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Peace and justice for whom?

Dr. Frank Kalinowski, guest writer

The sign hanging from the ceiling in the lower hallway of Gladfelter reads, “What Do You Want From The Peace and Justice Office This Year?”

It’s an important question and one deserving of a thoughtful response, especially in light of the flyers and “Good News” handouts the P and J Crew are leaving on the tables of Gladfelter and posting around the campus. The theme of these flyers is that the Warren Wilson community should get behind the cause of unlawful immigrants and protest the recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at discovering those who are in this country illegally and deporting them back to their home country. But where does the cause of peace and justice really lie? Is furthering a population explosion in this country really something Warren Wilson students, staff, and faculty should support?

Let’s begin with a few demographic facts. The current human population of the United States is approximately 305 million. In comparison, the American population at the end of World War Two was about 105 million (we have almost tripled our numbers in sixty years). If present trends continue, our population is projected to reach 350 million in the next few decades. Can the United States sustain a population of that size without doing irreparable harm to our environment? Even if we become much more efficient and even if we dramatically reduce our needless consumption, an America of 350 million would be ecologically disastrous. Noted biologist David Pimentel of Cornell University has stated the long range carrying capacity of America is around 200 million. That’s 105 million less than our current numbers and 150 million less that the projected figure. And Pimentel may be overly optimistic. If we want to preserve large tracts of wilderness and if we want space for large, top of the food chain mammals (grizzlies and wolves) we had better aim at a population of around 100 to 150 million, at the most.

Demographers are also clear regarding the cause of our increased population. With the fertility rate among native born Americans approaching Zero Population Growth, the single largest cause of America’s growing population is immigration, and the single largest contributor to immigration growth is the flood of illegal aliens that sneak into this country every year. It is estimated that there are over 30 million aliens currently living in this country illegally.

So, what does “peace and justice” really mean? Unless we want to continue our relentless war against Nature – if we want peace between humans and Nature — Americans must first halt and then reduce the growth of the American population. If we want justice for species and landscapes other than human mammals, we must stop the torrent of illegal aliens coming into this country. Effective immigration control must begin with the enforcement of our laws, which means we should isolate and raid those American businesses who are hiring (and exploiting!) illegal aliens, impose stiff penalties on the employers, identify those who are in this country illegally, and deport them to their home countries. In other words, we should be doing what the Peace and Justice Crew is protesting against!

This doesn’t mean we can’t do other things to help the plight of Third World residents. Repealing our so-called “free trade” laws is essential. Protesting against the sexist and anti-environmental policies of the Catholic Church is another worthy cause. Capping the incomes of wealthy Americans, lowering our consumption, and reducing our native-born population should all be on our environmental agenda.

The sign asks what I want from the Peace and Justice Office. To begin, before the Peace and Justice Crew goes off on some mindless protest, I would like to hear the answer to a few questions. What do they think is the human carrying capacity of this country? How do they propose responding to the issue of the population explosion and illegal immigration? Are they in favor of amnesty, or “comprehensive immigration reform” which is essentially the same thing as amnesty? Do they want sanctuary cities and “open borders?” If they answer “yes” to any of these, please tell us what the consequences will be for the American population and for all the other species and ecosystems with which we share this continent? And finally, would it be asking too much to suggest that the “Peace and Justice” Crew do some deep thinking about environmental issues before they go busing off in support of some cause that will do more harm than good?

Discussion

One Response to “Peace and justice for whom?”

  1. While I share some elements of Dr. Kalinowski’s concerns, particularly the over-utilization of resources by an increasingly consumer oriented society, I call into question his “isolationist” approach to what is, in fact, a global issue.

    Virtually all population experts will point out that population growth is most closely linked to the education and status of women in society. In countries where women are given adequate and equal educational resources, population growth rates are far lower. This dramatic correlation is even true in developing nations where economic struggles continue to persist.

    A case in point is Cuba. One of the better decisions that Castro made during his long regime was to trust in his only genuine resource as a nation – people. He made educational opportunities available to all people. Cuba’s current population growth is now lower than that of the United States (Total fertility rate as reported by the Population Reference Bureau – http://www.prb.org – for Cuba is 1.4 and for the U.S. it is 2.1). A more extensive analysis of educational opportunity versus total fertility rate among various nations illustrates a dramatic correlation between these two variables!

    Given our resource advantages relative to the countries of origin of most immigrant peoples, and that educational opportunities are better in the United States relative to those same countries, it seems apparent that one of the BEST solutions to world population growth is for developed nations to accept larger numbers of immigrants (agreeably with controls).

    In addition, developed nations should supply educational opportunities for immigrant women (and men) to effect the aforementioned impact upon population growth. After all, won’t these immigrants, if forced to remain in developing nations with little to no educational opportunity for women, continue to contribute to world population growth? The data says, quite unequivocally, YES.

    Further, given that many immigrants would prefer to return to countries of origin, this awareness of the value of education among women, although culturally challenged in many nations, should lead to a world-wide trend save in some countries that are currently in a dire situation.

    Lastly, let me say that one must recognize, when referring to resources of any type, that many resource do not respond to the artificial boundaries of nations. This is a single planet in need of unification with respect to resource use. That task requires a global society, not a fragmented cluster of isolationist “haves” shutting doors to “have nots”.

    Posted by Willard | November 19, 2008, 11:06 pm

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