From the sycophantic portrayal of journalists in last year’s Best Picture nominee The Post to The Handmaid’s Tale’s season two plot line casting Boston Globe reporters as literal martyrs, the media has never been so sure of its own importance. And there is no publication more wedded to this narrative than the Washington Post, who changed their motto last year to the truly hyperbolic “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
That same newspaper, that bastion of liberal values, today published an op ed from former Trump administration security official Michael Anton, arguing for an end to birthright citizenship in the United States via executive order.
Anton is one of the most vile figures to emerge from this administration (which is saying a lot). He has written tirades against diversity and Islam, arguing that the former is “a source of weakness, tension and disunion” and that the latter is “incompatible with the modern West.” He also defended the notorious America First Committee, which tried to prevent the US from entering Wold War II using anti-semitic propaganda. Bill Kristol, of all people, compared Anton to prominent Nazi Carl Schmitt. Even Jonathan Chait—who usually saves his ire for the truly powerful, college students—has called him an authoritarian.
Knowing this, the Washington Post, defender of democracy, decided to publish Anton’s argument for ending one of the few American traditions that contains any glimmer of compassion for immigrants. In the piece, Anton argues against the common interpretation of the 14th Amendment which was written to give citizenship rights to newly freed slaves, and that is the constitutional basis for birthright citizenship.
Wonder why that is.
Anton argues for a version of America that’s antithetical to what the Washington Post professes to support. He calls America not a country of immigrants, but a country of “settlers” who can choose to exclude immigrants at any time. He writes that America’s policy of birthright citizenship is a “magnet” for the “world’s poor” and allows our citizenship to be “debased.”
These arguments are inconsistent with a vision of American democracy that represents actual Americans, fewer and fewer of whom are white. This is exactly the fear of Anton, white supremacist Richard Spencer, and others who see their supremacy as white Americans slipping away. How will they achieve their goal of a majority white America through democracy? They can’t.
The First Amendment isn’t an entitlement to post whatever the hell you want in the Washington Post; in fact, promoting Anton’s views is detrimental to the Washington Post’s publicly stated goal of protecting democracy. Our country is actively spiraling into fascism, and legitimizing people like Anton brings us one step closer to that terrifying reality.