Michelle Malkin, YAF, and How We Got Here
Back in April, David Frum warned readers in The Atlantic that, “ If liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do.” It was a warning that was promptly ignored.
Fast forward to last week when Michelle Malkin was giving a talk at UCLA about immigration as part of Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) lecture series that involves speakers going around to college campuses across the country to bring conservative perspectives to places where they are not often heard.
A conservative speech on immigration is bound to be controversial, because conservatives do not even agree with each other about immigration, but in the name of trying to have a conversation about a difficult topic, YAF (and full disclosure, I am considered a YAF alumn) sponsored the talk, probably feeling that nothing out of the ordinary would come out of it. Sure, there might be some controversy, but that comes with the territory and it couldn’t possibly be any worse than when YAF sponsors Ben Shapiro.
Unfortunately, but not necessarily unexpectedly, during her talk Malkin defended a certain Holocaust denying anti-Semite who has said, among other things, that Jim Crow wasn’t all that bad. That was enough for YAF to sack her and release this statement:
Malkin fired back, accusing YAF of trying to be the gatekeepers of acceptable political opinions. This is, of course, absurd, no organization has put up with more garbage from would-be censors than YAF. This is also not a free speech issue, because nobody is suggesting that Malkin broke any law, but YAF is not obligated to associate itself with Holocaust deniers or people who defend Holocaust deniers. Even still, the idea that they don’t care about free speech is objectively ridiculous and the proof of that is that they sponsored her speech in the first place.
Based on her reaction Malkin styles herself as someone who is standing up for free speech and against political correctness. YAF too views itself as being on the front lines in the battle against political correctness and hypersensitivity, but they realize that being politically incorrect and simply being a provocateur or holding despicable beliefs are not the same thing. YAF has realized that, while it is unfair that they and conservatives face higher scrutiny than liberals or progressives on college campuses, life is not fair and that is the way it is. They have already been smeared plenty of times as a hate group, so they have to be careful not to give any credence to the accusation. Being politically incorrect is more than wearing diapers to own the libs, there must be some larger truth to the claim that is considered to be impolite. There is no larger truth claim to running interference for Holocaust deniers.
Putting HWSNBN aside for a minute, Malkin’s immigration views are not widely held and yet YAF sponsored her anyway. Over the course of the past many years the left, the media, and many on the right as well, have declared that only socially acceptable immigration view is that when asked how many immigrants the United States should accept each year, one must answer “more” and when asked from where, “anywhere, but Europe.” Malkin, on the other hand, favors more limits, arguing that mass immigration is to benefit of certain special interests (big business, the Democratic Party, ect.), but not the country as a whole. It’s not “America First,” in other words.
The argument that the mass distribution of visas to foreign workers depress wages on its face is not nearly as provocative as proponents of the immigration consensus act as if it is. It could be right, it could be wrong, but it is not inherently bigoted.
To return to Frum, the elite consensus on immigration automatically views Malkin’s beliefs as bigoted, so she has sought out allies who agree with her. She’s not a fascist, but has allied herself with them, because they seem willing to do the job she wants. This is not a defense, she made a choice to go to bat for HWSNBN and his sycophants. She could have disavowed them, but she didn’t and because of that she only did more to her cause as she leads credence to the idea that only bigots could support some less liberal immigration policy.
Still, Frum’s prophecy rings true. If you were to listen to immigration discourse, especially from Democrats, over the past many years you would hear how the country is becoming less white and as it moves to a become minority-majority country, Republicans/conservatives will have a more difficult time winning elections. At the same time we are told that not only must we give citizenship to those in the country illegally, we must increase current levels of legal immigration as well. It is not surprising that some people hear this and say “You only support higher levels of immigration, because it will helps you achieve political power.” They conclude that the way to prevent a left-wing takeover of America is to limit immigration, both legal and illegal.
A lot of people don’t like to hear this, because it seems as if Frum is excusing white supremacy and white nationalism. This is wrong. The harshness of the Treaty of Versailles does not justify the actions of those who joined the Nazi Party or made common cause with it, but historians have pointed out that it would be foolish to ignore how such punitive measures led to a sense of resentment that the Nazis took advantage of.
The way we keep fringe ideologies or simple attention whores who view the internet as the quickest way to get famous (not quite sure yet, which category HWSNBN falls in) on the fringe is to not lump normal ideological differences in with the abnormal, but that is exactly what proponents of mass immigration have done. As Malkin gets pushed out of polite society, to prevent a rise in white nationalist thought, we should resolve not to cry wolf, because as we have seen, wolves exist, but pretending they lie behind every rock is how we get more of them.