5.27.2007

Latino Fear and Loathing

In Latino Fear and Loathing, Linda Chavez strips the political correctness veneer off the anti-immigrant side to expose plain and simple racism. Chavez should be commended for this powerful bit of truth-telling.

Perhaps more interesting is that many of the people Chavez says are xenophobes or racist have been political allies of hers from the conservative movement. She really does know something about where these people are coming from. But it does cause me to wonder what's the proper political home for a Latina with more conservative views? It's one thing to have conservative views--many Latinos do, but it's quite another to keep the company of people who really hate your kind--even if they make an exception for you.

Latino Fear and Loathing (by Linda Chavez - 5.25.07)

Some people just don't like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans.

No amount of hard, empirical evidence to the contrary, and no amount of reasoned argument or appeals to decency and fairness, will convince this small group of Americans — fewer than 10 percent of the general population, at most — otherwise. Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors — most prominently, Lou Dobbs — and a handful of public policy "experts" at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project.

Stripped bare, this is what the current debate on immigration reform is all about. Fear of "the other" — of those who look or sound different, who come from poor countries with unfamiliar customs — has been at the heart of every immigration debate this country has ever had, from the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the floor of the U.S. Senate this week.

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