Joseph A. e-mails:
I greatly admire Victor Reppert for a number of reasons - I think the Argument from Reason is pretty amazing and effective when formulated and defended well, and Victor remains one of the most soft-spoken and polite bloggers around.
But a number of thoughts occurred to me when reading his and your post.
Victor shows some deep distrust of law enforcement officials - he mentions how there's plenty of Mark Fuhrmans on the police force, and basically asserts that he doesn't trust them to enforce laws like this appropriately.
A certain distrust of law enforcement is reasonable. Skepticism about government and its law enforcement agencies is integral to American conservatism and has been from the founding. But we need to make a simple distinction between a law and its enforcement. A just law can be unjustly applied or enforced, and if it is, that is no argument against the law. If the police cannot be trusted to enforce the 1070 law without abuses, then they cannot be trusted to enforce any law without abuses. Someone who thinks otherwise is probably assuming, falsely, that most cops are anti-Hispanic racists. What a scurrilous assumption!
At this point one must vigorously protest the standard leftist ploy of 'playing the race card,' i.e., the tactic of injecting race into every conceivable issue. The issue before us is illegal immigration, which has nothing to do with race. Those who oppose illegal immigration are opposed to the illegality of the immigrants, not to their race. The illegals happen to be mainly Hispanic, and among the Hispanics, mainly Mexican. But those are contingent facts. If they were mainly Persians, the objection would be the same. Again, the opposition is to the illegality of the illegals, not to their race.
Suppose Canadians, who are mostly Caucasians, were routinely violating our northern border in great numbers. Suppose a northern state were to enact a 1070-like law. What would leftists say then to avoid facing the issue, which is illegal immigration? They couldn't cry 'racism.' Would they scream 'xenophobia'? However the lefties emote, they would be missing the point.
But Victor also typically argues very much in favor of giving government far more authority and responsibility than it now has (see his views on health care, etc.) I just find it odd that he's very worried, deeply worried, about the actions of individual police officers operating at a local level - suggesting that they pose a problem/threat we're not going to be able to adequately address - but not nearly as worried about endowing federal bureaucrats with vastly more far-reaching powers.
That is just inconsistency on Reppert's part. As I said, skepticism about government and its law enforcement agencies is integral to American conservatism. The skepticism is shared by libertarians and paleo-liberals.
Also, you mention the 'argument' that the bill disproportionately targets Hispanics. Of course, you rightly dismissed it, but I notice Victor does suggest that securing our borders is a major interest. The riddle I have is, how does one secure the Mexican border without 'targeting Hispanics' in the process?
I think I already explained that. It is not the race of the illegals that we who uphold the rule of law object to, but their illegality. So I deny your suggestion that there would be a targeting of Hispanics qua Hispanics. But because most of the illegals happen to be Hispanic, that fact is relevant in a decision to investigate a person's immigration status.
Suppose a cop pulls over a vehicle with a malfunctioning tail light. He asks the driver for his license. If a valid license is presented, no problem, even if the driver is Hispanic and speaks only broken English. The worst that happens is the cop writes a citation for the tail light. The same thing would happen as would happen were Reppert to be pulled over in similar circumstances. Will Reppert protest that he is being forced by a jackbooted thug to 'show his papers'? But that's the law, and the law is reasonable. You may not drive without a valid license.
Liberal hysteria about S. B. 1070 is just that. So far I haven't seen any rational grounds for opposition. It is clear why most liberals and leftists oppose it. They want as many illegals as possible in order to swell the ranks of the Democrat Party. I don't know what Reppert's motivation is. But it is without a doubt the motivation of most liberals/leftists. Please note that inquiring into people's motivations is entirely legitimate once you have demolished their arguments.