Adam Serwer of the American Prospect Drops The I-Word

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As has become a near daily addiction for me, I was getting my daily political news from Memeorandum, yesterday, when I noticed, to my horror, that the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) website had made the headlines.  Even worse was that Tim Murphy of Mother Jones, and Adam Serwer of The American Prospect, both of which are supposed to be "progressive" magazines, had helped to get it there by linking to it. 

For those who are not familiar with the venerable work of pro-migrant organizations like the Center for New Community or the Southern Poverty Law Center, CIS is a spin-off of the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform, and was founded by the white supremacist John Tanton. 

If these connections aren't reason enough to make the organization illegitimate, any studious observer of CIS can ascertain through their actions, the horrific policies they advocate for, and their shoddy scholarship, that the sole purpose of the organization is to provide a facade of statistics to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of the U.S. through deportation, detention, and spreading fear and misery in migrant communities.

I don't like to publicly attack anyone that has even the most remote chance of identifying with my interests and the interests of migrants.  On the substance of these posts, at least, Serwer and Murphy are right on.  Still, driving traffic to and legitimizing a hateful organization like the Center for Immigration Studies was enough to bring back waves of feelings regarding progressives betraying migrants.  As such, I started reaching out to different progressive bloggers whom I believe have recently enabled nativism in the last few months in order to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I like to reach out to people privately before I write about them publicly.
Adam Serwer at The American Prospect, to his credit, was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time with a call yesterday evening.  While I don't think we came to an agreement on his portrayal of the Center for Immigration Studies, Adam Serwer told me something that I believe he deserves to be praised for: he dropped the I-word

The pro-migrant movement is the future of the U.S. and people either have to get with it or get left behind.  While there is a lot that progressives can do to further understand immigration policy, one of the most important things we can all do is to come up with a shared language to discuss the subject.  Like it or not, the word "illegal" is like a dagger to the heart of folks who are deeply involved in migrant communities.

After initially defending the use of the word "illegal" Adam Serwer referenced a post where he began to change his mind  Back in October, he ends the post by saying:

I don't know that I've been entirely persuaded to stop using the term, but I'm certainly going to think about it
Adam Serwer - The American Prospect (14 October 2010).
I'm happy to confirm after our conversation yesterday that Adam Serwer has dropped the i-word. He uses the word "undocumented" in the post where he legitimizes CIS.  The American Prospect is an important liberal magazine.  That one of the most visible bloggers of the magazine has changed his mind on the use of the word "illegal" is a major breakthrough for the pro-migrant movement. 

It's a credit to Serwer.  It's not easy to keep an open mind, especially when you're formulating your opinions in public.  It's also a credit to the Drop the I-Word campaign run out of Color Lines.  It was Rinku Sen's post that initially got Serwer to rethink his use of the word.  Change isn't pretty.  It's slow and grueling.  We've got to celebrate every victory that we get and this is a major one. 

If you're on twitter, sign this petition thanking Adam Serwer for his open mind

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on March 18, 2011 3:22 AM.

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