Today David Brooks tries to erase any subtlety from the immigration question. The real conflict is between educated globe-trotting elites and local Nascar types. In case you thought that’s the usual silly dichotomy, you’d be right. This time, however, he finds a way to contradict himself and patronize both groups of the dichotomy.
>The conventional view is that an angry band of conservative activists driven by nativism and economic insecurity is killing immigration reform. But this view is wrong in almost every respect.
Three paragraphs of general assertions lead to the following conclusion:
>What’s shaping the immigration debate is something altogether deeper and more interesting. And if you want to understand what it is, start with education. Between 1960 and 1980, the share of Americans enrolled in higher education exploded. The U.S. became the first nation in history with a mass educated class. The members of this class differed from each other in a thousand ways, but they tended to share a cosmopolitan approach to the world. They celebrated cultural diversity and saw ethnocentrism as a sign of backwardness.
No attempt is made to support that claim with any research. Broad, unsupported generalizations–even in the context of a 750 word column–don’t deserve anyone’s serious consideration. If you can’t even point to the right kind of source for that evidence, you probably shouldn’t write it in a newspaper.
Here’s the dichotomy. First, the smart, elite types:
>Liberal members of the educated class celebrated the cultural individualism of the 1960s. Conservative members celebrated the economic individualism of the 1980s. But they all celebrated individualism. They all valued diversity and embraced a sense of national identity that rested on openness and global integration.
Now the yokels:
>This cultural offensive created a silent backlash among people who were not so enamored of rampant individualism, and who were worried that all this diversity would destroy the ancient ties of community and social solidarity. Members of this class came to feel that America’s identity and culture were under threat from people who didn’t understand what made America united and distinct.
But they’re not driven by nativism–they only feel that the ancient ties of solidarity and community of their native culture is under threat from outsiders.