A Fox News guest on Monday rejected calls to drop the use of term "illegals," and suggested that undocumented immigrants could "return to their country" if they didn't like the slur.
The Daily Caller's Michelle Fields told Fox News host Sean Hannity that liberals were trying to "demonize" conservatives in the Colorlines campaign to "Drop the I-Word."
"I'm not stopping it," Hannity insisted. "Illegal immigrant! Illegal!"
"People that enter into the country illegally are illegal," Fields remarked. "OK, that's not a racial slur. That's not racist. This is simply just liberals trying so hard to change the subject, to distract voters from Obama's failed policies."
"I think it's a racial slur, to be sure," left-leaning Fox News contributor Bob Beckel replied. "It's hate speech, which you right-wingers are pretty good at."
"So, you think I'm a racist?" Hannity wondered.
"I just think that in and of itself it is a racist word," Beckel replied.
"If illegals are so upset about the term 'illegal,' why don't they return to their country, apply for a visa and then come back legally," Fields advised. "And then we won't call them illegals."
In a online video produced for the Drop the I-Word campaign, Baruch College Professor Robert Smith explains why the word is so dangerous in political discourse: "'Illegal' functions like a racial epithet. It’s a way of legitimizing violence against a particular group of people because of what they are. That the definition of a hate crime."
(h/t: Media Matters)