Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sorry, friend, but you're wrong here

Matt Yglesias quotes George Will: "Arizonans should not be judged disdainfully and from a distance by people whose closest contacts with Hispanics are with fine men and women who trim their lawns and put plates in front of them at restaurants, not with illegal immigrants passing through their back yards at 3 a.m."

Matt says that this is racist, and I think Will definitely uses some stereotypes that, if not racist, are pretty close to it. But I don't think it's racist to point out that illegal immigration poses some serious problems, and that quite a few people who are outraged by this law are insulated from these problems. Of course, this point is undermined by a few small facts: one, that Will himself has no more or less standing to hector anyone about the problems of illegal immigration since, last I checked, he's a New Yorker, and since his case is fundamentally anecdotal I don't really see what he's adding here. Two, that things that are popular in the short term aren't necessarily right, and I suspect this law will cause enormous backlash in the near future--probably once the first pictures of mothers and children being rammed into an Arizona State Trooper wagon hit the news networks. Three, his arguments in the column are generally pretty weak. He tries to pose an equivalence between affirmative action and opposition to Arizona's law (as if any liberals still actively push affirmative action anymore, aside from perhaps in college admissions, or that there's any synchronicity between a noble if perhaps misguided attempt to equalize opportunity and freedom for minorities on one hand, and clamping down on innocent peoples' freedom on the other), and his basic argument again boils down to that Arizona is right because most Arizonans like the law, it doesn't say it targets Hispanics, and Brutus is an honorable man. This is, if you will pardon the pun, the usual willful ignorance and hot air of the sort that have made Will legendary.

Will's column, truth be told, isn't that racist. It's mostly the sort of "center-right nation" pandering that gasbags like Will never stop spewing. Of course the nation sees race like Jan Brewer. Most people believe in harshly punitive immigration laws. We shouldn't pass judgment on the Red States. Will's column is biased, but it is not biased in a racial direction.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.