After Boston Bombing, Rightbloggers Turn on Immigration (Mexican or Whatever)
There's a bill working its way through Congress that would offer a "path to citizenship" to the sort of immigrants currently known in some circles as illegal. Though its application is general, it's obviously aimed at U.S. guests of the Mexican persuasion, and it only has a chance of passing because Republicans, sick of losing Hispanic votes and fearful of fallout from the failure of the DREAM Act, are lining up behind it.
Many rightbloggers don't like it but, perhaps feeling overmatched by its popularity, haven't been too vocal about it -- until the Boston Marathon bombings gave them a new chance to explain to the world why foreigners from Mexico to the Caucasus are inherently dangerous.
There's long been a schism in the conservative movement on immigration, with supporters like the Wall Street Journal, Grover Norquist, and George W. Bush pushing for more of it -- mainly because heightened low-income immigration would add downward pressure on American wages, hastening the dawn of the new feudalism that is the Journal's dream -- and outlets like National Review and VDare pushing for less -- mainly because Mexicans.
Usually the pro-immigrant conservatives are pretty calm about the subject -- naturally, since they're allied with big business interests who can pay them handsomely and afford to wait. The antis tend to be a little wilder and weirder, not to say (oh let's go ahead and say) racist.
In 2006, for example, The New Criterion's Roger Scruton spoke glowingly of the famously racist "Rivers of Blood" speech by British whackjob Enoch Powell. During a 2007 amnesty push, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez ran a New York Times photo of immigrant day-laborers waiting for a vote in Congress and, allegedly quoting an friend, observed of the dark-skinned working-class men pictured there, "these guys aren't living in the shadows -- they're walking around unabated in the United States Capitol. Why, if you're trying to make the case for amnesty, would you remind people of the local 7-11, where you sometimes can't get to your car for all the day laborers?"
As recently as 2011 Walter Russell Mead, who has a reputation as an intellectual for some reason, explained that American whites resented the idea that the "federal government and the (largely white) upper middle class establishment wants to marginalize the traditional white majority in the US through a combination of deliberate immigration policy aimed at reducing white preponderance in the population and by favoring immigrants and non-whites for education and employment."
The immigration bill has led to a full-court press among the wetter conservatives. It has also led to some humorous intra-wingnut propaganda. For example, last week Soren Dayton explained to readers of the Daily Caller that he'd met an anti-immigration zealot who "wanted to stop immigration reform because he believed that human beings were destroying the planet and that an increase in the U.S. population would exacerbate the environmental injustices he perceived to be occurring already." That's right -- "he, like many other immigration opponents, was not conservative. He was a union-promoting environmentalist..." You don't want to be like those people, do ya?
If readers weren't convinced yet, Dayton added that this stinking eco-hippie "viewed an increase in the population of humans as the greatest challenge to that dignity. This is something that he shared with Margaret Sanger and the founders of Planned Parenthood." Planned Parenthood! Maybe in a follow-up he'll link environmentalism and birth control to Hitler, as one does.
Also at the Daily Caller, media reporter Jeff Poor headlined that "NY Times editors make same arguments for immigration reform they did ahead of 1986 amnesty" -- in support of the Simpson-Mazzoli amnesty bill, signed by that treacherous bastard Ronald Reagan. Strange are the ways of the liberal media.
But in recent days some of the more xenophobic brethren have adopted what they obviously think is a convincing new anti-immigration argument: That the immigration bill will fill America with terrorists like the Tsarnaevs of Boston. Yeah, the bill is clearly aimed at immigrants from Mexico, which does not have a large Muslim population, but one can never be too careful.
"Proponents say the bill will make us safer because we will know who is here," said PJ Media's J. Christian Adams. "But the Boston bombers were already living here legally and were operating in plain sight... The terrorists who committed the Boston bombings got permanent legal status in the United States from their parents being granted asylum after fleeing Dagestan, Russia..." In case readers missed the point, Adams' article was illustrated with pictures of a revolving door and a policeman in handcuffs. If you decriminalize immigration, only criminals will immigrate!
At the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan speculated (for it would be irresponsible not to) that due to Boston, "something tells me it's going to be back to the drawing board for immigration reform." "Exposure to our society and way of life for years did nothing to prevent [the Tsarnaevs] from falling under the spell of radical preachers at a terrorist-supporting mosque," reasoned Tim Dunkin at Renew America. "As a result, we should seriously consider, as a society, whether we should allow the immigration of Muslims into our nation."
It wasn't all anti-Muslim, though -- Stanley Kurtz at National Review thought Muslims were only the symptom, and anti-Americanism the disease. "The terror attack is an extreme symptom of a far broader problem," said Kurtz, which was "the breakdown of our system of patriotic assimilation." Once upon a time, kids knew who Thomas Jefferson and Horatio Alger were but, because of "the rise of multiculturalism and bilingualism," they no longer do, and if the bill passes "a massive new wave of only superficially assimilated citizens would undercut the shared civic beliefs that have long held America together," by which Kurtz presumably meant "Nickleback sucks" and "there's no wrong way to eat a Reese's." Till then, he sniffed, "I doubt I can support this new bill."
Some of the brethren explicitly included Mexicans, and others, in their universe of proscribed immigrants.
Victor Davis Hanson of National Review has long been against Mexican immigration, owing to his alleged difficulties with brown-skinned people in his California town. He claims, for example, that "cholos" frequently steal his power tools (he has not caught them doing so, but his neighbors agree it must have been them) and that Mexicans frequently drive drunk and plow into his fruit trees, for which he also offers only anecdotal evidence.
