For people in our socioeconomic demographic, greater immigration meant more and better restaurants, and better lawn and garden care. Our kids weren’t having their schools overrun by children who couldn’t speak the language; they went to private school, or to public schools in parts of town immigrants couldn’t afford. We weren’t having the hospitals we used overrun by illegal immigrants needing care; we didn’t have to use the public hospital. Our neighborhoods weren’t changing in front of our eyes. And so on. The immigration issue was a chance for us to show our compassion — sometimes our explicitly Christian compassion — without it costing us anything tangible. The kind of white people my class looked down on and thought of as racist rabble were the kind of white people who had to bear a lot of the brunt of our politics and what we called compassion.
The politics of compassion always involves other people footing the bill. The rich and upper middle class benefit a great deal from unlimited immigration – that lawn aint gonna mow itself – while the people on the lower end of the middle class see their wages depressed, and their neighborhoods turned into a foreign country. If they dare complain about it they get accused of racism, which is the only sin nowadays.
It occurs to me that the dynamic explained above is a cyclical one. I am a little young to remember the “busing” crisis that shook many American cities in the 70s and 80s, but it went something like this: ethnic white neighborhoods controlled the Democratic machines in places like Boston and Philadelphia, so most of the city funds for education went back to their neighborhood public schools, to the detriment of schools in black neighborhoods. That was unjust.
The solution cooked up by the state governments – usually run by the more liberal wing of the Democratic party – was to bus percentages of kids from white neighborhoods to attend black schools, and kids from black neighborhoods to white schools. Sounds like a good idea, until you realize that the standard discipline problems in white schools were things like fisticuffs and smoking, and the standard discipline problems in black schools were things like stabbings and drug dealing. White parents were enraged. They did not see busing as an attempt to rectify a problem of funding but as an assault on the well-being of their children.
Of course, the wealthier liberals who wanted busing either lived in the suburbs or sent their children to private school. Their children would not have to go to school with drug dealers and murder suspects. It is pretty nice to be a well-to-do liberal: you get to preform social experiments on people the effects of which you will never suffer, and then congratulate yourself on your virtue, while dismissing your poorer victims as morally inferior.
The effect of the experiment was the collapse of urban education for a generation. The ethnic whites had an option that the blacks did not have: they could move to the suburbs, which they did, taking the urban tax base with them.