The Corner

Sympathy for McCain

As you can imagine, it’s not often I rise to defend Senator McCain, but the attacks on his comments that illegal border-crossers may have been responsible for some of the wildfires in Arizona are absurd — politically correct pointing and sputtering from people who don’t want to know the truth.

This is an empirical question — some fires are caused by illegal aliens and drug smugglers (either campfires that got away from them or deliberate diversionary fires) and others are not. But the authorities are unwilling to discuss in public the possibility that a politically favored group (illegal aliens and smugglers) might have caused the fires — kind of like the unwillingness to identify the religious tradition that Europe’s rioting “youths” belong to.

Arizona reporter Leo Banks talked about this recently:

The thing that kills me about these fires is Border Patrol and Forest Service won’t discuss that they are started – that they are sometimes started – and we don’t have 100-percent probability on this but we can be 95-percent sure – that illegal aliens and smugglers start fires.

At public meetings, people will bring it up and they’ll simply shut down. They won’t talk about it. They’ll say it’s human-caused, under investigation. That’s as far as we go. That’s as far as it ever goes. I think word has come down from Washington not to talk about it. It’s politics and it’s political correctness. Acknowledging that you have smuggler fires of this magnitude sort of messes up your message of border security.

And in private, though, these same folks who won’t talk about the fires will sort of give you a nudge and a wink and say, well, we know what’s going on. We know who’s starting them. So how do you solve a problem if you don’t acknowledge it? How do you solve a problem if you don’t call it by its name?

This unwillingness to face politically unpalatable truths also leads to the spread of rumors that all the fires are caused by border-infiltrators, even if they had nothing to do with it. I saw this sort of thing in the Soviet Union — without honest information no one believed a word from the authorities and the only source of news was rumor, some of it undoubtedly true, some of it outlandishly false. Thus does the soft totalitarianism of political correctness obscure and warp people’s view of reality.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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