Last week Hanson complained that America was not deporting enough Mexicans. "If someone from Latin America is detained by authorities an hour after illegally crossing the border and sent back, does he count as 'apprehended' or 'deported'?" he riddled, then sighed: "Deportation is now politically incorrect, sort of like the T-word 'terrorism' which the administration also seeks to avoid."
Next stop, Tsarnaevs: "Why were the Tsarnaevs granted asylum in the United States and why were some of them not later deported?" asked Hanson. He noted that they had, "as ethnic Chechens and former residents of Kyrgyzstan, sought 'asylum' here from anti-Muslim persecution." As you may imagine, anti-Muslim persecution does not move Hanson, and he accused them of faking it -- much as had the "supposedly persecuted Somalis were generously granted asylum to immigrate to Minnesota communities, only to later fly back to Somalia to wage jihad." These he described as examples of "near-suicidal immigration policies" that, he hopefully predicted, would mean "little support for the current immigration bill." Won't catch Somalis stealing Hanson's chainsaw, by God!
At Chicago Boyz, Michael Kennedy said the pro-immigration Republicans' argument that the Party would reap electoral benefits from letting in more Mexicans had already been disproven, anyway, by Great Britain, where "the Labour Party flooded the country with Muslim immigrants as a plan to dominate the Conservatives. It worked and Britain has not had a Conservative government since Margaret Thatcher." Excepting John Major's and David Cameron's, we might have added, but Kennedy had a preemptive answer: the latter doesn't count because Cameron's coalition would not "be recognizable to Winston Churchill or Lady Thatcher," and the former doesn't count because oh look a bird. (Neither did Kennedy explain how the only other British administration since Thatcher's, Tony Blair's, endeared Labour to Muslim voters by joining the war on Iraq.)
At National Review Thomas Sowell explained that "the West has imported vast numbers of people who hate our guts and would love to slit our throats," and he advocated for keeping such people out of the country. But how could he tell which immigrants wanted to kill him? "It is already known that a significant percentage of the immigrants from some countries go on welfare," said Sowell, "while practically none from some other countries do." As often as it happens, it is still something to see a black conservative embracing the welfare-cadillacs-and-T-bone-steaks argument.
Also, Sowell said, "anyone who suggests that we should compare welfare rates, crime rates, high-school-dropout rates, and drunk-driving-arrest rates among immigrants from different countries before we set immigration quotas is likely to be stigmatized as a bad person." So unfair! But then one would expect Sowell to show his courage by telling us which immigrants were the Good Ones and which were the Bad Ones; alas, he never got around to it, though he did add, "what happened in Boston shows just one of those dangers," perhaps a hint that Chechens by way of Kyrgizstan would be on his Bad list.
Similarly, Ann Coulter complained that "we're not allowed to 'discriminate' in favor of immigrants who would be good for America. Instead of helping America, our immigration policies are designed to help other countries solve their internal problems by shipping their losers to us." Being Coulter, she was slightly more upfront than Sowell about who were the Good Ones and who were the Bad Ones.
Coulter mentioned a few dozen immigrant-killers, including LIRR shooter Colin Ferguson (Jamaican! Check!), 1997 Empire State Building madman Ali Hassan Abu Kamal (Palestinian! Check!), the killer of Bill Cosby's son Ennis (Ukrainian! Check!), Appalachian School of Law shooter Peter Odighizuwa (Nigerian! Check!), and others. Coulter saved her traditional overt racism for her mention of one Hmong killer, adding that murder "was an unusual offense for a Hmong, whose preferred crime is raping 12- to 14-year-old girls." Maybe anti-Hmong racism is a niche conservative fetish we haven't yet heard about; if so, it's about time they changed things up a little.
Finally, in her summing up, Coulter said, "the mass murderers were from Afghanistan, South Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, South Africa, Ethiopia and Mexico. None were from Canada or Western Europe." Presumably the 100-plus countries this list leaves out are on probation. If some Peruvian or Fijian shoots someone at the 7-11, Coulter gets out the red pen once more.
Some Republican politicians have gotten the message, with everyone's favorite GOP civil libertarian Rand Paul, for example, demanding the Senate "incorporate various national security concerns into the comprehensive immigration reform debate in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings."
Will it work in the long run? Doubtful; though rightbloggers have eagerly milked the Boston bombing for outrage, the immigration flap is only a fringe benefit thereof; they're more interested in targeting Democrats with, say, some attention-getting Congressional hearings on the subject than in stirring shit over a bill that some Republicans, including some of their top 2016 prospects, are trying to get passed. Xenophobia's a tonic for the troops, but elections are important.
So when it comes to furriner-hatin', except for the complete nutters the brethren will likely let this one just peter out, and scratch any xenophobic itches with occasional scandlettes like this one pimped by the Washington Examiner about how the USDA is inviting Mexicans to get food stamps (or "paying to promote food stamp usage to illegal immigrants for the sake of their American children," as the Examiner has it). But we still think it's interesting, for two reasons: one, that so many of the brethren thought to make the connection between Mexican immigration and jihad bombers in the first place; and two, that the anything-goes insanity we saw in the days after 9/11 seems not to be so sustainable after this recent terror attack -- which gives us a rare opportunity to end this column on a note of optimism.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- Here Are Ten (Or So) Graphic Novels to Watch Out For at NYCC 2015
- The Man Behind 'Modern Seinfeld,' Focuses on His Own Neuroses in New Book
- NYU Student Employees Say the University Hasn't Paid Them in Months