Monday, October 31, 2016

Ghost Stories Aren't About a Fear of Death; They Are About the Trauma and Regret of the Living

Stuart K. Hayashi

My drawing is supposed to be of Chernabog from Disney's "Fantasia." Of course, Chernabog is a demon, not a ghost. ^_^

I recognize that, by definition, everything that exists, exists within the natural universe and operates according to the principles of natural law.  Even that which is man-made is natural in the sense that it functions according to scientific principles and cannot contradict or suspend them.  Anything that exists has natural attributes.  According to that understanding, to say that the "supernatural exists" is a contradiction in terms.  To label something "supernatural" is not to say that it is "extremely natural," but that it is above and beyond natural -- that it is outside of what is natural (i.e., that which exists).  To proclaim that something has an existence beyond, apart from, and outside of Nature is to proclaim that it has an existence beyond, apart from, and outside of existence.

I find it no contradiction that I continue to be fascinated by stories about the paranormal and the occult.  I do not take those stories literally anymore, as I did when I was ten; they now interest me as a sort of psychological phenomenon.  I am interested in the significance and the symbolism of ghost stories.  Here, I will not so much discuss people's motivations for why they listen to and tell ghost stories, but about why I think certain famous ghost stories remain well-remembered.

It's About More Than "I Just Like to Feel Scared"
Briefly, I think that it is an incomplete explanation to say that people like ghost stories because they like to feel scared.  As horror movie mogul Wes Craven once pointed out in USA Weekend, no one really likes feeling scared as such.  Rather, people expose themselves to scary stories and movies in order to make themselves feel brave.  When they encounter such scary stories, they feel all of the primal sensations of fear and alarm.  But, by the end of the story, they remain safe and alive, while they feel somewhat brave for having "survived" the simulation of terror.

I think that if people listened to ghost stories and watched scary movies solely for the sensation of fear -- without any interest in the other emotions involved in the story -- then they wouldn't have much memory about the details of the story.  I surmise that the details of certain ghost stories touch upon emotions other than fear.  When people have strong memories about a certain ghost story, it is not merely because they empathize with the protagonists who encounter the ghosts, but empathize with the ghosts themselves.

The Rules of a Certain Ghost-Story Template
There is definitely a lot of variation, and what I am about to say doesn't perforce apply to every famous urban legend about ghosts.  However, many famous ghost stories follow a certain template.

First, the ghost is territorial; he or she inhabits a certain location; there are geographic parameters the spirit cannot breach.   Some ghosts, such as the one I will describe later in this essay, are capable of traveling long distances.  However, even in the case of these exceptions (as I will detail below), there remain thresholds the apparition will not cross.

Secondly, the ghost has some sort of "unfinished business"; there was something that happened to the ghost when he or she was alive; the ghost feels that this matter remains unresolved.  This aspect of the ghost-story template is integral to my theory.

The third aspect is that insofar as the ghost conveys that he has "unfinished business," the ghost will betray this information in only the most indirect fashion.  This is seldom purely by the ghost's own choice; there is always some involuntary (usually unexplained) aspect of the spirit realm that precludes the ghost from very directly expressing to the living what issues of the ghost remain unsettled.  The story usually goes that when some living human encounters a ghost, the ghost communicates by nothing more than cryptic clues that the living investigator has to piece together.  (This is seen in the supposedly based-on-truth movie The Changeling.)

In many respects, a living human trying to investigate the story behind a ghost's unrest is very similar to a psychologist trying to uncover the reasons behind the mysterious behavior of someone who is mentally ill and in denial about the mental illness.  If you very directly ask a mentally-ill-person-in-denial about the reasons for his or her condition, you will seldom receive a direct, straightforward, earnest answer.  This is especially true if that person is still going through his or her "episode."  By the same token, if the living human enters the haunted domain and asks the spirit, point blank, what it wants and what needs to be done for the hauntings to stop, the ghost will seldom provide a direct, lucid, coherent answer.  Usually, the ghost cannot give a coherent answer, just as a mentally-ill person will feel that he or she cannot.

The fourth rule is that a ghost that haunts a place engages in some sort of repetitive behavior.  I have heard stories about some horrible mass murder committed on some famous spot.  Supposedly, every anniversary the ghosts of the victims and murderer will reappear and, behaving and reacting as if they are still alive, will re-create the entire massacre before living spectators.  When I give this example, one might say to me, "Aha! The murder results in death; therefore, the ghosts' re-enactment of events necessarily has to involve their death."  I dispute that.  For instance, there are some ghost stories (both presented as fiction and as "true") about some hospitals, schools, or orphanages where patients or children were mistreated.  According to the legends, the mistreated ghosts will re-appear and whimper, and re-enact the mistreatment, even if the mistreatment did not result in their physical deaths.

The repetitive behavior is another trait that haunting spirits have in common with living people who have certain mental illnesses.  As I mentioned before, many people, who have a certain context-dropping image of "life, as it really is," insist on going through the same self-destructive behavioral patterns over and over again, despite their always getting the same dismal results.  An example would be an insistence on getting into one abusive relationship after another.   The pattern only changes when the living human chooses to commit to changing with it, and sticks to that commitment.  Likewise, a ghost that haunts some place will usually repeat the same pattern until the "unfinished business" is resolved.  Unlike a real-life living person, however, the ghost cannot change the pattern on his own; he necessarily needs a living human being to help him; he needs the living, lucid human to initiate some new action that alters the course of events and gives him peace.

Next, I will give an example of a famous ghost story that I think follows these conventions.  After that I will explain why I think that people find the story scary not primarily on account of it reminding them of death, but primarily because it reminds them about the regrets that living people have about their lives.

The Vanishing Hitchhiker
Here is a story that is almost always told as true, and goes at least as far back as the 1970s.  Commonly the storyteller says it happened to a friend of a friendA motorist minds his own business driving along some area that isn't very familiar to him.  Along the way, he finds a rather benign-looking hitchhiker.  The motorist stops and asks the hitchhiker where he wants to go.  The hitchhiker gives a very specific home address.  The motorist replies, "Hey, that's on the way to my destination!  Hop in!"  The hitchhiker probably doesn't ride in the front passenger seat, but in the back, where the motorist cannot see the hitchhiker unless he turns his head.  Along the journey, the two get to talking and form an emotional bond.  After a while, though, they stop talking.

Eventually, during the silence the motorist reaches the home address.  He turns around and says, "We're at your stop!"  But the hitchhiker is nowhere to be seen.  The motorist looks everywhere and cannot find his companion.  Puzzled, he says to himself, "I deserve an explanation."  He goes to the residence and rings the doorbell.  Some old person answers it.  The motorist says, "This is going to sound very strange, but I picked up a hitchhiker who asked me to take him to this address.  But now I can't find him."  At this point, the motorist sees the hitchhiker in a photograph on the wall and exclaims, "That's him!"

The resident explains that that hitchhiker is a relative or some family friend, and has been deceased many years.  Sometimes the story goes that the hitchhiker had some falling out with the house's residents, and they always missed each other.  The hitchhiker died before any reconciliation could take place.  In some versions of the story, the hitchhiker was going to the house to make amends, but on his way he was hit and killed by a drunk driver . . . and he died on the very spot where the motorist picked him up.  In some versions, the resident says that there were many occasions on which other motorists picked up the hitchhiker at that exact same spot and the hitchhiker gave the address, only for the hitchhiker to disappear before arriving at the destination.

At this point, someone who hears the story for the first time (usually a child), gets goosebumps.  I find that a very interesting reaction.  Why would you find that story scary when the ghost's intentions are completely harmless?  The hitchhiker isn't trying to kill anyone.  He isn't trying to possess or enslave anyone.  He just wants to return to a certain location -- a place he couldn't return to while alive.    My first impulse might be to say, "People find the story scary, despite the ghost's benign intentions, because the story reminds of them of death."  But now I think differently.  I think that the story is scary because it reminds people of regrets about actions people have taken while alive -- the story is scary even when it reminds you of people who still are very much alive, at least physically.

My Analysis of the Hitchhiker Story
First I want to point out the areas where I think the hitchhiker tale fits the template I mentioned.  At first it might seem that the hitchhiker is not territorial; he is able to travel by motor car.  But note that he always follows the same path and his mobility remains limited.  Whenever he is picked up by a motorist, he is picked up at the same basic spot.  In some versions, that spot is where he died, and, according to some odd rule, his dying there renders it his default location.  The hapless motorists usually take the same route.  Finally, the hitchhiker always tries to get to the same address, and, presumably, he always disappears from the car at roughly the same area on the road.

Second, that the ghost has some "unfinished business" is very obvious.  He keeps trying to reach a certain residence, and he never succeeds.  Back when he was alive, he wanted to get there to try to resolve some personal matter.  Because he died before that could happen, the matter will forever remain unsettled.

Third, the ghost's method of communicating his basic problem is indirect.  The ghost could have told the motorist from the beginning, "I'm a ghost and I want to reach this street address because there is someone there whom I never properly said good-bye to before I died."  But the ghost doesn't say that; his pain is conveyed to the living person in a very roundabout way.

Fourthly, there is the repetitive behavior.  There are versions of the story where the house resident tells the motorist that many other motorists in the past have picked up the hitchhiker in the same location, only for him to disappear in the same location.   Thus, like many people with Borderline Personality Disorder, the hitchhiker keeps replaying the same pattern of behavior, only to wind up with the same dismal results (or non-results).

I believe the story strikes a chord with people for reasons quite apart from the part about the hitchhiker being dead.  I think lots of people remember that story because they have empathy for the hitchhiker.  They think, "Isn't it tragic that the hitchhiker died before he could truly settle the matter?  Isn't it tragic that the hitchhiker will not be able to give his final message to the house resident face-to-face?"  Then they think, "I have lots of unresolved concerns going on right now.  What if I died before my dreams were fulfilled, before I could resolve the troubles in my life?  What if I die with similar unfinished business?"  That's a very unpleasant thought, and I think that is the real reason that the story's ending gives people goosebumps.

I think that the tale of the vanishing hitchhiker evokes a fear much greater than the fear of death.  It reminds people about regrets.  It reminds them of how so many living people, today, engage in regretful actions -- or regretful inaction -- and lots of them are going to die before things can be made right.  That is, those wrongs will never be righted.   A possibility such as that is what is truly frightening. This is the probable root of a common American expression.  When someone continues to be bothered by unpleasant memories, he can say, "I'm being haunted by the ghosts of my past."

That metaphor is given a lot of meaning in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.  As he is being literally(?) visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ebenezer Scrooge is pressured into facing all of the regrets of his past.  When talking with the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge faces his present insecurities, particularly his loneliness.  Finally, when stalked by the Ghost of Christmas Future, Scrooge contemplates the possibility that he will die before all of his present insecurities are reconciled -- that when he dies, it will be in a state as lonely as he has been in the present and the past.  The ghosts are a metaphor for (1) Scrooge's regrets and (2) Scrooge's fear that those issues will never be rectified.

I think the principles I have explicated even apply to ghost stories involving ghosts that re-enact their own murder.  When those tales evoke fear, I don't think the fear mainly comes from the realization that the victims have died, but mainly from the horror of contemplating the fact that real, living people are capable of performing an act as monstrous as murdering other human beings.  That's why people will find a ghost story scary if dead children in an orphanage, mental hospital, or school reenact physical or psychological abuse they have endured.  Even though the re-enactment doesn't involve the characters' death, it evokes fear and revulsion because it reminds us that people can inflict forms of cruelty that don't even result in anyone dying.  That, too, is regretful.

And as the vanishing hitchhiker story exemplifies, the ghost story doesn't have to involve human evil in order to be disturbing.  The common thread in these stories is that, back when the ghost was alive, people made highly regretful choices and they were never corrected -- nor will they be.  Very few of these stories end with the living eyewitness finding a way to finish the ghost's unfinished business.

