their own making.

A course correction would inevitably imply an admission of failure – something politicians refuse to do. This means that as a culture, we are likely to learn nothing from yesterdays slaughter. It becomes just another ‘random act of violence’ without meaning or context.

We will move on of course, but yesterday’s events will leave a scar on each of us that may take a very long time to heal.

Brendan, I’m so sorry for your city. May God comfort you all.

UPDATE.2: I just heard from a Christian friend who was really bothered by this post, because in her view, and in the view of others, it appears to endorse a racist idea that the loss of racial purity is a problem. Let me clarify: I absolutely reject the idea of “racial purity.” In fact, that’s one of the reasons the alt-right hates me.

What I was trying to say above is that it is simply true that in Europe, the native-born population is fast declining (see this BBC report [8]) because they are refusing to have children. This is a fact that has political and social relevance, and that policymakers of the left, right, and center have to take into consideration when making immigration policy, and coming up with laws and policies to govern pluralistic countries with ethnic and religious diversity. That was the only reason I brought it up — not to say some version of, “The only thing wrong with Tarrant is that he shot people.”

No, what’s wrong with Tarrant is that he is a hateful man who loves violence and power and death, and hates God and those made in His image. The fact that in his manifesto, for example, he says that drug dealers are bad and a cancer on the community does not mean that if you think drug dealers are bad and a cancer on the community, that you are in some way in league with a bloodthirsty white supremacist.

I fully reject the racist philosophy of Tarrant and other white nationalists (and, for that matter, all racial supremacists) as anti-Christian and morally wrong. I thought this was clear from my original post, but lest I leave any confusion, let this update clear the matter up.

UPDATE.3: A reader pointed out in another thread that in my original comment, I elided the difference between non-Europeans in Europe, and Latinos in the US. Obviously Latino immigrants are European. I should have pointed out that in the US, the large numbers of Latin Americans migrating to the US are at the root of some white sociopolitical anxiety.

234 Comments (Open | Close)

234 Comments To "Radicalization & Degeneration"

#1 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 18, 2019 @ 6:21 pm

” In order for Western Civilization to die, you have to replace it with something and these numbers aren’t anywhere close to replacement especially considering it would need to be ONE dominant culture.”

Actually, all it takes is for the West to dismiss its history, traditions and philosophy from public discussion and education. Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind was 30 years ago.

We don’t need migration to discard our culture. Multiculturalism just accelerates the process we began.

#2 Comment By Tom Cullem On March 18, 2019 @ 6:59 pm

@Lee “When I googled, I got that the immigrant populations of Italy and Germany respectively are 9% and roughly 20%. In the US, 14%. In all cases, these immigrant groups are from a mix of other countries.”

You need to drill down on those stats, because the fact is, what they don’t reflect is that they aren’t spread out evenly across any of those countries. Whole swaths of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Blackburn, Bradford, and boroughs like Newham and Tower Hamlets that before WWII were white English are now nonwhite and non-English. Whole formerly white English communities HAVE been replaced, and in Britain, that “mix of countries” means primarily Pakistan, Somalia, India, Egypt, and Iran.

The numbers are on the surface reassuring but in reality, London, one of the world’s major capitals, is now less than 50% white and less than 50% Christian. And they DO bring cultural problems with them which the craven liberal West have been too timid to deal with directly – the Asian/Muslim grooming gangs across England were one perfect example. The girls of Rotherham were thrown to the wolves by the local Labour council (whose current chief, a Muslim, recently put up antisemitic tweets), not the far right.

Almost all the UK’s new immigrants are coming from Africa and the Middle East. They aren’t coming from Denmark, America, Germany, Norway, or Finland. Their birth rates are higher.

The BBC admitted it had avoided doing programmes on the negative impact of immigration for fear of being called racist. When it finally did one, it was instantly accused of being anti-muslim.

The suffocating blanket of the multiculturalist ideologues and politically correct brigade were so effective that Britain couldn’t even have a conversation about immigration, let alone opine that perhaps fewer and slower might be a good idea.

Remember what Tony Blair said when he removed the restrictions and threw open Britain’s doors to all and sundry, that he wanted to “rub the Establishment’s nose in diversity”?

Well, he succeeded. Only he rubbed a good many other noses in it, too, and never gave a moment’s thought to the gradual erosion of the culture that was once England.

