Suck My Butt, Kleinheider

So, Kleinheider has his column up today and in it, he writes this:

That, in fact, may be what this is all about. There is a segment of elite opinion out there that believes arguing for reduced or restricted immigration is necessarily racist. But that’s an article of faith, not proof.

I invite you to give three guesses as to who holds this segment of elite opinion.

Yes, me.

I, apparently, an an elite. I am also wearing underwear with holes in it. So, make of that what you will. Who knows? Maybe Ariana Huffington also wears ratty underwear that she pulled out of the dryer on her way to the car. Maybe that’s the sign of a true elite, when you can’t be bothered to dig a little further for some underpants in better shape.

If I had to count for you all the times I heard last week, “What if you lose your job?” I would not be able to complete this post without crying. If I had to recount for you how I was told I should have three to six months’ worth of savings “just in case,” I couldn’t make it through this post without laughing and then crying.  I’d  like to have savings that would last me longer than six days, at this point, but I don’t.

“Elite” is such a nice word, though, isn’t it? Like I have separated myself from ordinary people and sit up on high making pronouncements about shit I’d feel differently about, if only I lived like real people live, ordinary people. Such an easy word that signals to Kleinheider’s readers that I’m not really one of them. I’m like those rich, well-educated people who just don’t know anything about how real life works.

Like those, rich, well-educated folks who went to, oh, say Vanderbilt, Kleinheider? Like those fucking elites?

Is it “elite” to think that people who came to this country when they were not even in school yet should have a way to become citizens of the country that is their home? Is it “elite” to think that our immigration system is so fucked that good people are crushed by it?  Is it “elite” to think that giving speeches with topics like “The criminal elements among immigrants,” when you have to acknowledge that yours is the only study that finds such evidence, is xenophobic bullshit? Is it “elite” to have empathy for people who can be blackmailed by their bosses into putting up with all kinds of terrible circumstances because the threat of having them deported is constantly hanging over their heads?

Is it really motherfucking “elitist” to have some fucking sympathy for people having hard times?

“Elite,” like I have chosen to remove myself from the rabble, somehow.

Listen, you can disagree with me. You can think I’m wrong. But if you think I have the opinions I have because I just don’t know what it’s like to live in the real world?

All I have to say in response to that is “You wish.”

(see also Chris Wage.)

Edited to Add: Kleinheider has apologized. I will return to referring to him as Tiny Pasture. Tiny Pasture, that was very nice of you. Thanks.

27 thoughts on “Suck My Butt, Kleinheider

  1. Fuck yeah. I’m out of a job, and worrying about whether I’ll be able to keep lissa’s car payment up (forget the house, we wanted out even before this came up) and i’m sitting at home in a cold house cooped up in the smallest room with a heater because my central heat and air has been out for 3 years..

    I’m SO elite.

    Ugh.

  2. I need a second job as well just to buy health insurance because I’m tired of not getting well but I can’t tell anyone about my wicked cough because it would be pre-existing.

    I think we just all need to move into a commune in Hoots. (Or Whites Creek.) ;)

  3. What does he mean “article of faith”? Is he trying to dismiss the contra-argument as invalid not only on merits of class but also on merits of logic?

    It sounds like he’s trying very hard to reconcile his elitist and psuedoreligious opinion by throwing those characteristics at the opposition.

    I’ve watched ACK write on immigration for years. Not only for his own site, Hard Right and his employers’ sites, but also on pro-white, racist sites such as VDare, which he once claimed was one of his ‘favourite’ ‘absolutely great’ websites.

    The idea that America is a static idea never evolving after 1787 is one treasured by a subset I would myself consider to be elitist in that they deny the opportunity of growth and change to those they deem unworthy by accident of birth location alone.

    The current anti-immigration argument, which Rule of Law folks like myself are rapidly distancing ourselves from–to the point of actually advocating decriminalisation of immigrations–is de facto racist. Pure and simple. Kleinheider may call it an article of faith. But faith is belief in that which has no proof. And there is abundant proof that anti-immigration activists are increasingly racist in nature and ideology.

    There are immigrants entering this nation illegally from almost every nation-state in existence today. Yet the anti-immigration forces consistantly focus on the non-white, ignoring those who come from the UK and Europe, breaking just as many laws except the unwritten ones against non-white proliferation in the U.S.

    Rest assured, there is nothing elitist about saying “everyone is welcome here.” It is the exact opposite of elitism. It is inclusionism, something that the anti-immigration forces view as an anathema.

