Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration

Note: This is a pre-publication version of my dissertation[1] from November 20, 2015. Following its publication, I compiled errata and updates which are available here. In addition, my thinking on the seven tendencies of conservatism I identify here has progressed; see here. You may also download the final PDF.


A dissertation presented to the faculty of Saybrook University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Science


David Benfell

Oakland, California

November 2015

Approval of the Dissertation


This dissertation by David Benfell has been approved by the committee members below, who recommend it be accepted by the faculty of Saybrook University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy in Human Science

Dissertation Committee:

_________________________________ ___________________

Robert McAndrews, Ph.D. Chair Date

_________________________________ ___________________

JoAnn McAllister, Ph.D. Date

_________________________________ ___________________

Marc Pilisuk, Ph.D. Date



David Benfell

Saybrook University

While many may view conservatism as monolithic, this dissertation describes a taxonomy of seven tendencies in conservative thought in the United States: 1) traditionalist conservatism, 2) social conservatism, 3) capitalist libertarianism, 4) authoritarian populism, 5) functionalist conservatism, 6) neoconservatism, and 7) paleoconservatism. This dissertation then employs discourse-historical analysis to uncover the diversity of conservative thought among these tendencies in the example of undocumented migration. It supports distinctions between most of these tendencies. However, George Nash described social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives as allies on most issues; this dissertation finds members of each of these tendencies divided on the issue of undocumented migration between those who emphasize compassion over law and those who emphasize law over compassion. This dissertation also fails to support a distinction between authoritarian populism and paleoconservatism as members of both tendencies subscribe to an “us” versus “them” view toward undocumented migrants. Finally, it observes a profound difference in epistemology between most conservatives and many others: Conservatives appear resistant to forms of evidence that others consider essential.


I first wish to express my gratitude to my committee for sticking out this dissertation despite the disruption surrounding the ‘teaching out’ of the Human Science program and of two other programs at Saybrook University announced early in 2015. Under the best of circumstances, money is a quantitative reduction of and therefore a poor reflection of human and social value. Social sciences and the humanities generally suffer from a neoliberal reduction of seemingly all value to market value, and I think that on the whole, most professors are on the losing side of that reduction. Now, two of my committee members are receiving even more abysmal compensation for their efforts.

I am grateful that the Human Science program even existed and created the space for me to pursue my interests, including those that help to inform this dissertation. The loss of this program is a loss not only for those whose interests incline them toward this discipline, but for society as a whole. In the present condition of this society, however, it will hardly notice.

I appreciate the support of my family, in particular my mother, who among other things, lent her considerable experience as a writer to making this a better dissertation.

And my cat, Admiral Janeway surely deserves a better human than the one she wound up with.


  1. Tendencies of conservatism in brief………………………………………… 12
  2. Tendencies of conservatism and their interactions…………………………. 16
  3. Gallup survey results, migration from European countries………………… 85
  4. Gallup survey results, migration from Latin American countries……………. 85
  5. Gallup survey results, migration from African countries…………………… 86
  6. Gallup survey results, migration from Asian countries……………………… 86
  7. Gallup survey results, migration from Arab countries……………………… 87
  8. Number of articles archived by tendency…………………………………. 112
  9. Number of articles archived by tendency, author, and publication………… 113
  10. Tony Lee (June 14, 2014)…………………………………………………. 146
  11. Joanne Moudy (June 15, 2014)……………………………………………. 151
  12. Elizabeth Lee Vliet (June 17, 2014)………………….…………………… 155
  13. Rick Perry (July 9, 2014)………………………………………………….. 163
  14. Brian Domitrovic (August 28, 2014)……………………………………… 170
  15. Fred Reed (September 9, 2014)…………………………………………… 182
  16. Alex Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014)…………………………………….. 195
  17. Julie E. Sweig (July 2, 2014)……………………………………………… 210
  18. Economist (July 8, 2014)………………………………………………….. 217
  19. Kelly Phillips Erb (November 20, 2014)………………………………….. 223
  20. William Chip (May 12, 2014)………………………………………….….. 234
  21. Jonathan S. Tobin (July 14, 2014)…………………………………………. 243
  22. Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014)…………………………………………….. 257
  23. Andy Nowicki (July 15, 2014)…………………………………………….. 275
  24. Tom Piatak (July 15, 2014)………………………………………………… 290
  25. Aaron D. Wolf (November 21, 2014)……………………………………… 298
  26. J. C. Derrick (August 11, 2014)…………………………………………… 306
  27. Leonardo Blair (November 22, 2014)……………………………………… 315
  28. Alex Crain (November 24, 2014)……………………………………….…. 324
  29. Bruce Frohnen (February 16, 2014)……………………………………….. 336
  30. Stephen Turley (July 25, 2014)……………………………………………. 346
  31. Kelly Vlahos (August 12, 2014)…………………………………………… 362



Reflecting on the absences from his family imposed by his career as a television writer, Bradford Winters (January 19, 2012) “grant[s] that the gap between [his] experience and the extremities that countless immigrants endure on a daily basis is astronomical.” Driving the point home, he continues, “To compare them in any way is ludicrous: while I crossed the desert by borrowed car . . . Mexican immigrants were crossing it by foot south of me, perhaps with little water left and a corpse in their wake.”

Winters (January 19, 2012) argues strongly for empathy, perhaps even an “open door” policy, for migrants out of a sense that families belong together. His “sympathies were most definitely not on the side of ICE, the federal immigration agency renamed under George W. Bush, apparently for tactics often as chilling as the acronym implies.”

Such sentiments have often been drowned out in a rancorous debate on undocumented migration into the United States that reached a fever pitch in 2014 as a wave of unaccompanied children fled violence in Central America and as President Barack Obama prepared to issue an executive order on undocumented migrants. One might also note that the notion of family Winters advocates, however, is likely strongly patriarchal. He wrote this essay for Image, a traditionalist conservative magazine that emphasizes a Christian, especially Catholic, perspective.

Two points should thus be apparent: First, conservative views on migration do not reduce to an “us” versus “them” mentality that stridently favors an aggressive defense of “our” border against a “flood” or an “invasion” of “illegals.” Second, they do not even reduce to the conflict between such views and a functionalist (establishment) conservative fear that Republicans need to attract Hispanic support if they are to continue to win national elections.


In preliminary work leading to this dissertation, I developed a taxonomy of conservatism that identifies not one but seven distinct tendencies of conservative thought: 1) traditionalist conservatism, 2) social conservatism, 3) capitalist libertarianism, 4) authoritarian populism, 5) functionalist conservatism, 6) neoconservatism, and 7) paleoconservatism. I have argued that conservatism cannot be reduced linearly to a scale against radicalism or the left (Benfell, April 12, 2013, May 16, 2014, June 4, 2014), but rather must be viewed “as a multifaceted phenomenon reflecting highly divergent beliefs” (Benfell, November 10, 2014). This study applies that taxonomy to the topic of undocumented migrants, both to test the taxonomy and to show how nuances in conservatism that can be attributed to these variant tendencies produce often radically different views on undocumented migrants.

Background: Terminology, context, and self-reflection

I will cover my methodology in chapter three, but suffice it here to say that it is a partial implementation of discourse-historical analysis in the critical theory tradition. An underlying assumption in any critical discourse method is that discourse is a social practice that represents how we act toward and feel about each other (van Leeuwen, 2008) and thus that, among other things, the language we use betrays attitudes toward power relationships (Caldas-Coulthard & Coulthard, 1996; Weiss & Wodak, 2003). This is surely as true of me as an author as it is of the conservatives whose texts I study.

In the following sections, therefore, I not only seek to explain the terminology I have chosen but to fulfill the critical theory requirement that I be self-reflective (Morrow, 1994). If indeed we understand that I am subjective and cannot be truly objective, and yet I wish to inform rather than to deceive, then I owe it my readers to explain my perspective as it applies to the topic at hand and to do so near the beginning, so that their autonomy is preserved, as best as I can preserve it, in evaluating the claims I make in this dissertation.

Also, where appropriate and consistent with a discourse-historical method, in the remainder of this chapter, I will explore some of the history and context that underlies each term.


In her exploration of how expressed homophobia in high school is in fact more a means of social control than it is about sexual orientation, C. J. Pascoe (2007) alludes to being a lesbian throughout her text, finally saying so outright toward the end. In her case, what she does, works. While she may prefer not to be judged according to the logic by which I judge her and this may explain the delay in her self-revelation, I understand her work as insightful because as a lesbian, she notices and explicates practices that, even having endured much of what she describes in my own school experience, I took for granted. As a heterosexual male, I would have had much greater difficulty conducting the same research, as I am unlikely to have noticed all that she does.

So it is—I can only hope—with my inquiry on conservatism. I am a vegetarian ecofeminist, which is to say that I understand the oppression of humans to be inseparable from that of non-human animals and the environment (Gaard, 2002). Further, I understand this oppression to pose an existential threat to human survival (Benfell, March 6, 2013). Therefore, not only am I an anarchist, opposing authoritarian power relations among humans, but I extend the sphere of moral persons entitled to autonomy and self-actualization to include non-human animals and the environment (p. jones, 2004; Nussbaum, 2011). In Gerhard Lenski’s (1966) Hegelian dialectic between conservative authoritarianism and radical anti-authoritarianism, therefore, I embody the latter.

This is a consequence of my own harsh experiences with authority. My earliest recollection is on the side of a road in the state of Washington. I had been whipped by my father and, my own understanding of language not yet being fully developed, I understood him to command me not to get back in the car. I was thus confronted, at a very early age—I believe I was four years old—with the question of where I would sleep and how I would eat. It is the only time I can recall defying my father: I opened the door and climbed back in the car.

This experience of my father—his physical abuse toward me and emotional abuse to my mother continued until my parents separated when I was fifteen years old—obviously differs from conservative so-called ‘natural law’ or ‘strict father’ conceptions regarding parental responsibility (Helmholz, 2015; Lakoff, 2002) in key aspects. My father did provide well for my mother and me and he exercised authority over us. But instead of protecting us, he chronically attacked us.

As a child in school, utterly uninterested in sports and the other things that boys are supposed to be interested in, I was never able to fit in, so I was relentlessly teased and bullied. It is in this respect that I find Pascoe’s (2007) work on high school boys personally compelling. School authorities were indifferent and I will never forget prowling the halls of my high school looking for a safe place to hide—and finding none.

As an adult, I burned out early in the career—computer programming—my father had chosen for me and thus began a long experience with working class life. Working at low level jobs, I learned that the Horatio Alger experience of starting at the bottom and rising to the top is a dismally rare one. I worked many jobs that did not pay a living wage for authorities unconcerned with where I might sleep and how I might eat. The lesson that no one is in business to benefit anyone other than oneself has, for me, been a long and hard one. And I realized that employers revel in the ease with which they may hire and replace employees; human beings have become disposable and infinitely replaceable.

Finally, my experience with long-term unemployment has reinforced a sense that human beings are expendable in this economic system. Or worse, as Herbert Gans (1995) has explained, that the allegedly undeserving poor may exist as a warning to the remainder of society: This is how those who do not conform in every sense may end up.

Any notion that political, social, or economic authority deserves trust or even the benefit of the doubt has thus failed a long test of my personal experience. Though I do not share Lenski’s (1966) monolithic view of conservatism as what I will describe in coming pages as functionalist conservative, I have found that authoritarianism is a defining characteristic of all tendencies of conservatism (Benfell, April 12, 2013). I am also utterly unsurprised that our elites seem unable—and often unwilling—to rise to the challenge posed by existential threats to human existence, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and other technological threats (Hayes, 2012; Kolb et al, January 19, 2015; McDonald, June 24, 2012; Robinson, November 3, 2014; Savio, November 21, 2014, December 15, 2014), and I have argued that our authoritarian system of social organization itself is to blame (Benfell, March 6, 2013).

And I am sad to report that this dissertation offers little reason for hope in the challenges that humanity now faces. While my method does not permit generalized claims, by far, the majority of articles I analyze expose a preference to ignore the experience of others and an utter lack of curiosity about what research can tell us about that experience. I fear that all tendencies of conservatism are very much a part of the problem, not the solution, not merely with undocumented migrants as shown here, but in the threat to human survival.


In many conservative writings, ‘liberal’ is simply an epithet. The term refers vaguely and uncritically to whatever the author opposes. Russell Kirk (1985/2001), a traditionalist conservative, offers some help here by listing the ‘radicalisms’ he opposes as beliefs in

The perfectability of man and the illimitable progress of society. . . . Contempt for tradition. . . . Political levelling. . . . Economic levelling . . . . [R]adicals unite in detesting [Edmund] Burke’s description of the state as ordained of God, and his concept of society as joined in perpetuity by a moral bond among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born—the community of souls. (Kirk, 1985/2001, p. 10)

In that passage, Kirk (1985/2001) reveals nearly as much about his own beliefs as he does in the 501 pages (preceding notes) of his book, The conservative mind: From Burke to Eliot. But also, and perhaps inadvertently, he posits conservatism as an authoritarian reaction to efforts to improve the human condition and to any kind of egalitarianism.

Liberalism classically refers to the capitalist system of economics, with so-called ‘free trade,’ reduced government spending, a notion of ‘freedom’ grounded in private property, and privileged status for the so-called ‘free market’ as an arbiter of value. This changed with the New Deal (Blyth, 2013; Habermas, 1962/1991), a fact that some capitalist libertarians still strongly resent and resist (Tucker, January 2, 2015). Since then, the word is often thought to refer to a ‘bleeding heart’ advocacy for at least an acceptance of the need for government regulation and a social safety net, which is to say that it has come to mean the very opposite of what capitalist libertarians and neoliberals advocate. In addition, in the 1960s and 1970s, the term ‘liberal’ took on associations with the anti-war, civil rights, women’s liberation, sexual liberation, and counterculture movements. The word ‘liberal’ seems have become an epithet when many politicians blamed the near-bankruptcy of New York City in 1974-1975 on ‘bleeding heart’ ‘liberal’ spending policies (Perlstein, 2014).

Because all of these meanings of ‘liberalism’ can be found in current usage, the term itself should not be taken for granted. Where I use the term in this dissertation, I try by various means to be clear about which sense I mean.

Conservative species, schools, and tendencies of thought

I draw the tendencies that make up the taxonomy of conservatism from three main sources. First, George Nash (2006, Spring, 2009) objects to an increasing tendency for conservatism to “subdivide” itself and lists several sorts of conservatism, only some of which I recognize as distinct tendencies. These include capitalist libertarianism, neoconservatism, paleoconservatism, social conservatism, and traditionalist conservatism. Second, my understanding of authoritarian populism relies heavily on Chip Berlet’s (2011) description, which seems very much akin to the ‘Cons’ that Thomas Frank (2005) describes in What’s the matter with Kansas? Frank also describes his ‘Cons’ as being exploited by the Republican Party elite, whom I count among functionalist conservatives, the wealthy and powerful people whose principal motivation is the preservation of their power relationship over the rest of society (Hayes, 2012; Lenski, 1966; Mills, 1956/2000).

In developing this taxonomy, I have struggled with how to label the distinct ways of thinking about issues that different conservatives express. For one thing, these tendencies cannot be viewed in isolation from each other. They interact with each other and share ideas; the adherents of various tendencies use, rely upon, and exploit each other; and the adherents of some tendencies are very much at odds with those of some other tendencies. Nonetheless, there are overlaps, often even between antagonists. This led me to view conservatism as a sort of ecosystem, and different kinds of conservatism as ‘species’ of conservatism (Benfell, May 16, 2014, June 4, 2014, November 10, 2014). But where biological species are often held not to be able to successfully interbreed with each other, the same cannot be said of conservatives. Individual conservatives may partake of multiple tendencies, particularly in seeking political power, as for example, capitalist libertarian Ron Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul, who softens capitalist libertarian “isolationism,” mixes in social conservatism, and appeals to authoritarian populists (Farenthold, September 14, 2014, September 17, 2014). Paul is far from alone: In developing fusionism, which unified the conservative coalition that has won numerous elections since the late 1970s (Fonte, June 2, 2003; Goldberg, December 31, 2006; Heard, 2008; Lindsey, 2006, 2010; Welch & Gillespie, 2012; Williumrex, January 23, 2007), George Nash (2006) argues that Frank Meyer sought to reconcile capitalist libertarianism, traditionalist conservatism, and anti-communism with a somewhat less than coherent result.

The term ‘species’ also draws in a biological connotation, which can be construed to suggest, particularly when a radical such as myself employs the term, that conservatives are somehow less than human. So I tried the term ‘school’ (Benfell, November 10, 2014), but this suggests more thinking and consistency than may in fact be found in positions that are, according to the traditionalists Russell Kirk (1985/2001) and Richard Weaver (1964/1995), grounded in ‘prejudice’ or habits of mind. And again, the walls of categorization that surround and separate ‘schools’ seem entirely too rigid. It turns out that Jan-Werner Müller’s (2006) assessment of conservatism as a whole is an appropriate caution for each of its tendencies. As he put it,

The study of conservatism as an ideology has been beset with difficulties. It is widely held that conservatism is hard to define precisely; it is frequently assumed that conservatism is more prone to internal contradictions than other varieties of political thought; and finally, as Michael Freeden has pointed out, it appears that it is mainly conservatives themselves who write about conservatism—giving rise to the suspicion that it might be hard to come by unbiased analyses. (Müller, 2006)

Conservatives themselves sometimes use the term ‘tendency’ or one of its synonyms. I now borrow that term, ‘tendency,’ to describe how I am grouping conservative thought, mostly out of dissatisfaction with the alternatives. Nathan Glazer (Spring, 2005) uses it as he wonders how neoconservatism “morphed from a political tendency that dealt almost entirely with domestic social policy to one that deals almost entirely—indeed, entirely—with foreign policy” (p. 17). Ross Douthat (May 22, 2014) concedes “the case that the GOP includes a strong ideological tendency that cuts against what some of the reform-conservative essayists want to do” (he is, I believe, referring to traditionalist conservatives). Mark Helprin (December 19, 2005) writes of ‘liberalism’ and conservatism, that “[l]ocked in struggle with its opposite, each tendency is continually presented not only with primarily intellectual propositions, but with problems arising from nature, the development of society, and the advance of knowledge, and with combinations arising from the interaction of all” (p. 41). As I have come to understand conservative usage of the term, ‘tendency,’ or one of its synonyms, it is meant to eschew a coherent theoretical formulation while also denying that their ideology is an ideology.

I think conservatism and its tendencies are indeed ideological. This dissertation—and even this introduction—will present much of my case for believing as much. But at least for now, I accept the word ‘tendency.’

Table 1.

Tendencies of conservatism in brief

Tendency of conservatism Beliefs
Traditionalist conservatism Claims lineage from Edmund Burke, an English Parliamentarian at the time of the revolution in which the U.S. gained independence.

Intensely patriarchal: divorce is at least unfortunate if not to be forbidden entirely; contraception and abortion are also forbidden.

Government to implement divine will (probably but not necessarily that of a Christian god).

Government should be small and local with much authority residing in the squire, a medieval sort of landlord.

Freedom is strongly associated with property.

Fear of central government as a ‘leviathan.’

Strongly anti-war.

Anti-positivism and opposed to quantitative methods of analysis.

Opposed to industrial capitalism.

Communities should generally be homogeneous, concentrating authority in those with a particular linguistic, cultural, and religious heritage.

Not strictly segregationist, but integration (as with schools and neighborhoods) should be voluntary.

Social conservatism Mostly evangelical Protestant.

Insistent upon the U.S. as a Christian nation that should openly privilege Christian (evangelical Protestant) values and practices.

Capitalist Libertarianism Origin of neoliberal ideology.

Government’s relationship with the market should be limited to ensuring free competition.

The ‘free’ market is ‘democratic’ and the most reliable means of decision-making.

Government should not intervene in personal practices or interfere with the conduct of business.

Generally anti-war.

Authoritarian populism (currently manifest as the “Tea Party”) A mix of social conservatism, neoconservatism, and “free” market aspects of capitalist libertarianism.

Hierarchically invidiously monistic thinking.

Denies white privilege.

Scornful of elites, scholars, mainstream news media, and big cities.

Patriotic to the point of chauvinism, but occasionally entertains secessionist ideas.

Functionalist conservatism Largely about preserving and enhancing the privileges and positions of the already wealthy and powerful.

Discounts popular opinion.

Concerned with “governing” and its associated politics.

Tends to agnosticism on ethics.

Neoconservatism Adopts neoliberalism as a morality system, essential for “good government.”

Compromises limited government aims in favor of an aggressive foreign policy that tends to increase the size of government.

Favors an aggressive foreign policy to protect and promote “good government.”

Paleoconservatism Emphasizes strictly segregated communities by race and ethnicity.

Scornful of multiculturalism.

Table 2

Tendencies of conservatism and their interactions (updated from Benfell, June 4, 2014)

Tendencies of Conservatism Interactions with other schools
Traditionalist Conservatives Allies with social conservatives on religion, but traditionalists are more concerned with the size of government.

Less likely than capitalist libertarians to endorse laissez-faire economics.

Allied with capitalist libertarians in Meyer’s fusionism.

Do not share authoritarian populists’ hyper-patriotism and do not see the U.S. as an ‘exceptional’ nation.

Object to functionalist conservatives’ alliances with big business.

Closely related ideologically to paleoconservatives, but privilege the legacy of British culture and of conservatism as interpreted from Edmund Burke.

Join with paleoconservatives and, often, capitalist libertarians, tending toward what neoconservatives see as ‘isolationism’ and thus are in strong opposition to neoconservatives.

Social Conservatives Often focus on gender and sexuality issues, which are of less interest to all but traditionalist conservatives.

Agree with traditionalist conservatives that government’s legitimacy derives from a Christian god.

Benefited from anti-Communist (authoritarian populist) and functionalist conservative sponsorship of religious revival movement in the early Cold War.

Support anti-Communism because authoritarian communism as practiced in the Soviet Union was atheistic.

Relationships with paleoconservatives are probably similar to those with traditionalists, but this is not established.

Appear to have the support of neoconservatives who readily resort to the image of a ‘crusade’ in building support for their aggressive foreign policy.

Capitalist Libertarians Allied with traditionalist conservatives in Meyer’s fusionism.

Mostly oppose government intervention in economic and personal matters, bringing them into conflict with functionalist, social, and traditionalist conservatives.

Authoritarian populists adopt the capitalist libertarian economic agenda in hierarchically invidious monistic form.

Often oppose foreign interventions along with traditionalist conservatives and paleoconservatives, bringing them into conflict with neoconservatives.

Originated the economic ideology of neoliberalism, which neoconservatives take as a moral system in their conception of ‘good government.’

Authoritarian Populists As anti-communists, the ‘glue’ of the fusionist coalition with traditionalist conservatives and capitalist libertarians.

Often share social and traditionalist conservative views on sexuality, seeing sexuality education and advocacy of non-heterosexual rights as impinging upon their own rights.

Emphasize patriotism, which expressed in militaristic form, serves the neoconservative agenda.

Appear to share the anti-communist legacy (which I interpret as a phase of longer-standing authoritarian populism) with neoconservatives, but this relationship is not entirely clear.

In conflict with functionalist conservatives over federal government prerogatives (see Benfell, May 4, 2014).

Functionalist Conservatives Often unrecognized as conservative by other groups, but an essential part of the coalition that, in seeking to preserve elite privileges, is in a position to advance other conservative priorities, as with decreasing availability of abortion for traditionalist and social conservatives, an early Cold War religious revival movement for social conservatives, neoliberal policy for capitalist libertarians, and social safety net cuts for authoritarian populists.
Paleoconservatives Often conflated with traditionalists but are in fact entirely distinct.

Argue for (European) ethnic segregation and do not privilege tradition inherited from Britain.

Join with traditionalists and, sometimes, capitalist libertarians in what neoconservatives call “isolationism,” opposing neoconservative policy recommendations.

Allied with authoritarian populists in strident opposition to “illegal immigration” (referred to here as undocumented migration). This includes a hierarchically invidiously monistic view of “us” and “them.”

Other relationships are unclear.

Neoconservatives Adopted capitalist libertarian economic ideas as essential to ‘good government’ and probably are most responsible for the adoption of these ideas as political orthodoxy.

Share an anti-communist legacy with authoritarian populists.

Pursue an aggressive foreign policy to instill so-called ‘capitalist democracy’ in other countries, placing them at odds with those they call “isolationist”: traditionalist conservatives, paleoconservatives, and, sometimes, capitalist libertarians. The latter groups fear that such militarism will serve to enlarge rather than diminish government; neoconservatives accept that risk.

Ally with social conservatives in pursuit of a military ‘crusade’ in support of so-called ‘capitalist democracy.’

When religious, they are sometimes difficult to distinguish from traditionalist conservatives in their support for traditional religious values. See, for example, the journal First Things.

I have identified seven of these ‘tendencies’ (tables 1 and 2). I will return to each tendency in its corresponding chapter where I present my analyses of their texts. Here, I introduce each tendency. This should be read, bearing in mind two things: First, that these tendencies overlap and are not clearly distinct from each other; and second, that an individual may exhibit one or more of these tendencies and may not align with any tendency well. An example of the latter is Ronald Reagan, who, in Lou Cannon’s (2000) account, distinguishes himself from the functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives who largely made up his White House staff with his reliance on, in both Cannon’s and Perlstein’s (2014) judgment, poor quality sources of information such as Human Events and Readers Digest and by an understanding of the world formed in large part through Hollywood movies. Cannon diagnoses Reagan as being more concerned with performance and effect, and less concerned with factuality. Perlstein brings that diagnosis to life and highlights Reagan’s Manichean outlook, easily reducing complex issues to a morality tale of good versus evil. With this, Reagan appears largely, albeit imperfectly, as an authoritarian populist.

But Cannon (2000) also records that Reagan, raised by his mother in the Disciples of Christ church, was also deeply evangelical. Reagan, it seems, subscribed to an understanding of Armageddon that may have affected his decisions in the White House to pursue the Strategic Defense initiative, an ‘umbrella’ to protect the nation from nuclear attack and also to pursue nuclear arms reduction with the Soviets. The evangelism leads one to suspect Reagan may have been a social conservative, but Cannon records that Reagan barely advanced notorious social conservative causes such as school prayer or abortion restrictions. Perlstein (2014) notes that while Reagan campaigned for an ascendant social conservative vote, as governor of California, Reagan signed a bill liberalizing access to abortion on mental health grounds.

Finally, though the general discussion of the conservative tendencies in the following seven sections is intended as an introduction to these tendencies rather than an exploration of how adherents of these tendencies will view undocumented migrants, we will see in chapters five through eleven how the general description often applies to the specific problems of undocumented migration.

Authoritarian populists

Authoritarian Populists have likely existed in the United States since before the revolution that separated the U.S. from the United Kingdom but are presently most visible in the form of the Tea Party. In his history of regional cultures of North America, Colin Woodard (2011) describes many authoritarian populist attributes when he writes of Greater Appalachia as having been populated by

[a] clan-based warrior culture from the borderlands of the British Empire . . . seeking sanctuary from a devastated homeland [northern Britain, including lowland Scotland, northern England, and northern Ireland] . . . [and] rushed straight to the isolation of the eighteenth-century frontier to found a society that was, for a time, literally beyond the reach of the law, and modeled on the anarchical world they had left behind. (Woodard, 2011, p. 101)

Authoritarian populists are deeply suspicious of cities, political authority, environmentalists, academics, and any other elites (T. Frank, 2005). Particularly in the wake of the financial crisis and the bank bailouts, that includes Republican and Wall Street elites (T. Frank, 2012) whom I count among functionalist conservatives, but ironically, when authoritarian populists find their way into political power, their embrace of neoliberal values often leads them to accept the very corruption they formerly objected to: It turns out that if the market is indeed the supreme arbiter of all value, then it follows that political influence should be available for purchase by the highest bidder (T. Frank, June 15, 2014).

It is tempting, as with the examples of Ronald Reagan, climate change, evolution, and a host of issues where authoritarian populists substitute deeply held convictions for empirical evidence, to suspect authoritarian populists of low intelligence. In the final installment of his biography of Reagan, Lou Cannon (2000) argued that Reagan in fact possessed high interpersonal intelligence while otherwise appearing as an “amiable dunce” (Clifford, quoted in Cannon, 2000, p. 105) by traditional academic measures of intelligence. Authoritarian populists also might not have learned much in school. In What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank (2005) notes that those he labels ‘Cons’ (and those I label authoritarian populists) often had unfavorable experiences of school:

Education at the K-12 level, meanwhile, is the main place where average Kansans routinely encounter government, and for the Cons that encounter is often frustrating and offensive. School is where big government makes its most insidious moves into their private lives, teaching their kids that homosexuality is OK or showing them their way around a condom. Cons find their beliefs under attacks by another tiny, insular group of arrogant professionals—the National Education Association—that stands above democratic control, and they look for relief in vouchers, homeschooling, or private religious schools. (T. Frank, 2005, p. 241)

Much of the anger and resentment that one sees among authoritarian populists, however, springs from legitimate grievances. Many have lost well-paying jobs as multinational corporations have shifted their jobs overseas. Unfortunately, rather than direct their anger at the decision makers who are responsible for globalization and so-called ‘free trade,’ they accept these losses as “just business” and misdirect their anger toward subaltern “others,” such as women or people of color (Berlet, 2011; T. Frank, 2005; Sernau, 2006).

Kim Messick (October 12, 2013) explains that those I call authoritarian populists “identify the country with [their] own beliefs and values. Those with different preferences then become almost by definition ‘un-American.’” Which is to say that for authoritarian populists, “America” is overwhelmingly homogeneous, white, rural, English-speaking, capitalist, and tending to be evangelical Protestant. Anyone who does not fit this description is the “other,” and quite possibly a threat that must be suppressed. In the wake of 9/11, it was likely authoritarian populists who flew oversize U.S. flags from the beds of their pickup trucks. For authoritarian populists, a militant patriotism is the chauvinistic nationalism that identifies difference as a threat to national coherence (Anderson, 2006).

I will return to authoritarian populism in chapter five.

Capitalist libertarians

Capitalist libertarians are best known for a 20th century, or more precisely, Austrian manifestation of a centuries-old strongly pro-capitalist economic view. When George Nash (2006) opens his history of post-World War II conservative thought, he inadvertently diminishes the fact that these Austrian economists, principally Karl Popper, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Joseph Schumpeter, developed their thinking no later than in the 1920s and 1930s. In a broad sweep, capitalist libertarianism seems indistinguishable from the ideology of neoliberalism or the ideology that George Seldes (1948/2009) attributes to those he labels ‘reactionaries’ and ‘fascists’ who vociferously opposed New Deal policies and who even sought to launch a coup against Franklin Delano Roosevelt to protect “their” private property rights. As Charles Reich (1970) describes what he calls ‘Consciousness I’ people,

They found their world changing beyond recognition, and instead of blaming the primary forces behind that change, they blamed the efforts at solving problems. They totally lacked the sophistication necessary to see that a measure such as the Wagner Act might be redressing an existing oppression rather than creating oppression. The businessmen who were the most vocal in their opposition had a pathological hatred of the New Deal, a hatred so intense and personal as to defy analysis. Why this hatred, when the New Deal, in retrospect, seems to have saved the capitalist system? Perhaps because the New Deal intruded irrevocably upon their make-believe, problem-free world in which the pursuit of business gain and self-interest was imagined to be automatically beneficial to all of mankind, requiring of them no additional responsibility whatever. In any event, there was a large and politically powerful number of Americans who never accepted the New Deal even when it benefited them, and used their power whenever they could to cut it back. (C. Reich, 1970, pp. 56-57)

On closer inspection however, Hayek (1944/2007) is the most moderate of these founding figures, allowing as how central planning might not in every case lead to ‘serfdom,’ and that there may be a role for government to supply social goods that cannot be supported through the profit motive. The others, Popper, von Mises, and Schumpeter, at least as Nash (2006) describes them, seem much more committed to the barest minimum role for government. While it can be hardly be said that neoliberalism has achieved a capitalist libertarian ‘utopia,’ it seems to have become a governing ideology in the United States in the 1970s (Perlstein, 2014) and it seems impossible to separate the rise of neoliberalism from the rise of neoconservatism, which adopts capitalist libertarian or neoliberal economic policies as part of a morality system (Homolar-Riechmann, 2009; Sheldon, 1981).

Neoliberalism is virtually the same ideology that Mark Blyth (2013) bundles up under the label, austerity. He attributes it to John Locke and David Hume and argues that it has, for well over three hundred years, successfully resisted contrary evidence. It understands (along with many other tendencies of conservatism) “liberty” as grounded in private property (I will return to the association of private property with ‘freedom’ in discussing traditionalist conservatives). Following an ideology developed to wrest power from authoritarian monarchs, capitalist libertarians see the problem with power relationships as principally one of political, but not economic authority. Anarcho-capitalists take this reasoning to its extreme, seeking the abolition of government, and thereby draw criticism from anarchists and libertarian socialists for failing to acknowledge that economic authority can also be oppressive. Undeterred, capitalist libertarians and anarcho-capitalists construe as ‘liberty’ an unregulated ability to economically exploit one’s fellow humans, who are imagined to be ‘free labor’ (Price, October 22, 2013).

In a succeeding section, we will see that neoconservatism tends to assign morality to functionalist conservative practices. In neoliberalism, neoconservatives do this with capitalist libertarian ideology. Thus, a series of economic practices are ‘moral’ even as they fail when “everyone” does them simultaneously because these practices in fact depend on others to engage in practices that neoliberals consider ‘immoral.’ As Blyth (2013) explains, “We tend to forget that someone has to spend for someone else to save; otherwise the saver would have no income from which to save” (p. 8), for example. But worse than this, if unemployment decreases spending, it can create a vicious cycle in which ever more people are thrown out of work (Kuttner, May 5, 2013). Blyth observes that “surplus countries have no problem running a permanent trade surplus but criticize others for running deficits, as if you can have one without the other” (p. 115). This is a recurring problem as financial crises and economic depressions become worldwide and Blyth is particularly scathing in his analysis of northern European countries’ policies on southern European countries’ debts. These policies have imposed such severe austerity especially on Greece and Spain that these countries are in a downward economic spiral from which there appears to be no escape.

Among many myths, which Blyth (2013) painstakingly refutes, are the efficient markets hypothesis, the idea that government “intervention is always and everywhere harmful” to the economy (p. 118) and cannot help the poor but only impoverish the rich, a belief that “the government crowds out investment” (p. 124) thereby delaying economic recovery, a rhetoric that “There Is No Alternative” (TINA) to austerity, an assumption that saving directly causes investment, and that the “creative destruction” of economic hard times “produces the raw material for the next round of innovation and investment” (p. 120).

This ideology valorizes both markets and the saver and condemns both government and the spender. But worse than that, it shifts blame. Kuttner (May 5, 2013) notes that while bankers caused the crisis that began in 2007, governments and families are “asked to accept austerity for the common good.” Blyth (2013) paints this more starkly as blame for the financial crisis that began in 2007 thus remarkably shifts from Wall Street, which “invested,” to the U.S. government which bailed out Wall Street banks and absorbs the ongoing social safety net costs of unemployment insurance benefits, disability benefits, welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid that have increased as a consequence of that catastrophe. Government, it seems, can be blamed even for offering a social safety net. Blyth (2013) attributes to Milton Friedman a belief widely held among capitalist libertarians, that

unemployment was voluntary and was not due to a deficiency of demand. People choose labor or leisure at the prevailing wage. There is no demand-deficient unemployment in Milton’s world. (Blyth, 2013, p. 153)

Which is to say generally, that the poor or the unemployed or anyone who has fallen on hard times has chosen to be poor or unemployed or to suffer and that we may disregard their poverty, their unemployment, and their suffering because, apparently, there are always jobs or opportunities to work available. As Blyth (2013) puts it,

The notion that unemployment is voluntary is, in the context of the current self-inflicted wound in Europe, downright offensive. Real workers must pay bills and feed families from jobs that have fixed hours and fixed wage rates. The idea that workers “trade off” labor against leisure by figuring out the real wage rate and then slacking off or going on an indefinite unpaid leave is the type of thinking that leads us to see the Great Depression as a giant, unexpected, and astonishingly long unpaid vacation for millions of people: original, yes; helpful, no. (Blyth, 2013, p. 159)

It is also hard to see a view of unemployment as voluntary fails to strongly favor employers over employees. It calls to mind a passage from Ayn Rand’s (1957/1999) novel Atlas Shrugged, that “there’s no such thing as a lousy job—only lousy men who don’t care to do it” (p. 751), which ignores the reality that even setting aside modern-day sweatshops and capitalism’s historic links to slavery (Beckert, December 12, 2014), there are lousy jobs, and that as neoliberalism has developed, they have become prominent in the job market with such notorious employers as McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and Amazon, and with the increasing prevalence of poorly-paid, temporary, and part-time work, often with unpredictable schedules, and often under appalling conditions (D’Addario, July 30, 2013; Eidelson, November 18, 2013, November 29, 2013, December 16, 2013, January 13, 2014, January 22, 2014; Egan, June 9, 2014; Gracely, November 28, 2014; Greenhouse, August 31, 2014; Hatton, January 26, 2013; Head, February 23, 2014; Jaskunas, February 14, 2015; Kilkenny, November 18, 2013; Krugman, December 24, 2013, December 26, 2013; Kurtzleben, January 22, 2015; E. McClelland, March 1, 2014; M. McClelland, February 27, 2012; Mott, October 9, 2014; Pilisuk & Rountree, 2008; Rabin-Havt, June 25, 2014; Seitz-Wald, July 30, 2013; Semuels, April 7, 2013a, April 7, 2013b, April 7, 2013c; Soper, September 11, 2011; L. Wise, December 2, 2014). One might also add that while such jobs may reduce the unemployment rate, they are unlikely to much improve workers’ (including authoritarian populists’) senses of well-being.

Heaping injury onto injury in Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s (1957/1999) hero-pirate also robs the poor to pay the rich. He is seemingly oblivious to the fact that the operation of a market system of exchange already accomplishes this. Such systems inherently privilege whomever, in any potential relationship, has the greater ability to say no and thus to hold out for a deal that better advances one’s own self-interest. And because they do so, these systems help the rich to get richer at the expense of the poor (Kent, 2011; Muller, March, 2013; Weber, 1978/2010). As Weber put it, the poor,

being propertyless, have nothing to offer but their labor or the resulting products, and . . . are compelled to get rid of these products in order to subsist at all. The mode of distribution gives to the propertied a monopoly on the possibility of transferring property from the sphere of use as “wealth” to the sphere of “capital,” that is, it gives them the entrepreneurial function and all chances to share directly or indirectly in returns on capital. (Weber, 1978/2010, p. 120)

The capitalist libertarian collection of myths most recently coalesced into Daniel Stedman Jones (2012) attributes the rise of neoliberalism 1) to ‘stagflation,’ which seemed to discredit Keynesianism; 2) to, in significant part, Friedman’s advocacy; and 3) to the development of Austrian economic ideas and a somewhat elitist social movement that organized around these ideas over the preceding several decades. In this ideology, the only monopolies which need to be suppressed are labor unions; and because neoliberalism arises in reaction to increased regulation that began with the New Deal, it emphasizes deregulation and tax policies that favor the wealthy.

For an impetus, Rick Perlstein (2014) points to the near bankruptcy of New York City in 1974-1975, which businesspeople saw as a refutation of (“bleeding heart”) ‘liberalism.’ The city stopped just short of bankruptcy and recovered within three years (Roberts, July 25, 2013), but the source of a reaction favoring austerity for New York City beginning in 1974 strongly resembles the same class of businesspeople whom Seldes (1948/2009) labels ‘reactionaries’ and ‘fascists,’ who sought to launch a coup against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934. As Perlstein (2014) portrays it, New York City’s financial crisis was a moment they seized upon to demonize what some have since called the “L-word,” (“bleeding heart”) liberalism. In neoconservative style, the city’s alleged profligacy became the subject of a morality play, casting taxpayers in the rest of the country against liberal policies. Then-President Gerald Ford, whose administration included neoconservatives Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, promised there would be no bailout.

Democrats had also begun moving toward or, perhaps more accurately, returning to the right in 1974 and Jimmy Carter, who became president in 1977, initiated neoliberal policies that his successor, Ronald Reagan, would pursue with the neoconservatives in his administration (Cannon, 2000; Hacker & Pierson, 2010). The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seems to have been widely interpreted as morally vindicating U.S. policy, including a neoliberal view of “free” markets (Leffler, November 7, 2014).

A little over a decade later, the George W. Bush administration doubled down on neoliberal policies, again valorizing savers, again emphasizing deregulation, and again emphasizing tax cuts that helped to turn the budget surpluses Bush had inherited from Bill Clinton into a massive deficit for Bush’s successor (Altman, 2004). In retrospect and as Daniel Altman predicted, it seems likely that this deficit helped to guarantee that a Keynesian respite, in the wake of the collapse of the financial sector in 2008 would be inadequate and short-lived (Krugman, January 6, 2009, February 12, 2009, September 5, 2010, December 29, 2011, October 21, 2012, August 21, 2013, February 20, 2014). Obama’s inadequate response to unemployment and housing woes, juxtaposed with speedy and generous relief for banks, in turn reinforces a somewhat justified authoritarian populist perception of the bank bailouts conflated with the stimulus as a betrayal of the working class (Barofsky, 2012; T. Frank, 2012, Kuttner, May 5, 2013; Quiggin, May 20, 2013).

However, capitalist libertarians do not just think government should minimize interference in the economic sector. “Nor have I ever robbed a military vessel,” says Rand’s (1957/1999) pirate, “because the purpose of a military fleet is to protect from violence the citizens who paid for it, which is the [emphasis added] proper function of a government” (Rand, 1957/1999, pp. 576-577). Similarly, as Nash (2006) put it, “a key question for FEE [the Foundation for Economic Education] was: What are the proper functions of government? Government strictly limited to the prevention of ‘aggressive force’ was FEE’s answer.” (p. 30). There is a range of opinion within capitalist libertarianism, with some even advocating private firefighting companies that would only put out fires on properties whose owners were paid up (Henderson, October 5, 2010). More broadly, there is a rejection of any central planning, with Hayek (1944/2007), a relative moderate, suggesting that any such planning occurs on a Road to Serfdom whose direction leads down a very slippery slope to socialism that would be exceedingly difficult to climb back up.

All this in turn raises the question of what capitalist libertarians think of legislation with ends meant to advance the common good, not least including traditionalist and social conservative theocratic ideals. Even if Jonah Goldberg’s (December 31, 2006) phrasing is less than ideal when he explains that “[Frank] Meyer’s libertarianism was primarily concerned with the ability of the individual to find the virtuous path within ‘an objective moral order based on ontological foundations’ best expressed in Western civilization” (p. 20), I believe he is reaching the nub of a capitalist libertarian dilemma. His point is somewhat aspirational. As previously noted, in the 1970s, Meyer rationalized a united conservatism that came to be labeled ‘fusionism.’ This helped to propel a highly successful and, as we shall see, largely neoconservative backlash to the social movements of the 1960s and early 1970s (Nash, 2006), contributing to victories for Ronald Reagan and many, many other Republicans even after the ignominies of Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the Vietnam War. As Goldberg (December 31, 2006) paints it, Meyer is hoping that freed from government interference, people will choose a morality that is consistent with the theocratic values of social and traditionalist conservatism even if the government itself failed to participate.

While some capitalist libertarians have indeed chosen a social conservative morality, there are also some whose

libertarian complaint should be familiar by now: From Terri Schiavo to diarrheic spending, the GOP has betrayed its commitment to limited government. So, the libertarians reason, why not “experiment” with the Democrats a bit? They expand government too, but at least they’re more liberty-loving when it comes to drugs, sex, abortion, etc. (Goldberg, December 31, 2006, p. 18)

It would seem that Meyer’s (quoted in Goldberg, December 31, 2006) “objective moral order based on ontological foundations” leads to very different “virtuous path[s]” (p. 20) according to varying subjective perspectives. I am reluctant to forecast that this will lead to a break-up of Meyer’s fusionist alliance, even given other schisms in this alliance. However, articles occasionally appear suggesting just that (see, for examples, Babcock, November 20, 2014; Lindsey, 2010; Miller, September 16, 2014; North, September 16, 2014; J. Rubin, September 11, 2014), sometimes even advocating a capitalist libertarian alliance with the Democratic Party (Lindsey, 2006). Articles also appear in response, seeking to preserve the alliance (see, for example, Goldberg, December 31, 2006).

I will return to the topic of capitalist libertarianism in chapter six.

Functionalist conservatives

Functionalist conservatives are those the Occupy Movement called the “one percent.” They are conservative even if only by the criteria that they wish to conserve the status quo that affords them their positions. They are also those whom Gerhard Lenski (1966) posed in a dialectic with radicals: In this sense, conservatives are authoritarian where radicals are egalitarian.

Functionalist conservatives seem to be concerned to distinguish themselves from ordinary people. They may do this through 1) conspicuous consumption (Shah, May 14, 2003); 2) by erecting and maintaining social barriers that exclude ordinary people; 3) by setting the criteria by which people may be recognized as worthy of admission, by dubious claims of merit (Cookson & Persell, 2005; Domhoff, 2005; Hayes, 2012; Mills, 1956/2000; Turner, 2005); 4) through various means of propaganda (Lenski, 1966; Pilisuk & Rountree, 2008, 2015) including 5) a stigmatization and criminalization of the poor that diverts attention from the class distinctions between themselves and everyone else (Gans, 1995; Reiman, 2004), 6) stoking and evoking racial differences (Du Bois, 1935/2010; Esty, 2005; Haney-López, December 22, 2013), and 7) stoking and evoking any other available differences (Butler, 1991/2010; Hartsock, 1987/2010). Ultimately, however, functionalist conservatives maintain their position through 8) a monopoly on the purportedly legitimate use of state violence (Giddens, 1990; Weber, 1946/2010).

I wrote above of authoritarian populists who see difference from a normative white, English-speaking, evangelical Protestant, capitalist, and rural population as a threat. Functionalist conservatives exploit that perception of a threat. In the following passage, Thomas Frank (2005) writes of the “leaders of the backlash,” that is, functionalist conservatives, and their followers, that is, authoritarian populists, and ‘culture war’ battles over, for example, abortion rights:

[T]he leaders of the backlash—the same canny people, remember, who are responsible for such masterpieces of political strategy as the Florida 2000 election result and the campaign for Social Security privatization—have chosen to wage cultural battles where victory is impossible, where their followers’ feelings of powerlessness will be dramatized and their alienation aggravated. . . .

As culture war, the backlash was born to lose. Its goal is not to win cultural battles but to take offense, conspicuously, vocally, even flamboyantly. Indignation is the great aesthetic principle of backlash culture; voicing the fury of the imposed-upon is to the backlash what the guitar solo is to heavy metal. Indignation is the privileged emotion, the magic moment that brings a consciousness of rightness and a determination to persist. Conservatives often speak of their first bout of indignation as a sort of conversion experience, a quasi-religious revelation. (T. Frank, 2005, pp. 121-122).

In some ways, authoritarian populists seem to exist as a means to functionalist conservative ends, and in more than one way. Woodard (2011) seems to be writing of functionalist conservatives when he explains that “Tidewater’s semifeudal model required a vast and permanent underclass to play the role of serfs, on whose toil the entire system depended” (p. 56). In Woodard’s scheme, Tidewater includes portions of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Its aristocrats were prominent among those involved in the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. So it is little surprise that among the Virginians, James Madison (November 22, 1787/2003) was particularly concerned to preserve the property rights of wealthy white males against the general population and that he trusted these same wealthy white males to govern “whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations” (p. 55). And, it may have been, probably among others, the people of Woodard’s (2011) “Greater Appalachia,” today’s authoritarian populists, that Madison (November 22, 1787/2003) was concerned to defend plantation owners (analogously bankers today) against.

Madison (November 22, 1787/2003) was concerned about factions. His hope for the republic was that no one faction would ever acquire a majority. With both a heterogeneous left, crudely split among progressives and centrists, and a heterogeneous right, split among six of the seven conservative tendencies I discuss here, and with his trust in the wealthy (functionalist conservatives) to govern, it becomes hard to see how his hope has not been fulfilled.

But Madison’s (November 22, 1787/2003) plan failed in other ways. Thomas Frank (2005) points to some of that drama with the so-called ‘culture wars.’ There have also been multiple standoffs marked by brinksmanship during the Obama presidency—and before this presidency (Perlstein, 2014)—over migration into the U.S., health care reform, and the budget. Much of this can be attributed to an extreme conservative antipathy toward Obama that I will return to in chapter four as one of a number of recurring themes that cropped up in my analyses of conservative texts.

Here, we may simply observe a pattern in which a functionalist conservative, the now-outgoing (Steinhauer, September 25, 2015) Republican House Speaker John Boehner has initially parroted the authoritarian populist line on so-called “must-pass” legislation that authoritarian populists oppose. Republicans do not command veto-proof or filibuster-proof majorities in either the Senate or the House and they do not hold the presidency but these bills have to pass the Senate, where authoritarian populists hold far less influence, and gain the president’s signature for the government or important agencies to continue operating. Boehner typically invokes the ‘Hastert Rule,’ which is alleged to require support of a majority of the majority party in the House before legislation can be brought to the floor. High drama follows, but Boehner eventually allows a “clean bill,” that is, one without onerous conditions that Democrats will not tolerate, to reach the floor, where it passes with Democratic support (D. Lind, February 25, 2015).

There are three key points to observe about functionalist conservatives from such theatrics. First, they seem—only seem—relatively untroubled by the drama and are willing to use authoritarian populist fury to try to get the best deal they can. But second, when the opposition is too great, the functionalist conservative priority is to pass the necessary legislation, rather than to uphold authoritarian populist principles. This, of course, infuriates authoritarian populists. Twice in the first three months of 2015, they threatened to vote Boehner out of the speakership. On the second occasion, following passage of Department of Homeland Security funding, which authoritarian populists opposed because it would not roll back Obama’s executive order on undocumented migrants, House Democrats announced that they would support Boehner, dooming the authoritarian populist bid (Lillis, March 6, 2015). Finally, in September, 2015, as this dissertation was undergoing review prior to a defense, Boehner capitulated, resigning from Congress, to be effective at the end of October (Steinhauer, September 25, 2015). This was followed by more theatrics as observers questioned whether the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives was even ‘governable’ and as an apparent successor stepped aside (Balz, September 25, 2015; Kopan, Walsh, Raju, Bash, & Diamond, October 8, 2015; Peterson & Hughes, September 27, 2015; Purdum, September 25, 2015; Sneed, September 25, 2015; Wong, October 1, 2015). At this writing, this situation has yet to be resolved.

I will return to functionalist conservatism in chapter seven.


Neoconservatives have, according to Gary Dorrien (2013), “achieved more success in US politics than any intellectual movement of the past generation” (p. 398). I find it hard to disagree. While they have occasionally risen to prominence, particularly during the George W. Bush presidency, they have been a continuous presence on the national scene since the 1960s and have never really left the scene, even in the ignominy of the discredited Iraq war. Alexandra Homalar-Riechmann (2009) seems to have been prescient in forecasting their continued influence and noting that neoconservatives applauded many of President Obama’s choices for national security and foreign policy positions. Though Bush is a Republican and his successor, Obama, is a Democrat, the latter has indeed embraced and expanded numerous neoconservative policies from his predecessor, including the so-called “War on Terror,” albeit largely in secret and without the label, domestic spying, and what may well amount to war crimes. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined and the U.S. has dropped to 46th place on the World Press Freedom Index. Finally, the Obama administration has failed to prosecute Bush administration officials for crimes including torture (Amnesty International, October 22, 2013; DeYoung & Jaffe, June 4, 2012; Holtzman, March 20, 2013; Human Rights Committee, April 23, 2014; Human Rights Watch, October, 2013; Johnston & Savage, January 2, 2009; Linebaugh, December 29, 2013; Reporters Without Borders, 2014; Shane, June 17, 2011; Turse, June 14, 2012, January 20, 2015; Emmerson, 2014; Walsh & Mehsud, October 22, 2013).

The neoconservatives supported America’s war in Vietnam, but more importantly, they were repulsed by the antiwar movement. To them it was appalling that the party of Harry Truman and John Kennedy nominated George McGovern for president in 1972. McGovern stood for appeasement and the politics of liberal guilt, while good liberalism stood for an aggressive, patriotic Americanism that fought communism wherever it spread. (Dorrien, 2013, p. 398)

Irving Kristol famously defined neoconservatives as “liberals mugged by reality” (quoted in Homolar-Riechmann, 2009, p. 181; King, 2004, p. 261; see also Kimball, September, 2006, p. 9). Nathan Glazer, an editor of the now-defunct neoconservative Public Interest, explains that

All of us had voted for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, for Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and I would hazard that most of the original stalwarts of The Public Interest, editors and regular contributors, continued to vote for Democratic presidential candidates all the way to the present. Recall that the original definition of the neoconservatives was that they fully embraced the reforms of the New Deal, and indeed the major programs of Johnson’s Great Society. (Glazer, Spring, 2005, p. 15)

As Glazer (Spring, 2005) acknowledges and Nash (2006) recounts, however, neoconservatism moved right. What constituted this ‘mugging’ that Kristol alleged? Some of it was the economy, in which a new word, stagflation, signified a seemingly intractable combination of low growth, high inflation, and high unemployment that seemed to suggest the Keynesian ‘operating manual’ for the economy no longer worked. Another part was a false narrative that Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs to reduce poverty had failed (Jones, 2012; Nash, 2006; Perlstein, 2014). But also, Kristol’s erstwhile ‘liberals’ were appalled by what they saw as the disorder of the 1960s and 1970s:

The courts, the juries, and even judges were not behaving as usual. Juries were acquitting radicals: Angela Davis, an acknowledged Communist, was acquitted by an all-white jury on the West coast. Black Panthers, whom the government had tried in every way to malign and destroy, were freed by juries in several trials. A judge in western Massachusetts threw out a case against a young activist, Sam Lovejoy, who had toppled a 500-foot tower erected by a utility company trying to set up a nuclear plant. In Washington, D.C., in August 1973, a Superior Court judge refused to sentence six men charged with unlawful entry who had stepped from a White House tour line to protest the bombing of Cambodia. (Zinn, 2005, p. 542)

Perlstein (2014) points to the anti-war movement and a conservative desperation to portray the Vietnam War as a patriotic victory; to prisoners of war who had been shot down while bombing North Vietnamese civilians, who were released at the end of that war, and a conservative desperation to portray them as heroes; to the Watergate scandal and a conservative desperation to justify President Richard Nixon’s actions in the name of ‘national security;’ to abortion rights, divorce, sexual liberation, and a conservative desperation to return to the ‘innocence’ of the 1950s with, at least in part, a national evangelical Protestant revival; to a newly widespread sense that humans are destroying the earth punctuated by an energy crisis that conservatives desperately wanted to blame on environmentalists; to a struggling working class white desperation to blame their unemployment on affirmative action; to revelations of intelligence agency skullduggery that conservatives blamed for assassinations of CIA station chiefs; and to a fear of U.S. decline that conservatives sought to substitute with a reflexive, unthinking patriotism. Charles Lemert lists

the civil rights march on Washington, John Kennedy’s assassination, Malcolm X’s [assassination], the Black Power revolts, Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King’s assassination, Robert Kennedy’s [assassination], the student rebellions at Berkeley and Columbia, Bob Dylan, People’s Park, the Chicago conspiracy trial, the antiwar movement, Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, early feminist rebellions in homes and in public, Woodstock, the Stonewall rebellion, Altamont, Kent State, and so on. . . . Unkempt youth. Strange music. Drugs. Radical protesters. Priests spilling blood on draft files. Open disobedience of authority. Abuse of the flag. Draft dodging. (Lemert, 2010, pp. 371-372)

And still there was more, including an upsurge in religious cults, the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army, court-ordered busing to desegregate schools, battles over school textbooks and curriculum, and the rise of the anti-abortion right-to-life movement (Perlstein, 2014). For conservatives, “stand[ing] athwart history, yelling Stop” (Buckley, November 19, 1955), this was “a world spinning out of control” (Lemert, 2010, p. 371). As for neoconservatives, Dorrien (2013) writes of his debates with neoconservative Richard Neuhaus that, “we clashed over gay and lesbian rights, feminism, American imperialism, the rights of smokers, economic justice, how to read Niebuhr and John Courtney Murray, and liberal theology” (p. 401). On many points of ideology, it is difficult to distinguish neoconservatives from authoritarian populists as the latter express outrage about many of these same developments (Frank, 2005).

