Monday, November 12, 2007

Dobbs vs. Spitzer Redux: Dobbs Apologizes for Calling Harvard Law School Alum an "Idiot'

From Immigration Daily (www.ilw.com):

"Recently, CNN's Lou Dobbs apologized to NY Gov. Spitzer for using inappropriate language when referring to him. "I'm the idiot ... Governor, I apologize for calling you one. Your policies are idiotic. But I have to apologize for calling you an idiot" (for the full story, see here). While Mr. Dobbs has apologized for his use of one inappropriate term, he and other anti-immigrationists continue to use inordinately strong language when referring to their opponents. It is clear that the anti-immigrationists' emotions are running strong but too much emotion in a debate can cloud it. In public discourse, especially over something which is very controversial, cool-headedness and the use of calm language is necessary to find a middle ground. It is naive for either side on immigration to believe that the other will somehow just vanish, a middle ground will be crucial for both sides to reach for and find. Two sides can play the verbal assault game, and if left unchecked, a war of words can escalate into blows. A start towards civil discourse would be when CNN stops Mr. Dobbs's pollution of the airwaves."

KJ

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2007/11/dobbs-vs-spitze.html

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Comments

Come on, ILW. I'm not exactly sure what 'anti-immigrationist' means but Dobbs does not oppose immigration and doesn't even favor a reduction in legal immigration levels. Is it a fair tactic to constantly conflate legal and illegal immigration?

'he and other anti-immigrationists continue to use inordinately strong language when referring to their opponents.'

That's rich considering you are on the side whose favorite tactic is calling anyone who disagrees with them 'anti-immigrant' (which you basically did with 'anti-immigrationist', xenophobe, racist, etc. That's not 'inordinately strong language'?

'too much emotion in a debate can cloud it.'

Your side shamelessly plays to people's emotions.

'Two sides can play the verbal assault game, and if left unchecked, a war of words can escalate into blows.'

Huh? It's only words. It's not like Dobbs and Spitzer are going to have a Jerry Springer scuffle.

"A start towards civil discourse would be when CNN stops Mr. Dobbs's pollution of the airwaves."

Nice cheap shot. You just contradicted the premise of your editorial! Face it, a lot of people on your side don't want real debate and try to create a climate of tacit censorship. On TV, an opponent will make an argument and instead of trying to refute it, they just complain of the 'tone and tenor'. On the net, if you try to engage them, too often they prefer to fall back on the anti-immigrant name calling and use that as an excuse not to answer with an argument on the merits.

Most of the politicians on your side want to avoid talking about illegal immigration. Hillary's drivers license two step is a classic example. What do you think those ridiculous operative 'warnings' were about immigration being a losing political issue? Nothing more than saying shut up about illegal immigration--we don't want to deal with it as a wedge issue. The avoidance tactic is understandable because most people believe in law and order and don't want continual big increases in annual immigration.

As for Dobbs, sure he has his faults but doesn't belong on hate group lists and charts. It shows how influential he is though for people who don't want him talking about illegal immigration to go to those lengths to try to discredit him. I agree that when he loses his cool it doesn't advance debate but his show has done a lot to put the immigration issue on the political map. If some fringe groups happen to agree with some of his views that doesn't mean he should be lumped in with them. He deserves credit for getting people talking about the subject and it's laughable to suggest he doesn't believe anything he says and is just out for ratings. Run him off the air and you're also denying his guests like Janet Murguia, Luis Gutierrez, Robert Pastor, and Jorge Castaneda a large audience. You'd also be censoring valuable consumer reporting, education reporting, coverage of electronic voting machine problems, etc. They were way out in front on the dangerous toy issue, for example.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 13, 2007 2:45:48 AM

I wrote the following as a Letter to the Editor, in reference to this ILW article:

Dear Editor,

Your recent editorial, “Fighting Words”, was very much on target, in that it hit on the very crucial issue of civil discourse, primarily as it relates to the thorny issue of comprehensive immigration reform. You are correct to take the position that demagoguery, as personified by Lou Dobbs, et al, does nothing to constructively forward substantial debate on difficult immigration issues. It inflames, but does not inform, unless one counts the slanted views and questionable statistics of the Heritage Foundation or Rasmussen polls, which are propaganda for the far right.

