Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mainstreaming hate

The primary reason organizations like the Minutemen pose a threat to our national well-being is not that they pose an immediate prospect of vigilante violence.

It's that they represent the mainstreaming of far-right appeals to anti-immigrant sentiments, especially the demonization of Latinos as the problem. The more people like the Minutemen are beating this drum, the more it will be picked up as legitimate by people in the mainstream, including those in positions of authority and influence.

So, meet Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, who recently posted a screed against illegal immigrants on his Web site that sounded like a David Duke speech circa 1982:
What would that May 1st look like without illegal immigration? There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines that plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of meth that day by 80%. The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.

As Rev. David Ostendorf of the Center for New Community put it in his response, this kind of hateful disinformation is "unconscionable":
For a Member of Congress to engage in the repetition of sweeping, offensive, and unfounded generalizations about "illegal" immigrants as "drug smugglers," "murderers," "drunk drivers" and "disease carriers" is pandering of the worst kind. Such statements serve only to contribute to the level of hatred growing at the hands of extreme anti-immigrant forces in the country, and do nothing to add to public debate and discourse on one of the most critical domestic issues facing the nation today.

That this is happening should not be a surprise. After all, ugly nativists like Steve King are increasingly the face of the conservative movement in America.

And when they claim they're abandoning the fast-sinking George W. Bush because he isn't a "true conservative," this is largely what they're talking about.

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