Unfortunately, the Republican Party is like staphylococcus. It can mutate in order to stay lethal and infective. Unlike Karl Rove, it can learn new tricks. And it is not above being two faced if that will help it stay in power.
An article in the Sacremento Bee describes how the owner of a preschool, where kids can learn yoga and a second language, such as French or Spanish, received irate phone calls from people who accused her of encouraging illegal immigration. The French was fine. The Spanish was not.
Just plain silly, right? I mention this to show that the Republicans have managed to package their anti-immigration racism in a sleek, non offensive wrapper designed to appeal to voters in non Southern states.
(A) neighbor struck up a conversation with her to blame Mexicans, Dupre said, for everything wrong -- including grocery prices.
Wait until she sees the grocery prices when the food is rotting in the fields and on the trees, because there is no one to harvest it!
For many outside the White South, where racism is still socially acceptable, anti-immigration is perceived as an economic and security issue. There is a reason for this. A study from the Anti-Defamation League entitled Immigrants Targeted: Extremist Rhetoric Moves Into the Mainstream. shows how the anti-immigration political movement, spearheaded by Republicans like Bill Frist, speaks with two heads. At home, in places like Georgia, it pairs up with NeoNazis, White Supremists, members of the KKK and eugenics advocates to deliver the kind of racist rhetoric that is so useful in getting Southern Whites to vote against their own economic self interest and for the economic interests of the rich and powerful---in this case represented by the Republican Party.
This is a great document. Very in depth (about 8-10 pages long). I recommend that everyone read it.
Some examples (people who are convinced that the anti-immigration movement is not being framed as an anti-Latino or hate movement, please pay close attention):
Speaking at a Newton County (Georgia) Republican Party meeting in April 2007, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, King reportedly told attendees that undocumented immigrants are "not here to mow your lawn – they’re here to blow up your buildings and kill your children, and you, and me."
Dallacroce echoes the anti-immigrant themes of a "mass invasion" of unintelligent, disrespectful, conspiratorial criminals while targeting her message to women and families. She focuses on immigration as a threat to American children and denigrates the values of immigrant families, branding immigrant children as "dumb" and violent.
"Our beautiful Nation has been turned into a jungle by the mass invasion of illegal aliens"
"My children, as well as my grandchildren and everyone’s legal citizen children in our schools, are being affected, dumbed down."
Grass Fire’s 57-page pamphlet, "The Truth About the Illegal Invasion" tries to instill fear in readers with its claims that "illegal immigration is creating a crisis of lawlessness and has led to a massive underground criminal element that feeds off human trafficking and drug running. Illegal immigration is inundating our borders with mountains of garbage. And illegal immigration is undermining American culture and threatening our future."
There is also lots of discussion of the inflated claims about all the disease the immigrants are bringing into the country, including Lou Dobbs' insanity about leprosy (which happens to be endemic to Texas, silly rabbit! so no one has to import it). The worst of the medical claims can be found on the last page of the ADL document in the YouTube video clip in which a so called expert describes (in chillingly B Grade movie Nazi villain-esque tones) how Latino immigrants are destined to be pedophiles and child rapists because they were brought up in poverty (ouch!).
Now, most of you have never read or heard any of this, for a very good reason. The corporate media does not show you the Southern Fried face of the anti-immigration movement. Just as George Allen's "macaca" comment was supposed to be for local consumption only, the "stupid", "sex crazed", "criminal" adjectives are intended for a White racist Southern voting audience which, as Krugman writes, is dwindling in size, but which is still very powerful in a number of states like Georgia and Tennessee ("Harold, Call Me") and Alabama and the like.
