In political and social debates, we often take the easy way out, constructing arguments the obvious faults of which are exploited by our opponents. While these straw arguments are manifestly weak, we continue to put them forward because they’re easy to make. However, if the aim of making an argument is to persuade one’s opponent of the merit of a particular belief, a straw argument simply won’t accomplish that goal.
One of the more frustrating straw arguments I see on a frequent basis pertains to DACA. Every other week, an article will pop up on a conservative news outlet; the title will run something like: “DACA Recipient Commits (Insert Crime).” Ten other conservative outlets will pick up the story, and it’s the news for a day.
The obvious inference one is supposed to draw from such headlines is that DACA recipients are criminals. “If this DACA recipient committed (insert crime), what are other DACA recipients doing?” one may think. This is meant to trigger the following subconscious syllogism in the minds of the readers: DACA recipients are criminals; criminals should be deported; therefore, DACA recipients should be deported.
This is a grossly lazy argument because it can be countered immediately by one of the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who aren’t criminals. Punch, counter-punch, back to square one.
Let me be clear — this is not an argument for or against DACA, illegal immigration, deportation, or border security. This is not an argument against reporting the news. This is a call to conservatives to stop using criminals who are on the DACA rolls as examples of why we should deport illegal immigrants. It’s an ineffective strategy; it’s a straw argument that can be dispatched by any opponent with more than a dozen brain cells.
My rejection of this argument should not be conflated with a rejection of another, seemingly similar argument. In June 2017, I wrote a piece for The Daily Wire about several illegal immigrants who were involved in serious crimes. These men had all been deported multiple times, and had returned to the United States due to lax border security. My objective in that particular piece was to make the case that deportation of illegal immigrant criminals is meaningless if our borders remain porous.
While progressives can afford to be lazy because they have a media machine that saturates American minds with their ideas, conservatives must remain in perfect form — every argument must be concrete, every delivery persuasive. The “DACA recipients are criminals” subconscious syllogism is made of straw; it’s flimsy, and conservatives need to stop using it.