I have been thinking long and hard about this symbolism, because I know someone who spent time in Hawaii with me -- and returned to Norway -- who has suffered with suicidal tendencies and self-mutilation for years, and could be very happy, but, to my knowledge, has refused to return to psychiatric care.  In one of her more lucid moments, my friend warned me that in social relationships she repeats the same dysfunctional pattern -- first it starts well, but she does something to sabotage it later on.  Just as it would be with a ghost, my attempt at conversing about the matter in a straightforward way are frustrated; but, like a ghost, my friend lets out indirect cries for help.  Many people assume my friend is confident and business-savvy.  But, conspicuously, my friend insisted on looking like a ghost, wearing black almost every day and trying to be very pale.  She even went as far as uploading -- in the absence of providing any context behind it -- pictures onto the Web where she was very realistically photoshopped to look like a dead body, complete with pallid gray skin. Later she finally stopped uploading the corpse pictures but that hasn't stopped the public morbid gestures entirely -- she legally changed her name to match the last name of someone she and another relative have cryptically hinted was a source of abuse.   My worries about the matter have led me to be very openly agitated and jumpy, just as I would be if a supernatural entity were visiting me.  As there is with every ghost story, there are elements of regret:  I regret that my attempts to help my friend are stifled, and that my friend's inner torment -- like any specter's -- goes on and on and on. You can say that I'm very much haunted by this.  And until I find a way to stop worrying about it, this remains a demon yet to be exorcised.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why You Can't Debate Someone Out of a Belief She Is Proud of Believing: Identity Protective Cognition

Stuart K. Hayashi

Screen shot from the video "Consuming Hypocrisy"by Rhys Southan and Eliza Wren.

You may recall that earlier I said something about this. If you and Mr. X argue over a controversy, and Mr. X's identity and self-image are not connected to his having a particular conclusion about that controversy, he can change his mind in the face of new evidence. But if Mr. X's identity and self-image are wrapped up in having a particular conclusion about that controversy, despite the evidence contradicting that conclusion, you will have a difficult time changing Mr. X's mind. This is especially the case if Mr. X's belief is tied to some group wherein he holds some affiliation; maintaining the belief signifies loyalty to that group. I learned from Adam Conover's Election Special on TruTV that there is a name for this phenomenon: Identity Protective Cognition.

Paul Slovic and a team of psychologists did the following experiment. For the control, people were quizzed on a particular math problem, and they got the correct answer. For the experiment, all the people have particular strong stands on the issue of gun control. They were presented with the same math problem, except they were told that this related to the issue of gun safety. This time, the people experimented on did not get the correct answer, as the answer contradicted the positions they had taken on this controversial issue.

This is a big reason for the futility of "flame wars" over Facebook. Imagine I am a Young Earth Creationist and my parents taught me to be such (no, in reality I am not that). If you and I get into an argument about this, you may think that you are simply correcting me on a simple issue of fact. But, for me, it is deeper than that; I pride myself on being a Young Earth Creationist; it is part of my identity. Therefore, if you tell me that I am correct on everything in my life except this one area, I will still interpret that as your telling me my whole life is a lie. Worse, you're telling me that my parents fed me lies since I was a baby.

When people get out of lifelong beliefs such as Young Earth Creationism, it is almost never because someone argued them out of it. What happened was that something happened in their experiences that gave them some impetus to question their long-held beliefs. Then, in the privacy of their own time alone, they decided to look into other viewpoints, such as reading atheist blogs. The hard sell is no way to get around Identity Protective Cognition.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Why You Have a Natural Right to Immigrate: The Right to Immigrate As the Implementation of the Right to Live

Stuart K. Hayashi

Screen shot from the motion picture "Born in East L.A.," prod. Peter Macgregor-Scott, dir. Cheech Marin, (Universal Pictures, 1987).

In the comments section of a website I often frequent, I was struck by this comment, as it demonstrates so much of what so many "immigration skeptics" either do not understand or wish not to understand:

I really don’t see what facts of reality give rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border. That’s about as correct as thinking he has a right to a roof over his head. I hate to start from an abstraction here, but to short cut, I think we all agree at least that a man has a natural right to his life. That is not a right to my life or to any of those that make up my group, America.

The presumption in that statement is that your peaceable immigration imposes a burden on other people, comparable to demanding that other people provide you shelter at their own expense. It implies that your ability to immigrate to the United States must be incumbent upon everyone else -- or, more accurately, the State -- granting you permission. Mark Steyn states this more explicitly, "...immigration has to benefit the people who are already here. ...there are too many unskilled Mexican peasants flooding into a country with ever diminishing social mobility and no hope of economic improvement..." (emphasis Steyn's).

No, there is but one constraint that can rightfully be placed upon the implementation of your plan to immigrate: you must do it peaceably. Were someone to immigrate to the United States for the conscious purpose of commencing a planned terrorist attack, of course that person has no right to immigrate. This is because the sole condition that a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State can morally place on any action is that the action must be peaceful, not initiating the use of force upon anyone else.

Presuming That Immigrants Are Crooks Justifies Restricting Immigration? A Presumption of Guilt Is Not Enough
Many people try to stereotype immigrants as rapists or terrorists, and say that this presumption of guilt would justify the United States banning immigration from countries with which the USA has not so much as declared war.  In actuality, the legal presumption of innocence that all U.S. citizens deserve does rightfully apply to non-citizens from nations at which the U.S. is not at war. Note that the United States Constitution properly recognizes that if someone suspects a would-be immigrant of desiring to commit a crime, that the would-be immigrant deserves the same legal presumption of innocence as a native-born citizen.  The Fifth Amendment states,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger;...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use... [emphasis added].

Observe the second word. The Bill of Rights does not say "No citizen shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime...nor deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process..." It says no person. That includes non-citizens: human "aliens." We know that the U.S. Founding Fathers interpreted the Fifth Amendment as applying to non-citizen, non-slave foreigners, and not merely U.S. citizens, because Thomas Jefferson himself stated this.  The Alien Friends Act of 1798 was supposed to give the U.S. President sweeping powers to deport allegedly dangerous foreigners residing in the USA. Thomas Jefferson opposed that, saying:

The imprisonment of a person under the protection of the laws of this commonwealth, on his failure to obey the simple order of the President to depart out of the United States, as is undertaken by said act intituled [entitled] "An Act concerning aliens" is contrary to the Constitution, one amendment to which has provided that "no person shalt be deprived of liberty without due process of law," and that another having provided that "in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense," the same act, undertaking to authorize the President to remove a person out of the United States, who is under the protection of the law, on his own suspicion, without accusation, without jury, without public trial, without confrontation of the witnesses against him, without heating witnesses in his favor, without defense, without counsel, is contrary to the provision also of the Constitution, is therefore not law, but utterly void, and of no force.

James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, explains that himself:
If aliens had no rights under the Constitution, they might not only be banished, but even capitally punished, without a jury or the other incidents to a fair trial. But so far has a contrary principle been carried, in every part of the United States, that except on charges of treason, an alien has, besides all the common privileges, the special one of being tried by a jury, of which one-half may be also aliens. ... Alien friends [meaning foreigners from nations that the USA has not declared war against] except in the single case of public ministers, are under the municipal law, and must be tried and punished according to that law only.

That is, if the United States has not formally declared war against a country, the U.S. government must treat those born of that country with the same legal presumption of innocence as it does its own citizens. That Immigration and Customs Enforcement incessantly tosses people into detention centers, absent of carefully obtained warrants, is not consistent with the Bill of Rights.

Freedom Means That, Legally, You Need No One Else's Permission to Do What Is Peaceful
Yes, you do have a right to cross over the parts of a national border that are not private property. In a free society, freedom of action is the default. The default is: non-involvement on the part of the State. If someone wants to use State violence to restrict your freedom, the onus is upon that person to justify the exercise of State violence upon you. If the migrant is intruding upon your private plot and trying to be a squatter on your private property, that is a trespass against you, and you would have the moral right to call the police and ask the police to dispense force to protect you. But if the migrant crosses into my private plot and I consent to that, it is not incumbent upon me or the migrant to beg for the permission of people outside of my private plot that the migrant be allowed by third parties to lodge on my private plot.

Here is the fallacy in how the first quotation conflates my right to immigrate with a demand on my part that the State compel you to provide me shelter and other forms of wealth. If I said I have a right to a roof over my head at your expense, that would be initiating the use of force to compel action on your part. If I cross the national border and find refuge on the private plot of someone who consents to me being on the private plot, that does not violently compel any action on your part. It actually happens without your help.

What About When People Cross Over Private Plots That Are Along the Border?
There are private plots along parts of the U.S.-Mexican border, though, and sometimes impoverished people from south of the border do have to resort to a quick crossing over the landholders' private plots in the absence of the landholders' permission. Some landholders consider this intolerable and demand federal action to stop it. In most cases I would side with the landholders. However, there are important considerations in these cases that merit attention.

First is the "coming to the nuisance" doctrine. That is the legal doctrine stating that if a "public nuisance" already existed in a particular location, and then you choose to move yourself to that location, you implicitly consent to the nuisance and thereby rightfully forfeit the legal authority to take action against that. Suppose there is a factory emitting soot; it has been there for fifty years. Then, last year, I chose to move next to that factory, failing to anticipate how much the air pollution would bother me. I would be forfeiting the authority to sue the factory's owner, as I was the one who "came to the nuisance"; the factory's actions have been grandfathered in. In the case of private homes on the U.S.-Mexican border, those border crossings have already been numerous since 1965; this has already been recognized throughout the 1980s. were it the case that I moved to one of those plots in the year 2004 and only then started to notice the border crossing, I would be coming to the nuisance, and it would be silly for me to demand State action only now.

Second, there are cases of emergencies where the law should take the emergency into consideration and grant leniency where it would otherwise judge that someone violated private property rights. Suppose that you were on the continental United States in winter in the wilderness and, through a rare error in judgment, you found yourself caught in a snowstorm. However, you find a secluded cabin and recognize that the one way for you to survive the night is to enter the cabin. You find that no one is in it. If you break into the cabin and stay there for the night, that would normally be recognized as violating private property rights. However, if this is an unusual occurrence for you and the cabin's owner, the law should take into consideration both that rarity and the urgency of the situation.

Ordinances and statutes are not deontological categorical imperatives that the State is duty-bound to enforce for their own sake.  Ordinances and statutes must exist and be enforced only for the greater end that is maximizing each person's ability to live freely in the long term. For you to demand that other people always provide you food, shelter, education, and health care over the course of years is an entirely different matter -- that is not a sudden emergency situation. For people in Third World kleptocracies, the choice is either to immigrate to a freer country or die. In the cases of impoverished people in Ecuador and Syria, they are in an emergency situation. I don't find it proper for any government to demand that people give them long-term housing and social services. But considering that their choice is to migrate or die, their decision to cross borders -- sans any government's approval -- is reasonable. Also reasonable is that they have resorted to using fake Social Security numbers to find employment (this is also why they put money into the Social Security system but are unable to collect from it).

To the degree that impoverished, desperate people -- people who would otherwise die early if not for the migration -- are resorting to trampling over private land to reach the United States and resorting to using fake Social Security numbers, the long-term solution is to make it easier for such people to enter the USA legally so that they can do so over no one's private land and can find employment without providing any Social Security number. That would involve removing the cap on the number of visas issued annually or, better yet, abolishing the visa system altogether.

And much of the U.S.-Mexican border is not private property.

The Right to Migrate Is the Right to Live
Hence, the first commenter contradicts herself with these two statements: (1) "I really don’t see what facts of reality give rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border" and (2) "a man has a right to his own life."

