Jan 31 2017
As a proud member of the tech community in Canada (or at least, someone who writes for and about said community) I was curious to read the Open Letter from the Canadian Tech Community: Diversity is Our Strength on BetaKit. (This letter was a response to the recent executive order out of the USA which bans immigration for 90 days from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen).
I trust that love of diversity extends to opinions and ideas, because I’m not totally on board with this letter.
To be sure, it’s not that I’m particularly against anything in the letter. Who would be? The Canadian tech community comprises many different nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, mental and physical abilities, and perspectives…” Well, sure. Fine. I’m down with that – and everything else that follows.
Heck, Donald Trump probably agrees with everything in the letter. That’s kind of a problem. We’re aiming to slay a dragon that isn’t there.
By taking the time to ascribe these virtues to ourselves, we’re implying a major difference in the authors of the executive order (and by extension, millions of Trump voters), that they’re bigots. After all, why else include the preamble?
Unfortunately, those welcoming values described in the letter are not necessarily commonplace among many of the fine folks coming from the list of countries listed above (chosen by Obama, not Trump, BTW) – including refugees.
Try being an apostate, atheist, gay, lesbian, transsexual, or some other minority identifier in any of those countries. They might have to worry about their local rogue regime, while surviving the murderous impulses of their own family. So maybe checking who is coming over… would be a good thing?
The open letter from the tech community comes off as self-righteous, virtue signaling (and obviously self-serving) pablum. The real message: “Look at these nasty, crazy Americans turning their backs on the world. But Canada is a free and welcoming country full of nice people! Come one, come all.”
Can we please at least pretend that we live in the same reality? The USA has legitimate security concerns (as do we). Putting a temporary ban on immigration from countries that are all either failed states, or countries at war, or countries that sponsor international terror (or all three), would seem like a long overdue move.
Sure, the executive order is ham-fisted. It’s clumsy and causing pain for plenty of folks.
But at the same time, it didn’t come out of the blue. The Trump administration isn’t batshit crazy for wanting to figure out who is coming into their country and separating good, respectable folks from criminals and jihadists.
And it doesn’t make us particularly moral to say we’re going to keep poaching tech talent from around the world, while America has to knowingly sacrifice economic growth from its tech sector just to help protect their own citizens.
One last thought: I know that some commentators in the tech community were horrified that Trump’s executive order on immigration came out on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Being aware of how the world turned its backs on Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, how could we close our borders to refugees today?
Again, can we get real? Anti-Semitism is extremely well-subscribed in the countries on the immigration ban list (as is hatred of other religious minorities, homosexuals, violence against women, etc). Also, among the few Jewish refugees who could manage to get to safety in the 1930s and ‘40s, a minority sect was not bombing and gunning down their grudging hosts with horrifying regularity.
In other words, from a selfish standpoint of wanting to increase my own odds of survival, I’d very much like to see better vetting of immigrants from these countries.
As a classical liberal on most points, I would think that most of my colleagues in the tech sector would be on board with this. I’d like to ensure that we can separate legitimate refugees who want only to live in freedom, from predators. Let’s all have good security, bring in the good folks and have a grand old time innovating new products and making money.
We can do this, without getting all caught up in political grandstanding.
I lay out these thoughts in further detail in this bit of audio. Do have a listen. I’m hoping for a diverse set of ideas in response. That is, after all, our strength.
(Note: This article was supposed to wind up directly on the BetaKit website and it may yet appear there, barring some unforeseen editorial hiccups).