The Corner

Re: Let them In

J.J.: I very much appreciate Jason Riley’s taking the time to respond to my remarks. Those remarks were not intended to open a debate, which in any case could only properly take place after I had read his book! However …

Here is what Jason said at 1:43 into his interview with you:

You can’t name a single country in the world today that had a higher per capita income when it had half of its current population. … If the concentration of peoples led to scarcity of resources, why are places in sub-Saharan Africa, which are some of the most sparsely populated places on earth, also some of the poorest, while places like Hong Kong, which are some of the most densely populated on earth, some of the richest?

Here is what I said about what he said:

On your question as to how many people the U.S.A. can bear, he seemed to say “the more, the better,” and cited Hong Kong as a place that’s rich by virtue of having high population density, versus “countries in sub-Saharan Africa” that have low density and are poor. O…K, but surely he’s not positing a correlation between population density and national prosperity. There isn’t one …

Here is what he now says about what I said about what he said:

John Derbyshire’s response to my interview with John Miller suggests that I assert a correlation between population density and national prosperity. (“He seemed to say ‘the more the better.’”)

I said no such thing, seemingly or otherwise.

I leave it to the reader’s judgment to decide which of us has the better of this exchange.

And then:

Finally, Derbyshire cites a poll that shows most Americans want fewer immigrants, even though we all know that polls provide different answers based on how question are asked. You show me your polls and I’ll show you mine.

Great! But … where is yours? You forgot to show me.

But if Derbyshire, who’s an immigrant, is so convinced that his poll reflects the will of Americans and should be heeded, why doesn’t he pack up his bags and leave the country?

I don’t follow that at all. It would make sense if I had said, quoting some poll in support, that it is the will of Americans that no new immigrants settle here. I didn’t say that, and the poll I actually quoted gives that as being the opinion of only 20 percent of their respondents, and so certainly not the will of Americans in 2003 (let alone in 1985, when I actually did my immigrating). Since I said nothing like that, Jason’s question makes no sense.

Of course, as someone who’s pro-immigrant, I hope he doesn’t do that. I think we should continue welcoming immigrants, even the ungrateful ones who want to lift the drawbridge after they’re here.

How do you know that I want to “lift the drawbridge,” Jason? Where have I ever said so? And in what sense am I “ungrateful”? Can you show me where I have expressed my ingratitude? Is it your position that a citizen of immigrant origins who favors any but the most extravagantly generous policy on immigration, is an ingrate? Must all citizens of immigrant origins sign an oath of fealty to the open borders lobby, or else submit to accusations of ingratitude from Wall Street Journal staffers?

The most baffling thing to me about the open borders people is their binary approach to the immigration issue, as displayed very clearly by Jason right there. Jason declares himself “pro-immigrant.” A person who disagrees with him must apparently be “anti-immigrant.” An immigrant who disagrees with him must be practicing double-think, or dishonesty, or ingratitude, or some other species of moral delinquency.

How do you salt your stew, Jason? Are you “pro-salt” or “anti-salt”?

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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