A man's right to his own life is the very fact of reality that gives rise to the idea that one has a natural right to cross a foreign border.

 That is, the right to immigrate peacefully is a logical corollary to the right to live peacefully. Peaceful immigration is a noble enterprise, and to deny free immigration is to deny free enterprise.

Recall that in an earlier post, I asked you to imagine the following: that you are a slave in the early 1800s but have a relatively benign master. For the most part, the master lets you do what you want: the master lets you open your own business on the side and you can keep most of your own money. The master allows you to read and write. The master allows you to speak your mind and argue back at him without violent reprisal. The master lets you do what you want in ways similar to a permissive parent permitting adolescent children to do as they please.

 This would raise the question over whether your situation would be considered relative freedom, and the answer is no. You do what you want, but this is merely at the master's mercy. If the master undergoes a change of heart, or if legal control over you changes hands to another party, it may be the case that you won't have as much leeway in the future. Even if we assume that your master will outlive you and will not change in temperament, it is unjust that what you do, you do merely at the master's permission. A free man or woman is free to do what he or she wants peaceably in the absence of anyone's permission -- that is what it means to have a right to one's own life.

To live is to take peaceable action. That is, in order to live, you must take peaceable actions -- you must find a means of obtaining food, either as gifts from willing givers, or growing your own food, or exchanging your services for such food. You must make choices on whether you will marry and, if you enter a marriage, with whom it will be. You must make choices on whether to have children and, if you do have children, you must make choices on how to rear them. And, if you were born in a country that is impoverished due to a kleptocratic government discouraging long-term entrepreneurship and investment, you must make a choice on whether to remain in this danger or to immigrate to a freer place such as the United States. Insofar as your legal ability to perform these actions actually hinges on permission from the State, you are not free to perform these actions. Nay, you are free to perform these peaceable actions insofar as other people are unable to request that the State veto these actions of yours.

When you immigrate, that is no less of an action that you take to live than is your choice to start a business or to write a poem or to marry. The right to start a peaceful business -- even without anyone else's permission -- is an implementation of the right to live. The right to express oneself freely -- even without anyone else's permission -- is an implementation of the right to live. The right to immigrate -- even without anyone else's permission -- is an implementation of the right to live. And to deny my right to peaceful immigration is to deny my right to live.

For the benefit of someone like the first commenter, that cannot be stated often enough. To have freedom does not mean that, as a consequence of other people continually approving your requests, you are largely able to go through life doing what you want. To have freedom means that your legal authority to perform any peaceable action required no one else's permission in the first place.

What this means is that if I want an immigrant to stay on my land, and that immigrant travels from his own country to my plot of land, the immigrant has a moral right to do this -- regardless of what the federal laws are concerning visas -- no matter how much that first commenter disapproves and wishes the State would quash this action. That is really not any of the first commenter's business.

As Ayn Rand wrote in her Textbook of Americanism, "If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society -- you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not.  Only a slave acts on permission" alone.  That applies to peaceable movement across borders.  If I peaceably invite a Mexican to lodge on my own piece of real estate, and other people proclaim that they should have the authority to call upon government force to rescind my invitation if they deem appropriate, then those other people do not respect anyone's right to take actions to sustain one's own life -- they do not respect the Mexican's right to live, nor my own -- even if they ultimately grant their precious permission to the Mexican and me to follow through with our arrangement.  To respect anyone's right to live peaceably means acknowledging that one should have no authority at all to call upon the State to overrule, veto, or suspend any party's peaceful action, of which migration qualifies.

For those who have not yet read Ayn Rand's We the Living, I caution that I will provide a spoiler in italics:

when Kira Argounova decided that she would attempt to cross a national border illegally, she implicitly and properly recognized that the justness of that action required no one else's approval. She sought no one else's permission; the idea did not so much as enter her mind. Nor should it have.  Her survival and freedom are what mattered. That was a direct consequence of Kira Argounova cherishing her right to her own peaceable life as paramount.

Equally unjust is Mark Steyn's presumption that a person's right to immigrate to another country -- that is, a person's right to live -- must hinge on whether the people in that country believe that this will be of benefit to them. If I want an immigrant on my land, and that immigrant agrees to lodge on my land, that immigrant is living justly even if it is widely believed that the immigrant is benefiting no one but himself.

Poor people migrate to freer countries because they are trying to avoid an early death -- that is, they migrate to freer countries to live. To say that they have no natural right to do this peaceably -- that their ability to migrate must be at your mercy -- is to deny them their right to their lives.

On Monday, January 30, 2017, I added the quotation from Ayn Rand's Textbook of Americanism and the rest of the paragraph in which I quote that.  On this date, I also added the infographic about how the land of the United States is not all a socialist commons, but instead consists of many plots adjacent to one another, many of which are private parcels owned by separate private parties that can decide for themselves whether they will lodge the foreign-born or not.  I actually made that infographic on August 26, 2015.  The original draft already quoted Mark Steyn, but, on February 12, 2017, I added the part of the quotation about "Mexican peasants."  Also on February 12, 2017, I added the quotation from James Madison about the legal presumption of innocence applying to resident aliens just as well as to U.S. citizens.  On March 9, 2017, I added the quotation from Thomas Jefferson citing and explaining the Fifth Amendment.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Memoir of Being an Extra Appearing in the 2014 American Godzilla Movie

Stuart K. Hayashi

This is adapted from an e-mail I wrote in late 2013.


While it was by no means a panacea for problems in my life, a childhood dream came true for me on Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11, 2013. :'-D

Ever since I was a little boy, I appreciated a particular movie franchise, one starring a character who is similar to a dragon and yet is not explicitly called a dragon; he is more often compared to a dinosaur. We knew that back in 1998, TriStar claimed to come out with a big-budget American adaptation of the character with its own movie, only for us to find that the beastie in the TriStar offering looked and behaved nothing like the dragonesque character at all. Then in 2010 they announced that they would again do another big-budget American adaptation. Upon seeing an interview with the new director, Gareth Edwards, I felt more optimistic. He said everything correct -- that TriStar's 1998 adaptation failed because it wasn't true to the character and, far worse, it disrespected longtime fans. Edwards said that his version would actually look and behave like the character I had grown up loving. [In retrospect, this movie was, in one important respect, the opposite of Godzilla Resurgence. The monster in Godzilla Resurgence looked passably enough like Godzilla but did not behave like Godzilla. By contrast, the monster in the 2014 American Godzilla movie did not really look like Godzilla, but it did behave enough like Godzilla.]

Captain Nobody
The Saturday, June 1, 2013 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that there was an open casting call for a movie. The movie company didn't want the actual identity of the movie to be widely known; its employees referred to it in public as Nautilus. In Honolulu, the company even worked through a shell corporation called Captain Nemo Productions. Evidently the movie company wanted to fool people into believing that they were doing a remake of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. However, Hawaii's news media were not fooled; the newspaper very explicitly said it was probably Godzilla.

This announcement was made on very short notice -- the day before the casting call went out. Still, I decided that if I refrained from standing in line for the casting call, I would come to regret that decision in my old age. I therefore decided to be a part of it. The casting call was supposed to go on from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but it ended up being extended later into the afternoon.

The lines were literally around the block, winding around corners of buildings and into at least three different parking lots. Ahead of me in line was a very talkative old man who introduced himself as Mike Crozier, saying he was a State Senator in Hawaii until 1992. I didn't recognize his name; his political career was l-o-n-g before my time.

I got really sunburned. Fortunately I only had to stand in line for four hours in order to fill out two forms for five minutes. I really did get dangerously burned by radiation -- unintentional method acting on my part.

The mural is of a dissected shark, for some reason. o.O
This is less than a third of the line.

In the first week of July, I received a phone call from Katie Doyle Casting informing me that of the 2,000 people who had filled out forms at the open casting call, I was among the 200 selected to be an extra for the movie. That's 1 out of 10. I couldn't believe my luck. :'-)

They shot the scenes in Waikiki at Duke Kahanamoku Beach on Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11.

Day One

Me on the morning of July 10, 2013, before getting the destination. I hold up the instructions that Katie Doyle's company gave me. In Microsoft Paint I blacked out some sensitive bits of information.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 6:00 a.m. -- Getting ready to remove my backpack and get on the bus that would take me to the set. Little did I know what awaited me there.

I was told that in the movie, a monster swims to Honolulu and wreaks devastation. At the time, I was not informed of the identity of any of the monsters in the picture -- I had not heard the name “MUTO.” At Duke Kahanamoku Beach, the crew built a whole set of building rubble, complete with wreckage of a helicopter. #REKT

A screen shot of the finished motion picture, with my captions added.

I was cast as one of the Honolulu residents wounded in the devastation. The props department put bandages on me and the makeup department drew wounds and gashes on my face and arms. They also threw dirt and ash in my beautiful hair.

I remembered how horribly sunburned I was waiting in line for the casting call. This time I came prepared and had sunscreen all over my face, neck, and arms. But I didn't anticipate that the wardrobe department would insist I change out of my clothes -- a T-shirt and jeans -- and into the beige button-down shirt and baggy shorts they wanted me to wear. Hawaiian people don't dress like that, but the movie people wanted everyone there to wear the sort of clothes that mainland Americans inaccurately expect Hawaiians to wear. Anyhow, I had neglected to put sunscreen on my legs, and they became terribly sunburned anyway.

"It Was Meant to Be"
Since the scene is of a disaster area, there are police officers, soldiers, and FEMA employees all over the place. The movie studio cast real-life police officers, National Guardsmen, and soldiers as extras, though they didn't wear their real uniforms. I came across a really talkative, incessantly jokey, stocky policeman there who introduced himself as "Tony." I said to him, "But your uniform says 'K. Thomas' on it." He said, "We're real police officers, but we're not allowed to use our real uniforms for the movie; these are from the wardrobe department."

Tony was an African-American but he spoke with a really thick pidgin Hawaiian dialect. In our first scene, the assistant director told Tony and this other officer, a middle-aged white officer (I don't know his real name, but the fake uniform said "D. Dornan" on it) to escort me, as an injured person, to the FEMA tent.

The movie crew actually put up these little railroad tracks in the middle of the pavement, and then they put this platform onto the railroad tracks. On the platform went this large crane, with the camera at the end of it. That's how the camera moved forward and backward.
When the white officer and Tony were making other small talk, the white officer said, "When did the last Godzilla movie come out?"

I said to him, "Do you mean the most recent Godzilla movie, or do you mean the horrible 1998 version TriStar made?"

The white officer said, "The American one."

I replied, "That was in 1998. But the most recent Godzilla movie from Japan was made in 2004."

Then Tony said, "Ho! You one Godzilla aficionado?"

I smiled and said, "Yes. Ever since I was a little boy, I appreciated Godzilla. When I learned that they were shooting the new movie here, I stood in line for three hours. By luck, I was chosen to be an extra. And now I'm here."

Tony said, "Ho! This is destiny! It was meant to be. Time for your loyalty to Godzilla to be rewarded. I'm going to help make sure that you get into the camera's view when they're filming." He said that teasingly, but as the day went on, he actually did scheme for us to be in the camera's view. We did multiple takes of the same scene. And, before any of the takes were even recorded, we did rehearsed takes, complete with the camera moving into the same position that it would be in during actual filming. Tony kept timing it so that we would be in the correct position as the camera passed by -- where we would be right behind the main actor as the camera focused in on him.

