David Frum Finds People On The Left Unable To Argue Rationally About Immigration
March 25, 2019, 11:26 PM
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On the topic of immigration, here comes a quote from veteran opinion journalist David Frum.

David is not Dissident Right. He's an old-line Buckleyite conservative who wouldn't be seen dead posting at VDARE.com or American Renaissance. He is, though, very smart and unusually honest for a guy at his pay scale; and he has for some years been traveling up a long slow learning curve on the immigration issue.

Well, in the current issue of Atlantic magazine David has a piece under the title, in the print edition of the magazine, "How Much Immigration is Too Much?" For reasons not known to me, the piece was posted online under a different title: "If Liberals Won't Enforce Borders, Fascists Will."

The piece expresses middle-of-the-road good sense on immigration, chewing thoughtfully over the economic and social factors. Nothing in it would strike a VDARE.com reader or a Radio Derb listener as controversial, other than for being too cucky and accommodating. For example, it falls far short of proposing an immigration moratorium, or even of bringing back the restricted, orderly, demographically conservative immigration system that our country was flourishing under sixty and seventy years ago.

And the piece is conventionally anti-Trump, speaking about the administration's good-faith efforts to enforce federal laws as, quote: "the gratuitous brutalities of the Trump administration." There is, in short, plenty of space between David Frum's position and ours.

This mild, carefully inoffensive approach notwithstanding, Frum has come in for some blistering attacks from the open-borders people. Thursday this week Frum published a follow-up piece on the Atlantic website answering back to some of those attacks.

I'll leave you to read that whole follow-up piece for yourself. It's titled: "Faith, Reason, and Immigration." I'm just going to pull out a quote that I think gets to the heart of the matter. Here's David Frum in this latter piece, quote, slightly edited:

The responses to my article express a sense of shock, offense, and outrage that you would not usually expect to see in a debate over public policy. The emotional intensity of the replies makes clear that for many of those reading my article, immigration on the largest feasible scale is a fundamental moral commitment. The arguments given in favor … are so wan that they invite the suspicion that the real arguments are not being articulated. What you're hearing is faith, not reason.

That's exactly right, and wearily familiar to those of us who work the immigration beat. Time and again, when trying to argue our case, we realize that we're up against not the other party's cerebral cortex, but against his limbic system—those parts of the brain that manage emotions, instincts, and moods.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81VDLs5xj-L.jpgI made the same point ten years ago in Chapter 10 of my intergalactic bestseller We Are Doomed, quotes from self:

Immigration is a difficult topic to discuss … The reason it is so difficult is that it has, more I think than any other aspect of U.S. policy, been moralized, in fact hyper-moralized …

According to this hyper-moralized point of view, [immigration] policy is an expression of America's Intrinsic Goodness and High Principle …

[But] immigration is just a policy, like farm supports, military recruitment, national parks maintenance, and income tax rates. Goodness, as the lady said, has nothing to do with it …

The whole topic, though, is soaked with moralizing and sentimentality. Immigration advocates have their eyes fixed firmly on the past—Ellis Island, Famine Ships. Yet population policy is really all about the future—not about indignities suffered by our grand-parents, but about the kind of nation our grand-children will live in.

I congratulate David Frum on learning what we here in the trenches found out long ago and have been voicing for a decade or two. Who knows?—perhaps, after another ten years' enlightenment, David may be writing for us here at VDARE.com.