Those entrusted with arguing for particular contentious public policy options have an obligation to do so competently and honestly. Few things in the public arena are more infuriating tha watching the wise and responsible point of view go spinning down in flames because its advocates are inarticulate, confused, repulsive (thus letting the Cognitive Dissonance scale take over), illogical, addicted to rationalizations,or stupid.
Unfortunately, most of our public policy controversies fall into this category. There might have been an intelligent social policy debate to be had over whether marriage should be extended to same-sex couples, but one the opponents resorted to religious dogma or straight-up bigotry, the argument was lost. Affirmative action is on the way to extinction in part due to blatantly hypocritical, pretzel-like arguments from its advocates: in a holiday discussion, an Asian-American woman told me that she did not support the lawsuit against Harvard for res ipsa loquitur discrimination against Asian students because the suit was being pushed by racists.
The debate over tightening security at our boarders is literally a no-brainer—of course the U.S. should take necessary measures to prevent illegal immigration—that is increasingly brainless. Give President Trump the prize for starting it down this route. Either intentionally or because the man simply cannot express himself with precision, he initially framed the need to enforce our immigration laws with the confounding statement, “They (that is, Mexico) aren’t sending us their best people.” Well, yes, I guess it would be nice if a better class of illegal immigrants breaking our laws and defying our procedures was getting into the country to steal as many benefits of U.S residence that they can, but in truth it doesn’t matter whether illegal immigrants are the best people or the worst people. I don’t care if every one of them is a candidate for sainthood; it’s not up to foreign citizens to unilaterally decide who lives in the United States, and they have no right to defy our sovereignty. That’s it. That’s enough. It would be nice if no terrorists could gain access to their hunting ground through the porous enforcement Democrats and cheap labor-loving business interests have inflicted on us, but it would be no less imperative to enforce out borders if there were no terrorists. There is no valid, sensible, logical or honest argument from any perspective that we should allow people who come here a) to do so and b) to avoid enforcement of the laws they broke as long as they don’t break other laws.
Thanks to President Trump’s habitually simplistic speech and meat-axe reasoning, however, immediately joined by the open-borders advocates’ eagerness to avoid the real issue, we are still conducting this debate on the “good illegal/bad illegal/ ‘Think of the children!’/ ‘Be afraid!’ ” basis. Pundits and journalists have been happy to follow suit, especially since Trump’s focus feeds into the false narrative that wanting to enforce our laws, borders and sovereignty is a desire motivated by racism. Undoubtedly Trump’s opponents would be doing this anyway: playing the race card as an automatic response to anyone not towing the Left’s line became the knee-jerk, automatic during the Obama administration. However, constantly emphasizing the violent and criminal illegals as if they are the only reason we don’t welcome Southern Border-jumpers into the U.S. with open arms makes the racist slur easy.
Thus we get, on MSNBC, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal claiming that President Trump’s real agenda is to make “America pure” by banning “folks of color” and shutting down all legal immigration. She’s a disgrace—the MSNBC host Chris Hayes too, since he didn’t challenge her, but then, its MSNBC—but Trump’s obsession with the murderers, drug dealers rapists and terrorists play into her unscrupulous hands. Historian Jon Meacham, who wrote the terrific biography of Andrew Jackson, “American Lion,” has apparently become Trump Deranged, and this week compared the President’s demand for a wall to the Ku Klux Klan. Nice. In the New York Times, an op-ed blames Hollywood’s recent obsession with cartels as the popular villains for supporting public fear of “a supposedly real menace in the here and now. In late December, President Trump shut down parts of the government over the border wall he wants to build to keep out immigrants he says are drug-dealing criminals. He’s never stopped making up false and distorted statements about the dangers posed by Latino immigrants. All the while, Hollywood has been inventing screen stories that sell the image of lawbreaking Latinos as a threat to American peace and security.”
The President has never said a single word in denigration of legal Latino immigrants, but his exclusive emphasis on the worst of the illegal variety allows dishonest advocacy like the op-ed to thrive. Unenforced borders are a “real menace” even if it is just Care Bears and Smurfs who are breaking our immigration laws.
There’s only one undeniable reason to enforce these laws, and that is that they are laws, and a society of laws that ignores its laws cannot survive. That’s all. Stop debating how bad, or good, the lawbreakers are. It doesn’t matter regarding the need to enforce U.S sovereignty; it partially determines how bad the damage will be if we don’t, but not whether there will be serious damage. President Trump’s deplorable communications skills, we are told, are effective in persuading people who share his problems with linear thought, critical thinking, carefully constructed arguments and articulate speech. For good policy to prevail, somewhat smarter people have to sign on too, and warping the issue makes it harder than it should be.