    And this comment has been a very long and wordy way for me to basically say to Kleinheider “I’m rubber and you’re glue, what you say bounces of me and sticks to you.” Because in this case the elitist, racist, faith-based position is clearly the one held by Kleinheider and his ilk.

  4. Here’s the thing (and I was going to say this when Mr. “we black folk are pro-nativist because we want to have access to all the shittiest job and YOU PEOPLE just don’t understand our pain” showed up last week):

    Stop assuming that because I don’t draw the same conclusions that we are not of the same people. I don’t feel I need to produce my working-class bona fides for every jerk on the internet, but suffice it to say that I have beloved family members in jail, unwed and knocked up, in the poor man’s military fighting the rich man’s war, struggling with (and losing the fight against) addiction. I come from hardscrabble hunters, people who have to fish or they don’t eat. Me and my people grow your food, wipe your asses and your dishes, sweep the floors and put up the chairs after you all go home. Yes, through a lot of ass-busting work and some dumb luck, I now have a pretty good job. However, it’s BECAUSE I came up the hard way that I came to these political positions that you call elite.

  5. Bridgett, yeah, exactly. And I hate how the accusation can only be countered by a litany of your troubles, as if you owe anyone but yourself an accounting of your sorrows.

  6. People seem to always have a lot of assumptions about other folks’ life experiences that aren’t necessarily so.

    I’ll never forget one blogger assuming that because my father is an attorney that I’ve never in my life been poor.

    Made me soooo mad, especially since I remember full well the many times in my life I’ve been poorer than dirt financially.

  7. What Bridgett said.

    But more than that, doncha love the way that so many folks who try to paint their opponents as elitists do so in ways that show their own elitism (according to the definitions they use)? There was David Brooks getting down with us plebes by talking about the salad bar at Applebee’s, and whoever it was complaining that Obama likes arugula, and that’s too tony for the real-life folks who shop at Wal-Mart, and Donna Locke over at Kleinheider’s place today being distressed that someone who disagrees with her might take a tone of moral or intellectual superiority…. I want to buy a bunch of mirrors to hand out.

  8. Aunt B.,

    I don’t think of you as an ‘elitist’ but then I am not a moral relativist so I am not bothered when you stake out moral positions on public policy issues.

    But what term does one use when advocates for unlimited unregulated immigration dismiss arguments about public policy issues related to that immigration in favor of appeals to a higher morality? Suppose a think tank like Brookings or Center for Budget and Policy Priorities were to release a study that found immigration above X people annually would cost $500 billion per year. Would you then favor stopping X + 1 immigrant from entering or staying?

    It seems to me that you are making the case that people who do not have the same moral position on immigration are lesser. If not elitism, what do you call this?

    The favorite argument of the Left to justify increasing the involvement of government in the lives of individuals has been that such interventions are ‘in the public good.’ The public good can require me to buy health care insurance, pay higher taxes than someone else and what I can do with my land among many things. So why doesn’t the public good get to be the standard for immigration policy?

  9. Mark, every time you capitalize Left to signify a unified political stance, you signify your own cluelessness about the politics you’re trying to write authoritatively about.

    The answer to your final rhetorical question: because the “public good” is as varied as the positions of those who argue for it. I can make a vigorous case for open immigration as a public good, but I doubt you’d agree.

  10. Bridgett,

    You might be shocked to know that I am an advocate for greater immigration but not illegal or unrestricted immigration. As such, every time advocates for open immigration demonize any argument for regulation as racist or xenophobic, it places those of us who want some reasonable compromise in an impossible position. A cynic might suggest that this is intentional on the part of open immigration advocates who do not want any compromise and who think that more and more immigration will allow them to win in the long run.

    I would love to hear a public policy argument for open immigration. Do you include a ‘rights’ of immigrants?

    On a related topic, do you think it is possible to make a public policy argument for allowing individuals to discriminate in the sale or rental of their property?

    How about a public policy argument for greater restrictions on abortion?

    I am curious because open borders, absent a change in citizenship laws, could reduce the rights of citizens. I wonder what other rights you are willing to allow the ‘public good’ to reduce.

    Also, I also capitalize Right. But, for you, I will change.

  11. Mark, first of all, Post Politics comments have become a breeding ground for people too cowardly to address the author of the original post to his or her face. So, I don’t read them. If Henry has something important to say to me, he knows where I write.

    Second, it seems that part of what’s going on here is a slight tantrum on the part of people such as yourself that neither immigration reformers nor immigration restrictionists give two shits about making sure that those of you waffling in the middle don’t have hurt feelings.

