April 29, 2009

[H/t Heather]

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.


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:

* If affected individuals are driven underground and deterred from seeking treatment or reporting their illness, it will hamper the authorities' ability to accurately track the disease's progress, or to develop the most effective vaccines.

* Once an outbreak is identified, its containment is dependent to a great extent on having as many people as possible adhere to protections the government might authorize, such as reductions in public events or closures of public facilities. Open, inclusive communication through the media and community organizations is essential to the success of such strategies, which may be undermined if some population groups are excluded.

Here's a video Media Matters assembled:

From the Media Matters report by Allison:

During the April 24 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage stated: "Make no mistake about it: Illegal aliens are the carriers of the new strain of human-swine avian flu from Mexico." Savage also stated, "If we lived in saner times, the borders would be closed immediately." Savage went on to theorize that the outbreak might be part of a bioterrorism threat: "[C]ould this be a terrorist attack through Mexico? Could our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this virus and planted it in Mexico knowing that you, [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano, would do nothing to stop the flow of human traffic from Mexico?" Savage continued: "[T]hey are a perfect mule -- perfect mules for bringing this virus into America. But you wouldn't think that way, would you? Because you are incapable of protecting America's homeland, Napolitano." Savage also stated: "How do you protect yourself? What can you do? I'll tell you what I'm going to do, and I don't give a damn if you don't like what I'm going to say. I'm going to have no contact anywhere with an illegal alien, and that starts in the restaurants." He added, "I will have no any illegal alien workers around me. I will not have them in any of my properties, I will not have them anywhere near me."

During the April 27 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz asked: "[W]hat better way to sneak a virus into this country than give it to Mexicans? Right? I mean, one out of every 10 people born in Mexico is already living up here, and the rest are trying to get here. So you give -- you give -- you let this virus just spread in Mexico, where they don't have a CDC." Boortz went on to say: "So if you want to get that epidemic into this country, get it going real good and hot south of the border. And, you know, then just spread a rumor that there's construction jobs available somewhere, and here it comes. Because we're not gonna do anything to stop them from coming across the border."

In an April 25 blog post titled "Hey, maybe we'll finally get serious about borders now," syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin suggested that the outbreak was due to the United States' "uncontrolled immigration," writing: "I've blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration. We've heard for years from reckless open-borders ideologues who continue to insist there's nothing to worry about. And we've heard for years that calling any attention to the dangers of allowing untold numbers of people to pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening -- as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country -- is RAAAACIST." Malkin added: "9/11 didn't convince the open-borders zealots to put down their race cards and confront reality. Maybe the threat of their sons or daughters contracting a deadly virus spread from south of the border to their Manhattan prep schools will." Contrary to Malkin's suggestion, an April 27 Associated Press article reported of the New York City high school students infected with swine flu to whom she referred: "Officials think they started getting sick after some students returned from the spring break trip to Cancun."

Additionally, on the April 27 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Glenn Beck stated: "Gee, it would be nice if we had border security now, wouldn't it?" Beck went on to assert: "But if you are a family and you're down in Mexico and you're dying and those in America are not, why wouldn't you flood this border? Why wouldn't you come across this border? It's exactly what I warned of -- different scenario, different reason of -- I was talking about economic collapse. People start to come and rush this border, then what happens? Gee, it would be nice if we had some border security."

More at America's Voice.

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