I can’t remember ever disagreeing with Grover Norquist. But his commentary on immigration (“Samuel Gompers Versus Reagan,” TAS, Septemeber 2013) left me wondering which one of us has missed the point. Mr. Norquist seems to argue that House and Senate conservatives are out of step by resisting the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform scheme. He cites polls, statistics, and election results to prove his point that the most conservatives lose the anti-immigration battle. But he fails to ever mention (well, maybe once) illegal immigration.
Read that again. Mr. Norquist seems to have lost the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. Few conservatives that I know are anti-immigration. Our problem with the current proposal is that it does nothing to first stem the flow of illegal immigrants. All we want is a secure border to ensure that existing immigration laws can actually work. Without enforcement, we get the current situation: millions of illegals have overstayed visas and millions have climbed the fence. And not all are here with good intentions.
Those who overstay their visas are like guests you invite into your home who never leave. The longer you wait to do something about it, the more comfortable they get. Then when you finally evict them, their friends, even your friends, consider you a heartless bastard. Those who come without visas are like strangers who climb over your back fence and set up camp in your backyard. I don’t think Mr. Norquist would accept that on his own property, even if they did cut the grass and wash the dog.
All of these people have broken U.S. law in one way or another. The Senate’s proposal would give them special consideration. How do you explain that to the millions who have taken a number and are waiting to enter legally? The ones who respect our system? The immigrants we may prefer because they bring something besides cheap labor?
Grover, please don’t accept the liberal premise. The issue isn’t immigration at all. It’s illegal immigration. Secure the border, enforce existing laws, and then see what else—if anything—needs to be done. We don’t want to keep immigrants out, we just want them to come in through the front door.
Las Vegas, Nev.
After reading “Samuel Gompers Versus Reagan,” I wondered how Mr. Norquist would respond to Pat Buchanan’s assertion that “either the Republican Party will put an end to mass immigration, or mass immigration will put an end to the Republican Party.” Buchanan maintains that Hispanic conservatism is a myth, that few Hispanics care about cuts in taxes that few of them pay, that most are dependent on Democrat social programs and will vote accordingly.
That Democrats should favor immigration “reform” is obvious: what better way to neutralize the Tea Party than to import millions of new voters from Mexico. Business interests that favor immigration “reform” would seem to be capitalists hooked on cheap labor, and who are too stupid to realize that they are committing political suicide by importing more Democrats. Any comments?
Grover Norquist replies:
Robert Kessler and Evan Duncan would find their concerns answered if they re-read my article, “Samuel Gompers versus Reagan.” Immigration, as I explained at length, is an odd issue where “conservatives” opposing immigration use the arguments of the Malthusian Left, the zero-population crowd, and the union bosses going back 100-plus years.
We have had this debate as a nation throughout the centuries. The anti-immigrant arguments of the past have always proved wrongheaded. The nasty comments about the Irish, the Catholics, the Jews, the Chinese, and the Japanese immigrants were wrong at every level. Immigration has made us stronger and wealthier. Malthus and unions think more people make a nation poor. Should we reform welfare and entitlements? Yes—and the Paul Ryan budget does just that. Unreformed they will bankrupt the nation, even if we allowed no immigration at all.
Serious border security is key. But we should also re-create the robust guest worker program instituted by Eisenhower, which removed the impetus for border-hopping and dramatically reduced illegal immigration in the 1950s. Let us welcome high-tech engineers and entrepreneurs to our expanding Silicon Valleys to create jobs and businesses here. America is the nation of the future because we do immigration well, and China and Japan and Germany do not.
We need to reform immigration because our present system was sabotaged by labor unions, by Democrats and, yes, by Barack Obama as a Senator in 2007. The best response to both letters is to read the original article.
As a longtime talk radio personality who has taken his skills to his own company, I find it deliciously ironic that what remains of English-language personalities in AM radio is a group of old white men who have advocated relentlessly for the same corporatism that will ultimately create hundreds of Bill Heywoods. (“AM Radio, Signing Off,” TAS, July/August 2013.) The men who defended Mitt Romney’s destruction of companies in the name of “unlocking value” will ultimately be destroyed themselves by Romney’s ilk, as billions of dollars in crushing debt force companies such as Clear Channel and Cumulus Media to fire the very people who man the conservative AM airwaves to say how wonderful it all is. The firings have already begun.
I am also amazed at the irony of radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who claim to want smaller, less intrusive government, yet seem to have no problem when the Federal Communications Commission interferes in their own business, limiting what can be said and done on the air and stifling technological innovation. (See: AM Stereo and HD Radio.)
I am not a liberal. I am a libertarian. And the bloodletting of corporatist radio hosts has only just begun. Attention “conservative” talk show hosts who still remain: You are expendable and the ax is heading for your back.
Hopefully you will see, before it’s too late, that you have essentially advocated your own demise. Soon, you’ll be able to share future corporatist monologues with your new colleagues in the unemployment line. Or, perhaps you should make your reservations now for the Bill Heywood suite.
Via the Internet
Daniel Flynn replies:
Mr. Leykis is too interested in the irony, “delicious” and otherwise, of others to recognize his own. When Westwood One employed him, he presumably cashed the company’s checks without complaint. And does he know that the “old white men” he decries on the airwaves count him among their number? This isn’t to say his critique is entirely without merit. A few giant companies programming the radio dials from city to city makes for a paucity of choices. Corporate “efficiency” here means duplicating the same AM voices in different cities. Homogenized, one-size-fits-all radio ultimately fits very few listeners. What saves money sometimes alienates customers. The exodus from AM suggests that replacing live-and-local with syndicated isn’t working, at least for listeners. America is too diverse a country for such blah sameness.
I thought “Ennobling Us All” (TAS, July-August 2013) quite a fine review and will probably buy the book. But something puzzles me. Michael Bishop tells us that Burke was “an unremarkable student.” Yet, according to the review, upon graduating, he almost immediately seems to have become a renowned essayist and public speaker. If he had been an “unremarkable student,” How did he acquire the exceptional knowledge, prescience, and rhetorical skills that made him such a great and influential public figure?
Los Altos, Calif.
Michael Bishop replies:
Yes, Burke was rather an indifferent student at Trinity, not much taken with the classical curriculum and rather oppressed by the thought of following his father to the bar. His genius flowered later. I agree that it’s a mystery, as genius so often is. I am a Lincoln historian by training, and have never quite understood how anyone from such primitive, even squalid origins could possess such literary and political genius—and refinement of spirit. Lincoln supposed his mother to be illegitimate, and credited the unnamed Virginia planter whom he believed to be his grandfather as the genetic wellspring of his abilities. But we’ll never really know. Mr. Norman’s book doesn’t solve the riddle, but it does much to illuminate Burke’s greatness.
In “Unrestrained,” by Tom Bethell (TAS July/August 2013) appears the phrase “…other moral doctrines of the Catholic Church, already abandoned by other denominations…” As a member of one of those other denominations, let me assure Mr. Bethell that we have not given up Christianity. The sentence, in fact, may just as well have read—“…other moral doctrines of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, already abandoned by other denominations…” That may have been too sectarian for the editor, however.