In the past two years, Glenn Beck has repeatedly invoked slavery to attack President Obama, progressives, and progressive policies, among other things. Here is a sampling.
As immigration reform has re-entered the public debate, Fox News has spent the past several weeks misleading on the issue and slanting its news coverage to paint immigrants in a negative light.
"Anchor babies" are a myth. Let's just get that right off. The image of a pregnant South American woman -- in some tales, she is eight-months along -- literally being dropped over the Southwestern border fence, which is what this offensive term can conjure, is the figment of an anti-immigrant imagination bent on overturning decades of settled law, if not the Constitution itself. What's more, the term is a racial slur. It's an ugly, derogatory, mean-spirited, racist jab directed at children for the imagined "crime" of being born in America to non-citizen parents. Some have said the slur is comparable to the N-word.
But in an article reporting that Chinese women are coming to the United States to give birth so their children will be U.S. citizens, NBC News used the term no less than nine times. The piece by Beijing-based journalist Ed Flanagan, headlined: "The trials and tribulations of China's 'anchor babies,' " began:
The question of children born of illegal immigrants -- so-called "anchor babies" -- was re-injected back into America's national discourse late last year when a U.S. study found that an estimated 340,000 of 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 -- or every 1 in 15 -- had an illegal-immigrant parent.
While much of the debate -- and a healthy dose of vitriol -- was focused on immigrants of Hispanic background, stories of upper-class Chinese women flying to the United States in style and staying at private clinics to have their babies to take advantage of citizenship laws soon began to appear in the news cycle.
With them, a new breed of anchor baby was born, and their very existence changed the dynamics of the controversy completely.
While Hispanic anchor babies might be stereotypically viewed as coming from poverty and consequently destined to be heavily reliant on government social services, the parents of Chinese anchor babies were wealthy Chinese who legally paid their own way to the United States, freely spent money at American stores, and generally intended to return back to China soon after giving birth.
The article went on to report that the "motivations of these families are far-ranging: from a desire to provide better educational and travel opportunities to their children in an increasingly competitive and international job market, to a clever way to skirt China's one-child policy, to a desire to one day enjoy the American lifestyle and all the benefits -- both social and economic -- that entails." It further explained that while an American passport would someday provide the child with certain benefits once in the United States, it was far from being an asset in mainland China.
But what could have been an interesting and objective look at what Chinese families go through when they decide to come to America was marred by the numerous times "anchor baby" was thrown around.
For some unknown reason, on Friday, C-SPAN decided to host Roy Beck, executive director of anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, to talk about immigration policy. And Beck, whose strategy centers on advocating for an immigration system that will leave immigrants with no choice but to depart the United States en masse, appeared on the network's Washington Journal program unchallenged. Not once during the more than half-hour interview did he go head-to-head against an immigrants' rights activist or face off against a caller with an opposing viewpoint. This is odd considering the network and the show's stated aims.
The network states that it "does not endorse" any comments made by guests, and that hosts step in when callers make "ad hominem attacks or use indecent language or obviously racist language." Moreover, says C-SPAN, "[e]ach program strives to educate the viewing public about national issues and to learn from them." But how is airing the "heir apparent" to an "anti-immigration crusader," whose organizations have been accused of being "in bed with racist hate groups," educational or even helpful to understanding vital immigration policy?
NumbersUSA is a well-known anti-immigration organization that aims to reduce the overall numerical levels of annual legal and illegal immigration. The group was founded and funded by controversial activist John Tanton, "the anti-immigration crusader" who "spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement." According to The New York Times:
[Tanton] increasingly made his case against immigration in racial terms.
"One of my prime concerns," he wrote to a large donor, "is about the decline of folks who look like you and me." He warned a friend that "for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."
Dr. Tanton acknowledged the shift from his earlier, colorblind arguments, but the "uncomfortable truth," he wrote, was that those arguments had failed. With a million or more immigrants coming each year -- perhaps a third illegally -- he warned, "The end may be nearer than we think."
Beck has tried to downplay his close relationship with Tanton, but he nevertheless has welcomed Tanton naming him the "heir apparent" to his vast right-wing, anti-immigration network. Moreover, Beck has spoken at a conference of Tanton's Social Contract Press, a pseudo academic outfit that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists." Beck's views of immigrants are akin to Tanton's in that he doesn't think too highly of them. For instance, Beck has called them "thieves" because they "are people who came to steal a job."
