Laura Ingraham Can Keep her “We” To Herself

Laura Ingraham Can Keep her "We" To Herself

Controversial Fox News Host Laura Ingraham caused a stir this week when she went on a rant about immigration. This is not unusual, of course. Immigration has been a hot button issue politically for years; President Trump made it a centerpiece of his campaign and now his administration. The pundit class has featured the topic to great success, social media is constantly debating it, and related topics are always trending.

There are serious issues involved in immigration. The legal immigration process is horribly run and badly in need of reform. Illegal immigration is a constant problem for a multitude of reasons. In an age where the next major terrorist attack on US soil is a matter of when, not if, border security is a vitally important topic to be debated and for which solutions must be found. The human toll of dealing with desperate people in terrible circumstances seeking entry is a complex problem, at a local, state, and federal level. Intertwined in the immigration debate are dozens of conflicting issues such as politics, economics, social issues, racial issues, and identity conflicts, all of which a free society should wrestle with out of both necessity and responsibility.

But none of those important issues was what Laura Ingraham brought to mind when she said this:

Now, others have already addressed the many racial and other problems with this statement, including Kimberly Ross, who was having none of it:

The dislike that she possesses for people who may be different than us is starkly evident.

Now, I absolutely understand the need to address illegal immigration. It is an actual problem that should be dealt with swiftly and logically. But legal immigration?! There’s a problem with allowing individuals who seek a better life to follow laws and become citizens of our nation?

Careful, Laura. Your tendency toward white supremacy is showing. I won’t support it.

While others have rightfully covered the bigotry involved in such a statement, the lies that sits at its premise must not be overlooked and excused away as trivial. As Ingraham stated it here:

In some parts of the country it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.

The problems here are legion:

“The America we know and love”, subtly inferring that only like-minded folks truly love the country:

Of all the tripe on social media, few things aggravate me more than the variations on the theme that being a “lover of America” means lockstep thinking with whatever person or group is making the assertion. It’s garbage, it’s a lie, and it is the most anti-American sentiment. America is a plurality of diverse peoples coming together to form one country, in complete opposition to the tribalistic nonsense of “everyone like me or else”. With such people, pronouns matter, and the “we” assumption here is the gateway to the worse offenses to come, since it is the beginning of the “othering” process.

“Massive demographic change”, which can only mean people different from the “we” from the prior sentence:

Yes, America is undergoing massive demographic change. The lie here ignores that America is always undergoing demographic change. At various points, there have been massive influxes of Chinese, Italian, Irish, German, and any other group of people you can imagine. In the 1820s there were virtually no Irish in New York City; by the 1860s the city was overflowing with them. At a time when Boston had 100K people, within a decade 37k Irish had taken up residence. Guess what the argument against them was? “The demographics of our country are changing.” “They aren’t assimilating.” “Americans must rule Americans.” Sound familiar? Same with the Italians and Eastern Europeans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the west, Chinese and other Asian people came to this country in the 19th century in significant numbers, most living in near servitude for decades, saddled with the same sentiments that too many was bad for the country. The examples go on and on. Despite all the fearmongering, racism, and bigotry against these new immigrants, they went on to become integral parts of the country’s success. In this century, Latin America, Asia, and Africa have risen to be at the forefront of immigrating peoples.

Laura Ingraham Can Keep her "We" To Herself

Anit Irish Cartoon from 1889. Depiction is Irish caricature with words “The Mortar of Assimilation and the One Element that Won’t Mix”

There are numerous reasons for this, but the common thread of most immigrants to America then and now is freedom and opportunity. The Europeans that came then were escaping a continent awash in warfare, oppression, and limited liberty. The nations change, but the struggles of Latin America, Africa, and Asia are similar today, as is the yearning for the American offering of a better life to the people.

“Foisted upon the American people”

This is one of our most common and easily repeated lies; we have a representative government, which means we have exactly the government we deserve. If the government has neglected the border and mishandled illegal immigration for years, and they have, it’s because we tolerate them doing so. Same goes for legal immigration, where a bureaucratic nightmare and arcane regulation make those trying to come to America the right way feel like they’ve been dropped in a labyrinth with little hope of getting out. Oh, we get mad online, shout on talk radio, and scream about how awful it is, but until real political pressure is brought to bear nothing changes. Especially if all you are doing is stoking the fears and prejudices of your audience for ratings and engagement. But we don’t really want to talk about that, because then we have a portion of the blame, so it is easier to just fault the always available “them.”

“Changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like”

Good hell…we do not vote on demographics in America. Think about the implications of what this line of thinking reaches if played out to its conclusion.

“Demographics” is people, and when discussing difficult issues like immigration we cannot allow anyone to detract from the fact we are talking about people. Once you dehumanize and otherize a group of people, you have mentally and morally greenlit yourself to remove all barriers of behavior towards that group.

Once again the wide-ranging assumptions of pronouns rears its head. “None of us” and “Most of us” again devolves into the chosen speak of tribalism. There are many Americans that have a different viewpoint on immigration, and where we differ there is cause to discuss, debate, and hash it out. But if you need to speak to a certain segment of your audience in forceful terms, an “us vs them” approach is effective. It’s also wrong. There are many things about my country that I do not like, but none of those dislikes will ever cause me to hate a group of people solely based on where they are coming from.

We should have strong immigration standards and border enforcement. We should also have an immigration system that works effectively. Right now we have neither, and continuing to espouse casual lies as talking points will not fix either. That basis of lies also leaves open the door for hatred based on nationalities, races, and other things that we should not be placing in the equation. Our country is its people. Immigrants are people. Even when differentiating between legal and illegal immigration, let’s treat both as such, with respect, and without racial bigotry.


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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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39 thoughts on “Laura Ingraham Can Keep her “We” To Herself

  1. Change is always stressful. But some respond to it as sort of a throw-down – “Ok, bring it!”, while others try to avoid it.

    One good way to avoid change has been to live in certain places that are slow to see change. But change has come to them. The food at the grocery store has shifted. The kitchen staff looks different. And the jobs kind of suck compared to a generation ago, but you see these new, different looking people doing them cheerfully.

    All that resentment isn’t all that well directed, or likely to make things better. We built a mighty nation with the wretched refuse of a teeming shore. Those words described my great grandfather.

    I do wonder if the internet hasn’t accelerated their discomfort, as it brings the world into your home, in a way that it is much less filtered than television was.

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  2. Thanks for pointing out that this is not new, Consider that the 1920s KKK was against catholics, and it took until 1960 to elect a catholic president, but now the supreme court is majority catholic.This process involves assimilation and taking the best of a new groups traditions and making them general. One example of this is that tortillas are now more popular than white bread. Of course there were some rather forceful assimilation such as the Germans in WWI It takes a couple of generations but lots of folks assimilate to make more money.

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  3. As a further example one great grand father came over in 1861 (up the Mississippi which was a spectacular problem) The children spoke German in the home, and grandkids born in 1911 and 1913 were called the little german boys at the local crossroads school. Needless to say this changed drastically with Aunts born in 1915 and 1920 and my dad born in 1924. Non spoke much German. In fact WWI lead to german no longer being spoken in that home.

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  4. In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed

    You know who else said that: Sitting Bull.

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    • I never know what my takeaway from comments like this should be.

      “Man, Sitting Bull was a real bigot!” seems to be on the table. So does “Man, Sitting Bull was right!”

      If it’s not one of those two, what’s my takeaway?

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      • I’d go with something along the lines of:

        Sitting Bull got angry after the government tried to force his people onto overcrowded reserves, declared open war on those who failed to move, and sent soldiers to murder them. Laura Ingraham gets angry because people speak their own languages, wear clothes unlike the ones in which she dresses herself, and eat foods she is not familiar with. This says a lot about the two people.

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      • There’s a third possibility.

        America is a country of immigrants. Every one of us, including Sitting Bull, is either an immigrant, or the descendant of immigrants. In the case of Laura Imgraham, very likely, fairly recent immigrants.

        We don’t have the right, at least not those of us that arrived here after 1492, to claim that WE are the true Americans, and that those, like the Ingrahams, that just walked off the boat, should just go back to where they came from.

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  5. Your points are well taken in poking holes at even the slightest bit of substance in her words.
    I think she is horrid.
    Nobody will ever convince me that her Nazi salute at the RNC was “just an awkward wave”. It was a very purposeful upward-thrusted straight arm, palm down, and then a pause before she recommenced cheerily waving.

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  6. Try again:

    I’m going to be blunt and partisan. The problem of the conservative opposition to the Laura Ingraham/Fox News/Race Baiting types is that they are highly ineffective and this is more or less to the point of uselessness. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it is just factions snipping at each other, maybe it is because they are small in numbers, or just the true believers in a party where there are none.

