NYT Taps White Nationalist Organization for Immigration Op-Ed
January 17, 2020 8:58 PM   Subscribe

In a recent Op-ed in the NYT, an argument was presented as a "Liberals" arguments against immigration. The author's bio is given as a Jerry Kammer, fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies. Not mentioned in the op-ed or bio is that the CIS is a SPLC documented hate group.

If you have a NYT subscription, here's the op-ed piece in question.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (46 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
The NY Times published an anti-immigration screed by a member of an extremist group - "Perhaps most damningly, as noted by Sludge reporter David Moore, is the close relationship CIS enjoys with the Trump White House via the president’s nativist senior adviser Stephen Miller. As the SPLC reported in its coverage of leaked emails from a former Breitbart editor, Miller regularly used CIS research to launder his white nationalist beliefs into policy proposals during the 2016 campaign — a trend that continued after Trump won the presidency."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:16 PM on January 17 [14 favorites]


If you have a NYT subscription, here's the cancellation page.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:34 PM on January 17 [72 favorites]


Thank you for the added link and context TMoTaT
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:36 PM on January 17


I do remember a time when I assumed that the SPLC was a neutral body; these days I see them as being somewhat akin to the ACLU.

The New Yorker had a pretty interesting article on the SPLC last year.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:39 PM on January 17


So just so you know, that article was largely derided by just about everyone as a thinly veiled hit piece by an author with an axe to grind where even in its own text it admits how much good the SPLC does but magnifies some real issues in some departed upper management that were rightfully pushed out. So that New Yorker hit piece is not nearly as damning as you think.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:00 PM on January 17 [31 favorites]


(Wow phenylphenol, that New Yorker piece is a real eye opener. I noticed that SPLC employees unionized late last year so undoubtedly that is related.)

Quite shameful for the NYT, though shamefulness is nothing new! I see this as also indicative of a loss of institutional knowledge among print media, that goes with downsized newsrooms. This is an elementary failure to check sources and the author's background. There's no excuse not to catch this!
posted by panhopticon at 10:03 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]




Damn, New York Times, there you go normalizing white supremacy again.
posted by Sphinx at 10:23 PM on January 17 [18 favorites]


So that New Yorker hit piece is not nearly as damning as you think.

I've heard plenty of damning things about the way the SPLC is run (or was run under Dees anyway) however none of them really say anything to impugn the accuracy of their tracking of hate groups, which is a bridge that comment seems to be trying to cross.
posted by atoxyl at 10:43 PM on January 17 [74 favorites]


Damn, New York Times, there you go normalizing white supremacy again.

How do all these trashbags keep getting columns in a major newspaper? Somebody should complain to the ombudsman... Oh wait.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:52 PM on January 17 [16 favorites]


CIS first came on my radar here in the megathreads in '16 when the Trump campaign started citing them for immigration data in their campaign ads. Rachel Maddow then did a good segment on their eugenicist founder, John Tanton and the CIS links to Trump, etc.

Crazy that the NYT is giving them a platform to spread such ideology. A big part of Tanton's mission was rebranding eugenicism under other less offensive names to make it more palatable, and the Times opinion piece seems to be taking that same approach of using moderate language to mask and slowly normalize extremism.
posted by p3t3 at 10:55 PM on January 17 [11 favorites]


Crazy that the NYT is giving them a platform to spread such ideology.
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action." (attributed to Ian Fleming in Goldfinger)
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:05 PM on January 17 [44 favorites]


[One deleted. If you want to dispute that CIS is a hate group, you need to cite facts that show this rather than doing the winky-nudgey oh, but SPLC, both sides, blah blah stuff. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 11:58 PM on January 17 [51 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that op-ed on Columbus Day about how Columbus Day is important because Italian-Americans are oppressed? Or something. It started off as a bit of history people should perhaps know (if only to explain why there are some places where Italian-Americans really do care about Columbus Day) and then by the end all you were left with was white supremacy?
posted by hoyland at 1:15 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


"My dear, when people show you who they are, why don't you believe them? Why must you be shown 29 times before you can see who they really are? Why can't you get it the first time?"
Maya Angelou as quoted by Oprah Winfrey.