Perlstein (2014) argues that, for many people, all the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s produced a nostalgia that, among other things, elected Ronald Reagan to the presidency. While Reagan was likely an authoritarian populist himself, Cannon’s (2000) depiction of his presidency features an administration beset by a conflict between ‘pragmatists,’ whom I see as functionalist conservatives, and ‘conservatives,’ whom I see as neoconservatives. Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman, who admitted to an Atlantic reporter that “[i]t’s kind of hard to sell ‘trickle down,’ so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really ‘trickle down’ [economics]” (Greider, December 1, 1981), appears to have been nearly alone among top Reagan administration officials as a capitalist libertarian, but Ronald Reagan had long argued against taxes and big government (Cannon) and neoconservatives endorsed ‘democratic capitalism’ as, in Garrett Sheldon’s (1981) review, “a ‘complex whole’ composed of (1) a political system, (2) an economic system, and (3) a ‘moral-cultural’ system” (p. 66).

Whatever we may think of neoconservative morality, they were not just making this all up. The Manichean dichotomy between private savings, understood to lead automatically to investment, as ‘good,’ and government spending, understood to divert funds away from private investment, as ‘evil’ is, as previously noted, all a part of the centuries-old history of a nearly unchanged ideology of austerity (Blyth, 2013). With these moral overtones, where capitalist libertarians claim to reassert the classical liberalism (meaning capitalism) of Adam Smith but seek to shrink government (Nash, 2006), neoconservatives consider neoliberalism essential to “good government” (Himmelfarb, 2011; Judis, 1995; Kassimeris & Jackson, 2011; Kerwick, 2013; King, 2004; Klingenstein, 2003; Langille, 2008; Nash, 2006, Spring, 2009; Ribuffo, 2003; Ricci, 2009; Ryn, 2005; T. Weaver, 2009).

Capitalism itself emerged, at least in broadly organized form (Adelman, May/June, 2015), from about the time of the Protestant Reformation, which asserted that human beings had individual relationships with the god of Abraham and that this god would bless the ‘select,’ that is, those relatively few, who worked hard, were faithful, and destined for a heavenly afterlife, in this life as well. Which, in short order, became a somewhat self-fulfilling prophesy: Those who became rich took their wealth as a sign that they were among the ‘select;’ those who were not yet rich worked all the harder to assure themselves that they were (Tarnas, 1991).

A corollary is that those who are poor are not among the ‘select.’ They are thus damned and with that judgment, it could thus be said that ‘good’ people owe no moral duty to poor people (Benfell, September 24, 2012). Sheldon (1981) criticizes neoconservatives for “want[ing] to ground the legitimacy of democratic capitalism in Christian ethics” (p. 66). Capitalism in the neoconservative light, it seems, may indeed be “an evil, corrupt, inefficient, wasteful, and ugly system” (Novak, quoted in Sheldon, p. 66), but it is “unique[ly] suit[ed] . . . to man’s selfish nature” (Sheldon, p. 68), apparently because it rewards the rich and punishes the poor.

Hence Reagan’s confused and ultimately doomed fiscal approach that advocated tax cuts, especially for the rich; budget cuts, except for the Pentagon, which saw its funding dramatically increased; and investor ‘confidence’ leading to economic growth that would transform a federal government budget into possibly even a surplus (Cannon, 2000). This is, of course, the same austerity that Blyth (2013) argues cannot be satisfactorily shown to have ever worked. Cannon (2000) duly records that Reagan ultimately raised taxes in the name of ‘tax reform,’ failed to substantially deregulate business, and that while cuts to the social safety net hurt, Social Security was unscathed and welfare cuts were not nearly so draconian as Reagan’s “welfare queen” rhetoric might suggest.

An important mutation had taken place between the older generation of neoconservatives represented by The Public Interest, founded by Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell in 1965. These neoconservatives, that is, former liberals, advocated a fact-based politics concerned about the hubristic faith of Great Society liberalism in the ability of government to solve entrenched social problems, and included such people as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nathan Glazer, James Q. Wilson, Glen Loury, and Charles Murray. . . . This fact-based neoconservatism changed to something different as symbolized by the career of William Kristol, son of Irving, and by a drastic change by Podhoretz, who now advocated a theory-based imposition of democracy where it had never existed. Max Boot called this “hard Wilsonianism,” others “Wilsonianism on steroids.” (Hart, September 23, 2008)

There are some, like traditionalist conservative Jeffrey Hart in the foregoing quotation (September 23, 2008), who distinguish between the neoconservatives of the 1960s through the 1980s, said to be domestic policy-oriented, and neoconservatives of the George W. Bush era, when they are said to have advocated an aggressive foreign policy, Max Boot’s (cited in Hart) “hard Wilsonianism.” And indeed, Hart offers as scathing a review of neoconservative foreign adventurism, this “Wilsonianism on steroids,” as any I have seen on the left. However, Adam Wolfson (Winter, 2004) expresses surprise that the neoconservative label had been attached to the George W. Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks. Wolfson “was tempted,” he writes, “to dismiss the return of the neocon label as conspiracy mongering by the Left, or as the convenient shorthand of journalists to describe apparent fault lines within the Bush administration” (p. 33). Further, “[n]eoconservatism has generally been associated with domestic policy, and has never produced a single approach to foreign policy” (p. 45). Glazer (Spring, 2005) asserts that even as late as 1978, neoconservatives

scarcely said a word about foreign policy. Neoconservatism then was a tendency of thought in domestic social policy. . . . [F]oreign policy was no part of early neoconservatism: Had it been, there would have been additional bases of division among the early neoconservatives. . . . There is very little overlap between those who promoted the neoconservatism of the 1970s and those committed to its latter-day manifestation. (Glazer, Spring, 2005, p. 17).

In fact, the record is mixed. It is hard to see how the Vietnam War, which neoconservatives supported (Dorrien, 2013), could be construed as a domestic policy issue. Zachary Selden (April, 2004) assumes the morality of U.S. exceptionalism and understands an aggressive foreign policy as an ongoing historical product of that morality. Chris Langille (2008) writes that “[t]he quasi-moral concerns of the budding neoconservatives were bolstered by an increasingly hard-line anti-communism” (p. 323), which included a confrontational opposition to the Soviet Union:

The neoconservatives of this [post-Vietnam] era, relegated to marginal, though influential journals, were bound together by the related beliefs that, first, the Soviet Union remained an expansionist regime to be challenged, and second, that American power could be revitalized as moral and necessary. In the pursuit of this argument, 1976 saw the resurrection of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), a neoconservative challenge to the standard perceptions of Soviet power. (Langille, 2008, p. 323)

For Langille (2008), the struggles against Nazism, communism, and Islamism are all of a piece, as now the Islamist ‘green menace’ replaces the communist ‘red menace’:

Accordingly, the conflict between liberal democracy – that is, the ‘West’ – and its enemies were not brief clashes of power politics but instead a permanent Manichean ‘existential struggle’. As the collapse of Nazism allowed for the rise of international Communism, so did the collapse of the Soviet Union allow for the rise of Islamism as liberty’s next ‘existential threat’, the red menace giving way to the green menace. (Langille, 2008, p. 324)

Some might suggest that for such sentiments to be construed as domestic policy, we would have to include the greater part of the earth’s land masses as U.S. territory. Or, as Ron Suskind (October 17, 2004) quoted an anonymous Bush administration aide, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” Whether neoconservatives advocate a manifest destiny-style foreign policy adventurism or not, there is a common sense among them that the U.S. political and economic system is morally superior and ought to be defended. Langille (2008) unapologetically uses the word Manichean, suggesting a struggle between the polar opposites of good (the West) and evil (the enemy). Selden (April, 2004), as noted, assumes the morality of U.S. exceptionalism, which implies not only that the U.S. system is morally superior but that it is entitled if not duty-bound to spread that system throughout the world. Glazer (Spring, 2005) is concerned with a defense of the existing order against the tumult of the 1960s and 1970s. For all his surprise at the use of ‘neoconservative’ to describe the policy of invading Iraq, Wolfson (Winter, 2004) acknowledges that “[s]ome neoconservatives, like William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Lawrence Kaplan, held that America’s national interests [emphasis added] are best served by the spread of democracy throughout the world” and even those who are less adventurous “favor a principled and proactive foreign policy but are less inclined to see America’s national interests [emphasis added] as perfectly coinciding with democracy-promotion abroad” (Wolfson, Winter, 2004, p. 46), which is to suggest that foreign policy, even with all its impacts on nearly seven billion of the rest of the world’s people, is a means to the end of preservation, strengthening, and health of the U.S. system.

In this, neoconservatives are more vocal and less apologetic in advocating a foreign policy conducted according to a naïve view of realpolitik ‘principles.’ However, as practiced by nations, realpolitik is largely amoral: “[S]tates typically act with primary regard to their power and perceived national interests rather than according to the ideals of human rights” (Barash & Webel, 2002, p. 449). Moral values such as that of upholding human rights may be offered as an excuse for intervention, but the decision to intervene is generally made based on considerations of ‘national interest,’ which is to say that whatever functionalist conservatives may say, foreign policy decision making is largely about avarice and power (Barash & Webel), and less about a Manichean perspective of good and evil. As Boyer et al. (2005) described one example, “Nixon-Kissinger realpolitik based American aid on a nation’s willingness to oppose the Soviet Union, not on the nature of its government” (p. 1101). Meaning that no matter how unsavory the government—Boyer et al (2005) cite “antidemocratic regimes in Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, and South Korea, as well as to Portuguese colonial authorities in Angola” in about 1970 (p. 1102)—realpolitik prefers a pragmatic solution to the idealism of spreading so-called capitalist democracy. In their naïve perspective, however, neoconservatives ascribe moral and patriotic value to what is fundamentally the functionalist conservative quest for wealth and power.

In apparently earnestly attaching moral value to foreign policy, neoconservatives often imperfectly align themselves with functionalist conservatives, to whom we may attribute an ongoing organized and often violent but largely amoral struggle over territory that has proceeded more or less uninterrupted since the Neolithic (Burroughs, 2008; Lenski, 1966), and against traditionalist conservatives, paleoconservatives, and capitalist libertarians, who more often oppose war.

I will return to neoconservatism in chapter eight.


Paleoconservatives are often confounded with traditionalist conservatives (see, for examples, Antle, 2008; Francis, 1989; King, 2004; Klingenstein, 2003, Weisberg, September 2, 1991) and it has only been recently, in the late 1980s, that they have been distinguished from other conservatives (Russello, 2005). Scholarly work that correctly distinguishes paleoconservatives from other conservatives is rare, but while the conflation may have some historical basis, it is currently incorrect. As traditionalist conservative Gerald Russello explains, “the cultural solutions [paleoconservatives] propose are based in a tradition of thought beginning with thinkers like Gaetano Mosca or Max Weber rather than those to whom traditionalists like [Russell] Kirk looked for guidance” (p. 70).

The distinction Russello (2005) points to is significant. Kirk (1985/2001) measures each conservative in his The conservative mind: From Burke to Eliot by his (they are all men) fealty to Edmund Burke, an 18th century English parliamentarian. Traditionalists often draw their entire notion of culture from the British Isles and, in T. S. Eliot’s (1948/1962) case, India:

The disquiet of what T. S. Eliot calls the “cunning history [and] contrived corridors” of time—the wrong turns, the overlap, the senseless repetition, the occasionally glorious moment—furnishes Yeats, as it does all the poets and men of letters of decolonization—Tagore, Senghor, Césaire—with stern martial accents, heroism, and the grinding persistence of “the uncontrollable mystery of the bestial floor.” Thus the writer rises out of his national environment and gains universal significance [emphasis added]. (Said, 1994, pp. 232-233)

In text that surrounds that passage, Said (1994) unsurprisingly includes Eliot among those “men of letters of decolonization.” Eliot (1948/1962) published his Notes toward the definition of culture the year after India and Pakistan gained independence from the British Empire in 1947. He naïvely treats Indian culture as monolithic, but just as Said suggests, uses this to imply a universality to his book, which is otherwise almost entirely based on English—not even Welsh, Scottish, or Irish—culture.

Traditionalists do not seem to consider that it should be otherwise. Richard Weaver (1964/1995) posited a “tyrannizing image” of an authoritarian hierarchy that ranks people highest who are closest to a dominant historic, linguistic, and religious heritage over those who have less in common with that heritage. He employed the term ‘culture’ euphemistically—actually referring to race—in arguing against forced desegregation but has also been cited as objecting to “racial collectivism” as interfering with property rights (Nash, 2006).

Paleoconservatives, however, claim to see each racial and ethnic group as having its own traditions—or “folkways”—which it should preserve and by which it should live and indeed this might be construed as “celebrat[ing] the different communities and sectional identities” (Ashbee, 2000, p. 75). And they are also much more blatant about segregation.

Simply put, paleoconservatives believe that people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds should not live in the same society. Even Weaver, so far as I have found, never went quite that far, even if we may suspect that he represents a strain of thought within conservatism to which paleoconservatives may be heirs. I look instead to authoritarian populists, perhaps most blatantly in the Boston school busing dispute in the 1970s (Perlstein, 2014), or more recently, the vastly inflated claims of voter fraud, apparently calculated to disenfranchise Blacks (Bolton, October 20, 2012; Feeney, September 28, 2012; Lipton & Urbina, April 14, 2007) for an overlapping conservative tendency. As Edward Ashbee (2000) puts it,

At first sight, [paleoconservatism] seems only to reproduce earlier, well-worn themes. Patrick Buchanan, leading spokesman widely seen as its [exemplar], has adopted the slogan “America First” as part of a conscious attempt to evoke pre-war sentiments about keeping the United States out of “foreign wars.” Paleoconservatism has also inherited strains drawn from the “paranoid style in American politics” that Richard Hofstadter identified three decades ago. It is marked by the hostility to the “east coast establishment” that structured different populist movements. There are echoes of Huey Long’s attacks on the wealthy and Father Charles Coughlin’s pleas on behalf of the local community against what he saw as the arrogance and self-interested indifference of metropolitan financial interests. Paleoconservatism also shares the sense of exclusion from the government apparatus and large corporations that informed “white ethnic” politics and movements such as McCarthyism. Buchanan not only regards Senator Joseph McCarthy as a political hero because of his anti-communism, but also because McCarthyism conveyed the hostility and resentment of those who remained outside WASP circles: “for four years he was daily kicking the living hell out of people most Americans concluded ought to have the living hell kicked out of them.” (Ashbee, 2000, p. 75)

As with authoritarian populists, paleoconservatives subscribe to a hierarchically invidious monism of “us” versus “them”:

A [white] nationalist wants inclusion of his own people only. Anything other than his people should be excluded. This is not a personal judgment, or even a values judgment at all. They don’t fit: happy nations are homogenous in culture, heritage and values. By that definition, implied in reciprocal, any person who does not fit this type should be excluded. Even if they have 1,000 IQ points and never commit any crimes, they do not belong among Us because they are Them and should be excluded. (Stevens, June 30, 2014)

I have found no explanation for why this should be so. For paleoconservatives, it is simply a given. As Ashbee (2000) also notes,

Concerning certain groups, paleoconservatism tends to remain either silent or is at most hesitant. Black Americans are, for example, largely invisible. Their position within the American nation is almost always undefined. Others are only considered through the use of allusion. In a rare exploration of the question, Clyde Wilson and Thomas Fleming hint at the boundaries of American ethnicity when they describe the fate of the American national culture that established itself in the 1920s: “the flux of talented refugees from the Third Reich nipped the native growth of our civilization perhaps not in the bud but in the flower.” Judaic culture, it seems to have been alleged, was not only unassimilable, it also subverted and undermined existing American cultural forms. (Ashbee, 2000, p. 76)

Notably, this dissertation raises questions about the distinction between paleoconservatives and authoritarian populists that will deserve further exploration. Neoconservatives and others often accuse paleoconservatives of being anti-Semitic. The trouble with their evidence is that they too often equate opposition to Israeli government policies in the Palestinian territories with anti-Semitism (Brownfeld, January 28, 1994; see, for example, Klingenstein, 2003). More direct evidence of anti-Semitism among paleoconservatives, however, is not hard to come by. Paleoconservative Colin Liddell (June 15, 2014) mocks those who cast Jews as super-powerful—his article includes a satirical illustration of Superman wearing a yarmulke embossed with the Star of David—but in the same publication, Alternative Right, “Bay Area Guy” (July 13, 2014) describes himself as “do[ing] something radical and completely out of character; I’m going to cut Zionist Jews and Israel some slack” with regard to their treatment of Palestinians, which he regards as unexceptional. In explaining that he has not changed his views, “Bay Area Guy” goes on to say, “I guess the blind squirrel can find the nut every now and then.” In the Occidental Observer, Kevin MacDonald (December 7, 2009) treats Jews not as people concerned about the social justice issues associated with migration into the U.S. but rather as a monolithic interest group principally concerned with anti-Semitism. MacDonald concludes that “it [the Jewish interest group] will have to get right down to it — that it is indeed about race.”

From what I have seen, paleoconservatives seem to be overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. Many see whites as possessing interests that are irreconcilable with non-whites. Ashbee (2000) mentions a “paranoid style (p. 75) among paleoconservatives: They see whites and “white culture” as being under attack from non-whites. Non-whites, curiously and apparently unlike whites, are seen as able to cooperate with each other in matters of mutual interest (see, for examples, Liddell, July 2, 2014; Nowicki, July 15, 2014; Piatak, August 6, 2014; Trifkovic, November 22, 2014; Yggdrasil, November 10, 2011). Hence, “[t]hirty years from now, the black and brown coalition plans to pit its new brown majority against aging whites,” targeting Social Security benefits unless whites support their efforts to compel “the younger generation of whites to pay the future bills for welfare and education for America’s new Third-World majority” (Yggdrasil).

I will return to paleoconservatism in chapter nine.

Social conservatives

Social conservatives are, according to Nash (2006), often allied with traditionalist conservatives. Nash sees traditionalists are largely Catholic, and social conservatives as largely Protestant. In this study, I find that with regard to undocumented migration, both groups are divided, along the same lines. They are similar to each other in how they disagree among themselves and it appears the differences within each tendency outweigh the differences between the tendencies.

Even with these results, given that Nash (2006) sees the two tendencies as somewhat aligned ideologically, I am not prepared to erase the distinction between them. A single study seems to me insufficient for that in any event, but as well, social conservatives seem more single-minded. Consider the following on sexuality education:

[W]hen [reformers] questioned the inherited image of the innocent child, when they attempted to usurp parental authority, and when they arrogated to themselves the proper functions of religion, it seemed they had gone too far. . . . “Smut smutches,” commented one acerbic editorialist, and he denied that “smut” was any less dangerous in the classroom than it was in “the cheap theatre, in the department store . . . or on the street.” In the opponents’ opinion, children were indeed tabulae rasae, and sex information would mar their minds just as surely as exposure to tuberculosis would destroy their bodies. . . . Gov. E. F. Dunne of Illinois vetoed sex instruction even for undergraduates at the University of Illinois, in fear that it “may create, and probably will create, in their young minds a prurient curiosity which will induce, rather than suppress, immorality and unchastity.” . . . If instruction in sex hygiene aroused a curiosity that had not previously existed, asked opponents, then how was it protecting the innocent youth? “Safety,” remonstrated a Jesuit educator, “lies in diverting the attention from sex details.” (Moran, 1996, p. 502)

There are some artifacts in that passage, such as the reference to ‘sex hygiene,’ that offer a clue that that Moran (1996) is not referring to the present. In fact, this furor arose over one hundred years ago, when sexuality education was introduced to Chicago schools in 1913. The motivations for introducing sexuality education then seem somewhat familiar today as well: a public health crisis associated with prostitution and sexually-transmitted infections. Social conservatives seem intransigent on issues such as the teaching of evolution in schools, sexuality education, same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and even access to contraception, even where their values conflict with secular values and where their positions are not supported by positivist science.

Though drawing on Calvinist ideas that date back to the Protestant Reformation, social conservatism, in the form we recognize it today, probably took shape in the mid- to late 19th century, especially in the post-Civil War era with the Industrial Revolution. As Deborah Rhode (1993) describes it, it is at this time that young men and young women began migrating away from home in larger numbers (apparently, although she does not specify, to cities). Often they found each other and all too often, young women found themselves pregnant, with the responsible young men nowhere in sight.

Men who fail to take responsibility for their offspring may certainly be cause for moral outrage, but other events were happening as well that cast an entirely different light on the rise of social conservatism. This is also a time when the 13th Amendment freed Black slaves from the plantations, the 15th Amendment guaranteed all men, including non-whites, the vote, the 14th Amendment sought to ensure that all men, including non-whites, had equal protection under and access to due process of law, and by the early 20th century, a massive migration of often-Catholic, often non-native English speaking, often darker-skinned southern and eastern Europeans to the United States was under way (Boyer et al, 2005). It appears that a lot of “married, native-born, Protestant women, frequently of middle- or upper-class status” were obtaining abortions under the ruse of treatment for missed menstrual periods (Kerber & De Hart, 2004, p. 188). Rhode (1993) also notes a “decline in fertility rates among the ‘better classes’ during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries [that] sparked fears of ‘race suicide’” (p. 642). In other words, white women, especially middle- and upper-class white women, were needed to produce white babies, especially white male babies, to preserve white hegemony. Rhode (1993) notes that “In the mid-nineteenth century, [there was] growth of religious revival movements and moral reform societies, together with the culture idealization of domesticity” (p. 638). Then there was Anthony Comstock:

He arrived in Washington [D.C.] in January 1873 carrying “a great cloth bag” filled with “lowbrow publications and their advertisements, gadgets purportedly designed to stimulate sexual potency, . . . bogus sexual literature, contraceptive and abortifacient matter, and other ‘abominations’ which were sold via the ads.” Denouncing his opponents “as lechers and defilers of youth and American womanhood,” Comstock steamrolled a new obscenity law through Congress in just two months. It clarified the government’s powers of confiscation and destruction, and expanded the 1865 [obscenity] law by adding to the laundry list of banned items “any article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of conception or procuring of abortion,” or, indeed, “any article or thing intended or adapted for any indecent or immoral use or nature.” (Heins, 2001/2007, pp. 31-32)

Appointed to a special agent position in the Post Office (Heins, 2001/2007), Comstock led “a massive anti-obscenity campaign, . . . [and, with his assistants] aided in the indictment of 55 persons . . . identified as abortionists” (Kerber & De Hart, 2004, pp. 188-189).

It is difficult to see how women do not bear a disproportionate burden with such laws, regulations, and their enforcement. In banning contraception, lawmakers effectively assert that sex is only for procreation, but regardless of law, it is a woman who gets pregnant. In banning abortions, lawmakers explicitly take a woman’s body for purposes other than her own. Yet laws are enacted by groups consisting overwhelmingly of wealthy white men, just as, and as I have previously noted in this introduction, James Madison (November 22, 1787/2003) intended. These laws, rationalized through social conservative ideology, function both to control women through their bodies and, in assuming that women most often choose men of their own race, resist demographic changes that may challenge racial hegemony. Social conservatism thus also serves functionalist conservative ends by effectively seeking to preserve existing racial and gender power relations.

Functionalist conservatives have been known to return the favor. Early in the Cold War, anti-communists perceived communism as atheistic, reasoned that a religious revival in the U.S. would help to resist communism and therefore, with help from functionalist conservatives—politicians and corporate leaders—launched a national religious revival campaign to counter the Soviet “religion” (Herzog, 2010). More recently, as Irin Carmon (December 4, 2011) notes, “[a]bortion is still legal, but Republicans are doing an ever-better and more innovative job of making it as odious, expensive and shaming as possible to obtain.” A Guttmacher (January 2, 2014) study counts “93 measures [enacted] in these four categories [making abortion more difficult and costly to obtain] from 2011 through 2013, compared with 22 during the previous decade.” The report goes on to note that from 2000 to 2013, the number of states considered “hostile to abortion rights,” that is, having enacted “at least four types of major abortion restrictions” ballooned from 13 in 2000, including 31 percent of women in childbearing years, to 27 in 2013, including 56 percent of such women.

In another example, despite abstinence-only education’s documented ineffectiveness in discouraging adolescent sexual activity (Boonstra, Summer, 2011), social conservatives continue to insist upon it (M. Smith, September 11, 2011), and many states in the U.S. continue to allow it (Guttmacher, May 1, 2015). In other words, social conservatives both refuse to mitigate the risks of sexual activity and reject any effective means of reducing that activity. An apparent effect is that teenage pregnancy and birth rates are higher in the U.S. than in other developed countries, especially in states that emphasize abstinence-only sexuality education (Stanger-Hall & Hall, 2011) “primarily because of less, and possibly less-effective, contraceptive use by sexually active teenagers” (Guttmacher, 2001, p. 1) who have not been properly educated about contraceptives. And as teens have improved their use of contraceptives since the 1990s, teen pregnancy rates have correspondingly declined (Guttmacher, May, 2014), but

the U.S. teen pregnancy rate continues to be one of the highest in the developed world. It is more than twice as high as rates in Canada (28 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2006) and Sweden (31 per 1,000). (Guttmacher, May, 2014)

More spectacular examples of social conservative misinformation appeared in the 2012 U.S. election year as several social conservatives sought to defend their anti-abortion ideology. Todd Akin, the Republican Party nominee for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, claimed that doctors had informed him that pregnancy from rape “is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” (Akin, quoted in McMorris-Santoro, August 19, 2012b). He rapidly retracted the claim (McMorris-Santoro, August 19, 2012a), but two years later, reaffirmed it (John, July 10, 2014; Palmer & Parti, July 10, 2014). The uproar from Akin’s initial remarks had seemingly barely died down when Congressman Joe Walsh from Illinois said,

When it comes to having an abortion to save the life of the mother, I will say again that outside of the very rare circumstances, such as ectopic pregnancies, during which both the mother and baby will die if the baby is not aborted, and other rare health issues and circumstances, the research is pretty clear that with the advances in modern medicine an invasive and traumatic procedure like abortion is often, thankfully, not necessary to save the life of a mother. (Walsh, quoted in Viebeck, October 19, 2012)

That exacerbated public reaction when Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” (Mourdock, quoted in Blake & Cillizza, October 24, 2012) a few days later. Mourdock’s comments probably should be interpreted as welcoming a baby rather than condoning a rape (Sullivan, October 25, 2012), but one might wonder why, given the furor over Akin’s and Walsh’s remarks, he would dare to tread on this terrain. As George W. Bush’s former advisor Karen Hughes (November 9, 2012) wrote following the election, “if another Republican man says anything about rape other than it is a horrific, violent crime, I want to personally cut out his tongue.”

But for social conservatives, even adult use of contraception may remain objectionable. Rick Santorum, candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, was quoted arguing that contraception is “not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be” (Santorum, quoted in Scherer, February 14, 2012). He went on to explain that sex is supposed to be within marriage and for procreation (Scherer). Representative Paul Ryan was quoted trying to deny that a Republican move to overturn an Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare”) rule requiring employers to pay for birth control coverage was about contraception and, as if it could not be a conflict between opposing views of rights and obligations (McArdle, July 7, 2014), insisted that the effort was about protecting religious freedom (Democracy Now! August 13, 2012). This dispute ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court, where in a 5-4 majority decision, the justices upheld a right of at least some privately-held corporations to refuse to pay for health insurance contraception coverage on religious grounds (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 2014).

Many see these attacks on access to contraceptives and abortion as misogynistic, or as part of a “war on women” (Blow, March 2, 2012; Haberkorn & Smith, July 27, 2012; Isenberg & Burstein, April 9, 2013; Lynn, January, 2013; New York Times, February 25, 2011). The logic, present even in Justice White’s concurrence in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), seems to be that such access is essential to women’s health (also see Bazelon, January 25, 2014; Carmon, January 8, 2012, February 7, 2012; Cooper & Seelye, February 7, 2012; Dinan, March 5, 2012; Fluke, quoted on Democracy Now!, February 17, 2012; Guttmacher, January 31, 2014; Jones, Forrest, Henshaw, Silverman, & Torres, March, 1988; Murphy, 2003; Norton, quoted on Democracy Now!, February 17, 2012; Rhode, 1993; Safar, quoted on Democracy Now!, August 13, 2012).

Cognitive linguist George Lakoff (2006) sheds further light on social conservative thinking, however, that seems to me to support a more direct argument. First, he notes that just as a trunk is a distinctive characteristic of an elephant—its ‘essence’ as he calls it—women’s capacity to bear children is distinctive to them. Lakoff believes that many conservatives thus see childbearing as the plan of the god of Abraham for women, and abortion and contraception as interference in that plan. Further, Lakoff refers obliquely to the so-called ‘natural order’ he has previously explained (Lakoff, 2002) in which men are firmly in charge of women.

As I understand Lakoff’s (2002, 2006) explanation, if childbearing is divinely mandated, then a woman’s body is less her own than a man’s body is his. And if women are subordinate to men, then their personal and moral autonomy is impaired. Which is to suggest that in the social (and traditionalist) conservative scheme, women are less than fully human.

I will return to social conservatism in chapter ten.

Traditionalist conservatives

Traditionalist conservatives, the reader may recall, are the sort of conservative that paleoconservatives are incorrectly confounded with. I owe much of my initial understanding of paleoconservatives to Edward Ashbee (2000). He writes of paleoconservatives that they are very often academics, that “[o]ne observer at a John Randolph Club conference noted that almost every participant had a Ph.D.” (p. 81).

In truth, I have had greater difficulty finding highly educated paleoconservatives than I have had finding highly educated traditionalist conservatives. Many paleoconservative writers, particularly at Alternative Right, seem to aim their writing at a populist audience, while Modern Age, a traditionalist journal, bears many of the hallmarks of a scholarly journal and is often available through article databases in academic libraries. (Modern Age does not, however, appear to be peer-reviewed.)

As I mentioned in refuting the alleged commonality between paleoconservatives and traditionalist conservatives, the latter seem to value only one linguistic, historical, and religious heritage, and with Richard Weaver’s (1964/1995) “tyrannizing image” they assign members of that heritage a privileged status in society. Traditionalists are unsubtly authoritarian, albeit at a radically decentralized, local level, “insist[ing] on the right of the better to command the worse, however conceived, against the revolutionary claim that no one has the inherent authority to rule anyone else” (Goldman, March, 2012, p. 37). I see woefully few clear means of differentiating the “better” from the “worse” other than Weaver’s “tyrannizing image,” however; and those who have power are apparently in charge because the god of Abraham put them there (Kirk, 1985/2001; Weaver, 1964/1995). Russell Kirk writes nostalgically of “the squire,” a feudal landlord, and “the parson,” a preacher. He disparages democracy and praises the U.S. Constitution for qualities that limit democracy. With a frequency that seems out of place for an event that occurred hundreds of years ago, traditionalist conservatives express an apoplectic view of the French Revolution that upset the medieval order and sought to impose ‘equalitarianism’ (Attarian, January 12, 2009; Blum, 2006; Goldman, March, 2012; Kirk, 1985/2001; Livingston, August, 2011; Mattie, 2003/2008; Preece, 1980; Radasanu, 2011; Weaver, 1964/1995).

Traditionalists write glowingly of diversity, but realize it in a vertical and authoritarian hierarchy. T. S. Eliot (1948/1962) understands the diversity of trades, but oblivious to any distinction between coercive authority and the authority of experience or learning, uses the lesser and greater skilled as a rationalization for authoritarian hierarchy. Traditionalists strenuously object to equality, which they confound with the mathematical sense of sameness, as “levelling.” As if to emphasize the point, I rarely see traditionalists refer to egalitarianism; instead, they much more often criticize “equalitarianism.” Social inequality, it seems, is the plan of the god of Abraham, and human attempts to “engineer” or ameliorate a reduction of that inequality are foolish and arrogant, an interference with that god’s plan (Eliot, 1948/1962; Kirk, 1985/2001; Weaver, 1964/1995).

The more persuasive overlap between traditionalist conservatives and other conservative tendencies, rather than with paleoconservatives, is with social conservatives. As mentioned earlier, in this dissertation, I find both social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives disagreeing among themselves along the same lines. Among both tendencies, some feel humanitarian considerations outweigh other concerns, and among both tendencies, some believe the law must reign supreme. I do not find a substantial difference in this inquiry between the two groups. Another point of commonality exists with regard to women.

Christopher Olaf Blum (2006) writes admiringly of a French nobleman, Louis de Bonald, who survived the French Revolution. “Of his many achievements in his fifteen years of service as a legislator during the Bourbon Restoration, he was most proud of his role in the repeal of legal divorce in 1816” (Blum, 2006, p. 28). And not just de Bonald; Blum agrees with Robert Nisbet (quoted in Blum, p. 29) that “some of the deepest problems we face in the social order today are close kin to those Bonald and his fellow conservatives faced in their day” in the following passage:

When society has come to the point where the headstrong loves of youth—that inextinguishable nourishment for the arts—have become in myriad ways the concern of all ages; when marital authority is the butt of jokes, and paternal authority thought tyrannical; when obscene books, displayed everywhere, sold or loaned at so low a price that you might thought them to be given away, and teach the child things that nature does not reveal to the grown man; when human nudity, the distinctive characteristic of extreme barbarism, offers itself everywhere to our eyes in public places, and when the woman herself, clothed without being covered, has discovered the art of insulting modesty without offending good taste; when religion has lost all its terrors, and when enlightened spouses see in their reciprocal infidelities only a secret to keep from one another, or perhaps a secret to share: in times such as these, to tolerate divorce is to legalize adultery, it is to conspire with man’s passions against his reason, and with man himself against society. (de Bonald, quoted in Blum, 2006, p. 29)

In discussing social conservatism, I have already addressed the burden that proscriptions on abortion and contraception places on women. De Bonald (quoted in Blum, 2006) condemns not merely pornography, but nudity such as may be found in art; of women’s attire, and adultery, and all of this is taken taken as grounds for prohibiting divorce. Even as de Bonald (quoted in Blum, 2006) expresses such logic, it is lost on me; it does not follow. Yet for Blum, it is self-evident, requiring no further explanation. He simply goes on to trust in the god of Abraham to remedy the “the contemporary darkness of illegitimacy, divorce, abortion, and all the rest” (p. 29).

Critique of industrial and post-industrial capitalism. This is all part of a larger paternalistic scheme, one which also enables Blum (2006) to declare of work in the early 21st century,

We sense that we are interchangeable, standardized, disposable parts within the modern economy and bureaucratic state—which is to say that we are not parts at all, but mere particles of sand in some great heap or pile. (Blum, 2006, p. 26)

At first blush, and I think correctly, this can be taken as a harsh critique of a depersonalized world of work in which workers are no longer valued. And Blum (2006) is far from alone among traditionalist conservatives in criticizing what capitalist work relations have developed into. Perhaps most ironically, Kirk (1985/2001) quotes then-Vice President John C. Calhoun, who went on to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate as an advocate for the slave plantation system, warning, “Under the operation of the system [industrial capitalism], wages must sink more rapidly than the prices of the necessaries of life, till the portion of the products of their labor left them, will be barely sufficient to preserve existence” (Calhoun, quoted in Kirk, p. 171). Much more recently, Richard Weaver (1964/1995), appearing to adopt similar terminology to what I use with functionalist conservatives, criticizes the more industrialized northern states (as opposed to the more agrarian south) for adopting “the [functionalist] view that it is the duty of man to carry on an unceasing work of exploitation, which is variously denominated ‘business,’ ‘development,’ and ‘progress’” (p. 32). Weaver (1964/1995) objects even to the relentless quest for profit, writing that “[t]here have always been activists and gain-getters, but it was reserved for the modern age, under American leadership, to give the successful gain-getter an honorific in the form of ‘businessman’” (p. 32).

I can offer no explanation for how one might reconcile such apparent sensitivity for workers with Calhoun’s (cited in Kirk, 1985/2001) endorsement of or Richard Weaver’s (cited in Bailey, 2004; Kimball, 2006 ) apparent ambivalence toward slavery. It appears that such attitudes are changing as, for example, Mark Malvasi (Spring, 2008) considers it one of “the great misfortunes of American history that the apology for slavery and segregation twice discredited the Southern conservative tradition” (p. 108). But it also seems clear that Blum’s (2006) attitude toward subalterns does not reduce to his opposition to divorce. He refers to “our need to serve as the subordinate part of some truly coherent common [emphasis added] endeavor” (p. 26). And what is this “truly coherent common endeavor?” It is “work . . . done in a communal context, a context of belonging [emphasis added]” (p. 26). Beyond this, Blum is unspecific, but if we apply Lakoff’s (2002) metaphor of a ‘strict father’ family to a situation of work, it seems that employers assume the role of a traditional father, disciplining and rewarding, guiding, and protecting employees. Workers may be subaltern and they may be exploited, but the company is also responsible to them, a point entirely lost in a world where cutting pensions, benefits, hours, wages, protections, and even the jobs themselves is the order of the day (Greenhouse, August 31, 2014; Hatton, January 26, 2012; Pilisuk & Rountree, 2015; R. Reich, March 13, 2014; Semuels, April 7, 2013a, April 7, 2013b; Walsh, December 15, 2013; Wise, December 2, 2014). One might argue that Lakoff’s (2002) ‘nurturant parent’ model offers a more supportive environment for workers, but the traditionalist argument would be that the industrial and postindustrial work paradigm falls unacceptably short even of the standards that even they would require.

Kirk’s six canons. Kirk (1985/2001) identifies six canons of (traditionalist) conservatism that I reduce to theocracy and authoritarianism. The first of these is “[b]elief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law” (p. 8). I will return to natural law, but what is significant here is that Kirk conjoins it with a transcendent order—religion, or more precisely Christianity. It “rules society as well as conscience” (p. 8) which suggests theocracy and a monopoly of belief.

Second is an “[a]ffection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems” (Kirk, 1985/2001, p. 8). As I mentioned earlier, traditionalists claim to value diversity, but they realize it in a vertical hierarchy. They see egalitarianism as “narrowing uniformity” because, as I also mentioned, they understand equality only in the mathematical sense of sameness. This seems ironic because, as we shall see, traditionalists also reject quantitative reduction (Kirk; R. Weaver, 1964/1995).

Third is a “[c]onviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a classless society” (Kirk, 1985/2001, p. 8). Richard Weaver (1964/1995) enunciates this when he argues that the poor should be content with their lot in life rather than contending for a fairer distribution. Indeed, the fault here lies not with the rich for exploiting their advantages in the marketplace (Weber, 1978/2010; Kent, 2011) but rather with those who would stir up discontent (R. Weaver; Eliot, 1948/1962).

Fourth is a “[p]ersuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all” (Kirk, 1985/2001, p. 9). Here also follows an objection to “levelling.” It seems, however, that we must ask, just whom do private property arrangements free? The ‘freedom’ of those who already possess or have the means to acquire a limited resource comes at the direct expense of those who come later and of the poor (Proudhon, 1840/2007). Such ‘freedom’ is brutally authoritarian for a homeless person, lacking a place to legally fulfill basic bodily needs. Or as Anatole France (quoted in Bartlett, 2002) put it, “[t]he law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread” (p. 586). This is no better than what Greek philosophers, according to Hannah Arendt (1958/1998), all presumed to be a right of pre-political violence, imposed on slaves so as to ‘free’ the allegedly stronger from having to attend to their own necessities of life.

Also remarkable in Kirk’s (1985/2001) fourth canon is his failure to address or even acknowledge a long tradition of the commons. Though reduced in the modern era to public parks and the occasional town square, the commons historically filled a much greater purpose as communally-shared land for hunting, grazing, and farming. Noam Chomsky (July 22, 2012) explains that the commons provided sustenance for all and had been cooperatively maintained. Peter Kropotkin (1898/1997; 1902/2006) explores at length a medieval history of mutual aid, of the commons, and of a centuries-long effort by ruling elites to privatize the commons. The usual argument against the commons, as Chomsky explains it, is that “what is not owned will be destroyed by individual avarice.” It is Garrett Hardin (December 13, 1968) who provides the classic exposition:

The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.

As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, “What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?” (Hardin, December 13, 1968)

Ian Angus (August 25, 2008) offers a comprehensive refutation, noting that communities had managed to avoid overgrazing of the commons for hundreds if not thousands of years by agreeing on allocations for each herder. He challenges Hardin’s (December 13, 1968) assumption that individuals would always seek to enlarge their herds by pointing to other constraints, which even a capitalist, let alone a pre-capitalist, would be compelled to observe. But perhaps most tellingly, Angus argues that Hardin “described the behavior of capitalists operating in a capitalist economy.”

There is much to be said about what seems in Angus’ (August 25, 2008) light to be Hardin’s (December 13, 1968) attempt to make private property and capitalist relations seem eternally natural, but I notice that Hardin also assumes the herds are privately owned. Helmholz (2015) notes that purportedly immutable natural law had to be adapted to accommodate, among other things, private property. So how else could the commons and mutual aid survive all those centuries as Kropotkin (1898/1997; 1902/2006), Chomsky (July 22, 2012), and Angus (August 25, 2008) all assert? One answer to the tragedy of the commons would simply be for the herds, as well as the pastures, to be held in common.

But for Hardin (December 13, 1968), the function of private property lies in his assumption that a property owner will use her or his authority over the property to protect rather than ruinously exploit it or allow it to be ruinously exploited. As Angus (August 25, 2008) notes, this assumption is not borne out by experience.

And here is a paradox. For it is traditionalist conservatives who, among conservatives, complain most loudly about environmental despoliation (Kirk, 1985/2001; Weaver, 1964/1995) including, one might suppose, that destruction committed by property owners asserting private property rights (Angus, August 25, 2008). I have not been able to establish whether, given their principally agrarian orientation (Blum, 2006; Kirk; Weaver), the ‘nature’ traditionalists would conserve is untrammeled wilderness or has been developed into farms and pastures. But as I have previously noted, agriculture as conducted in modern society is an ecological disaster, particularly in livestock operations (Benfell, March 6, 2013). Hardin’s (December 13, 1968) approach to avoiding ‘the tragedy of the commons’ from private farms and ranches would require society to privatize rivers and even the oceans. Even more prosaically, with a privately-owned coal-fired power plant belching pollution into the atmosphere from private property, would we privatize the air? Certainly capitalist libertarians might. I see no indication that traditionalists are prepared to go so far.

Kirk’s (1985/2001) fifth canon is a “[f]aith in prescription and distrust of ‘sophisters, calculators, and economists’ who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” (p. 9). This requires further explanation, particularly as Kirk (1985/2001) and other traditionalists also use the word ‘prejudice’ in a different sense from that of racism or sexism or other bigotries. This is, instead, a reference to their epistemology. As suggested in the canon itself, traditionalists have a low regard for positivism and quantitative methods, and as I have previously noted, they suspect that attempts to improve or ‘engineer’ society based on research conducted with those methods will fail, sometimes because they would interfere with the plan of god of Abraham (Kirk, 1985/2001; Weaver, 1964/1995). Kirk makes this explicit with his sixth and final canon, a “[r]ecognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress” (p. 9).

Traditionalist epistemology begins with a notion of ‘true’ and ‘false’ philosophies, the latter involving positivism and quantitative methods and a demand that nothing be accepted as true until ratified through autonomous reason. Traditionalists believe that ‘false’ philosophy ends in nihilism; their epistemology roots itself in ‘true’ philosophy, grounded in custom, not empiricism (Livingston, August, 2011). They embrace the knowledge of prejudice, habit, and passed-down skill (‘practical’ or ‘traditional’ knowledge) as a foundation for all ‘technical’ knowledge, such as might be found in recipes in a cookbook (Kerwick, 2013). In other words, traditionalists ratify an appeal to antiquity or tradition—we do things this way because we have done them this way for a long time (Logical Fallacies, 2009)—as canon.

In effect, although Kirk (1985/2001) does not use the phrase in connection with his canons, we speak here also of ‘common sense’ which, as Voltaire (quoted in Bartlett, 2002) explained, “is not so common” (p. 316). So as Morrow (1994) would ask, whose handed-down, socially constructed ‘common sense’ or ‘traditional knowledge’ is this and how does it support power relationships? When a society privileges members of a particular historical, religious, and linguistic heritage, as with Weaver’s (1964/1995) “tyrannizing image,” it seems likely that this will be the ‘common sense’ and ‘traditional knowledge’ of those nearest that image, imbued with the theocratic overtones I previously noted, just as seen with de Bonald and the prohibition on divorce.

I will return to traditionalist conservatism in chapter eleven.

Human rights, natural right, and natural law

That humans possess some intrinsic rights in some form is not much in dispute. The Food and Agriculture Organization (n.d.) cites recognition in the Vedas; the Bible; the Qur’an; the Analects of Confucious; a legal codex attributed to Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, in 2050 B.C.; the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia; the Cyrus Cylinder in Persia; and principles established by Ashoka the Great in India. Considerable dispute arises, however, over the breadth and meaning of those rights, the framework in which those rights exist, and over the obligations that any human’s rights may impose on others (Lakoff, 2006; Lara, 1998; Mohanty, 2003; Nussbaum, 2011). As we will see, there is a sense among many conservatives that Central Americans’ basic right to live in safety imposes an intolerable and unacceptable obligation on the United States and its taxpayers when people fleeing violence and poverty cross the southern border seeking refuge, even though the U.S. has been complicit in multiple ways in creating the desperate conditions from which they flee (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014).

Many conservatives, especially traditionalist conservatives oppose ‘human rights,’ preferring instead something they call ‘natural right’ (usually, but not always, expressed in the form of a singular noun), which appears to be related to ‘natural law.’ Conservatives rarely explain what they mean by ‘natural law’ or by ‘natural right,’ and to the extent they do, they do not always agree, even when they are interpreting the same text (Armon, 2010; Arnhart, Fall, 2010; Ceaser, 2008; Frohnen, May 22, 2008; Guerra, 2007; Havers, 2002; Hunt, 2009; Kenneally, 2007; Kerwick, 2013; Kirk, 1985/2001; Lewis, 2008; S. Smith, 2009; Snell, June 16, 2014; Weaver, 1964/1995), but R. H. Helmholz (2015) explains that natural law is a purportedly immutable sense of right and wrong which is allegedly innate to humans and even many non-human animals, as with parental obligations to care for their children. Kirk calls ‘natural right’ vague, as if this was a feature. Helmholz writes that natural law is not precisely spelled out.

Nor are we clear as to the origins of ‘natural right’ although Helmholz (2015) documents the application of natural law in court in the medieval era and Michael Peters (May 13, 2012) writes of natural right as “first developed by the Stoics and later in the New Testament Bible and both the Hebraic and Islamic traditions.” Helmholz explains “that God had written the law of nature on our hearts (Rom. 2:15)” (p. 7) but also shows that it had to be adapted, supposedly as the population increased, to accommodate different situations. While Helmholz goes on to explain that natural law was accompanied in medieval times by a civilian code and a Christian (Roman Catholic) canon, and that these all overlapped to some degree, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic connection and the absence of a precise, consistent, or even agreed-upon formulation lends weight to a suspicion that ‘natural law’ and ‘natural right’ amount to a social constructions, “attitudes formed by social interchanges within the present historical context” rather than “an interpretation of what [actually] is” (Rohmann, 1999, p. 364). As law, then, ‘natural law’ seems arbitrary and a poor basis for asserting ‘natural right.’

There are grounds for suspecting that the use of ‘natural right’ by conservatives may be a means of denying the legitimacy of a more expansive ‘human rights’ scheme as a ‘liberal’ (as in whatever conservatives oppose) creation. There would be at least three reasons for this. First, human rights impose an obligation on the state to respect, protect, and enable fulfillment of those rights (Food and Agriculture Organization, n.d.), which by increasing state responsibilities, threatens to enlarge the state—the feared leviathan. Second, some of those rights are economic, including rights to an adequate income and to organize or affiliate with a labor union. These rights are part of international law, although they remain unratified by the United States (International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966), presumably because they would intrude upon the operation of the so-called “free” market. Third, some of the human rights recognized under international law appear to require a more generous stance with regard to amnesty for refugees, including some of those seeking to enter the United States from Latin America (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, May, 2015; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014). This stance is clearly problematic for Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014), for example, a neoconservative whose article I analyze in chapter eight. And, of course, admitting more people of Hispanic origin would further threaten an imagined social homogeneity and an already-diminishing white hegemony as some of these refugees became citizens or gave birth to children in the U.S.

Borders, the state, and migrants

Max Weber (1946/2010) “define[s] the modern state sociologically only in terms of the specific means peculiar to it, as to every political association, namely, the use of physical force” (p. 114) and goes on to observe “that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory” (p. 115). Anthony Giddens (1990) refines that, writing that “[t]he successful monopoly of the means of violence within territorially precise borders [emphasis added] is distinctive to the modern state” (p. 58). As such, much warfare since the Neolithic can be understood as contesting not only who will control which territory and the resources therein, but who will possess the “right” to commit violence against its inhabitants (Benfell, March 15, 2012). Borders may, as Giddens argues, be a refinement on the frontiers that separated jurisdictions in agrarian society, but for me, the essential question is, who will be subject to whose violence?

If, as in the foregoing, we understand that borders and the state are about who will be subject to which elites’ violence, two things follow: First, the introduction of an artificial and arbitrary line dividing human beings and declaring that such humans are only ‘legal’ on the side on which they were born seems to be more about control than principle. This control appears in multiple forms. We shall see that many conservatives acknowledge that some employers take advantage of the additional vulnerability that undocumented migrants on the wrong side of the line face. However, even as President Barack Obama’s administration faces criticism from the Hispanic community and from progressives for an allegedly record-breaking number of deportations (Boerner, October 24, 2013; Bolton, November 27, 2013; Hooton, November 27, 2014; Kohn, January 26, 2013; Leutert, January 20, 2015; Navarrette, July 21, 2014; Preston, October 1, 2014; Solnit, September 27, 2012), we will not usually see conservatives acknowledge the control exerted by the government through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as they instead often complain about “our” “open” or “porous” borders.

There is irony here that should not be overlooked: On most domestic issues, while some conservatives have more tolerance for the ‘leviathan’ of big government than others, most conservatives tend to object to government being too large and meddling too much. On undocumented migrants, many of these conservatives—except capitalist libertarians—protest that it does too little. For them, it deports too few and it fails to adequately defend “our” border against an “invading” “horde.” All this rhetorically rationalizes a military or military-style deployment against migrants as, in the extreme, can be seen when right-wing militia groups take it upon themselves to defend the border (see, for example, Scott, July 10, 2014). The trouble with this framing is that, as we will see in chapter two, these migrants are themselves fleeing extreme poverty and violence. To see this flight as hostile seems not only incorrect but unconducive to a solution.

More profoundly, a preference for a military approach seems consistent with examples such as the Bush administration’s reported willingness to manipulate intelligence in support of policy to invade Iraq (Danner, 2006) and, more recently, Lindsey Graham’s warning to U.S. voters “not to vote for him in the 2016 presidential election if they are worn out by war” (paraphrase in Hensch, June 4, 2015). In chapter four, I will discuss how the demonization of President Obama seems, among other things, to have stoked right-wing militia activity—including a highly visible preparation for violence.

In chapters two and three, I express an intention to avoid characterizing conservatism as a psychological disorder, preferring instead to address conservative arguments on their own merits. Nonetheless, any preference for violence may deserve a social or political psychological approach that I do not take up in this dissertation.

Second, that some humans on one side of that line are somehow more ‘deserving’ of superior conditions than those on the other side would seem to deny the universality of human rights. However, conservatives are more suspicious of notions of ‘human rights,’ preferring the above-mentioned and ill-defined ‘natural’ rights (Benfell, May 29, 2014; Kirk, 1985/2001; R. Weaver, 1964/1995).

Finally, it is difficult to escape a conclusion that this is somehow about race:

Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants. Los atravesados live here: the squint-eyed, the perverse, the queer, the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed, the half dead; in short, those who cross over, pass over, or go through the confines of the “normal.” Gringos in the U.S. southwest consider the inhabitants of the borderlands transgressors, aliens—whether they possess documents or not, whether they’re Chicanos, Indians or Blacks. Do not enter, trespassers will be raped, maimed, strangled, gassed, shot. The only “legitimate” inhabitants are those in power, the whites and those who align themselves with whites. (Anzaldúa, 1987/2010, p. 554)

We will see in chapter five that for authoritarian populists, and in chapter nine, that for paleoconservatives, the view that Anzaldúa (1987/2010) critiques above is beyond challenge. But we will also see in chapter eight that not all neoconservatives, in chapter ten that not all social conservatives, and in chapter eleven, that not all traditionalist conservatives share that view. Further, we will see in chapter six, that capitalist libertarians dismiss that view entirely, and in chapter seven, that functionalist conservatives seem preoccupied with the politics of passing immigration reform.

