Op-ed: Sorry, Donald Trump has a point

  • By Rich Lowry
  • Sunday, July 5, 2015 3:20pm
  • Opinion

You are hardly a name-brand company if you haven’t dumped Donald Trump during the past seven days.

NBC, Univision and Macy’s all have thrown The Donald under the bus, in the heaviest blow to schlock culture in this country since the cancellation of “Jersey Shore.”

The carnage ranges across media, encompassing reality TV (“Celebrity Apprentice”), entertainment properties (the Miss USA Pageant), fashion (the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection) and even fragrance (Success by Trump).

Yes, the 2016 Republican field is so wide and diverse, it includes perhaps the nation’s first presidential candidate with his own fragrance, “a masculine combination of rich vetiver, tonka bean, birchwood and musk.”

To imagine that Abraham Lincoln’s marketing was focused on posing for photographs for Mathew Brady. Poor old Abe — he could never think big.

The shunning of Trump is in response to his, uh, memorable presidential announcement that included comments about the alleged rampant criminality of Mexican immigrants — they’re drug runners, rapists, etc. — that were typically crude. Trump could make a statement about arcane tax policy — and still make you want to take a shower afterward.

Although this isn’t anything new. The companies fleeing him are acting on what has become one of the foremost principles of American public life: It’s not enough to be offended; you must punish the offender.

As it happens, Trump’s new enemies are doing him an enormous political favor, at least in the short term. There are few things that benefit a Republican candidate in the current environment of left-wing bullying more than getting fired and boycotted for something he’s said.

Trump’s instantly notorious Mexico comments did more to insult than to illuminate, yet a kernel in them hit on an important truth that typical politicians either don’t know or simply fear to speak. “When Mexico sends its people,” Trump said, “they’re not sending their best.”

This is obviously correct. We aren’t raiding the top 1 percent of Mexicans and importing them to this country. Instead, we are getting representative Mexicans, who — through no fault of their own — come from a poorly educated country at a time when education is essential to success in an advanced economy.

Trump’s comments made it sound as though Mexico is sending us moral defectives. But immigrants are willing to work. Immigrant men ages 18-65 are in the labor force at a higher rate than native men.

It’s just that a lack of education hampers even hard-working people. This is illustrated in an exhaustive report by Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors a lower level of immigration.

Immigrants here from Mexico — which has sent more immigrants than any other country for decades — have the lowest levels of education. Nearly 60 percent of them haven’t graduated from high school.

This puts Mexican immigrants at a disadvantage, and it shows. Nearly 35 percent of immigrants from Mexico and their U.S.-born children are in poverty; nearly 68 percent are in or near poverty. This is the highest level for immigrants from any country.

Fifty-four percent of immigrants from Mexico lack health insurance. A higher proportion of Mexican immigrants uses means-tested government programs than immigrants from any other country — more than 57 percent. Immigrants make progress on almost every indicator over time, but are still far behind natives after two decades.

For all its crassness, Trump’s rant on immigration is closer to reality than the gauzy cliches of immigration romantics, who are unwilling to acknowledge that there might be an issue welcoming large numbers of high-school dropouts into a 21st-century economy. If we don’t want to add to the ranks of the poor, the uninsured and the welfare-dependent, we should have fewer low-skilled immigrants — assuming saying that is not yet officially considered a hate crime.

The point could be made much more deftly and accurately by anyone not named Donald J. Trump. In the meantime, he fills the vacuum, and enjoys the whirlwind.

Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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