As far as many of us are concerned, Blair is a cultural assassin as well as a war criminal.

#3 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On March 18, 2019 @ 7:19 pm

JonF writes: “Which explains why the Crucifixion is irrelevant to Christianity and why no one bothered to record acts of martyrdom.”

I was not talking about the Crucifixion or martyrdom. I was saying that the focus is never on compassion and looking after victims because of the lack of dramatic tension in such behaviors. There is no dramatic tension in choosing to act with compassion or in acting with compassion. It is not as if when required to act with compassion, a person thinks to herself “I really wanted to go to the ice cream parlor” or “I was on my way to my clandestine affair, and now I have to halt my progress.”

Dramatic tension occurs only if there is a conflict (I realize that for a psychopath, almost all actions are in conflict with compassion, but I am speaking here of Jane and John Q. Public). In the religions I am familiar with, compassion is the ground of behavior; it is a person’s ethic/way of life. Even when she is attending to her own needs, she is doing so in a compassionate way. There is no tension with an alternative to behaving compassionately, since behaving compassionately informs all actions. A choice is not being presented: act with compassion or do X, since even doing X requires an approach through the lens of compassion. Rather than being dramatic, compassionate action is mundane and commonplace. If dramatic tension is sought, victims will be ignored, since there is no credible alternative to compassion when confronted with someone who has been harmed. To achieve dramatic tension, the focus must be placed on the perpetrator of harm who is portrayed as having choices (usually depicted as agonizing) whether to commit harm or not—choices which give rise to dramatic tension.

#4 Comment By MM On March 18, 2019 @ 10:01 pm

Jefferson: “If Western societies would be better off further restricting immigration, that argument should be made.”

You won’t hear that argument being made, and you definitely won’t see that position being supported, despite broad popular support for doing so, by any elected official in the Democratic Party that I’m aware of.


#5 Comment By Haigha On March 18, 2019 @ 10:58 pm


Indeed, a sign of the end times. But Matt will probably just take it as proof that conservatives and progressives are merely two sides of the same coin.

#6 Comment By Jefferson Smith On March 18, 2019 @ 11:35 pm

@Hound of Ulster:

Yeah, a “heckler’s veto” — that’s what I’m talking about, but I left out the phrase itself because a killer like Tarrant is doing something way worse than just heckling. But all the more reason not to knuckle under to the likes of him. If we wouldn’t grant a heckler’s veto, we’re supposed to grant a shooter’s veto? That’s the logic of fretting over whether we understand the “roots” of a crime like this. The roots are: Some people kill other people, for whatever reasons. Some of those murders are ideologically motivated. This has always been so. That it happened a few days ago tells us nothing about state of the culture at the present moment.


A discussion about the desired levels of immigration cannot occur even as an effort to merely understand murderers, much less appease them. There are no policy initiatives society can or should take in response to anything this murderer wrote in his manifesto.

I completely agree. The manifesto, because it’s lots of words and lots of pages, misleads people into taking this creep and his motives more seriously than anybody should. He’s just a violent dirtbag, and his elaborate rationalizations for his dirtbaggery are basically a warmed-over Turner Diaries, which means they just as well could have been (and were) delivered nearly a half-century ago. Policymakers should take no cognizance of them except perhaps by way of reviewing gun laws, as the NZ Prime Minister is wisely doing.

#7 Comment By MarkVA On March 18, 2019 @ 11:35 pm

Every now and then this sentiment is expressed vis-à-vis France, Germany, and Great Britain:

“When you came to us to rule and exploit, it was not a problem. But when we come to you, then becomes a problem.”

The melancholy observation is that none of the current native populations did those things, yet while innocent, they are the ones paying the price. Truly sad;

It’s all in God’s hands now, as Stalin used to say.

#8 Comment By Jefferson Smith On March 19, 2019 @ 5:29 am


You won’t hear that argument being made, and you definitely won’t see that position being supported, despite broad popular support for doing so, by any elected official in the Democratic Party that I’m aware of.

If this is a problem, it’s a self-correcting one. That’s the beauty of electoral politics: A party that strays too far from the views of the wider public won’t be able to get its candidates elected. So it will either change course or die.

