Restrictionists Own the Moral High Ground

By John Vinson
Volume 22, Number 4 (Summer 2012)
Issue theme: "Free Trade - exporting jobs, importing workers and refugees"

Mass immigrationists believe that they have an unshakable claim to superior goodness and virtue. One is Janet Murguia, CEO of the National Council of La Raza (The Race). She strongly suggests that all opposition to her viewpoint is “hate,” an accusation most commonly flung from her side. Stung by such “righteous” hostility, immigration restrictionists sometimes recoil and allow their opponents to seize the moral high ground in debate. They shouldn’t, and here’s why.

People have many different ideas of right and wrong, but most can agree that the following, properly defined, are virtues: loyalty, moderation, honesty, and responsibility.

Let’s consider loyalty. It’s not always a good thing, especially to a bad person or a bad cause. But most agree that a special affection for the land of one’s birth, patriotism as called by many, is a virtue. If love doesn’t begin at home, for home, it is not likely to develop and extend anywhere else. In the absence of patriotism, selfish ambition usually fills the vacuum.

Are open-border advocates loyal Americans? To answer, let’s consider two other questions. How can you have a country without a secure border and meaningful citizenship? And, if you can’t, can anyone who is at best indifferent to secure borders and citizenship honestly call himself a loyal American? Maybe the open-border people can come up with some explanation as to how they are not disloyal, but the burden of proof is on them. And until they offer it, they merit the suspicion of treason.

Next is moderation. It is not always a virtue either, especially in pursuit of justice and truth. Even so, more often than not, it is a necessary restraint on extreme and destructive radicalism. Extreme and radical are perfect descriptions of what our immigration policy has been for the past forty years. That policy has given us unprecedented numbers and unprecedented diversity. It threatens to rip us from our past and carry us to some overcrowded, balkanized, Third World future.

Are the architects of this radical scheme balanced and honorable men? Or are they people pursuing twisted agendas for personal gain and power with no regard for the wishes of their countrymen? If they are not scoundrels, the burden of proof is on them to show it.

Now let’s go to honesty, almost always a virtue except in some cases when not tempered by tact and compassion. The record of immigrationists, alas, reveals a history of dishonesty. Before passage of the pivotal 1965 immigration act, they promised that it would not lead to massive numbers and ethnic and cultural transformation. But it happened anyway. Before the first amnesty of illegal aliens in 1986, they promised no more amnesties and strict border control. Neither promise was kept. Today they keep repeating the Big Lie that “diversity is our strength.” Interestingly, one partisan of diversity is Harvard Political Scientist Robert Putnam—this despite the fact that his own research shows that diversity is a disaster for social cohesion and loyalty.

Let the immigrationists try to explain their broken promises and inconsistencies. Most likely their forked tongues will betray them. They can hiss about “hate” all they like. Moral superiority is not theirs to claim.

Finally let’s consider responsibility, a virtue like honesty which may need some tempering with compassion (when holding people responsible). It is compassion, indeed, that immigrationists claim as their primary virtue, one that entitles them to high moral status. But, we must note, if responsibility without compassion is a problem, compassion without regard for consequences (irresponsibility) is an utter disaster, and the pathway to anarchy. Do immigrationists, as they revel in their “compassion,” care about what it does to the cohesion of our country, the rule of law, or the wages and job prospects of poor Americans? Does it occur to them that endless immigration eventually will pull down immigrants (so beloved by the immigrationists) to the level of squalor they fled?

Such “compassion” seems suspiciously similar to the self-indulgence of drug addicts—those who care nothing about the ultimate consequences to themselves, their families, and their communities when, with the stab of a needle, they can enjoy the warm inner glow of a passing high.

Patriotism, moderation, honesty, and responsibility give immigration restrictionists title deed to the moral high ground. People who are disloyal, extreme, dishonest, and irresponsible have no ground to stand on at all. ■

Diversity and trust within communities

According to Wikipedia, “In recent years, [Robert] Putnam has been engaged in a comprehensive study of the relationship between trust within communities and their ethnic diversity. His conclusion based on over 40 cases and 30,000 people within the United States is that, other things being equal, more diversity in a community is associated with less trust both between and within ethnic groups. Although limited to American data, it puts into question both the contact hypothesis and conflict theory in inter-ethnic relations. According to conflict theory, distrust between the ethnic groups will rise with diversity, but not within a group. In contrast, contact theory proposes that distrust will decline as members of different ethnic groups get to know and interact with each other. Putnam describes people of all races, sex, socioeconomic statuses, and ages as ‘hunkering down,’ avoiding engagement with their local community — both among different ethnic groups and within their own ethnic group. Even when controlling for income inequality and crime rates, two factors which conflict theory states should be the prime causal factors in declining inter-ethnic group trust, more diversity is still associated with less communal trust.

“Lowered trust in areas with high diversity is also associated with

• Lower confidence in local government, local leaders, and the local news media.

• Lower political efficacy — that is, confidence in one’s own influence.

• Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics
and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.

• Higher political advocacy, but lower expectations that it will bring about a desirable result.

• Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action
(e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).

• Less likelihood of working on a community project.

• Less likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.

• Fewer close friends and confidants.

• Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.

• More time spent watching television and more agreement that ‘television is my
most important form of entertainment.’”

“Putnam published his data set from this study in 2001 and subsequently published the full paper in 2007.

“Putnam has been criticized for the lag between his initial study and his publication of his article. In 2006, Putnam was quoted in the Financial Times as saying he had delayed publishing the article until he could ‘develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity’ (quote from John Lloyd of Financial Times). In 2007, writing in City Journal, John Leo questioned whether this suppression of publication was ethical behavior for a scholar, noting that ‘Academics aren’t supposed to withhold negative data until they can suggest antidotes to their findings.’”

About the author

John Vinson is president of the American Immigration Control Foundation.