“What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.” – Thomas Sowell
Social Scientist Jonathan Haidt often talks about two categories that societies fall into on matters of immigration and culture. In a TED talk, titled “Can A Divided America Heal“, he discusses these two disparate philosophies of a bridge up versus bridge down society. Think about a castle with a drawbridge that is down and thus open to the outside world, versus up and closed off to outsiders. In the bridge up societies like Scandanavia or Asia, cultural homogeneity creates a sense of trust, belonging, and a generous welfare state that is the envy of the American Left. In the bridge down societies like the United States, a lack of unifying culture creates discord, distrust, and division that make compromising on national policy challenging. While the national dialogue that is written on these matters tends to default to race, the heart of the discussion truly centers around culture. Our saving grace is our Republican form of government where unifying culture can still coalesce where it is most comfortable.
Idaho is no stranger to bridge-down cultural clashes. When we moved to Idaho we quickly noticed the side-eye that we received from our neighbors as they tried to gauge our motivation for relocation. Idaho has had the fortune of watching the great California migration to neighboring states Oregon and Washington first and thus has had a headstart on setting ground rules to protect their conservative majorities. What the left typically chalks up to as a character flaw centered around xenophobia and racism, is in reality just a populace that likes their culture and doesn’t wish to see it dismantled. They are content with their God, their guns, and their sovereignty, and they welcome all who share those ideals. They also aren’t particularly interested in turning their endless horizons into the concrete jungles that urban dwellers outgrow, or the hours-long commutes and smog that inevitably follow.
If the left is honest, these bridge-down cultural clashes are real and pose real challenges to rural America. Pocatello made national headlines in a New York Times expose in 2016 on its foreign study program that saw twelve hundred Middle Eastern, largely young male students brought into Idaho State University. Locals were all too familiar with the results. They unfairly looked to foreigners to assimilate to the local culture, though the foreign student population was transient. Inevitably, conflicts arose in renter/tenant relationships, unmet obligations to local auto dealers, allegations of sexual misconduct in the student body, language barriers that resulted in poor academic performance, and an influx of Islamic religion that has been hammered into society as tantamount with terrorism since the war on terror and 9/11. There were many misconceptions on display that made the arrangement untenable for all parties. Notably, America is nothing like what has historically been represented around the world. If our only conception of America was built on Hollywood movies of fast cars and easy women, we might be sorely disappointed upon our arrival as well. Now even more cultural clashes loom on the horizon.
With a continuing siege on the United States southern border and the seemingly negligent policies of the Biden Administration, it is only natural that conversations around culture and migration are once again in the headlines. With two hundred thousand migrants hitting the southern border every month, one hundred thousand Afghan migrants being imported in the wake of Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal, and employers turning to foreign nationals to replace vaccine mandate dissenters in places like New York, there seems a concerted effort to fast track the decline of western culture. In 2015, Joe Biden sang the praises of multi-culturalism and the dwindling euro-ethnic majority in America. Stating that multi-culturalism is our strength, Biden welcomed the day when America’s euro-ethnic population, and resultingly their western culture, will become a minority.
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson recently set the headlines ablaze when he referenced Joe Biden’s unfettered immigration policy and how that ties into replacement theory. Critics were quick to pounce on any discussion of this as conspiracy or white supremacy or some other non-sense. Had these comments not been direct quotes by Joe Biden, which followed with a policy of unmitigated migration, the assertions of conspiracy may have passed muster. But what is sold as a discussion of race and racism is in actuality a discussion on conflicting culture and government dependency. While media headlines draw replacement theory down racial lines, they completely neglect the overarching discussion by Carlson on the promotion of dependent populations such as impoverished Latin American migrants and the suppression of independent populations like Cuban migrants. Both are Hispanic populations, but they tend to vote very differently once they arrive. Biden’s left prefers the dependent migrant population who look to the government as a source of sustenance.
American history is largely comprised of tales of risk, opportunity, fortitude, and individuality. The American dream has always been about making something from nothing, with no guarantees of safety, but no government-imposed ceilings to get in the way. This is the story of centuries of American migrants, full of western ideals like freedom and liberty. These classically liberal ideas like individuality that compete with an all-powerful state are the real target of the government’s ire. As American’s have become collectively wealthier and less dependent on the state, politicians must backfill the void of dependent voters by importing large quantities of impoverished populations who have different ideas on the role of the state. In the case of leftist administrations, those populations are often placed in dissenting red states like Texas, Georgia, and even Idaho, where the ultimate goal is to rewrite the landscape of the electorate. Inevitably, cultural clashes arise.
Despite criticisms from the press, conservatives aren’t anti-immigrant; they’re pro their own culture, and that’s okay. Progressives are very much pro their own culture as well. They believe their ideas on recreational drug use, abortion, or any other social policies or lifestyle choices should be universally adopted. Assuming that immigrant populations wish to assimilate to the local landscape, they should be welcomed with open arms. But in the absence of assimilation, communities encounter a cultural clash that breaks down cohesion and goodwill. Many of these communities are not by nature bridge-down, and imposing foreign cultures on them doesn’t automatically let down those bridges. And when those that are placing migrants in communities are ideologically opposed and demonstrate malintent, the relationship is often doomed before it’s begun.