The NYT has been a shill for power for how long now? Even if we're generous and start from the second Iraq War, that's 20 years of complicity by the supposed paper of record.
posted by kokaku at 1:51 AM on January 18 [24 favorites]


WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
JAMES?
posted by TedW at 2:55 AM on January 18


It accuses Trump’s critics of having had their minds addled by “tribal passions” and a fetish for conflict “between ethnic groups,” (From the first article in the FPP)

Ah, the old “liberals are the real racists!” argument. A classic, along with “Nazis were socialists, you know. It’s right there in their name!” and “’The blacks’ actually were better off before integration”. All of which cause me to immediately lose interest in attempting to engage in discussion with the person using them.
posted by TedW at 3:25 AM on January 18 [33 favorites]


It accuses Trump’s critics of having had their minds addled by “tribal passions” and a fetish for conflict “between ethnic groups,”

I give this an exactly zero percent chance of not, underneath it all, boiling down to "the Jews are using black people as a weapon against white people".
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


institute a crackdown regime of visa enforcement that would prevent future undocumented individuals from finding jobs.

Personally, I believe that the free movement of labour is essential if you have the free movement of capital.

But something that always confuses me: if you are cracking down on the hiring of undocumented labour, shouldn't you be directing your attention at the employers of that labour?

/Okay, I know why not - racism. But still, it would make so much more sense to go after the people who's money fuels it all.
posted by jb at 6:37 AM on January 18 [17 favorites]


I assumed that the SPLC was a neutral body; these days I see them as being somewhat akin to the ACLU.

So, the good guys?
posted by nickmark at 6:38 AM on January 18 [57 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that op-ed on Columbus Day about how Columbus Day is important because Italian-Americans are oppressed

that's silly - it would be better to have something like Julius Caesar day. Maybe on March 15 - and republicans can call it "Brutus & Cassius Day" instead.
posted by jb at 6:40 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


The "NYT Picks" choices in the comments section are... illuminating. I'd forgotten that I still have a subscription. The crossword isn't worth it. Time to cancel.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:47 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


I read the NYT piece. It's nuanced as is the immigration debate. There is a debate by the way and as such there are two sides to be presented.

The author acknowledges that the CIS has some hardliners although he is not one of them. The points he makes attempt to find a less restrictive structure for immigration than suggested by the hardliners.

If you think there is a need for immigration reform then this is the type of discussion that needs to be going on.
posted by mygoditsbob at 7:08 AM on January 18


I can't believe a discussion about the CIS somehow got twisted in to an uninformed opinion referendum on the SPLC. I try to assume good faith on the part of my Metafilter colleagues but that New Yorker piece is some fucking bullshit derail. (BTW, Kammer himself has a history with SPLC, including a hit piece he wrote for CIS back in 2010.)

Back to the topic at hand.. CIS is a hateful pressure group. It's very clear in what they publish. It's clear in their association with Stephen Miller. The NYTimes should not be publishing the opinions of anyone associated with it. This is not complicated. Yes, there are "two sides" to immigration and it's a somewhat complicated topic. No, white supremacist opinions are not welcome to the table.

A lot of this editorial's power comes from the framing that Kammer is "a liberal". I don't know the man or his credentials other than that he chooses to associate with the CIS and won a Pulitzer back in his previous career. But I always wonder why the anti-immigration folks don't talk about the softer recent history of immigration. The Bush Jr policy, or the Reagan policy, or really any pre-2013 federal lawmakers. That was when the bipartisan Gang of Eight was working towards a realistic proposal for reforming US immigration.

Which was going find right until Boehner and crew realized that a different political strategy would work better. A strategy of white supremacy, where immigrants were no longer seen as fellow Americans (to be) but an evil, foreign, non-white invading force. Which laid the groundwork for Trump. CIS is the intellectual cutting edge of this white supremacist plan and it's disgusting to see any reputable newspaper give it time of day.
posted by Nelson at 7:13 AM on January 18 [43 favorites]


I assumed that the SPLC was a neutral body; these days I see them as being somewhat akin to the ACLU.

So, the good guys?


I'm pretty sure he meant it as a bad thing. Now, who thinks the ACLU is a bad thing?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:15 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]


People who don't like civil liberties--these days, it seems like these are mostly people who would wield freedom of religion as a tool for discrimination, e.g. the Alliance Defending Freedom.
posted by box at 7:22 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


The author acknowledges that the CIS has some hardliners although he is not one of them.

If there's an avowed nazi at a table along with 10 other people willingly sitting with them, what you have is a table of 11 nazis. The same is true of people choosing to organize under a political organization that includes avowed white supremacists while pretending they're not a white supremacist.
posted by tocts at 7:28 AM on January 18 [62 favorites]


"I choose to work at an organization whose entire purpose is to stop people of color from becoming citizens but, guys, I'm one of the good ones!"
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:56 AM on January 18 [28 favorites]


If you think there is a need for immigration reform then this is the type of discussion that needs to be going on.

If there is a need for this kind of discussion, why must it be led by members of hate groups?

If there is a need for compromise, isn’t it better to ask why the DREAM Act has not been passed, or why has DACA been rescinded, when their reforms are supported by 69 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats? Popular compromises have already been proposed. Yet they have been rejected, against the stated preferences of the supermajority of the body politic.

