On Friday, the New York Times published an editorial that sounded an alarm. It was headlined "The Anti-Immigrant Binge in Congress".
It didn't take long for the editorial board, the collective author of the piece and the institutional voice of the Times, to contradict its own headline and prove the fraudulence of the alarm. Here is the editorial's first sentence: "Congress is in danger of taking that most cursed of American political disagreements, the debate over illegal immigration, and dragging it farther toward insanity." (Emphasis added.)
Many readers took offense at the editorial, posting comments on the website such as these:
- "Once again the editorial board is intentionally conflating illegal immigrants with legal immigrants in the term 'anti-immigrant.'"
- "I'm a little concerned when NYT headline reads, 'Anti-Immigrant Binge in Congress' when the facts appear to be 'Anti-Illegal Immigrant Binge in Congress.' These are two different things, and NYT does not help its readers to understand what's going on when it prints misleading headlines."
It is disconcerting to see such intellectual dishonesty in our most influential newspaper. But the editorial board wasn't finished. The same editorial recommended that that Congress "should allow the vast majority of immigrants, who pose no threat, to pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes and live and work in this country openly."
Here the editorial board asserts a de facto equivalence between the two categories of people. Rather than acknowledging that it is writing about illegal immigrants, or using the euphemistic but defensible term "unauthorized immigrants", it once again conflates immigrants with illegal immigrants.
Rather than calling identifiable groups by their names, the New York Times engages in a fantasy. It calls them by the name it thinks they should have. It calls them by the name it thinks they would have, if only the world were a perfect place where borders meant nothing, national identity were an anachronism, flooded labor markets were good for workers, and our public welfare programs were not a strained safety net, but an inexhaustible cornucopia that replenished itself as in the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
The readers' comments appended to the editorial included this one:
I truly find it odd that the New York Times editorial page (and others) support the premise that individuals without legal right to live in this country should be able to do so with impunity. I have no expectation that I can pick up and move to France without the French Government's approval. Legal and regulated immigration that puts America's interest first makes sense. The current state of affairs where employers hire undocumented workers at low cost and shift social expenses of education, health care, and criminal justice to tax-payers does not.
And there was this, from a reader in Manhattan not drawn into the NYT's Upper West Side moral matrix:
When the NYT editorial board starts recognizing that there are major negative consequences (human and monetary costs) to illegal immigration and enabling policies, and gives these the positions equal consideration and coverage (although they can draw their own conclusions), I'll read these articles with interest. In the meantime it's just more one-sided fluff. Shame.