Monday, May 13, 2013

The Miscalculation of the Heritage Foundation

From the Daily Beast:
...With their report last week putting a huge $6.3 trillion price tag on immigration reform and again calling any attempt at reform tantamount to “amnesty,” DeMint and Heritage were trying for an encore performance. 
The circumstances of 2013, however, are considerably different from the ones of 2007. Then, the Republican Party was convinced of its ability to win elections sans significant support from minorities, and Latinos in particular. Now—after President Obama won reelection with a minority of white voters but an overwhelming majority of blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans—many Republicans are convinced they need to make sustained outreach to minority communities, and Hispanics in particular. A GOP push to pass comprehensive immigration reform, they argue, is a necessary move in that direction and a way to open doors for further conversations. 
Which is why, after Heritage dropped its report at the beginning of last week, a whole host of pro-reform Republicans went after it in a fierce backlash. “The Heritage Foundation document is a political document. It’s not very serious analysis,” said former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. Likewise, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake—a co-sponsor of the immigration bill—challenged the study’s assumptions. “Here we go again. New Heritage study claims huge cost for Immigration Reform. Ignores economic benefits. No dynamic scoring,” he wrote on Twitter. 
But it wasn’t until the Washington Post revealed the racist ideology of one of the report’s authors, Jason Richwine, that things really began to unravel for DeMint and Heritage. Within a day of the revelation, reporters had combed through Richwine’s Harvard dissertation—where he argues that the IQ of Latino immigrants is too low for them ever to assimilate—and his history. In 2008, for example, Richwine had given a presentation at the American Enterprise Institute where he explained the racial hierarchy of intelligence: “Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks.” 
Not only did this cause a public relations crisis for Heritage—which found itself pushing a report authored in part by a modern-day phrenologist—but it gave Republican proponents of immigration reform an easy way to dismiss the full report. By giving Richwine a platform and making him one of the prominent voices against immigration reform, Heritage has tarnished its cause; now, it’s even more associated with prejudice and nativism. Immigration reform advocates have gained the moral high ground and a new sense of urgency—they need to pass a bill to show Latino voters that racial animus has no place in Republican politics...

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