IGone are the times when Ban referred to an innovative underarm deodorant of Ban Banned might be easily confused with a Flintstones cartoon character. The tenor of Ban today is one I’m confident to think a good many Americans find discomforting and or objectionable. A Ban is discriminatory and we as a people generally dislike discriminatory rules or habits. We prefer equality and fairness. If the people I know and talk to are representative of US citizens we have a habit (I do it as well) of wanting a clear and simple answer or solution. Plus between the twin curse of political correctness scaring many of us into silence for fear of offense and its kiss-cousin in human nature the fear of appearing ignorant we are loathe to disagree on the one or ask questions on the other.

A national topic such as an immigration ban is not discussed with much more skill of thoughtful procedure than you’ll find on local issues where parties tend to take positions and then hammer at objections without much listening. Too often defense of view, however flawed, trumps trying to assess and understand.

Take something less loaded and often seen in local politics; affordable housing. Affording your own home is an American icon, which is if you take out the ten percent or so who hold that any private ownership is male dominated capitalist exploitation (one so enjoys the welding of lesbian with socialist for provocative entertainment) is seen as a good thing. The question, not an easy one, is how to have affordable housing. Do you get it through society providing it? Or does housing become affordable when there are decent paying jobs? If you provide low cost or affordable housing are you assisting individuals or providing an indirect subsidy so an employer can continue paying a lower wage? The answers and possibilities are one thing where there is an industry providing full time employment and quite a different answer where employment is seasonal or spotty, as in much of tourism, etc.

We’ve had this issue many times up the shore, and it is not unusual to see business owners as eager for subsidized housing as are low income housing advocates. How and how fairly such housing gets paid for is a problem itself, as is its upkeep. If building cost and subsidy come from local tax revenue (locals quite enjoy spending state and federal funds and often lionize over their success doing so) it could mean higher costs passed along. In a tourist area if $80.00 per night lodging becomes $120 you could expect a drop off in users and some job loss with it. What’s the answer then? You never know for certain until a situation exists and needs to be dealt with, and then it is a catch up or repair game.

In a sense condos and townhouses, especially the rental variety found in tourism areas, are a form of subsidized short term rental housing where individual investors buy a unit and pay an association fee often comparable to the mortgage payment. It is not inexpensive, and if you are at all familiar with short term rentals you know partygoers contribute much wear and tear or can do quite a lot of costly damage. In short both the socialized and capitalized models of shared buildings and operation have some significant issues attached. A break even expectation might be the most realistic, though both views will usually proclaim many more rewards and benefits than costs. Yah sure, you bet! I spent ample time in public apartments and in housing blocks in “socialist” countries. If you’re seeking dismal that’s the place to go. If the elevator did not work the stairs always did so all was well, except if you used a wheel chair or had to haul groceries by foot to the tenth floor.

Housing, affordable or otherwise, has some regulation attached currently. If you want to sell or rent can you put down NO AETHEISTS? Since we as a nation try not to discriminate we have protected classes based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, family status, etc. We like to play fair. That’s a good thing. So, a ban on a group goes the wrong way for most of us. It feels not right. We oppose discrimination acting against groups. The side of the argument that often goes unvoiced is positive discrimination or favoritism. I think we should be damn careful there, too. Pre judgement either positive or negative based on a group would seem to me an injustice.

Another part of the ban or stricture puzzle is the muddied distinction between refugee and immigrant. A refugee should face from the place they flee a clear threat or danger of persecution or death due to their race, ethnicity, beliefs, etc. If an atheist from an Arabic theocracy seeks asylum you know why. There is a record of blatant hostility and attack on nonbelief and on certain ethnic groups. So, there are people who can claim refugee status which is not the same as saying your place is messed up and you want to go somewhere else. A thoughtful citizen has to not be thrown a kilter by words or phrases no matter how ardently applied. It’s difficult for a secular state to be open and yet not encourage division. It is not the secular state saying “You must wear garb that is religiously or ethnically distinctive.” When individuals do this and seek more than temporary admission status we ought very well wonder at the discrimination implied by stating a religious or ethnic prejudice via clothing. If heart and mind are not in accord with the secular society willing to accept you it seems to me the rejection is already being done and is in place via observed behavior. A person cannot clearly set themselves discriminatorily apart and then claim universal acceptance.

It doesn’t work that way. What obligation rests on secular society? What are the reasonable rules for refugees and expectations for immigrants? Though yelling phrases is more fun for some we really do know what to do and should focus on following clear applications of what we know.