In a post on his blog yesterday, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, currently an op-ed columnist for the paper, answered readers who have repeatedly criticized him and the paper of record for their incessant use of derogatory term "illegals." Keller shared a handful of emails from readers, including from one who noted that the term "reduces human beings to a status label, and a morally loaded one at that."
The reader's email continued:
It reduces the essence of a person to an act of violation, an offense. When you use "illegals" as the object of a sentence it literally erases the human beings who the sentence is about and makes the grammatical object of the sentence an abstraction, a label of condemnation.
Keller was particularly criticized for using the term in his Monday column, which he did no less than four times. In defending himself to readers, he wrote:
Just to be clear, I used the word only to refer to people who are actually in this country illegally. I was careful not to apply it to families, which are often of mixed legal status. And I used it in a context where the subject was their legal status.
After consulting the paper's style book, which advised Times journalists to use "illegal immigrant ... rather than the sinister-sounding illegal alien," Keller contacted the Times' "arbiter of style and taste" Phil Corbett who explained that " 'illegals' as a shorthand noun has an unnecessarily pejorative tone, and it is routinely used by the anti-immigration side." Corbett added: "I think it's wise to steer clear."
Well, vigilant readers, the good news is, you seem to have gotten the style book updated. And I'll resist that particular shorthand in the future.
It was bound to happen. Fox's Eric Bolling was primed to have a talking to for his extreme views on immigrants and his repeated calls that the entire undocumented population be deported. On Friday, fellow Fox News colleague Geraldo Rivera did just that, slamming The Five co-host for his "hardline" attitude toward immigrants, which Rivera said is "way too draconian to be in any sense humane or American."
Rivera said of Bolling's view:
RIVERA: I think it really overstates the problem. I think it helps fuel this enormous hatred. I think it's rhetorical. And I think that it's not you. You are a thoughtful person. You are passionate -- I understand that. And I think that you are eloquent, but when you talk about this whole class of people, 11 million people -- that's larger than some countries -- in one broad brush, including the grandmothers, the babies, everybody else, I think that it is negative; it is counterproductive; and it's very divisive.
Indeed, what Rivera was describing could be applied to the lion's share of Fox News' coverage of immigrants. Two recent examples include segments in which a straight news anchor on the network used the pejorative "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants and another that pushed a false storyline to attack the Obama administration on immigration policy.
Fox rarely, if ever, discusses immigrants as Rivera did on the show. He pointed out the numerous economic benefits they have brought the United States, including reviving economically depressed towns and the fact that they pay taxes. Rivera noted: "They are a productive, hard-working population, generally speaking, Eric; they are not a criminal -- I'm all for deporting criminals; deport them. But to treat the 2-year-old baby and the felony murderer as the same class is wrong."
And yet that's what Fox has done, repeatedly. The network has advanced the spurious idea that the majority of undocumented immigrants are criminals. And one of the ways it has pushed that narrative is by its personalities' incessant reference of immigrants using the slur "illegals." Following Bolling's use of the word, Rivera interjected: "You call them illegals. That is a word that is designed to generate a negative reaction. You wanna talk about illegals? Let's talk about fathers who don't pay child support. Aren't they illegals? ... So why don't we call them illegals?"
From the November 29 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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On his Fox News show Monday night, Bill O'Reilly further widened the chasm that exists between him and his colleagues when it comes to illegal immigration. Discussing the issue with Newt Gingrich, O'Reilly outlined a program that would eventually lead millions of undocumented immigrants on a path to legal status -- a plan many of his Fox News colleagues would deride as "amnesty." Gingrich, who has been attacked recently for his "humane" stance on immigration, agreed with O'Reilly.
According to O'Reilly's proposal, undocumented immigrants would need to register in a national database before a review of their status could be implemented:
O'REILLY: The 11 million illegal immigrants already here have to be dealt with in some way. My program, which I've had up on BillO'Reilly.com for years, says you start with registering. You give illegal aliens a time period -- maybe a month, maybe two months -- that they have to register at the Post Office with their name, their address, and their status, all right. And if they have a Social Security number or something like that they have it. If they don't register within the time period that the government decides, it's a felony.
Indeed, O'Reilly has been publicizing his "no spin immigration solution" for years. Following the failure of comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, O'Reilly said on his June 8, 2007, show (via Nexis):
O'REILLY: [R]ight now, I'm going to give you the no spin immigration solution. It is simple because, as you know, I am a simple man. There are just four components. One, secure the southern border with 700, not 300 miles of barrier, double the border patrol and back them up with 10,000 National Guards people. That would effectively shut down human and drug smuggling from Mexico.
Two, require all illegal aliens in the country right now to register at the post office with Homeland Security. After registering, they would be given a tamper proof ID card, designating their status and their right to work temporarily in the USA. If the illegal aliens do not register, it's a criminal felony. Right now sneaking across the border is a civil action. Remember that. Subjecting the person to immediate deportation or jail time. The criminal penalty goes way up.
