LatinaLista — Today, The Dallas Morning News ran an editorial titled “The Fence Must Go Up.”
Fence between El Paso area and Mexico
(Source: Sprague Photo)
In the editorial, the writer(s) say that though they don’t see the fence as a “cure-all,” they support it because it’s “part of the immigration overhaul Congress was trying to pass the last two years. We said build it, if that’s what it takes to pass a plan to create a saner immigration system.”
But how is a “saner” immigration system built when the foundation it rests on defies common sense?
Probably the same way a newspaper endorses a controversial issue because now it is law, and for that it suddenly makes sense.
A great newspaper stands up for what is right â€” regardless if it’s the law or not.
How many papers in their day spoke out against slavery? Civil rights violations? Unequal treatment of women and people of color?
A great newspaper exhibits the courage to stand up for what is right for the state, for its people and for its larger role in the Union and global affairs.
A great newspaper champions the underdog when the underdog’s stand is considered just and righteous.
Opposition against the border fence is definitely an underdog issue.
Small town people are facing a government machine that is part of an administrative philosophy that believes Executive Branch privileges prevail over what is best or wanted by the people most impacted by the issue.
That The Dallas Morning News would justify their endorsement because it is now “the law of the land” undermines what the duty of every newspaper editorial page in the world is: to analyze, weigh and deliver a verdict on an issue.
To say they go along with it because it is the law is an easy way out of delivering a thoughtful analysis and weighing the pros and cons to deliver a verdict that exemplifies they know the people and what’s good for their state.
Yet, what’s worse is that this newspaper can now never be counted on for championing change of that law.
Its resigned acceptance sends a message that a battle is over when it becomes law â€” even if the law is bad.
Thank God Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters did not follow this course of action. Otherwise, Obama nor Clinton would be running for president today.
If The Dallas Morning News stand is to be justified because the border fence is now law, then it stands to reason that every other newspaper in the state of Texas would resign themselves to this fact as well.
That’s hardly the case.
In a very informal survey of the major newspapers in Texas, I found that no newspaper agreed with The Dallas Morning News.
Newspapers surveyed were: the Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Antonio Express News, El Paso Times and Amarillo Globe-News.
Speaking to either the editorial page editor or an editorial writer or assistant in the department, the question was asked: Has your newspaper ever editorialized about the construction of a border fence between Texas and Mexico. If so, what was your newspaper’s stand on the issue?
The editorial page editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram responded: “We understand there is a problem with illegal immigration but no fence is going to solve it. We stand by our editorial and several editorial writers and columnists feel this way. We’re also concerned with the environmental (impact) and water rights.”
The editorial page editor of the El Paso Times adamantly delivered a one-word response if they were in favor of a fence: “NO.”
From the San Antonio Express-News: “We’ve written several editorials against it. We call it an impractical fence.”
Two newspapers, the Austin American Statesman and the Amarillo Globe-News, while not completely saying no to the fence, did not fully endorse it either. In fact, both newspapers said they were skeptical about the effectiveness of such a barrier.
As the editor of the Amarillo Globe-News editorial page said, “Something needs to be done to stop illegal immigration but we don’t feel a fence will necessarily work.”
Each of these surveyed newspapers did what the public trusts them to do: analyze, weigh and question the wisdom of something that will have a profound impact on the state of Texas and its residents along the Mexican border.
It is what newspapers are supposed to do â€” not just give up because it’s now designated as law.
Laws can be changed.
Public trust is harder to turn around.