Tuesday, June 21, 2016


A lot has been made of the xenophobia that may people claim drives elements of Republican support for Donald Trump or the Leave the EU campaign in Great Britain. But I was thinking about it a couple of days ago, and something came to me.

While proponents of immigration often portray it as a win-win with both the immigrants and the established population of a place reaping benefits, if you wind the clock way back, would you say that Africa, the Americas and Australia were a win-win when Europeans arrived? Were you to poll the descendants of the native populations, would they see themselves as better off now that they would have been had Europeans never arrived - or at least if they had not arrived in the way that they did?

And I wonder if that doesn't factor into it. Do people who fear waves of immigration have a vision in their heads that's less Ellis Island and more Conquistadors or colonists? If one sees what happened when Europeans spread throughout the world as less about a particular time in history, and more about human nature in general, is it surprising that they see themselves as threatened?

No comments: