Ross Douthat’s column this week in The New York Times said that a meaningful immigration compromise requires having hardcore immigration restrictionist Stephen Miller at the table. Excerpt:
The critics are right about this much: Having someone like Miller involved is a change from the way prior immigration negotiations have proceeded. As Jim Antle points out in a column for The Week, those negotiations have been consistently bipartisan, bringing together John McCain and Ted Kennedy, Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer, now Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin — but “they have mostly taken place between people who are fundamentally in agreement on immigration,” who favor both amnesty for illegal immigrants and reforms that would probably increase immigration rates.
The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t represent the actual divisions in the country. Americans have become more pro-immigration since the 1990s, but there is still a consistent pattern when you ask about immigration rates: About a third of Americans favor the current trend, slightly fewer want higher rates, and about a third, like Miller, want immigration reduced.
And there are various reasonable grounds on which one might favor a reduction. The foreign-born share of the U.S. population is near a record high, and increased diversity and the distrust it sows have clearly put stresses on our politics. There are questions about how fast the recent wave of low-skilled immigrants is assimilating, evidence that constant new immigration makes it harder for earlier arrivals to advance, and reasons to think that a native working class gripped by social crisis might benefit from a little less wage competition for a while. California, the model for a high-immigration future, is prosperous and dynamic — but also increasingly stratified by race, with the same inequality-measuring Gini coefficient as Honduras.
Naturally, Douthat exposed himself as a Nazi symp, according to Crazy Liberal Twitter. A typical example, from a guy with over 36,000 Twitter followers:
douthat is racist and a misogynist and a homophobe and longs for theocracy. if he wrote for the federalist this would be obvious, but he’s smart and tricksy enough to try to write to appeal to liberals. occasionally he screws up and the mask slips
— Atrios (@Atrios) January 28, 2018
But Respectable Liberal Twitter also lost its mind:
this is the sentence that gives it away, for me. it’s not that a material investment in white racial hierarchy makes many white americans hostile to the mere existence of nonwhites, it’s that diversity itself sows distrust (distrust that somehow only manifests among whites) pic.twitter.com/l6zp0wBC8V
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) January 28, 2018
This is incredible. Seriously, it is. As Bouie tweeted subsequently, one of Douthat’s great sins is that he recognizes that bigots should have a seat at the table as immigration is worked out. Well, look:
- Douthat says that there are actually non-bigoted reasons to want immigration restriction;
- Douthat says that whatever one’s own rationale to oppose immigration, the fact of the matter is that a massive number of Americans do — and, this being a democracy, their opinions, you know, matter;
- Douthat points out the inconvenient truth that diversity really does sow distrust.
This, apparently, is racist to say. Is social science racism? Is reality racist?
This is libelous. This is a straight-up lie. But any lie told for the sake of the Cause is justified, I guess.
See, this is why I usually don’t even bother engaging with people who scream “Racist! Hater! Bigot!” anytime you disagree with them — even if, as in Douthat’s case, you are simply making a case for political pragmatism. I mean, if Ross Douthat — ardent Never-Trumper Ross Douthat! — is your idea of a white supremacist, you are a crazy person who has no business near political power, and who are implicitly encouraging people to the right of Nancy Pelosi to vote Republican to keep you away from it.
Let me remind you of a conversation I had with an academic friend who defected with his wife from the communist East bloc in the 1960s. He said that life in the West these days is reminding them both of what it was like when communism came to their country. Why? I asked. Because today, people in the media and elsewhere will say whatever they have to, no matter how untrue, to ruin you — and nobody cares. All that matters is the revolution. Truth is what serves the cause.
UPDATE: Not all liberals. For example, here is liberal Shadi Hamid, making sense.
The idea that racists, bigots, and Islamophobes are beyond the pale in a democracy is itself a profoundly anti-democratic notion. But, without exaggeration, that’s the position that many leftists and Democrats seem to hold. This amounts to the criminalization of difference
— Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid) January 28, 2018