Magazine article The American Conservative

Hablas McCarthyism?

Magazine article The American Conservative

Hablas McCarthyism?

Article excerpt

Open borders, closed debate

BY ALMOST ANY objective measure, proponents of "comprehensive" immigration reform should be feeling confident With Democrats contiolling both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and the enforcement-first House Republicans reduced to a tiny, ineffectual rump, at least in theory the political conditions in Washington have never been more favorable to amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Even if the 2008 election had somehow turned out differently, it might not have mattered. Republicans nominated John McCain, as in the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, to replace George W Bush in ensuring that family values don't stop at the Rio Grande. Both major-party candidates happily told the Spanish-language media that they were more committed than their opponent to delivering on amnesty. Tom Tancredo's GOP presidential bid didn't even last until the Iowa caucuses.

Yet when a few immigration restrictionists held a press conference to discuss a report suggesting that amnesty might be more popular among the political class than ordinary voters, the event was deemed worthy of an editorial denunciation by the New York Times. Former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan, respected political commentator James Pinkerton, VDARE editor Peter Brimelow, and American Cause executive director Marcus Epstein were labeled white supremacists and not too subtly blamed for anti-immigrant violence.

Accusations of racism are par for the course in the immigration debate, a familiar ritual performed in Southern Poverty Law Center fundraising letters and on the editorial pages of liberal metropolitan newspapers like the Times. But the tenuous link between antiamnesty political opinions and actual violence against immigrants is now being used as justification for moving beyond calling names to calling the police - that is, to report the "hate crime" of holding the wrong views about immigration policy.

Even describing supporters of a lenient immigration policy as advocates of "open borders" or "blanket amnesty" - which in some cases is normal political hyperbole and in others is literally true - now qualifies as "hate speech," according to Daily News columnist Dolores Frida. "Hate speech leads to hate crimes," Frida writes. "No argument about that Violence against Latinos has increased by 40 percent in the past four years - sometimes with deadly results, as evidenced by last year's murder of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero on Long Island."

To prevent the unwashed masses from being worked into a murderous frenzy by Fox News pundits complaining about McCain-Kennedy, the National Hispanic Media Coalition has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to, as Frida puts it, "examine the extent nature and effects of hate speech" and "counterbalance its negative impact." Although herself a beneficiary of freedom of the press, the Daily News scribe endorses such measures. "Certainly, no one wants to inhibit anyone from expressing his opinion, regardless of how vile it may be," Frida allows generously, "but a fair, safe, middle ground must be found."

Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza also desires a "middle ground" between the First Amendment and censoring commentators like CNN's Lou Dobbs with whom she disagrees about immigration policy. "Everyone knows there is a line sometimes that can be crossed when it comes to free speech," she told the New York Times last year. "And when free speech transforms into hate speech, we've got to draw that line."

Murguia's La Raza has joined with a who's who of Uberai organizations - the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for American Progress, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, George Soros's Media Matters, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center - to police such speech. They have even launched a website called We Can Stop the Hate dedicated to "taking the heat out of the immigration debate. …

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