Immigration: What Ann Coulter Gets Wrong
Ann Coulter makes important points in her new book about our chaotic, overloaded immigration system. She is right that we have too much immigration, especially of the poor and poorly educated. That immigration is widening the gap between rich and poor and accelerating our decline into a country of haves and have-nots. That the job prospects of young blacks and many others are damaged by the influx of workers willing to work for whatever they can get. That poor enforcement of the law undermines public confidence in our government. That political correctness has muzzled liberals who were once committed to limited population growth in the name of environmental conservation. That immigration is transforming the electorate by expanding the numbers of people who depend on government programs and therefore are likely to vote for Democrats.
These are big issues that need far more examination than they receive from our news media. But the problem is that Coulter writes with such venomous hostility toward immigrants and their liberal enablers that most people will turn away from her screed as they would from a street-corner rant. Instead of creating space for the national discussion we badly need to have, she will once again stake her claim to the true-believing and legitimately frustrated Americans who make all her books bestsellers.
Coulter is the shock jock of the printed page. She writes with wit, hyperbole, and Cassandra's fascination with impending doom. Liberals think global warming is cooking our goose, but Coulter is convinced that immigration will get us first. She thinks it has become a sort of national self-immolation, brought to us courtesy of the soft-headed advocates of open borders and immigration unconstrained by law.
The title of Coulter's new book introduces her gloomy thesis: "¡Adios, America! The Left's Plan to Turn our Country into a Third World Hellhole."
Coulter doesn't seem to like any immigrants except those like her Northern European ancestors. But she is particularly nasty to those from Mexico, the largest immigrant group by far, whose numbers have grown from about 700,000 in 1970 to more than 10 million today.
Coulter takes credit for Donald Trump's Mexican-immigrants-are-rapists rant. "Where do you think all that spicy stuff about Mexican rape culture came from?" she tweeted. Sure enough, Trump called the book "a great read".
Trump's obnoxious denunciation of Mexican immigrants at least included the caveat that "some, I assume, are good people." It was a concession not supported by Coulter, who prefers this description of our southern neighbors: "Mexicans specialize in corpse desecration, burning people alive, rolling human heads onto packed nightclub dance floors, dissolving bodies in acid, and hanging mutilated bodies from bridges."
This is nasty stuff. It's malicious hysteria. Coulter's reporting would benefit from a trip to the Mexican state of Jalisco, where tens of thousands of Americans have flocked to a retirement community that was featured on a recent PBS NewsHour. One of the retirees, who happened to be a native of Great Britain, summarized the contentment of her contemporaries when she said the Mexicans who work there "have compassion written into their DNA."
But Coulter sees immigrants from many lands as genetically or culturally predisposed to rape. She tells gruesome stories of brutal sexual attacks committed by the Hmong, tribal people admitted to the United States in order to shield them from retaliation for helping American forces in Southeast Asia. One of their most important advocates was Michael Johns, a former aide to President Reagan who said that to deny them asylum would be "a betrayal." That came in a 1995 article in William F. Buckley's National Review.
Coulter missed all that. Her story is that the Hmong were admitted under the 1965 immigration legislation that knocked out the old system that had favored Northern Europeans. That bill's principal Senate sponsor was Ted Kennedy. Therefore, Coulter erroneously concludes, Kennedy is the sponsor of the Hmong and is responsible for the rapes any of them committed. "Thank you, Teddy Kennedy," she writes sarcastically.
Kennedy is Coulter's public enemy No. 1. No. 2 is the New York Times, which she accuses of tailoring its immigration coverage to the open-border specifications of controversial billionaire Mexican businessman Carlos Slim. In 2009, when the Times was in financial peril and money was tight, Slim lent the paper $250 million.
Coulter's conspiratorial theory is that in return for the money, the Times sold its journalistic soul. She spins a post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc fantasy in which the Times was vigilant against illegal immigration until it cashed Slim's check. Her conclusion: "What a difference one thieving Mexican billionaire makes!"
As someone who has reported on Latin American immigration and politics for years, I am familiar with the style and tenor of Coulter's book. Ironically, her views from the strident right are reminiscent of a leftist tract that has long been a bestselling denunciation of the United States and Europe and all their imperialist works. The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, was aptly described in The Economist as: "written in powerful prose, with intoxicating passion. But it is also a work of crude propaganda, a mix of selective truths, exaggeration and falsehood, caricature and conspiracy theory."
The same can be said of ¡Adios, America!
Jerry Kammeris a senior research fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies.