The cover story for the March issue of The American Conservative is one of the more courageous endeavors I've seen from a political magazine in a long time. "His-Panic," written by Ron Unz, the magazine's publisher, tackles "axe-grinding ideologues" who Unz says "have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness." It's a lengthy, persuasive argument against the notion that Hispanic immigrants are a disproportionate cause of crime.
For a magazine co-founded by anti-immigration paleocons Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, the story risks alienating a hell of a lot of the magazine's readers.
The issue also hits newsstands during CPAC, the annual D.C. gathering of conservative activists. So far, the article doesn't seem to have generated much discussion on the blogs. And it may not. When I wrote about immigration, crime, and the "El Paso Miracle" last July, I went on Lou Dobbs' radio show to defend the column. To my surprise, Dobbs had few quarrels with the thesis, and claimed he has never insinuated that immigrants—even illegal immigrants—are especially prone to violent crime. If viewers of his TV show happened to draw such a conclusion based on his tendency to sensationalize the occasional violent crime that happened to be committed by an immigrant, I suppose that's just beyond his control.
But this is why Unz's piece is so remarkable—and valuable. The lawless immigrant myth simply isn't backed up by any serious data, but it's still common and commonly perpetuated by the anti-immigrant right, if only by anecdote. It'll be difficult for that to continue now that the paleo-right's flagship publication has torpedoed the myth on its cover. I just hope they don't lose all their subscribers in the process.