Three, any business that hires an illegal worker who doesn't have a tamper proof ID card faces draconian fines and possible prison time for the executives.
And four, each illegal alien would have his case reviewed by federal authorities. And they would decide who would receive a Z-visa to stay and who would not. That takes the blanket amnesty, something many American hate, off the table. It also allows the Feds to make rational decisions about who's helping America and who isn't.
In a November 7 editorial titled "Occupy America: Obama immigration policy erodes U.S. national identity," The Washington Times wrote that "President Obama is 'fundamentally transforming' the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands" and that "Mr. Obama's leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism." From the Times:
This isn't your father's America. As promised, President Obama is "fundamentally transforming" the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands. The message to illegal immigrants is if you can get in and keep out of further trouble, you're welcome to stay. The Land of the Free has become the land of the home-free.
The United States is the most ethnically and culturally integrated society the world has ever known. One of this country's strengths has always been its heritage as a "melting pot" that welcomes those who want to come to the country, learn its language and partake of the American Dream. In a crass political move, leftists are looking to reward those who ignore the laws with an eventual amnesty designed to swell the Democratic voting ranks. This comes at a great cost to society.
Far from progressive, Mr. Obama's leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism, characterized by the politics of resentment that pits groups against each other - in this case, illegal occupiers against legal Americans. By challenging states attempting to observe immigration laws, the Obama administration hastens the fundamental change that is unmooring the nation from its founding principles. That's not the change voters wanted when they sent Barack to the White House.
MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan has a long history of bigoted commentary in his books, columns, speeches, memos, and media appearances. Here are a few of his worst moments on MSNBC.
From the November 2 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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In a recent report, we noted that Fox heavily favors anti-immigrant voices in its immigration segments. Fox News' October 28 report on Sweden's immigration policies was no different. Though Sweden's foreign-born population numbers just 17 percent, Fox trumpeted the claims of "critics" of the country's immigration policies who claim that the country is turning "into a smaller Saudi Arabia." Fox also gave a platform to a member of Sweden's most extremist political party.
Twice, it aired the report about how the city of Malmo is now one third immigrant. And twice, it featured Kent Ekeroth from the far-right Sweden Democrat party. In the first clip, he stated: "It doesn't solve anything by importing immigrants to this country. And besides, even if it did, which it [doesn't], what we're doing is exchanging one population for another. I mean, we're basically exchanging the country."
Ekeroth later stated:
EKEROTH: What kind of immigrants do we take in? It's people from Somalia who's done nothing more than herd sheep the whole -- all their life. And we expect them to be a benefit to our society? It's ridiculous.
Ekeroth has reportedly "written that Europe is on the brink of collapse due to 'completely irresponsible immigration policies, naivety and left-wing influences combined with a fascination for Islamism and contempt for our own cultural inheritance.' " He has also reportedly "expressed concern that Sweden will soon not exist 'except as a term for a geographical area.' "
Fox News has provided Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer with softball interviews to promote her book, including calling her a "strong hero" for "many Americans." Fox's promotion of Brewer falls in line with its history of promoting anti-immigrant legislation -- such as the controversial law Brewer signed in Arizona -- and hosting mostly anti-immigrant guests to discuss immigration issues.
From the October 30 edition of The McLaughlin Group:
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In a post Thursday on National Review Online, Mark Krikorian attempted to deflect criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio against so-called "Democratic" Hispanic critics, writing, "Apparently it's news that 'Rubio faces Hispanic Critics.' " According to the Politico article Krikorian was referencing, "the broader Hispanic electorate" is not enthused with Rubio because of "his hard-line stance on immigration," especially in light of recent revelations about his background. But Krikorian rationalized the criticism as "phony," claiming that it's "hilarious" to expect Rubio to appeal to a broader swath of Hispanics because of their shared ethnic history.
Here's a hint: his critics are -- drum roll -- Democrats! The controversy itself is obviously phony (the Post has his parents' 1956 immigration application but we can't see Obama's transcripts?), but what's really hilarious is the idea that a Cuban-American Republican is somehow naturally going to appeal to Mexican-American Democrats just because their ancestors came from countries that were once both part of Spain's long-defunct empire. News flash: Cubans aren't Mexicans. Puerto Ricans aren't New Mexico Hispanos. And Mayan-speaking Guatemalans certainly aren't Portuguese. The very idea of an "Hispanic" or "Latino" identity is an ahistorical fiction, but one we are doing everything in our power to create and reinforce.
Setting aside the fact that the Politico article also highlighted Republican critics of Rubio or that it was in no way making the point that Rubio's appeal, or non-appeal, is predicated on his ethnicity, what is Krikorian really saying here? Is he really pushing the idea that the only reason one Hispanic can disagree with another is because one is an American of Puerto Rican descent and the other is an American of Cuban descent? Is he in fact claiming Hispanics or Latinos don't have the intellectual capacity to take sides because, well, they can't really argue the merits of an issue since ethnic history trumps all?