Something is wrong, and patiently hearing out members of hate groups will not fix it.
posted by compartment at 8:07 AM on January 18 [57 favorites]


The author acknowledges that the CIS has some hardliners although he is not one of them. The points he makes attempt to find a less restrictive structure for immigration than suggested by the hardliners.

"I'm only a little bit white supremacist-y, but I love to work with the murderous creeps who believe those people belong in concentration camps" is not a good-faith position when discussing immigration.

I'm pretty sure he meant it as a bad thing.

When you see the best moral option is centrism, and in particular one that lies between fascism and anti-fascism, then you're advocating for a fairly decent amount of fascism.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:14 AM on January 18 [30 favorites]


The cis are at it again...
posted by emirenic at 8:30 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]


In totally-not-even-shocking news, it turns out this guy, much like the Poway synagogue shooter, thinks opposition to groups like his is a plot by cosmopolitan Jewish elites.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:32 AM on January 18 [16 favorites]


If you think there is a need for immigration reform then this is the type of discussion that needs to be going on.

You don't need to be "intellectually curious" about nazi ideas to abolish borders, dismantle white patriarchy and smash capitalism.

However, if you want to preserve borders, white patriarchy and capitalism...
posted by Reyturner at 9:23 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


But something that always confuses me: if you are cracking down on the hiring of undocumented labour, shouldn't you be directing your attention at the employers of that labour?


I always wondered,(understood really,) why as well. My first brush with employing people was an eye opener. Essentially just show me a piece of paper that I think looks real and I am covered. I could do E-Verify but why would I? Beyond that there is a lot of 1099-misc-ing in construction and there all you need is a social security number of some sort.

Fundamentally it is just politics, (which is like saying "it is just sex".) The immigration situation is absurd but that is the nature of politics as far as I can tell. In another forum I encountered this:

"But you should understand that I am completely apolitical. Forgive me, but I have never encountered a politician anywhere in the world that I could relate to or even trust. I tend to believe that a group of working stiffs could sit down and arrive at better solutions to our problems than any of the people we elect."

Which is a ridiculous idea. Politics is about power and in the case of immigration employers are protected because they are a source of power. The current disaster of humanity that is happening now is because human rights are not as much a source of power as fear, rage and money. It is terribly terribly wrong but in some sense that is besides the point.
posted by Pembquist at 9:37 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


Way back in 2000 I think, CIS was my first encounter with extremist hate wrapped in sheep's coat of bland verbiage.
There should be (or I should find the existing) Guidestar-esque database that maps out the connections of groups like CIS to extremist politicians, funders, etc.

On the subject of canceling NYT subscriptions, I think my mode would* be to keep my subscription but harangue the editor, ombudsperson, etc, to give more than equal time to a rebuttal column, and to strategize ways to support good journalism that NYT does do, while also pushing for the op-ed page to at least reduce the space they give to assholes and one-note repeaters.

I totally get why people cancel, I just have decided that I am okay with paying for an intermittently terrible but also intermittently really good and vital newspaper. This comes out of my willingness to pay for a truly atrocious daily newspaper that was the only daily print newspaper left in a county of nearly a million people. I also wrote letters to the editor and schemed ways to improve coverage of housing and homelessness. Now I subscribe to the LA Times (digital only) even though some of the op-ed pieces are atrocious, in part because I want to support their unionized staff.

*(currently I have access via university library system)
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:15 AM on January 18 [5 favorites]


The real problem here is James Bennet, the NYT's editorial page editor, and his boss Dean Baquet. Here's a long transcript of an NYT employee Q&A with Bennett from February 2018, courtesy of Ashley Feinberg, which I think shows just how all-over-the-map and hypocritical Bennett's position is, including his statement of a useless "Richard Spencer test" *and* his clear position that some issues are "settled law."

Apparently racist immigration policies don't count in that category for Mr. Bennet.
posted by mediareport at 12:02 PM on January 18 [13 favorites]


So glad I cancelled last year. It just re-affirms everything I've felt about their editorial curation over the last 4 years.
posted by Fizz at 12:18 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


The real problem here is James Bennet, the NYT's editorial page editor, and his boss Dean Baquet.

"It's quite an upheval": In An Ongoing Makeover Of The Times Opinion Babel, The Old Editorial Voice Of God Is Being Rationed
Unofficially, the sense I got from talking to an array of current and former Opinion staffers, as well as a number of knowledgeable Times insiders outside of the department, was that a lot of people perceive Bennet’s mandate as one that has made Opinion more provocative, more attention-grabbing, more of a conversation-starter—“to get the New York Times Opinion pages noticed and to get people talking about them,” as one of these sources put it.