There are many terms for undocumented migrants, some of which I am compelled to use in analyzing conservative texts, because their authors prefer those terms. My skepticism of the classification of human beings as ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ based on their position relative to an arbitrary line (a border) extends to terms such as ‘illegal aliens,’ ‘illegal immigrants,’ and—all too often—‘illegals.’ Further, the term ‘immigrant’ suggests a foreigner, an outsider, thus reifying the “us” versus “them” mentality. Even ‘undocumented’ deserves critical examination, for it suggests that these humans are missing documents whose value is associated with ‘legality.’

In this dissertation, I am not principally dealing with migrants themselves, but rather what is said about those who lack U.S. government permission to be in the country, and who says it. For many conservatives, the ‘undocumented’ status is significant, and ‘undocumented’ seems less prejudicial than ‘illegal.’ So here I prefer the term ‘undocumented migrants,’ even if I am not always able to use it consistently. And accordingly, sometimes where the more common word is ‘immigration,’ I choose ‘inward migration.’

Even that is inadequate, however, as it happens that many of the migrants who are the subject of the 2014 controversy surrounding undocumented migration were ‘unaccompanied minors.’ One might think this an uncontroversial term—and one would be wrong:

Taking the definitional first, advocates and their allies have appropriated the legislative term “unaccompanied alien children”—despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Central American youth arriving at our border are 13- to 18-year-olds. If the issue were contraception or abortion, their champions would insist on referring to them as “young adults.” More to the point, the most straight-talking student of the region, anthropologist David Stoll, points out that in Central America “children” of this age are in the workforce and starting families. (Skerry, August 18-25, 2014)

I will return to the article (Skerry, August 18-25, 2014) from which this excerpt is taken in chapter eight. Suffice it here to say that with this passage, under the pretense of concern for these undocumented minors, he seeks to diminish that same concern. Peter Skerry confounds the responsibilities assigned to 13-18 year olds in Central America with those that would be assigned in the U.S. and, for good measure, draws in the conservative hot button issues of contraception and abortion which have little bearing on the issue of undocumented minors. He does so to cast doubt on their legal status as children, despite the fact that at least while in the U.S., they unambiguously are.


Relations between U.S. and Mexican people seem to have been problematic from the time that U.S. citizens began settling in what is now Texas, eventually overwhelming the Mexican population there and leading first to the Texas Revolution and then to the Mexican-American War.

Many [U.S.] senators now wondered why the entire country [Mexico] might not be annexed. Some suggested that all of Central America was ripe for the taking. There were even those who advocated American hegemony all the way to the tip of South America. Oblivious to these arguments, [Nicolas P.] Trist negotiated a pact [the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo], signed on 2 February 1848, which most of his countrymen found excessively lenient. (Gonzales, 2000, p. 79)

Having marched to Mexico City—and “the Halls of Montezuma” in the Marine Corps Hymn (United States Marine Corps, n.d.)—the U.S. imposed the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo upon Mexico. The U.S. owes much of its southwest to this treaty and to the subsequent but relatively insignificant Gadsden Purchase. This territory is now divided among eight U.S. states (Boyer, et al., 1998). If many in the U.S. thought Mexico had been treated too generously, Mexicans were, in contrast, “shocked and incensed” (Gonzales, 2000, p. 79).

Mexico not only had to surrender the vast lands of California and New Mexico, but it was forced to recognize the humiliating loss of Texas. Altogether, it lost 947,570 square miles of land, almost half of its national territory, though less than 1 percent of its population. (Gonzales, 2000, p. 79)

That final statistic is telling. Mexico had never developed or populated its northern territory sufficiently that it could have held off the westward expanding U.S. (Gonzales, 2000; Vargas, 1999). Even today, Colin Woodard (2011), pointing to what he also sees as underdevelopment, thinks a new nation might yet form from much of northern Mexico and the U.S. southwest, especially the present state of New Mexico. However, given the region’s hot and arid climate and shortages of water, one might be skeptical of just how much more development it could support.

In the event, however, Mexicans in the conquered territory had a choice between moving south or staying put and becoming U.S. citizens. Whatever their choice, many would often be caught on the wrong side of a line that previously had not existed. Theoretically, if they remained, they were accorded the right to own land, but in practice, some had, by U.S. standards, ill-defined land grants which were not upheld by the U.S. legal system and others were simply violently driven off their land (Gonzales, 2000; Vargas, 1999).


This research builds on preliminary work developing a systematic means of understanding tendencies of conservatism that is a beginning to understanding conservative views from multiple conservative perspectives. As I will argue in the literature review in a following section, these attitudes are among those that drive a set of U.S. government policies that fail to deter undocumented migration and that result in many deaths.

Unless we are prepared to argue that undocumented migrants are undeserving of due process, and that undocumented migration is an offense deserving of death in the desert on alternate sides of the Arizona-Mexico border, humanitarian concerns should lead us to seek a change in those policies (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha, Hawes, Fryan, & Wrinkle, February, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). This will mean confronting conservative (as well as other) concerns, some of which have been described in preceding sections of this introduction.

At the same time, the research for this dissertation developing a taxonomy for understanding multiple conservative perspectives supports a systematic approach to understanding conservative attitudes on undocumented migration that—as the literature review will show—has rarely been done. In addition, this research is an initial application and test of that taxonomy which may be applied to other vexing issues.

Research Question

How do adherents of divergent tendencies of conservatism view undocumented migrants and policy toward undocumented migration?


“Although few controversies in our political environment are as contentious as the current debate over immigration policy,” write M. V. Hood, III, and Irwin Morris (March, 1998), “the research on public opinion toward immigration is quite limited.” Gallup (June, 2015), which has been surveying attitudes on migration at least since 1984, might beg to differ, but in at least one sense, Hood and Morris are correct: qualitative research is all but absent and this remains the case over seventeen years after they published their article.

Existing policy effects

Recent research on undocumented migration, rather than exploring public attitudes toward migration and migrants, has largely focused on the effects of policies that have sought to deter undocumented migration by increasing border defenses, with, for examples, border patrols, electronic and drone surveillance, and walls. Rather than deterring migrants, these efforts have largely had the effect of ‘funneling’ them through the desert on either side of the Arizona-Mexico border, on journeys some are told will last a few hours, but in fact require several days. They are often ill-prepared and pay the price of their lives. They may face numerous hazards including rape, robbery, abduction, armed and murderous gangs, human smugglers who charge exorbitant prices for hazardous transport, the risk of falling off the top of a freight car, and a long trek through desert conditions with limited water (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014).

Migrants who survive the journey live in the periphery, the “shadows” of U.S. society. They face ongoing risks of discrimination and exploitation from employers, prison time, and deportation (Hansen, September 2009; Sarabia, December, 2012). Claims that undocumented migrants have not ‘paid their dues’ are thus absurd on their face, for many of these migrants endure far greater risks and difficulties in traveling to and remaining in the United States than those migrants who have ‘played by the rules’ and ‘waited their turn.’ It should not be surprising then, that because the journey from Latin America into the United States is so dangerous, undocumented migrants are less willing to risk voluntarily leaving the U.S., and by heightening that danger, current policy has the perverse effect of causing them to remain in the U.S. longer than their documented counterparts (Cornelius, July, 2005; Rocha et al, 2014).

Public opinion

One problem in effecting a change in policy is marshalling the facts that support a change. But another problem, which this dissertation focuses on, and which Hood and Morris (March, 1998) and Thomas Espenshade (1995) seek to address, is understanding attitudes that may favor, be indifferent to, or oppose changes in the status quo.

Hood and Morris (March, 1998) evaluate how well group conflict theory and a ‘contact hypothesis’ predict ‘Anglo’—meaning white U.S. citizen—attitudes toward documented and undocumented migrants. They find that the contact hypothesis seems to apply with growth in the undocumented migrant population because “antagonistic groups generate unrealistically negative expectations of one another and simultaneously avoid contact” (p. 3). Meanwhile, group conflict theory seems to apply to growth in the documented population because these migrants are better able to participate in wider society and citizens become more familiar with and less antagonistic toward them.

Espenshade (1995) attempts a much more broad approach specifically to the question of opinion on undocumented migration, surveying not only opinion poll research but research on relevant issues. It is unfortunate that this research is twenty years old, appears to have been done prior to the often-lethal ‘funneling’ of migrants through the desert (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014), and appears not to have been repeated since. Much of what Espenshade covers is relevant to the analyses that will follow in chapters five through eleven and I will seek to update the relevant portions here. As to public opinion, Espenshade is particularly salient in writing,

At least since the 1880s, immigrants have been assumed to take jobs away from and to lower wages of native workers, to add to the poverty population, and to compete for education, health and other social services. Negative feelings toward immigrants were reinvigorated as successive new waves arrived—first the Irish, then the Italians, then Mexicans, and now Asians. All that seems to have changed are the origins of migrants and the terms used to describe them.  (Espenshade, 1995, p. 201)

We will see, especially in chapter five, that these views persist particularly among authoritarian populists, those who seek to appeal to authoritarian populists, and, in chapter nine, paleoconservatives who object to cultural ‘otherness.’ Espenshade (1995) observes that the portion of the population advocating zero or reduced migration into the U.S. dropped during the (relatively prosperous for whites) 1950s and 1960s and rebounded in the (less prosperous for whites) 1970s and 1980s. Espenshade acknowledges economic insecurity and fears of “immigrants’ undesirable cultural traits” (p. 202) as possible factors but emphasizes “the presence of significant numbers of undocumented, or illegal, immigrants” (Passel, quoted in Espenshade, p. 202), noting “that respondents to a 1993 survey who thought that most recent US immigrants were illegal had a significantly higher tendency to regard current immigration levels as too high” (Espenshade, 1995, p. 202). We will see in chapter eight that the legality issue is particularly salient for neoconservatives and in chapters ten and eleven that both social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives are divided amongst themselves on whether a Biblical legalistic interpretation should take precedence over humanitarian concerns. Finally,

Older survey participants are more likely to see illegal immigration in negative terms, whereas having more education and being Hispanic are each associated with greater optimism about undocumented migrants and illegal migration. At the same time, respondents who cast immigrants as poor and welfare dependent or as making little effort to learn English have some of the most unfavorable rankings of undocumented immigration and its impacts. Beliefs that immigrants are more likely to be on welfare, to commit crime, or to impose a fiscal burden on other taxpayers by receiving social services whose raise exceeds the taxes migrants pay are consistently associated with more negative general attitudes about undocumented immigration. So, too, are views that the number of people with little or no English-speaking ability is likely to increase and that this growth will have a bad effect on ethnic relations. (Espenshade, 1995, p. 203)

More recent survey research confirms that younger and non-white respondents have a more positive view of migrants, that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe that migrants strengthen the country rather than impose a burden on it, and that most respondents under 50 years of age do not see the provision of legal status for undocumented migrants as a “‘reward’ for wrongdoing.” Majorities of all groups, even including conservatives, favor allowing undocumented migrants “living in the U.S. who meet certain requirements” to legally remain (Pew Research Center, June 4, 2015).

However, Gallup (June, 2015) reports that in 2006, over eighty percent agreed that undocumented migration was “out of control” and should be criminalized. Majorities lacked faith that efforts to increase border security or develop a plan for dealing with undocumented migrants already in the U.S. would “go far enough.” Even then, however, 65 percent believed that removing all undocumented migrants would be harmful to the U.S. economy and 56 percent opposed building a wall on the border with Mexico. Respondents generally supported the notion that undocumented migrants who had lived in the U.S. for five years, paid a fine, and learned English should be permitted to stay. Over half described themselves as “very sympathetic” or “somewhat sympathetic” toward undocumented migrants. In 2007, strong majorities in all groups favored requiring English proficiency among migrants and disapproved of recent government efforts to deal with undocumented migration. In 2008 and 2010, substantial majorities of all groups except Hispanics perceived undocumented migrants as “cost[ing] the taxpayers too much by using government services like public education and medical services” rather than “becom[ing] productive citizens and pay their fair share of taxes.” But substantial majorities in the years 2006 through 2011 have favored “allow[ing] illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time” over the alternative of allowing undocumented migrants to remain only to work. Finally, race is consistently a factor: From 1984 through 2006, respondents have generally accepted that migration from Europe (table 3) was “about right.” While tolerance for African (table 5), Asian (table 6), and Arab (table 7) migrants has increased since 2002, it does not approach levels of approval found for European migrants and Latin American migrants (table 4) fare somewhat worse (Gallup, June, 2015).

Table 3.
Gallup (June, 2015) survey results, migration from European countries
June 8-25, 2006
June 3-9, 2002
July 9-11, 1993
February 6-9, 1992
June 1-3, 1984
Table 4.
Gallup (June, 2015) survey results, migration from Latin American countries
June 8-25, 2006
June 3-9, 2002
July 9-11, 1993
February 6-9, 1992
June 1-3, 1984
Table 5.
Gallup (June, 2015) survey results, migration from African countries
June 8-25, 2006
June 3-9, 2002
July 9-11, 1993
February 6-9, 1992
June 1-3, 1984
Table 6.
Gallup (June, 2015) survey results, migration from Asian countries
June 8-25, 2006
June 3-9, 2002
July 9-11, 1993
February 6-9, 1992
June 1-3, 1984
Table 7.
Gallup (June, 2015) survey results, migration from Arab countries
June 8-25, 2006
June 3-9, 2002
July 9-11, 1993

A heterogeneous conservatism

While this research may innovate in systematically applying a taxonomy of conservatism to a political or social problem, the development of a taxonomy such as described in chapter one has important precedents. This section will attempt a broad overview that positions this work relative to previous taxonomies.

Conservative taxonomies. The idea that conservatism is not a monolith is hardly new, even among conservatives, but not without an entirely warranted caution: Patrick Deneen (Winter, 2006) notes that “[i]t has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who believe that there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who know better” (p. 55). He might accuse me of drawing the wrong lesson in developing a scheme of seven tendencies. Whether or not he is or would be correct, even other conservatives have made the attempt to systematically understand conservatism.

Nash’s (2006) history of post-World War II conservative thought is largely about an ongoing and only partly successful attempt—Frank Meyer’s fusionism—to reconcile and harmonize disparate tendencies. But where the bulk of his history deals with traditionalist conservatives, capitalist libertarians, and anti-communists, with others mentioned only in passing, he writes,

By the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the American Right encompassed five distinct impulses: libertarianism, traditionalism, anti-Communism, neoconservatism, and the Religious Right. . . . By 2006 these categories had been joined by neocons, paleocons, ‘theocons’ (theological or religious conservatives), and ‘Leocons’ (disciples of Leo Strauss). (Nash, 2006, pp. 559, 577)

If the fusionist project was a success, one might expect a diminishing of heterogeneity rather than a further splintering. Such is apparently not the case. It is not long after that, that Nash (Spring, 2009), possibly in disgust, writes,

Certainly, evidence abounds of a political and intellectual movement [conservatism] in crisis. One sign of this is the growing tendency on the Right to classify conservatives into ever-smaller sectarian groupings: neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, big government conservatives, leave-us-alone conservatives, “national greatness” conservatives, compassionate conservatives, crunchy conservatives—and the list goes on. (Nash, Spring, 2009)

Both of those passages now seem to me somewhat hyperbolic. I sought to address some of these groupings and found that some of them are insufficiently distinct from each other and some others barely even exist. It is difficult to say anything authoritative about Straussianism, consisting of those Nash (2006) labels ‘Leocons,’ because the existing literature is profoundly and fundamentally contradictory. I will return to so-called ‘crunchy cons’ or ‘crunchy conservatives’ in chapter eleven, but I understand them to be little different from traditionalist conservatives apart from a taste for organic food (Benfell, June 4, 2014). Anti-communism, which gradually moderated its original advocacy for an all-out, even nuclear attack on the Soviet Union (Nash, 2006), seems to continue today as authoritarian populism, neoconservatism, and sometimes functionalist conservatism.

Adam Wolfson (Winter, 2004), a neoconservative, takes some effort to explore differing tendencies and settles on four: traditionalist conservatives, paleoconservatives, (capitalist) libertarians, and neoconservatives. Notably, he distinguishes between traditionalist conservatives and paleoconservatives, but he quotes Patrick Buchanan as seeking to “redefine what it means to be a conservative” (p. 36) and writes,

Unlike the traditionalists, the paleocons contend that we have become irrevocably cut off from a living, sustainable tradition. In their view, the acids of modernity have left us entirely disinherited from old customs and ways, and conservatism’s project of conservation is but a glittering illusion. They have thus gone in search of new gods. (Wolfson, Winter, 2004, p. 37)

While the legacy of ‘reform’ conservatism lives on, notably with, for example, American Conservative, a journal I treat as traditionalist, from my perspective, Wolfson (Winter, 2004) too closely identifies paleoconservatism with Patrick Buchanan and does not recognize paleoconservatism’s advocacy of segregation (see chapter one). John Heard (2008) mostly discusses traditionalist and (capitalist) libertarian conservatives, and sees them as bound together by anti-communism. In passing, he mentions paleoconservatives as having been displaced by “so-called neoconservatives” during the first (George H. W.) Bush administration (p. 32).

Andrew Stark (2011) breaks his taxonomy of conservatism into domestic and foreign policy areas. For domestic policy, he seems to observe (capitalist) libertarian and evangelical (social) conservative wings as distinct from the political elites (whom I label functionalist conservatives) who adopt some of their views. In the foreign policy arena, he adds realist, advocating relative restraint, and neoconservative, advocating promotion of U.S. values, factions in foreign policy. I would count his realists with functionalist conservatives.

Larry Arnhart (2010), by contrast, attempts to divide conservatism into evolutionary, deriving a necessary social order from human experience, and metaphysical, deriving that order from Christian biblical mandates. Arnhart seemingly associates capitalist libertarians with traditionalist (evolutionary) conservatives by virtue of a friendship and apparent philosophical agreement between Adam Smith, David Hume, and Edmund Burke. However, the traditionalist Richard Weaver, in Arnhart’s scheme, is clearly a metaphysical conservative with, as Arnhart puts it, Richard Weaver “insist[ing] that a healthy cultural order required a ‘metaphysical dream of the world,’ so that people could imagine their cultural life as a “metaphysical community” fulfilling a cosmic purpose” (p. 27). The only way I can see to resolve this contradiction is to associate traditionalist conservatives with Arnhart’s metaphysical conservatives, thus ignoring the friendship between Smith, Hume, and Burke.

Aligning Arnhart’s (2010) scheme with my taxonomy, then, would seem to place traditionalist conservatives, social conservatives, and probably paleoconservatives as ‘metaphysicians’ against ‘evolutionary’ capitalist libertarians, neoconservatives, and functionalist conservatives largely because conservatives of these latter tendencies are open to the notion either simply that humans are capable of improving their condition or that competition on the so-called ‘free’ market encourages innovation.

Only Nash (2006) mentions, albeit briefly, social conservatives, whom he explains are mostly aligned with traditionalists. None of these authors mention functionalist conservatives or authoritarian populists. Given the exploitation of the latter by the former, and the clash between these tendencies that I describe in chapter 1, these authors thus seem ill-prepared to explain much of what is currently prominent in conservatism.

Richard Weaver (1964/1995) would likely include those I call functionalist conservatives with those he calls ‘functionalists,’ and he is unlikely to regard them as conservative at all. Weaver is the only conservative author I have found recognizing functionalists, but as a traditionalist, he views them as entirely too anxious to engineer solutions to social and economic problems. Lenski (1966) mentions that functionalist conservatives will engage in great public works as a form of proof of their leadership and as part of their effort to develop ‘legitimacy.’ But to ‘small government,’ especially traditionalist and capitalist libertarian, conservatives, this enlarges government, the leviathan. Such works are thus ‘liberal’ in the sense of whatever these conservatives oppose.

In 2009, this antipathy found expression when longstanding Republican U.S. Senator Arlen Specter faced defeat in a primary election and switched to the Democratic Party in an effort to improve his prospects for remaining in office. Specter’s Republican colleague, Jim DeMint (quoted in Carney, April 27, 2009), reacted by saying, “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.”

Political and social psychological taxonomies. “Our first assumption, too, is that conservative ideologies—like virtually all other belief systems—are adopted in part because they satisfy some psychological needs,” write John Jost et al (2003). “This does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled” (p. 340). This disclaimer is interesting for its very presence. They conclude their meta-analysis in part, writing

Many different theoretical accounts of conservatism over the past 50 years have stressed motivational underpinnings, but they have identified different needs as critical. Our review brings these diverse accounts together for the first time. Variables significantly associated with conservatism, we now know, include fear and aggression (Adorno et al., 1950; Altemeyer, 1998; Lavine et al., 1999), dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity (Fibert & Ressler, 1998; Frenkel-Brunswik, 1948; Rokeach, 1960; Sidanius, 1978), uncertainty avoidance (McGregor et al., 2001; Sorrentino & Roney, 1986; Wilson, 1973b), need for cognitive closure (Golec, 2001; Jost et al., 1999; Kemmelmeier, 1997; Kruglanski & Webster, 1996), personal need for structure (Altemeyer, 1998; Schaller et al., 1995; Smith & Gordon, 1998), terror management (Dechesne et al., 2000; Greenberg et al., 1990, 1992; Wilson, 1973d), group-based dominance (Pratto et al., 1994; Sidanius, 1993; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999), and system justification (Jost & Banaji, 1994; Jost et al., 2001; Jost & Thompson, 2000). From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination. (Jost et al, 2003, p. 369)

Similarly, Spassena Koleva and Blanka Rip (2009) suggest, among other things, that individuals with “a satisfied need for attachment security” are more likely to be liberal while “an unsatisfied need for attachment security leads to political conservatism” (p. 123). To claim in this light that conservatism is not pathological may depend on specialized meanings of the word ‘pathology.’ Albert Mehrabian (1996) accordingly assessed “a total of 44 relations . . . between various indicators of psychopathology and political orientations, and none of these were found to be significant” (p. 487).

Perhaps. Nash (2006) understandably objects that the psychological approach to conservatism is a way of evading conservative arguments and in this research, it is not my intent to explore conservatism as a psychological phenomenon. Possibly as a consequence, my taxonomy bears little relation to those introduced by some political and social psychologists.

Karen Stenner (2009) differentiates between “status quo” conservatives, “laissez-faire” conservatives, and authoritarians. In this field, her work stands out for its recognition of three, rather than two, kinds of conservatives. Of these, the “laissez-faire” conservatives can reasonably be said to be capitalist libertarians. However, her “status quo” conservatives do not seem to include only functionalist conservatives; her meaning is literal and these are simply conservatives who resist change. Her ‘authoritarians’ are also different from my scheme. While I see all conservatives as being in some way authoritarian (Benfell, April 12, 2013), her authoritarians are specifically intolerant of difference, suggesting that she may mean authoritarian populists, paleoconservatives, and possibly traditionalist conservatives (see chapter one).

Otherwise, H. Michael Crowson (2009) is typical, distinguishing between “cultural” (social) and “economic” (capitalist libertarian) conservatives, with the former as

more likely to exhibit higher levels of personal need for structure, need to evaluate, dogmatism, the belief that knowledge is certain, and fear of death and lower levels of need for cognition than those holding less conservative views. Moreover, participants scoring higher on cultural conservatism were more likely to endorse statements reflecting the tendency to use aggression against persons who hold beliefs and values that differ from their own. . . .

In general, economic conservatism was unrelated to personal need for structure, need to evaluate, fear of death, need for cognition, and dogmatic aggression. Although economic conservatism exhibited low positive correlations with dogmatism and the belief that knowledge is certain, these correlations became lower (and even nonsignificant in the case of dogmatism) after controlling for cultural conservatism. These results seem to indicate that economic conservatives are not particularly rigid in their thinking or aggressive against those who hold opposing beliefs and values and may only exhibit a slight propensity to believe that knowledge is certain. (Crowson, 2009, pp. 459-460)

A larger issue in the social and political psychological work has to do with the distinction, if any, between right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and conservatism. As Crowson, Thoma, and Hestevold (2005) summarize it, “the existing research literature paints a picture of individuals who score high on RWA as being cognitively rigid, arriving at their individual attitudes on the basis of not reason but rather emotion, stereotyping, and individual cognitive or motivational deficits” (p. 572). A problem these authors faced in attempting to determine whether RWA is synonymous with or distinct from conservatism was that much of the previous work and the instruments used to measure conservatism conflated the two. They conclude that the two are not synonymous.

This, however, depends on how one defines conservatism. According to Crowson, Thoma, and Hestevold (2005), “conservatism still involves a desire to ‘preserve the status quo, to maintain social stability, (and) to preserve tradition’ (Altemeyer, 1988, p. 8), indicating that a motivated tendency to ‘freeze’ on prior cognitive structures (Kruglanski & Webster, 1996) may underlie this desire” (p. 588). This definition would seem to involve elements of Stenner’s (2009) “status quo” conservatism and traditionalist conservatism which, given our frame of reference from chapter one, is an extremely limited view of conservatism.

Moreover, John Jost et al (2003) do not inspire confidence in the state of this field when they argue that “too many measures of individual differences have conflated psychological and political variables in an attempt to measure a construct that is really a hybrid of the two” (p. 340). They go on to attempt to synthesize a theory of conservatism with “two core dimensions of political conservatism—resistance to change and acceptance of inequality” (p. 342). The first of these looks like Stenner’s (2009) “status quo” conservatism and the second a common attribute consistent with my own view of conservatism as authoritarian (Benfell, April 12, 2013).

What is striking in reviewing these approaches is 1) how often one finds criticism of how survey questions have been worded or otherwise of the instruments used to assess conservatism and authoritarianism (Mehrabian, 1996); 2) that these researchers often rely on dictionary definitions that bear at most a passing resemblance to conservatism as we now see it in the United States; and 3) that all—or at least all I have found—of this work is quantitative and statistical.

Other researchers’ taxonomies. Paul Ramsey (2009) recognizes four types of conservatism:

The neoliberals constitute the libertarian strand of conservatism that advocates for extreme individualism in society and education, and the neoconservatives are the communitarian wing of rightist politics, the wing that pushes for a return to a golden era of American society. Similar to the neoconservatives, the authoritarian populists as Apple calls another strand of conservatism, want to return to a better period of the past, but one in which Christianity dominated America’s institutions. Finally, the new middle class is a group of educational conservatives that advocates for administrative expertise, business models, and managerialism to solve the problems facing education in the United States. (Ramsey, 2009, pp. 579-580)

Of these, neoliberals are indeed strongly associated with capitalist libertarianism; however, it would be traditionalist conservatives who “are the communitarian wing of rightist politics, the wing that pushes for a return to a golden era of American society” (Ramsey, 2009, p. 579); Ramsey conflates authoritarian populists with social conservatives; and what Ramsey calls the “new middle class” would seem to include those who are applying neoliberal ideas to education, as with charter schools (Campbell, September 12, 2013; Giroux, February 22, 2014, March 19, 2014) and are likely those whom I call neoconservative.

Jan-Werner Müller (2006) seems to adopt a traditionalist conservative definition of conservatism, excluding capitalist libertarians and those he calls reactionaries. Writing of Joseph de Maistre, a post-French Revolution figure, Müller explains that

His [de Maistre’s] commitment to hierarchy and inequality is obvious, but he cares neither for how these values are implemented (in fact, he is almost a quietist at times, trusting in Providence and abjuring all forms of political action), nor does he particularly want to preserve existing privileges. He really is an authoritarian and a reactionary. (Müller, 2006, 364)

Müller (2006) does not use the term ‘reactionary’ in the same way that George Seldes (1948/2009) does. Seldes uses the term to refer to capitalist libertarian businesspeople who opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, seeing it as intruding on their ‘private property’ rights. Since Müller is attempting to distinguish reactionaries from traditionalists, and her characterization of de Maistre seems traditionalist, her argument here seems incomplete.

As to neoconservatives, Müller (2006) is undecided, arguing that they might be considered conservative if U.S. national interest is served by global democratization and if the “American way of life” is indeed so superior that U.S. hegemony in world affairs is justified. I have no argument with her view of neoconservatism, but a traditionalist definition of conservatism raises a high bar for neoconservatives to reach. Notably, traditionalist Jeffrey Hart (September 23, 2008) offers as severe a critique, and on much the same grounds, of neoconservatism especially for the invasion of Iraq as anything I have seen on the left.

Müller (2006) distinguishes first, between political and aesthetic conservatives; and second, between dimensions of 1) sociological, 2) methodological, 3) dispositional or aesthetic, and 4) philosophical or anthropological conservatism. Political conservatism requires at least two of the four dimensions she identifies. Aesthetic conservatism is included among the four dimensions, and more dispositional,

see[ing] in literature, and in poetry in particular, a privileged mode of articulating what they take to be conservatism. In other words, they are less interested in putting forth a political doctrine than in expressing a disposition. Often, this nostalgic mode comes with an implicit or explicit claim for an epistemic privilege: It is the nostalgic glance backwards that allows conservatives to see more clearly—even if conservatives always arrive too late actually to conserve. The principle ‘lament illuminates’ is at work here. But this aesthetic conservatism, if it is to be consistent, goes together with political passivity. (Müller, 2006, p. 361)

Müller’s (2006) aesthetic conservatism almost certainly refers to traditionalism. The lament and nostalgia that Müller refers to can be found explicitly in the writings of, among others, Weaver (1964/1995) and Eliot (1948/1962). But while traditionalists have much to say about current affairs, their voice is barely heard among those conservatives who figure much more prominently on the political scene and whom I would label ‘political’ conservatives: neoconservatives, capitalist libertarians, social conservatives, and authoritarian populists. By contrast, it seems unclear how Müller’s criteria for her designation of ‘political’ conservative would exclude any conservatives. Certainly none of the tendencies in my taxonomy would fail to pass this test.

Müller (2006) explains sociological conservatism as being that of “a particular social group trying to hold onto its privileges” (p. 361). This is a reverence for authority seen with Fleming (2004), in the elitism of Strauss and Madison (Havers, 2005), and even with working class males who have lost well-paying jobs to globalization as they scapegoat women and people of color (Sernau, 2006). Functionalist conservatives, authoritarian populists, paleoconservatives, and probably neoconservatives would all seem to fit here. Capitalist libertarians, who claim to advocate equality through neoliberal means, would not.

Müller’s (2006) methodological dimension is about cautious and incremental change. She denies that conservatives seek to freeze society but argues instead that they seek to manage change in non-disruptive ways. This can be seen with arguments that seek to avoid harm to the economy from changes meant to improve the environment; such arguments obviously fail to consider the recklessness with which the changes that jeopardized the environment were introduced in the first place. They also function to insulate the status quo, and the elites who benefit from it. Ray (2004) and Strauss (at least as Havers, 2005, renders him) clearly appear within this dimension. Traditionalist and functionalist conservatives can clearly be seen here. If one accepts self-interested arguments against action to ameliorate climate change, one might include capitalist libertarians and authoritarian populists as well. However, a problem with this criterion lies in the lack of a plausible alternative: Who, even among radicals or so-called ‘liberals,’ advocates unbridled change? And if a call for unbridled change is not the standard by which one might fail this test, where is that line drawn, and how?

Müller’s (2006) dispositional dimension includes what was described earlier as dispositional conservatism. Here she also includes the concern about “instrumentalization of experience (or of other human beings, for that matter),” recalling the townspeople, social conservatives, who staged the Scopes Monkey Trial (Nolan, 2007) as well as Blum (2006) and Frank’s (2005) “red-staters” (authoritarian populists). This dimension applies neither to capitalist libertarian conservatives nor to functionalist conservatives.

Finally, Müller’s (2006) “philosophical conservatives are primarily invested in the importance of hierarchical relationships, or some more or less naturalized conception of inequality” (p. 363). In finding that all tendencies of conservative are authoritarian, I see no way to exclude any conservatives from this dimension.

Distinguishing conservatives from liberals and others

As part of my research for this dissertation, I found that the one common thread to the various strands of conservatism was some form of authoritarianism (Benfell, April 12, 2013), which distinguishes it from more egalitarian ‘nurturant parent’ liberalism (Lakoff, 2002). With some tendencies, this is obvious: Traditionalist conservatism asserts a vertical hierarchy, preferring that authority be vested at the local level, but nonetheless with an elite. Social conservatism asserts the primacy of religion even over non-believers. Functionalist conservatism seeks to preserve the privileges of those who are already in charge (Benfell, April 12, 2013, May 16, 2014, June 4, 2014).

With other tendencies, authoritarianism is less directly stated. But Max Weber (1978/2010) considered it an “elemental fact” that an economic system of exchange privileges whomever has the greater power to refuse a potential transaction, and that this privilege creates a leverage that cyclically widens economic inequality. Such inequality leaves the poor vulnerable to the rich, and as such the capitalist libertarian claim that ‘freedom’ can be found in so-called ‘free’ markets should be rejected outright (Benfell, April 12, 2013).

Paleoconservatism is inherently authoritarian in its refusal to tolerate diversity, and in its unexplained insistence that people who are different from each other cannot get along and must be segregated. The problems here are, in part, the problems of borders, which are inherently the creations of sovereignty—an authoritarian construct (Benfell, October 15, 2013).

In terms of authoritarianism, neoconservatism is distinguishable from functionalist conservatism only in its ideology. It accepts the risk of larger government in order to pursue a militaristic foreign policy in the name of protecting ‘good’ government at home—which, as we have seen, imposes neoliberal policy—but as we have also seen also attaches moral value to essentially amoral positions: The U.S. political and economic system is morally ‘good,’ realpolitik is morally ‘good,’ and neoliberalism is morally ‘good.’ The use of force to achieve ends is inherently authoritarian. Neoliberal policy, by seeing a so-called ‘free’ market as the solution to all—not just economic—problems (Jones, 2012) extends the economic authoritarianism favored by capitalist libertarians to other spheres of social life.

Other scholars have approached the question of what distinguishes conservatism differently and in three ways. First is the way that conservatives distinguish themselves, which it seems they are quite anxious to do, in large measure because they, themselves, disagree, and have apparently disagreed for quite some time (Arnhart, 2010; Nash, 2006, Spring, 2009) with each other as to what constitutes a conservative. The ways that they disagree highlight some of the distinctions identified in chapter one. From David Ricci’s (2009) perspective, this work is additionally problematic for its reliance on anecdote and qualitative correlation rather than quantitative analysis. I believe Ricci observes their methodology correctly and it is true that conservatives are prone to errors of over-generalization and other unwarranted conclusions as a result. While positivism and quantitative methods are also not without their pitfalls, especially in the human sciences, one can sympathize with Müller’s (2006) desire for less biased analyses.

This is a problem that builds upon itself. In contrast to a certain humility which conservatives attribute to themselves, it is hard to escape an impression of hero worship that risks substituting cults of personalities for issues and philosophical concerns. Over and over again, one sees certain names, Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, Michael Oakeshott, Friedrich Hayek, and so on, of conservative luminaries whose ideas are decades or centuries old. Conservative arguments about what constitutes conservatism often compare and analyze foundational texts rather than building on them. Yet, having failed to move beyond that level, conservatives argue repeatedly that their ideas are superior and not ideological.

I have, earlier in this chapter, already dealt with a second approach to inquiry on what distinguishes conservatism by way of the attention granted conservatives by political and social psychologists who have attempted to identify social attitudes associated with conservatism that, in some cases, seem to suggest pathological conditions. This research will leave to others any consideration of conservatism as a psychological disorder.

Something to observe throughout is how often conservatism is dichotomized between capitalist libertarians (conflated with functionalists) and social conservatives. For any number of reasons, the enumeration of tendencies of conservatism suggested in chapter one may end up being wrong. Even to the degree it may be correct today, it may be wrong tomorrow simply because the splintering of the movement which Nash (2006, Spring, 2009) deplores suggests a movement that is not in stasis—new tendencies may appear; old ones may go fade away. But viewing the movement dichotomously oversimplifies the diversity of views within conservatism.

Much of the work that distinguishes conservatism from political alternatives such as modern (“bleeding heart”) liberalism is more illustrative than productive of a conservative schema. One may find Bruce Fleming (2004) generalizing conservatism from his experience with plebes at the U.S. Naval Academy. He sees conservatives as subordinating the individual to his or her group and to the state, and as valorizing tradition, a homogeneous rather than heterogeneous society, hasty judgments, decisive (even if violent) action, submission to authority, and control. But for all this, Fleming’s evidence is anecdotal. It really only illustrates that some combination of traditionalist and functionalist conservatism is alive and well in at least one branch of the U. S. military.

Fleming’s (2004) argument is not atypical. David Ricci (2009) complains that conservatives “tend to embellish their talk with persuasive anecdotes” (p. 160) and to “often frame [those anecdotes] within persuasive correlations so as to suggest conclusions that support right-wing propositions” (p. 162). From what I have seen so far, Ricci has a point. There is indeed often little or no safeguard against selective observation or fallacies of causation in conservative texts. Ricci would appear to prefer “the sort of data that political scientists are accustomed to analyzing in empirical research” (p. 160). Yet it is apparent from, perhaps most explicitly, Richard Weaver’s (1964/1995) work that such data is precisely the sort that many conservatives devalue (see also Foss, Foss, & Trapp, 2002). Conservatives often fall prey to what Kwame Appiah (2006) calls the naturalistic fallacy, arguing from a view of how they think the world ought to be, rather than from how the world actually is. This view of how the world ought to be, of course, entails Christian morals, “free” market capitalism, and limited government. But along with this, there is also a knowing tone that pretends to know how the world “really” works and how humans “really” are. For the empirical data that Ricci craves, conservatives often substitute what amounts to a doctrine of original sin, casting human nature as essentially self-serving and irresponsibly hedonistic. In the conservative view, humans are capable of redemption only with what Philip Kitcher (2011) labels the ‘unseen enforcer’ (a god).

John Ray (n.d.), who traces the struggle over the size of government to the Norman Conquest in 1066, portrays conservatism as humble, as individualist, as resisting big government (including that of the Normans) for being inherently authoritarian, and as preferring incremental change out of caution and a distrust of human nature. Ray also attributes leftism to envy and ego (thus, in his light, explaining the liberalism of so many college professors) while Fleming (2004) sees a conservative haste to make war as anything but incremental or cautious. Ray seems to illustrate a conservatism resembling that of Thomas Frank’s (2005) Kansans (and, more generally, “red-staters,” referring to people in states that usually elect Republican Party candidates), in which the latter view themselves as “humble” (p. 20), “reverent, . . . courteous, kind, cheerful” (p. 22), and “loyal, . . . regular, down-home working stiff[s]” (p. 23), and see “blue-staters” (referring to people in states that usually elect Democratic Party candidates) exemplifying the opposite of each of these characteristics. In all of this, we see the “us versus them” world view I discussed in chapter one:

What divides Americans is authenticity, not something hard and ugly like economics. While liberals commit endless acts of hubris, sucking down lattes, driving ostentatious European cars, and trying to reform the world, the humble people of the red states go about their unpretentious business, eating down-home foods, vacationing in the Ozarks, whistling while they work, feeling comfortable about who they are, and knowing they are secure under the watch of George W. Bush, a man they love as one of their own. (Frank, 2005, p. 27)

Christopher Blum (2006), whose work I discussed in chapter one, sees conservatism in a traditionalist agrarian sense, strongly resembling that of Richard Weaver (1964/1995), as seeking to preserve social order on a small scale which resembles Larry Arnhart’s (2010) evolutionary conservatism. Prizing small farm society and craftsmanship, Blum seems to reject the notion of workers as infinitely replaceable, adopting an attitude that would hardly endear him to industrial capitalists or post-industrial financiers of the functionalist conservative variety. He views the old European nobility not as a license for pleasure or luxury, but rather as a duty, indeed of subservience, to the people within the small societies that nobles control. Reposing considerable trust in the human nature of these nobles, Blum argues that their wealth is to be used for the people’s benefit. Beneath Blum’s charming view of aristocracy, society, and work, however, lies a patriarchy in which sexuality is thoroughly repressed, and in which he has only praise for big government, in this case, the French, when following the restoration of Louis XVIII, it forbade divorce.

Grant Havers (2005) identifies “three issues of importance to any conservative political philosopher: the meaning of democracy, history, and revealed truth” (p. 6). This list is not exhaustive. Havers, sounding very much like a traditionalist conservative, makes clear the importance of an elite; democracy is not naïvely about equality, but requires protection from the “worst impulses of human nature,” a protection available through an aristocracy presumed by virtue of education to have mastered those impulses, a view that Frank’s (2005) Kansans—authoritarian populists—might have difficulty swallowing but which can also be attributed to James Madison (1787/2003): Madison, Kirk (1985/2001), and Havers (2005) all seek to protect the minority rights not of any disadvantaged or stigmatized group but rather the property rights of a landed aristocracy against the presumed mediocrity of mob rule by ensuring that it is the aristocracy that remains “safely” in charge.

Systematizing Conservatism

It should be apparent especially from chapter one that it is quite inadequate to judge conservatism as in any way homogeneous. The conservative movement is a coalition of tendencies with such profoundly distinct beliefs (Brinkley, 2011; Nash, 2006, Spring, 2009) that, if they should ever lack an opponent—President Obama is only the most prominent current example—to scapegoat for a failure of accomplishment, the coalition might disintegrate amid vast schisms, as it has done before and seems reliably to be forecast to do, albeit never with lasting effect (Phillips-Fein, September 28, 2009; Stark, 2011). Most notable among these schisms is between neoconservatives on one hand and traditionalist conservatives, paleoconservatives, and capitalist libertarians on the other (Benfell, June 4, 2014). Nash (Spring, 2009) describes the relationship between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives as a “thirty-year war;” it is replete with accusations of “anti-Semitism, racism, fascism, and descent from ‘American Trotskyism’” (Antle, 2008; Ashbee, 2000; Francis, 1989; King, 2004; Klingenstein, 2003; Weisberg, September 2, 1991), and while not all of these accusations are true in each case, some likely are.


Conservatism seems, as argued in chapter two, inextricable from values of domination and authoritarianism. It strongly opposes “equalitarianism” or “levelling” (Brinkley, 1994; Eliot, 1948/1962; Havers, 2005; Hurwitz & Peffley, 1992; Kirk, 1985/2001; Panichas, 2006; R. Weaver, 1964/1995). It consistently endorses economic and social policies that exacerbate rather than ameliorate social inequality (Blum, 2006; Rand, 1957/1999). Finally, it generally advocates policies that would lead to yet more suffering for the poor (D. Jones, 2012; Krugman, May 31, 2012). This lack of balance invites, I think, a Jungian “shadow” perspective, that is, one which looks at what conservatives do not want to look at, seeks out what they do not want to admit. As I hear the authoritarian populist ranting about borders, the law, and an apocalyptic vision of an “invading” “other” (Cruz, June 26, 2012; T. Lee, June 14, 2014; Lovelace, June 13, 2014; Murphy, August 4, 2014), I wonder what it is that conservatives are so alarmed about—does it really reduce to a so-called ‘nativist’ fear, seen even to an extent that sexuality and especially women’s bodies must be regulated lest whites will lose hegemony (Heins, 2001/2007; Kerber & DeHart, 2004; Rhode, 1993; G. Rubin, 1984)?

Such questions, however tantalizing, remain for further exploration. This research drew upon a broad critical theory tradition that seeks to expose social inequality and social injustice (Morrow, 1994). It intended a still-exploratory beginning with a methodology that, to its core, sought to expose conservative discursive practices that reproduce social inequality and social injustice (Weiss & Wodak, 2003; Wodak & Meyer, 2009) in attitudes toward undocumented migration.

Choice of method

As previously noted, George Nash (2006) objects to psychosocial approaches to conservatism on the grounds that they evade conservative arguments. If we allow for a common stigmatization of people with ‘psychological conditions,’ such approaches become an attack on conservatives as people rather than on conservatism as a set of arguments. It seems to me further that before we treat conservatives as having ‘psychological issues,’ we need to comprehensively show that their arguments are irrational or otherwise reflect such issues.

This means squarely addressing conservative arguments. To do this, we need first, to listen to these arguments, and second, to represent them fairly. This seems to point toward some form of narrative or critical discourse analysis (CDA) methodology. Because conservatism is inherently authoritarian (Benfell, April 12, 2013), a critical theory approach becomes appropriate to illuminate power relationships (Morrow, 1994). As CDA is in the critical theory tradition, it becomes an appropriate choice.

CDA is not a single methodology, but rather several. Many of these draw upon the thinking of such luminaries as Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, Serge Moscovici, and Michael Halliday (Wodak & Meyer, 2009). My concern always with the invocation of such names is that data may be made to fit their pre-existing theories rather than theories developed based on the data itself. I therefore chose a method, discourse-historical analysis (DHA), that is oriented to the texts and the discourses themselves, seeking to understand them not only for the way authors represent themselves and others, but how these representations relate to each other and to a broader context.

Research design

My search for articles to use as data for this dissertation as well and for context was part of a daily routine in which I read newsletters and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds from hundreds of news sources and archive articles of interest (both relevant and non-relevant to this dissertation) for future reference. My initial work relevant to this proposal has been an effort to identify publications associated with each school of conservatism as described earlier.

There was a certain circularity in this: I initially identified two publications as associated with particular tendencies from a variety of sources, but reassociated them as I learned more and as I incorporated these publications into my workflow and begin reading articles. In one case, First Things initially appeared to me to be traditionalist because of a strong Roman Catholic orientation, but the publication was founded by a neoconservative, and is generally considered neoconservative (Ashbee, 2000; Dorrien, 2013; Douthat, December 18, 2013; Homolar-Riechmann, 2013; Weisberg, September 2, 1991).

I also reclassified The American Conservative, a publication which is often considered paleoconservative apparently because it is associated with Patrick Buchanan, who is generally but imperfectly considered a paleoconservative (Antle, 2008; Ashbee, 2000; King, 2004; Klingenstein, 2003; Russello, 2005; Stanley, February 8, 2012). However, Buchanan appears in multiple publications associated with a variety of tendencies and appears to tailor his arguments to suit the tendencies of his readers. The American Conservative seems much less concerned about race and ethnicity than paleoconservative publications (see, for examples, Kristian, July 2, 2014; Kaller, August 25, 2014; McCarthy, July 16, 2014) and even published an article that adopted a relatively welcoming attitude toward migration into the U.S. (Callahan, September 16, 2014). This publication simply does not fit with paleoconservatism. I have therefore classified it as traditionalist conservative.

This process of identifying publications and associating them with tendencies was far from a perfect process. There are several issues.

First, functionalist conservatives effectively control mainstream media (Altschull, 1995; N. Chomsky, 1989; Croteau & Hoynes, 2003; Halberstam, 2000; Herman & Chomsky, 2002; Seldes, 1948/2009). Articles found in these sources cannot simply be classified as functionalist conservative at face value. Rather, opinions expressed in them are likely to fall within an approved range of ‘acceptable’ (to the publishers) opinion. This range extends beyond functionalist conservatism to encompass views that—as Zinn (2005) observes of the two-party system in U.S. politics—may promote only gradual, not radical change. This is change that does not threaten elite positions.

Functionalist conservative perspectives are nonetheless recognizable. They tend to support the status quo. They represent the practical concerns of people who are in power and seek to remain in power. They often cover a range of possible policy choices while considering the political ramifications for each possible course of action (examples include Coll, September 8, 2014; Economist, July 8, 2014, August 8, 2014, September 20, 2014, October 6, 2014; Simpson, September 15, 2014).

Even where publications are unambiguously associated with particular tendencies, there is a risk in identifying conservative perspectives by the publication they appear in. The putatively paleoconservative Patrick Buchanan (Antle, 2008; Ashbee, 2000; Frohnen, February 15, 2012; King, 2004; Klingenstein, 2003; Nash, Spring, 2009; Russello, 2005; Wolfson, 2004), for example, has recently appeared not only in American Conservative, where he is, evidently, a founding editor (Buchanan, March 29, 2013, August 27, 2014), but in Town Hall (Buchanan, August 1, 2014), which I categorize as authoritarian populist, and in Lew Rockwell (Buchanan, September 13, 2014), which is unmistakably capitalist libertarian but also sometimes borders on paleoconservatism. He appears to tailor his writing for each. Furthermore, publications may include views that reflect a tendency’s participation in the conservative (“fusionist”) coalition and therefore do not fit neatly within the ideology associated with a tendency. Nonetheless, searching identified publications is an obvious starting point for finding articles associated with each tendency of conservatism.

In the course of my research, I identified several such publications that could be clearly identified with a particular tendency. Some of these are referred to or are sources for articles in the literature searches. Others have cropped up in news media accounts, as for instance, inflammatory statements are attributed to Andrew Breitbart, who maintains a web site at Still others are listed in Wikipedia entries. Complete lists for each tendency with supporting information are maintained in entries under the conservatism category on my research wiki at

This is a list that has been culled for various reasons, notably when publications no longer seem to be active or seem not to be oriented toward current events. One requirement was that I need to be able to subscribe to either an email newsletter or an RSS feed for the publication. Because I follow so many, it simply is not practical for me to monitor publications for which neither of these facilities is available.

There are special cases. The National Review played a major role in uniting disparate conservative factions to improve the movement’s political prospects under the label of ‘fusionism.’ Historically, the publication served as a gatekeeper defining what is, and is not, conservatism (Ashbee, 2000; Durham, 2011; Nash, 2006; Phillips-Fein, 2011) and I interpret the content of newsletters that it sends out (some daily) to mean that it continues to play these roles today. Consequently, I do not associate the National Review with any one tendency.

Another omission is World Net Daily, which is even more sensationalist than My means of getting stories from this publication was to follow an RSS feed, but the headlines were all too often of a hysterical “click-bait” style, which is to say they were effectively meaningless, leaving me no recourse but to click on each article and read them all in order to find out what any of them are about. While I did identify one article (Vliet, June 17, 2014) from World Net Daily for analysis, there are other authoritarian populist sources which were considerably more time-efficient.

I completed data collection on November 28, 2014. Tables 8 and 9 provide an overview of the results.

Table 8.

Number of articles archived by tendency (Benfell, November 28, 2014)

Tendency Total number of articles archived
Authoritarian Populism 27
Capitalist Libertarianism 7
Functionalist Conservatism 12
Neoconservatism 11
Paleoconservatism 12
Social Conservatism 7
Traditionalist Conservatism 10
Table 9.

Number of articles archived by tendency, author, and publication (Benfell, November 28, 2014)

Tendency Authors Publications (* = publication not associated with tendency)
Authoritarian Populism M. Barone (2)

B. Barr (1)

R. Benko (1)

P. Buchanan (2)

K. Blackwell (1)

B. Carson (1)

N. Chirkov (1)

J. Crouere (1)

T. Cruz (1)

M. Davis (1)

P. Dykewicz (1)

E. Erickson (1)

D. Giles (1)

T. Jeffrey (1)

L. Kudlow (1)

T. Lee (1)

R. Lovelace (1)

P. Morici (1)

J. Moudy (1)

E. Owens (1)

S. Parker (1)

R. Perry (1)

D. A. Ridenour (1)

C. Thomas (1)

E. L. Vliet (1)

Breitbart (1)

Daily Caller (3)

National Review* (1)

NVC Review (1)

Tea Party Review (1)

Town Hall (18)

USA Today* (1)

WorldNetDaily (1)

Capitalist Libertarianism A. V. Llosa (1)

B. Domitrovic (1)

D. Matthews (1)

A. Nowrasteh (3)

F. Reed (1)

Beacon (1)

Cato (3)

Imaginative Conservative* (1)

Lew Rockwell (1)

Vox* (1)

Functionalist Conservatism (unnamed) (4)

S. Allison (1)

S. Chapman (1)

A. Ozimek (1)

K. P. Erb (1)

D. Renwick (1)

A. Roy (1)

J. E. Sweig (1)

R. Ungar (1)

Council on Foreign Relations (2)

Economist (3)

Forbes (5)

Town Hall* (1)

Neoconservatism W. Chip (1)

D. Halper (1)

J. Podhoretz (2)

P. Skerry (1)

P. Spiliakos (2)

J. S. Tobin (4)

Commentary (6)

First Things (3)

Weekly Standard (2)

Paleoconservatism T. Fleming (1)

K. MacDonald (1)

A. Nowicki (1)

T. Piatak (4)

T. Sallis (1)

J. Seiler (1)

S. Trifkovic (1)

A. D. Wolf (1)

Yggdrasil (1)

Alternative Right (1)

Chronicles (8)

Occidental Observer (1)

Occidental Quarterly (2)

Social Conservatism L. Blair (1)

A. Crain (1)

J. C. Derrick (3)

D. C. Innes (1)

R. E. Stinnette (1)

Christian Post (1) (1)

World (5)

Traditionalist Conservatism G. Callahan (1)

B. Frohnen (2)

M. G. Malvasi (1)

S. Turley (1)

L. Trepanier (1)

K. B. Vlahos (1)

J. M. Wilson (1)

B. Winters (2)

American Conservative (2)

First Principles (1)

Image (2)

Imaginative Conservative (5)

Discourse-historical analysis (DHA) is a very ambitious method, often requiring many researchers and considerable time; accordingly, I followed Reisigl and Wodak’s (2009) suggestion that, for a dissertation, a subset of the approach may be employed.

Instruments, Procedures, and Data Analysis

I chose four (because they were so short relative to other articles for other tendencies) authoritarian populist articles for analysis and three each from the other tendencies. I chose articles from 2014 in an effort to cover the controversy over undocumented migrants at that time and, as much as possible, attempted to choose articles from different publications. As can be inferred from the relatively low counts in tables 3 and 4, this selection does not amount to a representative sample as might be found in quantitative research, but rather one that has been constrained for the sake of convenience.

