It has been a while since I've done the FJM Treatment because it is a very time-consuming format. It also requires responding to writing that is so bad it barely merits a response. Something special took place this weekend, though, when resident NY Times Conservative Intellectual Ross Douthat penned a missive about the necessity of bringing xenophobic populism and scientific racism "to the table" when crafting immigration policy. Because how can you make immigration policy if you're not accounting for the preferences of the large part of the population that, like, hates foreigners?
Seriously. That is his argument Get ready for a fantastic voyage into the world in which that not only makes sense but passes for an argument worthy of inclusion in the Newspaper of Record for the Western world. Ladies and gentlemen, "The Necessity of Stephen Miller" by Ross Douthat, deemed worthy of inclusion in the New York Goddamn Times.
Hint: Stephen Miller is not necessary, for this or anything other than an exhaustive list of every man who owns a sex robot he named "Bitch."
After 12 years of failed attempts at immigration reform, the current round of negotiations are turning on a strangely personalized question: When a deal is being made, should Stephen Miller be at the table?
No. Are we done here?
Miller is the White House’s point man for immigration policy (and for strange and strident encounters with the press). He is also an immigration restrictionist: He wants a policy that favors skills-based recruitment over extended families, and he wants a lower immigration rate overall. He says he’s concerned about assimilation and crime and native wages; his critics say he just wants to keep America as white as possible, and that by even bringing him to meetings Trump is making a deal impossible to reach.
Yeah he's also, like, super 1910s-era xenophobic racist "restrictionist" with a lengthy history of having, to put it charitably, some problems dealing with people who are not exactly like him. Every word out of his mouth about immigration is shades of Madison Grant, the eugenics movement, Lothrop Stoddard, and the Immigration Restriction League of the WWI era. "Nordic Stock" has been replaced by "skills based," since we can safely assume that if those skills belong to Indian and Chinese people they will be deemed less relevant than the skills of (wink!) Norwegians.
The critics are right about this much: Having someone like Miller involved is a change from the way prior immigration negotiations have proceeded.
Yeah the government has either been composed of flaming racists or have, for brief intervals, recognized the general lack of usefulness of bringing flaming racists to the table.
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.
What a diverse group of old white guys and Marco Rubio.
The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t represent the actual divisions in the country.
This statement is true, except for his baffling decision to describe this as a "problem."
Can we really set policy without bringing the anti-Semites and racists to the table? Yes Ross. Yes we can.
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.
One third, huh? Funny how when large majorities favor some liberal policy it's mob rule, but with right-wing knuckle dragging positions a decent sized minority is more than enough reason to grab the erasers and start making changes.
And there are various reasonable grounds on which one might favor a reduction.
*makes j/o motion*
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.
The distrust it sows when non-white people join the population? Is "distrust" the right word here?
To reiterate, the entire thrust of this Intellectual argument is that immigration makes racist white people uncomfortable and that viewpoint should be treated as legitimate. This is where the bar is for getting in the New York Times on the right these days.
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.
Ahh, the low skills argument. As someone who has studied and read quite a bit on the restriction / eugenics / scientific racism movements of the late Industrial Revolution and early part of the 20th Century, this language is essentially verbatim from that era. Maybe they didn't name-drop the Gini Coefficient, but the "unskilled, unwashed hordes" stuff is boilerplate.
With that said, illegal immigration has slowed over the last decade, and immigration’s potential economic and humanitarian benefits are still considerable. And it’s also clear that many immigration restrictionists are influenced by simple bigotry — with the president’s recent excrement-related remarks a noteworthy illustration.
OK both of these sentences are very true, and since they are true and the author seems to recognize their fundamental truth I don't really understand what we're talking about here.
This bigotry, from the point of view of many immigration advocates, justifies excluding real restrictionists from the negotiating table.
Uh oh. Here's comes a "but."
The limits of this strategy are evident in the repeated failure of “comprehensive” immigration reform over the last decade and more, doomed each time by the gulf between the plans of Republican negotiators and the actual preferences of their voters.
In other words, illegal immigration is falling (see: two sentences ago) and the aging American population really needs more younger workers and the titans of capitalism all but demand cheap foreign manual and skilled (H1-B type) labor, but…somehow immigration policy has "failed" because what we haven't tried is letting some backwoods foreigner-hatin' degenerates take a crack at buildin' them a real big fence and keepin' out the people who talk funny and look different.
The present view of many liberals seems to be that restrictionists can eventually be steamrolled — that the same ethnic transformations that have made white anxiety acute will eventually bury white-identity politics with sheer multiethnic numbers. But liberals have been waiting 12 years for that “eventually” to arrive, and instead Trump is president and the illegal immigrants they want to protect are still in limbo. So maybe it would be worth trying to actually negotiate with Stephen Miller, rather than telling Trump that he needs to lock his adviser in a filing cabinet, slap on a “beware of leopard” sign, and hustle out to the Rose Garden to sign whatever Durbin and Graham have hashed out.
Thanks for the confirmation. We need to stop trying to think about the role immigration plays in our society and economy and instead give a louder voice to people who just don't like it and have no defensible reason for not liking it other than a distaste for the many-tongued hordes of the lesser races.
Especially since last week, Trump and Miller actually made an interesting offer: an amnesty and even a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers, more generous than what many restrictionists favor and with no promise of the new E-Verify enforcements conservatives often seek, in return for a shift (over many years) to a skills-based policy and a somewhat lower immigration rate.
So what was proposed would give people who recognize the role of immigration nothing (a phase-out, essentially) and give Stephen Miller and his Cletus Caucus everything they want (racist immigration policy). Wow, quite a deal.
If you’re committed to the view that restrictionists can and must be steamrolled, you’ll respond to this offer the way many Democrats have — call it a “white supremacist ransom note,” punt on policy, and use the issue to rally your base in 2018.
To my knowledge, conservatives have never used immigration crudely to rally their base of provincial, angry, not terribly bright rural white people who are repeatedly told explicitly and implicitly that they are the only Americans who count and they are the modern version of God's Chosen People.
But if you think that lasting deals are forged when all sides are represented, you might consider making a counteroffer: for instance, the same rough blueprint but with more green cards for skilled immigrants, so that Miller gets his cuts to low-skilled immigration but the overall rate stays closer to the status quo.
"Skills" is such a totally disingenuous canard in this argument that I can't imagine anyone, especially anyone on the right, fails to see it for the obvious dog whistle it is.
And no, Ross Douthat of the New York Times, "all sides" being represented is not a precondition of creating effective laws, policies, or anything else. We leave out the shitty sides. Including the shitty sides doesn't make the final product better. It makes it shittier, because it will be informed at least slightly by people and ideas that are shit. Look at how much it has helped to include science denialists in the creation of public health and science policy! And of adherents to totally discredited economic theories with zero evidence to support their validity in the formation of tax policy! Yes, we have ample evidence that when you include voices that are dishonest about their motivations and intentions, factually incorrect, and relentlessly dedicated to an ideology around which every aspect of reality must bend, the end result is better, stronger policy. I mean, how could a nation make energy policy without bringing some Alchemists to the table to represent the 25% of the population that believes the Earth produces oil in its core?
You can't, dummy. Get smart like Ross Douthat, stupid.