Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Media Systematically Conflates Immigration And Illegal Immigration

   It happens everywhere. These are just small examples in stories I read in the Post this morning. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is here described as an "immigration hard-liner." Discussions of loosening/liberalizing enforcement of immigration laws is, as always, describe as "immigration reform." [my emphasis] Clinton's pledge to stop deporting illegal immigrants is described here as "a major break from Obama on immigration." (That last one is at least defensible to some extent.)
   Again, these are tiny examples of an extremely widespread phenomenon. It's SOP on CNN, for example. It's not a small point. I know many people--some of them immigrants themselves--who are like every reasonable person--against people coming across the border illegally en masse. Not a single one of them is anti-immigrant. I'm not really sure what's going on here. The distinction between legal and illegal immigrants is absolutely crucial. To be against illegal immigration is the sensible position. To be anti-immigrant or anti-immigration is to be a lunatic. By leaving out a short, obviously important qualifier, reasonable people and positions are represented as unreasonable. This is more akin to a lie than to rhetorical spin. And it's become the rule, not the exception.
   More substantially, I can't help but worry about Democratic pandering on this issue. It sounds an awful lot like the Democratic candidates are falling all over each other to promise the relevant demographic that they are going make it easier to stay in the country illegally. That is, it sounds a lot like buying votes with promises to refuse to enforce reasonable and important laws.
   If we think we should have more immigration from Mexico, then we should increase the amount of legal immigration allowed from there. If we think we need guest workers, then we should have a guest-worker program. Or...if we think it's really not that important for the government to know who's here, what they're up to, and so on, then we should loosen up such policies across the board--we should back off of requirements that people have Social Security numbers, drivers' licenses, etc. in general. I'm fine with minimizing the role of government and reducing its role in our lives...but if we do that, we have to do it for everyone.
   I don't even think that a certain amount of illegal immigration is such a big deal. But I'm appalled by the way the issue is being treated and discussed by the non-right. (I'm also appalled by many of the ways it's being discussed on the right...but that gets so much play that it's not worth talking about.) Many on the loony left advocate open borders. And identity politics encourages people to see these kinds of issues as matters of pure power politics, in which it is in the interest of certain groups to continue to push for fewer and fewer restrictions.
   Oh and: add to all this the general tendency of the left to represent anyone who disagrees with them on such an issue as racist...
   Anyway. I'm not too happy about the way this discussion is going.


Blogger The Mystic said...

I've been wondering lately if this issue of conflating legal and illegal immigration and the issue of denying the reality of race grow from the same soil on the left.

The simplistic pomo kiddies deny that race is real and accuse anyone who asserts otherwise of being a racist. Here, they are effectively denying the reality of illegal immigration and accusing anyone against it of being anti-immigrant.

It's like the damn binary thing. Po-mo kiddies get by on nothing but strawman machines, and that's to be expected, 'cause their stupidity looks obviously as stupid as it is when it's compared to a non-strawman. When up against strawmen, especially when the other side is goaded into the defense of strawmen they'd otherwise never defend, this is the only time the pomo kiddies have a chance at looking reasonable, or even pretending to themselves to be reasonable.

This has all probably grown out of a mixture of fear on behalf of the pomo kiddies that racists or bigots (or anyone who dares to infringe their right to safety from mean things being said about their IDENTITIES) could be correct and a desire to convince themselves and others that the pomo kiddies are obviously correct even though the pomo kiddies know they aren't.

But they can't bring themselves to look at their own incorrectness, 'cause in their simplistic, binary-loving minds, that would mean the other side is right.

It ain't so, of course, but the pomo kiddies don't know it. I'm not saying with certainty that this is the crux of the entire pomo phenomenon, but the more I look at it, and the more I learn about it, the more I think the whole phenomenon could be explained by reference to the very basic and simple matter of oversimplification born of cowardice in the face of their own ignorance.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I'm afraid you might be right. The far left loves to manipulate language, and use that to get a foot in the door. First there were inchoate complaints about 'illegal alien,' then there were sophistical complaints about 'illegal immigrant,' then there was insistence on 'undocumented immigrant' or just 'undocumented' (as if they just lost some unspecified documents). Now it's become either just 'immigrants' (their illegality isn't even acknowledged), or even 'migrants' (it's not even specified whether they are coming in or going out).

I predict that the same thing will happen here that happened with same-sex marriage. In that debate, it was often pointed out that some arguments for SSM would also countenance polygamous marriage. SSM advocates reacted with outrage--"the issues are totally separate and you're a bigot for even suggesting they aren't!..." Then as soon as SSM was legalized, then suddenly people started testing the rhetorical waters with respect to legalizing PM too...

Now lots of liberals and lefties angrily deny that they're in favor of open borders...but I actually don't seen any way to make sense of their rhetoric if that's not the endgame...and I've seen more and more full-blown open borders stuff here and there.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...


I agree with you about the general argument, I'm just wondering what you think the implication for policy should be?

That is, there should be no obvious complaint about enforcing the law (why have laws if we're not going to enforce them?), but practically speaking, what should be done about the ~11M illegal immigrants here already? There seemed to be some sort of consensus coalescing between Obama and a large group of both Ds and Rs before the GOP accelerated its Jacobinism and started strictly enforcing its rule against supporting anything Obama supported. Far better, they thought, to use it as a cudgel to win elections than to actually attempt to solve, or at least ameliorate, the problem.

Also, unless I'm missing something, the southern border situation has actually improved the past few years:


There is no excuse for the (to be charitable) sloppy thinking you point out. But the frenzy the GOP has whipped itself into is disturbing when you consider that they abandon any good idea as soon as Obama agrees with it, and they are approaching maximum spittle-flecked rage at a time of minimal immigration from Mexico.

It could be that I'm not as sensitive to what you describe because I don't swim in the sea of idiocy that you do in academia.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Yeah man, I don't really have a right to an opinion about what the policy should be. I really am just pissed about the--probably intentional--conflation of legal and illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration wouldn't worry me a lot if I weren't worried about (a) overpopulation and (b) a future push for open borders. Well...also because I worry about its implications for the welfare state, since I worry about its effect on the ACA. I do realize that illegal immigration has slowed substantially, and that's good. And trying to deport law-abiding people who have made a life here is nuts, IMO.
I also think that we might *need* more immigration from Mexico etc. to get us over the looming Social Security hump.

But I do want us to recognize that we have to start taking the population problem seriously *sometime* and the sooner the better.

Anyway, it really just is the characteristic lefty distortion of non-left positions, and the attempt to illicitly make them seem overtly crazy and turbo-racist that pisses me off. (Even though I do recognize that *some* racism may very well be at work.)

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...


Yes, one of the worst thing you can do in trying to reach a goal is make distorted claims and arguments. The lack of clarity actually impedes your efforts.


10:48 AM  

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