DHA asks several specific analytic questions which might be summarized as 1) how are persons and objects “named and referred to linguistically” (Reisigl & Wodak, 2009, p. 112), “[w]hat characteristics, qualities and features are attributed to social actors, objects, phenomena/events and processes” (p. 113), “[w]hich arguments are employed in discourses” (p. 113), “[f]rom what perspective are these nominations, attributions and arguments expressed” (p. 113), and “[a]re the respective utterances articulated overtly, are they intensified or mitigated” (p. 113)? In my analysis, I asked several questions for each selected article, and for all persons, objects, and actions the article refers to directly or indirectly. I sought to identify and, for each sentence, made space in my worksheets for:

  • Nouns, with modifiers and connotations
  • Verbs, with modifiers and connotations
  • Passive or active voice?
  • Who has agency?
  • Who is subject?
  • Who speaks for whom?
  • Who is excluded, that is, not named?
  • Who is attacked?
  • Who is praised?
  • Who is referred to generically?
  • Who is referred to abstractly?
  • Who is referred to specifically?
  • Who is associated with whom?
  • Who is disassociated with whom?
  • Comments and analysis

In describing the particulars of the analysis I intended, I should begin with reference to a basic, often-repeated tenet in speech communication: Language is arbitrary, abstract, and ambiguous. This beginning point means I bring some skepticism to the notion that an intensely grammatical parsing of language, as with critical linguistics, in which each detail of each sentence’s structure is a sort of “magic key” that unlocks a “treasure chest” of hidden meanings that can be categorized and quantified as if they were “gold coins.” For me, most people’s use of language is pragmatic, too often based on the only language they’ve heard. One example of this is the term ‘illegal immigrant,’ which, as I noted in chapter one, carries all sorts of assumptions about the legitimacy of borders and the rights of people positioned on opposing sides of those borders. Such phrasing certainly carries a likelihood of prejudice, but it might also simply be used in place of the less familiar ‘undocumented migrants.’

Analysis needs to be temperate. I do not believe that many human beings are capable of a language use subtlety that would warrant, for example, Theo van Leeuwen’s (1996) six-layer system schematic—evidently meant to satisfy linguists—of twenty-one possible and often only marginally distinct representations of (just!) social actors. Further, keeping an eye on the goal, that is, “to bring a system of excessive inequalities of power into crisis by uncovering its workings and its effects” (Kress, 1996, p. 15), I meant to settle for a more sociological approach which includes and in fact considerably collapses, in this case, van Leeuwen’s (1996) broadly described forms of sociological representations.

What I really wanted to know is who (the agent) is responsible for doing what to whom (the subject or “patient”), the degree to which the text acknowledges or disguises this responsibility, and what voice, if any, is allowed to agents, subjects, or third parties (van Dijk, 1996; van Leeuwen, 1996). I also want to know how each party is framed: Put much too crudely, who are the “good guys,” who are the “bad guys,” who are the “heroes,” who are the “victims,” and who are the villains” (Wodak, 1996)? How are they connected with or related to each other (van Leeuwen)? Finally, I wanted to know how each of these operations functions culturally. What inferred meanings will be drawn from word choices, narratives, and arguments (Caldas-Coulthard , 1996; Morrison, 1996)?

As a beginning to these questions, one of van Leeuwen’s (1996) examples is instructive:

To mention just one classic example, Tony Trew (1979: 97ff) showed how, in The Times and the Rhodesian Herald (anno 1975), the police were excluded in accounts of the ‘riots’ during which they had opened fire and killed demonstrators, because it was in the interest of these papers and their readers to attempt to ‘justify white rule in Africa’. (van Leeuwen, 1996, p. 38)

By ‘exclusion,’ van Leeuwen (1996) means that the police were not identified as agents. Rather, the ‘rioters’ were agents, portrayed as threatening social order. That the police (as agents) were committing mayhem against protesters (as subjects), was suppressed, or to use van Leeuwen’s term, excluded. In that last sentence, as I have written it, using passive voice, a critical discourse analyst’s first question is, who did the suppressing? Van Leeuwen’s answer, in the text I quoted, is that it was the newspapers in complicity with the police and in support of white hegemony. Further, we understand that in the newspapers’ portrayals, while ‘rioters’ are held responsible for violence, the police who did the shooting are shielded from blame.

Another thing to notice in van Leeuwen’s (1996) example above is how protesters are referred to as ‘rioters,’ drawing upon connotations of violence, property damage, and disorder. Teun van Dijk (1996) writes about connotation in terms of who has access to the media to present their view. His examples from the Sun in the United Kingdom highlight the privilege to cast aspersions on a group of people—undocumented migrants—who have little ability to reply. So, in van Dijk’s examples, the Sun refers to them as ‘spongers’ and as ‘illegals’ and supports conservative policies that would expel them. Van Dijk also notices that the Sun uses passive voice to avoid mentioning the employers who hire undocumented migrants and are thus at least complicit in any violations of the law.

Andrew Morrison (1996) demonstrates the importance of inferred meanings in a cultural context with his chapter analyzing Zimbabwean press coverage of lurid allegations, which eventually proved to be false, that a woman had had sex with a dog for pay. She had, it was claimed, “sold herself” to a white man (“colonial thief”), displaced a black man, and thereby “violated her role as a reproductive agent” (p. 232). I cannot do justice to Morrison’s rich analysis here, but one aspect was that a “key distinction – between sexual gratification on the part of men and economic need on the part of the women – was not examined in the state press” (p. 242). This omission seems a bit more significant when it emerges that the whole story was a fabrication concocted by a landlord whose tenant was unable to pay her rent and refused his demand for sex as an alternative form of payment. Morrison concludes

that Critical Discourse Analysis needs to delve more deeply into news media in which the interrelationships between verbal, visual and spoken discourse are complex (see e.g. Morrison, 1993) and where established notions of tabloid and objective reporting are intermingled with rumour and moral judgement. (Morrison, 1996, p. 245)

Van Leeuwen (1996) also wants to know whether a text refers to people generically (as with police and ‘rioters” above) or specifically, perhaps by name or title. To elaborate on this, I will depart from van Leeuwen’s text and instead point to Philip Zimbardo (2008), who conducted the infamous Stanford Prison Experiments. In Zimbardo’s account, he points out how ‘prisoners’ were given identical clothing to wear and identified by number. Similarly, ‘guards’ wore uniforms and oversize reflective sunglasses. Zimbardo explains that thus guards and prisoners both were deindividualized and anonymized. They were reduced to, or, in van Leeuwen’s (1996) terminology, assimilated into their roles. They became generic, even as Zimbardo (2008) takes care to tell the stories of how individual guards and prisoners behaved in these roles. Thus guards felt able to behave as if they were anonymous members of a group acting, often brutally, against anonymous members of another group—the prisoners. Zimbardo’s account seeks to counter this; other authors might wittingly or unwittingly collude with it.

Van Leeuwen (1996) next considers the question of association and disassociation. Whom does the author associate with or disassociate from whom? For example, in The power elite, C. Wright Mills (1956/2000) explicitly associates bureaucratic, economic, and military elites with each other and argues at length for this association. Van Leeuwen’s example is a bit more casual—he calls it parataxis: “They believed that the immigration program existed for the benefit of politicians, bureaucrats, and the ethnic minorities, not for Australians as a whole” (p. 50). Here, politicians, bureaucrats, and ethnic minorities are lumped together in relation to the immigration program, but not particularly in any other way. In another example, this time of disassociation, he cites the case of children who travel to school together, but then lose this association as they go to class.

Finally, van Leeuwen (1996) considers “overdetermination,” which seems to conflate four features that probably should be distinguished. I will limit my discussion here to those two which seem relevant to a critical theory approach. Connotation entails the exploitation of widely held social associations, much as is already discussed with the inferences associated with ‘rioters’ and with the bestiality story above. Van Leeuwen’s example of a man with a large moustache may translate poorly for a U.S. audience, but its subtlety is more meaningful for audiences familiar with a Prussian military stereotype. Distillation refers to usages of more general, abstract categories where more precisely specified ones might do. Thus, in van Leeuwen’s (1996) example taxonomy, a lawyer gets lumped in, through two degrees of abstraction, with professionals who offer counseling.

Notes regarding the presentation of research results

As already mentioned, I analyzed a number of conservative articles regarding undocumented migration in chapters five through eleven (one chapter for each tendency of conservatism). As is customary with this type of inquiry, I present the full text of each analyzed article, with each sentence given a line number. The analyses I have seen to date, however, do not indicate paragraphs. Each sentence is simply listed with a number (Caldas-Coulthard & Coulthard, 1996; van Leeuwen 2008).

I deviate from that practice for two reasons. First, I had an automated process for picking apart these articles and creating on-line worksheets enabling a sentence-by-sentence analysis. This process was imperfect, sometimes failing to recognize particular combinations of hypertext markup language tags and punctuation at the end of sentences. It is easier to correct the line numbering for a paragraph than it is an entire article, so I preferred a paragraph-based numbering system. Second, I think paragraphs are important; indeed in reporting my analyses, I often refer to several paragraphs at a time. Consequently, sentences are numbered with a paragraph and sentence number with the sentence numbering restarting with each paragraph. In addition, I mark the beginning of each paragraph with a paragraph symbol (“¶”).

I do not include the full worksheets in this dissertation. They are available here: However, I include abbreviated tables (10-31) for each analyzed article with the paragraph/sentence numbers and the text of each sentence, making it possible to refer to specific sentences and paragraphs as I present my analyses.

Limitations and research issues

This dissertation is based on a cross-section of conservative articles published in 2014 by authors I have associated with the tendencies in a taxonomy described in chapter one. This research is a first attempt to validate this taxonomy. We have already seen alternative taxonomies in the literature review in chapter two. While I believe that those taxonomies are not as well-developed as the one I present here, I cannot discount the possibility that others using different approaches might either further refine this taxonomy or develop alternatives to it. On the contrary, and particularly in view of the questions this research raises about the distinctions between authoritarian populism and paleoconservatism and between social conservatism and traditionalist conservatism, I would discourage anyone from viewing this taxonomy as “settled.”

Reisigl and Wodak (2009) would have preferred a broader cross-section of communication be represented than I have performed here. Fully developed, a project such as they envision would entail participant observation even at neo-Nazi and skinhead (extremist paleoconservative) events, placing an investigator at considerable risk of violence and arrest. A broader cross-section would require more time and resources, resulting in a several-hundred page or thousand-page plus dissertation. It would also require analysis for interpersonal forms of power (see, for example, Ribeiro, 1996), representations of self (see, for example, Preti, 1996), and of chronologies and spatial arrangements (van Leeuwen, 2008). Accordingly, I have limited this project’s scope.

In the foregoing, I have already expressed a concern about tempering analysis. As described in the sources I have found (Caldas-Coulthard & Coulthard, 1996; van Leeuwen, 2008; Wodak & Meyer, 2009), critical discourse analysis seems to have no guard against over-analysis. I found an example of this in critiquing a dissertation in the preliminary work leading to this proposal, in which the then-candidate picked apart selected excerpts of a politician’s discourse and analyzed them to infer the worst meanings possible while failing to consider alternative explanations (Benfell, October 11, 2013). My concern, already expressed in this proposal, about critical discourse analysis methods in general is that researchers’ response to a corollary hazard—of insufficient analysis—is the development of ever more detailed schema for analysis, schema that may not in fact be justified in actual language use. However, there is also no check for this hazard of under-analysis. The analyses I produce rely heavily on my own judgment of what is “temperate.”

In seeking to be temperate, I made a conscious decision in designing and executing this research to limit my scope to the more ‘reasonable’ reaches of conservatism. I felt my argument could be better made by avoiding the caricatures of neo-Nazis and right-wing militia, even as examples such as the Cliven Bundy episode, where an authoritarian populist had help from some such groups in defending ‘his’ ranch in southern Nevada from the Bureau of Land Management (Southern Poverty Law Center, July 10, 2014). Similarly, in exploring paleoconservatism, I excluded groups such as VDARE that I knew to be listed as ‘hate’ groups (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2014). In one sense, I was limiting my scope and hoping to deflect a charge that I was reducing conservatism to a collection of wackos. In another sense, I was protecting myself by limiting my descent into the depths of hatred—The rhetoric of the xtreme right is hate-filled and inflammatory. I sought to limit the emotional impact I would suffer while performing this research. This constraint, however, also means I am limited in my analysis of a recurring issue in chapter four, that of the antipathy toward President Barack Obama which spans most of the spectrum of conservatism including, most prominently, its ugliest, most dangerous components.

Finally, in chapter one, I mentioned the work of C. J. Pascoe (2007) as an exemplar. I believe that as a lesbian, her social location made her more sensitive to the power relationships among high school students. I hoped that as a vegetarian ecofeminist, I would be similarly attuned to those power relationships as conservatives wrote about undocumented migrants.

In the course of working on this dissertation, I have come to better appreciate my own limitations as a white male addressing problems of other ethnicities and genders. My own social location means I do not bring to this work a Hispanic sensitivity, let alone that of an undocumented migrant. I have tried. But work such as this would, I now believe, have benefited from Linda Martín Alcott’s (1995) advice to speak in consultation with others, rather than attempting to speak for others. This dissertation is my work and as designed, I made no provision to do this. Accordingly, I should be clear: I do not speak for those whose lives are threatened by the U.S. migration policies that I know need changing.


In the course of performing the analyses to be found in chapters five through eleven, a number of issues appeared repeatedly. Rather than deal with them repeatedly, this chapter will seek to address them all at once.

So-called ‘amnesty’

At WORLD we infrequently use the word “amnesty” because it also means many things to different people. . . . Was President Obama correct last night [November 20, 2014] when he said amnesty is the current de facto system? Does amnesty mean anything other than sending illegal immigrants back to their home countries? (If so, how do you avoid taxpayers footing the bill for 11 million return trips?) Does amnesty mean a 1986-style free pass, where immigrants simply come forward and sign up without paying a penalty? Should they serve jail time to make restitution? Is it amnesty if citizenship is a possibility, but not if only legal status is offered? (Derrick, November 21, 2014)

J. C. Derrick (November 21, 2014), writing for the social conservative World magazine deserves credit for refusing what seems to be a reflexive conservative use of the term ‘amnesty.’ In general, the term suggests 1) that an offense has been committed (otherwise amnesty would not be required), and 2) that the recipients of amnesty are being excused from the consequences of that offense. Derrick quotes a Webster’s definition that suggests that it is amnesty when a “pardon is granted to a large group of individuals,” however this is not what I find in my dictionary (Dict Development Group, May 29, 2013), where the reference to a mass pardon is listed as a variation.

Barack Obama (November 20, 2014) said:

If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. . . .

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. (Obama, November 20, 2014)

It appears to me first, that Obama’s (November 20, 2014) action is irrelevant to the question of undocumented minors from Central America, who presumably do not have children of their own and who are recent arrivals; and second, that his words are more rhetorical than legal in form. I leave to others the question of whether Obama’s action legally constitutes amnesty. At this writing, a federal judge has put Obama’s plan on hold in response to a lawsuit filed by several states, and an appeals court has declined to overturn the stay (D. Lind, February 17, 2015; Preston, February 17, 2015, May 26, 2015; J. Turley, February 17, 2015). The question of whether Obama’s action constitutes amnesty and the related question of whether Obama’s action is legal are not in fact what I am concerned with.

Rather, conservatives’ use of the term suggests that an allegedly liberal (as in whatever an author is opposed to) president is allowing undocumented migrants to “get away with it,” that is, to violate U.S. law with impunity. But what is also worth interrogating about the use of this term is whether those who utter it would be so offended were it not for the migrants’ race.

Finally, one might inquire as to the alternative to so-called ‘amnesty.’ If as is widely claimed, there are at least eleven million undocumented migrants in the U.S., how, as a practical matter can they be deported? To do this would require much more funding than has been allocated and is generally considered unrealistic (T. B. Lee, November 22, 2014; D. Lind, March 11, 2015; Markon, July 16, 2015; Obama, November 20, 2014; Obama, quoted in Parsons & Mascaro, February 25, 2015) even by some conservatives (Spiliakos, July 24, 2014; Tobin, July 14, 2014).

“Our” borders, ‘illegals,’ and the invasion, the flood, and so on

For many conservatives in the articles I analyze in subsequent chapters, the U.S.-Mexican border is not “the” border, but rather, “our” border, and it is something to be defended against an apparently hostile “invasion” or “flood” of “illegal immigrants.” These characterizations were discussed in chapter one.

The demonization of Barack Obama and polarization in U.S. politics

I should emphasize here that because this is a study of conservative attitudes, my discussion of polarization and a seemingly visceral hatred of President Obama explores the issue only from the conservative side. That said, there is much to unsettle a view of politics and governing as a meeting of opponents of goodwill seeking to solve problems of the day through negotiation and “give and take.”

Even limiting myself to the conservative perspective, there are at least four frames that can be applied. First, there is a personal attack on Obama that appears far worse when viewing conservative opinion even than when viewing mainstream media. Some of this is clearly racist and it does not help those who would deny that it is racist to question the fact of Obama’s birth in the United States, to allege that he was born in Kenya rather than in Hawaii, or to call him a monkey (Davis, May 21, 2015; Dees, July 16, 2014; Gibson, January 13, 2013; Koppelman, September 16, 2009; MacAskill, September 16, 2009; Maraniss, July 27, 2012; New York Times, April 11, 2015; Pugh, January 12, 2012; Younge, October 26, 2009).

However, second, I cannot attribute all of the polarization to racism. One might recall, for example, the rather partisan-seeming Whitewater investigation of the Clinton presidency, which lasted six years and cost $50 million. This seems only to have yielded charges of perjury and obstruction of justice relating to sexual activities between Clinton and an intern, Monica Lewinsky, which became the subject of a largely partisan impeachment trial. Whitewater itself involved a land deal, but a court approved the detour through otherwise unrelated allegations. Whatever blame attaches to Clinton, the votes in the House of Representatives to impeach and in the Senate failing to remove Clinton from office fell largely along party lines, with conservative Republicans such as Tom De Lay and Henry Hyde, later joined by Newt Gingrich, leading a challenge against an allegedly “liberal” Clinton (CBS News, September 20, 2000; Linder, 2005; Rutgers University, n.d.).

Then there was a tone that sounds entirely too much like the attitude many conservatives display towards Obama:

“What I’m most concerned with right now,” [John] Rother says, “is I can’t recall ever a time when there’s been less willingness to find a middle ground. That’s not a function of his [Clinton’s] credibility but a function of all of these other forces – the increasing polarization of the parties, the role the extreme right plays and the role the extreme left plays and a weakening of the institutional processes in Congress that usually let people find a middle ground.” . . .

“There are a lot of people in the Republican Party who hate this president,” Hoyer says. “Not disagree with him, but who think he is a bad human being.” (Merida, December 20, 1998)

Here again, conservatives do not help themselves by indulging in, as Ezra Klein (February 23, 2015) describes it, a “paranoia about the man [Obama] himself — that he is, in some fundamental way, different, foreign, untrustworthy, even traitorous,” or as Eugene Robinson (February 23, 2015) describes it, “the fantasy that there’s some sort of grand deception underlying the Obama presidency.”

This, however, leads to a third frame or, more precisely, a question: How unusual is this sort of polarization, really? Certainly some think it is getting worse (Lightman, June 12, 2014; Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, June 12, 2014; Stoker & Jennings, July, 2008), that is very unusual or at least unusual enough to warrant writing about (Martin, August 2, 2012; Whitehouse, August 1, 2011), even that Obama may be the most polarizing president ever (Cillizza & Blake, January 30, 2012).

John Ray (n.d.), however, manages to trace a polarization over the role and size of government, for which “heads have rolled,” all the way back to the Norman Conquest. James Madison (November 22, 1787/2003) was concerned about factionalism in writing Federalist no. 10. He hoped that a republican system of government would serve to keep any one faction from becoming dominant over the others. Some suggest that the Civil War never really ended, that the military defeat of the Confederacy did not end the conflict between the states (Horwitz, June 19, 2013; Widmer, June 4, 2015), Such suggestions carry additional weight when the Republican Party is associated with the South and with a Southern ethic (Messick, October 12, 2013) or even more explicitly, a Southern white man’s ethic (Haney-López, December 22, 2013), and with Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” entailing campaign rhetoric that capitalizes on white fear (DePillis, November 12, 2013).

The fourth frame, related to the first, may be most troubling of all, entailing a segment of conservatism I would prefer to discount as a lunatic fringe. This is a realm that includes a portion of conservatism in the farther out reaches of authoritarian populism and paleoconservatism that I mentioned in chapter three in the limitations of this research as one I was avoiding. As such, what I have to offer here is more a series of vignettes than a frame. If it is possible to draw all this into a single coherent frame, I leave this task to others.

It started early in Obama’s presidency. Obama was inaugurated in January, 2009. By August, CNN (August 18, 2009) carried a report of a man carrying an assault rifle outside a venue where Obama was giving a speech. “It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events” and apparently he was among a group of “about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating.” The protest was apparently legal (CNN), and one of the first widely publicized instances of the “open carry” movement which asserts a right to openly carry weapons.

Another vignette is a Democracy Now! (January 11, 2010) segment, replaying at length portions of an Al Jazeera documentary linking a rise of white supremacism with the Tea Party with Obama’s election with the “anti-immigration” movement. For these people, “88” is code for “HH” or “Heil Hitler.” They want to take the U.S. “back” from people of color, ignoring, obviously, that whites conquered it from American Indians:

America was founded by white men, settled by white men, and it was founded as a white nation. So we’ve got our nation to lose. They call us the fringe. They say it’s a fringe movement, but I think what we’re saying is very mainstream. We’re standing up for the American people, and there’s nothing fringe about that. The membership has really spiked, especially in the past few years. It’s more mainstream now than ever before in our history. (Schoep, quoted in Democracy Now!, January 11, 2010).

Reporting for Time magazine, Barton Gellman (September 30, 2010) visited a right-wing militia group conducting an exercise. He reports that “[s]cores of armed antigovernment groups, some of them far more radical [than the Ohio Defense Force], have formed or been revived during the Obama years, according to law-enforcement agencies and outside watchdogs.”

What distinguishes [right-wing militia] groups like this one from a shooting club or re-enactment society is the prospect of actual bloodshed, which many Ohio Defense Force members see as real. Their unit seal depicts a man with a musket and tricorn hat, over the motto “Today’s Minutemen.” The symbol invites a question, Who are today’s redcoats? On that point, the group takes no official position, but many of those interviewed over two days of recent training in and around the abandoned Roseville State Prison near Zanesville voiced grim suspicions about President Obama and the federal government in general. (Gellman, September 30, 2010).

The exercise postulated that “an Islamic army [was] marauding unchecked because a hypothetical pro-Muslim President has ordered U.S. forces to leave them alone” (Gellman, September 30, 2010). This was no mere insurgency. Gellman reports that “[t]he militia was training for combat against the spitting image of a tactical force from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), FBI or National Guard.”

Another vignette arises with a report prepared by Daryl Johnson for the Department of Homeland Security—and withdrawn by that agency—that reportedly “called attention to the threat of far-right extremist groups back in 2009 and sparked a political firestorm in the process” and apparently “noted the election of the first African-American president, combined with the recession-era economic anxieties, could fuel a rise in far-right violence” (Goodman, quoted in Democracy Now!, August 9, 2012). Johnson appears to have been at least partly correct: “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims,” writes Scott Shane (June 24, 2015). “48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center” (Shane, June 24, 2015). Shane further notes that “[o]n several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives,” which puts dryly what Amy Goodman (quoted in Democracy Now!, August 9, 2012) called a “political firestorm.”

Shane (June 24, 2015) was writing in the wake of a shooting of nine Blacks at a Charleston, South Carolina, church. The shooter, Dylann Roof, reportedly said during the attack, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go” (Roof, quoted in Berstein, Horwitz, & Holley, June 20, 2015). Roof also apparently owned a white supremacist web site, explaining among other things that “Negroes have lower Iqs [sic], lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals [sic].” He continued, apparently unaware of his irony, “These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior” (quoted in Berstein, Horwitz, & Holley, June 20, 2015).

There is also the story of Cliven Bundy, who successfully repelled an attempted seizure of his cattle by the Bureau of Land Management in northeastern Clark County, Nevada (Associated Press, April 12, 2014). Bundy later embarrassed Republican politicians who had seemingly sensed in him a populist hero when he suggested that Blacks were no better off on welfare than they had been in slavery (Nagourney, April 23, 2014; Richardson, April 24, 2014). The Southern Poverty Law Center (July 10, 2014) reports that Bundy’s defense from the BLM had been highly coordinated with aid from right-wing militia groups that have “seen an explosive resurgence since President Obama was elected – growing from about 150 groups in 2008 to more than 1,000 last year [2013].” At this writing, Bundy remains free, apparently having defeated the federal government (Lenz, October 19, 2014), although the Secretary of Interior was recently quoted affirming that Bundy will be held accountable (Chereb, June 24, 2015).

In parallel with the Cliven Bundy movement, in eastern Utah, the Carbon County Commission passed a resolution declaring that

Any such attempted exercise of law enforcement powers by an official of a land management agency IS NOT RECOGNIZED by Carbon County and shall be deemed AN IMMINENT THREAT TO THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS OF CARBON COUNTY. (Carbon County Commission, quoted in Scott, June 18, 2014).

Not everyone in Utah waited for the local commission to pass a resolution. A BLM wrangler reported being accosted while driving down the road by persons who first pulled up alongside and gave him an obscene gesture, apparently drove off, and then reappeared with a Glock handgun. The BLM was reportedly removing its logo from its vehicles (MacNeal, May 8, 2014), although I suspect such vehicles might still be recognizable with U.S. government license plates.

In my planning for writing this section, I hoped to offer some explanation for what provoked such a reaction. There was, for example, the comment Obama (quoted in Fowler, May 25, 2011) made on the campaign trail in 2008 about, if one reads the full context, working class people who have repeatedly been promised jobs, but for whom jobs have never appeared: “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” These words were famously and I believe wrongly interpreted as an attack on working class whites. There was also his initial defense of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who had made some incendiary remarks about race but who was also “a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor” (Obama, March 18, 2008). In the end, however, I am at a loss. The antipathy against Obama seems to me entirely out of proportion to any provocation he might have given.

Jobs, so-called ‘free’ trade, and low wages

While political upheaval, including a revolution in Mexico, led to some cross-border migration from that country into the United States, many of the tensions that have arisen between whites and Hispanics since no later than the 1920s can be attributed to a demand for cheap labor in the U.S. (Gonzales, 2000) despite restrictive migration laws (Massey, et al., 2005). As such, it is only one occurrence of a worldwide problem in which, according to neoclassical theory, migrants are lured by a promise of better pay in another land. Unsurprisingly, then, northward migration across the Mexico-U.S. border seems greatest when U.S. economic conditions are favorable or in the spring and summer as demand for farm workers increases. In world systems theory, employers seeking greater “comparative advantage” by locating facilities in countries that offer lower costs and higher profits may also attract migrants (Espenshade, 1995).

Espenshade (1995) suggests that, according to dual labor market theory, migrants may be selected for jobs where employers are reluctant to invest capital due to unstable demand, while U.S.-born workers prefer jobs requiring higher skills and offering greater stability. However, Espenshade also points to work suggesting that families in poorer countries may send family members to richer countries seeking to diversify and thereby better manage the financial risks they face at home:

First, the relevant actors are not individuals but rather families and households whose survival strategies include but often supersede those of individual household members. Second, although households may at times attempt to maximize income, family behaviors are often better understood in terms of efforts to minimize risk. In developed countries, the existence of well-developed capital markets and other insurance schemes helps to protect families against excessive risk. But these mechanisms are either absent or not sufficiently reliable in poorer countries, so families need to self-insure against sudden declines in economic fortune (Massey 1990). One way that families do this is by sending earners to other countries; risks can be diversified provided labor market and other economic conditions in the destination country are uncorrelated (or preferably negatively correlated) with those in the origin country. (Espenshade, 1995, p. 204)

In the U.S., because migrant workers increase the supply of labor, they are blamed for weakening the leverage of all U.S. workers (Laws, 2005). Espenshade (1995) claims that there is only weak statistical support for the claim that undocumented migrants take jobs from U.S. workers or reduce their wages, but it would be hard to convince a National Public Radio Talk of the nation caller of this: Joshua (no last name available, quoted in Conan, September 10, 2003) told the program, “I remember as a child, 16, 17 years old, working at a landscaping company, and the boss had to let us go because he could get workers for $20 a day as opposed to paying us 60 [sic], $70 a day for doing the same job.” Espenshade indeed notes that undocumented migrants are often paid less than U.S.-born workers due to “reduced labor market experience, lower job-related skills, or just outright employer discrimination” (p. 207).

Writing for the Atlantic, David Frum (January 5, 2015) takes note of a widely-held scholarly consensus that “that immigrants do not take jobs from natives” and explains that economists see “complementarity” in the job market with U.S.-born workers taking higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs and migrants taking lower-skilled, lower-paying jobs, in essence echoing the dual labor market theory that Espenshade (1995) described. The trouble with this, Frum argues, lies with low-skilled U.S.-born workers who leave the workforce altogether rather than take lower-paying jobs that would appear in the jobs data that economists use in their models. Writing for the New York Times, David Kallick (January 6, 2015) and Maria Enchautegui (January 6, 2015) reject Frum’s analysis, which was based on an anti-migration Center for Immigration Studies backgrounder article. In the backgrounder, Karen Zeigler and Steven A. Camarota (December, 2014) claim based on their analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data that “all of the net gain in employment since 2007 has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal)” and that “the number of natives not in the labor force (neither working nor looking for work) continues to increase” despite “natives account[ing] for 69 percent of the growth in the 16 and older population from 2007 to 2014.” Kallick (January 6, 2015) claims that “[p]art of the story is that many [U.S.-born workers] are retiring. Between 2007 and 2014 the U.S.-born population in prime working age — between 25 to 54 years old — declined by 1.9 million,” but this is the same dubious claim, made authoritatively by two economists at the New York Federal Reserve (Kapon & Tracy, February 4, 2014), that has been used to attempt to justify a sluggish job market recovery from the financial crisis that began in 2007 and that has been challenged by many others (Appelbaum, February 4, 2014; Krugman, February 3, 2014; Y. Smith, February 6, 2014). For her part, Enchautegui (January 6, 2015) relies on the dual labor markets theory, but for this to be true, purportedly better-skilled U.S.-born workers would need to all be finding work—manifestly they are not. As Krugman puts it,

[T]he dramatic-sounding result that we don’t have much labor market slack isn’t what it may seem on casual reading. Just doing the demographic correction reduces the employment gap — but it’s still big unless you accept the idea that the U.S. economy was above full employment even during the early-Bush slump years [following the dot-com crash], and that by late 2007 it was a highly overheated economy on the edge of major inflation. (Krugman, February 3, 2014)

In the U.S. postindustrial era, many in the working class have lost their well-paying manufacturing jobs at least in part due to economic globalization and so-called “free trade” and, if they have found replacement jobs at all, they are often poorly paid (Sernau, 2006). Hence a great deal of working class anguish—and authoritarian populist grievance—as whites in the working class have often taken out their resulting frustrations on other subaltern people (Sernau), including undocumented migrants.

The economic marginalization of immigrants is associated with another characteristic of the post-industrial period: immigrants are no longer perceived as wanted or even needed, despite the persistence of a demand for their services (see Espenshade and Calhour 1993; Espenshade and Hemstead 1996; Espenshade 1997). (Massey, et al., 2005, p. 135)

So-called ‘free trade’ has also harmed Mexican and Central American farmers and workers, the former with cheap food imports and the latter with lower wages and sweatshop conditions, especially with maquiladora employers (Pilisuk & Rountree, 2008, 2015). Mexico “now imports 42 percent of its food” (T. Wise, January 2, 2014). “NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] has become an engine of poverty in the country,” writes Manuel Pérez-Rocha (December 29, 2013), “forcing millions of Mexicans to migrate to the United States in search of jobs.” Describing a similar effect with CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, a Witness for Peace (April 11, 2008) report explains that

poor countries like Nicaragua are supposed to use their “comparative advantage” to compete against large economies like Mexico and the United States. Nicaragua’s “comparative advantage” is a cheap, abundant labor force. In order to exploit this “advantage”, Nicaragua must drive down wages to compete with other poor countries that are also trying to attract foreign investment. (Witness for Peace, April 11, 2008)

As a Public Citizen (January, 2014) report put it, “These failures of NAFTA have combined to severely weaken the social fabric in Mexico, contributing to the mass instability and violence that has plagued the country in recent years.” As Yves Smith (January 6, 2014) asked, “NAFTA led to nearly a million lost [U.S.] jobs, and . . . also wrecked much of the agricultural sector in Mexico. Tell me exactly how that helped regular people?”

The 2011-2014 surge in migration, which is expected to continue in 2015, however, comes in significant part from Central America. Further, many of the migrants are under eighteen years of age and are fleeing gang violence in what has become one of the most violent regions on earth. As some—only some—conservatives acknowledge, the violence is largely fueled by the U.S. war on drugs as drug cartels and gangs compete violently with each other for transportation routes and forcibly recruit children. So-called ‘free trade’ and the suspected U.S. role in the coup in Honduras are less often acknowledged (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014;D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014).

Law versus compassion

As we will see in succeeding chapters, neoconservatives (chapter eight), social conservatives (chapter ten), and traditionalist conservatives (chapter eleven), many conservatives weigh law heavily in determining how undocumented migration should be dealt with. However, there are two forms of law to consider and some of the difficulty in determining whether compassion ought to outweigh law can be attributed to a certain confusion between secular law and religious law.

In this, traditionalists such as Richard Weaver (1964/1995) and Russell Kirk (1985/2001) see the state—at least in theory—as existing to uphold and as expressing their deity’s will. Neoconservative William Chip (May 12, 2014), however, distinguishes between issues where Catholic church “authority is held to be infallible under certain circumstances” and those where “the Church also recognizes the fallibility of its bishops when venturing to instruct the faithful on ‘prudential’ matters, i.e., matters where the right moral judgment depends on complete knowledge of the relevant facts.” Chip was undoubtedly disappointed when Pope Francis (quoted in MacNeal, September 24, 2015) cited the Golden Rule in informing the U.S. Congress that ‘we’ must offer opportunity to others just as ‘we’ want it for ourselves.

Francis’ (quoted in MacNeal, September 24, 2015) argument sets aside entirely the one deployed by some social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives in chapters ten and eleven. These authors rely upon an allegedly biblical distinction cited by several authors between “the ‘resident alien’ or ‘sojourner’ (the ger in Hebrew)” and “the foreigner (the zar, or nekhar or goyim in Hebrew).” These authors understand these categories respectively to correspond to modern categories of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migrants, where so-called ‘legal’ migrants have agreed to assimilate into the culture of citizens and are to be welcomed, and so-called ‘illegal’ migrants have not so agreed and are not to be welcomed (Hoffmeier, cited in Crain, November 24, 2014; Turley, July 25, 2014).

An immediate question, then, is to what extent secular law in the United States can be said to indeed express the Christian deity’s will. As noted in chapter one with the state, social conservatives expect that it should and traditionalist conservatives assert, at least in theory, that it does. However, one might recall that the traditionalist Christopher Blum (2006) is left trusting that his deity would eventually remedy the discrepancies he perceives.

It seems to me that the discrepancies between secular and religious law are a real sticking point. But on this, the neoconservatives in chapter eight seem relatively untroubled. We know from the discussion in chapter one that the neoconservative movement arose in reaction to the tumult of the 1960s and 1970s, notably including various liberation movements—people of color, women, and gays (Lemert, 2010; Nash, 2006; Perlstein, 2014; Zinn, 2005). We also know that in writing “Federalist no. 10,” James Madison (1787, November 22/2003) was concerned about quarrels between factions and to protect the minority rights not of any subaltern group—Blacks, whites, American Indians, or the poor—but the property rights of wealthy white male property owners against factions that might confiscate their property. Howard Zinn (2005) points to a specific passage: “A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it” (Madison, p. 58). I would point to a different one:

The effect of the first difference [between a Democracy and a Republic] is, on the one hand to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. (p. 55)

Madison trusted wealthy white men to “least likely to sacrifice [the true interest of their country] to temporary or partial considerations” (p. 55), just as the Greeks understood democracy to be composed of citizens who had freed themselves (through the possession of slaves) from labor and work (Arendt, 1958/1998). As Zinn (2005) points out,

Madison’s argument can be seen as a sensible argument for having a government which can maintain peace and avoid continuous disorder. But is it the aim of government simply to maintain order, as a referee, between two equally matched fighters? Or is it that government has some special interest in maintaining a certain kind of order, a certain distribution of power and wealth, a distribution in which government officials are not neutral referees but participants? In that case, the disorder they might worry about is the disorder of popular rebellion against those monopolizing the society’s wealth. This interpretation makes sense when one looks at the economic interests, the social backgrounds, of the makers of the Constitution. (Zinn, 2005, p. 96)

It is hard to imagine how secular law cannot be imbued with the values and the interests of those who pass it. Certainly, its effects are, at every step of the way, from who passes what laws against whom, to whose acts are criminalized rather than viewed as civil offenses, to who is suspected, to who is arrested, to who is charged, to who is tried, to who is convicted, to who is sentenced or penalized how severely (Reiman, 2004). This is why some refer to a system in U.S. society not as a criminal justice system, but rather as a criminal injustice system. And Ernest Drucker (2011) sees an explosion of incarceration with its damaging effects not only on individuals but on families and communities as an epidemic, like a disease.

To posit secular law as an expression of a deity’s will, as some social and traditionalist conservatives do, then, raises serious questions of theodicy:

The central question with which Jim [James Melvin Washington] grappled was unjustified suffering—the problem of evil. Why would a benevolent, all-knowing and all-powerful God permit such pain on any people? He and I [Cornel West] didn’t approach the dilemma theoretically, however. In the end, we saw the answer as the conclusion of a practical Aristotelian syllogism. It was all about action. It was all about the practice of faith. As in the novels of Dostoyevsky, your life becomes your response. Your response doesn’t take the form of a written-down, reason-out argument. Your response becomes the quality of your day-to-day behavior. The question doesn’t go away. It remains powerful and daunting. But the fact that there is no reasoned-out answer doesn’t turn you cynical. You live with the reality that the question remains, a challenge to your mind and your heart. You can’t bring back the bodies that died in the Atlantic Ocean during the slave trade. You can’t reconcile a tidal wave wiping out an entire city with the notion of a sovereign god. You can’t equate catastrophe with the human condition—but you can, following the teachings of this particular Palestinian Jew, do what you can to help the least among us. (C. West, 2009, pp. 100-101)


Elizabeth Minnich (2005) prefers the term hierarchically invidious monism to dualism in referring to certain binaries such as male and female, rich and poor, white and Black, and so on. The problem, she explains, is that these are not pairs of equally paired members but rather, in our society, very unequally paired members. In thinking of authoritarian populists, I think first of hierarchically invidious monisms and second of an unwillingness to contemplate the injustice of those monisms. Indeed, as Thomas Frank (2005) explained, authoritarian populists view class not in terms of socioeconomic status but in terms of authenticity, valorizing themselves as ‘ordinary’ people and criticizing urban liberals (as in whatever they’re opposed to) as pretentious snobs. Further, though as Frank, Scott Sernau (2006), and Chip Berlet (2011) also explain, authoritarian populists have legitimate economic grievances against so-called ‘free’ trade and the corporate elites who have exported working class jobs, authoritarian populists instead blame other subaltern people—women and people of color—for taking their jobs. The four articles I analyze in this chapter present other problems as well; perhaps most problematically, the distinction between authoritarian populists and segregationist paleoconservatives, whose articles I analyze in chapter nine, becomes more difficult to sustain.

Tony Lee, June 14, 2014, Breitbart

This article is based on a National Review article by Ryan Lovelace (June 13, 2014) but where Lovelace reports a single anecdote, Lee (June 14, 2014, table 10) emphasizes undocumented migrant children with gang affiliations to the near-total exclusion of undocumented migrant children without gang affiliations. Lovelace’s story indeed highlights the issue of alleged gang members in the first and third paragraphs, but is largely about the large number of undocumented migrants arriving in the U.S. Further, Lee portrays the Obama administration as being complicit in permitting these children, whom he evidently presumes to nearly all be gang members, to remain in the U.S.

Most obviously, this frame ignores explanations that many of these children are coming to the U.S. to avoid being forced to join gangs (Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014). Thus, Lee (June 14, 2014) and turns victims into villains, quoting a border patrol union official in sentence 7.3 as insisting on “mandatory” (is there another kind?) deportations, which would return the children to the very situation they are seeking to escape, possibly forcing them to join the gangs.

Table 10.

Tony Lee (June 14, 2014)

¶1.1 Report: Obama Admin Knowingly Letting Illegal Immigrant Gang Members into US
¶2.1 by Tony Lee 14 Jun 2014, 8:07 PM PDT
¶3.1 President Barack Obama’s administration is knowingly allowing illegal immigrant gangsters from Mexico and Central America into the United States, and some are even being reunited with their family members.
¶4.1 The gang members reportedly belong to some of the most dangerous gangs in Central America and Mexico, like MS-13, but Border Patrol agents are handcuffed, especially if the illegal immigrants are deemed to be “minors.”
¶5.1 According to National Review, Border Patrol agents who “recognize the gang-affiliated tattoos of minors crossing the border must treat them the same as anybody else.”
5.2 An Arizona Border Control agent said that it was upsetting that a lot of the gang members are “16 or 17 years old and a lot of them are not going to face deportation.”
¶6.1 Chris Cabrera, the vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley told National Reviewthat Border Patrol agents have reunited dangerous gang members with their families in the United States.
6.2 He asked, “If he’s a confirmed gang member in his own country, why are we letting him in here?”
¶7.1 “I’ve heard people come in and say, ‘You’re going to let me go, just like you let my mother go, just like you let my sister go.
7.2 You’re going to let me go as well, and the government’s going to take care of us,’” Cabrera told the outlet.
7.3 “Until we start mandatory detentions, mandatory removals, I don’t think anything is going to change.
7.4 As a matter of fact, I think it’s going to get worse.”
¶8.1 In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, as Breitbart News reported, wondered “what consideration is being given – and what is being done – to determine if any of these illegal aliens have criminal histories or gang affiliations.”
¶9.1 Brewer mentioned that “MS-13, one of the world’s most notorious international gangs, has strong ties to several of the Central American countries from which these aliens are arriving.”
¶10.1 “The administration’s refusal to properly verify that violent criminals are not among those entering the United States shows an alarming lack of concern for our homeland’s security,” she wrote.
10.2 “As a nation, we cannot sit back and allow this policy to continue.”
¶11.1 Illegal immigrant children — including gang members from Mexico and Central America — are making the trip to America because they have been told — through word of mouth, in newspapers, and even on television and radio commercials — that the Obama administration will not deport them, especially if they are minors, once they arrive in the United States.

In the analysis itself, there are two outstanding features. Lee (June 14, 2014) deflects agency away from Border Patrol officers (sentences 5.1 and 6.1), undocumented migrants (sentences 5.2, 7.1, and 11.1), and even gangs (sentence 9.1), and onto the Obama administration or the government (sentences 1.1, 3.1, 4.1, 7.2, and 10.1). Second, the most charitable reference to undocumented migrant children occurs in sentence 11.1, where they are labeled as “illegal immigrant children” and said to include “gang members.” Other references are entirely to “violent criminals” (sentence 10.1), “illegal aliens” (sentence 8.1), gang members (sentences 5.2, 6.1, and 6.2), “illegal immigrants” (sentence 4.1), and “illegal immigrant gangsters” (sentence 3.1).

Seemingly, according to Lee (June 14, 2014), the victims are Border Patrol officers. They must overlook allegedly gang-affiliated tattoos (sentence 5.1). One is “upset” (sentence 5.2). They have had to reunite families (sentence 6.1), which is apparently a dreadful thing to have to do. They must endure alleged taunts that the Border Patrol will let these undocumented migrants go free (sentence 7.1) and that the government will take care of them (sentence 7.2), implicitly at taxpayer—a group that includes the beleaguered officers—expense.

One thing to observe throughout the articles analyzed in this dissertation is how rarely migrants are quoted. The quote in sentences 7.1 and 7.2 is indirect—via a Border Patrol officer interviewed not by Lee (June 14, 2014), but by Lovelace (June 13, 2014) for the National Review in the article that Lee relies on. For readers of Lee’s article, therefore, it is a third-hand quote and one that, for me, sounds suspiciously like it may have been invented by the officer to advance his argument.

Joanne Moudy, June 15, 2014, Town Hall

Joanne Moudy (June 15, 2014, table 11) suspects a nefarious plot because it just does not make sense to her that all these children could have made such a dangerous journey from Central America to the U.S. She is also oblivious to the fact that this problem had been building since 2011 (Carlsen, July 21, 2014), writing in sentence 3.1 that “[w]ithin the past week” these children have “suddenly appeared on U.S. soil.” Obama, of course, is to blame, for wanting to push through an “amnesty” (see chapter four) by appealing to people’s consciousnesses on behalf of “pitiful, dirty, hungry children” (sentence 8.3). Moudy, however, does not offer any explanation for why Obama would want to push through this alleged amnesty. She says that “liberal ‘Dreamers’ must look for new and creative ways to hoist their illegal, open-border policies upon law-abiding American citizens” (sentence 2.2), which still fails to explain a motive. It is just Obama’s “progressive agenda” (sentence 8.2).

Adding to the confusion, Moudy (June 15, 2014) seems to believe that Obama is disarming the country and that military installations and soldiers will be diverted to serve undocumented migrants (sentences 6.2 and 6.4). She mentions foreign affairs which she apparently views as worrisome in sentences 2.3 (“Hamas and Al Qaeda”) and 6.1 (Arab Spring, Russia, Iraq, and the world in general).

Table 11.

Joanne Moudy (June 15, 2014)

¶1.1 title: Nice: Obama Uses Illegal Children For Propaganda, Turns Soldiers Into Babysitters – Joanne Moudy – Page 1
¶2.1 Just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, Obama stoops to a new all time low.
2.2 With the resounding defeat of Eric Cantor, liberal ‘Dreamers’ must look for new and creative ways to hoist their illegal, open-border policies upon law-abiding American citizens.
2.3 Reminiscent of Hamas and Al Qaeda using children as human shields or bombs, it seems likely that Obama is using children as the new pressure point for cramming amnesty down our collective American throats.
¶3.1 Within the past week thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have suddenly appeared on U.S. soil, reportedly traversing several enormous countries in the hope of secretly slipping into America.
3.2 Perhaps I’m just cynical but none of this smells right.
3.3 As a matter of fact, it all stinks.
¶4.1 Just exactly how do unaccompanied children manage to traverse two thousand miles of difficult terrain while avoiding dangerous drug cartels – all on their own – to reach the southern border of America?
4.2 Since they are apparently arriving without benefit of adult supervision, money, vehicles, or material possessions, one can only speculate that perhaps they had some seriously coordinated support.
¶5.1 Meanwhile, the Obama administration does a double wink and feigns surprise at the onslaught of urchins.
5.2 And America – get your checkbooks ready – because Obama can’t work fast enough to secure $2 billion in emergency funding from our bankrupt treasury.
¶6.1 Goodness knows, the timing for this couldn’t be better because the Arab Spring is over, Russia is our best friend, and the world is secure (especially Iraq).
6.2 Since Obama is gutting the military anyway, it seems a logical move to turn our ‘unnecessary’ military installations over to the Department of Health and Human Services.
6.3 I mean, we’ve got to put these illegal kids somewhere – right?
6.4 And while Obama and HHS are re-tasking our bases, it’s only fitting to re-task our – now irrelevant – American soldiers so they can act as chief cooks and bottle washers.
¶7.1 Sorry, but I don’t buy any of this.
¶8.1 I especially don’t buy that the massive influx of kids was random or uncoordinated.
8.2 Since Obama never allows anything to stand in the way of his progressive agenda, it seems likely that these underage trespassers are nothing less than a sick new tool to access the sympathetic nerves of American voters who don’t want amnesty.
8.3 I mean really, how can we turn our backs on pitiful, dirty, hungry children?

In the analysis, it appears that Moudy (June 15, 2014) is casting Obama as the villain (sentences 2.1, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2, 6.4, and 8.2; see chapter 4), the U.S. people as victims (sentences 2.2, 2.3, 5.2, and 8.2), and undocumented migrant children, whose story she finds unbelievable (sentences 4.1, 4.2, 7.1, and 8.1), as being used for propaganda purposes (sentences 3.1, 4.1, 4.2, 6.3, 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3). Reducing this further, Moudy is alleging that Obama is using children for propaganda purposes, which, if it were true, certainly seems like it would be a dastardly thing to do. But she supplies no evidence to support her suspicion. She sees defense cuts and undocumented migrant children, and she speculates from there.

Apart from her closing reference to “pitiful, dirty, hungry children” who allegedly tug at U.S. hearts (sentences 8.2 and 8.3), she labels undocumented migrant children “underage trespassers” (sentence 8.2), “urchins” (sentence 5.1), “unaccompanied children” (sentence 4.1), and simply as “children” (sentences 2.3 and 3.1). These are far less pejorative phrasings than are used by other authors, but they serve Moudy’s (June 15, 2014) rhetorical purpose as casting the children as objects intended for sympathy and thus as a means to further burden taxpayers (the “bankrupt treasury” and “checkbooks” in sentence 5.2) and impose an unpopular policy (sentences 2.2, 2.3, and 8.2).

Elizabeth Lee Vliet, June 17, 2014, WorldNetDaily

Elizabeth Vliet (June 17, 2014, table 12), identified as a medical doctor (paragraphs 2, 4, and 5), lists a series of diseases that undocumented migrants may suffer from, implying that we should fear undocumented migrants because of the diseases they may bring to the United States (paragraphs 8 through 13). She argues that migrants requiring treatment may overwhelm medical facilities (paragraphs 14 through 16) and—thus her allegation of a “textbook Cloward-Piven strategy”—force the adoption of “a ‘new socialist order’ under federal control” (sentence 7.3). She thus attacks without naming the Obama administration which is responsible for enforcing migration policy. She does not offer evidence of the prevalence of these diseases among undocumented migrants or explain how undocumented migrants suffering from such diseases could survive the difficult journey from Central America to the United States. She only points to her experience “working on medical projects in Central and South America since 2009” (sentence 8.2) and then alleges that “[a] public health crisis, the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime, is looming” (sentence 9.1).

Table 12.

Elizabeth Lee Vliet (June 17, 2014)

¶1.1 Deadly diseases crossing border with illegals
¶2.1 Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet warns of dangers from ‘textbook Cloward-Piven strategy’
¶3.1 Published: 5 hours ago
¶4.1 Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. | Email | Archive
¶5.1 Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. is a 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient, and the 2007 recipient of the Voice of Women award from the Arizona Foundation for Women for her pioneering advocacy for the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health.
5.2 Dr. Vliet is a preventive and climacteric medicine specialist with medical practices in Tucson, Ariz., and Dallas, Texas, that take an integrated approach to evaluation and treatment of women and men with complex medical and hormonal problems.
5.3 Dr. Vliet is also CEO of International Health Strategies, SpA, a global medical consulting company based in Santiago, Chile, whose mission is medical freedom and privacy while preserving the Oath of Hippocrates focus on individual patients.
¶6.1 A flood of illegals has massively surged at our southwestern borders.
6.2 The economic impact of medical care, education and incarceration for illegals forced on taxpayers is bankrupting Arizona.
¶7.1 Why are such swarms entering the U.S. illegally NOW, particularly children?
7.2 Newspapers in Mexico and Central and South America are actually describing U.S. “open borders,” encouraging people to come with promises of food stamps or “amnesty.”
7.3 It is textbook Cloward-Piven strategy to overwhelm and collapse the economic and social systems, in order to replace them with a “new socialist order” under federal control.
¶8.1 Carried by this tsunami of illegals are the invisible “travelers” our politicians don’t like to mention: diseases the U.S. had controlled or virtually eradicated: tuberculosis (TB), Chagas disease, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, measles, plus more.
8.2 I have been working on medical projects in Central and South America since 2009, so I am aware of problems these countries face from such diseases.
¶9.1 A public health crisis, the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime, is looming.
9.2 Hardest hit by exposures to these difficult-to-treat diseases will be elderly, children, immunosuppressed cancer-patients, patients with chronic lung disease or congestive heart failure.
9.3 Drug-resistant tuberculosis is the most serious risk, but even diseases like measles can cause severe complications and death in older or immunocompromised patients.
¶10.1 TB is highly contagious – you catch it anywhere around infected people: schools, malls, buses, etc.
10.2 The drug-resistant TB now coming across our borders requires a complex, extremely expensive treatment regimen that has serious side effects and a low cure rate.
¶11.1 Chagas, or “kissing bug” disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is carried by the triatomine bug that transmits disease to humans.
11.2 Although “kissing bugs” are already here, they are not as widespread as in Latin America.
11.3 Right now, Chagas disease is uncommon in the U.S., so many doctors do not think to check for it.
¶12.1 Chagas causes debilitating fatigue, headaches, body aches, nausea/vomiting, liver and spleen enlargement, swollen glands, loss of appetite.
12.2 When Chagas reaches the chronic phase, medications will not cure it.
12.3 It can kill by arrhythmias, congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest.
¶13.1 Vaccine-preventable diseases like chicken pox, measles and whooping cough spread like wildfire among unvaccinated children.
13.2 Other illnesses, along with scabies and head lice, also thrive as children are transported by bus and herded into crowded shelters – courtesy of the federal government.
13.3 Treatment costs are borne by taxpayers.
¶14.1 Our public health departments complain of being overtaxed by a dozen cases of measles or whooping cough.
14.2 How will they cope with thousands of patients with many different, and uncommon, diseases?
14.3 Americans, especially Medicaid patients, will see major delays for treatment.
¶15.1 Delays to see doctors at the Phoenix VA hospital cost the lives of 58 veterans while waiting for care.
15.2 This is just a portent of far more deaths to come from delays for Americans’ medical care as thousands of sick illegals swamp already overcrowded emergency rooms.
15.3 How will these facilities stay open at all under the financial burden of this huge unfunded federal mandate to provide “free” treatment?
¶16.1 People express concern about child endangerment from illegal minors dumped on Arizona streets in hundred-plus degree heat, with no support.
16.2 A bigger concern is American endangerment from life-threatening diseases added to social and economic collapse from costs of treating hundreds of thousands of illegals.

Apparently Vliet (June 17, 2014) expects that her work in Central and South America (sentence 8.2) will immunize her from the charge that she lacks compassion for people suffering from serious illnesses. The concerns she expresses, however, are not for their treatment but rather for ‘legal’ U.S. residents who may face risks of contagion (sentences 9.2, 9.3, 10.1, and 10.2) and delayed care (sentences 14.3, 15.1, and 15.2); and for medical facilities which may be overwhelmed with patients suffering conditions which local doctors are unfamiliar with (sentence 14.2), and must provide treatment at taxpayer expense (sentence 13.3), or apparently not at taxpayer expense as these facilities close “under the financial burden of this huge unfunded federal mandate to provide ‘free’ treatment” (sentence 15.3). In the end, her cast is clear, as she would defend “America” “from life-threatening diseases added to social and economic collapse from costs of treating hundreds of thousands of illegals” (sentence 16.2). At this writing, a year has passed since she wrote this; such a calamity has, as far as I know, yet to materialize.