The assistant directors weren't completely consistent about continuity. At first they stressed that when they edited the different takes together, they wanted accurate continuity. Therefore, after we shot the first sequence, we had to remember where we stood when the director said "cut." Then, we they began filming the second sequence, we had to start in the exact place where we were when the first sequence finished filming. At least, that's what the assistant directors claimed they wanted. But eventually one assistant pointed to a place 70 feet from us and said, "There is too much empty space over there; not enough is going on. Therefore we want you guys to be in the background in those scenes, too." The assistants therefore moved us. When you watch the finished movie and spot me, you find out I’m all over the place, as if I have teleported every which way around the movie’s lead human actor, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. That’s because the assistants expected that no one would notice that the people in the background immediately appear and disappear from one place to another in microseconds.

The two cops and I are east of Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Tony and I got behind Aaron Taylor-Johnson as he talks to the soldier (we are still east of him). How did we get there so fast?

Tony and I are west of Aaron Taylor-Johnson all of a sudden! This is at the 1:00:05 mark of the motion picture on the DVD.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Back on June 1, I read the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's list of the people cast to star in the movie. Of the names, I recognized only Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston (to me, he will always be Dr. Tim Whatley from Seinfeld as well as the voices of monsters from the first 1993 season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). Also cast was the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen . Of all the stars there, though, only one appeared at our shooting -- some young British actor named Aaron Johnson. I did not recognize his name.

One of the extras pointed out, "That's the main actor. He was that guy in that movie." I didn't recognize that actor. Then the extra said, "He was the star of that movie . . .Kick-Ass."

Then it hit me. Oh, my God(zilla). Kick-Ass was the only movie and I ever went to see with someone whom I care about, but who has scared me through make various morbid gestures (suicidal, self-harming, and body dysmorphic) in a very public fashion. It was her kind of movie -- really bloody, unpleasant, and cynical. We watched Aaron Johnson on the big screen. And, at this moment, Aaron Johnson was, in the flesh, just a few feet from me. Not even when I'm in this movie can I escape from something that brings up memories of that person I care and worry about.

It was a really hot day, and the movie people had Aaron Johnson wear a really hot leather jacket. As soon as the camera stopped rolling, Aaron Johnson would remove the jacket. Underneath that he was also wearing a hot, bulky sweatshirt. What's the deal? In his scene, he was carrying a little Japanese boy in a red T-shirt. He takes the boy to a FEMA tent and says, "This boy been separated from his parents." Then a Japanese couple, playing the boy's parents, walk by. The mother screams in relief, "Akio!" and the boy jumps into her arms.

It was important that the other extras and I didn't begin moving when the assistant director Alex Rayner (who, at the time, I mistook for the main director Gareth Edwards) said "Action." First he said, "Action!" Then main director Gareth Edwards (whom I thought was assistant director Alex Rayner) yelled, "Sound!" The sound crew yelled, "Rolling!" in near-unison. Then the assistant director would say, "Background." Background refers to us extras in the background. That's when we extras would begin moving and doing what the assistants told us to do. When the shooting stopped, the director did say "Cut." Then he would say "Reset," which means we had to return to the spot we were last in before the last time the assistant director said "Background."

At the end of the first day of shooting, we were all done, but a woman from Katie Doyle’s company (I don’t know if it was Katie Doyle herself) said, "Nobody is leaving yet. I don't know what the reasoning is, but I have clear instructions that none of you can be paid unless you leave after sundown." This guy sarcastically shouted out, "Yayyyyyyyyyy!!" and then he sarcastically applauded. That was infectious, because then about forty extras sarcastically applauded with him.

In the evening, we left the set and the bus took me back to the location where the extras first gathered together.
Here, you can see the movie makeup. In the morning, I only looked beat-up. By the evening I FELT that way.

Day Two
On the second day of shooting, they did the continuation of that scene. Three waves of soldiers walk in formation. Aaron Johnson goes up to the man in front of the first wave and says something like, "I'm in the Navy. I need to get back to the mainland." The soldier in front says something to the effect of, "You're in luck, because that's where we're going. We're all monster-hunters now."

On the first take, Tony maneuvered me right behind Aaron Johnson as he was talking. You know the sound guy who holds that big pole with a microphone at the end, and the microphone has this weird fluffy covering on it? The back end of the pole almost hit me in the face. Then I would have had real bruises there to match the fake ones.

I said to Tony, "Why do they put that fluffy thing on the microphone?" Tony replied, "That's because when the wind hits the microphone directly, the impact makes that staticky feedback noise. When they put that fuzzy thing over it, the fuzzy thing absorbs the impact of the wind and the noise isn't made." Later he went directly to the sound guy to ask him about it, and the sound guy confirmed that that was correct.

Then many crew members began telling me that I had them worried because my eyes were so bloodshot. People have often told me my eyes are red and watery. Hence I initially didn't think it was a big deal. But then the crew actually brought in their on-call medic -- not one of the many extras playing medics -- to look at my eyes. That got me worried. I took out my contact lenses but my eyes didn't get less red.

Stand-In Boy Meets the Big G
The Japanese boy -- Jake -- had two stand-ins, both also in the same red T-shirts. I thought they were triplets, but they weren't related. Tony was talking to the parents of one of the stand-ins, and he pointed to me and said, "My boy Stuart right here is a Godzilla expert. I'm helping him get into as many shots for the movie as possible." The mother looked at me and said, "Our son still hasn't seen Godzilla yet."

I facetiously pantomimed a look of horror and exclaimed, "Unacceptable!"

The mother said, "Which Godzilla movies do you recommend we show our son? I don't mean that horrible American one from 1998."

I said, "In Godzilla: Final Wars, they have the real Godzilla fight that fake American Godzilla, and the real Godzilla defeats him really easily. And a character says of the fake Fraudzilla from TriStar, 'I knew that tuna-eating monster was weak!' "

The mother said, "What was that movie?" She took out her iPhone and said, "Tell me the title of that movie." I told her Godzilla: Final Wars. That movie is very far from the best entry in the series, but I figured it was the one that little boys are most apt to like. The parents also took a photo of me with the boy with their iPhone.

"I Consider All of You Here My Family!"
It turns out that Aaron Johnson had been filming the movie for 80 days; this was his 81st day. The director Gareth Edwards (who looked so young in person that I mistook him for the assistant director) got a microphone and said, "Everyone, this is a special day. For many of us, this is the end of filming." He said, "This is Victor's final day of shooting." Then he handed a microphone to Victor, who was dressed as military personnel, and said, "What was your favorite part of filming?" Victor said, "My favorite part was shooting up Godzilla!" Everyone laughed.

Then Gareth Edwards chuckled and said, "What are you talking about? The movie is called Nautilus."

Then Gareth said, "This is also Aaron Johnson's last day of filming," and he gave the microphone to Aaron Johnson. Speaking into the microphone, Aaron Johnson addressed all of us extras and said in that rather cloying way that actors talk, "This has been a great journey for me, and I consider all of you here my family."

Then Gareth went up to the little boy (the main one) and announced, "This is also Jake's last day of filming." He said to the boy, "What was your favorite part of making the movie?"

The boy said in a very breathy voice, "My favorite part was . . . was . . . " Then he said nothing. Everyone laughed about his cuteness.

Gareth said, "Okay, 'Cut.' 'Reset.' What was your favorite part?" Then again the boy said, "My favorite part was . . . was . . . " Nothing.

Gareth said, "That part with the train was good, wasn't it?" The boy said, "Yes!" and everyone laughed about his cuteness again.

All in all, it was quite an adventure.

And I don't want to do anything like it again any time soon. ^_^

The movie company's instructions forbade any picture-taking on the set or of the set. But I still wanted the moments captured. That's why you see these photos of me getting onto and off the bus.

My return from the second day of shooting. I was tired yet invigorated. My makeup wound was bloodier on the second day.

At the start of the shoot, I only looked beat up. By the end of it, I felt that way, too. The dragon-like creature has beaten up many worthy opponents in his time -- Mothra, Rodan, and King Kong. And now me. ^_^

When I watched the movie in the theater, I didn’t see myself, but John Paul Cassidy (who has an excellent contribution in August Ragone's excellent biography of Godzilla/Ultraman special effects director Eiju Tsuburaya) assured me that he saw me. I got the DVD for my birthday and, sure enough, I spotted myself.

September 24, 2014.

I have appeared in my favorite movie franchise -- in a motion picture that grossed half a billion dollars worldwide. One of my two great childhood dreams was finally accomplished. ^_^ Now I can move on to trying to accomplish the second childhood dream, which is a much easier feat: becoming a millionaire. ;-)


UPDATE from Saturday, January 21, 2016:  This is also a separate post here.

I drew this from January 13 to January 15, 2017.  You can also see it on Instagram here.

Godzilla is a registered trademark of Toho Co., Ltd.

The drawing on January 14, before it was finished:

Upon completion:

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Eugenicist Roots of Shouting That 'Our Side' Needs to Out-Breed 'Them'; Or, The Propaganda of 'Demographic Winter' and 'White Genocide'

Stuart K. Hayashi

Over the past few years I have grown increasingly concerned about a dangerous collectivist movement that has taken at least two forms in the West. The more moderate -- but still misguided -- wing of this movement has generally used the term demographic winter to describe what it has been fighting. The more militant and obviously dangerous wing of the movement has another name for the scourge that the movement purports to be combating: white genocide. The more militant wing is more openly eugenicist, while the more moderate wing seems to be peopled mostly by right-wing Catholics. Initially that seems strange because, since Sir Francis Galton coined eugenics in the late nineteenth century, Catholic writers have generally voiced opposition to the eugenics movement (actually, they were mostly only against "negative eugenics," as will be explained below). However, this blog post will explain what purportedly anti-eugenicist right-wing Catholics who shout "demographic winter!" have in common with the more explicitly eugenicist nationalists shrieking about "white genocide!"

Essentially, what both wings have in common is that they are fretting over high-IQ people in wealthy countries (translation: mostly white people) having too few children. When, in wealthy countries, you find that the average rich (white) couple has fewer than two children, it means that if the trend endures, the long-term result will be "depopulation" for these rich (white) people: their population will shrink. Both the Catholic "demographic winter" people and the more openly racist eugenicist "white genocide" people sound the alarm over the "depopulation" of this demographic, admonishing their fellow members of the (white) upper class to have more and more children.

The eugenicist "white genocide" people then provide another sinister component to this: whereas the right-wing Catholic "demographic winter" people usually avoid bringing up race explicitly and refrain from admonishing other demographic groups to stop having children, the eugenicists add that there is the additional problem of impoverished low-IQ (generally nonwhite) people having too many children in the West, and Western governments ought to implement state powers to halt that process.

In this blog post I will first explain how it was the original nineteenth-century eugenics movement that first cited biological science, in the modern era, to promote the idea that upper-class (white) people in wealthy countries are morally obligated to have more children. I will then explain how, despite Catholic writers long having a reputed (somewhat inaccurately reputed) antipathy to eugenics, right-wing Catholics in the West have, since the late twentieth century, revived some of the old eugenicist arguments for the ends of the Religious Right (which, supposedly, are not really compatible with eugenicist ends). Finally I will talk about, since the 1990s, nationalist eugenics movements have regained popularity and are pushing the "upper-class (white) people have a duty to breed" arguments once again. I think that the nationalist eugenicists' cause has been aided by the fact that right-wing Catholics -- purportedly the opponents of eugenics -- have revived this idea that was first given prestige in the late 1800s and early 1900s by the first generation of eugenicists.

For the first part, I will have to explain "miscegenation," the distinction between phenotype and genotype, and the distinction between "positive eugenics" and "negative eugenics."


