Conservatives on campus

by Henry Farrell on March 6, 2023

There’s been a lot of grumpy commentary about this recent NYT op-ed by Adam S. Hoffman, a Princeton senior claiming that conservatives are being driven off campus. Its basic claims:

In the not-so-distant past, the Typical College Republican idolized Ronald Reagan, fretted about the national debt and read Edmund Burke. Political sophistication, to that person, implied belief in the status quo. … Today’s campus conservatives embrace a less moderate, complacent and institutional approach to politics. … many tend toward scorched-earth politics. But these changes aren’t solely the consequence of a fractured national politics.They’re also the result of puritanically progressive campuses that alienate conservative students from their liberal peers and college as a whole.

The story of this transformation, according to the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, starts around 2014, when Gen Z arrived on campus. The new progressive students were less tolerant of heterodox ideas and individuals. …For those on the right, the experience is alienating. … And those who challenge liberal pieties can face real repercussions.

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The UK abandons refugees

by Chris Bertram on March 6, 2023

The UK is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, along with a number of other international instruments providing for humanitarian protection. The Convention provides that someone who is a refugee – a status that they have on the basis of their objective circumstances, having a well-founded fear of persecution on specific grounds and being outside their country of citizenship or habitual residence – must be granted certain protections by signatory countries. The most important of these is that they not be sent back to a place where they are at risk of persecution. The weakness of the Convention is that people cannot usually secure recognition as refugees by a country unless they claim asylum on its territory. Accordingly, wealthy nations seek to make it the case that those wanting protection cannot physically or legally get onto the territory to make a claim. That way, states can both vaunt their status as human rights defenders (“we support the Convention”) and nullify its effect in practice.

Today, ostensibly as a response to the “small boats” crisis, which has seen tens of thousands of people from countries such as Afghanistan and Iran arrive in the south of England after crossing the channel, the Conservative government has announced new plans to deter refugees. Those arriving will no longer be able to claim asylum in the UK, as the government will not try to find out whether they are refugees or not, they will be detained, and then they will be removed to their country of origin or to a third country (potentially breaching the non-refoulement provision of the Convention). The plan has been to send them to Rwanda, although because of legal challenges nobody has actually been sent and, anyway, Rwanda lacks the capacity. Even the plan to detain arrivals in the UK runs up against the problem that the UK lacks the accommodation to do so. In addition, people who cross in small boats are to be denied the possibility of ever settling in the UK or of securing citizenship. So as well as being a stain on the UK’s human rights record and a measure of great cruelty, the plans appear to be practically unworkable.

The government, echoed by the Labour opposition, blames “evil smuggling gangs” as the “root cause” of the small boats crisis. But, of course, the real root cause of the crisis are the measures the UK takes to evade its obligations under the Refugee Conventions, measures that make it necessary for anyone wanting to claim asylum on the territory to enter without the authorization of the UK government. People at risk of persecution, whether Iranian women protesting against the veil, or Afghan translators who worked with the British government, are not granted regular visas to hop on a flight, nor will they be able to get to the UK by road or rail. The UK has sealed these routes, making those who want to cross turn to the boats as a solution.
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