Vliet (June 17, 2014) effectively stigmatizes undocumented migrants with her lurid descriptions of symptoms associated with Chagas (sentences 12.1 and 12.3) and with the mention of other diseases that they may suffer from (sentences 9.3, 10.1, 10.2, 13.1, and 13.2). Referring to migrants as “illegals” (sentences 6.1, 8.1, 15.2, 16.2) or as “illegal minors” (sentence 16.1) and to their arrival in a “flood” (sentence 6.1) or in “swarms” (sentence 7.1) or in a “tsunami” (sentence 8.1) seems minor by comparison.

Rick Perry, July 9, 2014,

Texas governor Rick Perry (July 9, 2014, table 13) entirely blames what he perceives as a federal government failure to secure the border for undocumented migration. This ignores the experience that tightening border controls does not dissuade migrants but only ‘funnels’ them to ever more dangerous routes (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). But while blaming a purported lack of border security, Perry also seeks credit for addressing the problems (sentence 9.2) related to but not exactly those that migrants are seeking to escape. The trouble is that when he claims, “[i]n Texas, we’ve spent more than $500 million since 2005 to supplement border protection, fighting transnational gangs and drug cartels conducting criminal activities in the border region” (sentence 9.2), he stops far short of addressing the poverty, gangs, drug cartels, and U.S. policies—including so-called “free trade” and the war on drugs—that have helped make life intolerable in places far from the border where the migrants come from (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014).

This frame, however, enables Perry (July 9, 2014) to claim that he is concerned about what he calls a “humanitarian disaster” (sentence 7.2) and even to acknowledge the problem that “people . . . leave their families and risk their lives to cross a desert in the middle of summer” and to claim that current policy leads “more” of them to do so (sentence 12.1). Perry is more explicit in blaming Obama when he criticizes the president’s budget request for, Perry claims, devoting insufficient funds to securing the border (sentences 4.1 and 5.1). He further blames the federal government when he says “this is a crisis created by failed federal policy, and a lack of will to dedicate the resources necessary to secure the border, once and for all” (sentence 8.1) but also acknowledges “[t]his has been a problem for a long time” (sentence 9.1), which may suggest that Obama’s predecessors and other politicians share blame.

Table 13.

Rick Perry (July 9, 2014)

¶1.1 Gov. Perry: Once and for all, secure the border
¶2.1 Rick Perry 7:20 p.m. EDT July 9, 2014
¶3.1 Everything else is only treating a symptom of a much larger problem.
¶4.1 President Obama’s appropriations request only deals with one aspect of the current crisis on our southern border, while barely addressing its root cause: an unsecured border.
¶5.1 Of the $3.7 billion in President Obama’s request, only $68.4 million — or 1.8% — is directly dedicated to border security efforts, which are absolutely essential to resolving this crisis, and avoiding more such crises in the future.
¶6.1 Everything else is only treating a symptom of a much larger problem.
6.2 And as we know with treating symptoms, the problems will continue until the root cause is resolved.
¶7.1 As governor of Texas, I’ve been to the border many times, including a June trip to visit a detention facility in McAllen.
7.2 The true humanitarian disaster has to be seen to be understood, which is why it’s essential the president make his own trip there as soon as possible.
¶8.1 The fact is, this is a crisis created by failed federal policy, and a lack of will to dedicate the resources necessary to secure the border, once and for all.
¶9.1 This has been a problem for a long time.
9.2 In Texas, we’ve spent more than $500 million since 2005 to supplement border protection, fighting transnational gangs and drug cartels conducting criminal activities in the border region.
9.3 With the influx of immigrants further straining the existing federal resources that already weren’t sufficient for the job, we’ve expanded our efforts to combat those elements seeking to take advantage of the situation.
¶10.1 President Obama should make securing the border the top priority in resolving this crisis.
10.2 To begin with, he should send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to support operations until sufficient Border Patrol agents can be hired, trained and deployed.
¶11.1 He should also direct the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drone flights along the border to identify and track those engaging in drug or human trafficking.
¶12.1 Ignoring the core problem will only cause more hardship, encouraging more people to leave their families and risk their lives to cross a desert in the middle of summer.
¶13.1 My hope is that Congress will expand measures that will enable us to finally secure the border, and that President Obama will sign it into law.

Perry (July 9, 2014) characterizes what in sentence 7.2 he calls a “humanitarian disaster” as a “crisis” (sentences 4.1, 5.1, 8.1, and 10.1), as a “problem” (sentence 9.1), as “problems” (plural, sentence 6.2), and as “a much larger problem” (sentence 6.1). He otherwise avoids the inflammatory language of calling undocumented migrants “illegal” and refers to an “influx of immigrants further straining the existing federal resources that already weren’t sufficient for the job” (sentence 9.3).

Perry (July 9, 2014) thus uses relatively diplomatic language to sound “responsible” and to claim he is addressing “the core problem” (sentence 12.1) while in fact doing the opposite.


In these four articles, we consistently see an authoritarian populist failure to grapple with so-called “push” factors which create a desperation to migrate to the United States. Undocumented migrants are, for these writers, at best abstract persons. They are never directly quoted and the only quote attributed to an undocumented migrant (in T. Lee, June 14, 2014) is actually copied from another article where it is supplied second-hand by way of a hostile border patrol agent (Lovelace, June 13, 2014). These writers often see the migrants as gang members or as propaganda tools or as carrying diseases—anything but human beings seeking to escape life-threatening situations. They see two problems. One of these is at the border, as if human responsibility toward other humans ends there; and the border itself as being something to be defended against the “other.” They see another problem as the U.S. government and the financial demands it makes on them. In short, their focus is on “us” the allegedly besieged, largely white, largely rural U.S. population, a population for whom difference is “un-American” (Messick, October 12, 2013). This stance is difficult to distinguish from that of paleoconservatives whose articles I analyze in chapter nine.


Unlike many other conservatives, capitalist libertarians favor migration into the U.S. and would considerably relax policies against undocumented migrants. This is entirely consistent with their belief in so-called “free” markets and competition as a solution for nearly all problems. And one might suspect that they would sweep away border controls as they seek to displace political power with economic power.

The trouble, as noted in chapter one, is what happens to those who end up on the losing side of the competition even as more competition arrives. As noted in chapter two, the traditional view is that U.S.-born workers possess greater skills and will be pushed up the ladder of opportunity (Espenshade, 1995), but there is some reason to suspect that instead, some workers are simply being displaced from the work force entirely (Frum, January 5, 2015). And even if the traditional view is correct, if it is indeed true that some jobs, for example, picking crops in California’s Central Valley, are not good enough for U.S.-born workers, can we say that they are good enough for any human being regardless of legal status?

Whatever the merits of the argument on employment, to a very limited extent, this is something of a distraction: After all, if a substantial portion of the arriving undocumented migrants are indeed minors who are permitted to stay, then they might, at least in the short term, be headed to school rather than into the workforce. That course, however, would presumably also improve their competitiveness in the U.S. labor market as they reach adulthood.

I have been inclined to view capitalist libertarianism as not intrinsically racist. There is, however, certainly at least an incidental racism in judging, as seen above, farm labor as suitable for Hispanics but not for U.S.-born and perhaps presumably white workers. Others are less charitable, and the articles analyzed in this chapter lend some support for their view. Michael Lind (January 3, 2012) points to Ron Paul’s objections to the Civil Rights Act. Paul, according to Lind, stated that the Act “‘destroyed the principle of private property and private choices’ and ‘undermine[d] the concept of liberty.’” Paul, like many capitalist libertarians, thus prioritizes private property rights and freedom of association over fair treatment and equal protection of the law, in effect rationalizing Jim Crow; Lind is far from alone in viewing this as racist; and indeed probably most of the history of conflict over the Civil Rights Act can be seen as being over an attempt to justify racial discrimination on grounds that are implicitly but not explicitly racist.

In a theoretical approach, I have focused on attempting to understand the ‘essence’ of capitalist libertarianism. In this approach, I can understand how capitalist libertarians can imagine they are being fair. But these articles raise issues of the practice and the effects rather than the underlying theory. With Fred Reed (September 9, 2014) in particular, we will see how capitalist libertarianism overlaps with paleoconservatism—even white supremacism.

Something that is different about the articles analyzed in this chapter is that two out of the three appear oriented toward other conservative tendencies. One, by Brian Domitrovic (August 28, 2014), appears in The Imaginative Conservative, a traditionalist conservative publication, but argues from a capitalist libertarian perspective. The other, by Reed (September 9, 2014), appears in Lew Rockwell, a capitalist libertarian site that with a strong anti-government stance occasionally veers into anarcho-capitalism, but seems to me oriented toward authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives with occasional implicit or explicit racism.

Brian Domitrovic, August 28, 2014, Imaginative Conservative

Brian Domitrovic (August 28, 2014, table 14) argues that the crisis with undocumented migrants is not in fact a crisis of undocumented migrants, but rather a “jobs crisis” (sentence 6.4 and paragraphs 7, 8, and 9), that the U.S. historically should be welcoming migrants with open arms and jobs (sentences 6.4, 8.1, and 8.2). He argues that there is plenty of work in the oil and gas industry (sentence 11.1) and blames a debased dollar for undermining investments (sentences 11.2, 12.2, and 12.3). Accordingly, he is astonished that Republicans are being led to oppose migration into the U.S. (paragraphs 5 and 6), an opposition he hints is unpatriotic when he declares “America is the land of opportunity” (sentence 6.3).

With Domitrovic’s (August 28, 2014) digression into the dollar, he folds in additional arguments such as “that the natural area of a single currency is that where labor is generally mobile” (sentence 13.1), that “very rise and existence [of the U.S.-Mexico border] was a chief reason this country decided to have an income tax” (sentence 16.1), and finally that with long land borders, “it became ludicrous to stop ‘contraband’ coming into the country” (sentence 17.1). I will leave many of these arguments for others to unpack, however the notion that a currency should be a store of value (sentence 12.2) even at the expense of its utility as a medium of exchange is far from a settled matter of economics (Blyth, 2013; Krugman, September 7, 2011). Further, Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) seems uncritical of supply-side economics (sentence 14.1), which as David Stockman (quoted in Greider, December 1, 1981) acknowledged, is another term for “trickle-down” economics, which yields rising social inequality rather than the “rising tide” that allegedly “lifts all boats” (Altman, 2004; Hacker & Pierson, 2010; Jones, 2012).

Table 14.

Brian Domitrovic (August 28, 2014)

¶1.1 On The Border, The GOP Is Outraged At The Wrong Thing
¶2.1 by Brian Domitrovic
¶3.1 The immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border these days is an odd one.
3.2 Adherents of the party of free-enterprise, the Republicans, are opposed to the migration of free labor across the border, arguing that agents of the state should stop people and turn them away, if not submit them to government justice.
3.3 Meanwhile, the party of big government, the Democrats, says live and let live.
¶4.1 Who knows what President Obama is up to in an episode that is perhaps reminiscent of the Mariel boatlift, all this swelling of migrant population into the U.S., in particular in south Texas.
4.2 It’s probably of a piece with his fake talking up of Republican efforts toward impeachment.
4.3 At this point in his failed presidency, Mr. Obama must want the opposition to look bad just like him, callous and weird.
¶5.1 The stupefying thing is how Republicans are prone to be led like lambs to the slaughter on this matter.
5.2 The mass of newcomers to the United States across the Rio Grande and then the land border clear to San Diego gives rise to insistent, if not angry demands to “secure the border.”
¶6.1 If Republicans were true to their nature, they would certainly not be outraged at throngs careening across the border.
6.2 They would assume that this is the natural course of things.
6.3 America is the land of opportunity.
6.4 Any outrage would be trained at forces within this country that did not conduce to a surplus of opportunity, specifically jobs, to meet and greet these people.
¶7.1 Of all the failures of the Obama presidency, the most characteristic, the one the president really owns, is the jobs crisis.
7.2 Something like eleven million jobs have evaporated against the trend line since early 2009.
7.3 At least that number of individuals work for pay and hours significantly less than they would like to.
¶8.1 The proper outrage about the border crisis is that there is not an abundance of useful work waiting for people as they bound into the United States.
8.2 This has, after all, been the standard circumstance of the great eras of immigration in American history, such as the heyday of the Statue of Liberty a hundred some years ago, when the point of this country was to soak up immigrants on account of all the great work to be done here.
¶9.1 The reason we have a border crisis is that we have a jobs crisis.
9.2 Were there no jobs crisis (as there would not be had the government been modest with things like monetary, fiscal, and regulatory policy), all the newcomers on the border would slip into positions wordlessly, to the enhancement of the general prosperity, not to mention the culture.
9.3 The dereliction of duty in this fiasco resides with the government.
9.4 Not that it failed to secure the border (a phony concept), but that it prevented no less the American economy from achieving its fullness.
¶10.1 You might ask, why then are all these people bounding into Texas?
10.2 Isn’t there a jobs crisis?
¶11.1 Well, no, not in the regions of this nation’s oil and energy patches.
11.2 As has been touched upon in this space previously, the distended dollar policy of the United States of late has resulted in a surge in hedges against the dollar, the favorite of which is petroleum.
11.3 Those regions of the country rich in such hedges have seen a fickle boom in their economies.
11.4 Texas has therefore attracted the immigrants.
¶12.1 Only the government could have cooked up something this mad.
12.2 First the United States causes an investment and jobs disaster by failing to care about maintaining the dollar as a criterion of value.
12.3 This results in inordinate capital allocation into dollar substitutes, namely oil, the prime location of which is next to Mexico.
12.4 Labor comes in from that country, and TV-watchers north of the border get outraged.
12.5 The story is a comedy.
12.6 The butts of the joke are two: the government and those who say it should do more.
¶13.1 In the most important article written on monetary policy since World War II, “A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas” (1961), Robert A. Mundell made the point that the natural area of a single currency is that where labor is generally mobile.
13.2 If people are crossing point X all the time to work and trade, it would be economically inefficient to have different currencies on either side of X.
13.3 The example Mundell used in his article (which prompted his Nobel Prize in 1999) was North America.
¶14.1 In an earlier era, Robert Mundell was a Reaganite hero (he did, along with sidekick Arthur B. Laffer, found supply-side economics), and conservative intellectuals like Robert L. Bartley of the Wall Street Journal made clear that a government committed to being limited must ease up on border security.
¶15.1 If the Republicans are the party of free enterprise, they should prefer the minimization of the state and the maximization of opportunity.
15.2 With respect to the border, this would translate into a lesser federal presence on the Rio Grande and points west and to happy private transactions across the territory.
¶16.1 The funny thing about the U.S.-Mexico border is that its very rise and existence was a chief reason this country decided to have an income tax that blasted thing.
16.2 Previously, borders along the United States that were subject to traffic were seaports.
16.3 The government relied on tariffs for most of its revenue, and these were easy to collect since seaports were few in number and obvious.
¶17.1 With the land border with Mexico (which the U.S. procured by war in 1848), and with the two more of equal length that Canada got busy making with the U.S. (the one against the lower 48 states and the other against Alaska) as it made its bid to go a mari usque ad mare to stave off American expansionism after 1867, it became ludicrous to stop “contraband” coming into the country.
17.2 What are you going to do, police every merchant hoofing wares into New Mexico, let alone Montana?
¶18.1 In 1913, the United States punted and adopted the income tax, where American citizens would be directly taxed, since the border had gotten too much to handle.
18.2 Weirdly, in that year we also got the Federal Reserve, which implied (pace Mundell) that the currency could be managed domestically, according to these artificial lines drawn on the map that corresponded to nobody’s way of doing business in real life.
¶19.1 These Republicans, these conservatives today who are up in arms about the new Mexican immigration had better check their bona fides.
19.2 Proper free-marketeers love the sound of human capital.
19.3 America is nothing—certainly not the best country in the world or the last best hope of earth or anything like that—without profound economic growth and a big openness to immigration.

Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) refers to (mostly) undocumented migrants as “free labor” (sentence 3.2), “newcomers” (sentences 5.2 and 9.2), “these people” or “people” (sentences 6.4, 8.1, and 10.1), “immigrants” (sentence 11.4), and “human capital” (sentence 19.2). He never views them as “illegal,” but rather asserts that “[i]f the Republicans are the party of free enterprise, they should prefer the minimization of the state and the maximization of opportunity” (sentence 15.1) and a largely open border (sentence 15.2).

Missing from all this is a notion of migrants as job creators. There is some evidence that ‘legal,’ rather than ‘illegal’ migrants form their own businesses at a significant rate (Katakam, October 15, 2014), so in encouraging acceptance of undocumented migration, Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) may be seeking to increase the supply of labor without increasing the supply of jobs, thus increasing competition for those jobs, reducing labor’s leverage, and depressing wages (Laws, 2005). This in turn raises the question of whose ‘opportunity’ Domitrovic would maximize (sentence 15.1). When he writes, “Proper free-marketeers love the sound of human [emphasis added] capital” (sentence 19.2), one might suspect that it is the opportunity of employers or financial capital rather than that of workers. While Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) criticizes job creation under the Obama administration (paragraph 7), one might also suspect that if all the jobs he claims exist in the oil and gas industry (sentence 11.1) indeed existed, that more U.S.-born workers would move to fill them.

So the relevant question is, are meaningful jobs created? I’d say a meaningful job has three characteristics: It employs locally at a living wage for the long term. As I’ve written before the oil and gas industry would like the public believe fracking does all three, and will be an anchor for communities much like steel mills once were. The reality is far different. (Fejes, March 7, 2014)

It turns out that workers do move to fill such jobs, but that even in areas, such as eastern Ohio, where local labor is available, fracking operations may be preferring “short term, out of state labor” and sometimes migrants (Fejes, March 7, 2014). Meanwhile, Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) appears to be attempting to argue both that not enough jobs have been created and that we need migrant labor to fill available openings (sentence 11.4). It is thus hard to see how he does not mean that workers have not been made sufficiently desperate that they will be sufficiently pliable to employer demands for low wages and dismal working conditions (Kent, 2011).

Fred Reed, September 9, 2014, Lew Rockwell

Most of the articles analyzed in this dissertation present reasonably straight-forward arguments in support of or in opposition to undocumented migrants. And consistent with a belief in unfettered markets, capitalist libertarians are generally supportive of unrestricted migration. In line with this, Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) and Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014) assemble straight-forward arguments in support of undocumented migrants’ access to the country. In contrast, Fred Reed (September 9, 2014, table 15) assembles a rambling (especially notice the seemingly spurious mentions of Congress and Guam in paragraph 5, which I dismiss as entirely irrelevant) and often bigoted argument that instead ridicules what appear to be authoritarian populist arguments against undocumented migration. His argument suggests that “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” (sentence 6.1) have only themselves to blame for their arrival. He cites a number of reasons for this, but in making this argument, he assumes that these “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans,” whom he addresses in second person as “you,” have influence over numerous policies. He claims that “you invite them” (sentence 7.1), apparently actually referring (sentence 7.3) to occasional Border Patrol practice of releasing undocumented migrants at the border, where they are able to try again to re-enter the country within days (Sládková, 2014). Then Reed (September 9, 2014) suggests that social safety net benefits will be available (sentence 7.4) to undocumented migrants who finally succeed and that any babies they have will be U.S. citizens and “and, as we all know, sooner or later you [the migrants] will have amnesty” (sentence 7.5).

Reed (September 9, 2014) goes on to seemingly blame “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” for changing the laws applying to migrants (paragraph 9), but does not say how these law changes are inviting to migrants. It is possible that Reed is referring to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 which imposed sanctions on employers who knowingly employed undocumented migrants, legalized undocumented migrants already living in the U.S., and made certain provisions for farm labor. The employer sanctions were poorly enforced, limiting their effect, and resulted in lower wages (Cornelius, July, 2005; Sarabia, December, 2012), thus adding to an incentive for employers, whom Reed calls “conservative, noisily patriotic American businessmen” (sentence 12.1), to hire undocumented migrants. Reed notes that “[t]hese are the same conservative, patriotic etc. who off-whored (that was a typo, but accurate so I’ll leave it) other American jobs to China” (sentence 12.5).

Reed (September 9, 2014) interprets a failure to deport undocumented migrants as “let[ting] them stay” (sentences 10.1 and 10.2). Again he seemingly holds “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” culpable. He mocks the claim that migrants take jobs from U.S. born workers, suggesting that to do so, they would have to “[p]oint a pistol at the gringo’s head and say, ‘Give me that shovel or I’ll blow you into gruel’?” (sentence 11.5). Reed then goes on to claim that “Americans don’t want the jobs that Latinos do” (sentence 13.1) but also says of these jobs, “[n]obody who doesn’t have to will shovel asphalt under a hot sun or stand in two inches of blood in a slaughterhouse ten hours a day” (sentence 22.2) in arguing that migrants will eventually take advantage of the social safety net (paragraph 22). So one might suspect that undocumented migrants do not want these jobs either.

Reed (September 9, 2014) calls the federal government complicit (sentence 14.1 and paragraph 15) and alleges that “Obama does all he can to further immigration” (sentence 14.2) but then again seemingly holds “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” culpable for electing Obama (sentences 14.3 and 14.4). Much of the remainder of his essay veers into paleoconservatism, alleging a conflict between “black and brown” and noting that the Hispanic population is increasing. He invokes the notion of reconquista, in which it is alleged that Hispanics will eventually retake the territory Mexico lost in the Mexican-American war. And again, he seemingly holds “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” culpable for all of this. Further, this aspect suggests that Reed falls in an overlap between capitalist libertarianism and paleoconservatism as, if one glances at a list of articles he has written for Lew Rockwell, he otherwise seems consistent with a capitalist libertarian or anarcho-capitalist opposition to war and to the state.

This essay is remarkably self-contradictory. But most profoundly, to blame “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” in the way that Reed (September 9, 2014) very strongly seems to is to assign them much more power than they have in a pluralistic political system and neglects functionalist conservative (including those “conservative, noisily patriotic American businessmen” of sentence 12.1) power, the same power that neglected or undermined enforcement of employer sanctions called for in the IRCA. Further it seems unlikely that many authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives, who likely make up a large part of Reed’s (September 9, 2014) intended readership, ever voted for Obama or supported the IRCA, which was signed, by the way, by Ronald Reagan (Espenshade, 1995). And it seems unlikely that these authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives would support a number of the policies that the Border Patrol operates under (see the analysis of T. Lee, June 14, 2014, in chapter 5).

But to acknowledge all this is also to gain an insight into capitalist libertarianism: The injustice of a market system of exchange, discussed in chapter one, which privileges whomever has the greater power to say no and then exacerbates power discrepancies vanishes if one denies that any power discrepancies exist (Kent, 2011; Muller, March, 2013; Weber, 1978/2010). Capitalist libertarians, therefore, must see all market players as fully empowered and the “playing field” as fully “level.” In holding “Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans” culpable, Reed (September 9, 2014) simply extends this sense of empowerment and system fairness to the political arena.

Table 15.

Fred Reed (September 9, 2014)

¶1.1 Los Indocumentados
¶2.1 A Surly View from the South
¶3.1 By Fred Reed
¶4.1 September 9, 2014
¶5.1 If you want to see why Congress is a zoo, check this.
5.2 Guam is going to tip over.
¶6.1 A few thoughts for Americans (justifiably) upset by the influx of illegal Mexicans:
¶7.1 First, they come because you invite them.
7.2 In effect you say, “Diego, don’t you cross that river.
7.3 If you do, and we catch you, we’ll just put you back across the border and you can try again, perhaps the same night.
7.4 When you make it across, which is easy, we’ll give you a good job and, depending on where you are, a driver’s license, schools for your kids, welfare, food stamps, and medical care.
7.5 Any children you have will be US citizens and, as we all know, sooner or later you will have amnesty
7.6 Now, don’t cross that river, you hear?.”
¶8.1 That’ll work.
¶9.1 Second, they come because you guys changed the immigration laws.
9.2 Mexico didn’t change your laws.
9.3 The illegals didn’t change your laws.
9.4 You did.
¶10.1 Third, you let them stay.
10.2 You are not deporting them.
10.3 You encouraged them to come and, when they did, you let them stay, and now you complain that they came and stayed.
10.4 How sensible.
¶11.1 Fourth, you grouse that Latinos take American jobs.
11.2 They do not.
11.3 It is probable that no Latino has ever taken an American’s job.
11.4 How would he do it?
11.5 Point a pistol at the gringo’s head and say, “Give me that shovel or I’ll blow you into gruel”?
¶12.1 In fact conservative, noisily patriotic American businessmen give them American jobs.
12.2 Businessmen know they are doing it.
12.3 After all, Mexicans are easy to recognize.
12.4 They are brownish and speak Spanish.
12.5 These are the same conservative, patriotic etc. who off-whored (that was a typo, but accurate so I’ll leave it) other American jobs to China.
12.6 They are the same ones who import programmers from India.
12.7 My country tis of thee….
¶13.1 Fifth, Americans don’t want the jobs that Latinos do.
13.2 If a young man from El Salvador can come all the way from Central America to harvest tobacco in North Carolina or work in restaurants in Washington, so could an unemployed “teen” from Detroit or Chicago.
13.3 They don’t, which leaves the jobs to…yes!…Latinos.
¶14.1 Sixth, the federal government is complicit.
14.2 Obama does all he can to further immigration.
14.3 Mexicans didn’t elect Obama.
14.4 You did.
¶15.1 The feds know where the illegals are:
15.2 You can’t hide an entire agricultural work-force, or construction sites and meat-packing plants manned almost entirely by obvious foreigners.
15.3 How many Mexicans do you think can go unnoticed in a small Midwestern town?
¶16.1 Do you think immigration a bad thing, mis amigos?
16.2 You did it to yourselves.
16.3 And you are still doing it.
¶17.1 Seventh, all the grrr-bow-wow-woof about a border fence is silly.
17.2 It isn’t going to happen.
17.3 Republicans will make appropriate noises, but the businessmen who desperately want Mexican labor are Republicans.
¶18.1 Eighth, methinks amnesty is a foregone conclusion.
18.2 The current racially-obsessed administration may get it through soon, in bits and chunks perhaps.
18.3 De facto amnesty is still amnesty.
18.4 A Republican administration may block it for another eight years (while leaving the illegals in place to work).
18.5 Yet the illegals are not going to go away, and Latino political power will grow.
¶19.1 Ninth, there will be serious bad blood between black and brown.
19.2 It is beginning.
19.3 Latinos already are more numerous than blacks, and become more so daily.
19.4 The two compete in the same strata of society, and do not like each other.
19.5 Blacks now have immense political power, but numbers eventually tell.
¶20.1 Further, Latinos seem well on the way to becoming absolute majorities in four states: California (sometimes referred to as North Mexico), Arizona, Texas, and the appropriately named New Mexico.
20.2 Think about that.
¶21.1 Tenth, there is grave danger that the newcomers will be corrupted by the American welfare state.
21.2 Mexicans at least arrive with a strong work ethic.
21.3 They take any job they can get and maybe a couple of others on the side.
21.4 When have you seen fifteen members of any other ethnic group waiting outside a Seven-Eleven at five in the morning hoping for work?
¶22.1 But if they find that they can go on the dole and get things for free, they will.
22.2 Nobody who doesn’t have to will shovel asphalt under a hot sun or stand in two inches of blood in a slaughterhouse ten hours a day.
22.3 Would you?
22.4 They seem to be beginning to demand things on grounds of historical mistreatment.
22.5 Where have we heard this before?
22.6 The economy probably cannot stand another large dependent class.
¶23.1 Eleventh, the absolutely crucial question is whether they will assimilate, or at least co-exist, or become another self-aware anti-white group.
23.2 The intense hostility of nativist whites drives them toward confrontation.
¶24.1 How assimilable are Latinos?
24.2 It is hard to tell.
24.3 Much depends on the country of origin I think.
24.4 I can speak with any degree of knowledge only of Mexicans.
¶25.1 They, the majority of the immigrants, are sort of half European genetically, for what that’s worth, Christian, and speak a European language.
25.2 In Mexico itself, they maintain a mostly modern society functioning at perhaps seventy-five percent of the declining American norm.
25.3 Call it sixty, or eighty if you will.
25.4 How do you measure?
25.5 But it is clearly, if certainly trailingly, in the European mold of technology, semi-democracy, and ascent into the middle class.
25.6 Their intellectual tradition—for example, the works of such men as Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, and Alejandro Colunga—are within the European framework, though with a Mexican flavor.
¶26.1 On the negative side, those going to the United States are mostly from the lower half of Mexican society.
26.2 Though not evil people (crime is low in the villages) they are not ready for American society.
26.3 While illiteracy is not as common as imagined by gringos, literacy in Mexico is not the same as literacy in Finland.
26.4 And it is people with a fourth-grade education, not the middle class, who swim the river.
¶27.1 If you want a straightforward idea of how emigration to the US actually works, I suggest Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail by Ruben Martinez.
¶28.1 Twelfth, the numbers and concentrations of Mexicans in America are such that before long they will be able to tell Eurowhites to screw off, and form their own society in the Southwest.
28.2 If that happens, so much for the Union.
28.3 They know that in 1848 the US stole half of Mexico, specifically those states in which Mexicans are marching toward a majority.
28.4 (Blowback, do we call it?)
28.5 Americans, who typically have never heard of that invasion, can say, “Get over it.”
28.6 Good luck.
28.7 Young Mexican males, some anyway, are saying things like “We will be the majority.
28.8 We will rule.”
¶29.1 Having become a voting majority in the Southwest, they could choose, piecemeal or all at once, to ignore the central government.
29.2 Then what?
29.3 Do you send the Marines to conquer California?
¶30.1 All of this results from American policy.
30.2 You buttered your bread, a curmudgeon might say.
30.3 Now lie in it.

Reed (September 9, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants variously as “illegal Mexicans” (sentence 6.1), “Diego” (sentence 7.2), “Latinos” (sentences 11.1, 11.3, 13.1), “Mexicans” (sentences 12.3, 15.3, 21.2), as “brownish and speak[ing] Spanish” (sentence 12.4), “a young man from El Salvador” (sentence 13.2), “illegals” (sentences 15.1, 18.5), “an entire agricultural work-force, or construction sites and meat-packing plants manned almost entirely by obvious foreigners” (sentence 15.2), “newcomers” (sentence 21.1), “people with a fourth-grade education, not the middle class” (sentence 26.4) He confounds his uses of the word “Latinos” (sentences 18.5, 19.3, 20.1, and 24.1), the word “Mexicans” (sentences 24.4, 28.1, and 28.3), the phrase “mostly from the lower half of Mexican society” (sentence 26.1); the phrase “not evil people” (sentence 26.2), and the phrase “young Mexican males” (sentence 28.7) by referring to a population which is at least partly legal and apparently includes registered voters, who must be documented in order to be ‘registered.’ I interpret this as casting the entire “brownish and speak[ing] Spanish” population as suspect.

Racism is also evident in his generalized allegation that “there will be serious bad blood between black and brown” (sentence 19.1) as “[t]he two compete in the same strata of society, and do not like each other” (sentence 19.4) which would seem to cast both groups as entirely poor and likely to fight each other over limited resources such as jobs. His reference to reconquista in paragraphs 28 and 29 assumes that “Eurowhites” (sentence 28.1) and people of Mexican descent cannot settle their differences amicably—we will see more of this sort of reasoning in the analyses of paleoconservative articles in chapter nine. Similarly, the alleged conflict between Blacks and Hispanics in paragraph 19 also seems to assume that these groups cannot settle their differences amicably, another display of the same paleoconservative logic.

Alex Nowrasteh, November 17, 2014, Cato

Alex Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014, table 16) clearly favors statutory immigration reform (paragraphs 7, 8, 12, and 15) but, on a premise that Congress is unwilling to act (paragraphs 9 and 10), accepts President Obama’s anticipated executive order (sentences 10.3 and 25.1) as long as it is constitutional (sentence 25.2). Obama (November 20, 2014) indeed announced action a few days later. Nowrasteh quotes at length from a legal analysis he obtained regarding the constitutionality of potential presidential action which generally suggests that courts are likely to support Obama (paragraphs 19 through 22). His reliance on a constitutional analysis is a characteristic I have seen only among capitalist libertarians, who, being “primarily concerned with negative liberty—i.e. delineating a zone free of government intrusion” (Goldberg, 2006, p. 20), are often quite savvy in analyzing what they see as violations of the Bill of Rights. I will not consider this analysis further here.

Despite the antipathy toward Obama I discussed in chapter four, which Nowrasteh (November 27, 2014) does not acknowledge, he blames the president for provoking Congress (sentences 8.3 and 9.1) and for hoping “to cement the image that the Republicans are the enemies of immigration reform and the Democrats are friendly to that cause” (sentence 11.2). Nowrasteh correspondingly predicts Republicans will “react to this executive action as a bull would react to the waving of a red flag by a matador: they will charge” (sentence 11.1) and blames them for it (sentence 11.4 and paragraph 12).

Missing in Nowrasteh’s (November 27, 2014) article is much recognition that many conservatives, including authoritarian populists, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, some social conservatives, and some traditionalist conservatives oppose inward migration on principle. He only refers to the “Steve King-Jeff Sessions blow-a-gasket caucus” in a quote from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (sentence 6.3). His assumptions about the Republican Party are, instead, similar to those of Domitrovic (August 28, 2014), whose article I analyzed earlier in this chapter, that Republicans should favor such migration. However, as seen in chapter one, capitalist libertarians are alone among conservatives in favoring inward migration on so-called ‘free’ market principles. Nowrasteh presumes the contrary, which suggests that he understands capitalist libertarianism as the norm for conservatism, and which I would argue confuses overlaps among diverse ideologies with uniformity in a single ideology.

So how can Nowrasteh (November 27, 2014) explain the widespread opposition to inward migration among so conservative Republicans? He blames Obama for allegedly having boxed Republicans into opposition (sentence 7.3 and paragraphs 8 and 9) while offering no evidence that Republicans would have passed reform measures in the absence of executive action or that the image of Republicans as “the enemies of immigration reform” (sentence 11.2) is in any way inaccurate.

Table 16.

Alex Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014)

¶1.1 November 17, 2014 11:53AM
¶2.1 Interpreting Obama’s Immigration Executive Order
¶3.1 By Alex Nowrasteh
¶4.1 President Obama will soon announce an executive action to defer the deportations of somewhere between 1 million and 4.5 million unauthorized immigrants.
4.2 Those whose deportations are deferred will be eligible for a temporary work permit through a 1987 provision in the Code of Federal Regulations.
¶5.1 Those who support immigration reform note that any executive action by the President will poison the well for reform, making it impossible for Congress to move piecemeal bills to the President’s desk.
5.2 Last year, one of the most effective arguments against immigration reform was that President Obama would not enforce the law as written, a prediction that seems to be borne out with this executive action.
5.3 The Wall Street Journal editorial board said it the best:
¶6.1 If he does issue an executive order, we hope Republicans don’t fall for his political trap.
6.2 He and many Democrats want Republicans to appear to be anti-immigrant.
6.3 They want the GOP to dance to the Steve King-Jeff Sessions blow-a-gasket caucus.
¶7.1 To poison the well of reform there actually had to be water in the well to begin with.
7.2 I’m not convinced there was.
7.3 If there was a serious Congressional effort to reform immigration in the immediate future, then the President’s actions here would totally derail it.
¶8.1 Congress will not act to pass immigration reform if they are acting under threat of the President’s executive action – a threat he has wielded since his 2012 Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.
8.2 He brought that threat out frequently in 2014, famously announcing that he would delay any such decision until after the midterms.
8.3 If Republicans pass a bill under threat of an executive action or in response to it then they look like they’re kowtowing to the President – an untenable position for any individual Republican to be in.
¶9.1 For Congress to act without looking like it is bending to President Obama’s threat, the specter of executive action would have to be credibly removed.
9.2 But at this juncture, the President cannot credibly remove his threat of an executive action which means that Republicans in Congress won’t act to reform immigration.
¶10.1 The only conceivable way to remove that threat is for the GOP to block the President’s actions through the budget process.
10.2 If the well was not poisoned before that, it probably would be after a nasty budget battle to defund this executive action.
10.3 If the executive order is blocked and the well is poisoned due to that nasty battle, then we are right back where we were without any change in immigration enforcement policy.
¶11.1 The President knows that many Republicans in Congress will react to this executive action as a bull would react to the waving of a red flag by a matador: they will charge.
11.2 Obama the matador is banking on that reaction to cement the image that the Republicans are the enemies of immigration reform and the Democrats are friendly to that cause.
11.3 However, that does not mean President Obama is solely to blame.
11.4 The Republicans in Congress could control their reaction and not charge that red flag, instead charting a different legislative course to nullify the President’s actions without seeming to oppose immigration.
11.5 What is that path?
¶12.1 Republicans could override President Obama’s actions by passing piecemeal immigration reform bills that nullify the executive orders but also permanently reform the system in some conservative ways.
12.2 Congress could add in provisions that will make their version of immigration reform veto proof.
12.3 Republicans could create a larger and less regulated guest worker visa program for migrants of all skill levels without having to cater to union demands, thus destroying the incentive for future unlawful immigration.
12.4 Combining that with a conservative version of the DREAM Act or a resurrected KIDS Act would make such a bill veto-proof despite the exclusion of left-wing groups from crafting the legislation.
12.5 Because Republicans control Congress, they could exclude every left-wing interest group from the debate on Capitol Hill.
¶13.1 There are two major downsides to this approach.
13.2 First, the Republican Congress might instead combine enforcement with some modest legalization and thus fail to address the problem of our restrictive immigration system that actually encourages unauthorized immigration in the first place.
13.3 Second, the Republicans might not be able to act together after the executive order is issued.
13.4 They might ex ante commit to passing a bill but after the executive order is issued they might change their strategy to one of pure opposition.
¶14.1 A bill would likely legalize far more unauthorized immigrants than the President’s executive action.
14.2 If the numbers reported are accurate, this executive action would temporarily defer the deportations of only about 40 percent of unauthorized immigrants while a legislative legalization could cover many more.
¶15.1 The best possible policy outcome is if Congress were to use this opportunity to seriously debate and pass some of the conservative proposals on immigration reform.
15.2 The President’s executive action is temporary and can be overturned at whim.
15.3 Congress, on the other hand, can offer a permanent solution with far broader appeal and impact.
¶16.1 If the Congress is not likely to seriously debate and pass immigration reform this term, the President’s executive action does not poison the well and would improve immigration policy from a pure policy perspective (I’ll discuss the Constitution below).
16.2 If Congress is likely to take up the issue, then this executive action will stymie real reform unless Republicans can channel their opposition into passing some of their own reform bills.
¶17.1 The Constitution
¶18.1 Whether the President’s actions will be constitutional is the thorniest important question surrounding this issue.
18.2 The big debate is whether executive prosecutorial discretion in this case rises to the level of nullification of the law.
18.3 If Obama’s actions do rise to the level of nullification, then they are unconstitutional.
18.4 But if his actions fall short of nullification, then his actions are likely to be constitutional.
18.5 On this issue, I defer to my brilliant colleagues who are experts in constitutional law.
¶19.1 Here is a good summary of the legal issues.
19.2 The conclusion that that document is worth quoting in its entirety (footnotes excluded):
¶20.1 Regardless of whether it is characterized as “prosecutorial discretion” or “enforcement discretion,” immigration officers are generally seen as having wide latitude in determining when, how, and even whether to pursue apparent violations of the INA.
20.2 This latitude is similar to that possessed by prosecutors in the criminal law enforcement context and enforcement officials in other federal agencies.
20.3 Whether and how to constrain this discretion has been a recurring issue for some Members of Congress, particularly in light of the June 2011 DHS memorandum on prosecutorial discretion and the more recent DACA initiative.
20.4 While some Members have expressed support for the DACA initiative, or called for expanded use of prosecutorial discretion by immigration authorities in other contexts, others have sought to prohibit DHS from granting deferred action or extended voluntary departure to removable aliens except in narrow circumstances, or to “nullify” particular policies regarding prosecutorial discretion that have been articulated by the Obama Administration.
¶21.1 The extent to which Congress can constrain the Administration’s exercise of discretion in the DACA context, in particular, may depend on whether a reviewing court characterizes the underlying authority for the implementation of the program as constitutionally or statutorily based.
21.2 Congress has broad authority to restrict discretionary acts taken pursuant to statutory delegations, while arguably limited authority, under the doctrine of Separation of Powers, to restrict the President’s exercise of constitutionally based discretion.
21.3 In addition, the degree of intrusion into executive enforcement decisions may also impact a court’s review of any congressional response.
21.4 For example, legal precedent suggests that Congress probably cannot directly limit the President’s exercise of discretion by requiring that the executive branch initiate enforcement actions against particular individuals.
21.5 On the other hand, Congress would appear to have considerable latitude in establishing statutory guidelines for immigration officials to follow in the exercise of their enforcement powers, including by “indicat[ing] with precision the measures available to enforce the” INA, or by prohibiting DHS from considering certain factors in setting enforcement priorities.
¶22.1 However, the existing judicial presumption that “an agency’s decision not to take enforcement action [is] immune from judicial review,” and the deference potentially accorded to an agency’s interpretation of its governing statute, suggests that such statutory guidelines would likely need to be clear, express, and specific.
22.2 The use of “shall” in a provision of the INA may not, in itself, suffice for a statute to be construed as having provided enforceable guidelines for immigration officials to follow in exercising prosecutorial discretion.
22.3 Absent a substantive legislative response, Congress may still be able to influence the implementation of DACA or other discretion-based policies by the immigration authorities, including by engaging in stringent oversight over the DHS program or by exercising its “power of the purse” to prohibit DHS and its components from implementing particular policies related to the exercise of prosecutorial discretion that Congress does not support.
¶23.1 To add a wrinkle to this issue, every President since Eisenhower has deferred the deportations of some classes of unauthorized immigrants or paroled some of them into the legal immigration system.
23.2 The Immigration Policy Center has put together a wonderful document explaining these previous executive actions.
23.3 The most interesting action was President George H.W. Bush’s deportation deferral for about 1.5 million unauthorized immigrants who were the spouses and children of those legalized under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
¶24.1 Conclusion
¶25.1 If the President’s executive action is constitutional and would not crowd out a series of reform bills, then executive action would be an unambiguously positive policy development that would reduce the harm caused by our restrictive immigration system.
25.2 If the executive action is either unconstitutional or stymies a real immigration reform effort in Congress then the long term harm will outweigh any short term benefit.

Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants as “unauthorized immigrants” (sentences 4.1, 14.1, 14.2, 23.1, and 23.3) and to migrants in sentence 12.3. His most inflammatory language would be in his use of a metaphor depicting Obama as a matador (sentence 11.2) and Congress as a bull (sentence 11.1) potentially “charg[ing] that red flag” (sentence 11.4). I interpret this as neutral toward undocumented migrants and as less complimentary to Congress than to Obama.

However, the specter of Obama acting unconstitutionally, which Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014) considers in paragraphs 17, 18, and 25, casts the president as potentially violating his oath to uphold the constitution and as acting contrary to it. This rhetorically raises what some call “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” (FUD) and recognize as meant to dissuade potential supporters or, in high technology, users. Nowrasteh offers no support for his hypothesis that Obama may indeed engage in such action, but nonetheless explores the possibility at length, according it what I interpret as unwarranted attention. As it happens, a federal judge has issued an injunction against Obama’s executive order but in a lawsuit that does not appear to involve a constitutional question but rather a question of costs that states may incur as a consequence of the order (D. Lind, February 17, 2015; J. Turley, February 17, 2015).


The capitalist libertarian articles analyzed in this chapter are remarkably dismissive of opposition to undocumented migration. Of these, Nowrasteh (November 17, 2014) is most restrained, simply advocating the maximum reform possible; Domitrovic (August 28, 2014) considers opposition contrary to principles of free enterprise; and Reed (September 9, 2014)—I believe unfairly—mocks and blames opposition for a purported mismatch between words and deeds. Both Nowrasteh and Domitrovic appear to assume that they correctly represent conservative or Republican principles. Domitrovic appears to advocate a weakening of worker leverage. Reed, while expressing disdain for nearly everyone and entertaining a possibility that Hispanics might be assimilated, deploys a paleoconservative style of reasoning that largely assumes conflict between ethnic groups.


As noted in chapter one, functionalist conservatives are principally concerned with retaining power, which means they are principally concerned with ‘governing’ as we see in the conflict between departing Speaker John Boehner and authoritarian populists in the House of Representatives. On the issue of undocumented migration, therefore, functionalists focus on the politics of passing immigration reform. As such, the authoritarian populists in Congress who oppose this reform come in for criticism in two of the analyzed articles (Economist, July 8, 2014; Sweig, July 2, 2014). Bizarrely, in the third article, Erb (November 20, 2014) seems oblivious to authoritarian populist opposition but raises worthwhile points about undocumented migrants’ tax situations.

Julie E. Sweig, July 2, 2014, Council on Foreign Relations

As right-wing outrage over the undocumented migrants arriving in the U.S. soared, Julie Sweig (July 2, 2014, table 17) finds “so many culprits I have run out of fingers to point” (sentence 6.7). The number, while greater than that found in most commentaries, is not so high: “Instead the crisis . . . is the result of a lethal and tragic mix of gang violence, drug wars, weak judiciaries, corrupt security institutions, grinding poverty and inequality, and the failure of the American political system” (sentence 3.6). She notes the failure of the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform promised by two successive presidents (sentence 3.10), a “black market in child trafficking” (sentence 4.2), an inadequacy of border defenses (sentences 4.6 and 6.5), and the “push factors” of “gang violence, corruption, impunity, and some of the highest murder rates in the world” (sentence 5.2).

As comprehensive as that list is, three omissions are striking: Sweig (July 2, 2014) leaves out so-called “free” trade, which worsened the “grinding poverty and inequality” that she acknowledges, and the Honduran coup, which the U.S. at least acquiesced to and may have been complicit in (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014). Finally, while Sweig (July 2, 2014) mentions “drug wars” (sentence 3.6), her reference is ambiguous and may refer to the conflicts among cartels and among their affiliated gangs. Sweig does not mention the so-called “war on drugs,” which many believe contribute to gang and cartel violence in Mexico and Central America (Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014). In addition, Sweig’s repeated comments on an allegedly “unprotected and porous southern border” (sentence 6.5) neglect views that border defenses only “funnel” migrants into ever more dangerous routes (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). In short, Sweig largely absolves U.S. policy of blame and thus supports the status quo.

Table 17.

Julie E. Sweig (July 2, 2014)

¶1.1 Responsibility for the Tragedy
¶2.1 Author: Julia E. Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies

July 2, 2014

Folha de Sao Paulo

¶3.1 It would be so much easier if there were a villain to blame for the Central America refugee crisis.
3.2 Oliver North.
3.3 The Contra.
3.4 The guerrilla.
3.5 The death squads.
3.6 Instead the crisis that brought over 50,000 children and 30,000 adults across the U.S.-Mexico border is the result of a lethal and tragic mix of gang violence, drug wars, weak judiciaries, corrupt security institutions, grinding poverty and inequality, and the failure of the American political system.
3.7 Let’s take the last one first.
3.8 Failure?
3.9 Well, yes.
3.10 We still don’t have the comprehensive immigration law Presidents Obama and Bush before him promised.
3.11 Tea Party Republicans have so weakened the reasonable wing of the GOP that it is unlikely Congress will pass such a law.
¶4.1 Exploitation also plays a role.
4.2 The black market in child trafficking made immoral use of the word “permiso,” to persuade desperate parents that their children would be allowed to stay in the United States if they crossed the border before an immigration law passed.
4.3 It turns out that the “permiso” is just a subpoena for a deportation hearing in court.
4.4 Critics blame Obama for last year’s decision to allow a number of now young adults to stay in the United States whose parents brought them here before 2007.
4.5 Reminder: Obama has deported more migrants from the United States — nearly two million — than any other president.
4.6 And still there is not enough money to hire border agents, staff courts, or fund drones to keep people from risking their lives, dividing their families, often permanently.
¶5.1 Most of the new wave of migrants come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
5.2 Not as poor as the Haitians trafficked into Brazil, but fleeing gang violence, corruption, impunity, and some of the highest murder rates in the world.
5.3 In 2012, per 100,000 inhabitants, Guatemala’s murder rate reached 39.9, El Salvador’s 41.2 (and that was during the now-defunct gang truce) and Honduras the gut-wrenching 90.4.
¶6.1 The Obama administration is hustling to stop the surge.
6.2 Joe Biden has been meeting with heads of states, cajoling, imploring for help.
6.3 Obama himself attacked Republicans and called for more security and humanitarian assistance for the border and Central America.
6.4 And how about Mexico’s role?
6.5 An unprotected and porous southern border facilitates the flow.
6.6 See?
6.7 There are so many culprits I have run out of fingers to point.
¶7.1 I know a woman from El Salvador who in 1987 survived a massacre, crawled out from under dead bodies with her daughter on her shoulders, and escaped to the United States.
7.2 I understand that history and can name the cast of characters who played a role in her trauma.
7.3 Success has many fathers, yet failure is an orphan.
7.4 This tragedy has so many fathers it is impossible to pin blame on any single culprit.

Sweig (July 2, 2014) is unclear but almost certainly refers to undocumented migrants when she refers to “50,000 children and 30,000 adults” “brought . . . across the U.S.-Mexico border” by the crisis (sentence 3.6). She refers to “desperate parents [persuaded] that their children would be allowed to stay in the United States if they crossed the border before an immigration law passed” by traffickers’ “immoral use of the word ‘permiso’” (sentence 4.2), which apparently refers to “a subpoena for a deportation hearing in court” (sentence 4.3) rather than permission to stay. She notes that “[m]ost of the new wave of migrants come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras” (sentence 5.1) and points to Obama administration efforts to stop the “surge” (sentences 6.1 and 6.2) but, in a curious move, possibly blames Mexico (sentence 6.4) for “[a]n unprotected and porous southern border” (sentence 6.5). Finally, citing the story of “a woman from El Salvador who in 1987 survived a massacre, crawled out from under dead bodies with her daughter on her shoulders, and escaped to the United States” (sentence 7.1), Sweig claims to “understand that history and [be able to] name the cast of characters who played a role in her trauma” (sentence 7.4).

With this language, Sweig (July 2, 2014) clearly avoids stigmatizing migrants; however, it is clear that her intent is to defend the Obama administration and executive branch actions. Even the “young adults . . . whose parents brought them here before 2007” whom President Obama has allowed to stay (sentence 4.4) should, one might presume, not be held culpable, and therefore, arguably, Obama should not be blamed for refusing to penalize them. Thus, that “Obama has deported more migrants from the United States — nearly two million — than any other president” (sentence 4.5) should be taken as a sign of his faithfulness in executing the law. Rather, Sweig (July 2, 2014) blames the U.S. Congress, and more specifically, “Tea Party Republicans [who] have so weakened the reasonable wing of the GOP” (sentence 3.6). As the Tea Party is the current manifestation of authoritarian populism (see chapter one), Sweig appears as a functionalist conservative blaming—albeit with some justification—authoritarian populists, but strongly supportive of the status quo.

Economist, July 8, 2014

In a so-called ‘explainer’ the Economist (July 8, 2014, table 13), whose articles often do not carry by-lines, joins Sweig (July 2, 2014) in blaming authoritarian populists for the failure to pass immigration reform, although without being as clear as to who they are. The article notes that “President George W Bush tried to pass a law to regularise their status, but was thwarted in Congress” (sentence 2.3) and that “Barack Obama is faring little better” (sentence 2.4). The Economist goes on to report that

the president angrily declared that he had given up passing an immigration-reform bill this year, and vowed to do what little the law allows him to alone (as he has with illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children). (Economist, July 8, 2014)

The Economist (July 8, 2014) acknowledges that Republicans have obstructed “[s]everal of Mr Obama’s legislative priorities, such as climate change and gun control” (sentence 3.1) and argues that following Obama’s victory in the presidential election of 2012, “chastened Republicans realised that alienating a slice of the electorate [Hispanics] that had grown by almost one-fifth in the preceding four years spelled political doom, at least in presidential elections” (sentence 3.3) and therefore that Republicans had been thought likely to pass reform (sentences 3.2 and 3.4). A bill passed in the Senate (sentence 3.4), however, failed in the House of Representatives (sentence 3.6).

The Economist (July 8, 2014) attributes this to conventional wisdom that “[t]he defeat of Eric Cantor, the [House or Representatives] Republican majority leader, by an anti-immigration hardliner in a Virginia Republican primary on June 10th [2014] sealed the coffin” (sentence 3.6). While that may indeed be the usual interpretation of David Brat’s victory over Cantor (Cassidy, June 11, 2014; Chait, June 10, 2014; Cohn, June 10, 2014), a poll result suggested otherwise (Kim, June 11, 2014) and there is considerable reason to suspect that voters may have perceived him as an insider, beholden to financial interests (Beaujon, June 11, 2014; Cohn; Judis, June 11, 2014; Lizza, June 11, 2014; Peters & Dewan, June 14, 2014). Thomas Frank (June 15, 2014) argued that Cantor was an example of what happens when a politician understands the so-called “free” market to apply to his legislative agenda and makes that agenda available to the highest bidder. Thus, it may be safer, as the Economist (June 14, 2014) suggested in an earlier article, to understand Republican opposition to immigration reform in the House as part of a shift toward the authoritarian populist “base” away from putatively “pragmatic” functionalist conservatism.

Be that as it may, the Economist (July 8, 2014) blames intransigence among House Republicans (paragraph 4) and the possibility that Republicans may win control of the Senate (sentence 5.1)—this indeed happened in November, 2014—for the U.S. government’s apparent inability to pass immigration reform.

Table 18.

