Friday, March 16, 2007

Real-world bigot

TBogg this morning treated us to a sampling of the Dan Riehl brand of humor:
Oh my God! Matt Ortega is ringing the taco bell at HuffPo because he busted Duncan Hunter and Nathan Tabor ... not!

... As for Ortega, when you have to look to Sadly, No! for back up, maybe you should stand down, or learn to read and comprehend the news. And while we're talking Ortega, I have another question, too. Were his parents illegal immigrants?

I figure if it's good enough for CNN to ask the Attorney General, I may as well run the question by Ortega, too.

What a freaking weasel, this Ortega. And a water boy, too.

Har de har har. Didja catch that? Huh? Wink wink nudge nudge:
"ringing the taco bell"

"learn to read and comprehend the news"

"Were his parents illegal immigrants?"

"a water boy"

Now, Matt Ortega himself is nice and civil about all this. He responds to the argument on its ostensible merits:
Shorter Dan Riehl:

Matt Ortega, whose parents may or may not be legal, is completely wrong to say that Nathan Tabor should inform his readers that he works for Duncan Hunter, because the natural reaction of any Tabor reader would be, "Hmm, I wonder if this guy works for Duncan Hunter. I'll Google it and find out."

To which I would only add one word:

One has to ask: Why exactly would Riehl wonder whether Ortega's parents are illegal immigrants? Why exactly would his post be littered with odd references to illiterate taco-eating water boys?

Duh! Because of his last name, of course. You'd have to be pretty stupid not to get that.

But then, that's the game they like to play: Couch it in little code words so that people know what you mean, but you can always play dumb and claim that, why, mercy, never did they intend to indulge in racial stereotypes for the mere purpose of making your target out to be a bad person.

Well, fuck that shit. We're all grown-ups here. We all know the game that Riehl is playing here. He can only come up with a paper-thin argument to counter Ortega's point, so the rest of the post is devoted to questioning his parentage.

Now just to be clear, because Riehl is playing the dumbass Fox-style equivalency game wherein asking Ortega about his parents is fair game because Wolf Blitzer asked it of Alberto Gonzales, the familial background of the attorney general is actually pretty well known and a natural question for any interviewer. It's right there in Gonzales' Wikipedia entry:
Gonzales was born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Humble, near Houston. He was the second of eight children born to Pablos and Maria Gonzales. His father, who died in 1982, was a construction worker. Both his parents were children of immigrants from Mexico with less than a high-school education themselves; in the midst of a national debate in the US about immigration from Mexico, Gonzales told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that no immigration documentation exists for three of his grandparents and they may have entered and resided in the United States illegally ([2]).

On the other hand, there is nothing in Ortega's background available to the general public that would raise the question of whether his parents were legal immigrants or not.

I point this out because I have known any number of Hispanic Americans whose familial background regarding American citizenship extends back to the colonial Southwest -- longer and much deeper than my own roots (which actually extend only to the early 20th century on my father's side, and the mid-19th century Mormon emigration on my mother's). Lord only knows how deep Riehl's roots run.

In any event, I learned long ago not to assume that a Latin name indicated recent emigration. I wonder why Dan Riehl never learned that either.

Especially because, in this instance, he seems to have screwed up big time.

I wrote Matt Ortega and inquired about his familial background. He replied that his family originates several generations back in New Mexico (he is related to the subject of this article) and his immediate family has been in California for a couple of generations.

Matt Ortega shouldn't have to defend his family background, because there's no reason for anyone to question it -- unless, of course, one is intent on scoring cheap theatrical points by whipping up ugly racial stereotypes.

Riehl can play footsie with this kind of bigotry all he likes. But he shouldn't expect not to get called on it, either.

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