Conversely, though, if a party rejects a certain position and nonetheless still wins elections, then popular support for that position apparently isn’t quite as broad as you were supposing. And this is something you get to help determine, because if you don’t like the Democrats’ positions and arguments, you’re free to vote against them. A major party need lots of votes to stay viable, but it doesn’t necessarily need yours, and the Democrats are apparently calculating that they’re better off, at least for now, if they don’t take your preferred position than if they did. If you want to change that calculation, you need to bring more people around toward your view.

#9 Comment By JonF On March 19, 2019 @ 8:39 am

Brian, there are moral conundrums in compassion too, because life is never simple and we “see through a glass darkly”. Here’s an almost daily issue for me (and probably for many others here): A panhandler is begging money on the roadside claiming to be homeless. What do I do? Can I afford to hand out money to every such person I encounter? Am I being conned- some of these guys look suspiciously well dressed and clean to be homeless? And would I just be feeding a booze or drug habit, to their ruin? No,that’s not high drama. It’s not even soap opera quality. But it does create moral tension.

#10 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 10:40 am

Jefferson: “If you want to change that calculation, you need to bring more people around toward your view.”

Oh, I wasn’t speaking personally. Besides, in the state where I live, it wouldn’t matter if I had millions of friends, literally, who pushed that one issue loudly and often. The State Democratic Party, the environmental movement, and local unions would never support that position.

That’s the irony I was referring to. They all used to support immigration restrictions, both legal and illegal, until relatively recently.

But there is broad popular support, nationwide anyway, for curbing legal immigration by about half of what it is now.


Merit/skill based, ending chain migration, reducing the total annual level by half, it’s all there. And supported by 60-70% of the public, of all backgrounds.

If the Democratic Party had supported that position, in the interests of labor and the environment, there probably wouldn’t be a President Trump. Instead, they’ve lurched to the left on that issue, and others, no doubt due to their new belief that demographics is destiny. That’s the only thing I can think of that wouldn’t caused them to make that policy tradeoff.

#11 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 11:39 am

Jefferson: “If this is a problem, it’s a self-correcting one.”

As an aside, I feel this way about climate change. Listening to progressives, I can’t tell what they’re telling me to do: Not have children? They also say people will be dying in the millions in, what, 10-20 years? Sounds self-correcting to me!

#12 Comment By Lee On March 19, 2019 @ 1:56 pm

@ MarkVA
“When you came to us to rule and exploit, it was not a problem. But when we come to you, then becomes a problem.”

Had not seen it put that way before. Perspective.

#13 Comment By Lizzy1980 On March 19, 2019 @ 2:02 pm

MM: “But there is broad popular support, nationwide anyway, for curbing legal immigration by about half of what it is now.”

I address this and other related issues more fully on the thread that mentions David Frum’s essay, but for now you should consider the following:

The Harris poll you cited doesn’t actually say what you seem to think it says, but I assume you are making an inference from the poll’s questions on the actual number of immigrants respondents believed should be admitted. As I’ve explained before, a respondent’s proffer of a number is meaningless unless the respondent already knows the number of immigrants we have; the number that we let in each year; and the number that are necessary for the respondent’s policy objectives such as ensuring long-term stability for social security and Medicare.

Moreover, that poll was issued in January, 2018. Since that time, we’ve had a national election in which the immigration “crisis” was placed front-and-center by Trump and the GOP. Voters across the nation soundly rejected candidates supportive of harsh, restrictive measures. More recently, Gallup released a poll in January of this year that shows only 30% of the Americans want immigration to be reduced; 67% want it to increase or remain the same. The poll also shows that the long-term trend has been in favor of increasing immigration, not decreasing it.


You should’ve have also noticed that page 65 of the Harvard-Harris poll you cited shows that a whopping 77% of Americans support a path to citizenship for people who were brought here illegally as children.

In short, the restrictionist view is a minority one.

#14 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 3:02 pm

Lizzy: “As I’ve explained before, a respondent’s proffer of a number is meaningless unless…”

Could you point me to a more recent survey that shows a majority of Americans A) are told the current level of immigration, and B) support that level, or increasing it?

I’d really like to see that data.

In the meantime, this is what a majority of registered voters say they support, according to the most recent Harvard-Harris poll that I can find.

