Tribal Conflicts Bubble Up in Diverse New York

Nobody resists human nature with the liberal stubbornness of the New York Times, as was evident in a recent treatment of citizens unhappy with the continuing diversity onslaught. The paper simply cannot stand Americans who want to associate with their own folks and preserve the traditional country, while praising immigrants who implant their tribe’s culture of a piece in balkanized communities in this country with minimal assimilation.

The Timesians rue the unpleasantness, like “hate” crimes and general bad feeling, chalking it up to Americans’ unwillingness to embrace diversity. (Even though diversity decreases trust and reduces social capital, according to Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam.)

A more realistic view would focus on humanity’s tribal nature, a hard-wired component of psychology that sees safety in group affiliation and evolved over millennia. In modern society, individuals normally look for similarity of culture and values to create comfortable association. The diversity thing is a political obsession of the far left, which believes nation-states are the source of wars — they obviously don’t accept the late Sam Huntington’s formulation of the Clash of Cultures.

Another symptom of excess diversity is the increased number of attacks by US blacks against hispanics in the area. (See my blog Staten Island Mexicans Gripe about Diverse Muggings.) When people see widespread job displacement by foreigners in a terrible economy, some may react violently. It is unfortunate, but predictable.

The correct response of authorities should not be to berate citizens but to institute an immigration moratorium. The problem is Too Many Immigrants.

There are too many newbies for the number of available jobs. For example, the foreign-born workers in 2007 comprised 15.6 percent of the workforce, more than double that of 1980.

The solutions are simple, but politically rugged: end legal immigration for at least a decade (preferably forever) and make e-verify universal, as well as institute zero tolerance border enforcement, as in Operation Streamline.

As Russians Move In and Flourish, Resentment Follows, New York Times, August 20, 2010

Mother Russia has long been ensconced in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, feasting on pirogi, borscht and the tang of salty air reminiscent of Odessa. But her assimilated children have been planting colonies across the New York area, and one of the largest is flourishing on Staten Island.

Staten Island’s Russians — even if many are really from Ukraine or other lands of the former Soviet Union — number 22,288 by the most recent census estimates, or more than 50,000 by their own estimates, which would make Russians one-tenth of the island’s population. As immigrant strivers, they moved to Staten Island for the affordable houses, good schools, suburban feel and pace, even a boardwalk in South Beach that can match Brighton Beach’s in length, if not in ambience.

But they have not escaped the ethnic encounters often associated with urban migrations, including grumbling by natives that the newcomers are taking over. This has surfaced most vividly as a result of a Russian-run community and day care center’s plan for a new 10,000-square-foot building that it promises would be for all Staten Islanders.

It will become another “Russian thing,” one skeptic, Joanne Bennetti, a 60-ish retired beautician, said at a meeting of the South Beach Civic Association. “You don’t know what it’s like to feel like a foreigner in your own neighborhood.”

Another Hater, according to the NYT book of liberal virtues.

Janele Hyer-Spencer, a local assemblywoman, who arranged for $4 million in state funding for a new Staten Island Community Center, said the tensions reflected the discomfort of some old-timers with the rapid influx of immigrants — Liberians, Albanians and Mexicans as well as Russians — into a once-sleepy, relatively homogeneous island.

According to Ms. Hyer-Spencer and the police, there has been a spate of hate crimes in recent months, including one in April in which a Mexican bakery worker’s skull was bashed. In June, large numbers of islanders turned out to oppose plans to build a mosque in a former convent, a plan that was eventually withdrawn.

“Hate” crimes are the predictable result in some places when foreigners take the jobs formerly held by citizens in a brutal employment depression. It is regrettable but true.

Washington should protect American jobs, not give them away to foreigners via open borders and crazy legal immigration.

“We are experiencing, across the island, a demographic shift of monumental proportions and the cultural conflict that is an outgrowth of that shift,” Ms. Hyer-Spencer said.

Meanwhile, the plan for the community center, to replace a derelict amusement arcade, has turned into a muddle. Though funds became available two years ago, the State Dormitory Authority has yet to approve the building. Ms. Hyer-Spencer suggested that she had exhausted her efforts to convince local civic associations that the center would be multicultural, not just for Russians.

“Because of so much cultural conflict, it’s impossible to move forward,” she said.

Joseph McAllister, the president of the South Beach Civic Association, said that based on what he had learned so far, he was opposed to the center because cars picking up and dropping off children would clog traffic. Moreover, he said, no details have emerged about parking on the site or about the building’s size.

Mr. McAllister says he does not, however, side with those who express antagonism toward newcomers, pointing out that most residents have ancestors who came through Ellis Island.

“We’re very diversified in South Beach,” he said.

In the meantime, Arkadiy Fridman, 53, and his wife, Ella, who run the center’s day care and after-school programs and art and music classes out of a cramped house on Jefferson Avenue, fear they have lost a $65,000 deposit for the arcade site.

That has disheartened Mr. Fridman, who started the center to see if he “could combine Russian culture with American culture and create something better.” Half the center’s 100 students, he said, are not Russian.

That’s sort of idea the Times likes, that diversity will improve flawed American culture.

I doubt many citizens think they need an influx of Russian values to improve our country. In particular, Russian’s history of communism and centuries of autocratic czars before that do not have a lot to offer in the way of virtue. Modern-day Russia is well known for its corruption and violence.

On the contrary, American reforms have been self-generated when the public thought the system was unfair, such as the civil rights movement and the campaign for women’s equality.

In fact, one aspect of today’s grass-roots crusade for greater fairness centers on returning immigration to a legal procedure because border and workplace anarchy is unacceptable.

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