Hey, WaPo, Try Addressing the Issues

The Washington Post editorial page was in fine form Sunday, beaming with moral superiority as it criticized House Speaker William J. Howell for his stance on illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is a complex issue that cuts many ways and the WaPo is more than entitled to point out flaws in Howell’s proposals. But there is no justification for accusing the Speaker and Republicans generally of “immigrant bashing,” “bigotry mongering,” and “sticking it to the culturally distinct ‘other.’”

I don’t know the Speaker on a personal level that well, but I know others who know him, and of one thing I am certain, Bill Howell is not a bigot and he does not pander to bigots. Let’s turn the tables and show the Washington Post what it’s like to conduct an argument by ad hominem attack.

WaPo editorial writers are so desperate for liberals and democrats to cling to power, they’ll say anything, do anything, including undermine the sovereign boundaries of the nation. Seizing the illegal immigration issue, WaPo scribblers hurl accusations of racism and bigotry against those who would uphold the rule of law, cynically goading Hispanics into the liberal/democratic camp — just as they shamefully play the race card to keep African-Americans on the liberal plantation. It’s all race-and-oppression with those hypocrites, who live in their expensive, all-white neighborhoods and work in their lily-white office complexes amidst the poverty of Washington, D.C. It’s easy to love minorities and champion their causes — as long as the riff raff doesn’t get too close.

See how easy it is? Just impugn the other guy with the worst motives in the world. Change the subject and ignore his arguments. If that’s the way the WaPo wants to conduct the illegal immigration debate, let’s get going. Digital ink in the blogosphere is a lot cheaper than printer’s ink. But there is an alternative: Let’s all back off, take a deep breath, give our opponents the benefit of assuming they aren’t evil incarnate, and address the issues civilly.

(Rapid dog image: The official Bacon’s Rebellion icon for the Washington Post editorial page.)

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16 responses to “Hey, WaPo, Try Addressing the Issues”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    The Washington Post is correct to question the xenophobia that the GOP spreads as it tries to boost itself after the disastrous Bush presidency.
    As for the Wash Post being so “liberal,” my questions to the author are, “do you actually read it” and “what are you smoking?”
    Unlike the unquestionably liberal New York Times editorial page, the Post’s page has consistently supported Bush on the Iraq War, to the consternation of many, Democrats, Republicans and others, who see the war as a mismanaged disaster. The Post has taken a much more moderate stance than it did, say 30 years ago.
    As for Howell being insulted, well, gee, if he can’t stand the heat, stay out of the political kitchen. And he, like all politicians, needs to be held accountable for his positions, even ones as loaded with vile and xenophobia as illegal immigration.

  2. Norman Leahy Avatar
    Norman Leahy


    I appreciate the sentiment expressed here. But perhaps it’s just the cynic in me who cannot shake the feeling that Howell & Co. are suddenly interested in illegal immigration because they are trying to divert attention away from that transportation albatross hanging around their necks.

    Nor is their cause helped when they stage a press conference on the bills they wish to push to curb illegals’ access to Virginia services, then provide no evidence that illegals are currently abusing such services.

    And while it is grossly unfair to ascribe xenophobic motives to those who are (or at say they are) concerned with border security, the rhetoric of some has opened the way for such charges.

    The idea that illegals are spreading leprosy and TB among unsuspecting populations (as Lou Dobbs has) or that illegals are some sort of fifth column bent on the reconquista smacks of xenophobia (or at least paranioa).

    The biggest problem secure border advocates face is overcoming the conspiracists within their midst. If they can do that, then they will have a better chance of winning more people to their cause.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Norm, You’re right, the anti-illegal movement has been characterized by excessive rhetoric at times. With “friends” like the KKK inserting itself into the debate, who needs enemies? And you raise good points — based on the facts and logic of the proposed legislation — about the flaws in Howell’s approach. Good for you. I am all ears. The more we can do to surface the facts, the better.

    The WaPo editorial did not surface new facts and arguments. It didn’t even deign to address the substance of the GOP legislation. It simply declared Howell & Company to be a bunch of bigots.

    As for Anonymous 9:02… you miss the very point of my calling the WaPo “liberal”! The paragraph you allude to applied the “liberal” label in order to make the point that discrediting your opponent through labels and insults is not a legitimate means of discourse.

    But maybe such an argument is too nuanced for you.

