Sometimes you have to speak up at the risk of getting shouted down. You should say the words, "I don't agree," if you oppose conventional wisdom.
Last week, my company released a poll showing that a majority of Americans strongly support Arizona's immigration law.
"Sixty-one percent of Americans — and 64 percent of registered voters — said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9," wrote Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers.
"While the Democratic Party generally is regarded as more sympathetic to illegal immigrants' plights, 46 percent of Democrats said they favored the law for Arizona and 49 percent said they would favor its passage in their own states."
I don't agree.
Americans are understandably fed up with a broken federal immigration system. The hard fix — the right thing to do — is to further fortify our borders, establish a temporary worker program to satisfy seasonal needs for cheap labor, allow some — but not all — illegal immigrants to establish legal residency, give more preferences to skilled immigrants — and save the harsh treatment for immigrants committing felonies.
This requires political courage and money, which is why Democrats and Republicans have failed miserably on this issue for years.
The Arizona law doesn't deal with key fixes. It only feeds our biases. It burdens street cops with enforcing federal immigration laws, which is why Arizona police chiefs oppose it. The law opens the door for legal immigrants to be suspected for how they look.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer claims the law she signed forbids racial profiling. But an analysis by Politifact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team with the St. Petersburg Times, challenges her assertions.
"Even if racial profiling is officially banned, the new Arizona law continues to permit non-racially based profiling, such as profiling based on clothing or behavior," wrote Louis Jacobson of Politifact.com.
"Many legal experts we spoke to saw a hazy, and perhaps unenforceable, line between permissible profiles and illegal ones."
Arizonans aren't sweating immigrants from Latvia. They're worried about Mexicans.
What ethnic profile do we think will draw attention down there? Slavs?
To Californians, the Arizona law should seem familiar. As Brewer has grown more popular, so did former California Gov. Pete Wilson when he rode to re-election in 1994 by supporting Proposition 187. That law sought to ban illegal immigrants from receiving social services. It was approved by voters and later struck down as an unconstitutional attempt to enforce federal laws.
By then, Wilson was retired.
Legal scholars predict Arizona's law will be overturned, too.
In the interim, biases are inflamed, key issues ignored and politicians benefit.
Sorry, I don't agree.