Charity without charge
There’s a hell of a carousel in Paris now. Illegal camps of homeless migrants and refugees from countries like Afghanistan and Syria appear in different places in the city: in squares and under flyovers and bridges. The police clear them away, but they soon appear elsewhere. The policy of preventing the re-emergence of camps is no more effective than the arrest of prostitutes in the suppression of prostitution.
The latest episode in this carousel is the forcible eviction of several hundred tents with migrants, mostly Afghans, by the police from the Place de la République, which is only a few minutes’ walk from where I was writing. The migrants had gathered there to protest the government’s failure to provide housing. The police cleared the tents in front of demonstrators, including some lawyers who defended the migrants’ “rights”.
There was reportedly widespread outrage over the police’s actions, some of which were unnecessarily violent. For example, a police officer was filmed kicking a migrant as he fled down the street. Nobody wanted to ask whether the informal and illegal camp could have been disbanded without the use of at least some force by the police, but it seems unlikely to me that the camp would have disbanded simply at the polite request of its residents to do so to do.
If the police’s behavior was widespread outrage, it seems likely to me that there was at least as much unpublished outrage that migrants from Afghanistan and Syria should legally demand to be housed at the expense of the French people. This underground outrage is dangerous in the same way that magma under a volcano is dangerous: it could one day erupt in a very nasty way.
But the fact of mass migration, largely undesirable by much of the population, is not the only thing fueling this underground outrage. Perhaps even more provocative is the attitude of moral superiority among those who pride themselves on defending the “rights” of migrants. Seeing lawyers in their court robes, as well as young bourgeois anarchists attending an eventual illegal occupation of a large Parisian square, signified the already widespread and not entirely unfounded notion that there is a ruling class and intelligentsia in France who cares and Is indifferent or even hostile to the feelings of the rest of the population, whom they look down on as ignorant, bigoted and malicious.
In theory at least, there is a simple solution to this problem, namely that those who firmly believe that migrants from Afghanistan, Syria and other countries have the right to come to France may encourage them, but on the strict condition that They are required by law to pay for their housing, health care and all other needs out of their own pocket as an act of individual charity for a period of up to 15 years, for example – and should also be civilly liable for any criminal activity that their sponsored Migrants have committed, including acts of terrorism. With this simple rule, they would no longer be able to adjust to their moral generosity at the expense of the government, that is, the French taxpayer: they would have to demonstrate real, actual generosity, real personal costs, apart from occasional attendance at demonstrations or membership in associations that are advocate for the supposed rights of migrants.
On both sides of the channel we see some kind of charity that is separate from any personal expenses.
This program has the advantage that the sponsors of migrants who are allowed to set up associations for their charitable purposes have a vested interest in encouraging migrants as individuals to integrate into French society, take up employment, etc. They who Sponsors, would take a personal interest in the migrants they sponsored before and after their arrival. For example, they would try to distinguish in advance between potential migrants who are likely to be beneficial to the country and those who are more likely to be drones. They would not be able to simply hand over responsibility to the cold consolation of the state and thus congratulate themselves on their own moral greatness.
Of course, this scheme, which is intellectually simple, would exceed the ability of a modern democratic state to organize or implement itself, in part because no one would believe that the state really intended to enforce the rules that it himself had made. Most laws or regulations that lead to disputes, at least through the well-connected intelligence of the middle class, are practically dead letters. Only when and where people can be bullied unnoticed or unhindered are laws or regulations actually enforced with all due care. Even if my scheme took effect, it would have no effect. However, the limits of a particular form of humanitarianism are highlighted.
Across the channel in the UK we see the exact same kind of charity which, in the case of Shamima Begum, is separate from any possibility of personal expense.
Shamima Begum is a 21-year-old woman of British and Bangladeshi nationality who left the UK to join ISIS at the age of 15 and believed in its anti-Western ideology. The British government stripped her of her citizenship (which she could do because she had another), but when she was detained in an ISIS sympathizer camp after that organization’s defeat, she decided to return to the UK, where she would be essential more comfortable.
Human rights organizations and lawyers are excited to let her into the country so she can be present in the country while the case for her return is discussed in the country’s highest court – at public expense, of course. However, it is perfectly obvious that she will never leave the country again: deportation will be impossible in practice. Her followers know that very well; They also know that on their return they are likely to burden the UK taxpayer for a considerable amount of time.
My plan in this case would allow Shamima Begum to return, but only at the expense of those who so wish, who, I suspect, may suddenly become both less numerous and vocal. Among other things, this would rule out the far-reaching legal gimmicks (another reason human rights lawyers would not like the system).
But don’t worry. Such a scheme is never implemented. Shemima Begum will be allowed to return to the UK and the taxpayer will pay the bill for years to come. For today, our moral know-it-alls prefer charity that is free to them.