NOTE, this survey was taken AFTER the 2018 midterms:


Table 60, p.67

“Would you favor or oppose the new Congress reaching a deal that gives undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents work permits and a path to citizenship in exchange for increasing merit preference over preference for relatives, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and funding barrier security on the U.S.-Mexico border?”

Favor (Total): 60%
Favor (Men): 66%
Favor (Women): 61%
Favor (Ages 18-34): 68%
Favor (Ages 35-49): 58%
Favor (Ages 50-64): 58%
Favor (Ages 65+): 68%
Favor (White): 63%
Favor (Black): 60%
Favor (Hispanic): 71%
Favor (Republican): 63%
Favor (Democrat): 69%
Favor (Independent): 57%
Favor (Conservative): 59%
Favor (Liberal): 72%
Favor (Moderate): 60%
Favor (Trump Voters): 57%
Favor (Clinton Voters): 70%
Favor (3rd Party Voters): 59%
Favor (College Graduates): 66%
Favor (Non-College Graduates): 62%
Favor (Urban Voters): 64%
Favor (Suburban Voters): 64%
Favor (Rural Voters): 59%

I don’t believe they’re ignorant of the issue, sorry, can’t agree with you there…

#15 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 3:29 pm

Lizzy: “More recently, Gallup released a poll in January of this year that shows…”

First you say that respondents answers on the question of immigration are meaningless unless they’re told what the current level is, then you cite a survey that asks them generalized questions about immigration that also doesn’t mention the current level.

So which is it?

By your own argument, the survey results you cited are as worthless as you claim the ones I cited are.

#16 Comment By Jefferson Smith On March 19, 2019 @ 4:39 pm


The polls are interesting and worth considering, but ultimately what moves policy is how people vote. As Lizzy points out, there was a national election in November that the President tried very hard to turn into a referendum on killer gangs coming for us in migrant caravans. Yet the anti-restrictionist party won big. So either people didn’t believe him, or, when it comes down to it, they don’t rate this issue as highly as the restrictionists do, or both.

As an aside, I feel this way about climate change. Listening to progressives, I can’t tell what they’re telling me to do….

In general, I think they’re telling you to support various CO2-abatement policies — carbon taxes, an accelerated transition to renewable energy sources, etc. — along with American participation and leadership in cooperative international efforts along these lines. I don’t think they’ve been making any kind of secret of these positions.

#17 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 5:35 pm

Jefferson: “Yet the anti-restrictionist party won big. So either people didn’t believe him, or, when it comes down to it, they don’t rate this issue as highly as the restrictionists do, or both.”

They rank it second, behind the government itself, as the top problem facing the nation:


Restricting legal immigration, and especially curbing ongoing illegal immigration, are popular position across the board.

Not sure why they’re opposed to making a deal that includes restrictions most Americans support. That’s a mistake going into 2020, because they could take this issue off table.

#18 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 5:43 pm

Jefferson: “Yet the anti-restrictionist party won big.”

The Democrats did take back the House, by running moderate candidates in districts that Trump won in 2016. They flipped enough of them, but it was no 1994 or 2010. And they flipped those moderate districts by less than 100,000 votes altogether, out of 100+ million votes cast, with the highest voter turnout in over 100 years for a midterm election.

Just pointing that out. The public is not as liberal as the party on the issue of immigration, especially in moderate districts.

#19 Comment By Jefferson Smith On March 19, 2019 @ 6:27 pm

The public is not as liberal as the party on the issue of immigration, especially in moderate districts.

I agree. But again, I don’t see any problem here. The Democratic Party, like any major political party that aspires to govern, will adjust as it needs to in order to meet the voters where they are. Or it won’t, and will therefore be denied the opportunity to govern. Either way, the people will get what they want, or at least what they’re willing to vote for.

#20 Comment By Mr B On March 19, 2019 @ 6:30 pm

Rod: ‘but if we are going to fight terrorists — white nationalist terrorists, Islamist terrorists, all kinds of terrorists — we are going to have to face honestly the conditions that produce them.’

Well yes, Rod, but this is just what the writer is doing: ‘[the Mosque killer] was an Aussie through and through, growing up in a country town north of Sydney, steeped in mainstream Australian racism and our particular national brand of Islamophobia’.

She is claiming that one of the conditions that created the Mosque killer is the Australian culture of entrenched racism. You may agree or disagree with her view, but she has done no more than what you suggest.

