The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Let's have us a great big helping of unbiased, professional journalism, straight from the San Jose Mercury News!


Clergy leading call for humane immigrant laws


Just as unbiased as they come! As we all know, "humane" is a perfectly neutral word and doesn't have positive connotations.

Oh, and if you gave the Mercury News a quote in which you claimed that your support for restrictions on employees hiring immigrants was "humane" because it would discourage people from crossing the desert in unventilated trucks, how many column inches do you think they would give you? Maybe one-half on page 68?


In the boiling congressional debate over the future of 12 million undocumented immigrants, ...


Totally unbiased! We all know that "illegal immigrant" is a term with evil connotations, and therefore cannot be used.

Even though it's a statement of freaking fact. And even though people who support the legalization of currently banned behavior generally have no problem accepting that the current state of that behavior is -- cover your eyes, it's coming again -- "illegal".


Religious groups, led by the Roman Catholic Church, have joined business, labor and immigrant advocacy groups to galvanize surprisingly widespread support for protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants.


Not at all slanted! Does not at all beg the question as to what "rights" those immigrants might enjoy! Does not denigrate opponents of unlimited immigration by implying that they don't want illegal immigrants to enjoy any rights at all!


Already, their efforts -- punctuated by national rallies, hunger strikes and walkouts -- have undercut an effort to criminalize illegal immigration.


My favorite part. This is what political correctness does to your brain:

"They are going to criminalize something illegal! Call the newspapers!

Wait, I guess I *am* the newspapers."


...

At the beginning of Lent, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who oversees a flock of 5 million Catholics in the Los Angeles area, encouraged church leaders to challenge that part of the legislation. ...


If a religious leader were to use his pulpit to challenge liberal abortion laws, or to call for restrictions on pornography, do you think the Mercury News would publish a simpering profile that used the phrase "a flock"?

You may have three guesses. The first two don't count.

Oh, and for those keeping score at home: We're halfway through the article, and so far there's been no obligatory scare quote about the danger of religious institutions meddling in politics.

I'm sure there's one coming up. Otherwise the article would be biased!


Now, even though the proposed legislation has been softened, churches have retained center stage in the immigration debate ...


"Softened" is neutral terminology! Not at all slanted!


Among some Protestant Latino clergy, there was strong support for a ``humane process,'' in the treatment of undocumented immigrants, said Juan Martinez, assistant dean for Hispanic church studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Southern California ...


Surprising! Shocking! I had anticipated that Protestant Latino clergy would strongly support inhumane process!


Martinez is part of the Red de Pastores y Lideres Latinos del Sur de California (Network of Latino Pastors and Leaders in Southern California), a group that brought together leaders representing 1,200 Latino Protestant churches in Southern California to oppose the initial House legislation and to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform. This network is part of the National Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.


When a newspaper article turns into a directory of a political movement, maybe it's just, oh, the tiniest bit biased.

Just the tiniest. 18 paragraphs into the story (not all of which consisted of a laundy list of pro-immigrant organizations), there have been six quotes from pro-illegal immigrant side, and zero from the anti. That is about to change:


Still, the religious voice is not united.


Do tell!


Many of the most conservative religious groups, which have united with the Catholic Church on other issues like abortion and gay marriage, are wary of immigration changes now under consideration.


The pro-immigrant clergy are described as zealously and righteously advocating for the rights of the undocumented. The anti-immigrant clergy are "wary."

Yep, those are equivalent in tone. No bias to see here! Move along!


Among the country's largest and most influential conservative religious groups, only the Christian Coalition has taken a strong public stand. It opposes the current, more lenient legislation in Congress because, said Sadie Fields, state chair of the Christian Coalition of Georgia, ``it rewards lawbreakers.''

``We're against illegal immigrants because we must uphold the rule of law,'' Fields said. ``We are a nation of law. Our biblical worldview mandates that we be a people of law.''


Three grafs, one quote. Is that enough to achieve balance?


But the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a group that represents millions of Latino evangelicals, advocates a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, after appropriate penalties.

``The major evangelicals have stood by on this issue not because of racism or xenophobia,'' said Samuel Rodriguez Jr. of Sacramento, president of the Hispanic conference. ``I believe it's because they are just dead focused on law and order.''

Rodriguez said ``the lack of support from our white, evangelical brothers and sisters'' is a disappointment.


Good thing there was a seventh pro-immigrant quote and three more pro-immigrant paragraphs! Otherwise this article might have been, you know.

A little cold water does get splashed in the faces of the Eternal Children of 1968:


Not everyone is heaping praise on the religious community for its role on the immigration debate.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates strict enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, said some religious leaders have used the criminal penalties provision ``as protest bait.''

``The idea that some nun would be locked up for giving some illegal immigrant a cup of soup is ridiculous,'' Krikorian said. ``There's zero chance that the ordinary activity of a church is going to result in any kind of prosecution.''


Just to ensure that the article remain unbiased, this passage is immediately followed by the money quote:


Whatever immigration bill emerges out of Congress in the coming weeks, the role of religion in public-policy debate has reached ``a watershed,'' said Pedigo, St. Julie's pastor.

``This isn't just about politics or labor or economics,'' Pedigo said. ``This is about my grandmother, my uncle, this is about me.''


***********

Lest anyone think that this is an isolated incident and that the Mercury News does not see its role in the community as publishing agitprop rather than news, please note that the author of this piece, Jessie Mangaliman, also writes a column for the Mercury News called "Immigrant Experience," in which letter-writers are given advice such as "Undocumented history may affect entry to college".

So an opponent of limits to immigration is allowed to report on immigration news with a one-sided spin. I wonder which course in J-school teaches propective editors that this is proper behavior?

***********

I may have given the wrong impression: I favor unlimited immigration and open borders, so long as visitors receive a cursory check to make sure they are not sneaking in anthrax or nuclear bombs. Why then do I criticize Mangaliman's article so fiercely? Partly due to principle -- I read a newspaper to be informed of current events, not to be told how to think.

And pragmatically, I'd just as soon not have the liberal media on my side. They seem to have done a very bad job in converting people to leftism, after all. Can one expect to convert people to your views by patronizing them and defining the terms of debate from under their feet? I favor the legalization of drugs, but I don't try to force people to call marijuana and cocaine "undocumented medicines."


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