Tuesday, June 19, 2018


In today's column, David Brooks makes a "no true Scotsman" argument about conservatives and immigration.
... this administration ... is not populated by conservatives. It is populated by anti-liberal trolls. There’s a difference.

People like Stephen Miller are not steeped in conservative thinking and do not operate with a conservative disposition. They were formed by their rebellion against the stifling conformity they found at liberal universities. Their primary orientation is not to conservative governance but to owning the libs. In power they take the worst excesses of statism and flip them for anti-liberal ends.
Brooks says we can identify the fake conservatives by their use of language:
Here’s how you can detect the anti-liberal trolls in the immigration debate: Watch how they use the word “amnesty.” Immigration is a complex issue. Any serious reform has to grapple with tangled realities, and any real conservative has an appreciation for that complexity. But if you try to account for that complexity before an anti-immigration troll, he or she will shout one word: Amnesty!

Maybe we should find some arrangement for the Dreamers? Amnesty! The so-called moderate House immigration bill? Amnesty! Keeping families together? Amnesty!

This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality.
The implication is that conservatives have always favored some sort of immigration reform, and people who denounce any reform effort as "amnesty" are fake conservatives, a new breed who've come to dominate conservatism only in the Trump era.

If that's the case, I'm not sure why, when the Bush administration's immigration bill died in the Senate in 2007, 37 Republicans voted against it and only 12 voted in favor. Surely those 37 couldn't all have been fake conservatives, right?

And shouts of "Amnesty"? They're not new. Here was then-congressman Mike Pence in 2006, trying to get to the right of President Bush, as described by Time magazine:
Pence, a rising star in the House, is suggesting a temporary worker program based on a database run by private industry. And unlike the leading plan in the Senate and the blueprint sketched by Bush, his "Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act" would require all applicants to leave the country first.... Even though Bush has said his preferred solution "ain't amnesty," Pence appeals to hard-liners by calling the compromise a "no-amnesty solution."
Here was the reaction at Free Republic:
This is 100% amnesty. The main difference between Bush amnesty and Pence amnesty is that with Pence amnesty, the taxpayer gets to pay for a bus ride to a Mexican Border town.
Here was North Carolina congressman Patrick McHenry's take on the issue:
Amnesty is not the answer. To grant amnesty to these trespassers is to say "You crossed our borders illegally, you broke our laws and now we are rewarding you with U.S. citizenship – congratulations!" This is unacceptable; it undermines our legal system and calls into question the very rules and regulations that bind together a civil society.

A guest worker program is nothing more than amnesty wearing make-up – it's easier to look at, but just as ugly underneath.
Here was Human Events blogger Larry Kelley as immigration reform was being considered in 2006:
Congress now piously debates an amnesty bill, U.S. cities brace for more marches promoted by Spanish-language radio stations, and Marxists and anarchists wish to see more and more illegals have a claim on your family assets.

It’s chilling to remember that it was our ancestors’ embrace of amnesty that served to bring down the Western Roman Empire. On August 24, 410 A.D., the Roman general, Alaric, and his collection of German tribesman, Herulians, Rugians, and Gepidae, sacked Rome for the first time in 800 years. The event shocked the civilized world. These very same Goths had previously destroyed a whole legion, killing the Emperor Valens at Adrianople but were given amnesty, were hired and armed as Roman mercenaries, their families given lands inside the empire, and their general/king awarded Rome’s highest citizen status, patrician.

... While our obsequious Nero-like Congress openly debates the merits of amnesty programs, they dramatically amplify the invasion, undermine the prevailing American culture, and threaten American security and sovereignty.
As the bill was about to fail in 2007, National Review -- which I think we can all agree is a conservative publication -- gave column inches to anti-immigrant activist Mark Krikorian, who denounced existing immigration law as "amnesty," and warned that immigration reform is dangerous "amnesty":
It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that our “legal” immigration system is a permanent rolling amnesty for illegal aliens.

... when you amnesty an uneducated illegal alien with a large family, all you do is turn him into an uneducated legal alien with a large family — his earnings, and thus his tax payments, do indeed go up somewhat, but his use of government services increases much, much more because now he’s legal, but he’s still uneducated.
And a couple of months after the Bush bill failed, there was Kris Kobach -- yes, that Kris Kobach -- publishing a report for the Heritage Society titled "A Sleeper Amnesty: Time to Wake Up from the DREAM Act." Remember, this was at a time when Heritage was considered a respectable conservative organization, years before Jim DeMint took it further to the right.

It can't be true that all of these people were fake conservatives, can it, David?


UPDATE: Driftglass has much more.

As does Yastreblyansky.

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