I have followed your column for some time now, and have found much value in it, but you have some glaring blind spots, and I’m going to have to call you on one now.

Your heading is ‘Australian Left Doesn’t Waste massacre’. And yet, immediately following the massacre you took the killer’s manifesto to push your own barrow of civilisational decline. If you, why not others?

If it’s any consolation, the killer is currently under maximum security, 24-hour lockdown, without access to media or visitors. All by himself.

And our Australian cousins can rest easy. New Zealand is not planning to invade Australia any time soon, or convert them to Christianity.

#21 Comment By MM On March 19, 2019 @ 6:33 pm

Jefferson: “In general, I think they’re telling you to support various CO2-abatement policies.”

Oh, I wasn’t being serious with that comment. Where I live, I know exactly what progressives want to do, namely use the coercive power of the state to regulate every aspect of my existence, which I don’t appreciate.

That may sound hyperbolic, but elected officials at the federal, state, and local government have literally said those things publicly, and more.

Plus, the Green New Deal aims to eliminate natural gas, which is the largest cause of CO emissions reductions in the U.S. over that past 10-15 years.

I don’t take people seriously who support policies like that, sorry.

#22 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On March 19, 2019 @ 7:00 pm

@JonF: I agree that moral conundrums exist and at times they can create moral tension. Where I disagree is with regard to the need for dramatic tension in religion (which brought to mind):


For me, the presence of dramatic tension necessitates he presence of a hero/protagonist with whom one is to identify. It is this re-inscription of self that I find dangerous, since it encourages a sense of separation which flies in the face of the dependent origination as demonstrated by the Buddha.

#23 Comment By lizzy1980 On March 19, 2019 @ 7:41 pm

MM: Could you point me to a more recent survey that shows a majority of Americans A) are told the current level of immigration, and B) support that level, or increasing it?

I’ve never come across a survey that asked this question, and I didn’t intend to imply that one was out there. The point I tried to make is that judging whether a person wants to increase or decrease immigration based on the number of immigrants that person says he wants to let in each year is impossible unless that person knows how many people we currently let in and whether that is enough to meet his/her overall policy objectives.

As an example, Noah172 once tried to bait me into this very same corner by asking me to tell him the number of immigrants I thought we should let in each year. He was then going to compare that to the number that we actually do let in. Apparently, his unstated belief was that the number I was going to give would be lower than the number we actually let in, which would “prove” to him that I was in favor of decreasing immigration.

I responded by telling him that I had no idea what number we should let in because I didn’t know the number we actually let in, nor, more importantly, did I know that number we would need to let in in order to support social security and Medicare. However, I told him that I was certain we needed to increase the number we let in since that was the only viable way to get the kind of population growth that would be necessary to support my economic goals for the country. Not surprisingly, I never heard from him again.

“I don’t believe they’re ignorant of the issue, sorry, can’t agree with you there…”

They’re not ignorant on the question you quoted, but you’re conflating poll results from two different questions. The question you cite from the 2019 Harris poll doesn’t ask whether we should increase or decrease immigration; it asks what you’d be willing to give in exchange for a path to citizenship. These are very different questions, and one need not know the number of immigrants we currently let in or the number we need to strengthen SS or Medicare in order to answer what trade-off you’re willing to make in exchange for citizenship.

On the central question of whether the country should increase, decrease or maintain the number of immigrants we let in, the Gallup survey I cited makes clear that an overwhelming majority are opposed to decreasing immigration. On the closely related question of whether Americans consider immigration to be a burden or a benefit to the country, the responses are similar: 59% say immigration makes the country stronger, only 34% say immigration is a burden on the country.


None of my comments here are intended to argue for more immigration. That is a separate issue I’m happy to discuss on its own merits. Instead, my comments are intended to persuade readers that, contrary to what Rod and other commenters write, those who oppose immigration aren’t being ignored. People hear the restrictionist arguments; they just disagree and they out-vote those who support such arguments. Hopefully, if people can recognize that their voices are being heard, they won’t feel the kind of desperation that leads them to do desperate things.

This is why it is so critical not to pay any attention to the Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto or anyone else who says we need to listen to the reasons he gave for his atrocities. He’s not offering any arguments that aren’t already being articulated in the marketplace by people who have better intentions, care more deeply and don’t murder their opponents. The only thing he brings to the issue is violence.

