"Backlash" is one of those words with an iffy reputation, connoting an angry or even unreasoned reaction to a benign or just plain immutable reality. Like a tantrum, a backlash is widely regarded as an emotional spasm that inevitably subsides, leaving the supposedly benign or just plain immutable reality to unfold unmolested. Meanwhile, backlash is cluck-clucked as unenlightened (Backlash to Feminism), mean-spirited (Angry White Men Backlash), xenophobic (Dubai Ports Backlash) -- or, in the case of the burgeoning reaction against the illegal-alien amnesty movement, all of the above.
But by whom? Backlash opponents. More often than not, "backlash" is the word mainstream liberals use to describe the sound the silent majority makes when it finally gets around to piping up. The family unit is shattered: That's progress. Somebody says, "Uh, maybe it was better when it wasn't shattered": That's backlash. The nation's borders are breached by millions of illegal aliens, who not only provide an immorally cheap labor force, but also more than 29 percent of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities: That's progress. Somebody yells, "Hey, put up a fence": That's backlash. The following headline in The Washington Post, summing up reaction to May Day amnesty demonstrations, crystallizes this cracked-prism vision. "After Protests, Backlash Grows: Opponents of Illegal Immigration Are Increasingly Vocal."
Who, the Post seems to wonder, do these increasingly vocal "opponents" think they are -- illegal aliens?
Of course, such "opponents" not only became "increasingly vocal" this week, some of them actually went to the polls. In Herndon, Va., voters elected what the cultural mainstream would probably dub the nation's first Backlash Legislature -- a new city council and mayor who oppose Herndon's "day-laborer center," that law-flouting tax-payer-funded facility that opened last year to match up illegal alien workers with employers of illegal aliens. The Herndon vote seems highly significant: With one exception, no incumbent was re-elected who didn't oppose the center -- and all new council members, including the new mayor, oppose the center. According to the Post report, last year's 5-2 majority in favor of the facility now becomes a probable 6-1 majority against. Not surprisingly, the online edition of The Washington Post headlined the election story "Immigrant Backlash in Herndon."