I’m no fan of Jeff Jacoby. I rarely read him. I always thought his opinions shallow, predictable and his thought process somewhat light. I figured he maintained his position at the Boston Globe as a columnist because he posed as a conservative voice among the many liberals. Although even in that disguise he follows the Globe’s line and often offers a mea culpa to his colleagues by throwing off his conservative cloak as he did in his inane column today.
Jacoby is the guy who wrote the column telling everyone they should shun Billy Bulger. Imagine calling for the shunning of a person whose offense was he wouldn’t publicly condemn his brother? As for shunning people like John Martorano who murdered at least twenty people or his co-author Howie Carr who profited from Martorano’s vile life he is silent.
Well a day or two ago he penned an article calling for America to open its doors to all who want to come here. Seriously. No quotas or restrictions. Open the doors to everyone.
He was writing to complain about the folks in Massachusetts who gathered to express their opposition to bringing immigrant children who have slipped over our nation’s borders to Massachusetts. After highlighting some of the speeches which he called “over the top” he told how the rally ended with the song “God Bless America” which was written by Irving Berlin. He noted Berlin came to America in 1893 during the time America’s “gates were still wide open, as they would be until the 1920s.”
His column comes close to being a copy of another column written days earlier by his colleague Joanna Weiss. Jacoby who at a minimum stole he idea from Weiss suggests Berlin would be upset by those with the anti-immigrant feelings who sang his song. He quotes some of the language used by those in the late 19th Century nativists who opposed foreign immigration noting had they had their way there would have been no Berlin.
He pooh-poohs the reasons the people offered to oppose the immigrants – they are illegal, add to the welfare rolls and cost of public service, don’t assimilate, or are undesirables. He then says: “ they argue, meaninglessly, that America already has enough people, and can’t be a refuge for everyone.” Meaninglessly? Is Jacoby suggesting that America can be a refuge for everyone?
He tells us that what the protestors are really saying is: “we got here first, and we don’t need any more of your kind.” That sounds good and will please his colleagues; but does he really suggest there should be no ban on immigration. Does he want our gates thrown open to all who want to come?
Now I’m sure Jacoby feels good having slammed the protestors and suggesting that they are little more than 19th Century nativists. But I’m not sure what Jacoby has thought through his own stand. It seems to me that he is arguing a nonsensical position that we should not have any immigration restrictions at all. Even his liberal Weiss didn’t go anywhere near that position.
Jacoby apparently doesn’t understand that the world has changed since Berlin landed on our shores. He cannot grasp that what was good for the country back at the end of the 19th Century when our population was around 75 million and the world population was 1.7 billion is not necessarily good for us now with 310 million people in a world with almost 7 billion people.
In 1900 Mexico had 12 million; today 112 million; Central America has 3 million and now has 33 million; our friends in Brazil had 17 million and now have 193 million. Africa in 1900 had a little over 100 million people, now it has over a billion people; Asia had 900 million but now has 4.5 billion. Each of these except for Asia has increase their population almost ten times; here in the U.S. we have only increased 4 times.
Not including the people of Asia but only those in Africa and the Americas who live in countries who have shown a desire to come here, assuming only 10% of those people would come, we’d have an influx of 135 million people. Add in Asia we would more than double our present population.
Jacoby’s outlier position prevents proper perception of the people’s protest. It’s not that the people are saying: “I got here first and don’t need any of your kind,” it’s just they are saying “as much as we’d like to do it, it is impossible to open our gates to all who would like to come here so we shouldn’t encourage such an influx.”
They, unlike Jacoby, understand we have to draw some lines. Every nation does. It’s not, nor has it ever been, as the person holding the sign suggests a human right to migrate.