Monday, May 07, 2007

First they came for my visa waiver...

Dave makes two arguments in his response to the possibility of America ending the visa waiver for Britons of Pakistani descent. Firstly, he argues it is racist and on that basis not only wrong but unenforceable. Second, he argues that we should oppose it as we should always support the interests of Britons. I'll rebut these arguments before making the case as to why this measure has some sense to it.

'Pakistani' isn't a race. You can't invent a race part of the way through the twentieth century. Pakistan contains a collection of people from different races. It is a nationality. That nationality is associated with a particular religion but that religion is not associated only with that nation. As such, this is also not discrimination against a particular religion.

As Pakistani isn't a race and there isn't Pakistani 'blood' or anything similar there is no need for the bizarre procedures for racial division Dave describes. I would guess that the Americans will use the simple criteria of whether a person has, or is eligible for, a Pakistani passport. That seems the most efficient criteria. That would essentially mean that this is simply a matter of no longer allowing people to travel under the best passport they possess. If not a simple question when entering the States of "have you, or any member of your family, migrated to Britain from Pakistan" would probably do the trick.

Now, to Dave's second point. The example he cites of Palmerstone blockading Piraeus in order to defend a Portuguese Jew who was a British subject from Gibraltar against Anti-Semitic attack establishes the principle that Britain should defend the rights of Britons abroad. I agree that is a good principle and certainly wouldn't, in an ethnic nationalist manner, deny that British Pakistanis are Britons. However, no one has a right to a visa waiver. It is a privilege given to the trusted. Pakistanis, in general, require a visa to enter the United States and this does not mean their rights are being infringed. I needed visas to enter China and Russia, why under Dave's logic did the Foreign Office not leap to my aid?

There is a serious problem with radicalisation in the British Pakistani community. We have good evidence of this from many polls including one by Pew Research comparing them to other European and non-European Muslim populations. I'll try to give a brief overview of why as it is useful background although it is not crucial to this debate. Islamism has a particular potency in Pakistan for a few reasons:
  1. Islam is the only alternative most poor Pakistanis have to landowner power (which owned the democracy).
  2. The nation's existence is defined by Islam. While many Islamic nations define themselves as Islamic there would, without Islam, be Iranians. The same isn't true for Pakistanis.
  3. The long confrontation with India has given the army a particular place in Pakistani life. This could be a force for secularisation or radicalisation. However, even if it acts as a force for secularisation in general it might produce a backlash.
  4. The sense of an unexplainable relative decline in your society's power which many thinkers, e.g. Dalrymple, blame for the general problems in Islam, are strongest in Pakistan. The British Empire took India from them and when the Empire retreated they were not able to reclaim it.
Pakistan's problems are translated into the British Pakistani population because immigrants to Britain are often not the relatively secular elites that, for example, emigrate to America from Iran. We then make things worse by pursuing a policy that gives a disproportionate voice to community leaders we should snub. Other policy mistakes have clearly been made which have contributed to Britain having the worst domestic problem with Islamist terrorism in Europe. This clearly can translate into a serious threat of violence. The extent of that threat was revealed by 7/7, recent terror trials and the warnings of MI5.

This problem with radicalisation is, therefore, not a particular resentment of America. It is not really a problem that America can solve or that any American policy will make a lot of difference to. Even with Iraq it is far more plausible that British involvement had a radicalising effect than that the US policy itself did. Certainly, nothing as minor as a change in visa rules can credibly be expected to make a lot of difference. While we work on the problem of the radicalisation of British Muslims America needs to do what it can to protect itself from the danger some among their number pose. Getting the information that comes with a visa will allow the American government to better protect their citizens. That is an entirely proper measure for a state to take. We should respect it.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

seriosuly,you write a lot of shit, but Dave wrote something actually worth putting up on the internet, and then you just HAD to come up with your own bullshit, just for the sake of argument. i mean, do you realise how stupid, ignorant and arrogant you sound to ANY Pakistani reading that? Seriously, you sound like a fucking retard on crack, trying to make 2 SHITTY arguments sound good simply trhough symantecs just doenst work matt, youre full of crap dude, read Dave's blog a couple of times, and ti might begin to make sense in your head so you wont put up such biased, rubbish and pathetically racist posts.

also, since im annoyed enough at this, i might as well. you know when you come to debating IV's right, theres no need to put a coat on top of the gay collared t shirt.no need to hide it, EVERYONE knows youre a fat fuck with a MASSIVE ass, i mean seriously, i think ive seen you once without a coat, and i was lik fucking hell put it back on. also, a first year lawyer debating asked me at UCL, how old is that guy? why is he here? how fucking old are you anyway man? and why do you even come to debates? seirously, get a life, a girlfriend or boyfriend whatever you like, you know, stop blogging, go out and do something interesting, yeah....its too late for braces.

just one last thing, when you judge right, please bear some consideration to those sitting next/around you as wing judges, i mean, first theres that ass that takes up so much damn space, then theres that miserable fucking thing called the rest of your body...just stand next time you judge, makes more space for everyone else.

oh and dont forget, go read Dave's blog again, and i know its too much for that old braincell, try and figure out why youre wrong.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Most people at your level of intellect and social skill don't make it as far as intervarsity debating. Congratulations on fooling your university.

Some of your criticisms of my person are a little bizarre. I'm not exactly sure what a "collared t shirt" is and at twenty-three I'm not exactly ancient.

I'd respond to your criticisms of my post but there don't seem to be any. I've discussed this issue with Pakistanis and their reactions to the American iniative have been mixed. Some feel very put out but others don't get the big deal.

You're a bizarre, angry man.

El Dave. said...

Anonymous -

While Matt and I disagree on just about everything, it is wrong to say that he is racist. He is an intelligent and informed commentator and debater.

Matt is right - you are a bizzare, angry troll.

Gracchi said...

Anonymous- Matt is a good thinker. I disagree with him on this for reasons outlined in Dave's piece and others of my own- but he is no racist. Your response to his piece shows you though to be undoubtedly an idiot. Just one point if Matt will allow me, one of the most repugnant things about your comment is its transparant homophobia. If Matt were gay (and I don't know that he is and don't care) who gives a damn- it wouldn't alter the virtues of his argument one iota nor the fact that he is actually a nice guy- and would never leave a comment like this. The fact that you think its an insult reveals that you are a small minded prejudiced prat. Go away and spend some time on blogs like Guido's that welcome such idiocy- this one like Dave's and my own is for adults to discuss politics on.

Anonymous said...

[QUOTE]seirously, get a life, a girlfriend or boyfriend whatever you like, you know, stop blogging, [/QUOTE]

The above is what the first commentator wrote.Now he is obviously childish or a moron for writing that comment,he could have at least indicated what got him angry, but to be fair i really did not see any homophobic comments in his piece, he implied unpolitely that sinclair should get a boyfriend or girlfriend,'whatever you like' and not that he is homosexual. There was no homophobic comment in his post. Cheers.

El Dave. said...

[quote]theres no need to put a coat on top of the gay collared t shirt[/quote]

Looks homophobic to me. Either that or it's conflating 'gay' with 'bad'.