    Kevin Drum had posts from yesterday and today called GOPus Delendus Est. His basic view is cynical and it is also mine. The GOP has become a party that largely stands for two things: Tax cuts for the incredibly wealthy and regulatory rollbacks for industry. The number of people who sincerely believe in these things as good are very small. So the GOP and a faction of right-leaning libertarians (the Rothbard crew) made an alliance with racists/xenophobes and nativists. This isn’t new. It started a long time ago and Lee Atwater famously explained the reasons for it. Jesse Helms was a GOP senator for a long time and famous for his attacks against minorities to stay in power.

    Trump is not an abnormal exception here but the conclusion of dog-whistles and whispers and decades of innuendo. Anyone who tries to claim otherwise is wrong in my view.

    In an ideal world, we wouldn’t vote demographics wouldn’t signify voting ways but the United States is not the ideal world in this case. I’ve said this before but despite reputation, San Francisco is not as super-progressive as the rest of the country makes us out to be. I see no reason why a socially-liberal but fiscally-moderate/conservative party couldn’t work here. But the problem is that this just exists within the Democratic Party along with economic lefties who are also socially on the left. The GOP has decided it doesn’t want to reform or moderate to be competitive in California.

    I see lots of people complaint that they are proud Republicans or conservatives and that Trump doesn’t speak for them. I see them complain when liberals tar the GOP as being the party of Trump/conservatism. The problem here is that Trump is really, really popular in the GOP but these conservatives just don’t want to admit that and find a new home. Or they don’t want to come up with any plan of action to defeat Trump and save their own party. Jason K frequently laments libertarians who “hate the left more than they love liberty.” I think the same dynamic is destroying neverTrump conservatives. They hate Democrats/Liberals more than anything else and this prevents an alliance. There was a defense reporter for the Washington Free Beacon who tweeted something like “I do like Trump. I did not vote for Trump but damn is the media making it hard for me not to support him.”

    Why is this? It is because being a member of the GOP is strongly in her identity and she doesn’t want to give this up. So she will become pro-Trump instead. To be pro-Trump is to be for his racist rants and owning the libs. That is all you get with Trump. But she hates my tribe and will do it.

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    • As it happens, I know a number of people who are long-time Republicans, and I don’t think are generally hateful, racist people.

      That said, I have no intention of letting them off the hook for Trump. They want to point to Hillary Clinton and how “terrible” she is. I have decided to just not have that debate. Instead I will point to the other 13 candidates in the Republican primary, not all of whom I liked much, but all of whom I thought were qualified to hold the office, but Trump was not. How is it that he won?

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    • Civility is premised on the idea that everyone is acting in good faith, that we all share a common desire for a world where everyone is respected and cherished and lives flourishing lives.

      The Trump followers have lost the presumption of good faith. By silently assenting to everything he has done, by judging it to be the lesser of the evil, they are expressing solidarity with a worldview that holds their fellow countrymen as lesser people.

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      • I don’t think you understand what “lesser evil” means. To call something the lesser evil isn’t an expression of approval. It’s just a judgment that one alternative is less awful than the other. Personally, I think Clinton was the lesser evil in 2016, but it was a close call and reasonable people could have decided otherwise.

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        • I don’t think you understand what “lesser evil” means. To call something the lesser evil isn’t an expression of approval. It’s just a judgment that one alternative is less awful than the other.

          Fine. I’m willing to concede that. But Hillary was in the ballot 21 months ago. She’s now part of the history books.

          So, alter defeating the larger evil, why are those that claim they chose the lesser evil not doing anything to rein in this evil? Is it that you are only allowed to fight evil once, and, having chosen the lesser evil 21 months ago, you are mandated to go along with its evil program full steam ahead?

          Or is it that, no matter the issue, no matter the person, the Democratic Party is always the larger evil?

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          • Or is it that, no matter the issue, no matter the person, the Democratic Party is always the larger evil?

            We are seeing a demonstration played out in real time that this proposition is true for a significant percentage of the United States’ population.

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            • There are simply millions of Americans that can not abide by the Democratic Party even if they agree more with the Democratic Party than the Republicans. There are self-styled Leftists that just can’t bring themselves to vote Democratic and would rather toss the race to the Republicans by voting Green in tightly contested districts. Its a pathological and illogical hatred.

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    • The problem here is that Trump is really, really popular in the GOP but these conservatives just don’t want to admit that and find a new home.

      I think you are 100% correct here… and the practical problem is that the American political market is systematically opposed to creating new homes… which is why you often hear me advocating for more political housing.

      But, bear in mind that more housing will upset the Democratic coalition too… so join me against your self interest in creating new political housing that will reduce the value of your current home.

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