Friday, April 30, 2010

Weak Arguments

David Frum supports Arizona's law with a handful of weak, misleading arguments. Among them:
Mexico’s drug war has reached into Arizona cities.
Since the fundamental driver of drug violence from Colombia to Columbus is the American prohibition, it's a bit disingenuous to say that Mexico's war has reached the US. If anything, the US prohibition has come home to roost. In any event, I'd be interested to see some stats about the percentage of convicted murderers in Phoenix who are Mexican. I'm guessing that most are not.
Federal authorities capture an average of 1.5 tons of marijuana per day in Arizona. Drug-related kidnappings, tortures, and murders of illegals by illegals have made Phoenix one of the most violent cities in the United States.
Not sure what year this info comes from, because as of 2008, it was completely false. That year, Phoenix had a murder rate of just over ten, less than Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Memphis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta, and many others. Indeed, George Will made that point in this column from 2009.

The most effective section of the new Arizona law grants local police the same powers to deal with illegal migrants that New York City used in the 1990s to deal with illegal guns.
Aside from the jarring ease with which he compares people and weapons, that's a false equivalency, because illegal guns are inherently related to violent crime, while illegal immigrants are not. Also, I think he overstates the impact of New York's stricter gun policies on its lowering crime rates, since dropping rates of violent crime was a nationwide trend that included many cities that did not implement a New York-style weapons policy.

But the worst element of this piece is the effortless jump between Mexico's drug violence and undocumented Mexicans in the US. The implication is that where you have one, you automatically have the other, or even that they are part of the same phenomenon. While Mexican criminal groups have taken on larger role in drug smuggling, Frum plays way too loose with that connection. You could magically wave all the illegal immigrants out of Arizona tomorrow, and Mexico's drug runners would still send drugs northward, and the recipients of their merchandise in Phoenix and other cities around the country would still be killing people on a daily basis. Conflating Mexico's drug violence with illegal immigration confuses both issues, and offers little in the way of a solution to either.


malcolm beith said...

his connection between illegals and drug trafficking is horrendous and pure propaganda. the rest of the piece is nearly just as bad.
fyi, you spelled arguments wrong in the headline

pc said...

Thanks for the heads up. Yeah that was the worst part of it, and this idea of Phoenix as Juarez north is really weird.