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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Gut Reactions

Since I have been blogging, I have spent a decent amount of time beating up on the various columnists and editorials over at the Arizona Republic for their poor work and crude stereotypes. Other bloggers have done like-wise, and in a much more eloquent manner, and taken the additional step of linking such behavior with the decline in the paper’s circulation.

The truth is such poor writing isn’t new as a recent piece by a Republic alumnus makes clear.

Yesterday former Republic columnist Ruben Navarette Jr., now a nationally syndicated columnist and a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote a piece for concerning a proposal of allowing the military to recruit foreign nationals who are not currently US citizens or permanent residents.

Mr. Navarette labeled such a proposal as …"turning illegal immigrants into cannon fodder" and makes a gratuitous pass at lumping in all immigration restrictionists with racists.

He then polishes up by wondering about the inherent hypocrisy of said restrictionists and racists who worry that illegal immigrants are “prone to all sorts of violent and criminal behavior” but then want to give them military training. Navarette uses the example of an illegal immigrant from Peru who committed multiple murders and raped a 5-year old. He concludes with:

If half the things they say about this creep are true, Carranza belongs on death row. But guess what? He sure doesn't belong on an Army recruitment poster, or handling heavy artillery.

Navarette makes several logical and factual errors:

1) His use of the term “cannon fodder” which I will refer to the Wikipedia definition as “regarded or treated as expendable…” and “The term derives from fodder - food for livestock - however in this case soldiers are the metaphorical food sent against cannons.” Usually referred to those sent to die under hopeless odds for pointless objectives.

Does he mean that all military personnel are cannon fodder, a slur on which he has no basis to make, or does he mean that only such personnel who would be recruited under such a program, which was never implied?

2) His implicit linking of the proposal's proponent, Max Boot, with “restrictionists and racists” Perhaps Navaraette didn’t mean Mr. Boot but rather the person who called from upstate New York, but that’s like critiquing the Democrat’s anti- Iraq War policy strictly on the basis of Rosie O’Donnell and that 9/11 was an inside job.

3) His suggestion that the military would recruit someone like Mr. Carranza would not only be allowed to serve but eagerly sought out. This point was taken down by an e-mailer to Mr. Boot:

Non-citizens have been permitted to enlist in the United States Army for decades, and on the whole, they have been better behaved than their native-born US citizen counterparts. There’s a study on this issue, found on the Center for Naval Analyses website (Non-citizens in the Military, April 2005). But all non-citizens who enlist must meet stringent enlistment requirements, including passing background checks, being fingerprinted, and undergoing physical, medical, and psychological exams.

During wartime, undocumented immigrants have been permitted to enlist in the U.S. military—provided they meet the standards that every other recruit must meet. If they serve honorably, they can obtain expedited US citizenship. Please note the requirement that they serve honorably–which includes not being convicted of crimes while they are serving. And they are not permitted to enlist at all if they are criminals.

Note the credentials of the e-mailer, both in terms of education and military profession.

So there you are. Of course anyone is entitled to a mistake or a bad column but let’s see if Mr. Navarette admits his error and apologizes. There may be many reasons to critique Mr. Boot's proposal but I don't think Navarette quite has it. Then again I'm not sure the proposal was his true target anyway.

You can take the man out of the Arizona Republic, but it’s clear from Navarette's writing that you cannot take the Republic out of the man.