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Since I wrote my last post for Crooks and Liars, it looks like the nativist noise machine is at it again. This time it's the foul-mouthed Megyn Kelly spouting half-truths and dehumanizing rhetoric. It looks like I'll have to add Kelly to the list of folks I'm issuing the Gaby Pacheco challenge to.
Briefly, for those who don't want to read my previous post, the Gaby Pacheco challenge invokes the revolutionary idea that the people you defame on the air, in this case Megyn Kelly's "illegals", should get a chance to speak for themselves.
Gaby Pacheco is an undocumented student leader from Florida who wants to be a special needs teacher. After she spoke out publicly about her immigration status, her family was detained. She walked 1,500 miles for the DREAM Act on what was dubbed the Trail of DREAMs. Despite the fact the the only country she knows as her home refuses to recognize her existence, Gaby is not bitter or hateful. In fact, upon meeting the notorious nativist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, she hugged him. Gaby loves this country more than I ever will.
I issued the Gaby Pacheco challenge to Michelle Malkin in my last post. The fact that all I've received is silence shows, I think, the cowardliness and meaninglessness of the nativist noise machine. Why can't Michelle Malkin have the decency to sit down and have a conversation with the people and communities she defames on the air and in print?
I'm now issuing the same challenge to Kelly. Kelly invited Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) onto her FOX News show, America Live. She regularly interrupts Gutierrez and exhumes a festering potpourri of half-truths posed as questions. But there was nothing more grating to my ear than Kelly's use of the word "illegals."
I think even people who are really really against illegal immigration have more empathy for kids who were brought here through no choice of their own by there parents, who are illegals because their parents made a decision that the kids had nothing to do with.
Megyn Kelly - FOX News (19 September 2010)
I believe very strongly that no human being is illegal, and that the the phrase embodies the essence of the global pro-migrant movement. That is why, rather than use the adjective "illegal" to define someone's very existence, I prefer to use the terms undocumented or unauthorized. If people absolutely must use the word "illegal" to describe what's happening than use it to describe the action, not to define the person. In other words say, people who migrated here illegally, rather than "illegal immigrants." The media has accepted this dehumanizing phrase "illegal immigrants" as the "objective" way to describe people and I'm sad to say that even I have become desensitized to it.
The same, however, is not true for the word "illegals." Saying "illegals" goes a step further than that. The phrase "illegal immigrants" criminalizes human existence while the word "illegals" strays into making criminality and existence the same thing. It's not even a real word. It's grammatically incorrect. It turns an adjective into a noun. It turns a nefarious descriptor into a bogeyman. That this word is even acceptable in public discourse says a lot about why migrants are treated and referred to as less than human. Online commenters seem to relish bashing "ILLEGALZ" just as much as they fervently defend the cute animals they perceive to be mistreated on YouTube.
If you don't want to take my word for it listen to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:
NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word "illegals" as a noun, shorthand for "illegal aliens". Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use "illegals" in headlines.
Megyn Kelly should apologize for her use of the dehumanizing and grammatically incorrect word "illegals" on the air, and should have a conversation with the migrant youth she's dehumanizing on the air. If she won't do either she'll prove herself just another part of the nativist noise machine that is increasingly irrelevant.