#24 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 19, 2019 @ 7:55 pm

“And our Australian cousins can rest easy. New Zealand is not planning to invade Australia any time soon, or convert them to Christianity.”

Lots of Kiwis live here – and most of our migrant detention facilities are populated by NZ criminals. NZ basically gave up having any armed forces because they rely on us to defend them.

#25 Comment By Raskolnik On March 19, 2019 @ 11:50 pm

However, I told him that I was certain we needed to increase the number we let in since that was the only viable way to get the kind of population growth that would be necessary to support my economic goals for the country.

Immigrants from anywhere other than Europe and China are massive net financial drains.

Noah stopped responding because you demonstrated yourself to be a fool and an ignoramus.

#26 Comment By Bianca On March 20, 2019 @ 9:32 am

I agree that US and the world is going towards self destruction in the name of acceptance because in reality this acceptance is about one religion being imposed over another, one class of individuals taking over another one. I’m a Romanian legal immigrant and this is not America I came to 30 years ago. Although I’ve looked at US as the land of possibilities, I’ve never invisioned the possibility of what we’re seeing today. Everyone spoke English, new immigrants went to night school to learn English, they tried to integrate in society while sharing their cultural values, not imposing them to those here. All of that is gone and have been seriously contemplating returning to Romania to provide a better education and less stressed life to my daughter.
I’ve been fighting in Connecticut the athletic high school policy that allows biological boys to compete as girls, no question asked, under the excuse of transgender acceptance. So while the transgender females are basking in media fame and glory of their wins and girls records, girls are being denied the chance to win and advance to State Open and New England Championships as it happened to my daughter. The word fair has taken a whole new meaning and women’s rights are gone. While I fully accept ones right to express themselves, it’s not enough to make you physically a woman. I stated a petition at [15] to preserve girls in school sports and few signed it, probably out of fear of retaliation.

#27 Comment By MM On March 20, 2019 @ 1:21 pm

Lizzy: “I’ve never come across a survey that asked this question.”

Thank you for not addressing your own inconsistencies and avoiding the post-2018 midterm survey results I cited at length.

Again, by your own reasoning, the Gallup poll you cited is meaningless because the respondents weren’t told what current immigration levels are. I don’t see how you can logically disregard the Harvard-Harris results I cited that are very specific as an erroneous picture of public opinion, and at the same time claim the Gallup results you cited that are much more general are an accurate picture of public opinion.

I don’t believe people are ignorant in these surveys, particularly registered voters. Finding out what current immigration levels are is quite easy. DHS puts out those figures, and I was able to find them in LESS THAN A MINUTE:


Additionally, in the Gallup survey you cited, you conflated wanting the keep legal immigration levels the same, about 1 million people per your, with wanting to increase legal immigration. Those are not the same positions by any means. The Gallup survey, and I’ve seen different figures on this, say the following:

Increase: 30%
Decrease: 31%
Same: 37%

Wanting to decrease immigration, or keep it the same, is by definition a restrictionist sentiment. There is no broad popular support for increasing immigration in the U.S. or any other major industrialized country, correct me if I’m wrong on that.

The results of the most recent Harvard-Harris I cited show broad popular support for more restrictions on legal immigration, namely changing the formula to merit-based and funding additional border security, or “barriers” of some kind.

And I’ll cite these results from last year’s Harvard-Harris poll, again, to illustrate this point. While the survey did not tell respondents what the current level of legal immigration was, they did ask respondents in detail what THEY WANTED the current level to be:


NOTE: These are the responses registered voters, when last polled on this question.

Table 61, p. 72

“In your opinion, about how many legal immigrants should be admitted to the U.S. each year?

– None: 9%
– 250,000 to 500,000: 35% (CLEAR PLURALITY)
– 500,000 to 1 million: 18%
– 1 million to 1.5 million: 7% (CURRENT LEVEL)
– 1.5 million to 2 million: 3%
– 2 million to 2.5 million: 1%
– 2.5 million or more: 8% (OPEN BORDERS CROWD)

Until you can provide better information for me to consider, I choose to accept these as an accurate picture of public opinion on immigration.


