Would Big Media Allow An Immigration Debate?
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Sacramento Bee political columnist Daniel Weintraub (e-mail him, web log) is one of a handful of California journalists who write intelligently about illegal immigration.

(Full disclosure: Weintraub wrote kindly about my attempt to inject the immigration issue into last year's California gubernatorial race.)

In his September 26th column entitled "Governor Should Lead Debate on Immigrants," Weintraub began by stating that

"… Schwarzenegger did the right thing when he vetoed legislation that would have offered driver's licenses to illegal immigrants."

And Weintraub concluded by observing that if Schwarzenegger

"… showed more political courage, he could help poor, low-skilled workers understand that they are the ones hurt most by illegal immigration and have the most to lose from state policies that encourage its expansion. And if he could make that case stick, he might just change the political dynamic that now drives all discussion of this difficult and emotional issue."

Weintraub's point: as an immigrant Schwarzenegger is the most well positioned politician to stimulate an open and honest discussion about immigration.

We all support Weintraub's desire to see a debate about illegal immigration. But the problem that arises—in the unlikely event that a debate occurs—is: who would report on it?

Weintraub's peers would quickly alter the debate's course from the impact of illegal immigration to a referendum on Schwarzenegger.

Does his thinking reflect closet racism? Do his alleged ties to Nazis indicate intolerance toward Mexicans?

That's the strategy when Establishment journalists report on immigration: turn everything upside down, ignore facts, play the race card and, hey presto…. the immigration enthusiasts win, at least on paper—their paper.

Case in point: Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and his recent article "Proposition 187 Is Still Casting a Shadow." [October 3, 2004]

California, according to Lopez, is overwhelmed with illegal aliens because of former Governor Pete Wilson and Proposition 187!

Yes! You read it right! Lopez (e-mail him) blames Wilson for California's illegal alien crisis.

Lopez wrote that during his interview he told Wilson that "ironically,"

"…He (Wilson) might be more responsible than anyone for unchecked immigration."

Lopez claims that Wilson's famous 1994 campaign television spots should have pictured unscrupulous businessmen instead of Mexican border crossers. He says the captions should have read: "They keep hiring," instead of "They keep coming."

Wilson's approach, speculated Lopez, made chickens out of a decades worth of Republicans. Fearing the fury of Hispanics, Californians have spent "ten years with our lips sealed." 

According to Lopez, his idea of making villains out of suits would "get at the heart of the matter."

For the sake of today's analysis of Lopez's journalistic bias, I'll concede the point that strong interior enforcement would be a major deterrent to illegal immigration.

But I don't believe a wage of $8 an hour to hang sheetrock is enough of an inducement to motivate someone to risk his life crossing the border.

The whole package awaiting the illegal alien is another story. That goodie box includes social services, free K-12 education for his children—all by itself worth an average $8000 per pupil per year—emergency room care, subsidized college tuition, acceptance of the matricula card, citizenship for future children and possibly driver's licenses and amnesty.

All those federal and state programs are unmentioned by Lopez. But they are a decisive incentive to head north.

Early in his column, Lopez mentions that he has spent a year examining the "insanity of U.S. immigration policy."

His statement would lead you to believe that an enlightened analysis will follow. But what we get instead is yet another attack on Wilson's 1994 re-election strategy. (Which was victorious, incidentally).

If Lopez chooses to pursue his far-fetched theory that Wilson is responsible for our mess, at least he could be original.

Lopez is coy. In his opening sentence he wrote,

"He's been called a bigot, a shameless opportunist and the living symbol of racial politics in California."

Get it? Lopez can make the case that he never said those things about Wilson. But readers recognize immediately where Lopez is coming from.

And, in case you need to be hammered over the head, Lopez has more descriptive language. Scattered throughout his column in reference to Wilson are:

"Dismissive," "defensive,"  "unraveled."

And Lopez describes Proposition 187 as:

"Race baiting… made everyone with brown skin a suspected criminal… vilified border jumpers… made suspects of every Latino in California"

Plus, of course, no column about Proposition 187 written by an immigration enthusiast is complete without the most glaring inaccuracy—that, as Lopez wrote, "the proposition was approved by the voters in 1994 but eventually thrown out by the courts."

How many times must VDARE.COM point out that Proposition 187 was never "thrown out in court"?  It was scuttled by Wilson's successor, Governor Gray Davis, who refused to defend it in order to appease Mexico, the Mexican lobby as represented by League of United Latin American Citizens and other like-minded groups?  

If columnists cannot follow the shady sequence of events surrounding Proposition 187's death, then may I recommend that when writing about it they simply say, "never enacted?"   

Lopez saved his best for last. He claims that "the essence" of illegal immigration "still escapes" Wilson.

I doubt if you could find many people who would agree with that statement.

The one who doesn't get it is Lopez. Explain to me, please, how someone who lives in Los Angeles cannot see the forest for the trees.

Lopez is not Mexican —he's of Spanish heritage—so that's not it.

His resume suggests that he is intelligent.  

One assumes Lopez reads the news. If so, he's aware of what's going on around him: closed emergency rooms, an illiterate and unassimilated work force, dysfunctional schools, 24-hour gridlock etc. ad nauseam.

And what does Lopez conclude? Enforce immigration law? Deploy troops on the border? Write new legislation that creates a sensible immigration policy?

No, Lopez will have none of that. Instead, Lopez wants to turn the clock back ten years to burn Pete Wilson in effigy—again.

The only conclusion I can draw is that Lopez, like hundreds of others in the media, willfully refuse to understand criticism of their immigration agenda.

Lopez is an excellent symbol of why the Los Angeles Times, and increasingly the Establishment Big Media in general, doesn't matter any more.

Aware readers go online. They check webzines and blogs—above all, if they want the truth about immigration.

Hardly any of them could tell you who Steve Lopez is.

And that is just the way it should be.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.

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