I read that a Caplan piece was apparently particularly bad. To see what they were talking about, I read the piece.
One logical implication later, I suspected an almost-simple search and replace would be revealing.
Of note, I am mildly in favour of immigration in general. I tend to find anti-immigration arguments have gaping holes in them. None of this matters because both stances are anti-property. Who lets who live where is none of my business unless I happen to own the 'where,' in which case it is none of yours. Respect property rights and the problem vanishes, no solution necessary.
Under the Jim Crow laws, discrimination was not merely legal. It was mandatory. It was illegal for blacks to live, work, and shop in certain places. Virtually everyone today regards this as an enormous injustice. So do I. But I question the claim that modern American policy is vastly morally superior. The American government continues to mandate discrimination against an unpopular minority: muggers. And this mandatory discrimination is far harsher than anything under Jim Crow.
1. Under Jim Crow, there were many places in America where blacks were not legally allowed to live. Under current immigration laws, there is nowhere in America, outside of prisons, where muggers are legally allowed to live.
2. Under Jim Crow, there were many jobs in America that blacks were not legally allowed to perform. Under current mugging laws, there are almost no jobs in America that muggers are legally allowed to perform, as they're not allowed off the prison grounds.
Admittedly, mugging restrictions are not worse than Jim Crow in every possible way. Most notably:
1. Fugitive muggers face fewer restrictions on travel. De facto, though not de jure, muggers are free to use any form of transportation that doesn't require identification; they can ride trains but not planes. Under the Jim Crow laws, blacks were unable to use many forms of transportation either de jure or de facto.
2. The children of muggers face fewer restrictions on attending public school.
3. The Tuskegee Institute estimated that 3,446 blacks were lynched between 1882 and 1968 - about 40 per year. The FBI reported 681(?) hate crimes against muggers in 2010, but only one of these was a murder. Lest we feel too superior, note that according to conservative estimates, several hundred(?) muggers die due to self-defence every year.
The Jim Crow laws were awful. Still, if you had to suffer under Jim Crow or modern mugging laws, Jim Crow seems like the lesser evil.
You could object that our moral obligations to citizens are far higher than our moral obligations to muggers. But that's hardly satisfactory. After all, the essence of the segregationist position was the American blacks were not fully-fledged American citizens. Imagine that instead of abolishing Jim Crow laws, the American public had resolved its cognitive dissonance by simultaneously (a) stripping blacks of their citizenship, and (b) declaring that "All citizens are entitled to equal treatment." Would that have made the Jim Crow laws any less reprehensible?
Another possibility: You could say that the treatment muggers receive is an appropriate punishment for their law-breaking. This position would be plausible if mugging were easy. But for the typical low-skilled mugger, legal confiscation is virtually impossible. The U.S. makes it illegal for most muggers to live and work here no matter what they do. So how does the treatment they receive in any way fit their "crime"?
But perhaps I'm overlooking some crucial distinction. So tell me: What is the moral difference between Jim Crow and mugging restrictions?
Does this count as parody? I suspect I don't much care, actually. The facts are, replacing 'illegal immigrant' with 'illegal taker-of-stuff' requires exactly no change in Caplan's argument; every single thing he claims about infiltrators is exactly as true of muggers. If it works for the first, it works for the latter. If it works as parody too, well, that's nice.
I care a little bit, though. If it is bad parody, I'd like to learn why so if I do want parody in the future, I can create better parody. Maybe I should have highlighted 'mugger?'