One Need Not Be a White Supremacist to Be a Eugenicist, But Eugenics and White Supremacism Do Frequently Go Together
I should clarify that people can impose eugenicist government policies without being white supremacists. For example, many psychologists (not merely eugenicists) argue that particular mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, are genetically inheritable. Throughout the early 1900s, eugenicists argued that for the good of mankind, people carrying particular inheritable medical conditions, including a susceptibility to psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder and epilepsy and depression, should be forcibly sterilized by state governments. As governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson had his state government forcibly sterilize many white women on these eugenicist grounds. Eugenicists claimed that such policies were humanitarian in the long run, for the reason that future generations would be spared of the pain that these conditions inflict. If the Chinese government decided enacted a policy of compulsory sterilization on sufferers of bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and depression on the Chinese citizenry, such a policy would not be white supremacist but it would nonetheless be eugenicist.

Still, much of the eugenics movement from the late 1800s to the twentieth century has indeed been associated with white supremacism, and for intellectuals to associate, mentally, eugenics and white supremacism together is justified. As I have previously discussed, white supremacists proclaim that there are discrepancies in average IQ score between different ethnic groups (true), proclaim that race-related genetics accounts for somewhere between 40 percent and 80 percent of IQ (dubious), proclaim that an ethnic group's genetically induced average IQ causes that ethnic group to be generally economically productive or generally criminally violent (dubious), and therefore proclaim that one's race, on average, ultimately causes one to be economically productive or criminally violent (dubious). Thus, when someone starts talking about IQ and genetics and race, you are not unreasonable in preparing yourself to hear this talk followed by some racist recommendations about what government policies -- especially immigration policies -- should be.

In Practice, Racist Eugenicists Care More About Phenotype Than Genotype
Although racist eugenicists claim to be concerned about genetics, their discussions of the social ramifications of race mixing demonstrate such racist eugenicists are more concerned about phenotype than genotype. Genotype refers to the genes you carry -- genes that are not necessarily expressed. Phenotype refers to particular genes being expressed. I shall explain.

Some genes are dominant and some are recessive. The genes for dark skin are dominant. Therefore, if a blonde-haired, blue-eyed person has a child with someone of African descent, the resulting child will possess and transmit genes from both parents but will almost always be dark-skinned and have brown eyes. The distinction between genotype and phenotype can be explained with the example of white people who have brown eyes.

Suppose the letter B represents a gene for eye color that a white person receives from one parent. Upper-case B represents the gene for brown eyes. A lowercase b represents the gene for blue eyes. Suppose Mike received, from each parent, a gene for brown eyes. His genotype would be represented by the code BB. One B comes from Mike's mother and the other B comes from his father. Amanda received, from each parent, a gene for blue eyes. Her genotype would be associated by the code bb, one b coming from her mother and one b from her father. If Mike and Amanda have a child together, there is a zero-percent chance of the child having blue eyes, as the brown-eye B gene is dominant over the blue-eye b gene. However, their brown-eyed child will still carry the gene for blue eyes. The child, a girl named Laura, has the genotype Bb. Genotypically, Laura carries the gene for blue eyes. Phenotypically, all we see is that she has brown eyes; it is not obvious, simply from looking at her, that she carries the gene for blue eyes.

Now suppose that Laura has a child with a brown-eyed man named Wally. Wally is similar to Laura in that Wally, too, had one blue-eyed parent with the genotype bb and a brown-eyed parent with the genotype BB. Although neither Laura nor Wally is blue-eyed, as they both carry the blue-eye gene, there is a 25 percent chance of having a blue-eyed child. That blue-eyed child would have the genotype bb, one coming from Laura and the other coming from Wally. They have a 75 percent chance of having a brown-eyed child. If one B comes from Laura and another B comes from Wally, that child (we will call him Ray) will have the genotype BB and it will be impossible for Ray to have a blue-eyed child, despite both of his parents carrying the gene for blue eyes. It would be impossible for Ray to have a blue-eyed child even if he has blue-eyed siblings with the bb genotype. It is still possible for Laura and Ray to have a brown-eyed child who carries the blue-eye gene, though -- a fifty percent chance, with one B coming from one parent and one b coming from the other parent.

Suppose, though, that Laura divorces Wally and marries a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man named Craig. Craig has the genotype bb. In this case, when they have a child, there is half a chance the child will be blue-eyed (with a b from each parent) and half a chance the child will be brown-eyed (with the B necessarily coming from Laura). Whatever the child's eye color, there is a 100-percent chance of that child carrying the gene for blue eyes.

I bring this up because present-day white-supremacist eugenicists fear that even through completely nonviolent means, blonde-haired, blue-eyed people can go extinct. This would happen through what the late-nineteenth-century eugenicists called miscegenation. That refers to interracial sex resulting in mixed-race children. Imagine that, for some reason, every unattached person in Denmark who is blonde-haired and blue-eyed decided only to have children with a black partner with the genotype BB (and not a dark-skinned person who still had a blonde, blue-eyed parent, as that person would be phenotypically dark-skinned but still genotypically part-Caucasian). If every blonde-haired, blue-eyed person in Denmark chose, by his or her own volition, only to have children with African-descended people with the BB genotype, there would be nothing violent or coercive about it, but white-supremacist eugenicists would still lament this. They would call this the "extinction" of Aryan white people and they would even call it the "genocide" of white people. Of course, on the genotypic level, this would not be the extinction of blonde-haired, blue-eyed people, the dark-skinned mixed-race children that resulted from these interracial pairings would still carry the genes for blonde hair and blue eyes, even if those genes went unexpressed for generations.

Consider, for instance, that the gene for red hair first developed in Africa; there are still African tribes carrying the gene for red hair.  The gene for red hair is recessive, though, and thus it wasn't expressed until people settled in northern Europe and only lighter-skinned, lighter-eyed people survived and reproduced. Even if redheads are rare among blacks, it doesn't mean that the gene for red hair is extinct among African blacks; there are still African blacks today who carry that gene and will transmit it to future generations.

This is why I think that white-supremacist eugenicists are being misleading when they say they care about genetics; they actually care more about which genes you physiologically express, which is phenotypic, than the genes that you carry, which is genotypic. This point will be important in a section below.

Positive Eugenics Versus Negative Eugenics
I also have to explain the difference between "positive eugenics" and "negative eugenics." Positive eugenics refers to measures -- which can be either private or state-enacted -- by eugenicists to encourage the "right" sort of people, meaning people who are allegedly genetically superior, to have children and thereby bless future generations with these superior genes. Sir Francis Galton, who coined eugenics, recommended that once the people with the "superior" genes were identified, the State pay them tax money to reward them for having more children. This was to incentivize the "right" people to have more children and transmit their superior genes.

 An example of a private effort at positive eugenics was Robert Klark Graham's Repository for Germinal Choice. Graham -- who was not a geneticist but an optometrist who became a multimillionaire by inventing shatterproof eyeglasses -- started a sperm bank that he ran under specific conditions. At first, he said only Nobel Prize winners could donate sperm. The women who received the sperm would have to score well on IQ tests. Of course, this whole effort was premised on the idea that IQ is mostly tied to genetics. After a while, Graham noticed that women with high IQs still disliked the very idea of their children being sired by sperm from wrinkled old men, and they were reluctant to accept sperm from such wrinkled old men, Nobel Prize or not. Graham ended up having to lower the bar, saying that any man with a high IQ could donate sperm to the repository.

The term eugenics more often conjures up images of the brutal measures that characterize negative eugenics. Negative Eugenics refers to violent measures -- most often from the State -- to stop people who are supposedly genetically inferior from burdening future generations with their supposedly inferior genes. The most obvious method whereby eugenicists could stop supposedly inferior people from having children and grandchildren is to murder them, and that is exactly what the Nazis did. And,indeed, it was mostly because of the Nazis that the term eugenics became stigmatized and fell into disrepute. Prior to the Nazis, eugenicists tried other violent methods -- other forms of "Negative Eugenics" -- to discourage the "wrong" sort of people from siring children. One of those methods was the aforementioned state governments enacting compulsory sterilization. White-supremacist eugenicists also encouraged nonwhites to have abortions, and the Religious Right often says that Margaret Samger started Planned Parenthood because she was a white-supremacist eugenicist who wanted to cause blacks to go extinct by encouraging black mothers to abort. In order to have her ideas heard at all, Margaret Sanger did give very unfortunate lip service to eugenics and even to the Ku Klux Klan, which were still very powerful political movements in the 1920s. However, most of the Religious Right's accusations about Margaret Sanger being a white supremacist and eugenicist are misleading, as you can learn about here.

Restricting Immigration From Poor Countries As Negative Eugenics
Finally, germane to the present controversies is immigration control. Ancestors of eugenicists in Western Europe and the United States generally came from northern and western Europe and they were Protestant. Not only did the eugenicists of the late 1800s and early 1900s consider the Japanese and the Chinese and blacks to be racially inferior; they even thought that of Catholics and Jews from southern and eastern Europe, whom they thought of as a dark-skinned and inferior races. The dark-skinned "riffraff" depicted in this racist cartoon from the year 1900 are supposed to be southern and eastern Europeans.

Actual newspaper editorial cartoon from 1900; the man in the upper left-hand corner is President William McKinley, whom many eugenicists derided as being too friendly toward immigrants and insufficiently eugenicist.

The eugenicists of the early twentieth century correctly observed that whether or not these impoverished people could enter the United States was a matter of life and death for them. Once eugenicists such as Henry Goddard established the national origins quotas (which would be repealed in 1965 and replaced with the presently existing visa system), it was the case that if anyone entered the United States in the absence of the federal government's permission, armed force would be applied to this person (and that continues under the present system). Eugenicists recognized then, explicitly -- as many border-enforcement "hawks" continue to recognize implicitly -- that if government force successfully kept these poor people from poor countries from reaching a freer and wealthier nation, these people would most likely die in their countries of origin from starvation, civil war, or some other byproduct of the poverty and political repression that they had attempted to flee.

To the extent that the U.S. federal government succeeded in obstructing Lithuanians from their goal of entering the USA, those Lithuanians usually died in Lithuania at a much younger age than they would have had they been able to enter the USA.  Likewise, to the degree that federal agents presently succeed in obstructing South Americans in their efforts to enter the USA, those South Americans die at a much younger age than they would otherwise, and for reasons similar to the Lithuanians of a century back.

Today's "immigration skeptics" generally understand that but fear saying that out loud. By contrast, the eugenicists of 1916 were much more explicit. They thought that when poor would-be immigrants from poor countries died earlier as a result of being prevented entry into the USA, that was euthanizing racially inferior, dark-skinned people, and thankfully stopping them from polluting the USA's gene pool. These are the reasons why immigration restrictions count as a form of negative eugenics.

Even If You Do Not Advocate Negative Eugenics Through the State, You Can Still Be a Eugenicist
Many eugenicists were enthused over both positive eugenics and negative eugenics.  However, it was possible for someone to reject negative eugenics and merely be interested in positive eugenics.  The inventor Alexander Graham Bell considered the possibility that some cases of deafness were inheritable, and he thus developed an interest in studying eugenics.  The more he heard of negative eugenics, though, the more offended he became at the brutality of it, and he left the eugenics movement. Moreover, when Robert Klark Graham was running his sperm bank, his emphasis was on positive eugenics; it is entirely possible for someone tho run such a sperm bank without advocating that the State violate people's rights through negative eugenics.  Still, in hobnobbing with Garrett Hardin, who did recommend negative eugenics, Graham did seem to offer a tacit sanction to negative eugenics.

I bring this up because even if someone eschews advocacy of violence-imposed negative eugenics but still exhorts people with the supposedly supreme genes to procreate, that still counts as positive eugenics.  Yes: in effect, when you proclaim that the "right" sort of people are morally obligated to have children, that is indeed eugenics.

