Nicholas Stix, Middle American News, March, 2005
In the wake of the 2004 election, many supporters of Pres. Bush have spoken of “The death of Old Media,” which they believe have been supplanted by “New Media,” including the Internet, and of a 50-year GOP reign.
Republican activists accurately depict the Old Media as suppressing wide-ranging debate. And yet, the New Media are also being used to silence dissent. The owners of influential Republican Web sites, most notably freerepublic.com, lucianne.com, and townhall.com, have largely made discussions of immigration reform taboo, by banning any material from prominent Web sites and writers who call for the enforcement of America’s immigration laws. Meanwhile, Pres. Bush seeks anew to impose his stealth amnesty (aka guest worker program) for illegal immigrants on the American people, which his own party’s base and the public at large oppose, without the matter being debated.
Free Republic, founded in 1996 by retired seaman and Vietnam veteran Jim Robinson, has over 100,000 registered members, including this writer. “FR” was influential as a gathering point for GOP activists in the 2000 and 2004 elections, and still sponsors rallies, counter-demonstrations, and fundraisers around the country. For most members, who are known as “FReepers,” FR is a place to post, read, and debate political articles. FR is run through donations.
The site achieved its high point last September, when it spearheaded the exposure of Dan Rather’s use of forged “documents” in an attempt to smear Pres. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard record, in the Rathergate/Memogate scandal.
Although a large plurality of FReepers support immigration enforcement, Jim Robinson has little tolerance for that position. His computer software automatically blocks any posts linking to the premier anti-illegal immigration Web site, VDARE.com, and his moderators delete any posts of articles by prominent restrictionist writer Steve Sailer. When I once sought to post one of Sailer’s articles, Robinson threatened to ban me from the site.
Meanwhile, Robinson permits writings by the open borders lobby (which Michelle Malkin has dubbed “OBL”), effectively rigging the debate.
On February 11, William Gheen, the president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC wrote at VDARE, “The shot heard around the Internet has been fired on FreeRepublic.com. The owner Jim Robinson and his moderators have launched a sniper style purge against members that disagree with the President’s ‘guest worker’ amnesty or support more control of illegal immigration.”
Actually, the purge has been ongoing since at least November, 2000.
Robinson’s practices give the lie to his defense in a 1998 Los Angeles Times/Washington Post copyright infringement lawsuit, which he lost: “Before creating Free Republic, Robinson frequented other internet discussion sites and was frustrated by their censorship and restrictions on free expression of ideas.”
Steve Sailer responded to a query from Middle American News with an e-mail:
“My work seems to be more acceptable at the New York Times than at Free Republic.
“I got permanently banned, along with the rest of VDARE, after somebody posted this article on Free Republic back in late 2000 [“GOP Future Depends on Winning Larger Share of the White Vote”], in which I argue that the GOP didn’t have to sell out on immigration to get more Hispanic votes to remain electable. All it had to do was boost its share of the white vote from the 54% that Bush won in 2000 to 57%. And indeed, that’s what happened, with Bush getting 58% of the white vote in 2004 and winning.”
VDARE has since dubbed Sailer’s advice “the Sailer Strategy.”
Robinson has also banned the restrictionist Web site American Patrol.
The only prominent critic of illegal immigration who may be posted at FR is Michelle Malkin. Significantly, the banned writers are white, while Malkin is of Filipino descent.
Robinson notwithstanding, in a mid-February opinion poll at FR, of 3,812 members who responded, 94.2% agreed with the statement, “I OPPOSE open borders and illegal immigration,” 3.3% were undecided, and only 2.5% agreed with the statement, “I SUPPORT open borders and illegal immigration.”
In a telephone interview, VDARE publisher Peter Brimelow said of Jim Robinson, “He’s found a niche in that part of the ‘great civil war’ that’s breaking out in the conservative movement.”
Robinson did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this article.
At Lucianne.com, owned by Lucianne Goldberg, things are even worse, in terms of diversity of opinion. Searches of the site in early to mid-February turned up no American restrictionist writings. Already in 2000, under various pretexts, Goldberg was notorious for banning members for any and no reason, and banned all manner of conservative Web sites, while permitting unlimited postings from liberal, libertarian, and neoconservative OBL organs such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Review and weekly standard.
Lucianne Goldberg is a veteran Republican political operative best known for inducing Pentagon official Linda Tripp, who thought Goldberg was her friend, to secretly tape record conversations Tripp had in 1997 with her friend, White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The tape recordings proved that President Clinton was having an affair with Lewinsky.
Goldberg’s career on the Internet followed a similar trajectory. In the late 1990s, she established herself as a personality at Free Republic, where she was known as “Trixie,” until she had developed enough of a following to found her own Web site. To induce her FReeper fans to leave FR in 1999 for her new site, Goldberg charged Jim Robinson with anti-Semitism.
Neither Goldberg nor her editor-in-chief, Amy Sheehan, responded to e-mail queries from Middle American News.
Townhall.com, which is run by the Heritage Foundation, is one of the most influential sites on the Internet. Town Hall’s most popular feature is its roll of over 50 syndicated Republican columnists, of whom only Michelle Malkin clearly supports the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. The site used to regularly publish the influential restrictionist columnists Pat Buchanan and Paul Craig Roberts, but dropped both in the course of 2004.
Townhall.com editor Jonathan Garthwaite did not respond to e-mail and telephone queries from Middle American News for this story. Columnist and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, who is also the editor of the paleoconservative American Conservative magazine, responded by e-mail to a query from Middle American News, “To my knowledge, Heritage and Townhall.com only rarely carry my column as I have not always been in agreement with that brand of conservatism.”
A source from Heritage, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the lack of immigration enforcement voices at Heritage/Town Hall is due to two problems. First, “They’re too damn close to the GOP!” Second, as an organization dependent on donations, and given conservatism’s split between social conservatives and libertarians, discussion of any position “is guaranteed to tick off 50% of their supporters.”
In neocon magazine Commentary’s October 2002 issue, Joshua Muravchik argued that the sort of issues raised by conservatives critical of the GOP and of neoconservatism—race, ethnicity, the welfare state—simply have no place in conservatism.
In a telephone interview with Middle American News, Pat Buchanan summed up the conflict thusly,
The neoconservatives, I think are, given their roots, wherever you want to place them, by nature intolerant of dissent. They are not conservatives in the old tradition of National Review, where there was a robust contest every two weeks, with Russell Kirk and Frank Myer and James Burnham and Buckley and Whittaker Chambers . . . They could [unclear] disagree, but it was a wonderful magazine. My feeling is that the neoconservatives fundamentally come out of the Left. You find it in the rhetoric, the constant iteration of the use of the word ‘fascist,’ and the kind of demonizing rhetoric that the Left has always used and the idea that the other points of view on the right not only don’t have to be answered but they ought to be squashed.
… with regard to immigration, we’ve had many of the old Republican conservatives [who] were both protectionists and in favor of restrictive immigration policies, so you could assimilate immigrants and that’s all consistent with traditional Republicanism and conservatism. And the idea’s been demonized, and more than demonized, it’s been denied a hearing. That suggests that the people who are now defining conservatism are not really conservatives at all.
If the GOP’s editorial bosses refuse to permit respectable, rational criticism of policies killing off American sovereignty, the members of the GOP’s conservative majority shall find themselves with different standard bearers and media, and possibly, a different party.
Meanwhile, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is triangulating in the manner of the master, Bill Clinton, for the 2008 presidential election. With her ear closer to the ground than the GOP leadership, the hard-core leftist senator has come out with a stand against illegal immigration that is far to the right of the GOP. So much for the Republican Party’s 50-year political empire.