Monday, February 21, 2005


It doesn't take long for that right-wing transmission belt to kick in. Hardly had we noted a fresh iteration of the old "immigrants are vermin" themes common to nativist agitation of the past -- the promotion of the notion that immigrants are disease carriers by the Washington Times and its attendant right-wing ideologues, notably Michelle Malkin -- than we get a fresh example of how the meme is spread on the ground.

In Colorado, health officials are being swamped with inquiries regarding spreading a rumor that immigrants were bringing the Ebola virus -- you know, the source of an often-fatal hemmorrhagic fever -- across the border:
Coroner Mark Young has been swamped by calls stemming from a report on an anti- immigrant Web site that posted erroneous information about a man's death at Montrose Memorial Hospital.

The Web site, citing a "reliable source," posted an item Wednesday that said a Mexican man had died at the hospital and suggested Ebola virus was to blame.

However, it wasn't Ebola at all. It was a strep bacteria that is "not contagious and extremely rare."

Who was behind this false and extraordinarily irresponsible rumor?
[Young] said he was further disturbed that the Web site, which Young called "anti-Mexican, didn't even check before putting it out. The Mexican consulate is upset, so are a lot of people, and it just isn't true," Young said. "All they had to do was call and ask."

He noted his office had faxed results of the autopsy to area news media on Feb. 10.

The sponsors of the Web site made no effort to determine if the "reliable source" was accurate, according to a man who answered the Web site's telephone Thursday and identified himself as Glenn Spencer of Sierra Vista, Ariz.

"We put up rumors from people we believe to be reliable," Spencer said. "That's why we call them rumors."

You can see the item here -- including a later correction that neglects to note that the disease was non-contagious.

Spencer is a bona fide right-wing extremist, one of the leaders involved in organizing "border militias," as well as a variety of other nakeedly bigoted anti-immigrant agitation. Spencer's organization has been designated a "hate group" by the SPLC.

Spencer is also one of the people who originated the meme that MEChA is a "racist" organization -- a notion later endorsed by the likes of Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, and Powerline. None of these folks list American Patrol on their blogrolls, but they do link approvingly to Spencer's allies at VDare, including Steve Sailer. But then, that's how the transmission belt works.

Or maybe comparing it to a disease vector would be more appropriate.

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