Please Stop Using The Indians in Immigration Arguments

This tweet by Mickey Kaus reminds me of an irritating chesnut that pro-immigration types love to trot out whenever they encounter disagreement. It usually takes the form of

“Well, it’s a shame that the Indians didn’t think of border control!”

Or something equally smug. It’s stupid for two reasons:

  1. The Indians did think of that. Which is to say, they contested white overlordship of North America with everything they had. There’s hardly a state in the Union that was not wrested from the natives violently. Some more than others, but still. The idea that the Indians meekly welcomed the palefaces to America is just plain wrong. They fought. They fought hard. They just had too many material disadvantages to overcome.
  2. Why on earth would we want to emulate their results? So, in an argument about whether our immigration policy is letting in too many foreigners, you deliberately bring up the people from whom foreigners took the continent, as an argument for letting more foreigners in. Precisely whom is this supposed to persuade?

The answer, of course, is no one. It’s not an argument; it’s an exercise in social signalling. By saying it, you get to be one of the good, socially aware people, thus trumping any need to actually be right on a policy question. Because if you’re one of the good people, your opponent must be one of the bad people, so whatever he says is bad.

logic

I Get Bad Reviews

I’m starting to think I should keep all my short-form content free on Amazon. Sarah Hoyt advises it, and now I’m starting to wonder if the price of zero would spare me reviews like this:

2.0 out of 5 stars No true fan of Aaron Burr would like this book., November 23, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: A Brief Conversation With Aaron Burr (Paperback)

This book is way too brief for its “conversational” purpose. It does no justice to Colonel Burr, except to make him out to be somewhat irascible, which (though justified) he certainly would not have been when talking with another, unless, of course, he knew that the author would be treating him in such a shallow way.

Fieri non potest, si iocum confutuere

simpsons_nelson_haha

 

The Myths of Gettysburg

The Union Forever!

150 years ago, today, my great-great-great-grand-uncle, Dallas Patrick, a private in 11th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry
(40th Volunteers), was taking part in the largest land battle ever to take place on the North American continent. I’ve been to Gettysburg on several occasions, and some part of me would kind of like to be there to see the re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge. But another part of me is just fine with sitting here and breaking down some of the mythic detritus that has gathered around this scar of history. To wit:

Continue reading → The Myths of Gettysburg

Little-Known Facts About Aaron Burr

  1. Early Advocate of women’s education and abolition.
  2. Presided over the Senate’s first impeachment trial, that of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase. Even Burr’s enemies’ praised his conduct of the trial. One Senator wrote that Burr had presided with “the impartiality of an angel and the rigor of a devil.”
  3. Had it in his head that he ought to be Emperor of Mexico.
  4. Loved the ladies. Loved, loved the ladies.
  5. Spent his sunset years hanging out with the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who coined the phrase, “the greatest happiness to the greatest number.”

All of which is but prologue to what I’ve been working on for Glass Mind Theatre’s upcoming Brainstorm event. The deadline’s today, and it hasn’t been selected yet, obviously, but I have hopes.

So Which President, Living or Dead, Would You Like to Drink With?

Face in the Blue has a most excellent question of great historical and political import: In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? Which brought to my mind the bit of campaign fluff about whether Barak Obama is the kind of guy the average American would enjoy drinking with, especially compared to Mitt Romney, who as a Mormon, does not drink. So I thought I’d do a brief peruse of our 44 heads of state and figure which ones would be the most fun to sit down with at a table in a bar and knock back a few. These are my utterly unfair guesses: Continue reading → So Which President, Living or Dead, Would You Like to Drink With?

Scrapping With the British Navy

The usual round of books and look-backs on the War of 1812 commenceth. Austin Bay seizes upon a book on the naval war between the US and Britain:

In 1812, Great Britain presented U.S. war planners with a very challenging strategic problem, one with contemporary irony given America’s 21st century military might: How do you wage successful war against a global superpower?

Two numbers illustrate America’s quandary. The RN began the war with around 500 warships. The U.S. Navy had 14, though when the war began not all were crewed and seaworthy. Shipping and trade were critical issues to both belligerents, and RN lions ruled the high seas. In comparison, the USN was a poorly funded mouse.

However, as Kevin McCranie demonstrates in his new book, “Utmost Gallantry: The U.S. and Royal Navies in the War of 1812” (Naval Institute Press), the tiny USN was a talented, courageous, well-led and therefore dangerous mouse.

It’s not the size of the navy in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the navy.

Of course, having your opponent distracted by Napoleon never hurts.