While it is unfortunate that the anti-immigrationalists have the ability to monopolize the airwaves with their questionable and clearly biased and inflammatory “facts”, it is wrong to rail against their right to forward their agenda. Instead, we should mobilize a concerted and organized campaign to discredit their mistakes, and counter their arguments with true numbers and logic. It helps when truth is on your side, as it is in this debate. The answer is not to shut them up, the answer it to show them down. We must take every opportunity to join these xenophobes in a civil debate, and then we must win that debate through truth and facts.

If the facts are on your side, as they are in this case, then we must take every opportunity to educate. However, we must also be realistic, and again, I applaud your editorial for correctly pointing out that this is not a debate that we must win outright, we must simply bring the other side around to accept the point of view that there is a middle ground. You put this issue front and center when you correctly argue that, “It is naive for either side on immigration to believe that the other will somehow just vanish, a middle ground will be crucial for both sides to reach for and find.” It very much echoes the sentiment that I myself was striving for when I wrote this passage in my letter that appeared here back on 10/21/07, when I too was referencing the Gov. Spitzer driver’s license issue, “It speaks volumes about the political process when the obvious choice, the road right down the middle, is all too often the road least traveled.”

As to our friend Lou Dobbs, I fear that we can not shut him up. His immigration numbers are certainly wrong, but his Neilson numbers must clearly be right, at least as far as CNN is concerned. The only way to marginalize that blowhard would be to clearly and concisely counter his propaganda with facts and truth. If we can forward counter arguments to his statements that ring true and logical with enough of our nation’s voters, then we can win a compromise. That might not sound as good as an outright victory, but it is much better then nothing, which, if I am not mistaken, is exactly what we have accomplished so far.

Robert Gittelson

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Nov 13, 2007 9:13:17 AM

/\ The poster above is an "garment producer" in southern California who is bent on getting as much cheap labor as possible into his factories.

He is also just another open-border advocate who is fearful that the people might learn too much about his efforts to shove an amnesty down our throats. Dobbs has brought the issue to the forefront and the debating started long ago. Considering the media has avoided the issue like the plague for the past decade, and considering NO ONE on CNN other than Dobbs even uses the "imm-" word, it's laughable for the above poster to talk about the airwaves being "monopolized."

Join the debate. Give us your "facts." So far all we hear is your name-calling and ignorant rants. Your post alone is full of name-calling. And it includes no facts whatsoever.

There is a middle road. Amnesty and mass deportations are on either ends of the spectrum. The middle ground is a policy of attrition. Look it up.

And if you truly believe that the public somehow loves illegal immigration and Mexico's effort to dump its poverty on American taxpayers, I've a list of polls you can look at. They're from dozens of sources. Try these for facts:

http://www.numbersusa.com/interests/publicop.html

Posted by: J.D. | Nov 13, 2007 9:19:05 PM

The greatest enemies of our country are those who advocate that we stiffle 1st Amendment rights. Those that lament that we can't are of the same vein. And it seems that such cries rarely come from the right these days, but are entirely from the left. Remember Nancy Pelosi and company when they suggested that the Fairness Doctrine be re-introduced to talk radio? That was an attempt to stiffle free speech over the airwaves, mainly because they didn't like affect that talk radio had on the outcome of the recent Senate immigration bill. It's even more disconcerting that such demands would have the blessings of our officers of the court, especially lawyers. I suggest that the left do some self-assessment when it finds itself at odds with our constitution.

The illegal immigrant advocacy band waggon finds itself a small voice in a large crowd of opponents and can't stand the fact that it's lost it's case.

Posted by: Horace | Nov 14, 2007 5:00:18 AM

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