You can be for or against open borders; immigration is a difficult debate, and I respect anybody who sensibly argues for either side.

But you have to be consistent. I have no respect for people who demonise a politician for having a position on immigration and laud another politician when she defends exactly the same position.

Sadly, this is precisely what the liberal media in the United States have been doing for years. President Donald Trump was persistently portrayed as a bogeyman who hates immigrants because of their skin colour. But, this narrative leaves aside that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, had deported more people than any other previous US President, to the point that some sensible critics called him the “Deporter in Chief”.

Not to be outdone, in a recent visit to Guatemala, Vice-President Kamala Harris told citizens of that impoverished Central American nation: “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders.”

So, why do Obama and Harris get a free pass, whereas Trump doesn’t?

Because the “medium is the message”. This concept goes back to Canadian literary critic Marshall McLuhan, who argued that the way a message is conveyed, rather than its actual content, is what really influences people. Two people can say exactly the same thing, but if they use different media to convey the same message, people will perceive it differently.

When McLuhan came up with this concept in his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he had in mind differences in mass media (print vs audiovisual, etc). But we are now entering a new era of “the medium is the message.” The differences between, say, newspaper and television are not so important as the differences between the identities of the people who convey messages.

In our day and age, identity politics reigns supreme and that is what really determines how messages are perceived.

Consequently, it is time to point out the elephant in the room: Obama and Harris get a free pass because of their skin colour. Obama used illegal drone warfare in Pakistan, bailed out banks, and massively increased surveillance control­— the kind of policies that the Left has always found disturbing. But very few progressives managed to point out the obvious. They ran the risk of being called “racists” for daring to criticize the first black President in American history, so they mostly kept their mouths shut.

To his credit, Obama never went as far as to say: “Vote for me because I am black”, but many voters (including some celebrities) did unashamedly admit that they voted for him simply on the basis of identity. The actor Samuel L. Jackson, for instance, told Ebony in 2012: “I voted for Barack because he was black. Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people—because they look like them.”

Whether consciously or unconsciously, Obama used that to his advantage. He knew that his skin colour would be the message itself. The American people cared little about the content of the message and were in search of a medium to free themselves from the burden of guilt for a long history of racial injustices. They found it in the hip Obama who would smile, play basketball, and walk the right way, but who would do the very same objectionable things many of his predecessors had done.

To a large extent, Kamala Harris is Obama 2.0.

Once the US had finally its first black President, it was time for its first black woman Vice-President (presumably as a platform to reach the presidency four years later). With Harris, her identity became even more salient. In Obama’s case, one still had to read inbetween the lines to see how race played to his advantage. For Harris, the pretense was over. Joe Biden explicitly said that he would choose a woman for his electoral ticket, preferably a black woman.

And perhaps even more so than Obama, Harris’s identity has become the message itself. She is all too aware of this, and very smartly uses it to her advantage. She knows that she can get away with presenting a campaign video with radical Left ideas of equity, and only a few months  later deliver in Guatemala an anti-immigration speech that is almost verbatim the same as those delivered by a former President who is portrayed by liberal media as a white supremacist.

It is time to go back to the basis of common sense. Ideas are to be judged on their own merits, regardless of the skin color ­— or genitals— of those who profess them. Opening borders to immigrants may or may not be a good idea. But, for crying out loud, be consistent! What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Gabriel Andrade

Gabriel Andrade is a university professor originally from Venezuela. He writes about politics, philosophy, history, religion and psychology.