David Brooks is a pretty solidly moderate conservative, and one who is a big fan of behavioral science. But that doesn’t mean he can see beyond his own biases, especially when describing the differences between conservatives and liberals. He was particularly offensive on May 7, in an article titled “Beyond the Fence,” in which he discusses immigration reform. In the op-ed, he’s actually trying to promote a sensible middle ground, and it is clear that he thinks conservatives are off base in many of their ideas about immigration. But nevertheless, the first thing he says conservatives should know about immigration reform is the following:
First, immigration opponents are effectively trying to restrict the flow of conservatives into this country. In survey after survey, immigrants are found to have more traditional ideas about family structure and community than comparable Americans. They have lower incarceration rates. They place higher emphasis on career success. They have stronger work ethics.
By this logic, if you can call it that, one of the things that characterizes Progressives and liberals is that they end up in jail. Perhaps because they don’t care about careers? Because they have no work ethic?
I live in a neighborhood populated largely by Progressives, none of whom, to my knowledge, have spent any time in prison, and most of whom are workaholics. Hard work and following the law are not conservative values. They are moral values. And it is offensive to suggest that conservatives have better moral values than Progressives. If David Brooks really knew his social science, he would not have made this ridiculous statement.