The present immigration visa system has been unable to stop all entrants from poor countries, though, and the eugenicist measures of the first half of the 1900s likewise failed to stop all dark-skinned entrants from the poor countries.  That was cause for worry for the eugenicists.  First, if Lithuanian couples entered the USA and had children withing the USA, then the population of pure-blood Eastern Europeans within the USA would grow, and then the Eastern European people might eventually outnumber the WASPs, whom the eugenicists considered more "native."  Worse, thought the eugenicists, some native-born WASPs might actually marry some dark-skinned immigrants and have children with them. As the eugenicists had already begun to understand how some genes are dominant and others are recessive, they had already feared miscegenation; they feared that if a rich WASP female had a child with a dark-skinned immigrant, the resulting children would be of a stock inferior than what would have resulted had the rich WASP female had instead married and had children with another native-born WASP.

"White Genocide" Is the New "Race Suicide"
The eugenicists feared that once the dark-skinned people entered the United States, the dark-skinned people would outbreed the WASPs, regardless of whether dark-skinned people married native-born WASPs or stuck to marrying other dark-skinned people. Upon sounding the alarm over this, eugenicists fretted over the supposed failures of native-born WASPs to counteract this trend.  First, as stated before, eugenicists abhorred the fact that some affluent native-born WASPs married and had children with these dark-skinned "alien" people.  Secondly, the eugenicists expressed disgust at how some native-born WASPs refrained from having any children at all.

The eugenicist sociologist Edward Alsworth "E. A." Ross referred to both phenomena as race suicide -- that is, the self-destruction of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. And even if it weren't for the dark-skinned "alien" population breeding like crazy, the fact that too many native-born WASPs decided to remain childless was a sin in and of itself; Ross believed it was a sort of self-imposed destruction of the WASP population.  This term race suicide is a precursor, from almost exactly a century ago, to the equally hysterical term the alt-right has adopted in recent years: white genocide.  Both phrases, starting with a one-syllable word and ending in a three syllable word containing the suffix -cide, refer to the supposed death of the white race -- a death which can occur through nonviolent means if whites either do not have children or if they do have children with dark-skinned people.

President Theodore Roosevelt agreed with E. A. Ross and thus adopted the phrase race suicide. As one means of enacting negative eugenics to prevent nonwhites from polluting the U.S. gene pool, he arranged what he called a "Gentlemen's Agreement" with Japan. He persuaded the Japanese government to enact its own laws to obstruct Japanese citizens from emigrating to the contiguous U.S. states.  (This did not apply to Japanese emigration to Hawaii, which was a U.S. territory at this point but not a state. That is how my Japanese ancestors were able to migrate to a place that eventually became a U.S.state while this measure was in effect.)  That Theodore Roosevelt was able to lean on the Japanese government itself to stop Japanese people from migrating to Japan, allowed Theodore Roosevelt to shift blame.  If anyone told him that it was cruel for Japanese people to be restricted by law from coming to the USA, Theodore Roosevelt could reply -- rather disingenuously -- that such cruelty was not his responsibility but all the fault of the Japanese government.

However, Theodore Roosevelt also had choice words for his fellow WASPs who either were having children with dark-skinned people or just plain not having children, as such people contributed to the white Anglo-Saxons' race suicide. On May 16, 1908, he exhorted to the white women of the Methodist Episcopal Church to do their duty and have children for the good of the white race: "...we must condemn the [wealthy white] woman who, from cowardice or coldness, from selfish love of ease or from lack of all true womanly quality, refuses to do aright her great and all-essential duties of wifehood and motherhood." On May 18, 1902, he wrote to Marie Van Horst: touch upon what is infinitely more important than any other question in this country -- that is, the question of race suicide, complete or partial. ...the [rich white] man or woman who deliberately avoids marriage, and has a heart so cold as to know no passion and a brain so shallow and selfish as to dislike having children, is in effect a criminal against the [white] race, and should be an object of contemptuous abhorrence by all healthy people.

This sort of thinking is the basis for the "demographic winter" scare being raised by right-wing Catholics such as Jennifer Roback Morse, despite Catholicism's reputed repudiation of eugenics. Something has to be said about that.

Right-Wing Catholics Are on the Opposite Side of Eugenicists Who Would Happily Demand That Nonwhites Be Aborted? 
Ever since the eugenics movement began in the late 1800s, such Catholic writers as G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc denounced the eugenics movement in general and negative eugenics legislation in particular.  It might therefore initially seem that right-wing Catholics who have criticized eugenicism have taken a classical-liberal laissez-faireist position on this issue.   To conclude that right-wing Catholics have voiced objection to eugenicism on some classical-liberal laissez-faireist basis, though, is to misunderstand the position of politically right-wing Catholics like Jennifer Roback Morse.

The right-wing Catholic position on such reproductive issues as abortion, contraception, and compulsory sterilization, is that the fetus's life belongs to God and not to the woman carrying the fetus. Therefore, goes this reasoning, when it comes to what a woman does with her uterus and other reproductive organs, the party that should decide what the woman does with her reproductive organs is not to be the woman herself but God.  As God will not speak directly to this woman, God's word on the matter is to be interpreted by Catholic church authorities; they speak for God, and they say that preservation of the fetus trumps the woman's authority over her own body.

Such right-wing Catholics therefore urge that the State forcibly punish any party that might assist the woman in terminating the fetus; allegedly, a woman desiring to terminate a fetus inside her must not be in a state of mind where she holds contractual capacity; the fact that she would want to terminate the fetus must mean she is not being competent, and therefore a party that would assist her in terminating the fetus must be preying upon someone who is not in a position to offer consent. Moreover, the right-wing Catholic position is usually that it is also proper for the State to enact measures to discourage contraception.

Thus, white-supremacist eugenicists and right-wing Catholics are not truly on opposite sides of this issue. Suppose a very poor, teenage Ecuadorian girl learns she is pregnant;she is still in the first trimester. Because she is very poor and young, she concludes that if she carried the fetus to term, she could not, in her present state, give the child all the care and amenities that a child deserves. She therefore seriously considers an abortion,  weighing the options.  At this point, the white-supremacist eugenicist will hope that the Ecuadorian girl chooses abortion. If the Ecuadorian girl has the baby and they move to the United States, believe the eugenicists, the Ecuardorians' inferior genes will cause her children to be criminally violent and economically unproductive, and they will impose an economic burden and criminal-justice burden on the USA's native non-white population.  If the State did something to encourage or compel the Ecuadorian girl to abort the fetus, the white-supremacist eugenicist would not be too sorry about that.

By contrast, the right-wing Catholic will immediately decide that, regardless of the Ecuadorian girl's circumstances, she is necessarily morally obligated to carry the fetus to term. That is God's will. And if the Ecuadorian girl considered going to a clinic for an abortion in this first trimester, the right-wing Catholics would wish that the State would prosecute the clinicians criminally for terminating the fetus, which they call a murder of a person.

Superficially, it may seem that the white-supremacist eugenicist and the right-wing Catholic are on opposite sides. The white-supremacist eugenicist would prefer the State to encourage the nonwhite girl to abort the fetus, whereas the right-wing Catholic would prefer that the State obstruct the nonwhite girl from aborting the fetus.  What the white-supremacist eugenicist and right-wing Catholic have in common is that they want their own will imposed on the girl through governmental means. Neither of these sides countenance that the decision is rightfully the Ecuadorian girl's alone.

When white-supremacist eugenicists advocate negative eugenics to discourage nonwhites from having children, the opposite route is not to call for the State to obstruct nonwhites from obtaining the abortions they seek. Those are both statist impositions. The real pro-freedom position is to let the woman decide whether she will or will not remove something from her own body.

At any rate, we see:

  1. The modern exhortation that rich (white) people in rich (white-majority) countries are duty-bound to have children -- supposedly for scientific reasons -- comes from the early twentieth-century eugenics movement.
  2. If someone makes this exhortation but refrains from recommending negative-eugenics measures openly, that does not preclude that person from basing the exhortation on eugenics.  The exhortation is still consistent with the goals of positive eugenics. 
  3. That Catholic writers have traditionally criticized eugenicists from the late 1800s does not preclude right-wing Catholics from making recommendations that align with the goals of white-supremacist eugenicists. That is what we see in the case of right-wing Catholics' propaganda documentaries about "demographic winter."

Moreover, while the word eugenics deservedly fell into disrepute after World War II, the ideas behind eugenics never completely went away, even though those ideas, too, were looked up with more suspicion.  Eugenics continued to be promoted by an American think tank called the Pioneer Fund.  Over the past forty years, important figures linked to the Pioneer Fund, who have promoted eugenics, have included the late J. Philippe Rushton (1943-2012, who served as the Pioneer Fund's president) and Richard Lynn, coauthor of IQ and the Wealth of Nations.


"The New Economic Reality:  Demographic Winter"
Right-wing Catholics have continued Theodore Roosevelt's crusade against "race suicide" by producing a two-part documentary titled The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter.  I think that many people involved in this project, such as Jennifer Roback Morse (a free-market libertarian turned apologist for the Religious Right's efforts to use the State to impose its own ideas about reproduction and the proper structure of the family) and traditionalist Kay Hymowitz, would say that this documentary and its goals are consistently anti-eugenicist. And I think if they said as much, they would sincerely believe that.

However, that would be because they are thinking only of negative eugenics; the documentary's message does not actually contradict positive eugenics.  Moreover, there is a section near the end of Part One of the documentary that  gives lip service to a favorite talking point of "immigration skeptics" -- a talking point very dear to the white-supremacists of the alt-right.  By giving lip service to this talking point, Part One of The New Economic Reality:  Demographic Winter actually does lend reinforcement to the case that today's white-supremacist eugenicists -- members of the alt-right -- are trying to make in their online propaganda.

The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter does not aim to try to discourage nonwhites from having children, and, in that respect, the right-wing Catholics behind this movie are distinct from both the original wave of eugenicists and today's alt-right eugenicists.  However, the point of the movie is indeed to exhort rich (white) people in rich (white-majority) countries to have more children, forgoing contraception and forever abstaining from any resort to abortion. That is not in conflict with positive eugenics.

Of course, the right-wing Catholics behind this documentary are well-aware that most people are under the false impression that we are in imminent danger of "overpopulation."  They recognize that if they argue that rich (white) people in rich (white-majority) countries have a duty to have children, that exhortation will immediately be met with the reply, "What are you talking about? That is exact opposite of what we should want, since we are being threatened by a crisis of overpopulation!" The first half of Part One of The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter goes over how environmentalists such as Paul R. Ehrlich (who was interviewed for this movie) created the overpopulation scare. The documentary then cites accurate information in refuting this trumped-up scare.  None of that is objectionable to a laissez-faire liberal.

However, Part One of The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter then must make its case about why rich (white) people in rich (white-majority) countries bear some duty to rear children. Therefore, it then begins to deliver very dubious utilitarian arguments about why there is a need for the present generation of child-bearing age (Generation Y/the Millennials) to consider itself duty-bound to have children.  The documentary correctly points out that as the baby-boomers and Generation X retire and try to collect Social Security and Medicare, the Social Security system is in danger of going bankrupt.  That is accurate, and this shows why Social Security and Medicare should be phased out gradually, with the younger generation being able to opt for private retirement accounts.

As The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter is Religious-Right propaganda and actually not sympathetic to laissez faire, the documentary does not countenance the privatization of Social Security and Medicare as an option. Instead, the documentary tries to convince the audience that the solution is for Millennials to have children for the purpose of "saving Social Security and Medicare."  Allegedly, if Millennials have lots of children and expect those children to be economically productive, that will create a lot of wealth that these young people will put into the Social Security system, thereby keeping it solvent for when members of Generation X retire.

At this point, the documentary decides to address what might be considered "alternative solutions" to the supposed problem --  "alternatives" to exhorting the younger generation to have more kids.

