Modern 'Racism'

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A great quote in the course of another important article by Steven Malanga:


In nearly 20 years of engaging in public policy debates, I’ve always felt great satisfaction when my opponents resort to implying that my arguments help underpin racism or nativism or some other despicable “ism.” It’s generally a sign that they find their own arguments weak.

Read all of that one. (How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy is the piece that started the controversy.)

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16 Comments

zimzo said:

Scapegoating one race or ethnic group by blaming them for a rise in crime, lower property values, lowering wages, causing economic devastation, causing cultural impurity and divisiveness, etc. has been historically typical of racist rhetoric. To point that out is to state a fact not cut off debate. An example of cutting off debate would be to make claims like Malanga's that pointing out historical parallels, for example with the nativist, racist Know-Nothing movement, represent a failure of argument.

Of course, giving illegal immigrants amnesty, which would bring them under protection of minimum wage laws and make collecting taxes less haphazard nullifies most of his arguments. Malanga agrees it is logistically impossible to send millions of immigrants back. He claims that the answer is to "end economic incentives that brought them here" which would take many years to have any effect and would disrupt the economy severely. He proposes a witch hunt against businesses and people that hire illegal immigrants, which would impact on huge number of businesses and people especially in New York and California. He wants the government to use already strained resources to engage in massive deportations of immigrants who are already here. He wants to deny "benefits" to immigrants who are here, by which I suppose he means medical care and schooling for their children. He wants to harass those of Latino descent, which invariably would include legal immigrants and citizens, to "discourage" immigrants from coming here. I'm not sure how these steps are superior to amnesty and no one has ever explained why that would be such a bad thing. Instead, I hear the same rhetoric that the Know Nothings made about immigrants. To point out the obvious parallels is not to stifle argument. That's just a fig leaf Malanga and others like him use to cover the paucity of their own weak arguments.

Bill Garnett said:

We have a legal tradition in America of eminent domain and statute of limitations, which suggests to me that if we do not take action in response to a transgression within some reasonable time, then the opportunity to take action expires.

I don't know how long a time this might be for illegal immigrants, however the Republican controlled federal government has had six years to deal with this and has done almost nothing.

Every neutral observer has concluded that clamping down on employers of illegal aliens would stop the incentive and reverse the immigration, but there is not the political will in Congress to do this. Just another reason why we need to through the bums out (including Senator George Allen).

Jack said:

OK, Zimzo, assuming your "fact" is correct, what does it add to the debate? How does it help solve the problem?

Bill, it does no good to "through the bums out" if they are replaced by bigger bums.

zimzo said:

Of course, putting your fingers in your ears and screaming, "Na Na Na I can't hear you. Lots of words!" shows that you have a strong argument.

No it's just that you keep employing, over and over again, the same types of lies, distortions and hyperbole ("witch hunt against businesses," "massive deportations" - heh). You ignore the key points of Malanga's article and draw out straw men and go on and on about those. It's not an argument or a discussion, it's who can keep talking the longest.

I can do it after 7 beers at 1:00 am. During the "wide awake" portion of the day it just strikes me as absurd.

So I'll check back with you in 12 hours, 'kay?

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

madness!

don't you think it's a little bit disturbing for someone to take accusations of racism as a sign of the strength of their ideas?

I'm going to hazard a guess that Malanga does not evaluate the strength of his ideas according to whether they draw accusations of racism.

He is making the same point I have made here: The accusation of racism is bandied about so freely in modern times it has become meaningless. Further, it frequently serves as a crystal-clear indicator of the hurler's desperation. Further still, it's lost it's sting because everyone knows it's simply a tactic - to the point of quaintness.

I mean, don your top hat, squint through your monocle, shake your cane, and say "You sir, are a rascal!"

That will have more bite.

zimzo said:

If accusations of racism have lost their meaning that is because conservatives have defined racism down just as the Bush Administration has defined torture down. Once it became unacceptable in society to be racist, conservatives began using code words to appeal to racism while giving them deniability when they were accused of racism. This was Nixon's Southern Strategy in which he used code words such as "crime" and "bussing" and "state's rights" to win over racists in the South who were angry at Democrats for passing the Civil Rights legislation. That is why the South is now dominated by Republicans when it was once solidly Democratic. The same thing is now happening with homophobia. Now that it has become unacceptable in many quarters to be homophobic Karl Rove has used gay marriage initiatives to appeal to homophobia (that is fear of gays) while retaining the ability to deny that homophobia has anything to do with these initiatives. Your continuing protests that racism is not behind anti-immigration efforts and homophobia is not behind anti-gay marriage initiatives even as you appeal to people's fears of gays and people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, and express those fears yourself, is disingenuous at best. You calim that making parallels, for example, to Nativist appeals of the past such as the Know Nothings is cutting off debate, when you in fact are cutting off debate by claiming that addressing race in a discussion of immigrant reform ends the argument and doesn't require a defense from you. Why don't you demonstrate why the hysteria about immigration has nothing to do with race and the hysteria about gay marriage has nothing to do with homophobia? Because you can't.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

ok. his article is based on some studies which indicate a negative effect to unskilled workers from immigration. The problem is that there are other (equally reputable) studies which don't find any negative effects. From what I've read, the general consensus is that it's a toss up as to whether or not immigration harms workers in the US.

