Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The "Fascist" Label

Digby tried to make a point as she wrote

Great. Now David Frum is on the anti-immigrant bandwagonmaking Trump's illogical, idiotic argument about immigrant criminals. Because, you know, if it weren't for all those immigrants ... we'd still be awash in homegrown violence the likes of which one only exists in countries like Somalia. This is facile, xenophobic,nonsense. And it's the most degrading, dehumanizing, dare I say fascist, argument against foreigners there is. It has a very long and notorious pedigree.

Frum failed miserably in expressing fascist sentiments, though he did quote Donald Trump's famous remarks from the billionaire's presidential announcement speech, then noting his

many critics have rightly denounced the reckless accusations by an apparently self-serving figure. Yet in their determination to quell Trump’s overheated rhetoric, Trump’s critics risk straying into an opposite and also dangerous error: denial of important facts that matter to many voters, but that awkwardly challenge the elite consensus on immigration policy.

Desperately channeling Benito Mussolini, Frum noted

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office delivered a major report on criminal activity by unauthorized immigrants. The GAO was able to locate the arrest and sentencing records of roughly half the immigrants in local jails and state and federal prisons, and then sampled them to estimate what they contained. Here’s what it found:  

An estimated 25,000 of these undocumented immigrants serving sentences for homicide

A cumulative total of 2.89 million offenses committed by these undocumented immigrants between 2003 and 2009 (although half a million of these were for immigration-related offenses)

Among those offenses: An estimated 42,000 robberies, 70,000 sex crimes, 81,000 auto thefts, 95,000 weapons offenses, and 213,000 assaults

Supporters of comprehensive reform typically argue that immigrants commit fewer crimes per capita than do the native-born population. As with the allegation there are in the USA only 12 million illegal immigrants- a number curiously unchanged from 15 years ago- it is a claim widely accepted but with little supporting evidence. Challenging the assumption, Frum explains

When most studies report that immigrants commit fewer crimes than natives, many rely—as I did above—on incarceration rates. Prison populations are the most authoritative source of data on immigrant crime. It’s much easier to assess the immigration status of a person in custody, after all.

But because U.S. prison sentences are so long, prisons house many people whose criminal activities occurred years, or even decades, in the past. Many of the people in prison today were sent there at a time when the foreign-born population was smaller and crime rates were higher. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 20 percent of the U.S. prison population is foreign born. That does not imply that foreign-born persons are committing only 20 percent of crime right now. Yet that is how the statistic is often used.

That doesn't suggest Trump's charge is valid, and Frum does not, recognizing "Donald Trump is a troubling figure. The voters (temporarily) surging to him are deluding themselves."  Surely, however, one of the reasons a belligerent and boisterous blowhard has been riding high is

Elections should be competitions between elite groupings as to whose solutions will prevail. Immigration is an issue on which American elites refuse to do their jobs. Voters are intensely divided over immigration; political and business elites are almost unanimously united. 

With the controversy surrounding Trump, there might have been discussion about immigrants- either of the illegal kind or of the legal kind, whose needs have been largely neglected because they can be addressed only by increased resources.  There has been in much of the mainstream media an effort to deride the candidate in part because his views on immigration are popular with GOP voters but outside acceptable elite thought.

Eventually, Donald Trump's campaign for the Repub presidential nomination will be blasted to bits. Nonetheless, inconvenient ideas about illegal immigration will see the light of the day, either from the likes of hypocritical real estate moguls (video, below) or from thoughtful journalists. If the latter are accused of being fascist or even xenophobic, the discussion will not go down well with the American people.

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