The documentary says that Western European countries are also recognizing that their welfare systems are soon to experience catastrophic budget shortfalls.  Then the documentary says that because the Heads of State of Western European countries are reluctant to ask their native populations to overcome the budget shortfalls by having more children, these Western European governments have attempted to offset the budget shortfalls by relaxing immigration rules.  The documentary alleges that Western European governments believe that if they relax immigration rules, resulting in more poor immigrants from poor countries coming into Western Europe, those poor immigrants will work very hard and put more wealth into government coffers, thereby saving the welfare state.

Anne Sward Hansen narrates the movie, "In summary, as populations begin to age, care of the elderly [through Social Security] will become increasingly difficult for younger generations. So an already difficult decline in human capital will be compounded for the next shrinking generation of workers. And as long as fertility rates remain below the replacement level [that is, a couple should have at least two children so that when both members of the couple die, there are still at least two new persons alive to replace them], this situation -- by definition -- becomes worse over time." Then she intones ominously, "There are still other unexpected consequences of fertility decline." One of the supposed negative unintended consequences is: immigration.

Lip Service to Anti-Immigration Talking Points
The movie cuts to University of Southern California demographer Dowell Myers saying, "When it is so low -- the number of babies being born -- that we don't have enough workers [putting money into governmental welfare coffers] that induces immigration to move into the country to bring new workers to fill the gaps left over by too few native children being born."

At that point, alt-right anti-immigration racists laugh derisively, as they insist that immigrants from poor countries are a net drain on government coffers.  The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter refrains from making that particular point, but it does make two points that are friendly to the views of alt-right anti-immigration racists.

First, The New Economic Reality:  Demographic Winter presumes that it is indeed proper for a government to use force to restrict peaceful immigration if it means protecting "native customs" from contamination by outsiders.  The documentary proclaims that if many Third-World immigrants coming into Germany results in Germany's residents peaceably discarding German traditions, that would be a travesty.  Ostensibly, that would be such a travesty that the documentary judges that preventing this tragedy is sufficient grounds for Germany to initiate the use of force by restricting peaceful immigration.This documentary receives no objection from the alt-right racists on that point.

The narrator Anne Sward Hansen intones,
What population growth there still is in Europe has partly been from people living longer but predominantly from immigration. . . . The result of massive immigration in Germany, as well as in virtually all rich countries, is that immigrant cultures are projected to become the majority by 2050. [So? --S.H.] Consider how the composition of society will change in the United States over time. By 2050, the vast majority of the United States population will be Hispanic. Already half of the City Council in Brusssels is comprised of recent immigrants or their children. [So? Incidentally, the movie cites Mark Steyn's book America Alone for this figure; we will get to him below. --S.H.] The immigrant population of cities like Rotterdam[, the Netherlands,] is 40 percent, and the most common boy's name in Amsterdam is Mohammed [of course, the audience is expected to interpret that news as bad necessarily]. Europe's native populations are actually disappearing at astonishing rates.

Then the movie cuts to Kay Hymowitz saying, "We are all immigrants here [in the United States]. That's very, very different in a place like Germany or France, where there is a 'German identity' and it's almost impossible for people there to think of somebody from Turkey, say, as being a German, because there is a German -- shall we say? -- a kind of 'German blood.' And the outsider simply is an outsider. They [sic] do not have the immigrant society that we have always had, and so they are trying to deal with a very, very new environment."

Then the movie goes to Yale University economist Larry Jacobs, who says, "So what's going to happen is you've got a Europe needing these workers. They're going to come in from Muslim countries, from Africa, from Asia, and you're going to end up with a situation -- a potentially explosive situation [meaning violence], if they're not assimilated into the culture. You'll see certain [native Western European] cultures disappear. It's entirely possible that, you know, the French -- if you use the projections -- the French will disappear. There will be no native-born Frenchmen that come from the traditional French population."

Let us translate what Kay Hymowitz and the movie are saying. It is the case that there are landholders and employers in France and Germany who consent to immigrants from Africa and Asia staying on their land. And there are people from Africa and Asia who choose voluntarily to emigrate to France and Germany. However, that might mean that there may come a day when the majority of people living in France and Germany might make choices that involve discarding what Kay Hymowitz and the films' makers judge to be beautiful native European traditions. That idea is so abhorrent that this means it is bad for rules on peaceable immigration rules to be relaxed. To the degree that people fall for that argument, it means that government force shall continue to be inflicted upon people who migrate peacefully. Moreover, Hymowitz rather creepily insists that rather than let people voluntarily move in or out of Germany by their own choosing, it is important that the majority of people on German soil be of "German blood"(!). Blood and soil.

Secondly, says the documentary, poor people from poor countries are just generally violent and prone to terrorism.  The documentary sounds the alarm that poor people from poor countries are now outnumbering the native-born (white) people in many Western European neighborhoods, and this will result in more criminal violence and terrorism being imposed on (native-born white) Western Europeans. Sound familiar? It should, because that was a favorite argument of the late nineteenth-century's white-supremacist eugenicists and it is presently a favorite argument of alt-right anti-immigration racists.

Immigration is disparaged both by people who fret about "overpopulation," such as John Tanton and Garrett Hardin, and by people fretting about "depopulation." Tough break!

If The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter ended right there, alt-right racists could praise the propaganda movie without reservation, but then the movie begins to make points that do not sit well with the alt-right racists.  The movie claims that even poor nonwhite countries are experiencing "depopulation."

Where This Propaganda Documentary Doesn't Agree With Most Anti-Immigrationists
Anne Sward Hansen narrates, "There is actually a far bigger problem than immigration [note that the film's makers assume that the audience agrees that immigration is a 'problem' at all --S.H.]. Consider that [poor] developing countries -- the main source of immigration -- are themselves experiencing fertility decline." The movie then cuts to one of the experts interviewed, Philip Longman, saying, "Mexico has experienced an incredible birth dearth. The decline in fertility in Mexico is without precedent in world history. . . . Americans have this vision that there will always be Mexicans trying to come across the border, and that we need some huge wall to keep them out. Well, be careful what you wish for, because, not only in Mexico but throughout Latin America, we're seeing dramatic declines in fertility."

Then the movie cuts to demographer Dowell Myers providing figures on this. Myers even goes as far as to complain that a result of the decline in fertility in Mexico means that it has fewer "potential immigrants to send [sic; immigrants send themselves] to the U.S. We have been dependent on Mexican workers but we might not get those workers in a decade."

In a point that will surely rankle Mark Steyn (more about him below), the narration by Anne Sward Hansen says disapprovingly, "Some are very surprised to learn even Middle Eastern populations -- the other major source of European immigration -- are experiencing fertility decline."

That definitely conflicts with what anti-immigrationists love to say about nonwhites from poor countries. As Stefan Molyneux likes to say of nonwhites in poor countries as he waves his head around in circles, "They just have kids and have kids and have kids and have kids and have kids and have kids. . . . They breed like crazy."

Alt-right anti-immigrationists would be befuddled as to how Dowell Myers or anyone else could say that fewer immigrants from Mexico coming into the USA would be unfortunate.  The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter then goes on to say that even if we assume that all immigrants from poor countries are completely peaceful and engaged in no crime or terrorism, there would still not be enough of them to make up for the budget shortfalls and save the Western European welfare state.  The documentary therefore proclaims that there is no way for the  welfare state to be saved except for Millennials to commit to having lots of children -- if each couple shot for having more than two children, that would just be great.

All of Part Two of The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter is about how you need to have children to make your life meaningful. It says if you do not have children, you are just selfish and it blames "individualism"for this scourge -- yes, it uses the word individualism as a pejorative.

How Those Who Proclaim Your Duty to Have Children Are Anti-Individualism
Bruce C. Hafen of BYU Law School, interviewed sympathetically in Part Two, proclaims, "Trying to speak to the change [fertility decline] that has occurred in the last of thirty or forty years, we have seen what I would call an anti-marriage revolution. In the U.S., it's best understood as you look at the history of the no-fault divorce movement, which led to a skyrocketing increase in the divorce rate, which has leveled off a little but not much, and a big increase in unmarried cohabitation. . . . All of that happened on the tide of a big individual rights movement, which started off for very good reasons in the civil rights movement and addressed issues that needed to be addressed, addressed about women, but then there were some extremists who took the individual rights theory way too far."

University of Texas sociologist Norval Glenn adds in the movie, "And I think the growth of individualism -- which everybody agrees has happened in this country in recent years, everybody agrees it's happened in most modern societies if not all -- I think this is really the main reason marriages have become less stable."

Anne Sward Hansen then narrates, "Individualism would eventually emerge as a single unifying theme" when it comes to explaining this horrendous demographic winter.

University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus blames individualism and capitalism: "There you butt up against postmaterialist society. We love our things [belongings], we love consumption, we love the self, and those things are not consonant with love of children, love of family, love of things that are beyond the self. . . . I'm a sociologist. All around me I see social norms, social processes -- things that involve more than just me. Organizations, institutions. Trying to convey that to a generation that has not been socialized to think of anything outside of themselves, making claims upon them, is a real challenge."

Yale economist Larry Jacobs chimes in that as members of the population grow older, they have fewer children, "they focus more on themselves, and you see ultimately a nation that stops having babies."

Narrator Hansen gives the filmmakers' conclusion: "Ultimately the rise in individualism has meant the decline of both fertility and families. . . . In looking for causes of fertility decline, we have learned that various social mega-trends, including cultural changes towards individualism and away from family life, seem to be at the foundation."

Kay Hymowitz summarizes, "I would say that there really is a conflict at the heart of our culture, between marriage and its unchosen involuntary obligations -- that's on the one hand -- and on the other hand, our individualism."

Alt-right anti-immigration racists who see Part One will most definitely protest the documentary's contention that poor countries full of nonwhite people are experiencing depopulation. Alt-right racists proclaim that this is absolutely untrue and, if it were true, that would be good news, and yet The New Economic Reality:  Demographic Winter treats that as if it is bad news.

Still, the right-wing Catholics behind the documentary were still pandering to "immigration skeptics"

  1. in implying that rights-violating immigration restrictions are justified when they "preserve culture" by discouraging the native population from voluntarily discarding native traditions; and 
  2. scaremongering about how a horde of nonwhite immigrants will outnumber a native (white) population that is too complacent and too selfish to recognize its duty to breed. (Again, sound familiar?)

And, over the past ten years, the old eugenicist argument -- that "we" are being threatened by poor nonwhite immigration populations out-breeding "us"  -- has become more and more popular among figures on the political Right, despite this eugenicist argument being originated by political Progressives like E. A. Ross and Theodore Roosevelt.

By the way, both Stefan Molyneux and this Demographic Winter movie are incorrect in their proclamations that the social conservatism of a Western country positively correlates with its birth rate.  Demographic Winter:  The New Economic Reality purports that a Western country becoming more Christian would increase its birth rate and yet, as Kerry Howley notes in Reason magazine, it is Italy -- more Christian than northern Europe -- that has one of Europe's lowest birth rates.  And while Stefan Molyneux repeatedly pontificates that white Western women taking on careers contributes to the lowering of their birth rates, the truth is that Sweden and Norway, which have among the highest workforce participation rates for women, correspondingly have among the highest fertility rates.


The Mainstream Right Reviving Theodore Roosevelt's Demagoguery About "Race Suicide"
You can observe this phenomenon every time a figure on the political Right frets about how nonwhite immigrants in ghettos are having too many children whereas "we" richer native-born whites are falling behind in that regard.  The result, fret the anti-immigrationist rightists, is that nonwhites will be able to overpower and outvote "us."

