They Scare Me
By Bryan Caplan
In 3rd-grade, my best friend was Mormon. As a result, I joined a Mormon cub scout troop. Since then, I’ve often interacted with Mormons, and I though I’ve never become one, I have to say: They are the nicest bunch I’ve ever met. A few years ago, Mormons impressed me even more with their uber-cool reaction to The Book of Mormon musical:
The church apparently approves of the show enough to buy three full
page ads in the Playbill program each theatergoer gets: Each page is a
close-up photo of an attractive young person with a quote such as “The
book is always better” and a refer to thebookofmormon.org.
appreciate that it got people talking,” Brooks said. “I think it makes
people even more curious to learn about what Mormons believe.”
Occasionally, though, I wonder: What would happen if Mormons were a solid majority of the U.S. population? Maybe they’d be as wonderful as ever, but I readily picture a sinister metamorphosis. Given enough power, even Mormons might embrace a brutal fundamentalism. Despite my lovely experiences with Mormons, they scare me.
To be fair, they’re hardly alone. You know who else scares me? Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and atheists. Sunnis, Shiites, Catholics, and Protestants. Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, Marxists, and reactionaries. Even libertarians scare me a bit. Why? Because given enough power, there’s a serious chance they’ll do terrible things. Different terrible things, no doubt. But terrible nonetheless.
If you’re afraid of every group, though, shouldn’t you support whatever group has the minimum chance of doing terrible things once it’s firmly in charge? Not at all. There’s another path: Try to prevent any group from being firmly in charge. In the long-run, the best way to do this is to make every group a small minority – to split society into such small pieces that everyone abandons hope of running society and refocuses their energy on building beautiful Bubbles. As Voltaire once put it:
If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would very
possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut
one another’s throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live
happy and in peace.
When people lament the political externalities of open borders, they’re usually picturing an influx of a group with a bad track record of being in charge. In a sense, these critics understate their case; numerical superiority can turn even the nicest groups into a mortal danger. But critics also overlook the open borders remedy: Diaspora dynamics notwithstanding, welcoming everyone is a great way to turn everyone into a minority. And while that hardly guarantees safety, it’s less menacing than the status quo.
Don’t believe me? Picture the group of humans that currently scares you the most. They’re still only x% of the world’s population, where x is probably less than 25%. Now imagine what would happen if your scariest group were x% of every country’s population. Even if its individual members stayed equally scary, they’d become far less globally dangerous than they are now. But that’s not all. Once the members of the group that scares you the most loses all hope of running the show, most will calm down. In time, they too might be nice as Mormons.
Still don’t believe me? Walk around the campus of George Mason University. Whatever group scares you the most is well-represented. But before long, you won’t be scared. Every group is too small to run the show – and every group knows it. And when you see it with your own eyes, you’ll know it too.