September Diary
On the Sovereignty Caucus, Chris Christie, the existence of evil, and more.


John Derbyshire

What the open-borders folk want is for anyone who can get themselves onto U.S. soil to be given an immigrant visa and a work permit. That’s a tenable position that can be argued on its merits. It’s just a terrifically unpopular one; so open-border proponents have to fudge and obfuscate with accusations of unkindness (Perry) or dishonest flim-flam about there being no “legal way” for foreigners to come and work here (Chavez).

There are plenty of legal ways. In fact, if a foreigner is smart enough and willing to game our leaks-like-a-sieve “refugee resettlement” programs, we’ll even pay his fare to come here, give him free accommodation, and put him on the welfare rolls the day he lands. (Refugees are immediately eligible for all welfare programs.)

It’s not heart that’s lacking in our immigration policy, it’s head.


A millstone for Christie. That last segment includes a link to a piece I wrote that includes a link to a September 2010 Paul Mulshine op-ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger that includes a link to a Lou Dobbs TV clip from April 2008 of which Mulshine observes: “If Christie really intends to make a move nationally, he’d better buy up every copy of” it.

Follow that? The heck with it: Just watch the clip.

The problem of evil. As part of the 9/11 commemorations (of which I have registered my general disapproval elsewhere), former president George W. Bush made a speech at Shanksville, Pa., near where Flight 93 hit the ground. Now, I know, I know, “in lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.” He should, though, try to make some kind of sense. Quoth W: “One of the lessons of 9/11 is that evil is real.”

What does that mean? Is W taking a position in the ancient debate between realists and nominalists? Is he asserting that evil is a kind of stuff in the universe — perhaps a greenish miasma like the one that saw off Egypt’s first-born in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments?

If so, that’s interesting — to hear a public person talking metaphysics, I mean. If, on the other hand, W is just saying that people really do do evil things, that’s a truism not worth stating, equivalent to “folly is real,” or “creativity is real” or “nose-picking is real.”

Human behavior is real. It issues from human beings, who are real creatures. Some kinds of behavior we designate as evil. We are prompted to do so in part by wired-in deep mental structures evolved through our long history as social animals, in part by refinements of those structures we acquire from our upbringing and socialization.

Just what counts as evil varies to some degree from time to time and place to place. Heresy, buggery, and usury have moved from the “evil” column to the “not evil” column, while slavery, wife-beating, and witch-burning have made the opposite journey.

Evil is a fascinating study. It is being studied, too — by psychologists, ethologists, anthropologists, and neuroscientists. Let’s hope they come up with some way to cut down on evil.

Evil? I’m against it.

To tell us that “evil is real,” though, and that we need dramatic events to teach this to us, is absurd.

Punctilious, or snotty? You be the judge.

I can be obnoxious, I’ll admit it. It’s usually in the cause of Truth, though.

As it happens, we had our block party on September 11. Some neighbors wanted to perform a little service of commemoration there in the street. Some others of us, taking my point of view, disapproved, thinking the whole commemoration business too narcissistically yellow-ribbonish. We dissenters were in a minority, though, so for the sake of neighborly harmony we swallowed our grumbles and bowed our heads with the rest.


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