#28 Comment By lizzy1980 On March 20, 2019 @ 4:40 pm

MM: “I don’t see how you can logically disregard the Harvard-Harris results I cited . . “

You cited the first Harris poll as evidence that people want to decrease immigration. I said you can’t infer whether a person wants to decrease or increase immigration merely by asking a person only what number of immigrants they want. In order to make the inference you’re trying to make you would have to know that the respondent has the other data points I described. You don’t know that because the poll doesn’t indicate that the person had those data points.

With respect to the 2nd Harris poll you cited, I absolutely did not dismiss it. What I said is that the poll asks a question that was not relevant to our discussion (i.e. what trade-offs a person would make in exchange for granting citizenship). We were discussing whether most people want to increase or decrease immigration. I cited a Gallup survey that asked people that very question, verbatim, thereby eliminating the need to make an inference about whether people want to raise or lower immigration.

You could argue that if people had all of the data points that I’ve said are necessary to make the 1st Harris poll meaningful, they then would have answered the Gallup survey differently. However, to do so would require you to speculate how people would respond if they had additional information.

Moreover, as Jefferson Smith says, we don’t have to rely on survey data to try to understand the majority opinion on immigration matters. We can look at actual election outcomes. Those outcomes, which align with the Gallup survey, clearly show immigration is not viewed as negatively and/or as importantly as you and other restrictionists view it.

#29 Comment By MM On March 20, 2019 @ 5:44 pm

Lizzy: “However, to do so would require you to speculate how people would respond if they had additional information.”

This is the third time I’ve had to call you out, and you keep avoiding the issue:

You dismiss the results of any survey on legal immigration levels because of incomplete information in the questions asked. But you keep pointing to a Gallup survey that is based on even less information than the Harvard-Harris surveys I’ve been citing.

How can you cite any survey on immigration as representative of public opinion, pro or con?

Please answer that question.

“Those outcomes, which align with the Gallup survey, clearly show immigration is not viewed as negatively and/or as importantly as you and other restrictionists view it.”

I already linked to this before. Gallup itself found that the immigration is the #2 problem facing the country, after the government itself:


It’s considered an important problem, period, and it’s one of the reasons Trump was election.

Sorry, but nothing you’ve cited demonstrates otherwise.

#30 Comment By MM On March 20, 2019 @ 6:51 pm

P.S. on the midterm election results, as I demonstrated before, this wasn’t a giant blue wave. Moderate Democrats flipped a handful of districts, that’s why the party took back the House.

Democratic voters’s top issue wasn’t immigration, it was health care.

GOP voters’ top issue WAS immigration.

That’s what exit polls showed. You may dismiss those, as well, if you don’t like the answers.

#31 Comment By JonF On March 21, 2019 @ 8:44 am

MM, you’re quite correct about the above (at 6:51). But are you drawing the right conclusion? Healthcare concerns win elections. Immigration concerns do not.
On the other had if a Republican would ditch the faux-libertarian overlords and come out full bore in favor of serious healthcare reform (the sort the people want not the sort the insurers want) as well as serious immigration reform that did not ooze over into racist appeals, such a person might well be unbeatable.

#32 Comment By MM On March 21, 2019 @ 12:44 pm

JonF: “Healthcare concerns win elections. Immigration concerns do not.”

Turnout wins elections, and the voters who turn out more make their concerns heard.

I have no problem accepting that voters with concerns about health care helped Democrats win the 2018 midterms.

But I also have no problem accepting that voters with concerns about immigration, and trade, and the Supreme Court, and to a certain extent health care helped Trump win the 2016 presidential election:


Both are true.

#33 Comment By Evan On April 2, 2019 @ 3:39 am

This all hinges apon one assumption , that Brenton Tarrant wrote the manifesto. There are as many ways to interpret the document (and the event) as there are people willing to. It seems naive to follow the narrative on offer. Why does anyone think for a moment that this well trained killer with all the tell-tale signs of an agent , actually authored the manifesto? There is no evidence.

#34 Comment By Josep On April 8, 2019 @ 3:55 am

European countries without this past (mainly in Eastern Europe, Russia excepted)

Well, for what it’s worth, Imperial, pre-revolutionary Russia [19] nor [20], which could presumably explain the relative lack of “white guilt” in Russia compared to the West, so I wouldn’t lump the Western European powers with Russia here.