Chapter 11 b
While Hapgood and Jon were having a lunch of crepes at a restaurant in the stylish Georgetown section of Washington, miles away in Baltimore Aden Kamali waiting to see his dean at Johns Hopkins. Dean Braddock was not happy looking forward to the interview. Kamali was unquestionably brilliant, and his reputation was above reproach. But his visa was in trouble. It was the kind of thing that could usually be negotiated, but in the past few days the Inland Security people had been intransigent.
It was hard enough to attract
good graduate students under any circumstances.
But now with half the world turning hostile toward
completely. When half of a supply source drops off and
the numbers remain constant, there are three possible reasons. One possibility would be that the random
fluctuations in the market simply damped out the effect, making it
invisible. That was not credible with
such a large segment of the world disaffected.
The second possibility was that the supply was wonderfully elastic, that
the slightest increase in demand ushered in a flood of thoroughly capable
The third and true possibility was that the demand was very inelastic. Those graduate students were absolutely needed. That meant the status was brittle. American graduate students were simply incapable of producing the numbers and skills to keep the system rolling.
"We're going to have to let you go."
"Why, Dean Braddock?"
"It's your visa. It really is a minor problem, but Inland Security is not letting us breathe. I've handled twenty cases like this in the past, but since the skyscraper attack …”
“What has the skyscraper attack got to do with it?”
“They are beefing up security because the Purity of Islam has claimed responsibility.”
“But, Sir, there is no such group.”
“Do you know something I don’t know?”
Look, there’s this thing called the
“I don’t know much about the
“Well, I believe you. For all I know Inland Security believes you. But for now, they’d deport every Arab in the country if they had the chance. I hope and pray they do not. You aren’t the only able graduate student we’d lose.
“Your visa is being revoked. You are in no trouble with the university, and I will put in your record that you left because of reasons totally out of your control or ability to predict. If you ever get a chance to come back, and if you want to, I’ll do everything in my power to fix this. But right now, it is out of my hands. I can ask for visas. I can fill in paper work. But I can’t actually give you a visa.
“It’s not your fault,” said
When he reached the hall he took out his cell phone and pressed a number. “Run down town, Gamal, and buy a couple of trunks. We’re going to need to pack tonight.”
Within an hour, while Hapgood and
Gamal glanced back curiously and almost immediately found himself surrounded and backed against a wall.
“Well, Ayrab, what cha think you’re doing here? Gonna do some terrorism, eh?”
Gamal began to protest, but it did no good. The punks were not looking for the truth. They weren’t even looking for Arabs. They just wanted to beat somebody up.
“Listen to him whine,” said one of the punks.
“Listen to this,” said another and slugged Gamal in the stomach. Gamal put up such resistance as he could, but after being blindsided by a few more punches he sank to his knees. One of the punks picked up a rock and held it over Gamal.
At this moment there was a roar as a Grand National entered the alley and sped toward them. It stopped and three figures got out. The biggest one said, “You people have a problem?”
“La dee dah,” said one of the punks. “Looks like a white girl and her boyfriends.” The one with the rock hurled it at the big one.
The punks sensed the change
in the balance of the fight and ran like cowards.
“We saw them ducking into the
alley and wondered what it was,” said
“Thank you. I’m all right,” said Gamal.
“You look kind of winded,”
“Yes. Yes. To the luggage store. I’ll be all right there.”
They helped him into the car.
“Glad you could speak with
“American West or Western Civilization?”
“Well, in the
“What do you make of that?”
“It’s the immigrants. The babies we do have, more than a normal proportion that is, are children of first generation immigrants. So our birth rate is just about right for stability. It’s just that a smaller proportion of women are having the children.”
“Yes, poor. And of course that means they can’t offer the advantages of a middle class home. But it isn’t so grim. Immigrants are poor now, but in a generation or two they’ll be assimilated and rich and those children will be productive as anybody.”
“And have a low birth rate,”
“Yes, of course. That goes with wealth and urbanization. The fertility of immigrants drops rather
quickly. But there are plenty
available. It’s just a matter of selling
it to the American people. We have the
makings of a serious immigration backlash of there. That would be bad. It would put us in the same boat as
Hapgood spoke up. “What we are curious about is when ethnic groups combine, does their fertility drop.”
“Yes indeed. But that’s wealth and urbanization. It’s not as if fertility drops because of mixing ethnic groups. It’s a matter of when they combine, not if they combine.”
“Do you have numbers that would support that, for instance ethnic groups that have combined for several generations and maintained their birth rates?” Hapgood asked
“No. I can’t say we do. But nobody doubts what’s going on. You can collect data on ethnic groups and watch them intermarry with others, you can watch their incomes rise and you can watch their fertility fall. But all you get a picture of is the whole group maturing as Americans.”
“So you can’t put together a sample of a few thousand people, half of which have done just as you say, entered the urban mix and become rich and childless, and the other half has stayed home, married the girl next door and become just as rich and just as childless.”
“No, we don’t track people that way. What you are asking for is for us to identify everyone in the country from one census to the next. We can trace names, but we can’t really trace individuals that way. Almost, but not quite. Give us your name, and we’ll try to run you down on the previous censuses, but that’s your own business. We’d never release that to anyone else. Neither would we tell you the life history of anybody else.”
“But you could do it, then. You could figure out for some group whether there was a relationship between mixing ethnic groups and falling fertility,” Hapgood suggested
“Well, no we couldn’t because we know what causes the falling fertility. And we can’t let you do it because we can’t give you other people’s confidential material.
“But it wouldn’t do any good anyway. Suppose you did it. You got your sample, compared people who came from the same place and after a few years had the same incomes, and divide them between mixed and unmixed. And suppose, and I don’t know if you’d find it or not, but just what if you found a difference. It would tell you nothing.”
“It sounds like it would tell
you a lot,” said
“No, people looking at it would just say, ‘Those people who like tradition married close to home and had big families. Those who preferred to be modern did just the opposite. Conclusion is no conclusion.”
“By ‘we’ you mean ...,” Hapgood prompted.
“Another bureaucrat reduced
to tears,” said
“I hope we didn’t give him nightmares,” Hapgood rejoined.
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