Economist (July 8, 2014)

¶1.1 Why America can’t fix its immigration problem
¶2.1 THERE are an estimated 11m-12m immigrants living in the United States illegally, most of them Latino.
2.2 Many have families, jobs and property, and far deeper roots in America than in their countries of origin.
2.3 President George W Bush tried to pass a law to regularise their status, but was thwarted in Congress.
2.4 Barack Obama is faring little better.
2.5 Last week the president angrily declared that he had given up passing an immigration-reform bill this year, and vowed to do what little the law allows him to alone (as he has with illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children).
2.6 Why can’t America fix this problem?
¶3.1 Several of Mr Obama’s legislative priorities, such as climate change and gun control, have been killed by Republican opposition in Congress.
3.2 For a time it looked like immigration reform might be an exception.
3.3 After Latino voters spurned Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy in 2012, chastened Republicans realised that alienating a slice of the electorate that had grown by almost one-fifth in the preceding four years spelled political doom, at least in presidential elections.
3.4 Sure enough, in June 2013 a bipartisan majority in the Senate passed an immigration-reform bill that included an arduous “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants.
3.5 The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, though, has proved tougher to crack, despite vague expressions of support from party leaders.
3.6 The defeat of Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader, by an anti-immigration hardliner in a Virginia Republican primary on June 10th sealed the coffin.
¶4.1 The idea of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants remains toxic for many among the Republican base, as Mr. Cantor’s defeat shows.
4.2 But many congressmen have proved just as intransigent.
4.3 Gerrymandered districts disaggregate the interests of congressmen from their party: resistance to reform may spell trouble for the Republican Party, but may also be the only way for a Republican candidate to win a primary.
4.4 Hardliners within the party have won over many of their colleagues.
4.5 In February, barely a week after he had set out his own principles for reform, John Boehner, the Republican speaker, was forced into an embarrassing U-turn by a mini-rebellion among his caucus.
4.6 Today he says Republicans cannot trust Mr. Obama, who has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president, to enforce immigration law.
4.7 More recently a surge of Central American child migrants into Texas has boosted the arguments of those who insist America’s border must be made “secure” before any form of legalisation can be considered.
¶5.1 The Republicans are likely to maintain control of the House of Representatives after November’s mid-terms, and may win the Senate, too.
5.2 The Senate immigration bill passed last year expires in January, and it is hard to see where the energy for a fresh legislative effort might come from.
5.3 Mr. Cantor’s defeat and the Texas border problems have tipped the political scales.
5.4 Republicans who might otherwise be open to reform will be nervous about the next round of primaries, including the campaign to find a presidential candidate for November 2016 (the field looks wide open).
5.5 After that election, if the fears of Republican bigwigs are borne out and a larger Latino electorate again helps return a Democratic president, the conversation may begin anew.
5.6 A two-year wait and then a rerun of an old debate may be the best reform advocates can hope for.

The Economist (July 8, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants as “immigrants living in the United States illegally” (sentence 2.1) and as “illegal immigrants” (sentences 3.4, 4.1, and 4.6). In addition, it refers to “child migrants” in sentence 4.7. It notes that the Senate-passed “immigration-reform bill . . . included an arduous ‘path to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants” (sentence 3.4). Principally, this article is not about undocumented migrants but rather the politics of passing a measure affecting their status; nonetheless, one might expect journalists to choose their words more carefully and refrain from stigmatizing migrants as “illegal.”

It is unclear whether the Economist (July 8, 2014) thinks the “arduous ‘path to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants” (sentence 3.4) in the failed legislation is a good thing or a bad thing. The magazine, which seems sympathetic to reform, may view it as part of a package which it would prefer to pass, although the casting of migrants as ‘illegal’ suggests that it may not regard some ardor—disregarding the dangers migrants, including children, fled from and then experienced on the journey north—as undesirable.

Kelly Phillips Erb, November 20, 2014, Forbes

Kelly Erb (November 20, 2014, table 19) reacts to President Obama’s (November 20, 2014) speech promising an opportunity for some undocumented migrants to legally remain in the country by pointing first to Congressional failure to pass a bill in 2013 (paragraph 11) and then largely by arguing that it will be nearly impossible to assess and collect back taxes (paragraphs 13-19). “Those folks are called undocumented workers for a reason” (sentence 19.3) and “there are simply not sufficient records in the pipeline” (sentence 19.2), she writes. Apparently some Republican senators recognized this (paragraphs 20 and 21).

I have no argument with Erb until she argues that this may be why Congress has not moved forward (sentence 22.4). While her point that “allowing immigrants to simply wipe the slate clean leaves those who have been in the country legally and paying their taxes with a bad taste in their mouths” (sentence 22.2) seems reasonable enough, it seems exceedingly unlikely that taxes are the principle objection that many conservatives have to immigration reform. In this dissertation, this is the only article analyzed where the topic even arises; nor have I seen it appear elsewhere in mainstream media.

The omission of the tax issue elsewhere is striking and I have little speculation to offer on why so few seem to take up this issue. To suggest that migrants might in fact pay taxes would be to suggest that they earn money to pay taxes on, which is consistent with a claim that they take working class jobs, but it does not support a claim that they will draw on the social safety net—a claim that appears repeatedly and, at least since Ronald Reagan (Perlstein, 2014), is a means of casting aspersion.

Table 19.

Kelly Phillips Erb (November 20, 2014)

¶1.1 Taxes 11/20/2014 @ 10:36PM
¶2.1 Kelly Phillips Erb Contributor
¶4.1 Taxes 11/20/2014 @ 10:36PM
¶5.1 President Obama Says Immigrants Must Pay ‘Fair Share Of Taxes’
¶6.1 Earlier this evening, President Obama delivered the speech that everyone has been talking about: his plan for immigration reform.
¶7.1 If you missed it, you can watch it here or read the transcript here.
¶8.1 The President’s plan is, as he explained, intended to fix “this broken immigration system.”
¶9.1 I think we all agree that it’s broken.
9.2 What we don’t agree on, collectively, is how to fix it.
¶10.1 President Obama took the step forward tonight in presenting his plan even while Congress challenged his authority to do so.
10.2 The President’s response?
10.3 “Pass a bill.
10.4 I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution.”
¶11.1 To date, Congress hasn’t been able to present such a bill to the President.
11.2 In his speech, the President referenced the 2013 Senate vote on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, which passed overwhelmingly, 68-32, including 14 yes votes from the GOP.
11.3 The House, however, failed to pass the bill with what the President offered, could have been “a simple yes-or-no vote.”
¶12.1 But.
12.2 And it’s a big but.
12.3 I don’t know that the bill deserved a “simple yes-or-no vote.”
12.4 The Senate bill was hardly simple.
12.5 It was long – 1,200 pages – and complicated.
12.6 While I’m not an immigration expert, I do know a little something about taxes – and the tax portion of the bill left a little bit to be desired.
¶13.1 Under section 2101, Registered Provisional Immigrant Status, of S.744, the “pathway to citizenship” required the applicants to have “satisfied any applicable Federal tax liability.”
13.2 For purposes of the bill, the term ‘applicable Federal tax liability’ meant all federal income taxes assessed in accordance with section 6203 of the Tax Code.
13.3 In other words, under the bill, the “pathway to citizenship” would not have required applicants to show evidence of prior filings or payments or prove that they have been compliant.
13.4 Instead, the language in the bill stated that taxes which have been assessed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be paid and that applicants remain compliant moving forward.
13.5 That was a significant change from the current rules for applying for residency or citizenship status which makes evidence of complete tax compliance absolute criteria for legal entry.
¶14.1 President Obama’s summary did not include anywhere near that level of details on taxes.
14.2 The President simply said:
¶15.1 So we’re going to offer the following deal:
15.2 If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.
15.3 You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.
¶16.1 The language – admittedly brief – seems to imply that the only tax requirement is compliance moving forward which is a little bit different from earlier proposals.
16.2 And that’s going to make some folks on the Hill very unhappy.
¶17.1 In fact, how to deal with the issue of immigrant taxes has long been contentious.
17.2 As part of the immigration discussion in 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) offered up a series of amendments meant to clarify tax issues.
17.3 Included in those amendments was language that would require applicants to pay all back taxes before gaining status.
17.4 The pair didn’t, however, explain how that was supposed to happen, instead leaving the responsibility of figuring out the documentation and details to the IRS – which of course makes sense since after collecting existing taxes, administering the Health Care Act and enforcing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the agency has nothing else to do.
¶18.1 The underlying premise, however (without all of the reliance on IRS to figure out the details), is exactly what many want to hear: why shouldn’t those folks hoping to stay in this country prove that they’ve paid all of their taxes?
¶19.1 But here’s the difficulty: it would be a near impossibility to require previously undocumented persons to show that they had filed and paid taxes.
19.2 While a 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report (downloads as a pdf) suggested that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants file and pay income taxes each year, there are simply not sufficient records in the pipeline.
19.3 Those folks are called undocumented workers for a reason.
¶20.1 A surprising number of those in Congress seem to get that.
20.2 Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who publicly chastised the House over its failure to move the Senate bill forward, confirmed that “[i]t really is difficult right now to go in assess back taxes.”
20.3 Instead, last year he suggested something akin to a trial period here immigrants could renew their status after six years and would have to, at that time, prove that they have been paying taxes.
20.4 That’s similar to the President’s proposal for a three year protection period.
¶21.1 Sen. Flake’s colleague, Sen. Lindsay LNN +0.01% Graham (R-SC) also voiced concerns about requiring the payment of back taxes, saying, “I’d like to have people pay any back taxes owed, illegal immigrants, legal residents, U.S. citizens, just make sure it’s practical and you’re collecting more than it costs to enforce it.”
¶22.1 Sens. Hatch, Rubio, Flake and Graham are acutely aware that the discussions surrounding taxes and immigration are tricky.
22.2 On the one hand, allowing immigrants to simply wipe the slate clean leaves those who have been in the country legally and paying their taxes with a bad taste in their mouths.
22.3 But from a practical standpoint, requiring the payment of those back taxes is going to be nearly impossible to administer.
22.4 And maybe that’s why Congress hasn’t really done anything just yet.
¶23.1 The President, however, has done something.
23.2 And he’s certainly gotten the attention of Congress and the public.
23.3 Whether his plan is fair or good, or how the plan might actually function may not even matter: legal and political challenges to stop the President from enacting his plan without Congressional authority are already mounting.
23.4 The President’s plan could end up like S.744: a lot of chatter but not much else.

Erb (November 20, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants as “applicants” (sentences 13.1, 13.3, 13.4, and 17.3) for citizenship, “unauthorized U.S. immigrants” (sentence 19.2), “undocumented workers” (sentence 19.3), and “immigrants” (sentences 20.3 and 22.2). Her own language is thus relatively neutral, although she also quotes Senator Lindsay Graham calling undocumented migrants “illegal immigrants” (sentence 21.1).

In Erb’s (November 20, 2014) portrayal, Senators Jeff Flake (sentence 20.2) and Lindsay Graham (sentence 21.1) appear pragmatic, understanding the difficulty of collecting taxes. Senators Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch (sentence 17.2), by contrast, offered amendments including “language that would require applicants to pay all back taxes before gaining status” (sentence 17.3), but without “explain[ing] how that was supposed to happen” (sentence 17.4). Erb seems concerned about leaving the “documentation and details” to the Internal Revenue Service, seemingly being sarcastic in writing that this “of course makes sense since after collecting existing taxes, administering the Health Care Act and enforcing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the agency has nothing else to do” (sentence 17.4). And Erb seems similarly dismissive of Obama’s plan for being similarly vague on this issue (paragraphs 14-16). Erb (November 20, 2014) concludes, however, that it all may not matter (sentence 23.4) as “legal and political challenges to stop the President from enacting his plan without Congressional authority are already mounting” (sentence 23.3).


In these articles, functionalist conservatives seem barely concerned with undocumented migrants at all. They are concerned with passing immigration reform, which presumably would benefit undocumented migrants, but these human beings are always treated abstractly. Here the concern is with authoritarian populists in Congress, who limit progress on this issue, and in the final article, with the relevant mechanics of taxation (Erb, November 20, 2014). Two of the three seem supportive of Obama’s efforts (Sweig, July 2, 2014; Economist, July 8, 2014). Erb, however, dissatisfied with his treatment of taxation, seems skeptical.


In chapter one, the distinction between functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives may have seemed tenuous. It mostly amounted to neoconservatives attaching morality to amoral functionalist conservative positions.

In the articles analyzed in this chapter, the distinction is much clearer. Where the functionalist conservatives in chapter seven were seeking a political path to immigration reform, neoconservatives are more concerned with upholding the law, object to opponents of reform being considered racists and xenophobes and, with the notable exception of Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014), downplay the violence that Central American migrants are fleeing. However, all will claim to seek a moral position: They say they care about undocumented migrants but, except for Skerry, neglect the U.S. role in creating the dilemma that migrants face in their home countries (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014), and argue that migrants should not be allowed to come here.

However, the neoconservatives whose articles I analyze in this chapter are not of one mind on reform. William Chip (May 12, 2014) and Jonathan Tobin (July 15, 2014) are opposed. More difficult to interpret, Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014) seemingly holds reformers in low regard but otherwise appears to favor reform.

William Chip, May 12, 2014, First Things

William Chip (May 12, 2014, table 15), a self-identified Catholic (sentence 4.1), resents the Catholic hierarchy’s sympathies for undocumented migrants (paragraphs 3, 6, 7, and 12). He tells the story of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini (paragraph 5) but argues that since we don’t have people like her anymore the task of caring for migrants falls upon the government (sentences 8.2 and 8.3), a claim that, we might note, is contradicted by traditionalist conservative Stephen Turley (July 25, 2014) in an article I analyze in chapter eleven. He acknowledges the morality of caring for migrants once they are here (sentence 8.1) but does not explain why it matters whether it is the church or the government that cares for migrants.

All of this is a rather long, circuitous path to Chip’s (May 12, 2014) actual argument, that the employer mandate, which I discussed in chapter six in the analysis of Fred Reed’s (September 9, 2014) article, was undermined and the E-Verify program created roughly ten years later to enable employers to check the immigration status of workers was never required (paragraphs 9-11), and should therefore be mandated (sentence 11.1). Recent work fails to support this argument. Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny (April, 2015) find that while wages for undocumented migrant workers may decrease as a result of mandatory E-Verify usage, overall employment rates among them do not. Further, according to Orrenius and Zavodny, employment gains for ‘legal’ workers appear only among Hispanics. However, even the latter conclusion, limited as it is, is unsupported in a study of E-Verify in Arizona (Bohn, Lofstrom, & Raphael, April, 2015), published the same month, which

find[s], in sum, no evidence that LAWA [the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act] improved the likelihood of employment for low-skilled legal workers. In fact, we find some evidence of the opposite, which may be viewed as an additional unintended consequence of the policy. (Bohn, Lofstrom, & Raphael, April, 2015)

While Chip (May 12, 2014) simply dismisses objections to E-Verify mandates as “self-interested” (sentences 11.2-11.4, 12.1, and 12.2), both Orrenius and Zavodny (April, 2015) and Bohn, Lofstrom, and Raphael (April, 2015) argue that E-Verify mandates increase employer costs related to submitting I-9 form information into the system, which may be done only after a person has been hired, and with rules that restrict firing a worker with a tentative non-confirmation until the appeal period is exhausted—at which time the worker must be fired unless s/he has successfully appealed.

Table 20.

William Chip (May 12, 2014)

¶1.1 The Folly of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
¶2.1 Of Bishops and Business by William Chip 5 . 12 . 14
¶3.1 Advocates of a mass amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens, under the banner of “comprehensive immigration reform,” seldom fail to mention “church leaders” and “faith groups” as part of their “coalition.”
3.2 One might think that the complex issues of how many and which aliens should be permitted to immigrate and how we should deter unlawful immigration by the millions who will not qualify comes down to a simple moral question:
3.3 What would Jesus do?
¶4.1 I don’t know what Jesus would do, but as a Catholic who opposes mass amnesty, I have a few words to say about my own “faith group.”
¶5.1 Like every parochial school student, I was taught the story of Frances Xavier Cabrini, a nineteenth century Italian nun who pleaded with the Pope to send her on a mission to China but was told instead to go to America and minister to Italian immigrants.
5.2 She did as she was told and founded many schools, orphanages, and hospitals.
5.3 In 1946 Mother Cabrini became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized by the Catholic Church.
5.4 Her (Mother (Frances Xavier) Cabrini’s) “feast day” falls in November.
¶6.1 Last November, while the House of Representatives was deliberating on “comprehensive immigration reform,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops designated St. Cabrini’s feast day as a “National Call-In Day to Congress.”
6.2 Lay Catholics were urged to call their Congressmen, promote a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, and oppose legislation that would authorize state police to arrest illegal immigrants.
6.3 The response from the laity was tepid, to say the least, and on the first of April, 2014, a delegation of Catholic bishops took matters into their own hands by celebrating a well-publicized Mass at the Mexican border, offering communion to Mexicans through the steel border fence and laying a wreath to commemorate migrants who died attempting to reach the United States.
¶7.1 Practicing Catholics like myself accept the “Magisterium” of the Church—the duty and authority of our bishops to teach the Christian faith and preserve Christian traditions.
7.2 While that authority is held to be infallible under certain circumstances, the Church also recognizes the fallibility of its bishops when venturing to instruct the faithful on “prudential” matters, i.e., matters where the right moral judgment depends on complete knowledge of the relevant facts.
7.3 In the view of many Catholics, “National Call-In Day” and similar intrusions by the Catholic hierarchy into U.S. immigration policy is living proof of their fallibility in prudential matters.
¶8.1 No Christian could object to the Church’s offering food, shelter, and other life necessities to impoverished aliens regardless of legal status.
8.2 However, as we celebrate our generosity, Catholics must not forget that the battalions of selfless nuns who, like Mother Cabrini, used to staff the Church’s schools and hospitals in exchange for room and board are no longer with us.
8.3 A call to legalize millions of needy aliens is a call for the government, not our Church, to pick up the multi-billion dollars tab.
¶9.1 Where, then, should Christian compassion lead us?
9.2 Certainly away from our current policy of lining the border with tall fences and armed patrolmen and then throwing up a sign saying “Open for Illegal Employment.”
9.3 We need the fences and patrolmen to keep out criminals and terrorists, but our need for cheap lettuce and landscaping does not justify enticing impoverished Mexicans and Central Americans to run a gauntlet of fences and deserts in the hands of “coyotes.”
9.4 According to Amnesty International, as many as six of ten illegally immigrating women are raped on the way to our maids quarters.
¶10.1 In my opinion, formulating a compassionate immigration policy first demands an answer to how this immoral system has remained in place for so long.
10.2 The 1986 law that authorized the first mass amnesty for illegal aliens also imposed sanction on employers who failed to verify that new hires were eligible to work in the United States.
10.3 The sanctions were quickly undermined by the widespread availability of fraudulent identity papers, prompting Congress to authorize a decade later what today we call the E-Verify system, which gives every employer the option to confirm online with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security the legality of every new hire.
¶11.1 Making E-Verify mandatory for all employers would have removed the chief incentive for poverty-stricken foreigners to risk their lives to become “undocumented aliens” waiting for the next amnesty.
11.2 Unfortunately, ethnic advocacy groups and cheap-labor lobbyists whose interests are advanced by uncontrolled immigration have fought tooth and nail for two decades to block every federal or state regulation that would mandate E-Verify for all employers.
11.3 Indeed, these same interest groups had lobbied to repeal the employer sanctions themselves (making E-Verify irrelevant) before the ink had dried on the 1986 legislation.
11.4 Before the ink dries on “comprehensive immigration reform,” they will surely unleash their lawyers to undo in the courts any enforcement measures contained in that legislation.
¶12.1 When the enemies of employer sanctions and E-Verify now weep crocodile tears for the 11 million victims of their self-interest, I accuse them of hypocrisy.
12.2 They cannot achieve their goals based on their own interests, which would never survive public scrutiny, so they enlist Catholic bishops and other well-meaning immigration-policy amateurs to front for them.
12.3 I do not accuse the bishops of hypocrisy.
12.4 How could their hearts not respond to the growing number of Hispanic faces they see in the pews, behind which are many humble, well-meaning, and hard-working people?
12.5 However, as the bishops ponder their next venture into this complex and controversial topic, they should pay some attention to whom they have chosen as allies and whose interests are truly served by “comprehensive immigration reform.”
¶13.1 William Chip is an international attorney and a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Chip (May 12, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants as “illegal aliens” (sentences 6.2, 10.2), “illegal immigrants” (sentence 6.2), “needy aliens” (sentence 8.3), “impoverished Mexicans and Central Americans” (sentence 9.3), “illegally immigrating women” facing a high risk of rape (sentence 9.4), “undocumented aliens” (sentence 11.1), “victims of their [enemies of employer sanctions and E-Verify] self-interest” (sentence 12.1) While characterizing undocumented migrants as “needy aliens” and suggests they will become clients of the social safety network (sentence 8.3), Chip contradicts this characterization by suggesting that they seek work (paragraphs 9-11 and sentence 12.4). Further, Chip writes that “[n]o Christian could object to the Church’s offering food, shelter, and other life necessities to impoverished aliens regardless of legal status” (sentence 8.1). While many of his references are indeed derogatory toward undocumented migrants, Chip’s (May 12, 2014) ire seems directed principally toward employers (sentences 10.2, 10.3, 11.1, 11.2), “ethnic advocacy groups and cheap-labor lobbyists” (sentence 11.2), “these same interest groups” (sentence 11.3), “their lawyers” (sentence 11.4), and “the enemies of employer sanctions and E-Verify” (sentence 12.1). Despite his resentment at being asked to support immigration reform, which he claims is widely shared (sentences 6.3 and 7.3), he sees bishops as “respond[ing] to the growing number of Hispanic faces they see in the pews, behind which are many humble, well-meaning, and hard-working people” (sentence 12.4) but he wants the bishops to “pay some attention to whom they have chosen as allies and whose interests are truly served by ‘comprehensive immigration reform’” (sentence 12.5).

Chip (May 12, 2014) appeals to popular opinion (Nizkor Project, 2012b) with his claims that lay Catholics failed to support bishops in “call[ing] their Congressmen, promot[ing] a ‘path to citizenship’ for illegal aliens, and oppos[ing] legislation that would authorize state police to arrest illegal immigrants” (sentence 6.2). “The response from the laity was tepid, to say the least” (sentence 6.3), he writes. In the following paragraph, he writes further, “[i]n the view of many Catholics, ‘National Call-In Day’ and similar intrusions by the Catholic hierarchy into U.S. immigration policy is living proof of their fallibility in prudential matters” (sentence 7.3).

Thus, Chip (May 12, 2014) characterizes the church hierarchy as well-meaning and charitable but naïve and oblivious to parishioners’ views, and employers as greedy, with undocumented migrants caught in between. As with the majority of conservative arguments analyzed in this dissertation, Chip fails to acknowledge, let alone address, conditions that impel migration. But this is not universally true even of the neoconservatives whose articles I analyze in this disseration.

Jonathan S. Tobin, July 15, 2014, Commentary

Jonathan Tobin’s (July 15, 2014, table 21) argument amounts to a rejection of Central American undocumented migrant claims to amnesty on the grounds that amnesty is meant for individuals in fear for their lives on account “of their politics, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, not merely those who had the bad luck to live in a country where the rule of law has broken down” (sentence 9.2). Tobin (July 15, 2014) employs a slippery slope: If the U.S. were to admit these children, it would admit many more, not just from Central America, but “war refugees from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan or conflicts in dozens of other countries” (sentence 10.2). Tobin does not consider that some might point to U.S. policy in many if not all of those countries as entailing U.S. responsibility, just as U.S. policy has been a major factor in the problems of Central America (see chapter four). Tobin’s solution is apparently to attempt to remedy the situation in migrants’ home countries with U.S. foreign aid (sentence 13.2), neglecting of course that U.S. policy has often been a problem rather than a solution.

It is worth noting however, that at least Tobin (July 15, 2014) acknowledges “push factors” such as the extreme violence in Central America even if he fails to grasp U.S. culpability in that violence. This is a difference from most of the articles analyzed in this dissertation. For authoritarian populists in chapter five, the problem began at the U.S.-Mexican border. The capitalist libertarians in chapter six were more interested in the availability of labor than the problems of Central American countries. And of the functionalist conservatives in chapter seven, only one acknowledged the issue—although the Economist (July 12, 2014) does report on Central American violence elsewhere and Sweig (July 2, 2014) also seeks to obscure U.S. culpability—and all subsumed the crisis to what for them was the more pressing question of getting immigration reform through Congress.

Further, like Chip (May 12, 2012), Tobin (July 15, 2014) acknowledges a responsibility to care for migrants once they are in the U.S. (sentences 5.3, 5.5, and 6.2).

Table 21.

Jonathan S. Tobin (July 14, 2014)

¶1.1 Contentions
¶2.1 Compassion and the Rule of Law
¶3.1 Jonathan S. Tobin | 07.14.2014 – 7:25 PM
¶4.1 The surge of illegal aliens–and in particular unaccompanied minors from Central America–across the border in Texas has started a debate in which more than immigration reform seems to be stake.
4.2 While most conservatives are decrying the situation as the result of President Obama’s mistakes, some liberals are focusing on what they believe is the lack of compassion for the children that is being forgotten amid the politics.
4.3 But as the plight of these desperate kids becomes publicized, Americans are being asked to make a choice between their charitable instincts and the rule of law.
¶5.1 That’s the conceit of a good deal of the coverage of the reaction to the border surge in which demonstrations by Americans angry about the arrival of busloads of illegals are seen as proof of the intolerance and anger at the heart of resistance to immigration reform.
5.2 The deplorable condition of many of these children and the hardships and violence they faced on their way to the United States all demand the sympathy of any decent person.
5.3 Once in this country, they deserve humanitarian aid.
5.4 Republicans who have expressed reluctance to allocate funds to deal with the crisis may be right not to trust President Obama to use the $3.7 billion he has requested wisely.
5.5 But so long as they are on American soil, there can be no question that the government and concerned citizens must do whatever is needed to see that they are housed, fed, and given the medical care they need.
¶6.1 But that isn’t what’s at stake in this debate.
6.2 Nobody is saying that the kids shouldn’t be cared for.
6.3 But the notion, pushed by the United Nations and a growing volume of liberal commentators, is that we must treat these illegals as refugees and let them stay in America rather than being sent back home.
¶7.1 The argument for this proposition rests principally on the idea that the kids are in genuine danger from violence in their own countries.
7.2 Looked at from that point of view, sending them back would be a death sentence.
7.3 Thus, granting them asylum is being represented as not merely ethical but our obligation as civilized people.
¶8.1 But the problem with this reasoning is that if this position is allowed to stand, Central America and indeed, much of the rest of the world, might well empty out as immigrants seeking a better life pour into the United States.
¶9.1 It may well be that some of the unaccompanied minors who have come here recently in their tens of thousands would be in danger back home.
9.2 But the laws regarding refugees were intended to provide a haven to those with a genuine fear of persecution because of their politics, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, not merely those who had the bad luck to live in a country where the rule of law has broken down.
9.3 Violence is nothing new in Central American countries and even if it has surged lately, declaring that anyone who had fled these nations has a right to stay in the U.S. would render all existing immigration law and even the concept of borders meaningless.
¶10.1 Such compassion is, after all, relative.
10.2 Those declaring that the United States must absorb children sent streaming over our borders by parents who hope they will be allowed to stay are not, after all, also advocating that war refugees from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan or conflicts in dozens of other countries also be taken in with no questions asked.
10.3 The point of such demands is not merely humanitarian but to underscore demands that those already in the country illegally be allowed a path to legalization if not citizenship.
¶11.1 I have always been sympathetic to such arguments since it seems to me that 11 million people cannot be deported and therefore amnesty is what we’re experiencing now.
11.2 But the border surge and the subsequent demands to grant tens of thousands of illegal aliens who are minors asylum demonstrates the danger of signaling that illegals will not be deported.
¶12.1 Granting refugee status to the current group of unaccompanied minors will herald the start of future surges that no amount of border patrol or improved security will be able to halt.
¶13.1 If these children deserve compassion, and they do, then by all means the U.S. should extend it to them.
13.2 If it means more aid to the countries where they must be repatriated or the creation of centers in those countries where they can be protected against predators and poverty, then so be it.
13.3 But if they are allowed to stay we might as well kiss goodbye any hope of America being able to police its borders or to have a say in who comes or goes.
¶14.1 As the people of many Central American nations have learned to their sorrow, the collapse of the rule of law means is the beginning of the rule of predators and the end of compassion.
14.2 If we are to avoid the same fate and to be of any use to those who understandably wish to come here–whether legally or illegally–we must not allow a false argument for compassion to undermine our rule of law.

Tobin (July 14, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants as “illegal aliens” (sentence 4.1) and “illegals” (sentences 5.1 and 6.3). He refers to undocumented migrant children as “unaccompanied minors from Central America” (sentence 4.1), “unaccompanied minors” (sentences 9.1 and 12.1), “children” (sentences 4.2, 5.2, 10.2, and 13.1), “desperate kids” (sentence 4.3), “kids” (sentences 6.2 and 7.1), and “illegal aliens who are minors” (sentence 11.2). Tobin often seems to mean the children even when he uses phrases that could apply to adults and the stigmatizing use of “illegal” appears both in the ambiguous references and the unambiguous references. Tobin (July 14, 2014) also uses the term “amnesty” in acknowledging that “11 million people cannot be deported” (sentence 11.1).

Tobin (July 14, 2014) raises the specter that “Central America and indeed, much of the rest of the world, might well empty out” (sentence 8.1) as “busloads of illegals” (sentence 5.1) are “streaming over our borders” (sentence 10.2) and that granting them refugee status “will herald the start of future surges that no amount of border patrol or improved security will be able to halt” (sentence 12.1). This is an obvious slippery slope argument. It is also a slippery slope on another level: “[D]eclaring that anyone who had fled these [Central American] nations has a right to stay in the U.S.,” he explains, “would render all existing immigration law and even the concept of borders meaningless” (sentence 9.3) and “if they are allowed to stay we might as well kiss goodbye any hope of America being able to police its borders or to have a say in who comes or goes” (sentence 13.3). This would be “the collapse of the rule of law” and “the beginning of the rule of predators and the end of compassion” (sentence 14.1). All this because Tobin believes that “the laws regarding refugees were intended to provide a haven to those with a genuine fear of persecution because of their politics, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, not merely those who had the bad luck to live in a country where the rule of law has broken down” (sentence 9.2).

Slippery slope arguments are generally considered fallacious when they fail to show how the first slip down a slope leads catastrophically all the way to the bottom (Nizkor Project, 2012c). By such criteria, Tobin’s dire claims about Central America emptying out (sentence 8.1) and “the collapse of the rule of law” in the U.S. (sentence 14.1) are likely fallacious.

Further, when Tobin (July 14, 2014) acknowledges that the United Nations is among those who say “we must treat these illegals as refugees and let them stay in America rather than being sent back home” (sentence 6.3), he neglects that the United Nations is a source of international law, which casts considerable doubt on his claim that to admit these refugees would break down the rule of law. Rather, to comply with the U.N. might not be to uphold the particular laws that he would prefer be upheld. But the rule of law does not permit us the luxury of picking and choosing which laws we will abide by. We either conform to the law as a body, which may include laws we do not like, or we break the law. And when laws conflict, as they might well in this case, this is a matter for courts to resolve. None of this amounts by any means to Tobin’s “collapse of the rule of law” (sentence 14.1).

Tobin (July 14, 2014) refers to “Americans are being asked to make a choice between their charitable instincts and the rule of law” (sentence 4.3) and “coverage of the reaction to the border surge in which demonstrations by Americans angry about the arrival of busloads of illegals are seen as proof of the intolerance and anger at the heart of resistance to immigration reform” (sentence 5.1) in consecutive sentences, but Tobin (July 14, 2014) offers no conclusion that logically follows from the second of these. My own question about this, given the rest of Tobin’s argument, is whether he would change his argument if he were to acknowledge the substantial segment of public opinion that is at least somewhat sympathetic to undocumented migrants (Espenshade, 1995; Gallup, June, 2015). If he would not, then this argument seems spurious.

Peter Skerry, August 18, 2014, Weekly Standard

Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014, table 22)’s argument can be interpreted either as sympathetic to undocumented migrants or in opposition to immigration reform and there is a certain rhetorical ‘shell game’ quality to his argumentation that makes it difficult to be certain which position he means to advocate. I initially interpreted his argument as being in opposition due to the sympathy he expresses for opponents of immigration reform and the low regard he seems to hold for proponents. However, his argument makes more sense when interpreted as being in favor, especially given 1) the title of his article (“Immigration malpractice: Young Latin Americans pay the price for America’s policy blunders”), 2) a significant acknowledgment of the role that U.S. policy has had in creating the conditions that have led to the surge in undocumented migration (paragraph 11), and 3) his conclusion (paragraph 18).

Skerry (August 18, 2014) begins with an improved version of Tobin’s (July 14, 2014) argument in which anger about undocumented migration is “seen as proof of . . . intolerance and anger” (table 21, sentence 5.1). Skerry, in contrast, argues that “America’s elites have willfully ignored a substantial segment of the public that has misgivings about ever-increasing levels of immigration” (table 22, sentence 5.1), that “immigration advocates have routinely denounced those who resist their agenda as racist xenophobes” (sentence 5.3), and that “any opposition or resistance to illegal immigration is viewed as morally suspect or racist” (sentence 14.4). Where Tobin conflated these claims, Skerry separates them and implies that the latter accusations (in sentences 5.3 and 14.4) amount to an attack against the person(s) (Nizkor Project, 2012a).

Skerry (August 18, 2014) contrasts the “elite[] . . . platitudes about our status as ‘a nation of immigrants,’ conveniently overlooking the four decades of the 20th century when the gates were substantially closed” (sentence 5.2), with “popular anxieties [that] have broken through the thick haze of immigration happy talk and moralistic complacency” (sentence 6.1). These anxieties are “populist outbursts, sound gut instincts [that] do not necessarily translate into good policy” (sentence 6.2).

This outburst seems more authoritarian populist when Skerry (August 18, 2014) seemingly discounts survey results that show majorities of the U.S. public express sympathy for undocumented migrants (Espenshade, 1995; Gallup, June, 2015) in writing that “many of our countrymen are now impervious to such arguments” (sentence 6.4) and as he labels proponents of immigration reform as “elites” (sentence 7.1). It thus appears that no matter how widely shared one’s opinion, to support immigration reform is to be an “elite,”

Skerry (August 18, 2014) complains that “advocates and their allies have appropriated the legislative term “unaccompanied alien children”—despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Central American youth arriving at our border are 13- to 18-year-olds” (sentence 7.3). He defends his claim that these are not children by asserting, first, that “if the issue were contraception or abortion, their champions would insist on referring to them as ‘young adults’” (sentence 7.4), drawing in, what is for many conservatives an extraneous and inflammatory issue; and second, “the most straight-talking student of the region, anthropologist David Stoll, points out that in Central America ‘children’ of this age are in the workforce and starting families” (sentence 7.5). Thus, even though in the U.S. people under the age of 18 are legally minors regardless of origin, Skerry is attempting to treat them as adults.

Regardless of the legalities, what constitutes adulthood in one culture does not necessarily constitute adulthood in another culture, as Skerry himself seems to acknowledge in pointing to “the social and fiscal challenges [that arise] when such uprooted and uneducated ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ get caught up in the pathologies of life in our cities—especially gangs, pregnancy outside of marriage, and drugs” (sentence 8.4). If Skerry wants to argue that undocumented migrant minors are adults rather than, perhaps, emancipated minors, he should go to Central America where he could write of undocumented emigrants, but his argument seems to me entirely illegitimate within the U.S.

Skerry (August 18, 2014) laudably points to a number of failings of U.S. policy toward Central America and, even more remarkably, to errors made by immigration reform opponents. First, he criticizes “[o]utraged Americans and their Republican tribunes” (sentence 9.2) for blaming President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) for the surge in undocumented migrant arrivals. The timing is wrong, Skerry (August 18, 2014) points out, as the increase in arrivals began in Fall 2011 (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Lagon & McCormick, July 14, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014), but DACA did not begin until August 2012 (sentence 9.3).

What outraged Americans do not want to face up to—and what their champions are not prepared to tell them—is that this crisis has been many years in the making. More to the point, America had a distinct role in creating the current mess. Aside from the long and complicated legacy of our military interventions in the region, one can point to our deportation of thousands of convicted criminals to Central America—more than 129,000 between 2001 and 2010 alone, most of them members of criminal gangs who have subsequently wrought havoc in their home countries. At the same time, the United States has been the source of a lively weapons trade into Mexico and Central America. Last but by no means least is our continuing demand for illegal drugs, which in recent years have been routed by Mexican cartels through the three Central American countries that young people are now fleeing. According to General John F. Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, 80 percent of the violence in those murderously violent countries is attributable to the drug trade for which we are the primary market. (Skerry, August 18, 2014, paragraph 11)

For me, these admissions are entirely unexpected from a neoconservative. In the framework of neoconservatism discussed in chapter one, in which there are more and less warlike neoconservatives on foreign policy, I can only suspect that Skerry (August 18, 2014) is of the less warlike sort. We will not see anything else like these concessions in this dissertation until we get to analyses of some social conservative and traditionalist conservative articles in chapters ten and eleven.

Skerry (August 18, 2014) does suggest that “DACA did not help stem the tide from Central America and undoubtedly contributed to rumors of sanctuary in the United States” (sentence 10.1) and that “the administration’s throttling back on deportations of noncriminals and minors likely conveyed the impression in Central America that once here young adults would be permitted to stay” (sentence 10.2). These, however, seem less like criticisms of Obama’s actions than they are of possible misinformation among Central American migrants.

Skerry (August 18, 2014) then rapidly phases back to a critical stance. Observe paragraph 12:

Immigration and refugee advocates are more than happy to point to such indicators of our complicity in the surge of Central American youth to our border. But these advocates have no credibility with the Americans who most need convincing. Feeding this lack of credibility is the complete silence of such advocates when it comes to acknowledging how our relatively open borders have contributed over time to the break-up of families and the ensuing social disorder in Central America that now spurs the surge of youth across our border. (Skerry, August 18, 2014, paragraph 12)

Skerry’s (August 18, 2014) paragraph 12 serves as a transition to a stance that will be more comfortable for many conservatives, blaming family breakdowns in Central America that he in turn blames on “relatively open borders” (sentence 12.3). “In fact, it is social dislocation due to migration,” Skerry continues, “that has led some Catholic leaders to speak on occasion of ‘a right not to migrate’—a right to stay at home” (sentence 13.1). Skerry then immediately acknowledges the same complaint that William Chip (May 12, 2014) voices in an article analyzed earlier in this chapter, writing that “[o]f course, the bishops have spoken out even more loudly and consistently on ‘the right to migrate’” (Skerry, sentence 13.2). If in paragraphs 10 and 11, Skerry sought to portray himself as balanced, now (in paragraphs 12 and 13) he seeks to reassure fellow conservatives—as if there could be any doubt from his opening—that he is on their side.

Skerry’s (August 18, 2014) next move muddies the waters of populism that I commented on above. When he writes of “the people,” he at least clarifies that he is thinking in class terms: First, “the [Catholic] church tends to advocate whatever ‘the people’ (the poor) want when it comes to migration decisions, while remaining remarkably oblivious to the impact of such decisions on traditional Catholic concerns like communal and political cohesion” (sentence 13.3). Second, “the wishes of ‘the people’ (middle-class Americans) are now suspect and categorically overridden by the claims of the biblical ‘stranger’” (sentence 14.3). With the second, “any hint of populism evanesces” (sentence 14.2). Third, Skerry quotes Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski saying, “The last time that we excluded legally a whole class of people from the benefits and the protection of American law was called Jim Crow, and this country has yet to recover from the bad effect” (sentence 14.6). Populism here thus seems to belong to the middle class, not the poor, and it is unclear where the working class—perhaps viewing itself as ‘middle’ class—fits in this scheme. Further, in Wenski’s quote, we see a criticism of the exclusion of Blacks as an argument for not excluding Hispanics, an argument Skerry does not refute, but rather labels as extreme (sentence 14.5). Similarly, Michael Walzer, is ‘maximalist’ (sentence 15.2) for “[a]rguing that once admitted to a host society guest workers must be afforded the option of becoming full citizens” (sentence 15.3) and a United Nations report is “[m]ore egregious” (sentence 16.1) for “a clear effort to expand the definition of refugee status to something broader called ‘international protection’” (sentence 16.2).

The report in question, by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (2014), builds a straight-forward argument for protection based on human rights and the duty of governments to protect its population. While Skerry (August 18, 2014) does not mention ‘natural right,’ this is precisely the sort of move that I argued in chapter one is a reason for conservatives to prefer what they label ‘natural right’ to human rights. Furthermore, Skerry (August 18, 2014) does not refute the UNHCR argument but rather treats it in a way that I initially interpreted as conspiratorial, “noting that this recently issued report is based on research and funding that required a couple of years of lead-time” (sentence 17.1), and that “[i]f this particular crisis has been some years in the making, so too have immigration and refugee advocates been laying the groundwork to make use of it for some time” (sentence 17.2). The rest of paragraph 17 is devoted to the efforts to achieve immigration reform, an effort he considers partly successful (sentence 17.6) but misguided because “they [reform advocates] have a difficult time maintaining meaningful lines of communication with those whose interests they purport to represent” (sentence 17.5) and they apparently ignore “abundant evidence that guest workers routinely shun membership in host societies and cling, not always successfully, to a strategy whereby they derive income from their host and maintain ties to the home country, to which they intend eventually to return” (sentence 15.3).

“But now,” Skerry (August 18, 2014) argues, “such immigration reformers are running aground on the shoals of a resurgent populism” apparently of the middle class kind (sentence 17.7) and are “reaping what they have sown” (sentence 18.1). However, if reformers have indeed been working diligently in the way that Skerry claims, it seems that for the result in sentence 18.1, they are reaping the opposite of “what they have sown.” But with this final bit of illogic, Skerry thus blames reformers for the result: “Unfortunately, those who pay the price this time will be the young adults from Central America whose legitimate claims on America’s conscience and largesse may now go unheeded” (sentence 18.2).

Table 22.

Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014)

¶1.1 Immigration Malpractice
¶2.1 Young Latin Americans pay the price for America’s policy blunders.
¶3.1 Peter Skerry
¶4.1 August 18 – August 25, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 46
¶5.1 For over a generation now, America’s elites have willfully ignored a substantial segment of the public that has misgivings about ever-increasing levels of immigration.
5.2 Whenever possible these elites—in the academy, religious institutions, the media, politics, and business—have responded to such misgivings with platitudes about our status as “a nation of immigrants,” conveniently overlooking the four decades of the 20th century when the gates were substantially closed.
5.3 When such evasive tactics have proved ineffective, immigration advocates have routinely denounced those who resist their agenda as racist xenophobes—and continued to pry open the flood-gates to unskilled as well as skilled migrants.
¶6.1 In recent months, of course, popular anxieties have broken through the thick haze of immigration happy talk and moralistic complacency, most recently in the unresolved controversy over thousands of “unaccompanied alien children” from Central America who have been streaming across our southern border and overwhelming our capacities to process them.
6.2 As is often the case with such populist outbursts, sound gut instincts do not necessarily translate into good policy.
6.3 For as it happens, there are compelling arguments to admit these young people fleeing social, economic, and political chaos for which the United States bears considerable responsibility.
6.4 Yet many of our countrymen are now impervious to such arguments, after decades during which immigration and refugee advocates and their allies have uncritically embraced all those seeking entry here and declined to articulate any meaningful criteria by which Americans might come to make difficult choices.
¶7.1 These elites have sown not only disaffection but confusion.
7.2 In the current controversy, this confusion is definitional, political, and moral.
7.3 Taking the definitional first, advocates and their allies have appropriated the legislative term “unaccompanied alien children”—despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Central American youth arriving at our border are 13- to 18-year-olds.
7.4 If the issue were contraception or abortion, their champions would insist on referring to them as “young adults.”
7.5 More to the point, the most straight-talking student of the region, anthropologist David Stoll, points out that in Central America “children” of this age are in the workforce and starting families.
¶8.1 No matter.
8.2 In his recent report on this issue, “Children on the Run,” the U.N. high commissioner for refugees insists on referring to these youth as “boys” and “girls.”
8.3 He goes on to make the case that while they may not meet the prevailing definition of refugees, these “children” nevertheless merit “international protection” and hence legal residence in the United States.
8.4 What the commissioner fails to address are the social and fiscal challenges when such uprooted and uneducated “boys” and “girls” get caught up in the pathologies of life in our cities—especially gangs, pregnancy outside of marriage, and drugs.
¶9.1 Similarly confounding is the political and policy confusion enveloping this issue.
9.2 Outraged Americans and their Republican tribunes have sought to pin this fiasco on President Obama and his de facto amnesty for individuals who arrived here illegally as children—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
9.3 Yet the surge in young people arriving at our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador clearly began in the fall of 2011, well before DACA went into effect in August 2012, just in time for the final months of the presidential campaign.
9.4 Indeed, by May 2012, Texas governor Rick Perry was calling on Obama to address the developing humanitarian crisis at the Texas-Mexico border.
¶10.1 To be sure, once in place, DACA did not help stem the tide from Central America and undoubtedly contributed to rumors of sanctuary in the United States that even the White House’s top immigration adviser, Cecilia Muñoz, has had to credit.
10.2 So, too, the administration’s throttling back on deportations of noncriminals and minors likely conveyed the impression in Central America that once here young adults would be permitted to stay.
¶11.1 What outraged Americans do not want to face up to—and what their champions are not prepared to tell them—is that this crisis has been many years in the making.
11.2 More to the point, America had a distinct role in creating the current mess.
11.3 Aside from the long and complicated legacy of our military interventions in the region, one can point to our deportation of thousands of convicted criminals to Central America—more than 129,000 between 2001 and 2010 alone, most of them members of criminal gangs who have subsequently wrought havoc in their home countries.
11.4 At the same time, the United States has been the source of a lively weapons trade into Mexico and Central America.
11.5 Last but by no means least is our continuing demand for illegal drugs, which in recent years have been routed by Mexican cartels through the three Central American countries that young people are now fleeing.
11.6 According to General John F. Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, 80 percent of the violence in those murderously violent countries is attributable to the drug trade for which we are the primary market.
¶12.1 Immigration and refugee advocates are more than happy to point to such indicators of our complicity in the surge of Central American youth to our border.
12.2 But these advocates have no credibility with the Americans who most need convincing.
12.3 Feeding this lack of credibility is the complete silence of such advocates when it comes to acknowledging how our relatively open borders have contributed over time to the break-up of families and the ensuing social disorder in Central America that now spurs the surge of youth across our border.
¶13.1 In fact, it is social dislocation due to migration that has led some Catholic leaders to speak on occasion of “a right not to migrate”—a right to stay at home.
13.2 Of course, the bishops have spoken out even more loudly and consistently on “the right to migrate.”
13.3 The result has been a curiously libertarian concoction such that the church tends to advocate whatever “the people” (the poor) want when it comes to migration decisions, while remaining remarkably oblivious to the impact of such decisions on traditional Catholic concerns like communal and political cohesion.
¶14.1 When it comes to illegal immigrants, the Catholic position is even more perverse.
14.2 Suddenly, any hint of populism evanesces.
14.3 The wishes of “the people” (middle-class Americans) are now suspect and categorically overridden by the claims of the biblical “stranger.”
14.4 Indeed, just about any opposition or resistance to illegal immigration is viewed as morally suspect or racist.
14.5 The pronouncements of Thomas Wenski, archbishop of Miami and one of the leading voices on migration for the American hierarchy, on the status of illegal immigrants are admittedly extreme but not atypical of the moral obtuseness of the bishops on these issues:
14.6 “The last time that we excluded legally a whole class of people from the benefits and the protection of American law was called Jim Crow, and this country has yet to recover from the bad effect.”
¶15.1 Our secular elites have displayed only marginally greater insight into the ethical and moral dilemmas presented by contemporary mass migration.
15.2 Even Michael Walzer, in his subtle treatise on distributive justice, Spheres of Justice, adopts an ill-considered maximalist position on the rights of guest workers.
15.3 Arguing that once admitted to a host society guest workers must be afforded the option of becoming full citizens, Walzer ignores abundant evidence that guest workers routinely shun membership in host societies and cling, not always successfully, to a strategy whereby they derive income from their host and maintain ties to the home country, to which they intend eventually to return.
¶16.1 More egregious but also more typical of the thinking of policy elites is “Children on the Run,” the U.N. report.
16.2 It reflects a clear effort to expand the definition of refugee status to something broader called “international protection.”
16.3 In general, I have no criticism of such reform efforts.
16.4 But I do question the prudence of the specific grounds on which the high commissioner for refugees invokes the need to protect young people in Central America.
16.5 For while his report stipulates that “it is understood that not all children leaving situations of poverty warrant international protection,” it goes on to suggest that “all violence against children, including physical, psychological and sexual violence, while in the care of parents or [other caregivers],” constitutes “a potential basis for providing international protection.”
¶17.1 It is worth noting that this recently issued report is based on research and funding that required a couple of years of lead-time.
17.2 If this particular crisis has been some years in the making, so too have immigration and refugee advocates been laying the groundwork to make use of it for some time.
17.3 Such are the tireless efforts of today’s conscientious reformers, underwritten by sympathetic funders and abetted by ideologically attuned academics.
17.4 These operatives are skilled not merely in the passage of legislation but in the arcane arts of rule-making and administrative politics as well as media management.
17.5 Even when such professionals seek to speak out on behalf of the disenfranchised or unrepresented, they have a difficult time maintaining meaningful lines of communication with those whose interests they purport to represent.
17.6 In the case of immigration reform, as political scientists such as Gary Freeman and Peter Schuck have pointed out, such political entrepreneurs have managed to operate under the radar and expand immigration levels through technical fixes and incremental legislative changes in the face of considerable popular anxiety if not outright opposition.
17.7 But now such immigration reformers are running aground on the shoals of a resurgent populism.
¶18.1 In many respects, these reformers and their religious allies are reaping what they have sown.
18.2 Unfortunately, those who pay the price this time will be the young adults from Central America whose legitimate claims on America’s conscience and largesse may now go unheeded.
¶19.1 Peter Skerry, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, teaches political science at Boston College.

Skerry (August 18, 2014) places the terms ‘unaccompanied alien children,’ ‘children,’ ‘young adults,’ ‘boys,’ and ‘girls’ in scare quotes (sentences 6.1, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 8.3, 8.4). He omits the scare quotes with those terms in sentences 9.2, 10.2, and 18.2, and with the terms ‘youth’ (sentence 8.2), ‘young people’ (sentence 9.3), and ‘minors’ (sentence 10.2). He otherwise refers to undocumented migrants as “unskilled as well as skilled migrants” (sentence 5.3), “all those seeking entry here” (sentence 6.4), “individuals who arrived here illegally as children” (sentence 9.2), “illegal immigrants” (sentences 14.1 and 14.5), “guest workers” (sentences 15.2 and 15.3), and “young adults from Central America” (sentence 18.2). Though with his use of scare quotes, Skerry clearly doubts that these children should be regarded as children, his references to undocumented migrants are mostly neutral.

Skerry’s (August 18, 2014) ire is instead directed at advocates of immigration reform, whom he labels “America’s elites” (sentence 5.1), “elites” (sentences 5.2, 7.1), “secular elites” (sentence 15.1), “policy elites” (sentence 16.1), “immigration advocates” (sentence 5.3), “immigration and refugee advocates and their allies” (sentence 6.4), “advocates and their allies” (sentence 7.3), “immigration and refugee advocates” (sentences 12.1 and 17.2), “advocates” (sentences 12.2 and 12.3), “immigration reformers” (sentence 17.7), “reformers and their religious allies” (sentence 18.1), “conscientious reformers, underwritten by sympathetic funders and abetted by ideologically attuned academics” (sentence 17.3), “operatives” (sentence 17.4), “professionals” (sentence 17.5), and “political entrepreneurs” (sentence 17.6).

The term ‘elite,’ particularly in the contexts of class, which Skerry (August 18, 2014) explicitly invokes in sentences 13.3 and 14.3, and or possible racial resentment, which Skerry seeks to deny in sentences 5.3 and 14.4, which one might associate especially with authoritarian populism, seems unlikely to be meant as positive, but rather to suggest people who are aloof from ordinary concerns and who are out of touch. Regrettably, this reading is further bolstered by Skerry’s reference to ‘ideologically attuned academics’ in sentence 17.3—he seemingly invokes the phrase ‘ivory tower’ even without saying it. The terms ‘operatives’ (sentence 17.4) and ‘political entrepreneurs’ (sentence 17.6) seem respectively to refer to people who act in an underhanded way and to lobbyists. These also carry negative connotations. On the whole, then, Skerry seems to hold immigration reformers in low regard.

In stark contrast, Skerry (August 18, 2014) refers to opponents of immigration reform as “a substantial segment of the public” (sentence 5.1), “many of our countrymen” (sentence 6.4), “outraged Americans and their Republican tribunes” (sentence 9.2), “outraged Americans” (sentence 11.1), “their champions” (sentence 11.1), “the Americans who most need convincing” (sentence 12.2), and “‘the people’ (middle-class Americans)” (sentence 14.3). Except for ‘their Republican tribunes’ (sentence 9.2), these seem to me all to be positive or at least neutral references. Despite arguing in favor of reform, Skerry thus seems, on the whole, sympathetic with opponents to reform.


The neoconservatives whose articles I analyze in this chapter number one (Skerry, August 18, 2014) in favor of migration reform and two (Chip, May 12, 2014; Tobin, July 14, 2014) against. All raise issues of law, which I addressed in chapter four. All acknowledge a responsibility to care for migrants who are here, and thus might be considered “compassionate conservatives” in the style claimed by former President George W. Bush (who seems to have combined neoconservatism with social conservatism). Two (Chip, May 12, 2014; Skerry, August 18, 2014) address the Catholic hierarchy’s response to the problem of undocumented migrants. None specifically mention Protestant, let alone evangelical Protestant, responses. Finally, only Skerry (August 18, 2014) significantly addresses the problems that lead to undocumented migration from Central America.


The paleoconservative tendency includes a broad spectrum of views that ranges from the relatively moderate to neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, and other ‘hate groups’ recognized as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center (2014) and the Anti-Defamation League (January 11, 2011). I sought more moderate examples. Even so, some of the text analyzed in this chapter is significantly more offensive than other articles analyzed in this dissertation. Where authoritarian populists can be said to have some legitimate grievances, I have no explanation for the paleoconservative assumption that the white race is under attack. We will also see blame assigned to elites (presumably functionalist conservatives) for facilitating this attack in the name of profit or consolidation of power.