in a similar way, he assumes that the studies which show that immigrants place a burden on social programs are accurate, and makes no acknowledgement of other studies which show that immigrants actually end up contributing more to social services than they take out of them.

so his methodology begs the question: why would he chose to write an article which focuses on the potential negative effects while never even acknowledging that evidence to the contrary exists? Maybe this is the source of those accusations of racism.

now, from a simple supply and demand approach, it makes sense that an inflow of unskilled workers would reduce pay of unskilled workers. but this is probably too simple of a model to explain what's happening.

for one thing, in recent years supply chains have become increasingly global, and many unskilled Americans are now competing against workers around the world. I've seen articles say, "immigration harms unskilled workers. Look at the decline in wages over the past decade, that proves it!" and they make no reference to the impact of globalization on unskilled American workers.

also, if they're building houses and working at supermarkets and renting houses and shopping at supermarkets, who are they taking jobs from? to use the phrasing of one particular group of invading immigrants: "in the end, the jobs they take are equal to the jobs they make"

Hey, Zimzo's calling conservatives racists! Good job, Zim, cut me to the quick, ye did! Your rapier like wit continues to astound.

General, I'm not sure if I have read Malanga incompletely or you have. Did you check out the original article? I can't do it now because have to get back to work...

In any case, I fully realize a saxon mother's son like myself is going to have a different perspective than either the immigrant or the macro-economist. I fully appreciate the impact of globalism and particularly NAFTA in causing our current predicament.

From the micro level, though, there is a fair amount of evidence that depressed wages in certain blue collar occupations can be attributed to employers using illegal workers. Evidence such as the locals who have seen it happen absolutely blatantly.

Their stories, incidentally, are what made me realize illegal immigration is not a victimless crime.

I am interested in why Mexico's economic problems don't seem to be ameliorating - doing some reading on the topic. I'm going to go back to those references you sent me earlier in the year, in fact. I don't think the illegals are evil but rather the victims of a bad situation.

zimzo said:

Here's an article that cites several studies that show the economic impact of illegal immigration is negligible:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/business/yourmoney/16view.html?ex=1302840000&en=2314f86f5f3affb4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

I know it doesn't bother you being called on for using racist and homophobic rhetoric, Joe. That in itself is telling.

Zimbigot, BRILLIANT!! The fact I don't hide under the table when you call me a bigot is IN ITSELF a judgment upon ME. Man oh man is that clever.

You, sir, are a great debater.

(Annoying as hell for anyone who is trying to have a normal conversation, but a GREAT debater.)

I will pass the macro facts from the NYT article to those whose employment became problematic because of illegal aliens here. I'll remind them the effect is "negligible."

Personally, I think people who are unwilling to listen to differering points of view and insist on categorizing "the other" as evil because of their own close mindedness are quintessential examples of bigotry. People like yourself who cannot differentiate arguments but lump all people of a type ("conservatives") together and search - SEARCH - for a SIMPLE solution to an argument you can't refute exemplify "categorical thinking."

The notion that anyone who disagrees with you will ultimately be proven to be morally deficient, and your determination to pin moral labels on your opponents while ignoring or obfuscating the content of the discussion, and continuing to level personal attacks on anyone who dares to present a counterpoint to your statements, serves as clear evidence of an "authoritarian personality."

Don't you remember they tried this in Germany around 70 years ago? It didn't work out so well.

I just have to wonder why you seem intent on rehabilitating such a discredited way of thinking.

Jack said:

Economics, as we know, is not a science; we cannot perform controlled experiments to test our theories. However, I know of no study that says that illegal immigration helps unskilled native workers, only that it is harmful or has no effect. In any event, the lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.

In any event, illegal immigrants are illegal. The border should be closed, and comapnies who hire illegals should be fined heavily. THEN we can look into increasing our quota or starting a guest-worker program.

Kevin said:

Joe, were you attacking zimzo or Jack? Or both, I couldn't tell?
*tiptoes out of room*

smcnyb said:

Requiring businesses to obey the law constitutes a 'witch hunt' against them?

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