    I mean, sincerely, I have had it with these “elitism” arguments.

    I think you’re wrong. And I’m not going to sit around and hold your hand about it when I say it.

    That doesn’t mean I think you’re lesser than me.

    That’s on you, if someone disagreeing with you with confidence makes you feel like they think they’re better than you.

  12. Aunt B.,

    First, Henry’s post isn’t directed to you or at you but is simply an interesting perspective on the issue.

    Second, my feelings are not the issue. The issue is how do we shape a policy solution to an important issue. Being on one extreme may be emotionally satisfying but, as with most issues, the acid test is what will the center support. The moralizing on both extremes just makes it harder to craft a workable solution.

    Third, I applauded your elitism.

    Fourth, my problem with arguments based on moral elitism has nothing to do with my feelings. I just find that most of the time, that same person also loves to criticize other people who make moral arguments that they disagree with.

  13. Mark: elite HOW?

    You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. In fact, it can mean good things as well, but then again that would mean you would actually have to use it with a purpose other than attacking someone without proof or basis.

  14. polerin,

    Where have I attacked anyone?

    I posed a question about what is the appropriate term for someone who makes an argument for a specific position from moral grounds rather than on public policy grounds. Carrying that further, what do you call it when someone argues that not holding that position is morally defective as in racist or xenophobic?

    To be clear, I do not think Aunt B is an elitist (although I cannot imagine that she cares what I think). I think her position equating opposition to open immigration with racism is elitist. And I applaud her for taking a moral position on the issue. But that morality comes at a price and anyone (right or left) who takes such a moral position needs to own up to it.

    But then all the best of Ideas contain an element of this sort of elitism. Liberty, Justice, Equality, Right etc must have some aspect of ‘if I am right, you must be wrong’ to have any meaning.

  15. Suppose a think tank like Brookings or Center for Budget and Policy Priorities were to release a study that found immigration above X people annually would cost $500 billion per year.

    and suppose said think tank released a study that said the first X immigrants were totally free of charge.

    that would be about as ludicrous, because immigrants — us ones what mean to stay, certainly, and not a few who mean to return — generally come here to work, and guest workers don’t cost the nation money, on the contrary they enrich us. so, any think tank that claimed any thing such as what you’re proposing in this hypothetical would have to be smoking crack.

    which, y’know, wouldn’t surprise me much if they were. but i wouldn’t pay them any attention, because my life’s too short for that shit.

    and that’s coming from a person who’s arguing for exactly the sort of centrist, moderate, limited-and-regulated on-papers immigration you claim to be proposing. there are good reasons to defend such a position, i think, or i wouldn’t do so; but purely and exclusively economic reasons don’t cut it.

    It seems to me that you are making the case that people who do not have the same moral position on immigration are lesser. If not elitism, what do you call this?

    i dunno, what do you call a person who’s vocally defending a position you yourself consider to be immoral? “lesser” sounds pretty polite to me, in that circumstance. after all, depending on how immoral i considered the fellow’s position, i could perhaps use “evil”.

    Do you include a ‘rights’ of immigrants?

    that sentence does not seem to make sense. would you like to rephrase?

  16. Mark, come on. Read back what you just wrote. You really think that I’m not normally a “moral” person, that I’m having some kind of cognitive dissonance because I’m an immoral person taking some kind of moral stand? That my being accused of “elitism” really isn’t that bad, if you wrap it in enough patriotic stuff?

    How is this even a fair conversation? You get to redefine everything the way you want it and make me chase after?

    If you have a point, make it. You’re not Socrates.

  17. Aunt B.,

    The issue is not whether you are a moral person or not. The issue is that on the issue of immigration you take a position which presumes pretty much all opposition to you is racist and therefore not moral.

    I do think that people who say ‘The only acceptable moral position is X’ are taking an elitist position. Certainly you do not believe that being a member of the Klan can be a moral acceptable position and that is also a form of elitism.

    I just enjoy the idea that it seems you are uncomfortable accepting the implication of your beliefs. Henry Walker accepts that he is an elitist after a fashion. I am an elitist in the sense that I think some beliefs are fundamental to a good society and some are simply evil.

    Believing something to be just or good or right in moral terms sometimes means being willing to say that the opposite is unjust or bad or wrong in moral terms. Can I ‘prove’ that something is morally bad or morally just? No. But that does not mean I cannot operate on that belief. No. That is a form of elitism but a necessary one.

  18. How is this even a fair conversation? You get to redefine everything the way you want it and make me chase after?

    And I think that is the crux of the whole problem here. After Mark made his first comment I started to respond, but stopped simply because I can’t figure out how his comment is relevant to anything.

