The other day National Review ran an open letter from Dennis Prager to Hispanics in which he assured them they would always be better off voting Republican, even though it might seem like right-wingers are hellbent on deporting 12 million Latinos these days. Among his soothing assurances:
Those who tell you it is racism or xenophobia are lying about their fellow Americans for political or ideological reasons. You know from your daily interactions with Americans that the vast majority of us treat you with the dignity that every fellow human being deserves. Your daily lives are the most eloquent refutation of the charge of racism and bigotry. The charge is a terrible lie. Please don’t believe it. You know it is not true.
Um, right. Does Prager really believe this?
Because if he actually, you know, knew any Hispanics he would know that they live in America under a constant cloud: Regularly treated as subhumans -- indeed, regularly labeled "illegal aliens," a classic dehumanizing trope -- and threatened constantly with being swept up in a Kafkaesque immigration system, even if they are here legally. Depicted with demeaning racial stereotypes, and treated by the Anglo public accordingly. Demonized as "criminals" simply for their presence here. And as a result, increasingly at risk of being the victim of a Latino-bashing hate crime.
And the people who make this kind of racist dehumanization a regular part of their daily business? The American Right, of course.
Exhibit A: The vicious political ads being run by Republicans Sharron Angle in Nevada and David Vitter in Louisiana, both using phony stock footage of "illegal aliens" sneaking in over our borders. The racist stereotyping in these ads is so clear and startling that Angle and Vitter might as well have just donned their Klan hoods.
Observes Adam Serwer:
Her campaign's latest ad, attacking Reid for his support of the DREAM Act, which Greg mentioned earlier in his roundup, is as despicable as it is desperate. In its naked appeal to racial animus against Latinos, it rivals the infamous 1988 "Willie Horton" ad deployed against Michael Dukakis.
The ad features a trio of "illegal immigrants" looking for a way to cross a chain link fence, as the word "illegal" flashes across the screen in bright red letters. After making previously debunked claims accusing Reid of pushing for "tax breaks" for "illegals," it goes after Reid's support of the DREAM Act, which would offer a path to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before the age of 16 and who go to college or serve in the military. The ad says Reid wants to give "preferred college tuition rates to none other than illegal aliens," presumably referring to the fact that it would allow undocumented residents in a given state to qualify for in-state tuition.
Note that, despite the fact that the DREAM Act would specifically apply to undocumented immigrants who had no choice in being here and are diligent, patriotic and Americanized enough to attend college or commit to sacrificing their lives for their adopted country, Angle's campaign makes them out as smug, intimidating Latino migrants who came here deliberately in order to take advantage.
The racial overtones of the ad are so offensive that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has called it blatantly “racist”and is demanding not only an apology but that the ad be pulled altogether. WDSU reports:
“We found the ad to be totally abhorrent and shocking, and I’m going to use the ‘R’ word and say racist,” said Darlene Kattan, of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.
Kattan said her issue is not with the senator’s position on border security, but rather how he presents his message. “In this ad, he has these Hollywood stereotypes, caricature-types portraying Latino workers,” Kattan said. “First of all, he uses the word ‘illegal’ so many times.” [...]
“To Sen. David Vitter, we are saying you owe us an apology, we are offended, we expect an immediate apology and we expect this ad to be yanked from the airwaves immediately,” Kattan said.
And as Melissa Bell reports, some of the scary-looking "illegal aliens" pictured in the ads weren't actually illegal at the time -- they were photographed in Mexico!
Ah, nothing like that GOP outreach to Hispanics, eh? Just keep soothing them that this really isn't racism, when it's as plain as the nose on your face, Dennis Prager -- I'm sure that will really help win you some voters. For Democrats.