Ring Lardner would feel right at home in today’s political environment. Whatever the issue — gun control, affirmative action, taxes — genuine debate and open conversation have taken a back seat to hectoring intolerance. As Lardner put it in The Young Immigrunts:
Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly.
Shut up he explained.
Consider the issue of immigration reform. You would think there was plenty of room for debate about this contentious issue. One of the most thoughtful commentators on immigration is Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, who among other writings has contributed an essay on the subject to the Broadside series at Encounter Books. But Krikorian, the CIS, and other conservative organizations have become targets of whispering, behind-closed-doors smear campaign that seeks to delegitimize their work and, by a bizarre logic I find unfathomable, paint them as part of a left-wing abortionist cabal. The Washington Post has a story about this sorry intramural attempt to stifle debate. “I haven’t heard folks take on the substantive arguments CIS is making and saying why they’re wrong,” the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky is quoted as saying. “Instead you just get these scurrilous attacks.” Scurrilous indeed.