Keith Olbermann, on Countdown last night, brought the whammy down on the wingnut talking heads at Fox (and the rest of the conservative media as well) for their ongoing attempts to blame immigrants for the spread of the swine flu from Mexico:
Well, yes, you are a racist. Exactly how does that apply, though, to the people who the Centers for Disease Control confirmed actually carried the Swine Flu from Mexico to the U.S., a group of Catholic school students from New York City, who spent Spring Break in Cancun. Uncontrolled Catholic immigration, open borders for private school kids reckless?
Anyway, unswayed by the facts, the Republican echo chamber tried to stir the American melting pot with a classic recipe of hate and fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that this line, though, was very ironic, this morning in one of the articles I read about surveillance at the Mexican border. You thought we had an immigration problem, well now we might actually want to prevent the sick people from crossing over the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chaos in Mexico; from earthquakes to Swine Flu, will it mean more illegals heading for the U.S.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Does anybody wish maybe we could control the border just a little bit at this point.
SHEPPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Everybody is e-mailing, going the illegals are bringing it across the border. Relax.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, Swine Flu spreads from Mexico to the United States. Is this the latest border crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. is not currently testing travelers from Mexico. But customs officials are wearing protective clothing.
MICHAEL SAVAGE, “THE SAVAGE NATION”: Illegal aliens are carriers of the new strain of Human Swine Avian Flu from Mexico. Is this a terrorist attack?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some, though, say the solution is to close the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now talk that we should even close the border?
BECK: If this is so important, why haven‘t we closed the border.
NEAL BOORTZ, “THE NEAL BOORTZ SHOW”: There‘s the bio-terrorism angle. What better way to sneak a virus in this country than to give it to Mexicans.
This kind of talk -- directly associating the targets of a "drive them out" campaign with disease -- is classic eliminationist rhetoric. It's not surprising that it's bubbling up out of Fox News' fetid cauldron, either.
Tom Allison at Media Matters put together a first-round look at some of the ugliness:
-- Savage declaring that Mexicans "are a perfect mule -- perfect mules for bringing this virus into America."
-- Michelle Malkin warning that the pandemic was the product of "uncontrolled immigration."
-- Beck warning that the pandemic will create a crush of people trying to flee north across our border.
And that's just scratching the surface. As Eric Ward at Imagine 2050 observes, some of the nativist right's more inflammatory figures were saying even uglier things.
Writes Nezua at The Sanctuary:
The stances of those who most vocally oppose immigration today are so predictable that one could paint a face on a septic-tainted soccer ball and paste up word balloons and rest well, knowing that The Nativist Lobby point of view on any immigration-related topic will end in "deport them all" and "seal the borders" if not "round them up" and other tired ideas. And nobody reading now needs a reminder of how throughout time, both Latin America as well as all immigrants have been slurred and painted with the brush of disease by those resistant to changing demographics.
The NCLR's blog points out that this fearmongering has real life-and-death consequences:
It's unfortunate, then, that certain individuals with an obvious axe to grind are shamelessly exploiting a public health emergency for their own purposes. It's not surprising that some are implying that all immigrants are a threat to our health-that's standard fare on the hate group circuit.
Ironically, the very act of attempting to demonize and stigmatize entire groups, and even entire countries, is likely to impede these and other critical steps that the authorities are taking to protect all Americans from the spread of the flu, for example: