June 5th, 2006

ozarque figure

Linguistics; stylistics/rhetoric; the "framing immigration" article...

I'm going to do some tinkering and tweaking here with one section of Lakoff and Ferguson's paper on framing immigration [at http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/research/rockridge/immigration ]. Not because I necessarily endorse anything they said in the section or would have chosen to write it that way, but because I cannot understand why Lakoff and Ferguson -- who both are as thoroughly trained in rhetoric as I am -- wrote it in the fashion they did, and I'd like to try make the reasons for my objections clear. Parallelism is one of our most powerful rhetorical resources; I don't understand why Lakoff and Ferguson haven't used it. Maybe they think it's quaint? Anyway....


[The Rockridge version]


"Conservatives

The conservative views:

* Law and Order: The 'illegal immigrants' are criminals, felons, and must be punished -- rounded up and sent home. There should be no amnesty. Otherwise all law will break down.
* The Nativists: The immigrants are diluting our culture, our language, and our values.
* The Profiteers: We need cheap labor to keep our profits up and our cheap lifestyle in place.
* The Bean Counters: We can't afford to have illegal immigrants using our tax dollars on health, education, and other services.
* The Security Hounds: We need more border guards and a hi-tech wall to guarantee our security.

[Note: Except for the first item, each of the categories in this list is a metaphor representing one of the positions taken by conservatives who are opposed to illegal immigrants.]


Progressives

* Progressivism Begins at Home: The immigrants are taking the jobs of American works and we have to protect our workers.
* African-American Protectionists: Hispanic immigrants are threatening African-American jobs.
* Provide a path to citizenship: The immigrants have earned citizenship with their hard work, their devotion to American values, and their contribution to our society.
* Foreign Policy Reformers: We need to pay attention to the causes that drive others from their homelands.
* Wage supports: Institute a serious earned income tax credit for Americans doing otherwise low-paying jobs, so that more Americans will want to do them and fewer immigrants will be drawn here.
* Illegal Employers: The way to protect American workers and slow immigration of unskilled workers is to prosecute employers of unskilled workers."

[Note: Total rhetorical breakdown here, in my opinion. The items are an assortment representing positions taken by progressives who are opposed to illegal immigrants, positions taken by progressives who support illegal immigrants, proposed alternative solutions to the problem of illegal immigrants, and one philosophical position on the subject. Three items on the list are metaphors like those proposed for conservatives -- that is, they're group labels. The rest are various other things. And "Illegal Employers," which looks as if it were analogous to "The Nativists" and "The Profiteers" and so on but in fact is not, is particularly confusing and distracting.]



[Tweaked version]

Conservatives

The conservative views:

* The Law Enforcers: The illegal immigrants are a threat because they are criminals, felons, and must be punished -- rounded up and sent home. There should be no amnesty. Otherwise all law will break down.
* The Nativists: The illegal immigrants are a threat because they are diluting our culture, our language, and our values.
* The Profiteers: Even if the illegal immigrants are a threat, they're a threat that we have to put up with; we need them as cheap labor to keep our profits up and our cheap lifestyle in place.
* The Bean Counters: The illegal immigrants are a threat because we can't afford to have them using our tax dollars on their health, education, and other services.
* The Security Hounds: The illegal immigrants are a threat because they literally endanger us by smuggling drugs and smuggling people, and because they are potentially terrorists; we need more border guards and a hi-tech wall, to guarantee our security.


Progressives

The progressive views

* The Labor Supporters: The immigrants are a threat because they are taking the jobs of American workers and we have to protect our workers.
* The African-American Protectionists: The Hispanic immigrants are a threat because they are endangering African-American jobs in particular, and those jobs must be protected.
* The Citizenship Supporters: The immigrants are not a threat; they have earned citizenship with their hard work, their devotion to American values, and their contribution to our society.
* The Foreign Policy Reformers: Whether the immigrants are a threat or not, we need to pay attention to the causes that drive others from their homelands and find ways to deal with those causes, instead of focusing all our attention on narrow current problems.
* The Living Wage Supporters: The immigrants would no longer be a threat if the U.S. government would set up a serious earned income tax credit for Americans doing otherwise low-paying jobs -- or set up and enforce an adequate minimum wage -- so that more Americans would want to do those jobs and fewer immigrants would be drawn here.
* The Law Enforcers: It's not the illegal immigrants who are a threat, and it's not the illegal immigrants who are criminals; the criminals are the employers who hire them, and prosecuting those employers is the way to eliminate the problem.


=======

I think that's what the authors of the article are trying to say, although they might have been able to come up with more felicitous metaphors for the progressive set than I have.