The debate over immigration may have smothered in its cradle in Washington and national politics, but in more real places it`s still alive and kicking. One such place is Iowa, which for the last nine months has been pregnant with controversy over the issue.
Last September, the state`s Democratic governor, Tom Vilsack, was infected with the idea that what Iowa really needs are more immigrants—namely 350,000 of them—to be imported from Third World countries to help poor, backward, white Iowa "diversify." For all the pompous rhetoric about the holy mantra of "diversity," the real reason behind the governor`s plan was much more mundane. Iowa, a mainly rural state, is losing population and needs more people to boost its economy. The governor`s plan had the support of what at the time were called "business and civic leaders"—that is, those who directly profit form the cheap labor that more immigration brings.
But those who don`t so profit—the vast majority of Iowans – didn`t care much for the governor`s plan. Some 58 percent thought Iowa was already diverse enough and expressed opposition to the proposal. A more recent poll, released this month by the pro-immigration Des Moines Register, shows that number hasn`t changed and also that some two-thirds of the citizens of Des Moines think their city "has enough racial, ethnic and cultural diversity for their needs and preferences."
As suggested above, the invocation of "diversity" has become a kind of dogma that is never explained or subjected to scrutiny. It would be interesting to know how one is supposed to decide how much "diversity" is enough and how much is too little. For that matter, it would be nice to know why "diversity" is a good thing at all. How exactly does Iowa suffer from not having more "diversity"? What benefits of civilized life is Iowa lacking today because it is not sufficiently "diverse"? Alas, no one seems to know, or, if they know, don`t say.
What they do say is that those who oppose immigration and the "diversity" it brings are full of hate. Two days after the Des Moines Register imparted the dismal news that Iowans are pretty much satiated with "diversity," the same reporter unleashed another story claiming that groups opposing immigration are all "hate groups." At least one of the groups had run TV ads against Gov. Vilsack`s proposal a few months before. The meaning is clear. Iowans have been duped into thinking their state has too much diversity because "hate groups" have made them think so.
What`s interesting about the second Register story is that it never tells us what a "hate group" is exactly—just as no one who is for diversity ever tells us what good diversity does. Both "hate" and "diversity" as they are used today are codewords, deployed to invoke images in people`s minds without inciting actual thought about what they mean. Everybody`s against "hate," of course, and everybody is for or should be for "diversity." If you`re not for "diversity," it must be because you`re full of "hate."
The source of the Register`s smear is the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing outfit that specializes in denouncing any group it deems too far to the right as a "hate group." But it too doesn`t bother to define "hate group," and at least some of the information it purveys about some of the groups in question is simply wrong.
Presumably, a "hate group" is a group that advocates hatred—and therefore violence—against certain racial, religious, or ethnic groups. The problem is that I happen to know most of the groups being denounced and know that they do no such thing. Nor does the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Des Moines Register provide any information that they do. In the amazingly non-diverse minds of the Center and the newspaper, anyone who opposes immigration and thinks Iowa is already diverse enough must be driven by hate—and that, as far as I can tell, is the only reason they have for claiming these are "hate groups."
What is happening in the great Iowa debate about immigration may explain why there hasn`t been more of a debate about immigration in the nation as a whole—those who support mass immigration don`t really have much of an argument on their side, so all they can do is invoke codewords like "diversity" and smear anyone who disagrees with them as driven by "hate." What ensues is not a debate but the forensic equivalent of mud wrestling, and what comes out of the "debate" is not truth but merely emotional gratification and the muzzling of real thought and real discussion. Iowans ought to demand something better for their state, because the nation as a whole has failed to demand it for itself.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
May 24, 2001