As might be expected from the discussion in chapter one, paleoconservatives are staunchly opposed to inward migration. We will see occasional references to laws, but what underlies the paleoconservative perspective is a notion that people of different races and ethnicities cannot have egalitarian relationships and it is therefore better for them to live apart, in segregated communities. Further, to the extent than any attempt may be made to accommodate people who are not white, this will come at direct cost to whites.

One might immediately ask, how is this different from authoritarian populism? The answer I expected to offer was that authoritarian populism is not nearly so single-minded and it tends to deny rather than to intentionally express racism. Yes, the authoritarian populist articles analyzed in chapter five seemed only to thinly disguise race hatred. But they at least attempted to disguise it. They stigmatized undocumented migrants under other pretenses, for example, with Elizabeth Lee Vliet’s (June 17, 2014) prediction of a public health crisis resulting from the diseases that these migrants would allegedly carry. Paleoconservatives often dispense with the subterfuge, blatantly opposing the presence of other people on account of their race. Still, in one article (Piatak, July 15, 2014), we will see an approach that looks very authoritarian populist, illustrating how paleoconservative and authoritarian populist tendencies occasionally overlap.

Andy Nowicki, July 15, 2014, Alternative Right

At first blush, Andy Nowicki (July 15, 2014, table 23) appears to defy the comments with which I introduce this chapter. He says, for instance, that ethnic chauvinism “runs the risk of dehumanizing those outside of one’s own group, and ignoring crucial commonalities due to the horseblinding effect that accompanies the inculcation of extreme prejudice” (sentence 4.2). Some might say there is no question of risk—suggesting uncertainty—whatsoever: Racism does dehumanize others. It essentializes the person as the color of his or her skin. In chapter one, I quoted Brett Stevens (June 30, 2014) who explains that “[e]ven if they [people of other races or ethnicities] have 1,000 IQ points and never commit any crimes, they do not belong among Us because they are Them and should be excluded.” Nowicki (July 15, 2014), however, writes that “[t]he ethno-chauvinist is but an unseemly exaggeration of one who has a healthy pride in himself and the people who compose his genotypically extended family” (sentence 5.2) and that “the chauvinist takes this natural tendency too far, perhaps with unappetizing results, but the quality he takes too far isn’t a bad thing in itself; it only becomes reprehensible in its abuse” (sentence 5.3). Race, of course, is a social rather than a biological construct so it is unclear what Nowicki means by a “genotypically extended family.”

Nowicki (July 15, 2014) explains further that he does not “view racial discord as the inevitable result of promiscuous propinquity, and [he] reject[s] the notion of insularity as an ostensible virtue” (sentence 9.3). That he does not view it as inevitable, however leaves a large slippery slope just this side of inevitability. It is a bit like a common misunderstanding of Hayek’s (1944/2007) The road to serfdom: Some understand Hayek to mean that any central planning whatsoever will inevitably develop into totalitarianism. But he did not actually say this (Caldwell, 2007). For Hayek, totalitarianism is merely probable—highly probable, indeed almost inescapably so, but not inevitable—in a centrally planned system. Similarly, it is possible—for Nowicki is vague—to understand Nowicki as merely regarding “racial discord as” a highly probable “result of promiscuous propinquity” rather than an inevitable one and that while “insularity” may not be “an ostensible virtue,” anything more than a smile and a wave through a high fence might, for the vague Nowicki, be a problem. The failure here is that having rejected the absolute prohibition on interracial contact, Nowicki does not specify what level of contact he considers acceptable. He says only that “[o]ne’s loyalty to kin should end when it causes one to violate clear moral strictures, but up to that point, ethnic pride is actually a sign of moral health” (sentence 5.5). What are those “clear moral strictures?” Short of violence (sentence 12.2), we are left to decipher this by other means.

Nowicki (July 15, 2014) is attempting, in this article, to criticize something else:

[X]enophilia need not, and ought not be combated with its equally brainless mirror-image ideology; namely, xenophobia. One can support greater border control without promoting the notion that border-hopping refugees are nothing but a nefarious bunch of gangbangers, drug runners, and rapists. In fact, most of them are probably decent people attempting to escape intolerable situations, and looking for a better life. Such folk aren’t our enemies, per se; they are only the unwitting pawns of our corrupt and black-hearted globalist rulers, who instigate such population transfers in order to enhance their prospects for world domination. (Nowicki, July 15, 2014, sentences 11.2-11.5)

This passage includes a theme I find common among the more moderate paleoconservatives. It is not, they claim, that they hate or despise the other. They just do not want to be with them—for no other apparent reason than their race or ethnicity. The passage also points to Nowicki’s (July 15, 2014) main thesis. He objects to what he calls ethnomasochism, which is supposedly a polar opposite from vicious bigotry. Ethnic chauvinism’s “antithetical opposite proclivity leads a person to feel unreasonably righteous by hating his own kind” (sentence 4.2) and “it [ethnomasochism] causes one to feel morally upright by embracing treachery” (sentence 4.3). But where Nowicki perceives ethno-chauvinism as springing from ‘natural’ (sentence 5.3) and ‘healthy’ (sentence 5.2) tendencies, “[e]thnomasochism, on the other hand, is plainly unnatural, and an indication of moral impairment, since it takes positive pleasure in its infidelity” (sentence 6.1). Further, “[l]ittle need be said here about the extent to which ethnomasochism is now the mandated contemporary ideological norm among whites” (sentence 8.1), but he goes on at length about it anyway in sentence 8.2.

So Nowicki (July 15, 2014) seems, in sum, to object to a false dichotomy and to advocate something between the poles of ‘ethnomasochism’ and ‘ethno-chauvinism.’ But that something in between seems much closer to ‘ethno-chauvinism’ than to ‘ethnomasochism,’ so much so, that one might suggest that Nowicki’s objection to the dichotomy is itself misleading. Nowicki indeed advises that whites “conscientiously steer between the Scylla of ethno-chauvinism and the Charybdis of ethnomasochism” (sentence 17.2) suggesting they are very nearly adjacent hazards.

Table 23. Andy Nowicki (July 15, 2014)
¶1.1 Tuesday, 15 July 2014
¶3.1 by Andy Nowicki
¶4.1 Ethnic chauvinism is an irritating and at times repulsive trait, but ethnomasochism is a thoroughly contemptible affliction.
4.2 If the former tendency runs the risk of dehumanizing those outside of one’s own group, and ignoring crucial commonalities due to the horseblinding effect that accompanies the inculcation of extreme prejudice, its antithetical opposite proclivity leads a person to feel unreasonably righteous by hating his own kind.
4.3 That is, it causes one to feel morally upright by embracing treachery, a trait universally regarded as morally loathsome in nearly any other context.
¶5.1 Ethnomasochism is indeed perverse, in a way that ethnic chauvinism is not.
5.2 The ethno-chauvinist is but an unseemly exaggeration of one who has a healthy pride in himself and the people who compose his genotypically extended family.
5.3 The chauvinist takes this natural tendency too far, perhaps with unappetizing results, but the quality he takes too far isn’t a bad thing in itself; it only becomes reprehensible in its abuse.
5.4 The chauvinist errs, that is, through indulging in an overabundance of loyalty, the sort of rabid sentiment expressed in the saying “My nation, right or wrong.”
5.5 One’s loyalty to kin should end when it causes one to violate clear moral strictures, but up to that point, ethnic pride is actually a sign of moral health.
¶6.1 Ethnomasochism, on the other hand, is plainly unnatural, and an indication of moral impairment, since it takes positive pleasure in its infidelity.
6.2 The ethnomasochist doesn’t just reluctantly and with great trepidation turn on his nation as a last possible alternative, to stop a moral atrocity from taking place (after the manner of heroes like Sophie Scholl and Alexander Solzhenitsyn); instead, he takes positivedelight in turning against his people, and even looks for the pettiest of excuses to do so.
¶7.1 ****************
¶8.1 Little need be said here about the extent to which ethnomasochism is now the mandated contemporary ideological norm among whites.
8.2 It is well enough known that, if one is to maintain an aura of respectability amongst “polite” company, one must at least implicitly hold, inter alia, (a) that unlike every other racial group in existence, whites have absolutely no legitimate collective interests; (b) that white history is little more than a litany of shameful deeds perpetrated by dastardly exploiters of the earth and appalling oppressors of the duskier-hued segments of the human population, and certainly includes no incidents or events of which one should properly take pride, (like, for example, the establishment of civilization, or the abolition of slavery, or anything else that would seem an exemplary accomplishment); (c) that “diversity,” – meaning in effect the enforcement of white dispossession and eventual eradication – is forever to be “celebrated,” while Caucasian homogeneity, where it still exists, must be mocked and derided as “white bread,” “white trash,” “lily white,” or worse, and must altogether be held in thoroughgoing contempt, until it finally takes the hint and actively dispossesses itself out of abject shame
¶9.1 The question of how things came to this pass is an interesting one, but it won’t be taken up here.
9.2 In any case, most regulars of Alternative Right are dissenters from this trend, and I am no exception.
9.3 Though admittedly not as militant on this front as many – I don’t, for example, view racial discord as the inevitable result of promiscuous propinquity, and I reject the notion of insularity as an ostensible virtue – yet I still heartily deplore the disingenuous rhetoric concerning whiteness, and the conspicuous brazen double standard in place, utilized to pressure the majority into submission through the spread of that insufferable plague known as “white guilt.”
¶10.1 One should, however, approach this matter aware of certain subtleties, to guard against causing needless offense.
10.2 Pro-open border media outlets (and their names are Legion) often characterize their opponents as “anti-immigrant,” as if wishing to preserve national homogeneity and protect the border implied some inherent animus towards people who look different and come from a different place.
10.3 Intellectually dishonest as this characterization is, it also unfortunately happens to be a correct assessment in many cases.
10.4 There is indeed a penchant on the part of some activists to fixate entirely on the invaders’ real or perceived negative traits, to the exclusion of all other considerations.
10.5 In some cases, these rhetorical fixations can approach an unbecoming obsessiveness.
¶11.1 Of course, I loathe the smarmy, maudlin knee-jerk tendency—commonly indulged in by liberal-leftists—to reflexively glamorize the exotic “other,” and concomitantly to castigate those who don’t share their smitten xenophila as little more than “bigots.”
11.2 Again, though, xenophilia need not, and ought not be combated with its equally brainless mirror-image ideology; namely, xenophobia.
11.3 One can support greater border control without promoting the notion that border-hopping refugees are nothing but a nefarious bunch of gangbangers, drug runners, and rapists.
11.4 In fact, most of them are probably decent people attempting to escape intolerable situations, and looking for a better life.
11.5 Such folk aren’t our enemies, per se; they are only the unwitting pawns of our corrupt and black-hearted globalist rulers, who instigate such population transfers in order to enhance their prospects for world domination.
¶12.1 I don’t mean to say that the continuing human invasion of the US from its notoriously porous southern border isn’t a hugely important issue, and oughtn’t be strongly opposed, but simply to emphasize that the ongoing effort at an orchestrated reconquista must be seen as part of a broader Gestalt.
12.2 Staunchly opposing illegal immigration is one thing, but engaging in snide rhetorical broadsides and derogatory jeering at “wetbacks” — or, God forbid, actually instigating unprovoked violence against illegal immigrants — is morally wrong and politically counterproductive.
12.3 We ought to focus our energies against the puppet-masters, not their mostly hapless mandarins.
12.4 For such as the former, the name of the game isn’t racial domination per se — indeed, many among the elite are white, English-speaking gentiles — but greater consolidation of power and control.
¶13.1 ****************
¶14.1 This truth was brought home to me again when that noxious, nauseating Coca-Cola-sponsored piece of agitprop — first shown at the Super Bowl and discussed in these virtual pages soon afterwards — was rebroadcast during the World Cup game on July 4, and we were once more treated to “America the Beautiful” sung in various different languages, accompanied by a pictorial montage of darkly-complexioned, exotically-garbed, newly-naturalized “Americans” from all corners of the earth laughing, playing, and smiling benignly whilst frolicking through various sites which radiate that traditional Americana vibe — movie theaters, skating rinks, California beaches, New York street corners, verdant Appalachian forests, oceans white with foam, fields filled with amber waves of grain, etc.
14.2 In the commercial, all of these places retain their wholesome essence, yet at the same time appear to have mostly been drained of the vexatious presence of white people (with the notable exception of one gay Caucasian couple with an apparent adopted daughter in tow — in Coca-Cola world, a redeeming propensity for buggery clearly covers a multitude of sins).
¶15.1 The message, thus, could not be clearer.
15.2 Submerged beneath the mawkish mise en scene, sugary-sweet as the product being sold, can faintly be heard the strains of a hymn of hate.
15.3 The entire spot is in fact a barely-concealed jeering taunt from the ranks of the powerful and highly-placed, directed at the weak and disenfranchised: i.e., that long-derided collective entity known as “middle America.”
15.4 The central theme communicated amounts to a brazen threat:
15.5 Hey working-class White America, we don’t need you anymore!
15.6 Your long-dependable stock will soon be replaced with a cheaper brood of slaves that we’re in the process of importing.
15.7 You can’t fight us, so don’t even try — we are in control; you are not.
15.8 Object to our plans, and you’ll get on our bad side… and we’ll only step up our campaign of shame and intimidation against you.
15.9 Accept your fate, agree to hate yourselves, and become complicit in your dispossession, and nobody gets hurt… otherwise, we will bury you!
¶16.1 They aim to turn us against the “spics,” and then to exploit our misplaced anger in order to create an occasion to light another Reichstag fire and create a new pretext for totalitarian tyranny in the name of combating “bigotry.”
16.2 We must be smart enough to resist this trap, and we must also be clear-eyed enough not to sacrifice the justice of our cause on the altar of a crude, “might makes right” notion of expediency.
¶17.1 It will be a balancing act, requiring subtlety, foresight, and prudence, in which the temptation to embrace bigotry against non-whites is eschewed just as vigorously as we already reject the insufferably prevalent, ever-present anti-white Zeitgeist of our day.
17.2 But if we conscientiously steer between the Scylla of ethno-chauvinism and the Charybdis of ethnomasochism, we can stake out and protect the precious border of truth.
¶18.1 Andy Nowicki, co-editor of Alternative Right, is the author of seven books, including Under the NihilThe Doctor and the Heretic, Considering Suicide, and his latest, Beauty and the Least. He occasionally updates his blog when the spirit moves him to do so.

Nowicki (July 15, 2014) refers, sometimes in a way that suggests he opposes prejudice, to undocumented migrants as “invaders” (sentence 10.4), “border-hopping refugees” (sentence 11.3), “probably decent people” (sentence 11.4), “[s]uch folk” (sentence 11.5), “illegal immigrants” (sentence 12.2), and “‘spics’” (sentence 16.1). We must treat some of these references with care: Sentence 11.3, for example, reads, “One can support greater border control without promoting the notion that border-hopping refugees are nothing but a nefarious bunch of gangbangers, drug runners, and rapists.” Sentence 16.1 reads, “They aim to turn us against the ‘spics,’ and then to exploit our misplaced anger in order to create an occasion to light another Reichstag fire and create a new pretext for totalitarian tyranny in the name of combating ‘bigotry.’” In these examples, he seems to set dubious words and phrases up as the way “that long-derided collective entity known as ‘middle America’” are expected by those in “the ranks of the powerful and highly-placed” (sentence 15.3) to feel toward others. “We must be smart enough to resist this trap” (sentence 16.2), he writes.

Some might recognize the argument. In its essentials, it is a similar argument to the one deployed by some feminist theorists, that elites exploit difference in order to preserve their position (Butler, 1991/2010; Gates, 1986/2010; Hartsock, 1987/2010). The enemy, in this argument, is not the other, but the elites who manipulate our differences to divide us. Which would be quite the ironic argument coming from a segregationist. Nowicki (July 15, 2014), however, does not object to the division, but rather a “tendency [that] runs the risk of dehumanizing those outside of one’s own group, and ignoring crucial commonalities” (sentence 4.2), “a penchant on the part of some activists to fixate entirely on the invaders’ real or perceived negative traits, to the exclusion of all other considerations” (sentence 10.4), “snide rhetorical broadsides and derogatory jeering at ‘wetbacks’ — or, God forbid, actually instigating unprovoked violence against illegal immigrants” (sentence 12.2), and “our misplaced anger” (sentence 16.1).

There is, in Nowicki’s (July 15, 2014) thinking, an ‘an outside,’ whence ‘invaders’ (sentence 10.4) originate, and an ‘inside.’ This is the same hierarchically invidious monism that arose with authoritarian populists. It is virtually inconceivable that this does not entail a preference that is derogatory toward the other, or in this case, the outsider (Code, 1991). And Nowicki’s use of the term ‘invader’ belies his reference to undocumented migrants as “probably decent people” (sentence 11.4): An invasion is a hostile act and invaders are enemies.

“Pro-open border media outlets (and their names are Legion) often characterize their opponents as ‘anti-immigrant,’ as if wishing to preserve national homogeneity and protect the border implied some inherent animus towards people who look different and come from a different place,” writes Nowicki (July 15, 2014). First, some might ask what national homogeneity Nowicki is referring to. It certainly cannot be based on race. Despite a genocidal war that lasted four or five hundred years (some say it is not over yet), European colonists failed to wipe out American Indians. Many Blacks in the U.S. today are descended from slaves brought by whties. There have been repeated waves of immigration from all around the world; people have stayed and raised families. It has recently been reported that Hispanics now outnumber whites in California, and California is the third state where whites are no longer a majority. Hispanics also form a majority in New Mexico. In Hawaii, Asians are said to numerically predominate (Associated Press, July 8, 2015). It seems likely that this is a trend that will spread to other states.

Second, as discussed in chapter two, “protecting” the border is a deadly project. The attempt to defend the border does not deter undocumented migrants, but rather funnels them into ever more dangerous and often lethal routes (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). Given the bodies that are found and the research that has been done, it is difficult to conceive how this is not being done knowingly. If knowingly killing people does not reflect animosity, it is hard to imagine what does.

A so-called ‘ethnomasochist,’ according to Nowicki (July 15, 2014)

doesn’t just reluctantly and with great trepidation turn on his nation as a last possible alternative, to stop a moral atrocity from taking place (after the manner of heroes like Sophie Scholl and Alexander Solzhenitsyn); instead, he takes positivedelight [sic] in turning against his people, and even looks for the pettiest of excuses to do so. (Nowicki, July 15, 2014, sentence 6.2)

Who does this? Nowicki (July 15, 2014) offers no substantive examples. He does point to a Coca-Cola advertisement in which

we were once more treated to “America the Beautiful” sung in various different languages, accompanied by a pictorial montage of darkly-complexioned, exotically-garbed, newly-naturalized “Americans” from all corners of the earth laughing, playing, and smiling benignly whilst frolicking through various sites which radiate that traditional Americana vibe — movie theaters, skating rinks, California beaches, New York street corners, verdant Appalachian forests, oceans white with foam, fields filled with amber waves of grain, etc. In the commercial, all of these places retain their wholesome essence, yet at the same time appear to have mostly been drained of the vexatious presence of white people (with the notable exception of one gay Caucasian couple with an apparent adopted daughter in tow — in Coca-Cola world, a redeeming propensity for buggery clearly covers a multitude of sins). (Nowicki, July 15, 2014, sentences 14.1 and 14.2)

So a corporate public relations attempt to reach out to people who have historically been under-represented in mass media becomes a message to working whites: “Hey working-class White America, we don’t need you anymore! Your long-dependable stock will soon be replaced with a cheaper brood of slaves that we’re in the process of importing” (Nowicki, July 15, 2014, sentences 15.5 and 15.6). As noted in chapter four, U.S.-born workers do seem to be at risk of displacement by immigrants (Frum, January 5, 2015) and an increased supply of labor weakens worker leverage (Kent, 2011; Laws, 2005). Some might notice, however, that Black unemployment remains far above that of whites. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (July 2, 2015) seasonally adjusted U-3 for whites in June, 2015, was 4.6 percent, the corresponding rate for Blacks was 9.5 percent, and for Asians it was 3.8 percent (statistics for other racial or ethnic groups are apparently not available). But it is the “the continuing human invasion of the US from its notoriously porous southern border” and “the ongoing effort at an orchestrated reconquista must be seen as part of a broader Gestalt” (Nowicki, July 15, 2015, sentence 12.1). Whites—not Blacks or other ‘legal’ U.S. workers, it would seem—must “focus our energies against the puppet-masters, not their mostly hapless mandarins” (sentence 12.3). These ‘puppet-masters’ are not seeking “racial domination per se — indeed, many among the elite are white, English-speaking gentiles — but greater consolidation of power and control” (sentence 12.4). What, one must ask, is the basis for interpreting working class difficulties, which affect members of multiple races, solely as an attack on whites?

Finally, Nowicki (July 15, 2015) “loathe[s] the smarmy, maudlin knee-jerk tendency—commonly indulged in by liberal-leftists—to reflexively glamorize the exotic “other,” and concomitantly to castigate those who don’t share their smitten xenophila as little more than ‘bigots’” (sentence 11.1). Again, what one might notice is the obsession with race and a view of whites as uniquely threatened:

It is well enough known that, if one is to maintain an aura of respectability amongst “polite” company, one must at least implicitly hold, inter alia, (a) that unlike every other racial group in existence, whites have absolutely no legitimate collective interests; (b) that white history is little more than a litany of shameful deeds perpetrated by dastardly exploiters of the earth and appalling oppressors of the duskier-hued segments of the human population, and certainly includes no incidents or events of which one should properly take pride, (like, for example, the establishment of civilization, or the abolition of slavery, or anything else that would seem an exemplary accomplishment); (c) that “diversity,” – meaning in effect the enforcement of white dispossession and eventual eradication – is forever to be “celebrated,” while Caucasian homogeneity, where it still exists, must be mocked and derided as “white bread,” “white trash,” “lily white,” or worse, and must altogether be held in thoroughgoing contempt, until it finally takes the hint and actively dispossesses itself out of abject shame (Nowicki, July 15, 2015, sentence 8.2).

Despite Nowicki’s (July 15, 2015) claim that this “is well enough known,” I only see this degree of white resentment among paleoconservatives and authoritarian populists. The purported threats that ‘liberal-leftists’ or ‘ethno-masochists’ or ‘xenophiles’ pose against whites strongly appear to form a ‘straw person’ (Nizkor Project, n.d.).

Tom Piatak, July 15, 2014, Chronicles

In many respects, Tom Piatak (August 6, 2014) emphasizes an unmistakably paleoconservative theme in an article entitled, “A war on whites?” but in this article (July 15, 2014, table 24), his argument strongly resembles an authoritarian populist approach and borrows neoconservative arguments. It thus illustrates an overlap between paleoconservative, authoritarian populist, and neoconservative tendencies.

“[O]rdinary Americans will end up footing the bill for illegal immigration,” Piatak (July 15, 2014) writes, “whose beneficiaries include an unholy alliance of mostly Republican businessmen (who get cheap labor) and mostly Democratic bureaucrats (who get new clients for the welfare state)” (sentence 3.3). “[A]ny attempt to legalize illegal immigrants will only lead to more illegal immigration” (sentence 4.2). These themes seem authoritarian populist.

But when Piatak (July 15, 2014) writes that “[b]y allowing mass illegal immigration from Mexico and now Central America, we remove pressure on the governments of those countries to improve living conditions for their own people,” he sounds somewhat neoconservative—it is neoconservative Jonathan Tobin (July 15, 2014) who advocates whatever intervention is needed to relieve the situation in Central American countries in an article analyzed in chapter eight. But rather than advocate such aid, Piatak wants “to build a fence and secure the border” (sentence 5.3), as if this had not already been tried with lethal results (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014) discussed in chapter two.

And when Piatak (July 15, 2014) refers to “an unholy alliance of mostly Republican businessmen (who get cheap labor)” (sentence 3.3) and recommends that Republicans “tell their donors who want more cheap labor that they aren’t calling the shots any more” (sentence 5.6), he draws upon a theme of resentment against businesspeople seen first with capitalist libertarian—but bordering on paleoconservative—Fred Reed (September 9, 2014) in an article analyzed in chapter six and again in this chapter with Andy Nowicki (July 15, 2014).

Table 24.

Tom Piatak (July 15, 2014)


Piatak (July 15, 2014) refers to undocumented migrant minors as “Central American teenagers” (sentence 3.1) and “minors” (sentence 4.3). He refers to undocumented migrants generally as “cheap labor” (sentence 3.3), “new clients for the welfare state” (sentence 3.3), and “illegal immigrants (sentence 4.2). On the whole, his references seem neutral toward undocumented migrant minors but unmistakably stigmatize undocumented migrants generally. However, he conflates the longstanding issue of undocumented migration with the surge of undocumented minors, effectively using the arguments he has against the undocumented migrants generally against the minors. Regarding youth as “cheap labor” (sentence 3.3), when we would expect youth to be in school rather than in the labor force, would be a dubious move, but it is one he covers by addressing this criticism at undocumented migrants generally. Conforming to a pattern among many conservative articles analyzed in this dissertation, Piatak also overlooks the responsibility of the U.S. for creating problems in Mexico and Central America (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014) in an assertion that “the governments of those countries [should] improve living conditions for their own people” (Piatak, sentence 4.5).

Aaron D. Wolf, November 21, 2014

As with the other articles previously examined in this chapter, we see with Aaron Wolf (November 21, 2014, table 25) a white resentment that “if you recognize that they [every ‘citizen of the world,’ and perhaps . . . citizens of Mars and the Hale-Bopp Comet as well] are different in any way (except ‘better’) then you are a racist” (sentences 4.3 and 4.5) that, as with the analysis earlier in this chapter of Andy Nowicki’s (July 15, 2014) article, appears to be a straw person (Nizkor Project, n.d.). However, with the suggestion of “citizens of Mars and the Hale-Bopp Comet” (Wolf, sentence 4.3) we see ridicule as a substitute for reason.

This ridicule also appears in sentence 4.2 with the insertion of a bracketed phrase in “talk of the humanitarian crisis that would ensue, if not continue, were the millions of [insert the current p.c. term] not recognized or at least treated as American citizens, by which they mean full-fledged human beings” and in sentence 4.4 with an acknowledgment that undocumented migrants “were worse off wherever they came from” taken sarcastically to justify the violation of “our laws to get here.”

Wolf (November 21, 2014) reduces the problems in Mexico and Central America that were at least exacerbated by U.S. policy (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014) to “our wrong” which Wolf (November 21, 2014) sarcastically suggests “trumped their wrong, because we have something (our ‘idea’ and our embarrassment of riches) that we weren’t willing to ‘share’” (sentence 4.6). Apparently Wolf understands so-called “p.c.” (‘politically correct’) thinking to understand ‘steal’ as the opposite of ‘share’ as his construction in sentence 4.6 suggests that in failing to share, “we mean ‘have stolen from us [undocumented migrants].’” This is another argument I am inclined to reject as a “straw person” fallacy (Nizkor Project, n.d.); Wolf offers no actual evidence that the argument he seeks to refute is made. The ridicule continues as Wolf explains that “stealing from us is impossible, because we are they [undocumented migrants], and they are we” (sentence 4.7) and thus, presumably because ‘we’ can only exist in a dichotomy with the ‘other,’ “there is no we” (sentence 5.1).

While there is something to the notion that identity exists as a distinction from others, Wolf (November 21, 2014) appears to suggest in sentence 4.2 that undocumented migrants are not “full-fledged human beings.” His conflation of ‘full-fledged’ humanity with U.S. citizenship seems at a minimum to suggest that undocumented migrants should not be accorded the rights of U.S. citizens or, perhaps, any human rights. It is unclear if he understands human rights as existing apart from those of U.S. citizenship.

In paragraph 6, Wolf (November 21, 2014) defines the “‘America is an idea’ ideology” (sentence 6.1) as a notion “that every valley should be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, so that more from the Third World may come” (sentence 6.2), implying that this “makes America the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God on earth” (sentence 6.3). In paragraphs 7 and 8, Wolf explains that egalitarianism of race and class is a religious concept “that should describe our churches” (sentence 8.1), “not . . . a country or a nation, except in the heavenly sense” (Wolf, November 21, 2014, sentence 8.2), and “not . . . the United States” (sentence 9.1). Wolf does not explain why egalitarianism should be a religious but not a secular concept but he may be borrowing from the traditionalist objection to “equalitarianism” discussed in chapter one, and more explicitly, to suggest, particularly in light of sentence 4.6, that the better off owe nothing to the poor, just as we also saw in that chapter with the association between wealth—even relative wealth—and righteousness.

Wolf’s claim that an egalitarian ideology is held by “Americans, especially conservatives” (sentence 6.1) seems contrary not only to my own findings in the preliminary work leading to this dissertation with regard to conservatism as authoritarianism—in economic as well as political respects (Benfell, April 12, 2013)—but seems to inaccurately reflect a more commonly held view:

A core element of the American credo is that talent, skill, hard work, and achievement largely determine life chances. We believe that everyone has a fair shot at whatever is valued or prized and that no individual or group is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged. (Shapiro, 2005, p. 3)

In this frame, inequality is held to serve as an incentive. The opportunity to “get ahead” motivates (Bernanke, February 6, 2007; Daily Beast, January 2, 2014; Muller, March, 2013) what Shapiro (2005) calls “talent, skill, hard work, and achievement” (p. 3). Accordingly we hear of “equality of opportunity” but not of “results” or “outcomes” (Beinart, September 12, 2013; Bernanke; Fonte,June 2, 2003; Krugman, January 8, 2012, September 12, 2013; Okeem, November 21, 2014; Stiglitz, February 16, 2013). A capitalist libertarian would argue, indeed, that

Since no two people are uniform or ‘equal’ in any sense in nature, or in the outcomes of a voluntary society, to bring about and maintain such equality necessarily requires the permanent imposition of a power elite armed with devastating coercive power. (Rothbard, September 26, 2014)

Accordingly, I am perplexed by Wolf’s (November 21, 2014) claim in sentence 6.2 that egalitarianism is a national ideology, for such sentiments do not extend far beyond lip service in the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance.

If there is any doubt about Wolf’s (November 21, 2014) feelings about what the U.S. owes undocumented migrants, he seemingly dispels them in writing that “[i]f the home-countries of all of the now amnestied future citizens (is it too early to say ‘Democratic voters’?) are the hellholes they are made out to be, and many of them are, then our government should treat them as such, and that should be reflected in our foreign policy, which might even seek punitive damages” (sentence 10.2). Which would seem to suggest that poor countries suffering the effects of U.S. policy (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014) should be considered liable to the U.S. partly for the effects of U.S. policies. To do this would enforce a peculiar notion of culpability.

Wolf (November 21, 2014) also suggests that “[s]imilar damages should justly be sought from the industries who have abetted the foreign invasion while aiding their bottom line” (sentence 10.3). As noted in chapter six, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), passed in the Reagan era, perversely lowered wages for undocumented migrants and thus increased the incentive for employers to hire undocumented migrants (Cornelius, July, 2005; Sarabia, December, 2012).

If there is still any doubt about Wolf’s (November 21, 2014) feelings about what the U.S. owes undocumented migrants, he surely dispels them in claiming that “governments do not exist to pedal a false religion to the world, to invite the drowning onto the ark, to blend all languages into one” (sentence 11.1). Let undocumented migrants ‘drown,’ Wolf seems unmistakably to be saying. “This is not a question of compassion, but of function” (sentence 11.2) and “[a] government cannot show compassion by refusing to govern” (sentence 11.3), which seems to equate law enforcement with governing. I would return to the discussion of law at the end of chapter eight and suspect that Wolf must be, for the most part, comfortable with laws passed by mostly wealthy white males against everyone else. And if that is the case, then Wolf’s protest against employers in sentence 10.3 might seem disingenuous.

Table 25.

Aaron D. Wolf (November 21, 2014)


Wolf (November 21, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants as “millions of [insert the current p.c. term]” in sentence 4.2 and suggests that they are not “full-fledged human beings.” As this article was published on the day following President Obama’s (November 20, 2014) speech on immigration it appears that Wolf also labels those undocumented migrants who met Obama’s requirements in that speech “amnestied future citizens (is it too early to say ‘Democratic voters’?)” (sentence 10.2). In this, he deploys the controversial and inflammatory term ‘amnesty,’ discussed in chapter four. Finally, however, when Wolf claims that a government “certainly cannot [show compassion] by harming its own citizens” (sentence 11.3) he seems to suggest that Obama’s accommodation is harmful to U.S. citizens, but this claim loses much of its force given the impracticality of deporting at least eleven million undocumented migrants (T. B. Lee, November 22, 2014; D. Lind, March 11, 2015; Obama, November 20, 2014; Obama, quoted in Parsons & Mascaro, February 25, 2015; Spiliakos, July 24, 2014; Tobin, July 14, 2014).


Paleoconservative views on race seem to lack any foundation whatsoever. Many of their other claims are similarly ill-supported.

However, the derogatory language one might expect among white supremacists is not necessarily the rule, suggesting that the distinction between paleoconservatives and authoritarian populists may occasionally be difficult to discern. I return to a discussion of this difficulty in the conclusion (chapter twelve); it is, for me, an unexpected outcome of this research.


I have already mentioned that this research does not support George Nash’s (2006) distinction between the social conservative tendency (which Nash associates with evangelical Protestantism) whose articles I analyze in this chapter and traditionalist conservative tendency (which Nash associates with Catholicism) whose articles I analyze in the next. As we shall see, the topic of undocumented migration divides adherents of both tendencies over whether the distinction between so-called ‘legal’ and so-called ‘illegal’ migrants is more or less important than compassion for those trying to escape dangerous situations. The distinction cited by several authors in these chapters supposedly has roots in the Bible, and James Hoffmeier (cited by Crain, November 24, 2014; Turley, July 25, 2014) apparently differentiates between “the ‘resident alien’ or ‘sojourner’ (the ger in Hebrew)” and “the foreigner (the zar, or nekhar or goyim in Hebrew).” These categories, perhaps too hastily, are taken to correspond respectively to modern categories of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migrants.

While I will return to issues raised by Crain (November 24, 2014) in my analysis of his article later in this chapter, I see a number of questions in the following articles that I obviously cannot settle, such as whether the god of Abraham, whose word so many presume to be accurately reflected in the Bible, even exists; how accurate these representations of this god or anyone or anything else are; and whether in fact such representations offer appropriate guidance in a modern world far removed from a much smaller scale and mostly agricultural society of Biblical times. That does not mean, however, that the questions do not arise, and I cannot avoid discussing the last of them. What I would suggest, however, is that any guidance ancient Israel offers for the modern United States will need to accurately reflect the two situations as they were and are, rather than to gloss over the vast differences between them.

J. C. Derrick, August 11, 2014, World

The vast majority of articles I analyze in this dissertation though in some way about undocumented migration, are written without ever speaking directly with migrants themselves. Little, if anything, is done by these authors to recognize these people as human beings with hopes, fears and, one might add, human rights. J. C. Derrick’s (August 11, 2014) article (table 26), written as news but clearly favoring one side, is a striking exception. Derrick criticizes a policy which subjects many migrants to detention based on a Congressionally-mandated bed count (sentences 12.2 and 12.3) rather than a risk that migrants will fail to appear for hearings.

Derrick’s (August 11, 2014) article begins with an anecdote involving Indonesian Christians, who had “fled violence [in their home country] at the hands of Muslim extremists in the late 1990s but didn’t seek legal asylum in America—they came on travel visas and never left” (sentence 5.3). In the aftermath of 9/11, “U.S. authorities required men from Muslim-majority countries to register with the federal government, eventually cataloging some 85,000 non-citizens” (sentence 5.1). A Protestant pastor “encouraged the [Indonesian] men to come forward and explain their story honestly, thinking they would find leniency” (sentence 6.1). Apparently, he was wrong: “Instead, immigration officials denied all of their asylum claims—not on the merits of the cases but because they missed the one-year filing deadline” (sentence 6.2). Derrick continues the anecdote, telling both of a raid on an apartment complex in which the men were seized (sentence 7.1) and of “rays of hope” (sentence 7.2) in which the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency “has granted stays of removal to many of the Indonesian Christians and released them under the supervision of [Pastor Seth] Kaper-Dale’s church, meaning they can obtain work permits and jobs” (sentence 7.3). “‘They’ve never been on the public dole,’ [Kaper-Dale] said. ‘They’re willing to do whatever it takes to work and put food on the table for their families’” (sentences 7.4 and 7.5).

This anecdote touches on several themes. First, and perhaps most importantly for many of Derrick’s (August 11, 2014) presumably conservative-leaning readers, the migrants are portrayed as workers rather than as being dependent upon the social safety net. Second, Indonesian families were broken up by a cold-hearted federal bureaucracy. Third, there is redemption, as “understanding ICE officials” arrange “stays of removal” (sentence 7.3). Finally, another theme, which seems particularly poignant for social conservatives, is that of Christians under threat in foreign countries.

Derrick (August 11, 2014) then seeks to apply the Indonesian Christian example to Central American migrants, a move which might be dubious except that he eventually offers support for a generalized claim:

In a 2000 study, Vera Institute of Justice found 91 percent of those granted supervised release appeared at all of their required hearings, and last year The Washington Times reported 96 percent of active participants in an ICE alternative program appeared at their final hearings. (Derrick, August 11, 2014, sentence 11.4)

It seems that “many advocates and lawmakers are calling for effective alternatives that would save taxpayer dollars, keep fewer people behind bars, and ensure immigrants are not released without supervision into society” (sentence 8.2). Hence the Indonesian Christian example: “Kaper-Dale and others have pointed to the Indonesian community in New Jersey as one example of a productive, cost-effective alternative to the government’s mass immigrant detention policies” (sentence 8.3). “Although detention alternatives exist within ICE, including supervised release and electronic monitoring, they are often not used, despite typically costing less than $10 a day” (Derrick, August 11, 2014, sentence 9.2). And even though ankle bracelets could be embarrassing, “several told me it would be well worth the freedom” (sentence 10.1). Derrick then does what we have seen so rarely in the articles analyzed in this dissertation: Even if it is only a one-sentence long quote, he quotes a migrant: “‘I’m willing to have an ankle bracelet or whatever they want,’ detainee Jose Quezada told me last month during a visit to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash.” (sentence 10.2).

One more observation seems striking given Nash’s (2006) distinction between traditionalist conservatives as mostly Catholic and social conservatives as mostly evangelical Protestant. While other conservatives, including one neoconservative (Chip, May 12, 2014) and two traditionalist conservatives (Frohnen, February 16, 2014; Turley, July 25, 2014), whose works I analyze in this dissertation emphasize positions adopted by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, Derrick gives voice to a Protestant pastor and never mentions the Catholic Church.

Table 26.

J. C. Derrick (August 11, 2014)


Derrick’s (August 11, 2014) critique seems to be aimed principally at the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the policies it carries out. Undocumented migrants are referred to as “immigrants” (sentences 1.1, 7.1, 10.1, and 13.3), “non-violent immigrants” (sentence 11.1), “non-citizens” (sentences 5.1 and 9.1), “men from Muslim-majority countries” (sentence 5.1), “Indonesian Christians” (sentences 5.2, 7.3, and 11.3), “Indonesians” (sentence 6.3), “detainee[s]” (sentence 8.1), “Central American migrants” (sentence 8.2), “the actual detention population” in a quote from former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (Derrick, August 11, 2014, sentence 14.2), “[Kaper-Dale’s] congregants” (sentence 15.1), “Immigrants in Confinement” in a group name (sentence 17.1), and “victims [of human trafficking]” (sentence 18.3). There are issues with some of these labels: ‘Non-violent immigrants’ call attention to those who are violent and thus raise fear. ‘Non-citizens’ can actually include so-called ‘legal’ migrants. But Derrick never employs the term ‘illegal’ as in ‘illegal immigrants’ or, reductively worse, ‘illegals.’ Migrants are labeled as people with heritages: They are Indonesian. They are Christian. Or, they are Central American.

ICE, on the other hand, is criticized for “[a] bloated, expensive immigrant detention system” in the subheading (sentence 2.1). It is faulted for denying asylum claims (sentence 6.2) on “a technicality” (sentence 6.4), for having “raided the apartment complex where most of the immigrants lived, taking three dozen men while their wives and children watched” (sentence 7.1) and “launch[ing] an eight-year saga that has included detentions and deportations” (sentence 7.2). It is criticized abstractly as “[t]he federal government spends some $2 billion annually on immigrant detention—which averages to more than $150 per day, per detainee” (sentence 8.1) and for “requiring detention under current law” (sentence 8.2). The agency is criticized for not using “detention alternatives [that] exist within ICE, including supervised release and electronic monitoring” (sentence 9.2; also see sentence 12.1), for a “10-month detention kept [detainee Jose Quezada] from operating his lawn care business and forced his wife to sell their rental property” (sentence 10.3), and for “declin[ing] to comment]” on whether “the agency was considering expanded use of alternatives” (sentence 16.2).

The bulk of the criticism of ICE precedes a criticism of Congress, which passed “a 2009 congressional regulation that tied ICE funding to a 33,400 daily ‘bed mandate.’” (sentence 12.2) and “since raised the minimum threshold to 34,000” (Derrick, August 11, 2014, sentence 12.3). Representative John Carter, a Republican from Texas, is quoted claiming detention is a deterrent (sentences 13.1 and 13.2) but if that statement were true, one might expect fewer migrants to be crossing the border—instead, many conservatives continue to employ catastrophic language such as a ‘flood’ or an ‘invasion’ in reference to the surge in migration, as discussed in chapter four. Carter also “not[es] President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion funding request included 6,000 additional detention beds” (sentence 13.1) but apparently “Democrats sought to kill the bed mandate or at least lower it, an idea Obama has twice offered in budget proposals” (sentence 14.1) and “[s]ome observers speculate President Obama may make detention policy changes part of his looming executive action on immigration” (sentence 16.1).

Derrick (August 11, 2014) also praises ICE for “rays of hope” (sentence 7.2) as “[t]hanks to understanding ICE officials, the agency has granted stays of removal to many of the Indonesian Christians and released them under the supervision of Kaper-Dale’s church, meaning they can obtain work permits and jobs” (sentence 7.3). Derrick also quotes Kaper-Dale saying “If you’re the field office director of [ICE] and you know you’re supposed to be helping the government meet a quota, and simultaneously you’re supposed to show leniency, you’re in a tough spot” (Kaper-Dale, quoted in Derrick, sentence 15.2), indicating an understanding of ICE’s dilemma (sentence 15.3).

On the whole, however, Derrick (August 11, 2014) is clearly critical of both ICE and Congress, and less so of Obama. He is sympathetic to the plight of undocumented migrants.

Leonardo Blair, November 22, 2014, Christian Post

Leonardo Blair’s (November 22, 2014) article (table 27) is another written in the style of news, but is based entirely on an interview with “Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and one of the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table” (sentence 4.1). The article is itself entirely uncritical of Rodriguez’ views; however, these views do face a challenge, apparently even from within the Evangelical Immigration Table (sentence 8.1), which Rodriguez minimizes (paragraph 11). The substance of the disagreement is unclear. Rodriguez emphasizes an agreement that Congressional action would be preferable (sentences 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 18.2) and one might suppose that “Russell Moore, who is a personal dear friend” (Rodriguez, quoted in Blair, sentence 11.2) objects on principle to executive action being taken to address the issue.

Blair (November 22, 2014) moves quickly to the motivations behind President Barack Obama’s (November 20, 2014) announcement, made two days prior to Blair’s article, of an executive order on inward migration. Rodriguez, who had evidently joined Obama for a celebration of that order in Las Vegas (sentence 6.1), and defends Obama (paragraphs 13 and 14). He denies that it is “naïve to think that every single decision made by Republicans or Democrats carr[ies] a political underpinning motivation” (Rodriguez, quoted in Blair, sentence 13.1), which I interpret to mean as the opposite of the strictly interpreted literal construction—I think Rodriguez (quoted in Blair) means that he does not think “every single decision made by Republicans or Democrats carr[ies] a political underpinning motivation” (sentence 13.1)” and that he is really asserting that he is not naïve to believe as much. He believes that “President Obama does care for the immigrant. And he does care for a solution that is practical” (Rodriguez, quoted in Blair, sentences 14.3 and 14.4).

Table 27.

Leonardo Blair (November 22, 2014)


Rodriguez (cited in Blair, November 22, 2014) appears to have been sidetracked on the issue of the disagreement within the Evangelical Immigration Table over Obama’s order. The points he made in the interview that seem to advance an agenda are first, to criticize Republicans for obstructing reform (paragraphs 4, 5, and 7); and second, to praise Evangelicals for supporting reform (paragraphs 14-18). Blair (November 22, 2014) paraphrases him as having “warned Friday [November 21] that if Republicans fail to pass a bill on immigration reform, keeping millions of undocumented immigrants in limbo, they can expect to suffer at the polls in 2016” (sentence 4.1).

If immigration continues to stay in limbo because of what happened [Thursday, November 20] and is happening today, and the Republicans say ‘we’re not gonna act at all on immigration,’ they are basically sacrificing their political future on the altar of political inaction and apathy. (Rodriguez, quoted in Blair, November 22, 2014, sentence 5.1)

The claim that the Republican failure to advance reform is based on apathy seems weak. The articles analyzed in this dissertation often show strong opposition to undocumented migrants and, as described in chapter one, conflict among Republicans in Congress seems largely to be between the “Tea Party” authoritarian populists and “establishment” functionalist conservatives. The topic of undocumented migrants is one area of conflict between these tendencies. The functionalist conservative articles analyzed in chapter seven showed concern with the politics of advancing reform while the authoritarian populist articles analyzed in chapter five were uniformly opposed to more undocumented inward migration and two out of three neoconservative articles analyzed in chapter eight were opposed. While the capitalist libertarian articles in chapter six were largely supportive—although Reed (September 9, 2014) seems to argue both sides—I do not often hear capitalist libertarians well represented in Congress; but rather neoconservatives who, as explained in chapter one, perceive neoliberal policy as moral. It is this conflict that I would argue obstructs action.

If the Republicans, who are now in charge of both Congress and the Senate, for political reasons, if they want to win the White House in 2016, they need the Latino vote. With 27 percent of the Latino vote Mitt Romney stayed out of the White House. That means Republicans need at least 30 to 35 percent of the Latino vote to occupy the White House. (Rodriguez, quoted in Blair, November 22, 2014, paragraph 7)

I leave for others the question of how accurate—especially as to the percentage of the Hispanic vote Republicans need—this analysis is. What we might observe is that Rodriguez (quoted in Blair, November 22, 2014) wants the Republicans to recognize Hispanic support for reform and presents the Hispanic vote as a reason for Republicans to act accordingly. Rodriguez might otherwise, on several issues, be inclined to vote Republican: “I do not line up with President Obama on a number of issues — as a Christian Evangelical committed to a biblical worldview. There are many issues and stances the president has taken that I respectfully wholeheartedly disagree with” (Rodriquez, quoted in Blair, sentences 14.1 and 14.2). It is hard to see how Obama differs often from mainstream Democrats on these “many issues and stances.” In general, it is Republicans, rather than Democrats, and conservatives, rather than ‘bleeding heart’ liberals, who support the social conservative agenda, particularly on issues covered in chapter one on abortion, contraception, and pretty much anything even remotely related to how people fit their body parts together under what circumstances.

Rodriguez (cited in Blair, November 22, 2014) does, however, indicate another area of possible disagreement with Republicans, arguing “that Evangelicals have learned from history and have made a bold and ‘historic’ step in leading the charge on immigration reform” (sentence 15.1), apparently having not been “present when Martin Luther King Jr. advanced civil rights for the African-American community in the 1960s” (sentence 16.1).

Today, they have learned from their mistakes, and together as a church, as a community, as born-again Bible believing Christians, we are now present. And we’re not just present, we are leading the charge in advancing a just immigration solution that reflects our Christian value system. (Rodriguez, quoted in Blair, November 22, 2014, paragraph 17)

While it is now distinctly out of fashion to vocally oppose the Civil Rights movement and even the Civil Rights Act, Republicans have justified moves to require voter identification at polls, moves understood to effectively disenfranchise many non-white voters, by claiming voter fraud (Bolton, October 20, 2012; Feeney, September 28, 2012; Lipton & Urbina, April 14, 2007). Wisconsin Governor and candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination Scott Walker, for example, has been quoted saying “It doesn’t matter if there’s one, 100, or 1,000. Amongst us, who would be that one person who would like to have our vote canceled out by a vote that was cast illegally” (Walker, quoted in Hohmann, October 11, 2014)? Walker, of course, fails to ask who among us would want to be that one person who would like to be prevented from voting on specious grounds, since fraud is nearly non-existent (Bolton; Feeney; Lipton & Urbina), except possibly in the minds of conservatives who consider it unimaginable that they might fairly lose some elections.

If Rodriguez (cited in Blair, November 22, 2014) is thinking of voting rights and the threat that Republicans apparently perceive in trumping up allegations of voter fraud when he expects Republicans to support immigration reform, he does not say.

Alex Crain, November 24, 2014, Christianity

I have partially covered Alex Crain’s (November 24, 2014, table 28) argument in the introduction to this chapter because the argument appears again with traditionalist conservatives. To recap, this is to assert a distinction between “the ‘resident alien’ or ‘sojourner’ (the ger in Hebrew)” and “the foreigner (the zar, or nekhar or goyim in Hebrew)” (Crain, sentence 8.1). We should observe that it is a different argument from that of neoconservatives that I critiqued in the summary at the end of chapter eight. In the articles analyzed in that chapter, two out of the three neoconservatives invoke secular law as a reason to oppose undocumented migration. Crain’s argument, by contrast, is about Biblical law, and it is here that several questions arise.

First, the boundaries of Israel were evidently most specifically defined in Exodus 23:31 as extending from “the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river” (King James Version) or “from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River” (New International Version). This includes territory that Israel has never controlled in modern or Biblical times. We are to understand, rather, that the god of Abraham may eventually give this territory to Israel (Chosen People Ministries, n.d.). So when we speak of Biblical Israel and the edges of the territory it actually controlled, we are much more likely speaking of Anthony Giddens’ (1990) frontiers. These would be much less sharply defined, including land that cannot have been definitively claimed to belong either to Israel or any of its neighbors. Such a model might be appropriate for the U.S.-Mexican border, given the way in which the U.S. acquired its southwestern territory, as discussed in chapter one, dividing even families.

But when Crain (November 24, 2014) asserts that the god of Abraham is, among other things, a god of “wise boundaries” (sentence 9.4), he appears to imagine precisely drawn borders of the modern sense rather than the frontiers of an ancient sense. Further, I would question the ability of government authorities in Biblical times to promulgate and enforce Biblical law in the form that Crain (November 24, 2014) understands it outside of towns and cities. It seems hard to imagine that a distinction between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migrants could be applied in the countryside, let alone in or across a frontier. Even if all of these concerns can be set aside, sheer length alone means that Israel’s borders are not comparable to the U.S.-Mexican border (Markon, July 16, 2015).

Second, Crain’s (November 24, 2014) argument does not address the danger that Central American migrants face in their home countries. Rather, the implication of his article, following President Obama’s (November 20, 2014) announcement of an executive order on immigration by four days, is that these migrants should simply be regarded as ‘foreigners’ and as unwelcome. No emergency, even to the extent that the United States may be culpable in creating the conditions for that emergency (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014), will suffice. Christian notions of charity do not seem to apply.

Third, some might suggest that Crain (November 24, 2014) is confounding Biblical law with the purportedly secular law of the United States. In a Biblical sense, Christians might indeed judge undocumented migrants unwelcome, but this is an entirely different question from how such migrants should be treated under U.S. law and the laws of the states, especially given the obligations that the U.S. faces under international law that seem to call for a more generous policy (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, May, 2015; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014).

Table 28.

Alex Crain (November 24, 2014)


Alex Crain (November 24, 2014) expresses no concern for undocumented migrants as such. For him, they are “the foreigner (the zar, or nekhar or goyim in Hebrew)” (sentence 8.1; see also sentences 5.1 and 6.5), and are excluded from “same benefits or privileges” (sentence 6.5) accorded in a hierarchical relationship between citizens and sojourners (sentence 7.1), with the latter defined as “the ‘resident alien’ or ‘sojourner’ (the ger in Hebrew) who is something like a convert and does come and live according to the nation’s essential faith, values and laws” (sentence 8.1). The qualifier ‘essential’ is a curious insertion, here: What, actually, constitutes ‘essential?’ I do not know, but apparently Crain believes it to include how he perceives the god of Abraham, as “a God of love and of order, peace, freedom from debt, wise boundaries, and of nations” (sentence 9.4), although this ‘love’ is apparently not extended to ‘foreigners.’

I interpret the phrase about “com[ing] and liv[ing] according to the nation’s essential faith, values and laws” (Crain, November 24, 2014, sentence 8.1) as crucial to understanding this relationship. Crain also states that “kindness to the sojourner ought not to be injustice to local citizens and their unique culture” (sentence 7.1), which suggests that the priority to be upheld is much like traditionalist Richard Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image.’ Weaver’s image, which I touched upon in chapter one, assigns dominance to people sharing a common historic, linguistic, and religious heritage. Crain seems to understand such people as “citizens” and “their unique culture” as deserving protection even from ‘sojourners’ and especially from ‘foreigners,’ “who did not have this recognized standing [‘sojourner’] . . . and did not have the same benefits or privileges that sojourners did” (Hoffmeier, quoted in Crain, November 24, 2014, sentence 6.5). This particular notion of ‘order’ apparently ranks more highly than ‘love,’ another attribute which Crain attributes to the god of Abraham (sentence 9.4).

This ranking of ‘order’ over ‘love’ might also be understood in the way that Gerhard Lenski (1966) understood altruism, in which one is most altruistic with those closest to her- or himself, a priority which ranks members of the group over non-members—or “others.” I would argue that this is not a case where it must be Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image’ or it must be a limited altruism, but it may well—and I suspect probably is—both. However, Crain’s (November 24, 2014) reference to ‘culture’ as something to be defended, even if in the name of ‘justice’ (sentence 7.1), seems to me to more strongly support the ‘tyrannizing image.’

Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image’ serves at least two functions. First, as I noted in chapter one, it favors the status quo, protecting existing elites. But second, it favors preservation of the culture as it is. As George Lakoff (2002) noted, this is not a world view that accepts heterogeneity, but rather, in his “critical father” morality system, emphasizes preservation of the morality system—with the god of Abraham—on top. Which, as Lakoff also noted, implies that it must be handed down to the young in a process we may recognize as ‘social reproduction.’ But where biological reproduction in humans may involve a mixing of genes, hence heterogeneity, this might more resemble cloning, reproducing the social make-up of the parents—or perhaps more precisely, the father—in the children. I interpret this as the reason that Crain emphasizes that ‘sojourners’ are “something like . . . convert[s]” who “come and live according to the nation’s essential faith, values and laws” (sentence 8.1) and favors them over ‘foreigners,’ who presumably do not.