It turns out Sarah Palin knows even less about immigration than she does American history. During a recent interview with a New York news channel, Palin claimed that the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a pathway to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants, "usurps ... the system." She further stated that the legislation perverts a legal system geared toward immigrants "who want to be here legally, working hard, producing and supplying revenue and resources for their family."
But if Palin, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, had read even a few lines of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011, she would realize how ridiculous her statement is. The DREAM Act -- which has been pending in Congress since 2001 -- was re-introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on May 11 after it failed in the Senate in December 2010. And contrary to Palin's characterization, the bill in no way "usurps" the system as it seeks to remedy the status of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as babies and children, through no fault of their own.
In fact, the system that would be set up under the DREAM Act grants no special privileges to undocumented immigrants that citizens don't already enjoy. Indeed, it falls in line with exactly what Palin believes a legal immigration system should do: help immigrants who want to work hard and produce and supply revenue and resources for their families. To wit, from the Immigration Policy Center:
Research has shown that providing a legal status for young people who have a proven record of success in the United States would be a boon to the economy and the U.S. workforce. University presidents and educational associations, as well as military recruiters, business and religious leaders, have added their voice to those calling for passage of the bill. The DREAM Act will help boost the number of high-skilled American-raised workers. A 2010 study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center estimates that the total earnings of DREAM Act beneficiaries over the course of their working lives would be between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion. Removing the uncertainty of undocumented status allows legalized immigrants to earn higher wages and move into higher-paying occupations, and also encourages them to invest more in their own education, open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses.
In an article on New York businesses that cater to new immigrant women from China who have recently given birth, The New York Times used the term "anchor babies" in referring to women who "come to the United States to give birth so that the children would be American citizens." The term "anchor babies" has been identified, among other things, as "derogatory," "racist," "ugly," and "derisive"; moreover, data show "anchor babies" to be a myth.
Lars Larson's solution for the nation's illegal immigration is nothing if not simple: Throw every single undocumented immigrant out of the United States. That's the radio talk host's idea of comprehensive immigration reform, which, unsurprisingly, is the antithesis of comprehensive. To make his case, Larson has been appearing on Fox News to repeatedly perpetuate the myth that undocumented immigrants commit "a larger proportionate share" of crimes.
This week on America Live, he again advocated for immigrants' removal based on that same myth that they are "involved in more than their share ... of criminal activity." And this time he went even further: He enthusiastically endorsed the type of deportations that often break up the families of American children.
During Fox News' coverage of the federal immigration enforcement program, Secure Communities, which targets for deportation undocumented immigrants "who present the greatest threat" -- for example, those who have been convicted of "major drug offenses, national security crimes, and violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and kidnapping" -- Larson attacked states like California and Illinois who have decided not to participate. Larson said that these states "should be looking out for their own citizens" and demanded that they "stand up for their citizens." He added that by choosing to opt out, "California is selling out California."
Unsurprisingly, Larson seemed ignorant of the actual rationale behind the states' decisions.
On Fox News, radio host Lars Larson repeated the myths that immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime and that the Obama administration "has not been great on deportations." In fact, data don't support the claim that undocumented immigrants have high crime rates; moreover, under Obama, deportations are at an all-time high.
Fox's animosity toward President Obama is relatively well-known. This week, for example, it has manifested itself in attacks over Obama's official European tour, with Fox hosts smearing the president as a drunk and suggesting he is impervious to the suffering in the Midwest. In fact, not a week goes by during which Fox isn't inherently engaged in undermining the president, his administration, or his policies. Michelle Obama, on the other hand, has proved to be somewhat less of a target.
Yet when Fox does turn its "fair and balanced" machine toward her, it inevitably results in asinine attacks that would leave any fair-minded viewer puzzled. In February, for instance, Fox News figures took issue with the first lady's promotion of breastfeeding. (They criticized her even though Fox News' own Sarah Palin promoted Breastfeeding Awareness Month as Alaska governor.) Last week, the network went after her for inviting "vile" hip-hop artist Common to a poetry event at the White House. And for months, Fox personalities assailed Michelle Obama's efforts at reducing the alarming childhood obesity rates.
Today's attack, though, may dwarf all these others for its absurdity. Referring to Michelle Obama's meeting with schoolgirls in England, Fox Nation stated: "Michelle Gives Schoolgirls Weird Relationship Advice":
The Fox website directed readers to a Daily Caller article -- whose headline didn't include the word "weird" -- reporting on advice the first lady imparted to middle-school girls during her trip to the University of Oxford.