The rest of the country would react negatively to this kind of racially biased political talk, just as the rest of the country was terribly unamused by "macaca". So, the corporate media sanitizes the anti-immigration debate. From the ADL document:
Despite King’s numerous other inflammatory statements, the national media and elected officials have provided King with a mainstream platform. He has toned down his rhetoric in mainstream television and print media and his statements and articles now reach millions of Americans. In May 2007, Anderson Cooper interviewed King on CNN Today, introducing him as a "columnist" and "activist." Twelve mainstream newspapers have printed King’s articles, most notably The Washington Times, which neutrally describes the Dustin Inman Society as "a Georgia-based coalition of citizens with the goal of educating the public on the consequences of illegal immigration." King’s pieces, mostly discussing immigration, are also featured regularly in Georgia in The Marietta Daily Journal.
The Republican Party stands to gain from the anti-immigration movement. As I posted yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that the 1.4 million applications for citizenship which it received between Sept. 2006 and 2007 will not be processed in the usual 7-8 months. Instead, they will be processed in 15-18 months, preventing a million or more new Latino (Democratic) voters from participating in the elections next fall in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico. If Latinos were not being vilified in the press, they would never get away with it this. However, there is a good chance that Democrats in Congress will be afraid to stand up for these almost citizens' rights, for fear of angering voters who have gotten a whiff of the anti-immigrant Kool Aid and are scared but do not know that what has frightened them is old fashioned racist propaganda. Here is more on the voter suppression scandal
Setting up any group as a criminal element to be feared helps a law and order candidate like Rudy, since he will vow to crack down on crime. Blaming Hispanics for the high price of food (???) takes the heat off the Bush administration and the Republicans for things like the high cost of oil, trade policies, the high deficit, the mortgage crisis and other factors that have contributed to the sour economy. And, in the South, having a racial group to fear and hate, brings Whites together under the banner of the party that says "We are for Whites only".
This is the only issue the GOP has going into the 2008 election, and they are playing it for all it is worth. The Republicans do not care if it results in violence towards Hispanics ( some of whom are citizens) and for this they deserve to be sentenced to repeat High School so that they can learn what it means to be a good citizen in a democracy (Hint: it does not mean treating other human beings as expendable). The recent report on Hate Crimes in the U.S., which admits to under counting hates crimes, mentions that 63% of crimes involving ethnicity are committed against Latinos. In a climate in which there is no mandatory reporting of hate crimes, and southern states do not report hate crimes and alien victims may fear retaliation, it is likely that the FBI statistics are not accurate. A better picture of the virulence of hatred towards Latinos can probably be gained from this report from the Southern Poverty Law Center which describes actual acts of violence and calls for violence.
The list includes
Lawless' suggestions included: "Steal the money from any illegal walking into a bank or check cashing place," "Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status...I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination," and "Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school. Be creative."
On March 27, New Jersey-based neo-Nazi radio host Hal Turner called for the mass murder of Hispanics and the assassination of U.S. senators who support guest worker programs. "All of you who think there's a peaceful solution to these invaders are wrong. We're going to have to start killing these people," Turner said.
In this kind of climate, Latinos are much more likely to be the victims than the instigators. However, we see the press doing what it has done to Blacks for years. Every time there is a crime with an Hispanic suspect and victims of another race, it becomes a media circus. Immigration status is the first thing reported. Something like a car accident not involving alcohol becomes a rallying cry for a Berlin Wall on the border.
This is not inevitable. For over a century, the nation's politicians, business leaders, press, scientists treated African-Americans this way, some out of prejudice, some out of habit, some because it was good politics or good business. It changed. Writers and civil rights leaders and right thinking citizens and brave politicians and the courts made it change.
The fact that the Civil Rights movement happened within our lifetime and the fact that most of America remembers "I have a dream" means that if we point our finger directly at the fundamental racism that lies at the dark heart of the anti-immigration movement in this country, the majority of Americans will turn their faces away, just as Paul Krugman says. Take away the sleek packaging that says "economic issue" and the pretty ribbon that says "security for my kids", and the nation's soccer moms and dads will find themselves repulsed by the cross burning and violence inciting talk that is going on down in Georgia.
A good way to start would be with a PBS documentary. Please, Bill Moyer.
Comments are closed on this story.