Dear Mr. Blitzer,
This continues my response to the New Yorker piece in which you cite the Southern Poverty Law Center's attack on the Center for Immigration Studies. Having written yesterday to criticize your recitation of the claim that we are a "hate group," I write today about your assertion that we are also "nativist."
I'd like to bring your attention to the fact that historian John Higham, whose book Strangers in the Land is the classic study of American nativism, came to lament the sweeping use of the term to discredit all efforts to restrict immigration. In the preface to a later edition of the book, Higham wrote, "I would ... if I were writing today, take more account of aspects of the immigration restriction movement that can not be sufficiently explained in terms of nativism."
As Higham viewed with alarm the mass illegal immigration of the late 20th century, he described himself as "a mild restrictionist". He believed that "the growth of the world's population and its increased mobility made regulatory action unavoidable. In the modern world, free migration would result in excessive population displacement toward countries with high wages or political stability."
A handwritten note in Higham's files at Johns Hopkins University, which is dated May 2000, provides evidence that Higham was also concerned about the effects of low-wage immigrants on the distribution of wealth in the United States. In a reference to a Harvard economist, Higham wrote, "No one to my knowledge has refuted Prof. George J. Borjas's statement [that the] high level of immig (sic) is 'an astonishing transfer of wealth from the poorest people in the country, who are disproportionately minorities, to the richest.'"
These concerns are central to the work of the Center for Immigration Studies. They receive scant consideration from those who see open immigration as a corollary to the diversity and inclusiveness that are central to their values and their ideology.
John Higham, a lifelong liberal, regarded such views as errant liberalism. He lamented the decline of the liberal nationalism that he saw as a healthy alternative to nativism. He said it had been endangered by the rise of the multiculturalism that is so fervently embraced by the Manhattan consensus.
The Center for Immigration Studies has made it possible for me to research and report on the work of John Higham. I have also done investigative reporting on the smear campaigns of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Such reporting would never receive support from the Manhattan-based charitable foundations that, as I wrote yesterday, spend millions of dollars to bankroll public relations campaigns against us dissenters from the consensus and its oddly insular brand of post-national cosmopolitanism. These foundations are the financing arm of the immigration advocacy movement that receives the enthusiastic attention of co-religionists at the New Yorker and the New York Times.
The Manhattan consensus is notable for its disdain of those who seek to point out that immigration, especially when it involves millions of unskilled and poorly educated workers, has a downside. Now you have used your platform at the New Yorker to amplify the latest display of illiberal recklessness by the SPLC, which has long received much of its funding from generous Manhattan residents, especially from those whose tragic family histories make them acutely susceptible to the SPLC's warnings that hate groups are on the march and that Morris Dees — with their support — can stop them
As Jo Ann Wypijewsi wrote in The Nation magazine, "No one has been more assiduous in inflating the profile of [hate] groups than the millionaire huckster, Morris Dees." That business has been especially lucrative in Manhattan.
A few other contrarian liberal journalists have dared to call attention to the "hate group" hucksterism that is the calling card of SPLC chief Morris Dees. Dees, who is deified by the credulous left, first struck it rich as direct-marketing entrepreneur. Now, having moved on from the admirable work against the Ku Klux Klan that made him a liberal icon, he presides over an SPLC propaganda ministry whose "hate group" pronouncements prod unsuspecting liberals to the ritualistic hysteria of the SPLC's version of George Orwell's "two minutes hate".
In a 2000 Harper's article by Ken Silverstein reported that "the SPLC spends most of its time — and money" on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit-rider passing the collection plate." Silverstein quoted a former Dees associate as describing Dees as "the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement."
The Jesuit humanities professor Raymond A. Schroth provided another trenchant assessment of Dees' tactics: "If the problem is nuanced, complicated ... he provides a prism, based partly on fear, through which we can view the issue: ... The Internet is out of control; hate groups are poisoning the World Wide Web. His Southern Poverty Law Center, with your help, will save you."
Mr. Blitzer, with your Columbia degree and your Fulbright in Spain, you are obviously an intelligent man. You appear to have developed an acutely cosmopolitan sensibility. But your world, however sophisticated, is insular and uninformed about concerns that are beyond your experience and inconsistent with your ideology. In your complicity with the SPLC's effort to delegitimize the Center for Immigration Studies, you diminish your journalistic mission and a great American magazine. You also erode the foundations of civil discourse in a vital national debate that is already fraught with incivility and intolerance.
Part 1 of this open letter.