Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Can data dampen anti-immigrant feelings?

Another example of the power of anecdotes versus data. I don't hold out much hope for data.
Even in England, where the attitude towards immigration and assimilation is more relaxed than in France, the terrorist attacks of recent years gave rise to alarming observations that children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi families weren’t able to adapt to British society. This was made particularly salient by the video message of one of the July 7 London bombers (British-born but whose parents were from Pakistan), which said “your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people and your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters”, clearly contrasting “we” and “you”.
But aside from a few anecdotes and these dramatic, but isolated examples, it has never been shown that young Muslims stay foreign to the culture of their adopted country more than any other immigrants.

Earlier in the article,
Immigration stirs up strong enough fears to justify questionable measures of protection against it – from arrests at the doors of French schools to the border wall that separates the USA from Mexico. ... Economic research suggests that the intensity of these reactions seems completely disproportionate to immigration’s real economic impact on the local population. Economic reasons don’t seem to provide a sufficient explanation for the persistent distrust of immigrants among the native population. (emphasis mine).

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