The New York Times hates Donald Trump’s immigration plans.
Because his plan is so naked — in its scapegoating of immigrants, its barely subtextual racism, its immense cruelty in seeking to reduce millions of people to poverty and hopelessness — it gives his opponents the chance for a very clear moral decision. They can stand up for better values, and against the collective punishment of millions of innocent Americans-in-waiting.
Well. How times change. Once upon a time the New York Times loved the idea of deporting illegal immigrants. The paper couldn’t lavish enough favorable coverage on the idea.Yes, you read that right. Once upon a time the New York Times sounded like Donald Trump himself, running one story after another about what the paper called the “invasion” of the US by Mexican illegals.
So let’s take a stroll through the historical mists. Back, back, back. The year is 1951. March 28, 1951 to be specific. And what is the Times headlining? It is outraged at resistance by growers in the Southwestern United states to rounding up illegals - whom the Times called - really - “wetbacks’. The Times assails the growers for being - yes - unethical. The headline?
SOUTHWEST WINKS AT 'WETBACK' JOBS: Ethics Cast Aside as Growers Accept Peonage Idea and Bridle at Interference FEDERAL SANCTION NOTED Border Patrol Officers Report Pressures From Washington to 'Go Easy' in Raids "Gestapo" Tactics Charged Social Security Cards Issued "Wetbacks" Linked to Crime Southwest Winks at 'Wetbacks'; U.S. Sanction for Peonage Noted Arrest Trends Analyzed Agreement Called a Travesty Cross Border in Ritual
Note well that the Times thought the idea of using illegals for labor was “peonage” - which is to say “servitude” as in a first cousin to slavery. Or, in other words, the Times was ever so politely inferring that employing illegals was, yes, racist. And they bridled at the notion that the Border patrol was being depicted as the “Gestapo.”
By 1952, in February as the presidential election year dawned, the Times was now labeling the continued surge of "wetbacks" as - shades of Rush Limbaugh - an "invasion." As seen with this headline:
'Wetback' Invasion Is Broadening Despite All U. S. Counter-Moves: Arrests Last Year Totaled 518,000, Showing Vast Rise in Influx -- Meanwhile, Laws and New Treaty With Mexico Wait
The story was written by one of the paper’s star reporters of the day, Gladwin Hill. Wrote Hill in part:
Los Angeles, Feb 10 - Although the annual invasion of the United States by more than 1,000,000 Mexican border-jumpers has been a subject of special consideration by Congress and other branches of the Federal Government for nearly a year, the “wetback” influx is not only unabated but augmented.”
The story goes on to say that President Truman is so concerned about the "invasion" that in spite of a special message he sent to the Congress the previous July demanding Congress penalize employers of illegals and boost the resources of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to resume an “airlift” of illegals out of the country, nothing yet had been done.
By June, there appeared to be some progress in dealing with what the Times called the “invasion”. The paper ran this headline on June 12, 1952:
WETBACK' OUSTING BY AIRLIFT REVIVED: Action by Congress Remedies Shortage of Funds -- Pact With Mexico Extended
The story begins:
The Government reactivated today its “airlift” deportation system in an effort to reduce the tide of Mexican ‘wetback’ workers. These border-jumpers pour into the Southwest at an estimated rate of more than 1,000,000 a year.
…A $1,390,000 Congressional appropriation last week made the resumption of the airlift possible. In the debate, however, the airlift was a subject of attack. Representative John Phillips, Republican of California, called it ‘"ne of the most extravagant ideas any bureaucracy thought up."
Catch that? A Republican congressman saw the idea of removing illegals as a some sort of bureaucratic boondoggle. But not the Times.
In November of 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a staunch proponent of a Donald Trump-style program to round up illegals and send them back to Mexico was elected in a landslide. By June, his attorney general, Herbert Brownell, was on the case. The Times delighted. The paper headlined:
BROWNELL MAPS TRIP FOR 'WETBACK' STUDY
Washington, August 7 - Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr. said today that he would go to California next week to study the ‘wetback’ problem.
…(Brownell was expected) to spend several days along the Mexican border studying the operations of the border patrol.
The Times went on to point out of the “wetbacks” (to use their phrase): “They have been entering California in such numbers as to create a serious problem.”
One year later, Brownell - at Eisenhower’s personal direction - was ready to get moving on the problem. The Times rejoiced, headlining in June of 1954:
700 ON COAST OPEN 'WETBACK' DRIVE: Mobile Task Forces Round Up Border Jumpers in Test of New Federal Strategy
EL CENTRO, Calif. June 17 - A specially marshaled force of more than 700 Federal officers fanned out over California today in a widespread round-up of Mexican border jumpers.
The drive to purge the state of tens of thousands of ‘wetbacks’ was a trial run of a new Government strategy aimed at permanently sealing the nation’s 2000-mile Southwestern boundary against a decade-long illegal alien influx that has reached a rate of more than a million entries a year.
How did this Donald Trump-style strategy of Eisenhower’s work out? Decades later, in July of 2006, when the problem had arisen again in the Bush 43 era, the Christian Science Monitor went back to some of the Border Patrol agents involved in Ike’s round-up of illegals that was so extensively and positively covered by the Times. And what did the Monitor find out?
The Eisenhower round up led by Immigration and Naturalization Service director General Joseph Swing was a “fast-moving campaign (that) soon secured America's borders – an accomplishment no other president has since equaled. Illegal migration had dropped 95 percent by the late 1950s.”
So. In other words? Once upon a time, the New York Times was enthusiastically on board for just what Donald Trump is proposing today - an Eisenhower-style round-up of Mexican illegals, that in fact transported them back to Mexico - deepest central Mexico at that so it would be difficult for them to return. Time after time the paper bestowed positive, go round 'em up and send 'em coverage on just the kind of plan it now assails.
Today? Today’s New York Times believes something else entirely. Effectively condemning the people who ran the Times in the 1950’s as, to quote directly from their editorial on Trump, guilty of:
…scapegoating of immigrants…barely subtextual racism…immense cruelty in seeking to reduce millions of people to poverty and hopelessness..
Whatever else this bizarre version of editorial self-flagellation may be, it is certainly interesting to see such a stunningly sharp assessment of the New York Times. By the New York Times.
One has to wonder. Do Times editors read their own paper’s archives? Apparently not.