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Immigration & the Name Game
September 6, 2001

This morning, on ABC's "Good Morning America," Pat Buchanan and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros squared off on the issue of immigration - specifically, amnesty for illegal immigrants. PJB argued that pardoning the 11 million who have entered in violation of our laws insults those awaiting legal entry and requires American taxpayers to support an underclass that uses social services at a disproportionate rate. Moreover, it mocks the best efforts of our already overworked Border Patrol while saddling them with the impossible task of policing the millions more bound to cross in anticipation of the next amnesty. Cisneros, left with the flimsy rebuttal that our economic health depends on illegal immigrants, resorted to the usual tactics of outmatched liberals.

This is a common strategy of the Left: when you cannot make a case on the merits, attack your opponent's character. He will then be forced to defend himself rather than his position. Recall the party line of the Moscow Central Committee in 1943, "Members and front organizations must continually embarrass, discredit, and degrade our critics. When obstructionists become too irritating, label them as fascist, or Nazi, or anti-Semitic…The association will, after enough repetition, become 'fact' in the public mind."

Today, Mr. Cisneros' labels of choice were alleged scare tactics, extreme rhetoric, and personal prejudice -- the familiar language of trounced disputants and the threat awaiting any who challenge the liberal orthodoxy.

Disagree with affirmative action, and you're branded a bigot. Oppose abortion, and you're called sexist. Suggest that a nation should secure its own borders, and you can expect to become a nativist, racist, extremist xenophobe. The implication by Cisneros & Co. is that a counterargument isn't merely incorrect; it's immoral.

Given the Left's limitless supply of scarlet letters, the reticence of well-mannered conservatives to engage in controversial debate is understandable - but not excusable. Name-calling is the singed-earth strategy of the routed and the certain sign of their philosophic defeat. But if polite combatants stack arms rather than face stigma, liberalism will win by default, and no issue will any longer be open to debate.

P.B. Shelley said, "The breath of accusation may kill an innocent name," but a higher authority promised that truth crushed to earth shall rise again. So know the strategy, expect the label, and take it as a sign of victory to come. Any argument that can be dismantled on its substance doesn't merit demonization.

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