One of my most popular recent posts was “Cultural Sensitivity.” The exact reason for this eludes me. Either it is because the post was genuinely funny, or because there is a growing, populist exasperation with the daily demands of multiculturalism… or perhaps both.

Since the 1980s, my old home town of Minneapolis has opened its doors to Somalis—of approximately 85,700 Somalis in the United States, around 25,000-30,000 of them live in Minnesota (making it the largest Somali population in the US). So many Somalis have moved to the city’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, the area is now known as “Little Mogadishu.”

More worrisome, the Somali community in Minnesota has become a recruiting pipeline for the terrorist organizations Al-Shabaab and ISIS; between 2006 and 2011, some 27 Somali-Americans disappeared to fight in Somalia. Since the end of 2013, eleven men and one woman with ties to the Twin Cities have traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS. Another dozen or so either have tried to travel there before authorities intercepted them, or are believed to be preparing to go. What’s more, officials say, the ISIS travelers are young: 15 and 16-year-olds are signing up.

Now four dozen out of 30,000 is admittedly a tiny minority, yet it has gotten a lot of play in the media. Most Minnesotans see this disloyalty as every bit as serious and thankless a betrayal as many Europeans see the recent sexual assaults by migrants in Köln and other European cities. There is bound to be a backlash.

As obnoxious as I think Donald Trump’s views are, I have begun to question whether migration is a basic human right, or if making it easy to flee the world’s trouble spots simply assures the perpetuation of despotic regimes. If you look at migration dispassionately—that is, through the eyes of an economist—you have to conclude that migration is net-positive to the countries accepting them. Yet demagogic arguments such as Trump’s, devoid of any consideration of morality, have a certain emotional appeal.

I honestly don’t know where I will land on this issue. I am still conflicted by it. One of the best discussions on the subject of migration can be heard on a radio podcast by Freakonomics, “Is Migration a Basic Human Right?

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the subject.



Groove of the Day

Listen to Led Zeppelin performing “Immigrant Song”


Weather Report

53° and Clear, Windy


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