Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If everyone is a part of everything, nothing means much of anything

Listening to a story on NPR's The World about the US citizenship exam got me wondering on what things involving human membership is the left more discriminating (in the older sense of the word) than the right is:
One of the more obscure questions, she said, includes questions like “Who wrote the Federalist Papers?” 
“Most Americans could not answer the question, so I'm not sure why it's on the test,” she says.  
 Winke has found that US citizens only outperform immigrants on local governance questions, such as, “Who is your House Representative?”  
 “From a test development standpoint, then you start wondering what is this test testing?” Winke says.
There is little inherent value placed on citizenship in this line of reasoning. Citizenship is thought of as a right rather than as a privilege, and certainly not something that should be leveraged for the well being of those who are already citizens.

The citizenist (or political conservative, more generally), in contrast, reasons that given that the value of US citizenship is estimated to be 'worth'* nearly $15,000 per year , a one-time expenditure of $600 for a test of rote memorization (and only 100 potential questions to commit to memory--even with no prior knowledge of American civics or history, it's easy to comprehend the test's 92% pass rate) seems like the deal of the millennium. There are considerations beyond the economic that come into play as well, of course, such as cultural compatibility, language fluency, social harmony, etc.

Anyway, whether it be same-sex marriage, the Augusta country club, women in combat, felons (and felonious!) voting, illegal immigrants being granted citizenship, fat acceptance, dumbing down testing standards, or employing racial quotas, the contemporary left can almost always be defined by a lack of any standards. Exclusion is a great evil, even though the most vociferous opponents of exclusionism tend to be quite exclusive in their own lives. Yet on some issues--environmental ones immediately come to mind--the left dispenses with philosophical concerns about exclusion. What are some others? Exclusion from life in the case of abortion, I suppose, though that might be too emotionally charged to come to a consensus on. Maybe re-designation, too, but because the desire to do so is more attractive to the left and consequently those on the left are the ones who do it, it's ambiguous.

Parenthetically, it's easy to argue that things like racial quotas are zero sum and consequently neither inclusive nor exclusive, but instead merely a version of Cassius' most famous line, more easily (and thus less discriminatingly!) understood by the phrase "Who? Whom?". But while uncomfortable dissonance is a consequence of what the left preaches and how it behaves, I'm not cynical enough to attribute the entire broad philosophical outlook to a complex set of triple bank shots--they're mostly sincere in their instincts, at least as sincere as the religious believer is in the power of the supernatural.

* In reality, comparing the Derbs and the guys riding together in conversion vans to solicit work in Home Depot parking lots with one another is not an apples-to-apples comparison, but the point remains that even though there are lots of illegal immigrants in the US who don't care about obtaining citizenship, among the millions and millions of non-citizens who do, there are lots who would pay more than $600 for it.


Angilee Shah said...

Very interesting data here -- I hope you'll join PRI's The World's citizenship discussion today:

Dan said...

Leftist hypocrisy is unreal. I just got back from a wedding in Seattle. There were 99 pure-blood Europeans and 1 Indian (dot, not feather). Many hardcore leftists there. Not a hint of the irony and I had no interest in stirring things up. Seattle is around 65% European according to the stats I've seen.

First conversation I struck up with a stranger happened to be a passionate 30 year old civil rights lawyer.

Anonymous said...

That's right, Dan. They are like the descendants of rich slave owners who wish to punish redneck descendants of poor farmers who never even owned slaves.