Editor's Note: This piece was authored by Townhall intern Chris Reeves.
On Saturday, Ross Douthat published a column for the New York Times arguing that White House Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller should be included in negotiations about immigration policy because he represents the opinions of tens of millions of Americans. Somewhat predictably, the Times’s liberal readership was none too pleased by the idea that proponents of increased restrictions on legal immigration would be given a seat at the table alongside proponents of amnesty, and many took to Twitter to express their displeasure. Some more unhinged commenters labeled the Times a “white supremacist paper,” while others were content with simply suggesting that Douthat is a racist.
Because Saturday was Holocaust Memorial Day, some Twitter leftists apparently thought that Douthat’s piece was promoting Nazism or attacking Jews. Canadian film producer and actress Nadine Van der Velde was especially perturbed:
After being informed by almost a dozen different people that Miller is himself Jewish, Van der Velde had a mental breakdown, repeatedly tweeting Minion GIFs at them in response:
However, Van der Velde also had backup from fellow Twitter blue checkmarks, such as writer and political commentator Sarah Kendzior, who regularly appears on MSNBC and writes for multiple news outlets (including NBC News and the Globe and Mail):
NYT is now a white supremacist paper. The multiple Nazi puff pieces, constant pro-Trump PR, and praise for Miller on today of all days is not exceptional -- it's the guiding ideology of the paper. I don't think every writer there shares it, but it dominates coverage #Unsubscribe— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) January 28, 2018
It’s difficult to say for sure what Kendzior was babbling about, but her comments about “Nazi puff pieces” probably refers to articles like this in which an NYT correspondent interviewed a Nazi and clearly labeled him as being hateful and having disturbing political beliefs.
In response to a supportive comment from a follower indicating that he had cancelled his Times subscription, Kendzior doubled down on her insane rambling, adding that she believes that “white supremacy” is gaining ground not just throughout the media, but in the U.S. government as well:
Yes. NYT promotes a fringe opinion, but that fringe opinion is increasingly held by those in the most powerful institutions in the US, including in both media and govt.— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) January 28, 2018
NYT's virulent white supremacy is same as Breitbart's; they just target readers in different political groups.
Other media figures had slightly saner responses to Douthat’s piece, many of which centered on criticisms of his assertion that increased diversity reduces social trust. For example, CBS News analyst and Slate Chief Political Correspondent Jamelle Bouie accused the NYT columnist of racism while asserting that many White Americans are “hostile to the mere existence of nonwhites [sic]”:
this is the sentence that gives it away, for me. it’s not that a material investment in white racial hierarchy makes many white americans hostile to the mere existence of nonwhites, it’s that diversity itself sows distrust (distrust that somehow only manifests among whites) pic.twitter.com/l6zp0wBC8V— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) January 28, 2018
MSNBC political analyst and host Joy Reid heartily concurred with Bouie, calling Douthat an appeaser for advocating for immigration compromise with Miller and Trump:
There are a lot of Americans who simply can't cope with the browning of America. Trump is a manifestation of that, as is Miller. The question is what to do about it. @DouthatNYT's answer seems to be to appease them with little bits of retrenchment. Not exactly a moral argument.— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 28, 2018
Bloomberg View writer Noah Smith had a similar take on Bouie and Reid on Douthat’s remarks, casting Douthat’s arguments as an attempt to make racism “politically correct”:
This.— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) January 28, 2018
"Diversity reduces trust" is a politically correct way of saying "I don't like people of other races."
It's saying "My distrust of people of other races, and that of my political allies, is perfectly natural." https://t.co/GAAfKXkNmU
The problem with Bouie, Reid, and Smith’s comments is that Douthat’s statement is supported by scientific research (which Smith himself later recognized in a Twitter thread on Sunday). Among the best-known studies to concur with Douthat’s thesis is a huge study from 2007 conducted by liberal Harvard academic Robert Putnam. Based on the results of statistical analyses of data collected from tens of thousands of participants, Putnam concluded that one of the major short-term consequences of increased immigration and ethnic diversity in the United States has been decreased social trust:
Diversity does not produce ‘bad race relations’ or ethnically-defined group hostility, our findings suggest. Rather, inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours, regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television. Note that this pattern encompasses attitudes and behavior, bridging and bonding social capital, public and private connections. Diversity, at least in the short run, seems to bring out the turtle in all of us.
Putnam, himself a proponent of the benefits of immigration and diversity, can hardly be described as a Nazi by any reasonable person. And yet, as the debates over immigration reform and DACA continue, it’s worth keeping in mind that many leftists’ instinctual reaction to people expressing contrary opinions on immigration reform is to call them Nazis, white supremacists, and—at best—racists.