A letter from the radio and Fox News television personality Sean Hannity dated November 16, 2009 just arrived at my home, asking me to join the Heritage Foundation. A significant portion of the letter is devoted to immigration. "It's not too much to say that Heritage's research -- the facts they uncovered, the numbers they calculated -- prevented several really dangerous pieces of immigration legislation from becoming law," the letter says. Mr. Hannity's letter offers three examples of discoveries by Heritage policy experts: "They discovered that: one proposal would have added more than 100 million new legal immigrants to our population over the next 20 years." Got that? Heritage and Hannity here aren't arguing against illegal immigration but against "legal immigrants" -- people like the founder of Google, Sergey Brin, an immigrant from Russia, or Mr. Hannity's own boss at Fox, Rupert Murdoch, who is an immigrant from Australia. Or like Mr. Hannity's own grandparents, who reportedly immigrated to America from Ireland.
The next "dangerous threat," according to Mr. Hannity, was a proposal that "would have put millions of illegal aliens on a path to amnesty." While the Hannity letter credits Heritage with developing "hundreds of detailed ideas that helped Ronald Reagan," it doesn't mention that President Reagan himself signed the 1986 immigration law with legalization provisions that the anti-immigrant types call amnesty, saying, "We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans."
Finally, the Hannity-Heritage letter claims, "granting amnesty to illegal aliens would cost the United States trillions of dollars in retirement costs alone, in addition to all those other welfare benefits they receive." This is thinking akin to what the New York Times displayed in its attack on twins -- looking at individuals in terms of their potential cost to society as opposed to their potential contributions. Imagine applying this logic to abortion, which Mr. Hannity and Heritage oppose -- if we aborted more of those unborn children, we wouldn't have to pay for their welfare benefits or retirement costs! What a grim, non-growth-oriented view of the world. The letter certainly didn't get this grandson of an immigrant to send any money to Heritage; in fact, it decreased the likelihood of my doing so. Not that I don't think both Mr. Hannity and Heritage do some valuable work that I admire; they do, but that's all the more reason to avoid fundraising through immigrant-bashing.
Direct mail gets less attention than television commercials or newspaper op-ed articles do because it often happens below the radar. It's hard to link to. But it can be illuminating nonetheless, which is why we try to keep an eye on it here.
What a left-wing day we are having here at FutureOfCapitalism.com -- first a criticism of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, now a criticism of Sean Hannity and the conservative Heritage Foundation. What we try to do is apply the principles of individual freedom and let the chips fall where they may.