A.J. DiCintio
Friedman, immigration, and an amicus brief
By A.J. DiCintio
October 9, 2010

In a recent column (NYT)Thomas Friedman asserts that the U.S. is "in a state of incremental decline" as a result of the degeneration of its politics and federal institutions.

Therefore, he argues, the nation is sorely in need of a genuine Tea Party as opposed to the current "Tea Kettle movement" that he criticizes as being "all steam and no engine" and thus lacking in a "plan to restore America to greatness."

From a number of key policies his "centrist" Tea Party would implement, here is the one regarding immigration and borders:

[The new Tea Party] would . . . overhaul our immigration laws so we can better control our borders, let in more knowledge workers and retain those skilled foreigners going to college here.

As in every case, the devil is in the details of Friedman's proposals, including his ideas for gaining control of our borders and structuring immigration in a way that best helps us "restore" the nation's "greatness."

However, his general thinking is on the right track; and if he had cancelled a few interviews with bigwigs to speak directly with "Tea Kettle" Americans, he would have learned that he and they are far more simpatico than he thinks.

Alas, he did not, thereby earning for himself the condemnation of being, at best, a bumbling Inspector Clouseau or, at worst, a rank partisan who castigates an assembly of honest, deeply concerned ordinary folks while uttering not a word about the frighteningly dangerous, astonishingly irresponsible politicians who actually hold federal power.

Adding to the irony is the fact that Friedman hasn't distinguished himself as a relentless voice of reason regarding his notions for immigration/border reform.

Moreover, since his ideas on the subject are similar to those held by Americans who are being smeared as racist, anti-Latino, and anti-immigrant, he should be making himself famous for condemning the vile anti-intellectualism and odious viciousness that characterize the whole of the Democratic/liberal "discussion" on immigration. But he is not.

Yes, there is plenty Friedman could say about those who would have us believe the nation's economic future (and thus its social and political stability) depends upon maintaining a policy of de facto open borders that admits a continual flow of millions of thoroughly unskilled workers into the country.

There is plenty he could say about the insidiously simplistic "work Americans won't do" mantra, for instance, from the perspective of what effect legal and illegal immigration has had on the formerly middle-class-sustaining wages earned by workers in a number of industries, meat packing and construction, just to name two.

And there is plenty he could say about profoundly important social and cultural questions, such as one that asks whether the United States is better served by drawing its immigrants from a variety of cultures instead of mainly one — the many virtues of Hispanics and their traditions notwithstanding.

However, instead of analyzing the border/immigration problem with intellectual honesty, Friedman chose to drop a hydrogen bomb sized blast of chutzpah on "Tea Kettle" members who, on this issue and others, represent a super-landslide majority of the American people.

Despite that shameful act, it must be said that with respect to the immigration/border question, he is basically reasonable, in contrast to the vicious, power loving insanity exhibited by Democratic politicians and their liberal/leftist supporters.

That much said, this piece will be guilty of a hydrogen bomb sized explosion of hypocrisy if it ends without explaining that there are forces on the right who ultimately favor the status quo with respect to the question at hand.

Fortunately, the point can be made briefly, beginning with a simple presentation of the changing names of a key lawsuit challenging the Legal Arizona Workers Act.

The suit was originally titled Arizona Contractors Association, Inc., et al. v. Criss Candelaria, et al.

That title was changed to U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria before being changed again to its current form, U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.

Now, the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing the state of Arizona over entirely reasonable immigration and employment policies tells us that powerful forces within the traditional Republican establishment are willing to sell out the good of the nation for a few dirty dollars.

How willing?

To answer that question, we need to look only at the amicus briefs filed in support of the Chamber's position.

And what do we find but that the suit is supported not just by other business interests but a long list of other organizations that include the National Council of La Raza, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Chicanos Por La Causa.

With the complete picture of who's who on both sides of the fight over border/immigration policy now illuminated, we can return to Thomas Friedman and say this:

If he's as intelligent as he's held up to be, he'll soon come to understand the great service existing Tea Party members are performing for the nation — including the task of keeping a relentlessly vigilant eagle eye on every Republican politician in government, whether an incumbent or one who takes office after Main Street America has its say in November.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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