My eight hours transit cross country yesterday to give a one-hour talk on bias wasn’t a total waste.. I did get to catch up on my New York Times back-up. However, the near head explosion my reading triggered was a threat to aircraft and passengers.
On March 10, page two, the Times published an ombudsman-like explanation of what terms it believes the paper should use when discussing illegal immigration. It begins,
“Illegal immigrant.” “Unauthorized immigrant.” “Undocumented immigrant.” “Illegal alien.” “Migrant.” “Noncitizen.” All of these terms, and some others, have been used in The New York Times to describe a person who has entered, lived in or worked in the United States without proper authorization — and each has been met with criticism.
The fact that terms meet with criticism doesn’t prove there is anything wrong with all the terms. Some of these terms, when used to describe illegal immigrants—and that is the correct term—are simply misleading, or so incomplete as to be useless. “Noncitizen”? A non-citizen is not necessarily illegal, nor is a non-citizen necessarily an immigrant. Ding. “Unauthorized” and “undocumented” immigrant are both euphemisms to duck the problem and the issue: the immigrant is illegal, and its not good to be illegal. The fact that the immigrant is illegal is the immigrant’s fault, not some passive bureaucratic snafu that robbed him of authorization or the documents he needs.
There is no controversy or problem here, but the Times spends over a thousand words pretending that there is.
“In a debate as contentious as the one surrounding immigration policy in the United States, where even the most basic terminology is fraught with political implications, how do journalists decide, in a given instance, what term to apply?” Steven Hiltner whines. Uh, Steve? It’s in the Times ethics code. Just tell the truth, clearly and objectively. That means use “illegal immigrant,” period. The issue is people coming into our nation, immigrants, who do so in violation of our laws—illegally. What’s the problem?
The Times style guide, Hiltner explains, says that the term “illegal immigrant” may be considered “loaded or offensive” by “some readers.” The guide suggests “not taking sides” and using “alternatives” that describe the specific circumstances of the person in question. HOLD IT. “Illegal immigrant” isn’t loaded, or political, or partisan. It is clear English and undeniable fact. That one side of the political spectrum, for the most cynical of reasons, wants to disguise the nature of the act in question does not make telling the truth that this side of the spectrum wants to unethically obscure “loaded” or “taking sides.” There is the pro-illegal immigration “side,” the dishonest, anti-law side, and the truth, which is the side the Times is obligated to embrace. Why should the Times care if “some people” want news sources to obscure the truth to aid and abet their agenda? Because a political party has embraced obfuscation and denial as a strategy, the Times is obligated not to allow fact to get in the way? Nonsense.
That the Times even feels like it has to engage in this navel gazing shows that it is hostage to the Left. The individuals in question are illegal immigrants, and that is what a responsible, neutral, objective and ethical newspaper should call them, so there is no confusion….even though Democrats, progressives and activists want there to be confusion. Continue reading