In 2006, John Gibson -- who was then an anchor of the Fox News Channel --seemed to be airing this view, although a quick sentence fragment gave him some plausible deniability. He warned that
half of the kids in this country under five years old are [ethnic and racial] minorities. By far the greatest number are Hispanic. Know what that means? In twenty-five years the majority population is Hispanic. Why is that? Well, Hispanics are having more kids than others, notably the ones Hispanics call gabachos -- white people -- are having fewer. Now in this country European-ancestry people -- white people -- are having kids at the rate that does sustain the population. It grows a bit. That compares to Europe where the birth rate is in the negative zone. They're not having enough babies to sustain their population. Consequently, they're inviting in more and more immigrants every year to take care of things, and those immigrants are having way more babies than the native population. Hence, Eurabia. Why aren't they having babies? Because babies get in the way of a comfortable and prosperous modern life. . . . The Euros in particular can't be bothered with kids. . . . To put it bluntly, we need more babies. ..civilizations need population to survive. ...[Sex for] procreation, not recreation.

He began the segment with, "Do your duty: make more babies."

The crack about "Eurabia" indicates Gibson's fear of Middle East-descended people having children in Western Europe. However, on the matter of Hispanics, he says, "So far we're doing our part here in America, but Hispanics can't carry the whole load. The rest of you, get busy. Make babies!" If we interpret this statement charitably, we might interpret this as meaning that Gibson does not object to Hispanics in the USA having more children than other whites. Still, there are mainstream right-wingers who are more overt in expressing their dismay at nonwhites having children in the West.

Contrary to what is said in The New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter, Mark Steyn sounds the alarm in his Wall Street Journal op-ed "It's the Demography, Stupid," that, as far as Western Europe and the English-speaking countries should be concerned, people of Middle Eastern descent are definitely having too many children. He proclaims that Muslim immigrants are entering the West and having children, basically breeding a Muslim terrorist army that cannot be matched by native-born Westerners, as native-born Westerners refrain from having as many children.

Steyn's fulminations are puerile. In reality, if one is worried about Middle Eastern immigrants and their children becoming radicalized, it would make sense to communicate with them and educate them about the dangers of radicalization. In lieu of weighing that as an option, Steyn dismisses such people as psychologically unreachable, and propounds that either immigration from Muslim be restricted, white non-Muslims in the West have more children, or that both of these courses be followed.

In a follow-up blog post, "It's Still the Demography, Stupid," Steyn proclaims, "The western world [Steyn actually means white people in the West] is going out of business because it's given up having babies. The 20th century welfare state, with its hitherto unknown concepts such as spending a third of your adult lifetime in 'retirement,' is premised on the basis that there will be enough new citizens to support the old. But there won't be. . . . Enter Islam [actually, immigrants who call themselves Muslim], which sportingly volunteered to bear the children we couldn't be bothered having ourselves, and which kind offer was somewhat carelessly taken up by the post-Christian west." He concludes that white European women "got groped and raped by coarse backward 'migrants'" as the one logical consequence of this. In this vein, Stefan Molyneux puts out tweets fretting that in Western countries, Muslims -- on average -- have approximately one more child per household than non-Muslims do.

And although Mark Steyn is in Canada and not the United States, he puts forth the usual ignorant pontificating about undocumented Mexican immigrants inside the United States. In "The Trumping of Party," Steyn says, " every functioning society understood until two generations ago, immigration has to benefit the people who are already here. ...there are too many unskilled Mexican peasants flooding into a country with ever diminishing social mobility and no hope of economic improvement without a credential that requires taking on a quarter-million dollars in debt" (emphasis Steyn's). In this same blog post, he conflates the situation of undocumented Mexicans in the USA with radical jihadists in Europe, as if they are just about equally menacing. After all, says Stefan Molynex, the extent to which the USA refrains from banning brown-skinned immigrants, it is "the demographic suicide of the United States."

Back in the USA, Bill O'Reilly warned John McCain on his Fox News Channel program,
The New York Times wants open borders. They want all the 12 million illegal people who will be legalized to bring in their extended families, not just wives and children, but moms and dads, brothers and sisters. This would lead to, by my calculation, 40 and 50 million foreign nationals being absorbed into the United States in the next 12, 13 years. That would sink the Republican Party, I believe, because we'd have a one-party system and change -- pardon the pun -- the whole complexion of America. . . . Do you understand what the New York Times wants and what the Far Left want? They want to break down the white Christian male power structure -- of which you are a part, and so am I -- and they want to bring in [sic; a Mexican immigrant adult chooses to bring him- or herself into the USA; no one else decides that for him or her --S.H.] millions of foreign nationals to basically [split infinitive] break down the structure we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So you gotta cap that with a number.

O'Reilly means a quota, ignorant of the fact that there is already a quota capping the number of visas issued to Mexicans annually, and it's precisely because that number is so low that Mexicans have been entering the USA without visas for decades.

O'Reilly also repeated this sentiment -- even some of the same phrases -- on his radio program.

Ann Coulter
But the commentator most famous in the United States for touting the they're-outbreeding-us-and-are-taking-over hysteria is Ann Coulter. In an interview as fawning as the one he did with known white separatist Jared Taylor, Molyneux approves as Ann Coulter propounds, "Well, those are people [immigrants] bringing particular cultures [translation: nonviolent customs] with them [into the United States]. It has taken centuries to create the freest, most prosperous, fairest societies in the world [she means the West], and there have been lots of studies about this, as you know -- especially out of Samuel Huntington, some professors at Harvard, at UCLA, you never hear about this -- so that the Left can go on persuading Americans and I suppose Canadians and British and so on, that American culture is the worst culture in the world, and sooner we replace ourselves [with immigrants] the better off we are."

She tells Stuart Varney that Democrats

like this mass immigration of peasant cultures to America... What is being brought in [observe the dehumanizing passive-voice 'brought in' for immigration; in actuality, an adult immigrant is the only one choosing to bring him- or herself into the USA --S.H.] whether it is from India, Asia, Arab cultures, all of Latin America are extremely peasant cultures. Thus this massive child rape, gang rape, drunk driving [on the part of immigrants in the West]... That's why Democrats are bringing these people in: [...]they are also used to block voting. That's what they do. . . . If we dump millions upon millions of people from backward cultures as different from ours as possible -- incredibly poor -- not only are you getting just a shocking 'war on women'... Why do Democrats want it? Because, post-1970, immigrants are voting 8 to 2 for the Democrats.

Breitbart News quotes her saying, "The American people [she means right-wing native-born white people, not native-born Hispanics who vote Democrat] are being out-voted. We can't win anything. If immigration, legal and illegal...continues the way it has been going, we are looking at 100 years of President Obamas, and an entire Supreme Court of Ruth Bader Ginsbergs." If only she could persuade "a few more white people to vote Republican," then what she considers the national crisis shall "solve itself."

In this spirit, U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tweeted out a photo of himself with Geert Wilders, proclaiming, "Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end."

The Alt-Right Racist Eugenicists
The term that the alt-right has come up with for this alleged danger is "white genocide." The first time I heard this term, it was on Twitter. At first I thought that everyone using this term was participating in some tasteless prank from 4chan or 8chan. The term is overblown, as the anti-immigration propagandists throwing it around say that there does not have to be a mass killing of white people for "white genocide" to occur. Simply many nonwhite people immigrating into Western Europe is "white genocide." If native-born white Europeans adopt peaceable customs from non-Western countries and voluntarily discard native customs, that contributes to "white genocide." If blonde-haired, blue-eyed Europeans marry and have children with dark-skinned immigrants, that contributes to "white genocide" -- and what Theodore Roosevelt called the WASPs' "race suicide." If blonde-haired, blue-eyed Europeans refrain from having children, that contributes to "white genocide" -- and what Theodore Roosevelt said is their "race suicide."

Stefan Molyneux spent much of the period from 2006 to 2010 breaking up families. He told the young listeners of his podcast that because their parents were not anarchists, it meant their parents and siblings were abusive and ought to be disowned. Yet, at present, Molyneux frequently delivers homilies about how today's young people have a duty to marry and have children. Since then, what has changed? First, back in the days when Molyneux was most visibly breaking up families, he and his wife did not yet have a child. Moreover, this change in emphasis is not necessarily an internal contradiction on Molyneux's part. The idea is that the way that children were normally raised in the late 1960s and early 1970s was corrupt and abusive, but it would be good for you to marry and have children under the condition that you raise your children according to the specifications that Molyneux provides. Thus, Molyneux is not inherently opposed to the family unit; he merely wants you to be part of the right kind of family unit: a family unit that follows his teachings.

The premier neo-Nazi in the USA, Richard Spencer, also promotes the 'white genocide" argument.  Stefan Molyneux approvingly quotes from this essay by Spencer, saying,

We are undergoing a sad process of degeneration. We will need to reverse it using the state and the government. You incentivize people with higher intelligence, you incentivize people who are healthy to have children [Spencer is demanding that the State do this ‘incentivization,’ and Molyneux approves] . . . . 
Today, contraception and birth control are nothing less than a curse [when used by upper-middle-class white couples]! Those with the foresight to engage in ‘family planning’ [he means upper-middle-class white couples] are exactly the kind of responsible, intelligent people who should be reproducing. And increasingly, middle-class White families are so over-burdened with taxation and the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and education that they don’t feel they can afford children [you see? –S.H.]. This is not only a dysgenic catastrophe but a moral one as well. 
On the other hand, individuals with low innate intelligence or even criminal personalities [Richard Spencer, like Stefan Molyneux, means blacks and Latinos] -- those who should be limiting their reproduction -- can’t be bothered to purchase a condom.

Molyneux proclaims that Richard Spencer, "is making an argument based on facts. ... Richard Spencer would be open to any counterfactual arguments that came his way." That is the dishonesty we have previously seen from Molyneux; Spencer has already dismissed the myriad data contradicting his assertions. Molyneux gives this, his overall evaluation of Spencer's white-genocide rhetoric: "It's not racism if you're pointing out empirical facts about ethnic differences. It's just facts. You hate facts, I guess, if you're on the Left," the definition of Left here being stretched to include anyone and everyone not taken in by this race rhetoric.

Here you can listen to the excerpts of Stefan Molyneux's "The Untruth About Steve Bannon" video where Molyneux quotes and defends Richard Spencer's recitation of the white-genocide talking points:


There is no way around it: no matter how much someone claims to sympathize with Objectivism, if that person goes around shouting that people have a moral duty to bear children, that is collectivist. Moreover, it is in the eugenicist tradition, especially if it is involves making the case that "our" enemies are out-breeding us and therefore we must have more children so that "our" side will have more troops to fight them in some multi-generational struggle.

If a creepy man comes out of the woodwork to insist that Objectivists have a duty to stop being so selfish and to have children, his allegiance might actually be to the eugenics of the Pioneer Fund. Ask him for his opinions on the racist eugenicism of J. Philippe Rushton and Richard Lynn.

Raising a child is an enormous responsibility; undertaking this responsibility involves a thorough self-analysis of whether one is at the point in one's life where one has the resources and ability to make a good job of it. For various reasons -- sometimes for reasons beyond one's control -- it may be the case that there is never a point in a person's life where he or she has the means to undertake this task. Regardless of what the creepy man or anyone else says, whether you should or should not have children is up to you. People outside of a woman's household -- people who do not love this woman -- have no business telling her what she ought or ought not to do with her own reproductive organs.

On February 11, 2017, I added the portion about Stefan Molyneux's apologia for neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.  The information on Italy having among the lowest birth rates, despite being one of the most religious European countries, and of Sweden and Norway having both high fertility rates and high female-workforce-participation rates, was added on Sunday, March 26, 2017.  The sentence about Stefan Molyneux sending out tweets about Muslims having more children than non-Muslims in the West was added on Friday, April 21, 2017.  The quotation from Stefan Molyneux about "the demographic suicide of the United States" was added on April 27, 2017.