That Crain’s (November 24, 2014) analysis seems to rely on something very much like Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image’ is perhaps the most troubling indication for Nash’s (2006) distinction between traditionalist conservatives and social conservatives. I have attempted to emphasize that there is overlap between conservative tendencies, but this might suggest that Nash, understanding traditionalists being principally Roman Catholic and social conservatives being principally evangelical Protestant, may have drawn the line between these tendencies incorrectly.


Two of the three articles analyzed in this chapter suggest a social conservative sympathy for undocumented migrants. Crain (November 24, 2014), however, explicates a view which appears to rely on something very much like traditionalist Richard Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image’ and which distinguishes between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migrants as ‘sojourners’ and ‘foreigners’ respectively, and seeking to exclude the latter. We will see a similar difference in views in the next chapter, analyzing traditionalist conservative articles, which seems to raise the possibility that Nash’s (2006) distinction between social conservatives as mostly evangelical Protestant and traditionalist conservatives as mostly Catholic may be insufficient.

However, in this vein, we might observe that in contrast to other conservatives analyzed in this dissertation (Chip, May 12, 2014; Frohnen, February 16, 2014; S. Turley, July 25, 2014), none of the authors whose articles I analyze in this chapter mention the Roman Catholic Church. By contrast, two of the traditionalist conservatives I analyze in the next chapter (eleven) seem more inclusive: Bruce Frohnen mentions “Christians and Catholics, in particular” and Stephen Turley mentions “the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of Southern Baptist leaders, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.”


In the introduction to and in my summary of chapter ten, I noted that both social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives—who both favor theocracy—were split along a line between prioritizing compassion and prioritizing Biblically-based law. In my analysis of Crain (November 24, 2014), I noticed that his thinking seemed to be based on something very much resembling Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image.’ Weaver is generally regarded as a traditionalist and is highly regarded in numerous traditionalist and other conservative articles (see, for examples, Arnhart, Fall, 2010; Attarian, Winter, 2002; Bailey, 2004; Dimock, Winter, 2006, November 3, 2008; Havers, 2005; Johnston, Summer, 2002; Kimball, September, 2006; Myers, February 2010; Nash, 2006, Spring, 2009; Panichas, July 14, 2008; Toledano, January 29, 1996; J. West, November 19, 2010; Woods, 2007). Further, in Weaver’s final book, Visions of order: The cultural crisis of our time, he addresses numerous issues, including human destruction of the environment, industrial capitalism, and war—issues I would not expect a social conservative to dwell upon. But the question raised in the last chapter remains: If there is in fact a distinction between these tendencies, how should it be drawn? This is a question that, for now at least, I have no answer and I must therefore acknowledge the possibility that this distinction may not be useful.

Bruce Frohnen, February 16, 2014, Imaginative Conservative

Unlike most of the articles analyzed in this dissertation, Bruce Frohnen’s (February 16, 2014) article (table 29) was written several months prior to the explosion of controversy over the surge in Central American undocumented migrants that, having begun in late 2011, was in fact already well underway (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Lagon & McCormick, July 14, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014). At this time, President Barack Obama was still only threatening to take executive action on immigration if Congress did not pass reform. He would not in fact announce such action until November 20, 2014 (Obama, November 20, 2014).

It is therefore unsurprising that Frohnen (February 16, 2014) does not address the crisis in Central America that propels the surge and instead directs his attention to undocumented migrants from Mexico. However, in the dilemma between law and compassion that came to the fore in chapter ten, Frohnen falls clearly on the side of law and employs arguments that we have seen in a number of articles analyzed earlier in this dissertation. As we will see, he does not, however, rely on empirical evidence.

Frohnen (February 16, 2014) begins by acknowledging a longstanding prejudice against migrants (sentence 3.2) and the role of the Catholic Church in supporting migrants (paragraphs 3 and 4). As with the neoconservatives whose articles I analyzed in chapter eight, Frohnen objects to being labeled a racist (sentence 6.1) for opposing a view that “the laws should be changed to put illegal immigrants on the road to citizenship and help them bring their families to the United States” (sentence 5.2). He cites the case of his “wife, whose mother was a Mexican national, and several of whose siblings were born in Mexico” as evidence that even Hispanics who are “as leery as I am of informing our clerical leaders that there are, in fact, two sides to the immigration debate, and that the side that seeks to base itself on respect for law is not without merit” (sentence 6.3) are subject to the charge of racism (sentence 6.2).

Then, again like the neoconservatives whose articles I analyzed in chapter eight, who claim to have migrants’ best interests at heart, Frohnen (February 16, 2014) turns his attention to what “the kind, Christian policy toward immigrants and toward those they have left behind” might be” (sentence 7.1). Frohnen argues that current policies “trap people who come here to earn a living for their families in a cycle of dependence and fear, in which all too many employers take advantage of them, always able to play the ‘illegal immigrant’ card with those who are not sufficiently compliant” (sentence 8.3). This is an argument we saw with capitalist libertarian Fred Reed (September 9, 2014) in chapter six, neoconservative William Chip (May 12, 2014) in chapter eight, and paleoconservative Aaron Wolf (November 21, 2014) in chapter nine; however, it appears that policies intended to discourage employers from hiring undocumented migrants have had the perverse effect not of reducing undocumented migrant employment but of lowering their wages (Cornelius, July, 2005; Orrenius & Zavodny, April, 2015; Sarabia, December, 2012), suggesting that the crackdown on employers that Chip and Frohnen each advocate (Frohnen, sentences 11.4-11.6) only exacerbates the power discrepancy that they claim to want to ameliorate.

Like paleoconservative Tom Piatak (July 15, 2014) whose article I analyzed in chapter nine, Frohnen (February 16, 2014) also argues that current policies

provide a safety valve for a Mexican regime that has for a century refused to take seriously the need to fight corruption, to reform a class structure based on political power, and to loosen draconian regulations that make it essentially impossible for people in its lower classes to make a decent living, let alone rise economically and socially. (Frohnen, February 16, 2014, sentence 8.5)

Frohnen (February 16, 2014) argues that “another amnesty program” (sentence 9.1) “will simply perpetuate our current system, which favors those who seek cheap, compliant labor, and criminals who supply that labor” (sentence 9.3). Some might suspect that this argument would have more credibility if we saw traditionalist conservatives on the vanguard of a movement to resurrect labor unions who might serve as a defense of workers—not just undocumented migrant workers—against the widespread and numerous abuses that they now face (D’Addario, July 30, 2013; Eidelson, November 18, 2013, November 29, 2013, December 16, 2013, January 13, 2014, January 22, 2014; Egan, June 9, 2014; Gracely, November 28, 2014; Greenhouse, August 31, 2014; Hatton, January 26, 2013; Head, February 23, 2014; Jaskunas, February 14, 2015; Kilkenny, November 18, 2013; Krugman, December 24, 2013, December 26, 2013; Kurtzleben, January 22, 2015; E. McClelland, March 1, 2014; M. McClelland, February 27, 2012; Mott, October 9, 2014; Pilisuk & Rountree, 2008; Rabin-Havt, June 25, 2014; Seitz-Wald, July 30, 2013; Semuels, April 7, 2013a, April 7, 2013b, April 7, 2013c; Soper, September 11, 2011; L. Wise, December 2, 2014), but in fact, as we have seen in chapter one, traditionalist conservatives attribute social location to the will of the god of Abraham and argue that it is not to be tinkered with (Kirk, 1985/2001; R. Weaver, 1964/1995).

When Frohnen (February 16, 2014) doubts “that granting today’s illegal immigrants amnesty will stop more immigrants from seeking work and benefits in the United States” (sentence 9.4) and argues for “securing the border” (sentence 12.3) or “secur[ing] our [emphasis added] borders” (sentence 11.3), he draws upon authoritarian populist arguments seen in chapter five, and neglects to acknowledge that attempts to do that have not reduced undocumented migration but only made it more lethal (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). Again, it is hard to see how Frohnen (February 16, 2014) is in fact expressing compassion “toward immigrants and toward those they have left behind” (sentence 7.1), even if he acknowledges that “the United States shares much of the blame for the corruption in Mexico, supporting it as we do with our celebrity/recreational drug culture and our thirst for cheap labor” (sentence 10.1). His policy recommendations, limited as they are to “securing the border” (sentence 12.3), sanctioning employers (sentences 11.4 and 11.5), and increasing the availability of work visas (sentence 11.7) for those who find “employment through agencies” (sentence 11.8), do not address “our celebrity/recreational drug culture” (sentence 10.1), let alone the most important U.S. policies discussed in chapter four that lie behind so much of the violence and corruption in Central America and Mexico (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014).

Table 29.

Bruce Frohnen (February 16, 2014)


Frohnen (February 16, 2014) refers to undocumented migrants simply as “immigrants” (sentences 5.2, 7.1, and 8.1), “illegal immigrants” (sentences 7.1, 9.4, 11.4, and 11.6), “people who come here to earn a living for their families” (sentence 8.3), and “people [employers] know or should know are in the country illegally” (sentence 11.5). Some, but certainly not all of this language avoids stigmatizing undocumented migrants. Still, one might suspect that if he were as compassionate toward migrants as he claims (sentences 4.5, 7.1, 11.7, and 12.2), he might choose alternative language. By contrast, employers, who he blames for taking advantage of migrants (sentence 8.3), indirectly (sentences 10.1 and 11.4), as “businesses and individuals” (sentence 11.5), and simply as “employers” (sentences 8.3 and 11.6). He also refers to employers who, in his policy recommendation, would be matched up with job-seeking would-be migrants through employment agencies as “suitable employers” (sentence 11.8). This is in stark contrast to the example, say of capitalist libertarian Fred Reed (September 9, 2014), whose article I analyzed in chapter six, who, in his more polite reference, described such employers as “conservative, noisily patriotic American businessmen.” While it is probably unreasonable to expect Frohnen to emulate Reed, who verges on paleoconservatism, from a standpoint of purely looking at the terms Frohnen (February 16, 2014) uses to refer to various actors, he seems much more neutral toward employers than he is to undocumented migrants.

Indeed, an even-handed approach to the problem of employment might also consider maquiladora employers on the southern side of the Mexico-U.S. border who offer low wages and sweatshop conditions and the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Pilisuk & Rountree, 2008, 2015). Frohnen’s (February 16, 2014) silence on these considerations again speaks poorly for his alleged concern for workers generally and undocumented migrants in particular.

Frohnen (February 16, 2014) seeks instead to uphold “respect for law” (sentence 6.3), doubts that “citizenship should begin with law-breaking” (sentence 7.1), claims that “[i]t took us generations to establish a reasonably law-abiding political class” (sentence 9.9), believes that “the answer is not to dispense with the law, let alone to continue winking at that law’s betrayal” (sentence 11.2), that the U.S. should “begin enforcing laws, not only against illegal immigration, but against employing illegal immigrants” (sentence 11.4), and “begin a law-abiding process of naturalization for [‘legal’ migrants] and their families” (sentence 12.4). One might recall from chapter one that President Obama faces criticism for an allegedly record-breaking number of deportations (Boerner, October 24, 2013; Bolton, November 27, 2013; Hooton, November 27, 2014; Kohn, January 26, 2013; Leutert, January 20, 2015; Navarrette, July 21, 2014; Preston, October 1, 2014; Solnit, September 27, 2012), which hardly seems to support Frohnen’s implication in sentence 11.4 that enforcement has not already begun.

But one might also notice in Frohnen’s (February 16, 2014) text an apparent reverence for the law. It is, indeed, not to be dispensed with, let alone betrayed (sentence 11.2). I discussed the oppression that is intrinsic to law in the summary at the end of chapter eight; even as Frohnen claims “[i]t took us generations to establish a reasonably law-abiding political class” (sentence 9.9), he is attempting to place himself on the side of that political class, which is hardly sympathetic to anyone except the elites. Frohnen thus again undermines his alleged quest for “the kind, Christian policy toward immigrants and toward those they have left behind” (sentence 7.1). But ironically, as we saw in the articles analyzed in chapter seven, on this issue, functionalist conservatives—who include the elites in question—seem concerned with the politics and the practicalities of passing the very immigration reform that Frohnen opposes (sentences 4.2, 4.3, and 5.2), so Frohnen fails even at attempting to align himself with that political class.

Stephen Turley, July 25, 2014, Imaginative Conservative

While I think that Stephen Turley (July 25, 2014, table 30) errs in describing his dialectic, he at least deserves credit for the most unique approach of any article I analyze in this dissertation. He advances a theory aligning cosmopolitanism with globalization with sympathy for migrants against a reaction of antipathy toward migrants, traditionalism, and, though he does not choose this particular word, increased provincialism. He argues that “the church itself has the resources to deal uniquely with the current border crisis, for it is the church alone that is both a global and traditional institution” (sentence 10.1) and that “[a]s a catholic social order transcending time and space yet rooted in the tradition of the apostles, the church is in the unique position to be able to mediate between otherwise incompatible yet reciprocal social dynamics that characterize the modern world” (sentence 10.2). I will return to a specific analysis of Turley’s (July 25, 2014) theory, however, one might note that however breathtaking his conception of the controversy, his goals for the church are surprisingly modest: It would continue “supplying comfort and compassion to the situation at hand as only the church can do” (sentence 11.2) and “in effect adopt illegal immigrants and their families, help pay for lawyer’s fees to make sure they get a fair hearing in the courts, and then provide the resources needed to help them fulfill the court’s decisions” (sentence 12.4). He attributes the latter idea (in sentence 12.4) to the same James Hoffmeier to whom Alex Crain (November 24, 2014) attributed a distinction between ‘sojourners’ as ‘legal’ migrants and ‘foreigners’ as ‘illegal’ migrants in the last article analyzed in chapter ten. In more fully stating Hoffmeier’s views, Turley recommends a considerably more generous treatment of undocumented migrants than Crain.

In regard to this distinction between ‘sojourners’ and ‘foreigners,’ Turley (July 25, 2014) writes that “Hoffmeier argues that the Old Testament passages appealed to by some Christians as justification for amnesty actually speak to the treatment of immigrants who have been granted permission to stay in the land of Israel (cf. Deut. 10:18-19)” (sentence 12.2) and thus that “[w]ell-meaning Christians are therefore committing the informal fallacy of equivocation by mistakenly applying these biblical passages to illegal immigration” (sentence 13.3). Given the effects of U.S. policy in Latin America that have exacerbated the problems there (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014), one might argue that the U.S. bears a responsibility toward these people regardless of legal status and that this so-called ‘equivocation’ may be defensible on those grounds.

Despite an effort to balance ‘tribalist’ and ‘globalist’ (sentence 8.1) perspectives, Turley (July 25, 2014) marks himself as a traditionalist conservative in a number of ways. First, he highlights globalization as a deviation “from traditional, national, and local practices and beliefs” (sentence 7.3). In contrast, he sees ‘tribalism’ as a defense of “religiosity, kinship, and national symbols” (sentence 7.4). In both sentences, he emphasizes tradition. Second, he affirms theocratic authority in his reliance on an interpretation of Biblical law and on the Church to help ensure so-called ‘justice’ for undocumented migrants (sentences 12.4 and 12.5). Migrants would continue to face hearings in secular institutions, but given Turley’s reliance on Hoffmeier’s Biblical distinctions between ‘sojourners’ and ‘foreigners’ (sentences 12.1 through 12.3), we can understand this authority as only superficially secular and rather as grounded in religious authority. Indeed, he objects to “being a cheerleader for the beneficiaries of a secular welfare state or a guardian of the borders of a secular nation-state” (sentence 14.2) and rather seeks to affirm that “the church is a distinctive sacred social order, a global yet traditional shared life-world that alone shapes communities into economies of grace through the resources of the Christian gospel” (sentence 14.3).

Table 30.

Stephen Turley (July 25, 2014)


Turley (July 25, 2014) invokes Hoffmeier’s distinction between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migrants in sentences 12.2 and 12.3, but in fact the main force of Turley’s argument is more sensibly applied to migrants generally. Turley refers to undocumented migrants as “illegal immigrants” (sentences 3.2, 4.2, 8.3, and 12.4) and numbers Jesus among those who are sometimes thought to have been “illegal immigrants” (sentence 3.1), “Central American minors [who] have crossed into south Texas illegally” (sentence 4.4), and as “immigrants” (sentences 11.3 and 11.4). In addition, he refers to undocumented migration as “illegal immigration” (sentences 4.1, 5.1, 6.4, 8.1, and 12.3). Despite his reference to Hoffmeier’s distinction, Turley intentionally conflates ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ migration in sentences 6.4 and 8.1.

Turley (July 25, 2014) argues that Christians are deeply divided on the issue of undocumented migration (sentences 4.1-4.3)—which is consistent with what I have found among social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives in this dissertation—and associates the contrasting attitudes with “two clashing civilizational processes: what have been called ‘globalization’ on the one hand and ‘tribalization’ on the other” (sentence 5.1).

Turley (July 25, 2014) writes that “[a] number of scholars have observed a correlation between illegal immigration and globalization” (sentence 6.1) but does not appear to recognize the role of so-called “free trade” in devastating local livelihoods in Mexico and Central America and thus being one factor propelling migration (Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Pilisuk & Rountree, 2008, 2015). He understands globalization as “in effect a worldwide social system constituted by the interaction between a capitalist economy, telecommunications, technology, and mass urbanization” (sentence 6.2). It is my understanding that this definition is largely correct: A geography textbook defines globalization as

a set of processes that are increasing interactions, deepening relationships, and heightening interdependence without regard to country borders. It is also a set of outcomes that are felt from these global processes—outcomes that are unevenly distributed and differently manifested across the world. (de Blij, Murphy, & Fouberg, 2007, p. 8).

That these relationships and interactions occur “without regard to country borders” (de Blij, Murphy, & Fouberg, 2007, p. 8), is crucial to Turley’s (July 25, 2014) analysis. Turley (July 25, 2014) continues, “Because the constituents of globalization, such as transnational corporations and electronic money, transcend national borders, many scholars believe that globalization is bringing an end to the whole concept of distinct nations” (sentence 6.3). He associates the economic flows through “porous borders” with increased migration (sentences 6.4 and 6.5).

This obviously neglects, however, the effects of the so-called “war on drugs” in raising the levels of violence in Central America and Mexico to extreme levels and U.S. acquiescence and possible complicity in the Honduran coup (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014). Turley (July 25, 2014) instead turns to how “globalization elicits reflexive responses at the local and national sectors” (sentence 7.1) in “which local customs and traditions are relativized to wider economic, scientific, and technocratic forces” (sentence 7.2), “propel[ing our social life] away from traditional, national, and local practices and beliefs” (sentence 7.3).

Turley (July 25, 2014) has put his finger on a problem, particularly for social (Crain, November 24, 2014) and traditionalist (Kirk, 1985/2001; R. Weaver, 1964/1995) conservative perspectives. We have seen in one social conservative article (Crain) analyzed in chapter ten and with the description of traditionalist conservatism in chapter one the importance of a common historic, linguistic, and religious heritage—Weaver’s (1964/1995) ‘tyrannizing image.’ Traditionalists ground their epistemology in custom, not empiricism (Livingston, August, 2011). They value the knowledge of what they call ‘prejudice,’ habit, and passed-down skill (‘practical’ or ‘traditional’ knowledge) as a foundation for all ‘technical’ knowledge, such as might be found in recipes in a cookbook (Kerwick, 2013). Globalization, Turley (July 25, 2014) thinks, threatens all that—and I see no reason to disagree. What is happening here goes far beyond and indeed renders rather provincial the benefits that T. S. Eliot (1948/1962) perceived for English culture from the surrounding influences of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. A meeting of the histories, languages, and religions of the world threatens to make the world increasingly multicultural, which is intolerable in George Lakoff’s (2002) “strict father” morality system and a challenge to the largely homogeneous society that traditionalist conservatives like Kirk (1985/2001), Weaver, and Eliot prize.

However, Turley (July 25, 2014) argues that “globalization involves a predictable counter reaction at the local and national level termed ‘tribalization;’ in the face of threats to localized identity markers, people assert their religiosity, kinship, and national symbols as mechanisms of resistance against globalizing dynamics” (sentence 7.4). He points to a number of examples: “It seems everywhere a mall is put up, a farmers market is not far away; fast food chains are countered with slogans encouraging us to ‘buy local’; and in the midst of the city lights of cosmopolitanism are clusters of intentional communities” (sentence 7.5). What he misses in this is that many of these movements are generally movements of the left. Indeed, Rod Dreher (March 10, 2006), as a so-called “crunchy con,” records the following exchange:

A few summers ago, in the National Review offices on the east side of Manhattan, I told my editor that I was leaving work early so I could pick up my family’s weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables from the neighborhood organic food co-op to which we belonged.

“Ewww, that’s so lefty,” she said, and made the kind of face I’d have expected if I’d informed her I was headed off to hear Peter, Paul and Mary warble at a fundraiser for cross-dressing El Salvadoran hemp farmers. (Dreher, March 10, 2006)

In research for this dissertation, I concluded that ‘crunchy conservatives’ are in fact traditionalist conservatives, that the distinction of caring about organic food and farmers’ markets is insufficient to merit categorization as a separate tendency (Benfell, June 4, 2014). Dreher (March 10, 2006) strongly evokes traditionalism in writing,

We are conservatives by conviction and temperament, and usually vote Republican (though to call us “liberal Republicans” is to fundamentally misunderstand us), but we’re “crunchy”–as in the slang for “earthy”–because we stand alongside a number of lefties who don’t buy in to the consumerist and individualist mainstream of American life. It seems to crunchy cons that most Americans are so busy bargain-shopping or bed-hopping, or talking about their shopping and screwing selves, that they’re missing the point of life. Sex and commerce are fine things, but man cannot live by Viagra and the Dow Jones alone. A life led collecting things and experiences in pursuit of happiness is not necessarily a bad life, but it’s not a good life either. Too often, the Democrats act like the Party of Lust, and the Republicans the Party of Greed. Both are deadly sins that eat at the soul, and crunchy cons believe that both must be resisted in our personal and communal lives. Mainstream liberalism and conservatism, as the agrarian essayist Wendell Berry says, are “perfectly useless” to combat the forces in contemporary American society that are pulling families and communities apart. Berry says most liberals won’t take a stand against anything that limits sexual autonomy, and most conservatives won’t oppose anything that limits economic freedom…. (Dreher, March 10, 2006, ellipsis in original)

Another factor in my decision was that I found so little about ‘crunchy conservatism’ (Benfell, June 4, 2014). It seems largely to be Dreher’s creation—in a book that provoked Stan Guthrie (2006) of Christianity Today to interview him and which I would assume he wants to sell, lengthily entitled Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party) (Guthrie, 2006). Nash (2006, Spring, 2009) mentions ‘crunchy cons’ among a number of other subdivisions of conservatism in his lament that “[a]s the conservative universe expanded, there arose a tendency within it to classify its adherents in ever smaller groupings and factions” (Nash, 2006, pp. 576-577), but whatever its merits, ‘crunchy conservatism’ does not, as near as I can determine from the literature, seem to have gained much traction.

So while Turley’s (July 25, 2014) argument seems to pinpoint conservatives as a source of what he calls ‘tribalism,’ it remains that his evidence largely implicates leftists whose ‘nurturant parent’ morality system, as Lakoff (2002) points out, is much more welcoming of diversity and, as the Pew Research Center (June 4, 2015) has found, is more welcoming of migrants. Turley’s evidence thus contradicts his argument. But this error, by itself, does not require us to discount his argument. For better evidence, we can point not only to so-called ‘crunchy cons,’ traditionalist conservatives, and social conservatives, but to authoritarian populists, whom Kim Messick (October 12, 2013) described as “identify[ing] the country with [their] own beliefs and values” and as seeing those with other values as ‘un-American,’ and to paleoconservatives, who as described in chapter one, argue even more strongly for homogeneous societies. Many conservatives will indeed react in the way that Turley describes, particularly when, as described in chapter one with authoritarian populists, they have grievances about the job losses they have suffered that were caused by economic globalization (Berlet, 2011, Frank, 2005).

The trouble is that error of evidence is symptomatic of a larger confusion. The nuance that Turley (July 25, 2014) misses is that, for example, Democratic President Obama had to team up with Republicans to pass trade promotion authority, facilitating his negotiations with other countries on the TransPacific Partnership, over ‘liberal’ Democratic opposition, in a disagreement that was, in large part, about so-called ‘free trade’s’ effects on employment (Kane & DeBonis, June 18, 2015; Weisman, June 24, 2015; Werner, June 12, 2015). Many conservatives, especially capitalist libertarians and neoconservatives favor so-called ‘free trade.’ But many conservatives, especially traditionalist conservatives and social conservatives, are likely to oppose cultural globalization. Many ‘bleeding heart’ liberals, conversely, favor multiculturalism and thus cultural globalization, but as seen with Obama’s battle for trade promotion authority, increasingly oppose economic globalization. Turley (July 25, 2014), however, writes only of ‘globalization’ (sentences 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.2, 7.4, 8.3, and 9.5); he ends up positing that economic globalization (sentences 6.2-6.5) provokes a backlash to cultural globalization (sentences 7.2-8.2).

Turley (July 25, 2014) believes that “given the global/traditional dialectic, it appears that neither a pro-amnesty appeal nor a build-a-wall-and-deport approach will suffice. This is because either perspective focuses on only one side of the reciprocal social dynamics” (sentences 9.2 and 9.3). Nor does he “see much hope for the rather common sense solution of border enforcement combined with high standards for amnesty applicants” (sentence 9.4). Here again, Turley (July 25, 2014) misses that this so-called ‘common sense solution’ has been tried and has failed. As repeated so many times in this dissertation, it does not dissuade undocumented migration but rather redirects it to ever more dangerous and lethal routes (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). Instead, Turley argues that “[a]s long as there is globalization, there will be globalists, those who believe that national borders are constituents of larger ‘unjust’ social boundaries that once marked traditional society and from which we are to be emancipated” (sentence 9.5). I do not really quarrel with this, but in chapter one, I offer a more specific argument that borders unjustly divide humans who have access to certain opportunities from those who do not, that these borders are largely arbitrary, and that borders seem to exist for elites to launch wars over.

In paragraphs 12-14, Turley (July 25, 2014) offers a vision of how ‘the church’ can address many of the challenges associated with undocumented migration. In addition to Hoffmeier’s (cited in Turley) earlier mentioned suggestion “that local churches can in effect adopt illegal immigrants and their families” (sentence 12.4), Turley suggests that “churches in the U.S. could network with affiliated churches in Latin and South America in order to foster economic development in those regions” and argues from evidence of such a collaboration in Goshen, Indiana. This obviously assumes that what works in Goshen could work in Central America and Mexico. It also neglects the problems of extreme violence in the latter regions, caused at least in part by U.S. policy (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014).

Kelley Vlahos, August 12, 2014, American Conservative

After analyzing so many articles that, at minimum, downplay the role of U.S. policy in creating the violent conditions that drive undocumented migrants north (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted in Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014), it is astonishing to encounter a conservative article that is forthright about the role of the so-called ‘war on drugs.’ Kelley Vlahos (August 21, 2014, table 31) is remarkably unrestrained: “The American audience sure loves its drug porn” (sentence 5.1), she writes, implying without saying that the entertainment, “the cheap titillation of movies and film” (sentence 7.3), diverts attention from or misrepresents the reality or both. “America’s demand for drugs is driving children like Cristian Omar Reyes, an 11-year-old terrorized by gangs in Honduras, or Carlita, a 13-year-old Salvadoran, also fleeing gang violence, to the U.S-Mexico border. If you don’t want these children—an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 by the end of 2014—then the drug war must end” (sentences 8.1 and 8.2).

Vlahos (August 21, 2014) quotes” Terry Nelson, a retired U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, who now works with LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)” arguing that [t]he only way to stop [the migration] is, ‘if you were to end the drug war today and begin to legalize all drugs’” (Nelson, quoted in Vlahos, sentence 9.1). She quotes “Marco Careces [sic], an editor and contributor for the Honduran Weekly and aerospace analyst for a Virginia-based technology firm who shuttles often between the Washington D.C. area and Central America” saying “[y]ou [the U.S.] are not taking responsibility for contributing to the problems yourself” (Caceres, name evidently misspelled in original, quoted in Vlahos, sentence 12.2). And she quotes Nelson saying “I am a conservative and I think this is a very conservative issue—crime and violence” (Nelson, quoted in Vlahos, sentence 17.7).

Of the undocumented migrant minors, Vlahos quotes Caceras saying,

If you deport these kids back to where they came from, you’re actually making the problem worse. They are either going to be killed or recruited by the gangs and it will make the gangs more powerful. They will keep trying to get back in … a wall won’t stop the wave if people are desperate enough. (Caceras, quoted in Vlahos, August 21, 2014, paragraph 27)

Table 31.

Kelly Vlahos (August 12, 2014)


I do not know what to make of sentence 1.1, “White Messiah Complex,” and I do not know if it is Kelley Vlahos’ (August 12, 2014) work. From its location, I infer that it is a heading. I do not know if it is a heading that was attached by an editor at the American Conservative as of the time I initially archived the article on August 14, 2014. When I revisited the original article early in the morning on July 21, 2015, to try to make sense of the heading, the text was no longer present. My analysis of the article discounts the heading and is based on what follows it.

Vlahos (August 12, 2014) refers to undocumented migrant children as “youth” (sentence 6.1), “unaccompanied children” (sentence 7.2), “children” (sentences 8.1, 8.2, 11.2, 12.1, 19.1, 19.4), “unaccompanied minors” (sentence 26.1), cites writer Sonia Nazario labeling them “refugees” (sentence 19.4), and quotes Marco Caceres calling them “kids” (sentence 27.1). Vlahos does not directly quote any children, but uses a quotation published in the New York Times in an article by Nazario (sentence 21.2). In her criticism of the entertainment version of the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ she writes that “when we see the pictures of youth squeezed into concrete detention cells, or hear stories about the scabies, lice, and other ailments they brought in with them on the arduous journey from Central America, suddenly nothing seems very sexy” (sentence 6.1). I see no reason to view any of these references as in any way derogatory. I interpret her writing as entirely sympathetic to the children, whom she depicts as seeking to escape drugs and gang violence, extortion, and recruitment (sentences 8.1, 11.2, 18.2, 21.1, 21.2, and 27.2).

Vlahos (August 12, 2014) mostly refers to the so-called ‘war on drugs’ as “the drug war,” but in contrast to functionalist conservative Julie Sweig’s (July 2, 2014, article analyzed in chapter seven) ambiguous reference to “drug wars,” there is little question that Vlahos (August 12, 2014) is referring to the ‘war on drugs.’ First, Vlahos calls it “the [emphasis added] drug war” (sentences 2.1, 8.2, 9.1, 9.2, 11.1, and 14.3) using a definite article. When Sweig (July 2, 2014) refers to “drug wars,” this can easily mean the violent contests among competing cartels and their affiliated gangs. But by using a definite article and not specifying any of the contests that Sweig might be referring to, Vlahos seems to suggest the ‘war on drugs.’ This impression is enhanced when she appears to treat “the drug war” as U.S. policy both in her own writing or in the quotations she uses (sentences 8.2, 9.1, 9.2, 14.3). In sentence 8.2, she writes, “If you don’t want these children—an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 by the end of 2014—then the drug war must end.” In sentence 9.2, she quotes Nelson, writing “The only way to stop it [the migration] is, ‘if you were to end the drug war today and begin to legalize all drugs.’” In sentence 14.3, she calls “[t]he drug war in our hemisphere . . . an exercise in whack-a-mole , or as Cato’s Ted Galen Carpenter noted recently, a game of squeeze the balloon: ‘put pressure on the drug cartels in one area, and the drug trade just pops up somewhere else.’”

Furthermore, Vlahos (August 12, 2014) advocates legalization of drugs—more often a capitalist libertarian position—first, by pointing to the failure of alcohol prohibition early in the twentieth century (sentences 10.2 and 10.3); second, by explicitly calling for legalization, in quotations she uses (sentences 9.2 and 13.1); and third, by pointing to the colossal failure of the ‘war on drugs’ (sentence 14.3 and paragraphs 15-17). “When [Nelson] retired in 2005, he looked around and saw that despite year after year of high profile seizures, the price of so-called blow on Main Street hadn’t budged” (sentence 16.4)—if in fact the ‘war on drugs’ was reducing supply relative to demand, one would expect the price to have gone up.

Vlahos (August 12, 2014) thus appears both as sympathetic to children caught in the middle of the ‘war on drugs’ and as harshly critical of so-called ‘prohibition.’ It is a searing and surprising indictment of U.S. policy. At the same time, with her references to “drug porn” (sentence 5.1), “illicit, albeit vicarious, score” (sentence 5.2), and “the cheap titillation of movies and film” (sentence 7.3), Vlahos can hardly be seen as sympathetic to mass entertainment surrounding the law enforcement “war on drugs.” I cannot argue with this critique, but given the gravity of the problems that drug users face under the present regime of criminal [in]justice, this emphasis seems misplaced. It would seem to suggest a preference for a more ‘high-minded’—some might call it ‘snobbish’—culture; such allusions are pervasive in traditionalist conservative writings. Her attack on the “war on drugs,” while a valid argument in its own right, can also be seen as an effort to limit the need for the massive government effort to prosecute that ‘war,’ and thus the size of that government. One might recall from chapter one that traditionalist conservatives prefer government authority at the local level of, as Russell Kirk (1985/2001) so often refers to, “the squire and the parson;” the drug war often occurs at the more remote state and federal levels. Finally, Vlahos overwhelmingly objects to the “war on drugs” as a failure of what some might see as a paternal responsibility toward people driven from their homes. Here we might recall George Lakoff’s (2002) “critical father” responsibility not to interfere with grown children; how much worse it then is to irresponsibly create a crisis in the homes of others and egregiously worse to do so in the homes of others as far away as Central America.


In this dissertation, we have seen many conservatives who have, in the articles I have analyzed, seem to possess less than a firm grasp on the facts. Bruce Frohnen (February 16, 2014) in this chapter was another dismal example. Stephen Turley (July 25, 2014), despite displaying some original thinking, also suffers from this deficit. Kelley Vlahos (August 12, 2014) offers a stark exception, not only for this chapter, but indeed the vast majority of articles analyzed in this dissertation. And even among those few articles which might be said even to begin to respond to the empirical situation, Vlahos’ example is exceptional.

In the weighing of law against compassion that has been a focus both in the preceding chapter analyzing social conservative articles and this chapter, both Frohnen (February 16, 2014) and Turley (July 25, 2014) fall on the side of law. Turley, however, offers a proposal that that seeks to ensure fair hearings and proper legal representation for migrants. Further, despite his many failings on matters of fact, he offers an insight—a dialectic between ‘globalists’ and ‘tribalists’—that, with further work, might prove useful in understanding the controversy over undocumented migration.

Vlahos (August 12, 2014), however, comes down squarely on the side of compassion, arguing not for the need for immigration reform, but rather for the need to address a cause of ‘illegal’ migration through an end to the ‘war on drugs’ and the legalization of recreational drugs.


For this nearly 400-page exercise to have been worthwhile, it needs to demonstrate that there is utility in a much more nuanced view of conservatism, a view that understands conservatism not monolithically but rather as composed of multiple tendencies in approaching difficult issues. There are at least two sets of conclusions to be drawn from the analyses presented here. The first entails those which may often be attributed to one tendency or the other, but in fact applies much more broadly. The second are those conclusions that apply to each tendency specifically. In the case of the latter, these conclusions often appeared relative to other tendencies, so I have grouped these tendencies together in discussing them.

This chapter will then turn to questions for further inquiry, and an evaluation of the method before a closing commentary.

Common conclusions

For all of Stephen Turley’s (July 25, 2014) oversimplifications in the article I analyzed in chapter eleven, he illustrates that there is more to the issue of undocumented migration than the dichotomies of “us” versus “them” or of law versus compassion. I think this dissertation illustrates that as well—and the consequences are unkind for conservative thinking as a whole.

First, we have to take note of U.S. contributions to the problems that drive migration (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014) and to notice how rarely conservatives acknowledge any U.S. culpability at all (Skerry, August 18, 2014; Vlahos, August 12, 2014), and we have had to take note of the lethal effects of trying to wall off and ‘defend’ the border (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014), and how uncommon it is for conservatives to acknowledge the extreme hazards that these migrants face in getting here. And when they do acknowledge the dangers, conservatives view what they consider an undefended border much in the way that we might view a public nuisance, as a lure for risk-taking (Chip, May 12, 2014; Moudy, June 15, 2014; Perry, July 9, 2014).

This selective blindness appears among both well-educated and articulate writers and those who are not so well-educated and articulate. It appears that many conservatives, regardless of education and regardless of tendency, are unwilling to face the realities of the situation of extreme desperation that undocumented migrants are facing, and that these conservatives are in fact following Russell Kirk’s (1985/2001) preference for ‘prejudice’ and a ‘transcendent order’ over facts, just as Sonja Foss, Karen Foss, and Robert Trapp (2002) said of Richard Weaver. It appears that this preference points to a profound epistemological difference between conservatives and many others: Conservatives dismiss or diminish the empirical forms of evidence that many others privilege. Second, I perceive among many conservatives an unwillingness to acknowledge U.S. culpability in creating this situation—to the extent that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that it exists and to the extent that U.S. policy continues to reflect conservative influence, these choices about information may lead to much more suffering for the foreseeable future.

But third, I would argue that except for the argument that undocumented migrants take low-wage jobs, evidence does not generally support most conservatives’ favored policies unless, as a capitalist libertarian, one prefers that workers be more vulnerable than they already are. ‘Defending’ the border more vigorously, as so many conservatives insist we must do, does not deter migration but redirects it to ever more dangerous routes (Conan, September 10, 2003; Cornelius, July, 2005; Hansen, September, 2009; Martínez, September, 2011; Rocha et al, 2014; Sarabia, December, 2012; Sládková, 2014). Through our negligence, we are in fact killing people with such policies. But we—and I must include many on the left for their acquiescence to these policies—often do not consider it an emergency that this approach must change.

Further, as only Vlahos (August 12, 2014) among the conservatives whose articles I analyzed, would seriously take on, the ‘war on drugs’ creates much of the violence that drives children north (Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014). But most perplexing of all is the conservative refusal to recognize the problems of so-called ‘free trade.’ On the one hand, their rhetoric is replete with references to migrants seeking a ‘better life’ (Nowicki, July 15, 2014; Tobin, July 15, 2014), or even just seeking jobs (Domitrovic, August 28, 2014; Economist, July 8, 2014; Frohnen, February 16, 2014; Reed, September 9, 2014; Vlahos, August 12, 2014), and even to the often abusive employers that exploit them (Chip, May 12, 2014; Domitrovic; Frohnen; Reed; Wolf, November 21, 2014). But on the other hand, it is evidently much easier to blame governments in migrants’ home countries (Frohnen; Piatak, July 15, 2014) than it is to recognize the problems of so-called ‘free trade.’

Whatever we may think of conservatives for such lapses, one thing is clear: The articles analyzed in this dissertation show that while authoritarian populists may, as suggested in chapter one, invite criticism for their apparent shortcomings, these shortcomings may be found among every tendency.

Authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives

I have explained that while I describe conservative tendencies separately, there are overlaps between them. The fact of those overlaps is unsettling; they call into question the utility of a scheme that distinguishes between so many tendencies of conservatism. Two of the relationships between tendencies have been particularly troubling: First of those relationships, of course is that between social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives. But second, what are we to think when paleoconservative Tom Piatak (July 15, 2014) writes an article that could pass as authoritarian populist? Both authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives are racist, the latter generally more blatantly than the former. Should we, then, consider paleoconservatives to be more extreme authoritarian populists?

We can also recall Andy Nowicki (July 15, 2014), another paleoconservative, warning that “ethnic chauvinism . . . runs the risk of dehumanizing those outside of one’s own group, and ignoring crucial commonalities.” In that passage, and in that passage alone, Nowicki recognizes what authoritarian populists seemingly do not and in his article generally he often appears less extreme than authoritarian populists. Now, what are we to think?

What, indeed? At the end of chapter five, I conclude that authoritarian populists are so caught up in their hierarchically invidious monism that for them the only problems that matter are their own. Empathy, we might suppose, is in short supply among many conservatives, but perhaps even more so in a subset of tendencies that surely includes authoritarian populism. But when a paleoconservative—so “horseblinded” by prejudice, to turn Nowicki’s (July 15, 2014) own phrasing against him, that he believes the white race is under some sort of attack—can also recognize “the risk of dehumanizing those outside of one’s own group, and ignoring crucial commonalities,” thus mustering an understanding that seems utterly beyond authoritarian populists, it seems we must take notice.

These results would seem to suggest that authoritarian populists may not be distinct from paleoconservatives in any straight-forward way. With the alleged distinction between authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives seemingly amounting to shades of overt and less overt racism, and with Republicans doing well in the South largely among authoritarian populists and social conservatives (Haney-López, December 22, 2013; Lieb, November 23, 2012; M. Lind, October 20, 2012; Messick, October 12, 2013; R. Reich, February 27, 2012; Walsh, September 20, 2012; Wilkie, August 12, 2014; Wills, January 21, 2013), we might think of doubts that the northern victory in the U.S. Civil War was ever more than a military one (Blight, April 8, 2013; Horwitz, June 19, 2013; Richter, October 7, 2013; Widmer, June 4, 2015) and we might imprecisely associate the putatively defeated South in part with authoritarian populism and paleoconservatism. Colin Woodard (2011) depicts slaveholders as having come to the ‘Deep South’ (one of his eleven ‘nations’) from a particularly vicious slaveholding society in Barbados. In this speculative scheme, paleoconservatives might derive from those Deep Southerners who were dispossessed by emancipation of the slaves; which would help to account for the common conflation of paleoconservatives with traditionalist conservatives, where the latter include southern agrarian conservatives such as Richard Weaver (1964/1995) and John Calhoun (discussed in Kirk, 1985/2001). Meanwhile, authoritarian populists more closely resemble Woodard’s description of people in what he calls Greater Appalachia; they both sometimes affiliated with Deep Southerners and sometimes resisted their domination. If this is so, then the distinction between authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives may in fact be valid, but further research along the lines laid out by Woodard (2011) is needed.

I would argue that the need for a better understanding is only more apparent following controversy that arose in the wake of Dylan Roof’s shooting of nine people in a South Carolina church (Bernstein, Horwitz, & Holley, June 20, 2015) over an association between the Confederate battle flag and racism. At least at the South Carolina capitol, it resulted in the Confederate flag being taken down (Fausset & Blinder, July 9, 2015). But this flag also represents what some view as a ‘treasonous’ act of secession from the Union (Ketcham, January 26, 2005), and it is this ‘treason’ that must be reconciled with the hyper-patriotism that we see among authoritarian populists (Berlet, 2011) and which, one might note, does not seem to appear so strongly among paleoconservatives.

There is a confusion, and not just in the South, about the Civil War that denies that the South seceded to preserve the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery (Blight, April 8, 2013; Coates, June 22, 2015; Griffin, 2004; LaFantasie, December 19, 2010; O’Hehir, January 5, 2013; Richter, October 7, 2013; Terbush, September 22, 2012; Thompson, 2013; Willman, September 24, 2012). For many, the Confederate battle flag instead represents an assertion of tradition, identity, and heritage that many authoritarian populists in particular seem to pit against, among other things, federal domination, education, and the intellect, all seen as arrogant and elitist. I would further suggest that the military defeat of the Confederacy seems to fit with the authoritarian populist and paleoconservative self-images of being under siege (Frank, 2005; Griffin; Kimmel, November 17, 2013; Robertson, Davey, & Bosman, June 23, 2015; Thompson). The conflict that surrounds the Civil War and persists to this day invokes a ‘state’s rights’ argument that also rationalizes racism, slavery, Jim Crow, and efforts to roll back voting rights. I cannot help but suspect that this underlies attitudes toward undocumented migration as well.

Capitalist libertarians

There is a certain make-believe aspect to capitalist libertarianism that we saw in chapter one. Charles Reich (1970) even used that term, make-believe, in writing that “the New Deal intruded irrevocably upon their [capitalist libertarian] make-believe, problem-free world in which the pursuit of business gain and self-interest was imagined to be automatically beneficial to all of mankind, requiring of them no additional responsibility whatever” (p. 56). It rationalizes the attitude of those George Seldes (1948/2009) calls ‘reactionaries’ and ‘fascists’ who object to any interference with private property rights whatsoever, even for public necessity. It imagines Ayn Rand’s (1957/1999) heroes as righteous in their selfishness and greed. My analysis of Fred Reed’s (September 9, 2014) article turned up the revelation that in order to ethically rationalize an inherently unjust economic system, they must imagine subaltern individuals—workers, the poor, people of color, women, and everyone else facing oppression—as more powerful than they are.

This sense that capitalist libertarians might prefer to deal with fiction is not dispelled when James Otteson (May 28, 2014) begins a presentation by “[a]sking whether one prefers Adam Smith’s or Ayn Rand’s defense of the free society.” The latter was, after all, a novelist, who apparently preferred fiction to non-fiction as a means to disseminate her ‘philosophy.’ Otteson says of the question that it “is a bit like asking which of your parents you love the most. You love them both! Maybe you do have a favorite, but you hate to admit it, let alone say it publicly.”

Perhaps, but even a conservative writes of Rand’s work that

Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. . . . It consistently mistakes raw force for strength . . . . It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated. . . . From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber—go!” (Chambers, quoted in Nash, 2006, p. 239).

Whittaker Chambers (quoted in Nash, 2006) has a point. As David Barash and Charles Webel (2002) effectively point out in their definition of structural violence, economic power is force. People go hungry. They lack shelter. Or, surely nearly as ruinously for members of a species that prides itself on its mind, they are deprived of the life of the mind. This is “a kind of violence . . . occurring,” Barash and Webel write, “even if no bullets are shot or clubs wielded” (p. 7). Anarchists in particular will point out that people who work even just to reduce the violence they are subjected to are not ‘free;’ rather, they are coerced.

But capitalist libertarians see them as ‘free’ nonetheless. And what we saw in the articles analyzed in chapter six was a view of inward migration that would increase the structural violence waged against workers to increase the freedom of employers to exploit, all rationalized by a fiction that the market is fair and that all participants enjoy access to opportunity. There should be no mistake: Whatever the merits of migrants’ claims to refuge, the capitalist libertarian perspective is driven by self-interest, just as Ayn Rand (1957/1999) thinks it should be.

But as I read Rand’s (1957/1999) Atlas Shrugged, I also recall an adolescent delusion—perhaps better recognized as a dictator’s delusion—that the world would be a better place, that the world’s problems could all be solved if people would just do it “my way.” This is the arrogance of the colonizer, located not within a ruling society, but within an individual. It is a universalized assumption originating not with an occupying society, but again within the individual. Rand and capitalist libertarians celebrate that presumption: If I can do it, the logic claims, so can anyone else, as if we all had identical talents, aspirations, and opportunities.

Then there is the woman Scott Sernau (2006) writes of “who works 12-hour days doing the backbreaking work of picking vegetables and then goes home to care for three tired and hungry children. She works hard,” Sernau writes, “but she does not seem to be climbing the ladder of success” (p. 62). It is on account of ‘merit’ and ‘hard-work,’ we are to understand, that a chief executive officer is worth hundreds of times as much money as her because, according to Rand (1957/1999), she should be grateful to that CEO for her job, for the CEO created that job, for somehow, following Rand’s logic, fields could not be planted, crops could not be raised, and vegetables would not be available to pick without that CEO and that CEO’s control of private property.

Sernau does not say whether the woman he writes of is a migrant, let alone an undocumented one. Perhaps we assume that she is. Is her work any less valuable for it? Is she worth any less because of it? Are her needs and the needs of her children any less important? The market might say yes, but surely we must reach a different conclusion.

Functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives

One of the more curious relationships explored in chapter one was that between neoconservatives and functionalist conservatives. Where functionalist conservatives are simply concerned with preserving and enhancing their position relative to the rest of us, neoconservatives attach moral value to the amoral things functionalists do.

In the articles examined in chapter seven, functionalist conservatives are not upset that undocumented migrants were crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and they see none of the challenge to sovereignty that one might expect if they accepted a common depiction of the border as ‘porous’ or ‘undefended.’ Nor are functionalists concerned with the alleged ‘invasion’ or ‘flood’ of undocumented migrants.

It is, on the contrary, a traditionalist conservative, Bruce Frohnen (February 16, 2014) whose article I analyzed in chapter eleven, and the neoconservatives whose articles I analyzed in chapter eight, with the notable exception of Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014), who seem indignant about violations of secular law. In the summary at the end of chapter eight, I digressed into the meaning of law and how it is passed by a group consisting overwhelmingly of wealthy white males, the traditionally hegemonic group in U.S. society, to apply to others. What may logically accompany this is that functionalist conservatives may decide when to react—and how—to alleged infractions.

In the case of undocumented migrants, this decision is, at least as of this writing, to reform the law. And so the articles were concerned with the practicalities and the politics. In addition, in one article, we saw an effort to minimize the U.S. policy role, that is, the role of policy adopted by functionalist conservatives, in creating the crisis (Sweig, July 2, 2014).

Neoconservatives, social conservatives, and traditionalist conservatives

While neoconservatives, social conservatives, and traditionalist conservatives whose articles I analyzed in this dissertation are often concerned with law, neoconservatives and one traditionalist, Bruce Frohnen (February 16, 2014), were concerned with upholding secular law. But also, neoconservatives saw no conflict between a poor kind of compassion that they claimed to have for undocumented migrants and their claim to know what is best for undocumented migrants without ever consulting migrants themselves. Social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives, however, generally have to weigh compassion against law.

Social conservative Alex Crain (November 24, 2014) and traditionalist Frohnen (February 16, 2014) came down squarely on the side of law. Traditionalist Stephen Turley (July 25, 2014) sought Roman Catholic Church aid in resolving a dialectic between so-called ‘globalists’ and so-called ‘tribalists,’ but rather than seeking to change the law, sought to uphold it. Social conservative J. C. Derrick (August 11, 2014) also seeks to uphold law, but clearly favors less detention and seems to favor asylum.

Alone among all the conservatives whose articles I analyze in this dissertation, only neoconservative Peter Skerry (August 18, 2014) and traditionalist Kelley Vlahos (August 12, 2014) grappled with the role played by U.S. policy in creating the conditions that drive so many migrants north (Avorn, October 30, 2014; Carlsen, July 21, 2014; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, et al, July 15, 2014; A. Chomsky, August 24, 2014; Economist, July 12, 2014; D. Frank, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Foer, August 12, 2014; Greenblatt, July 9, 2014; Harbury, quoted on Democracy Now!, July 17, 2014; Keating, July 11, 2014; Latin America News Dispatch, September 26, 2014; D. Lind, July 15, 2014; Lopez, July 23, 2014; McCormick, August 6, 2012; Sánchez-Soler, July 25, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2014; Villagra, July 11, 2014). Of these two, Vlahos was by far the more convincing, as Skerry seemed to disapprove of those who seek immigration reform, but the presence of these two informs us that not all conservatives are oblivious to the plight of undocumented migrants.

Questions for further inquiry

There are a number of questions that cropped up in the course of this inquiry that I do not take on. Some, such as those I pose at the beginning of chapter eleven are questions I am unsure are suitable—at least in the form I have phrased them—for scholarly inquiry. If someone takes that as a challenge and pursues them rigorously anyway, I will be in their debt. Other questions seem to me more amenable:

  1. Thomas Espenshade’s (1995) survey is twenty years old. Considering the use I have made of it, I would have to grant that it has, on the whole, held up well. Nonetheless, a more current look at many of the questions he raised regarding undocumented migrants would be welcome. These are “the size of the undocumented immigrant population in the United States, the causes and consequences of illegal migrant flows, public attitudes toward unauthorized migrants, and the history of attempts to control the volume of undocumented migration” (p. 195).
  2. The questions I pose at the beginning of chapter three regarding the fears—really of the “other”—that seem to pervade conservative attitudes on undocumented migration deserve qualitative exploration seeking an understanding of how it is that people who value their culture or their race can perceive that “others” threaten it. Indeed, I might put Simone de Beauvoir’s (1953/2010) argument as a question: If humans do indeed so consistently divide “us” from “them” by whatever distinctions we can find, then why do we do it?
  3. The distinction that George Nash (2006) drew between social conservatives and traditionalist conservatives needs further exploration. The results in this study support the distinction poorly if at all.
  4. These dissertation results challenge the distinction between paleoconservatives and authoritarian populists. Earlier in this chapter, I indulge in speculation about this distinction, based in part on Colin Woodard’s (2011) ‘eleven nations’ eleven distinct cultures in North America. This speculation should be explored and further work done to try to discover and elucidate the differences between these tendencies, perhaps exploring the differences paleoconservatives acknowledge between themselves and other conservatives, notably those supporting Donald Trump in the contest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination (Osnos, August 31, 2015), and perhaps seeking discrepancies in attitudes toward war.
  5. In chapter one, I notice that conservatives often use military metaphors in viewing undocumented migration as a hostile act. I point out that they seem to favor a military-style response. I notice further that this seems consistent with a preference for war as was seen, for example, with the manipulation of intelligence to support an invasion of Iraq (Danner, 2006). It is beyond the scope of this dissertation to consider conservatism or some tendencies of conservatism as a psychological disorder. However, an apparent preference for violence would seem to invite a social or political psychological inquiry.

Final Thoughts

This inquiry has exposed both striking differences and nuances in conservative approaches to the question of undocumented migration. We have seen how the general descriptions of conservative tendencies in chapter one has manifested in application to that specific question. We have also seen overlaps, notably between authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives, functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives, and neoconservatives, social conservatives, and traditionalist conservatives.

Such overlaps are inevitable. But they also pose a challenge. The scheme I have devised for distinguishing between conservatives may never be settled. In a way, that is fitting. In recent decades, there has been a tendency to elevate theory to paradigm, a move that has always seemed suspect to me. I prefer that theories be like tools in a toolbox, available for a craftsperson, or in this case, a scholar, to use when conservatives appear inconsistent.


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