As noted earlier, Lou Dobbs is upset that more media outlets aren’t using the term “illegal alien,” instead often opting for the term “undocumented immigrant.” Dobbs suggests a conspiracy by the media. But the fact is that critics of the media don’t consistently use “illegal alien,” either. The term often gets shortened to merely “illegals.” (See, e.g., Wash Times, “Bush amnesty blamed for rise in illegals“; Wash Times, “Senate illegals bill near complete“; WorldNetDaily, “Arizona county helping illegals, critic charges“; KTAR, “Employer sanctions for hiring illegals stuck in Senate“; and the lovely article “Illegals go home” that has run in various outlets.)
Supporters of this term defend its use, pointing out that it carries some degree of descriptive accuracy. People labeled as “illegals” have indeed violated a law; therefore, suggest users, such people may accurately be called illegals. Is this reasonable?
This argument is not unreasonable on the surface. It is strongest if we accord similar treatment to other groups. That is, the reasonableness of this approach depends on whether we typically make one’s violation of law a primary or sole descriptor.
For example, if the principle is to be applied consistently, Kenneth Lay should be described as “an illegal” because of his conviction for a crime. Scooter Libby should similarly be called “an illegal.” In fact, one might expect proponents of the usage of illegals (in the context of immigration) to support this broader usage as well. After all, they seem quite concerned that a person’s status vis-a-vis law be used as that person’s primary or only descriptor.
The potential application of the “illegals” label is even broader, really. Immigration critics don’t confine their use to people actually convicted of crimes. Anyone who violates immigration laws — whether convicted or not — is subject to the term. For consistency’s sake, the same should apply to people who violate any other laws.
So both Kenneth Lay (convicted) and other unconvicted violators of corporate law should be called illegals. Let’s apply the term, consistently, to anyone who has ever violated a law. Anyone who has violated a law at any point — speeders, jaywalkers, late tax filers — should henceforth be called “an illegal.” Under this definition, I’m an illegal, and you probably are, too. (The term probably covers most Americans.)
Meanwhile, those who haven’t ever broken any law should be rewarded by being called “legals” in general parlance. Let’s raise compliance with law above race, religion, gender, or age, as one’s primary identifying attribute. I’m sure that Dobbs and other proponents of the “illegals” usage will be happy to extend it to its logical limit — why wouldn’t they?
I have only one other question, though — what exactly should we call the inconsistent folk who support the apparently racist approach of labeling immigration violators as “illegals,” but see no need to use that label on any violators of other laws?
I suggest we call such people, “bastards.”