  4. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    The Post is no more interested in a principled debate than is the KKK. The issue is illegal immigration, not immigration. There are arguments on both sides of the question, but pretending the debate is about immigration in general is simply a false statement and the Post knows it.

    Fred Hiatt, the head of the Post’s editorial page, has once again proven that he operates completely without journalistic ethics in his quest to support liberals and Democrats. I’ve met quite a few journalists over the years and read countless others, many of whom are quite liberal. Hiatt is cleary the least principled among them. Indeed, even a few Post reporters have told me confidentially that Hiatt’s team crosses the line by repressing or trying to repress stories that are inconsistent with the editorial staff’s position. For example, negative stories about Tim Kaine are generally not published by the Post. One reporter told me that he was subjected to substantial pressure when he wrote about the possible affect of West Group’s campaign contributions on Kaine’s support for Dulles Rail, running through Tysons Corner.

    This is but one more problem withe the Washington Newspaper without Ethics. The Post’s management should fire Fred Hiatt.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Your point is so “nuanced” as to be incomrehensible. Your points are simple-minded — if the Post says Howell is suddenly pushing illegal immigration as a big issue because the GOP needs an issue — you start with this immediate “liberal” labelling. One of the worst things about this blogs is that too many arguments start off with the “liberals” as straw men who are easily knocked over by the force and genius of the right wing logic. “We know what those LIBERALS think and we’re going to knock them.” It really gets tiresome.
    Can’t you raise your arguments to a higher level? What is this? Fox News?

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 11:27, You ask, can’t I raise my argument to a higher level? I ask, can you even follow a line of argument before you criticize it?

    I used the “liberal” word precisely to illustrate, by turning the tables, that the tactic of contesting someone else’s argument by labeling him/her with a pejorative does not constitute an argument at all.

    As for the substance of your argument (or the WaPo’s, which you are defending)… The GOP is not “suddenly” pushing immigration to distract attention from transportation. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the GOP-dominated house passed a whole slew of legislation last year. Much of it got knocked down in the senate, and probably for good reason, but to say that the concern with immigration has been suddenly concocted is to ignore a vast amount of evidence to the contrary. The WaPo should know better, and so should you.

  7. RThorntonAIA Avatar

    The hypocracy of it all, folks…

    Who is kidding who? All the major economic interests in this country, whether they label themselves Libertarians, Republicans, Democrats or Purple People Eaters – have benefited from the cheap labor of illegal immigrants. They are the new class of serfs. There is little they can do about low wages or abusive bosses, because if they complain legally, they get deported.

    The general public eats for less, and pays less for housing because there is a servile class, willing do jobs that no one else will do for such low wages.

    My gut feeling is that very few elected officials REALLY want to eliminate illegal immigration (other than by Al Quaida terrorists, of course.) What these politicians REALLY want is to get the maximum political collateral from whatever “solution” they propose for the “problem.”

    I am supposed to talk only about Virginia, but there is a certain other Southern state famous for Mexican-picked peaches and Vidalia onions, whose new Lt. Gov. became a millionaire off the backs of illegal Latin American agricultural workers. He ran a successful Lt. Gov. campaign, which was saturated with “I will do something about the illegal immigrants problem.” No state official can do anything about the “illegal immigrants problem” even if they wanted to. It is a problem of international economics and national security.

    How about them thar apples? – as we say here in the Blue Ridge Mts.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    You know I what I like about RThorntonAIA’s post just now, besides the content. I like the fact that it is not “nuanced.” It is clear and to the point. Maybe it contains some lessons.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim Bacon,
    One more thing. Only skilled professionals know how to nuance properly. Here’s some help. Try the Katie Gibbs School of Nuance at http://www.learn2nuance.com

  10. RThorntonAIA Avatar

    In regard to the nuances of political issues ….

    Back during a simpler time in our world – the Clinton Administration – I was invited by acquaintances to a party at their house in Chevy Chase. Just before the party, their Salvadorian maid & gardener had been busted by the NIS for having fake green cards. Most of conversation that evening among the guests focused on the problems of keeping good domestic help and the need to do something about all the hoards of Mexicans crossing the border illegally or the fact that the Pakastani were taking over all the motels and convenience stores.

    Well, anyway … since I was newly single, my hosts asked me to take the coats of the women guests. Most of the Washingtonian men at the party struck me as being on the wussy and narcissic side, no matter on which side of the aisle of Congress they sat… so I guess my friends thought it would give the women a thrill to be assisted by a 6′-3″ mountain man.