“We get accused of trolling and being provocative for the sake of being provocative, and I don’t think that’s our role,” Bennet told me. “This isn’t a frivolous exercise, this isn’t about page views. It’s about seriously trying to engage really hard questions. We’re in an age where all sorts of institutions and ideologies are kind of cracking apart. We have to really be able to wrestle with these questions, and that can make us uncomfortable…. I’m not advocating civility. I’m advocating respectful engagement, and respect means taking ideas seriously enough to rebut them and not simply ignore them.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:51 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


So Bennet's JAQing?
posted by sjswitzer at 6:04 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


I totally get why people cancel, I just have decided that I am okay with paying for an intermittently terrible but also intermittently really good and vital newspaper.

I guess I just don't see it as being vital from a national perspective anymore. It's a perspective that quite frankly isn't unique or interesting. On the local side, I find their city coverage fairly one dimensional.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:17 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


For those of you who didn't read the article he advocates two basic ideas:

"I disagree with some of the center’s hard-line positions. I favor a generous welcome for those who were brought here illegally as children and support comprehensive reform that would reprise the 1986 amnesty-plus-enforcement compromise. But restrictionists are right to insist that any new reform must guarantee work-site controls. They also make valid points in pushing for a system of legal immigration like the one developed by Canada, which favors people with education and skills."

If your position is that these two concepts are inherently racist because they are promoted by an individual who is affiliated with a racist organization, that's fine. But I read it as a way to protect the Dreamers while providing a framework for comprehensive immigration reform which everyone agrees is necessary.
posted by mygoditsbob at 9:41 AM on January 19


If you think Immigration Reform isn’t code for Close the Borders you are the target audience for these racist demagogues, congraturitos.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:22 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


How do all these trashbags keep getting columns in a major newspaper? Somebody should complain to the ombudsman... Oh wait.

Every time someone points out the obvious bad faith of a column by Brooks or Stephens or one of their rancid right-wing guest stars, papers like the Times sniff that they're committed to providing a diversity of opinion.

To which my response is, yeah? When was the last time you published an op-ed by a Communist?

And also, these hacks are the best the right can do? (Narrator: They are.)
posted by Gelatin at 10:24 AM on January 20 [4 favorites]


mygoditsbob: "But I read it as a way to protect the Dreamers while providing a framework for comprehensive immigration reform which everyone agrees is necessary."

I mean, that's exactly the thing. This guy's op-ed wasn't exactly far out there. It was, for the most part, relatively anodyne. Which then raises the question: why this particular guy with this particular affiliation? I mean, even Kammer himself recognizes the problem with being affiliated with CIS because he felt the need to disclaim its "hard-line positions" in the editorial itself. It was a deliberate choice to give this guy -- and not, say, anyone else -- those precious column-inches in The Paper of Recordtm.
posted by mhum at 5:20 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


If you think Immigration Reform isn’t code for Close the Borders you are the target audience for these racist demagogues

Surely there is plenty of room for improvement in the current immigration system regardless of where you fall on the spectrum. So that's just it, "immigration reform" is one of those meaningless platitudes like "change" that can mean whatever the listener imagines and therefore grants the speaker immediate assumed unity of purpose.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:06 AM on January 21


If your position is that these two concepts are inherently racist because they are promoted by an individual who is affiliated with a racist organization, that's fine.

“Presidente Mussolini has said that he will make the trains run on time. If it's your position that timetables are inherently fascist because they're promoted by Il Duce, then fine.”

There is, or should be, a personal and professional cost in being associated with a racist organisation. Maybe Kammer really does "disagree with some of the center’s hard-line positions", but he is a fellow of the CIS: if he disagrees with those positions it implies he's really committed to their other objectives; and he's at least willing to put up with their promotion of White Nationalists. And that's what this comes down to: it isn't about whether Kammer's two-sentence summary of his position is racist, but how we treat the CIS.

Let's suppose his positions are relatively anodyne. In that case you have to ask why a fellow of the CIS, rather than someone else, is advancing them. Why doesn't the CIS argue for a distinctive position that differentiates it from other groups? The reason must be that it isn't the proposals, but the person advocating them. The CIS wants its fellows to be published in legitimate outlets because it knows its brand is toxic. That's how radicalisation works: you expose your audience to apparently-reasonable positions, then use the legitimacy conferred by the earlier approach to expose the audience to your more genuine, more radical positions.

I don't actually think Kammer's proposals are not racist, but that's not the point here. The question is whether Kammer and the CIS should have a part in politics. And no, they should not. By uncritically publishing him the NYT has once again enabled the worst part of US society.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:23 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


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