    His comment is based on the presumption that you are making an argument in favor of open borders on a moral basis. As best I can tell, in the post ACK linked to, you are simply arguing that it should be embarrassing to the 287(g) leaders that (a) they keep “accidentally” agreeing to appear before openly racist organizations, and (b) that their biggest supporters are openly racist organizations.

    It seems that B isn’t making an argument for or against open borders on ANY basis in the relevant posts. That’s the first problem with Mark’s comments.

    Secondly, Mark is arguing that B feels she is better than those who are openly racist. I don’t see where B has said that either. I read her to think that racism is WRONG, but doesn’t make someone who is racist “lesser” than her. They’re simply wrong.

    Thirdly, Mark assumes that if B. felt like racists were lesser than her, she would necessarily be “elite” in the meaning being used by ACK. That’s not true. As others have pointed out, “elite” used this way describes someone who is of a social status privileged enough to no longer be able to understand the obstacles facing the “common man.”

    The problem with Mark’s comment is that he’s just stacking false premises on top of one another.

  19. That is a form of elitism but a necessary one.

    The thing is Mark, there is no <–Insert your own definition of elitism here–> tag. You don’t get to simply redefine the terms of the discussion on a whim. Elitism doesn’t mean “I think you are wrong and I am right on this point.” That’s just not what the word means.

  20. Believing something to be just or good or right in moral terms sometimes means being willing to say that the opposite is unjust or bad or wrong in moral terms.

    Not necessarily. If you believe that every moral issue is a zero-sum game, then your construction holds (at least within that conceptual framework). However, in real life not every moral position needs to be weighed against a moral ‘opposite,’ and two people who hold different moral positions on a given topic may not necessarily view each other’s positions as opposites.

    Furthermore, a complex issue such as immigration is not a good fit for such cleanly sliced polar juxtapositions. For example, I’m an ‘open borders’ advocate, but I would only prefer such an outcome within a larger framework of transnational economic and political development in which open borders and full human mobility would be an afterthought. (Absent that context, my desired outcome probably don’t look so hot.) Within the appropriate context, though, can one honestly call my position immoral? Given my motivations, I don’t think so.

  21. Sam,

    Thanks for going to the core.

    Immigration, like so many other issues, has become a zero sum game for many on both sides. Would that it were not.

    I cannot say that your solution would be mine but you offer it from a purely policy-oriented perspective and do not impute immorality to those who disagree. Refreshing if not elitist of you.

    Dolphin,

    There are many definitions of elite other than this one. ACK’s seemed, in context of the larger debate, to be reasonable. I note that Henry seems to get what ACK was trying to say.

  22. There are many definitions of elite other than this one.

    Well perhaps you should offer the definition that you are using, because at the moment, it seems you are using an entirely different one than everyone else. Perhaps you think it’s elitist of me to insist you use the definition of elitism that everybody else is using, but really, if we don’t agree that words have to have consistent meaning throughout a discussion, how can we ever communicate about anything at all?

  23. Whether all calls for restricted immigration are racist or not, the current rhetoric surrounding immigration policy is dyed-in-the-wool racism dressed up as public policy concerns.

    Good on you, for not being afraid to point that out.

    Would that that were the position of the “elite” in this country…

  24. In my opinion, biased think tanks are really nothing new. There are a plethora of organizations like CIS that release academic reports that harbor ideological or political agendas. I think we can all agree on that, right?

    The issue is: CIS’s agenda is one of restricting of immigration (both LEGAL and UNDOCUMENTED). Just check out some of its executive director’s books. That’s fine in principle, if that’s a conclusion you come to after a thorough and honest study of the facts. Unfortunately, when CIS is skewing data and analysis to come to its predestined conclusion that undocumented immigrants need to be deported in mass, and future immigration needs to be restricted – the whole scenario becomes a lot more problematic.

    This is where CIS’s affiliations become more pronounced. I understand why some might call it guilt by association. However, this isn’t the case where one troubled person’s vague connection is used to smear a credible organization. This is a case of an ideological network of organizations, sharing the same founders and funders, with a shared vision: a return to an American demographic landscape dominated by white European Christians.

    There is a lot more to this story, but anyone studying the history of white supremacist in this country will likely come to the same conclusion: the anti-immigrant movement is very much the same as the white-nativist movement in this country.

    I understand I’m not going to convince everyone who reads this, and I apologize if I was confusing, but I really don’t think its fair to ignore CIS’s ideology and history.

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