The Terrible Threat From Chinese Grad Students

When should we panic? Donald Trump has obviously given freer reign to the nativist and racist instincts of my country, but how out of the ordinary is it really? There was a large industry and policy community based around fear of the other long before Donald Trump. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that his cartoonish attempt to put into practice all the ideas that Republicans used to only pay lip service to at election time has INCREASED support for immigration and multi-culturalism in the United States. It’s an interesting question. People are undeniably being hurt, but it’s often just because already existing policies are being carried out in a more haphazard fashion.

This video plays with the question. It focuses on a panic the Trump administration is creating around Chinese students and workers in the US, and places it in the context of decades of hate towards other groups that our country has been swimming in. It points out that the new China-panic might actually be a result of the diminishing panic about other groups. I don’t have any firm answers here, but it’s very worth thinking about.

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Video Transcript after the jump…

Hey There. There’s no denying that complaining about immigrants is profitable business in the United States. Two years after the first European settlements in North America there was probably somebody complaining about how all these newcomers from Scotland were taking all the jobs. Anti-immigrant hysteria is a bad thing, obviously, but it’s also a constant in US history. What we should be more worried about is the way that the US government has fueled and profited from these hysterias in recent decades.

We’re at an interesting panic transition moment in the United States. For decades now, light thinkers have been worried about two groups. The Mexicans are coming with their Taco Trucks, and they might want to take back California! Also, the Muslims are coming to do terrorism and impose their Sharia law! These fears are bullshit, and they always have been, but these two panics have been tremendously profitable. YouTube, Breitbart, and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation are filled with cranks who have made tons of money pushing this garbage. In recent years government has gotten into the game to drive its own budgets. Fear always sells. This garbage did a lot to elect Donald Trump. But there’s a problem. People who read have known this for years, but now more and more people are realizing it. Both of these supposed threats
are evaporating.

Freaking out about Mexican immigration was never rational, but at the beginning of this century it really did look like a crisis. That’s over, and it has been for a long time, as I’ve been saying for years now.

In 2000 1.6 million people were detained at the border for trying to enter the United States illegally. In the years since, something pretty dramatic has happened. But don’t take it from me, listen to this guy here who is so anti-immigration that the Southern Povertly Law Center calls his organization a hate group. Mexican immigration has gone down. That’s an unquestionable fact. It’s still significant, I mean we’re talking about 10s of thousands of illegal immigrants from Mexico still coming every year, but it is lower, and in fact, last year, Border Patrol apprehensions on the Mexican border were actually about 52 or 53 percent non-Mexican, almost all of them Central American, the rest were Mexican. Um, part of the reason for that is that there’s just almost no working age men left in rural Mexico left to move here. I mean… they’ve sort of run out of people to move here.

This year there is a new crisis at the border, but anybody who is capable of basic math knows it isn’t going to last. The Central Americans are a lot farther away, and they come from much smaller countries than Mexico. It’ll blow over within year or two. From Fox News to the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, folks are becoming aware that they will need a new grift pretty soon. They are hoping to be able to focus on the threat of Islamic terrorism, but that’s not going to work either. Thanks to low oil prices, that’s fading away too.

Almost three years ago, I predicted that due to falling oil prices, Radical Islamic Terrorism would quickly start to fade away. And that is exactly what happened. It was always Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that funded all that death and destruction. Now that they have less spare money, everybody else gets less terrorism. In 2014, the year that oil prices peaked, the put deaths from Islamic terrorism at 32,844 in 2015 27,595, in 2016 we have 21,413, in 2017 the final numbers came to 16,386, and in 2018 deaths fell by almost a third down to 11,733.

So Islamic Terrorism is disappearing, and the growing discontent with the US-Saudi relationship means that it could be gone for good. The US government, and the US fear industry need something new to flip out about.

The connection between government and the fear industry can be a bit of a chicken or the egg question. Does government policy create the fear, or is it the other way around? With Mexican immigration I think it’s more mixed. After 20 years, anti-Latino agitation has created a serious government constituency for brutal immigration laws, but I don’t think government created it. The sick cultures of ICE and US Customs Border Protection are probably a product of Fox News rather than the other way around. With Muslims it’s likely the opposite. The US military industrial complex’s desperation for something to bomb has driven fear of Muslims. After 9-11, The Pentagon’s pointless wish to militarize what should have been a straightforward diplomatic isolation of Saudi Arabia has created a juggernaut of anti-Muslim hate. The relationship between bigotry and government jobs and policy is a complex one that people don’t want to look at seriously.

What’s certain, is that after decades of government supported paranoia about groups of immigrants, large swathes of government, from the Pentagon to the FBI and the State department are reliant on fear of the other to preserve their jobs. This means that we’re looking for new groups to persecute. And the process has already started.

The targets are Chinese students. The now more than 300,000 Chinese students studying in the US are a tremendously valuable bridge between the two countries. Many of them stay on in the United States after graduation, contributing to US competitiveness and building the companies of the future in the US and China. And as their numbers have grown over the past decade they have become a huge part of the funding of US higher education. Foreign students always pay full price.

And the US government is now targeting them. The rationale is Chinese theft of US secrets, which is something that totally happens. But it doesn’t justify the scale of what the FBI has been doing. They are trying to set up large scale surveillance of Chinese students. Other parts of the government are slowing down visas for Chinese students. The situation is bad enough that last week the President of MIT felt he had to speak out to defend his Chinese and Chinese-American colleagues.

And this is only the start. The US government has found a new ethnic group to be paranoid about. You can be sure that it’s going to grow from here. The US government is committed to this New Cold War idea, and US media is following government’s lead. That’s a real shame. People with experience of both countries are essential to the world’s surviving the next century. We should think a little harder about why the US government so desperately needs this paranoia.

Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and click on the bell next to the subscribe button to get a notification whenever I upload a video. Thanks. “Looking at cases across the nation, small numbers of researchers of Chinese background may indeed have acted in bad faith, but they are the exception and very far from the rule. Yet faculty members, post-docs, research staff and students tell me that, in their dealings with government agencies, they now feel unfairly scrutinized, stigmatized and on edge – because of their Chinese ethnicity alone.”