I once pointed to an article by Ann Althouse asking "Why is immigration suddenly making everyone crazy?" That was over a year ago. Back then, I also noticed bloggers I admired making obviously bad arguments (here, here, and here) on the issue. I also noted (here, here and here) that the debate bore the hallmarks of Sowell's "conflict" between constrained and unconstrained visions, where (typically) the constrained-vision side views the other side as misguided, while those in thrall to the unconstrained vision view their opponents much more negatively, as stupid, evil, or insane.
You may have noticed that none of these observations actually changed any opinions, let alone make anyone any less vituperative in their debating tactics.
The latest sad data point: as Peggy Noonan noted in her widely-quoted WSJ column last week, the president and his allies have adopted the unconstrained debating tactic:
The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."Also of note is Michelle Malkin's recent column which made similar points:
Meanwhile, Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald notes the White House continues to attack opponents of the Bush-Kennedy amnesty package as "nativists." Conservative columnist Linda Chavez accused amnesty critics of "not liking Mexicans." Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested enforcement advocates wanted to "execute" illegal aliens. Sen. Lindsay Graham, South Carolina Republican, trashed immigration enforcement proponents as "bigots" in front of the ethnocentric, open-borders group La Raza. Yeah, we're the nativists.
The Heather Mac Donald article to which Michelle refers is here.
The upshot? Don Boudreaux, a blogger I ordinarily greatly admire, posts a letter written to the Washington Times in response to Michelle's column:
The actions of millions of Mexicans who come to America seeking opportunity demonstrate a profound affection for American civilization - a civilization rooted in an openness and optimism that Ms. Malkin and her xenophobic comrades want to replace with a nativist nationalism rooted in ignorance and fear.Yes, indeedy! That's exactly what Ms. Malkin wants: nativist nationalism rooted in ignorance and fear! So there's no need whatsoever to deal with the actual arguments made by her or her "xenophobic comrades"! Gee, that was easy.
Professor Boudreaux shows a remarkable lack of self-awareness about these reprehensible debating tactics, all the more remarkable because he'd presumably just read an article making a point of how misguided such tactics are.