Michelle Malkin: As a Book Author, Newspaper Columnist, Television Commentator, and Blogger, This Young First-Generation American Has Used a Pull-No-Punches Style to Criticize U.S. Immigration and War-on-Terror Policies

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Born to Filipino parents in Pennsylvania, Michelle Malkin began her journalism career in 1992 as an editorial writer at the Los Angeles Daily News, followed by a stint at the Seattle Times, and then a move to Washington, D.C. A nationally syndicated columnist since 1999, she has become known in print and on television as a no-nonsense patriot with little patience for political correctness or America-bashing.

In her first book, Invasion, she describes how our lax immigration rules allow terrorists and criminals to enter the country, despite much talk of tightened homeland security. In her latest book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror, she argues forcefully that the primary concern of the U.S. government should be keeping its citizens safe, not dealing with ethnic grievances and civil-liberties complaints.

Malkin lives in Germantown, Maryland with her husband and two children. She was interviewed for TAE by senior editor Karina Rollins.

TAE; Would you start by giving us some background on your family and where you grew up?

MALKIN: My parents came here in 1970 from the Philippines. They were legal immigrants. My father was a doctor and my mother was a stay-at-home mom until we were school age, when she became a public school teacher. I was born in Philadelphia, and we moved around quite a bit before settling in southern New Jersey. After graduating from Holy Spirit High School I went to Oberlin College in Ohio, a small, radically left-wing, liberal arts college. I went there to study piano, but that didn't work out so I got a degree in English and government. My parents were not politically active, although they considered themselves rock-ribbed Reagan Republicans. They are strict Catholics. So I was congenitally a social conservative.

TAE: You didn't talk politics at home?

MALKIN: We didn't, although my parents were both huge news junkies. At breakfast we'd all read the paper, and the morning news shows were on all the time. When my parents drove us to school, talk radio would be on. So the news was always a big thing with me and I always wanted to go into print journalism. When I was in high school, I was editor of the high school newspaper. I got a job with the little local newspaper, but because I didn't have any connections it wasn't in the newsroom but in the printing plant, where I inserted the comics and ads into the paper. I just loved being around newspapers.

It wasn't until college that I became politically active, and even then I was not a very opinionated and outspoken person. On my campus, which particularly cultivated multiculturalism and anti-war orthodoxy, there was no ideological diversity at all.

I met my husband at Oberlin, and most of the student body, the administration, and the faculty chafed at us for challenging a few sacred cows, in particular affirmative action. We had subscriptions to Commentary and National Review, conservative publications that weren't available at the campus library. Through our own reading we were introduced to Thomas Sowell, and forms of economic conservatism we were not getting in our classes, which really whetted my appetite.

If not for my experiences at Oberlin, I certainly don't think I'd be doing what I'm doing today. It's tough to be an ethnic-minority conservative. There's a huge amount of pressure to conform and not be seen as a "sellout." The ad hominem attacks that minority conservatives have to endure on left-wing campuses when they're still very young and haven't built up a thick skin are a life-altering experience. I think you deal with it in one of two ways: One is to grow skin like Kevlar and to let it roll off your back. The other is to retreat. A lot of kids are intimidated.

TAE: Are you comfortable wearing the "conservative" label?

MALKIN: Oh, absolutely. I started out more of a social conservative than an economic conservative, and then there was a period where I called myself a libertarian before I called myself a conservative. …