What is the significance of Noonan’s “turnabout”?

A reader writes:

Hi, just a quick note to say that I appreciated your comments outlining Peggy Noonan’s journey to, well, America apparently … but is it apparent really? I wonder if she is still a soul without a country.

I agree she can be eloquent in her writing, in her ability to make a case against illegal entry, but would she want illegal aliens deported? Or would she instead just want to open the borders wider? On the one hand she truly got to the heart of the matter regarding illegal entry into our country, and she made the case so eloquently, so persuasively against illegal entry and what it does to the very fabric of our society, but I was not satisfied that she would draw a line against expanded legal immigration.

What do you think? Does she still have miles to go…or is she nearing home? Kind Regards, C. Seymour

My reply:

Good questions. I agree with your points completely.

I see something of a journey happening with Noonan, but I’m not at all saying that she “has a country” now or is with us.

I’m simply noting these interesting shifts that have been taking place in her thinking. People go through all kinds of changes in their outlook all the time, but may remain within essentially the same ideology as before. So it may make no difference at all in the larger picture, especially as her positions are not arrived at logically but emotionally, so that she may lack the ability to articulate what was wrong with her previous positions, she only knows that they don’t feel right any more and are not meeting our needs as a country. At the same time, that emotional kind of turnabout could be enough to make a significant difference for her overall stand. I don’t know.

Remember also that liberalism (in all its varieties) involves a constant process of making exceptions to the liberalism, when it seems to have gone “too far.” Such exceptions do not involve a complete renunciation of the liberalism, it just means the person is no longer entirely comfortable with it.

And, yes, as you point out, being against illegal immigration by itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything. That we are cheering and congratulating people for criticizing illegal immigration shows how miserable and desperate our plight is. The illegal immigration issue is something of a snare and a delusion. For example, Michelle Malkin is well known as an effective critic of immigration … but wait, she’s not a critic of immigration, is she? She’s a critic of illegal immigration. To my knowledge, she’s never said anything about legal immigration at all, what the numbers ought to be, where the immigrants should come from, any of that, yet the whole world thinks of her as an immigration critic. This is because, so overawed are we by the insane liberal orthodoxy that supports even massive illegal immigration, that we forget about legal immigration altogether and turn illegal immigration into the whole issue.

It’s ironic. Just as the pro-open borders left in the last few years has eliminated the concept of illegal immigration and simply refers to illegal aliens as “immigrants,” so restrictionists and conservatives have, without realizing it, dropped the concept of illegal immigration. When someone criticizes illegal immigration, we call him a critic of immigration. Since we have renamed illegal immigration as “immigration,” and since “immigration” implies legal immigration, we think that opposing illegal immigration is tantamount to opposing our current massive legal immigration.

So Noonan’s column today is not a major event. But it does show a shift in her thinking that may ultimately have larger consequences … and maybe not.

Of course, if the country did get serious about enforcing our immigration laws, that would be a very big deal. I didn’t mean to minimize the importance of that at all. My point is only that we could eliminate all illegal immigration coming into this country and still be moving steadily forward on the path to national suicide, especially as a cutback on illegals may be accompanied by an increase of legals. Noonan herself may decide that the solution to the illegal immigration problem is simply to expand the number of legal immigrants, so that people won’t feel they have to come illegally.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 08, 2005 09:34 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):