One of the sharpest arguments in favor of immigration restriction was made, I believe, by Peter Brimelow in his book Alien Nation. My recollection is that it was more an aside in the introduction than a developed argument, (which if correct would be a shame), but the essence of it was the multiculturalism would inhibit and eventually render impossible a fully free society.
We’ve seen plenty of evidence of Europe’s myriad difficulties reconciling multiculturalism and freedom of speech– from the vociferous reaction to publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, to the Danish cartoon controversy, with many stops along along the way and more surely to come. I had assumed that America, with its vigorous First Amendment culture, would be much more resistant to the temptation to restrain speech.
I don’t pretend that the issues are simple: as I recall, both Pat Buchanan and Paul Johnson, neither knee jerk multiculturalists to say the least, wondered whether it was unduly provocative to publish Rushdie’s work.
The question raises its head again in a column in the New York Daily News by Dolores Frida. She launches into an attack on Marcus Epstein, whose paper for the immigration restriction group The American Cause had already drawn the ire of the New York Times editorial board. (TAC will have more to say about this later). But note this passage from Ms. Frida:
Immigration reform advocates, particularly Latino activists, are falsely characterized as advocating “open borders” and “blanket amnesty.”
These comments constitute “hate speech,” as defined in a preliminary report on a pilot study conducted by UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center.
Hate speech leads to hate crimes. No argument about that. Violence against Latinos has increased by 40% in the past four years — sometimes with deadly results, as evidenced by last year’s murder of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero on Long Island.
Based on this and other reports, the National Hispanic Media Coalition has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission, asking it to examine the extent, nature and effects of hate speech, the role of the media and possible options to counterbalance its negative impact.
The economic hardship the country is experiencing can only lead to more instances of Latino-bashing when fewer and fewer jobs are at stake. Therefore, let’s hope the FCC takes this petition seriously and promptly.
Freedom of expression, protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, is the main reason many immigrants come to the U.S., and we cherish it as much as anyone.
Certainly, no one wants to inhibit anyone from expressing his opinion, regardless of how vile it may be, but a fair, safe, middle ground must be found.
Now, Epstein’s argument is surely not to everyone’s taste, but you have to live an almost unimaginably sheltered life to regard it as “hate speech.” So, a question for Ms. Frida: what alterations in the US Constitution does she recommend as the “fair, safe, middle ground” to deal with such threats as Marcus Epstein?