Standing Athwart NR’s TDS, Yelling Stop
It is just me, or has the Trump boomlet caused the writers at National Review to go ‘round the bend? Yesterday alone National Review Online published three articles disparaging conservatives who are concerned about immigration (that is, most conservatives) as dolts, cranks, or Nazis.
First up is the usually thoughtful and interesting Kevin Williamson. His article Visa Vulnerability describes how the government not only goes out its way to not enforce immigration law, but also to not collect data confirming the extent to which it does not enforce immigration law. Williamson concludes that this state of affairs is by design and not accident, and that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson should be impeached if it is not corrected.
Oh really? Surely Williamson knows that this state of affairs has persisted for decades with the awareness and tacit approval of the GOP establishment. But only now it is an intolerable situation worthy of impeachment? Why is that? Perhaps, just perhaps, the government’s dereliction of duty is under discussion now only because of a certain self-promoting casino mogul. But of course Williamson can’t acknowledge this, and instead has to include a gratuitous insult of Trump supporters (at least one Trump insult per article is now apparently mandatory): “Don’t try explaining this to a Trumpkin.”
Reihan Salam then chimed in with an article proposing a new immigration policy: The New Melting Pot. It is long wonkish piece worthy of a rejoinder (which is coming), but I found it notable for the way the normally restrained Salam felt impelled to include his own gratuitous Trump bashing. According to Salam, Trump’s “clownish provocations” cater to “fear and resentment” and are characterized by “bombast and chauvinism.”
Last up is Jim Geraghty, whose writings on immigration become more unhinged by the day. In yesterday’s offering, The Rise of the Doomsday Conservatives, we learn that conservatives who question the wisdom of permanently high levels of third-world immigration are “white nationalists,” “paranoid race-obsessed hysterics,” and “Trump-aligned anti-immigration zealots” who exhibit traits of “lunatic white-nationalism.” Typical Geragthy restraint and thoughtfulness, in other words.
Geragthy formulates the concerns expressed by columnist Diana West as follows: “West and others assert that a majority-minority United States will be a lesser country – less free, less prosperous, less safe. At heart, they believe that what gives the United States its unique strengths is a population that is predominately European in heritage.”
Hmm, that’s an interesting proposition. I suppose, if one were so inclined, one could do the research and compare countries around the world run by members of different ethnic groups and then see how they stacked up according to some objective criteria. Say, for instance, respect for religious and ethnic minorities, equal treatment of women, respect for the rule of law, respect for property rights, absence of corruption, protection of free speech and political dissent, etc. Maybe there’s something to West’s point; maybe it’s load of crap.
But Geragthy has zero interest in learning whether there is any merit to it or not. Rather, he helpfully transforms her position into something he finds more assailable: “But if you think a strong national defense, strong family values, free-market economics and respect for the rule of law only benefit white America, and can only be preserved by them, you’re out of your mind.”
It should go without saying that Geraghty’s framing of the issue bears no resemblance whatsoever to West’s point. She made a reasonable if debatable assertion that countries run by Europeans and their descendants tend to be more free, safe and prosperous than others. What she emphatically did not say is that within such countries, only white people benefit.
A basic rule of punditry is that it is bad form to call people names, as such behavior is typically a sign of a weak argument. I will therefore refrain from going full-Geraghty and responding in kind, except to say that his straw argument is a vile, malicious smear, and the accompanying slurs and insults are a discredit to him and NR.
As Kevin Williamson might say, maliciously lying about your opponents’ viewpoints, then bravely refuting the malicious lie you have just created, and, for good measure, loading in a lot of name-calling based on the now refuted invented lie, does not happen by accident but by design.
I have been a subscriber to National Review since 1985. It was that year that I came across a copy of Right Reason by William F. Buckley, Jr., and then attended a speech he gave at Florida Atlantic University. I had been fairly apolitical until then, but the book and the speech set me on a course as a lifelong conservative. Since then NR has been a continuing source of insights and information.
It is therefore especially disappointing to me to watch NR’s recent transformation into . . . something else.