    Almost all the women were wearing nuances under their blouses or dresses. You couldn’t tell it though, until you took off their fur coats. That activity led me to one of the greatest etiquette delemas of my life. When I took off the full length coat of a French lady (who was there as the excort of a married senator) I noticed that the label said in French that it was a authentic wild black sable Russian coat. So where do you put a $80,000 coat when all the closets were full? You can’t put it on a $12 bedspread. I finally decided that $80,000 sable coats could put on top of $15,000 domestic mink coat, which the could be placed on the bedspread.

    Now, an illegal alien could have never solved such a typical problem of the nation’s Capital, could she? Yes, this is a true story, but it also says a lot about the sincerity of Washington politicians.

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    It’s been claimed that “bold thinking” would be one way to galvanize the electorate and show them that those that are not liberal … _ are_ capable of bold thinking….

    Here’s the WaPo coverage of Prince William Republicans:

    …..as local Republican party officials and activists peppered county board members with questions about how they are handling illegal immigrants.”

    okay… anyone can ask questions… and probably should..


    .. but what exactly are the Republican “activists” who showed up at this meeting to “ask questions” attempting to accomplish?

    one could ask… is this “bold thinking”? or perhaps… out of all the issues for Republicans to actuall CONFRONT publically – would it be “smart” to focus on issues besides immigration and to make a clear statement that the party is way down the road and beyond … issues that can.. “smell”?

    come on folks…

    this is pandering…. with a wink…

    where is the beef?

    drop the immigration crapola.. and let’s hear some real “bold ideas” and while we’re at it… calling WaPo the kettle pot black.. is a smokescreen.. in my view.

    bottom line: are you Republicans PROUD of your party in Va?

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry’s complaint that Republicans are pandering by raising illegal immigration sounds like an attempt to create a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. A lot of good people believe there is a serious principle here, such as national sovereignty and the rule of law, among others. What if the GOP ignored the issue, as he seems to suggest? You’d probably actually get some Democrats running on it in more conservative districts, as a few Dems who unseated Republicans did in last year’s House races. Then Larry’d be saying the Republicans have failed on the issue.

    What are some examples of “bold thinking” anyways? Raising taxes yet again? Universal pre-kindergarten? Smaller class sizes? The whole list of typical liberal nostrums which interestingly always funnel more money to teachers’ unions?

  13. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    …more bold thinking than…

    tax & spend philosphies


    pandering to “us” vs “them” issues

    When your top guy in Va talks about a NoVa “demographic” problem where new residents do not seem to share “Virginia Values”… what the heck would one expect?

    He could have said almost anything to the sound-bite machine but this is what he chose.

    Open mouth – insert foot – blame WaPO…

    yes… there will always be _someone_ who will want to talk about “them kind of people”…. and how they threaten “us” people and our values…

    Say something that WILL get repeated… and believe me it is not an example of “bold thinking”.

    this is worse than saying the wrong thing – it indicates a failure of judgement to know the difference between a “right” thing and a ‘wrong” thing …

    “bold thinking” to me.. means you got the judgement… and you got the ideas.. and the courage to present them as a plank.

    THAT … is … leadership in my view.

  14. E M Risse Avatar

    “My gut feeling is that very few elected officials REALLY want to eliminate illegal immigration (other than by Al Quaida terrorists, of course.)

    “What these politicians REALLY want is to get the maximum political collateral from whatever “solution” they propose for the “problem.”

    RThorntonAIA is right on.

    The same can be said for solving the:

    The Mobility and Access Crisis,

    The Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis,

    The Energy Crisis,

    and …

    The same can be said, as uncomfortable as it makes partisans of the Elephant Clan and the Donkey Clan, about the wars in Iraq and in Afghanastan.

    All these “crisies” just make too much money for too many campaign donors to really address them with strategies that will end the cirsis.


  15. Anonymous Avatar

    A rapid dog as the official Bacon’s Rebellion icon for the Wash Post?

    Give me a break! Let’s put this in perspective. A more appropriate icon might be a tiny Chihuahua biting the ankle of the Wash Post.

  16. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 5:48, Ahem… let me make my intent clearer. The rabid dog represents the Washington Post, not Bacon’s Rebellion.

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