There was a time, not that long ago, that political discourse went something like this: “Here’s why I think I’m right and you’re wrong.” Nowadays, there is no discourse, civil or otherwise. In 2017 America, politics is framed in terms of, “I’m righteous, you’re evil, and here’s why you’re the spawn of Satan.”
Nowhere is this toxic atmosphere more evident than in the area of immigration policy. One of the groups that is lavishly funded to foment hatred rather than civil debate is Reform Immigration for America (RIFA). In response to the recent Trump administration’s outline of immigration reforms it would seek in exchange for amnesty for DACA beneficiaries, RIFA did not even bother to list their reasons for opposing the proposals.
Here, verbatim, is what they had to say instead. “The White House just released a list of ‘immigration principles and policies,’ the foundation for Trump’s plans for immigrants in the United States, and it’s sickening. It reads like a white supremacist wish list, [RIFA’s bold emphasis] demonizing immigrants and attacking communities of color.”
What, exactly, you may wonder is this “white supremacist wish list”? Again, in RIFA’s own words:
- Demanding money to build his expensive and ineffective border wall.
- Demanding money to hire 10,000 more ICE agents who will ramp up detentions and deportations that tear families apart.
- Attacking the sanctuary cities that protect the members of their communities, harshly penalizing them if they don’t comply with his new rules.
- Cracking down on the undocumented workers that help revitalize America’s economy (while he, his children, and other wealthy CEOs continue to ship good jobs overseas).
In the bygone ‘here’s-why-I-disagree’ era, opponents of the president’s policy proposals might have taken the trouble to rebut those proposals, or explain why they think they would be ineffective. But why bother? Lately, ideas disliked by groups and individuals with RIFA’s mindset are simply dismissed as hate, and the current flavor of the week is white supremacy.
One might reasonably disagree with building a wall along the southern border and offer reasons for why it would be ineffective. But an expression of white supremacy? If so, then Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are all white supremacists given that they all voted to build the wall back in 2006.
The same question can be asked of the other policy proposals RIFA objects to. Let’s hear the case for why more enforcement personnel, ending sanctuary policies, or enforcing laws against people working in the country illegally might be bad public policy, or an inefficient use of public resources. But leaving aside the fact that not all people who support enforcement of our immigration laws are white, much less white supremacists, none of the ideas put forth by the White House is inherently hateful.
Labeling all political dissent as a form of hate is itself a form of hate. It sends the message to supporters of a particular point of view that those who disagree with them are not merely wrong, but evil. The objective of the game at that point is not to persuade the other guy, but rather to destroy him. In such circumstances civility, much less compromise, becomes impossible.
Such is the sad state of political discourse in United States today, and ideologues, like RIFA, are both undermining immigration policy and taking a wrecking ball to civil society.