When the Extreme Becomes Mainstream
Last week, I mentioned a recent Pew Hispanic Center Study which found that 1 in 10 Latinos has been stopped and asked about their immigration status by police or other authorities. While this is certainly the most shocking statistic to come out of the study, it is only the tip of the iceberg for Latinos living in this country.
From the Huffington post:
One in seven Latinos are reporting ethnic discrimination in finding or keeping a job and 10% said the same thing about housing. But the most stunning finding is that nearly one-in-ten Hispanic adults--native-born US citizens and immigrants alike--report that, in the past year, the police or other authorities have stopped them and asked them about their immigration status. One in ten Latinos were stopped and asked for "papers." What can that statistic represent other than a gross abuse of power by federal and local authorities?
Vicious public denunciations of undocumented, brown-skinned immigrants -- once limited to hard-core white supremacists and a handful of border-state extremists -- are increasingly common among supposedly mainstream anti-immigration activists, media pundits, and politicians and are surely fueling the problems that Latinos are facing.
While their dehumanizing rhetoric typically stops short of openly sanctioning bloodshed, much of it implicitly encourages or even endorses violence by characterizing immigrants from Mexico and Central America as 'invaders,' 'criminal aliens,' and 'cockroaches.'
The hate speech that is fueling the current anti-migrant fervor has somehow left the area of "hard core" or "extremist" thought and trickled into the mainstream, becoming pervasive on shows like Lou Dobbs Tonight or Bill O'Reilly and pushed by hate groups like FAIR.
We must stand up to the powers that want to dehumanize and entire portion of the population.
Living in fear of deportation and discrimination and worrying about your livelihood and safety is no way to live and it's certainly not how Americans expect to live. In fact, it's the sort of life that our forefathers sought to protect us from. Debate, discussion, and disagreement around the pressing immigration issue are natural, legitimate, and necessary. Hate, fear and vitriol rhetoric are not.