This premise would be ridiculous in this day and age, but not for Krikorian. He has stated that Haiti is "so screwed up" because "it wasn't colonized long enough." He once blamed a bank's demise on its diversity policy -- specifically, its commitment to Hispanic diversity. He has repeatedly suggested that the U.S.-born children of foreign nationals, because they won't be raised in the United States, could one day grow up to become terrorists. (And there's more.) And let's not forget that Krikorian is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which is part of an anti-immigrant network comprised of hate groups founded on nativist ideology.
According to the most recent U.S. Census data, there are nearly 309 million people in the United States. Of those, the Pew Research Center estimates that 11.2 million are undocumented immigrants. Yet Fox News would have you believe that number to be much, much higher if the type of discussions about immigration and immigrants on the network is any indication.
A Media Matters analysis of the immigration issues Fox News asked its guests to talk about between April 13, 2010, when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law, and June 9, 2011, when Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in turn signed an anti-immigration bill critics have called a "sweeping attack on immigrants and people of color," reveals that Fox News views immigration through the prism of illegality and crime, almost to the exclusion of everything else.
During that time period, according to our data, of the 1,697 guest appearances (most of whom took anti-immigrant positions or held anti-immigrant views) 69 percent were prompted to discuss border security or other immigration enforcement measures. Besides immigration enforcement, topics included S.B. 1070, state laws that were similar in scope to the Arizona immigration law, the workplace immigration verification tool E-Verify, birthright citizenship, and other general enforcement measures. However, when crime, including border violence and other stories dealing with criminality were factored in, all told, these constituted 78 percent of the total immigration discussions on Fox News.
What many consider the real issues of immigration were all but ignored by Fox News. A paltry 11 percent of appearances was spent discussing immigration policy, including comprehensive immigration reform. The rest comprised the DREAM Act legislation, education, particularly in-state tuition measures for undocumented students, breaking news, political stories, the economy, and labor issues.
On every single show, save The O'Reilly Factor, at least 71 percent of the guest appearances discussed border security, enforcement issues, or crime. On The Factor, 57 percent of the guest appearances discussed these issues, while on Your World with Neil Cavuto, it was an astonishing 90 percent. On the Record with Greta Van Susteren and Happening Now followed with 85 percent apiece, with Hannity next with 84 percent, and America's Newsroom with 82 percent.
On October 18, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that the agency had deported a record number of undocumented immigrants: 396,906 foreign nationals in Fiscal Year 2011. ICE stated that this included the largest number of criminal immigrants removed at nearly 55 percent, "an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals from FY 2008, and the largest number of criminal aliens removed in agency history."
As The New York Times reported:
"We came into office focused on creating a smart enforcement system by setting a rational system of priorities, and we have done that," John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said on Tuesday. "We said criminal offenders would be our highest priority, and lo and behold, they are the highest priority."
The Times further reported that the deportation program has come under intense criticism by Latinos and pro-immigration activists. The article highlighted a study that found that the program "has led disproportionately to the removal of Latino immigrants and to arrests by immigration authorities of hundreds of United States citizens."
In a post today at National Review Online, Mark Krikorian brushed away ICE's numbers, calling the announcement a "hollow deportation boast." His contention? The "largest number in the agency's history" "is a lot" but it isn't big enough. "[W]hen you look at history," Krikorian argued, "the 'largest number' is only about 1,700 more than two years ago." He continued:
The Obama administration, as a matter of policy, refuses to even ask Congress for the resources needed to deport any more than 400,000 people. Now, 400,000 deportations (of illegal aliens, of course, but also of legal aliens who made themselves deportable because of crimes) is a lot, but it can easily be doubled; I remember one of the top people at INS in the Clinton years telling me that the 114,000 removed in 1997 was a really, really big number and sufficient proof of their seriousness about immigration enforcement.
Krikorian seemed to be echoing Rep. Lamar Smith, who reportedly stated on October 18: "The Obama administration continues to inflate its deportation numbers. ... [I]n reality they are enacting amnesty through inaction."
Controversial Los Angeles radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou are dismissing the loss of advertisers after their campaign against a leading immigrant rights activist was connected to threatening phone calls, apologizing for those calls but nevertheless vowing to continue "giving out phone numbers."
In September, Kobylt and Chiampou aired the personal cell phone number of Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communications director for the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). Kobylt and Chimapou urged listeners to call Cabrera and leave messages protesting his support for the California DREAM Act, which they called "the theft of tax money for illegal aliens."
Cabrera detailed some of the "very angry, and at times threatening calls" he received after Kobylt and Chiampou launched their campaign, including 291 calls to his cell phone alone.
On October 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that Verizon and AT&T Wireless pulled their ads from the John & Ken Show, and that Vons and Ralphs agreed not to advertise in the future. On Friday, Kobylt and Chiampou responded to what they called an "economic boycott" by promising that "nothing on the show is changing."
With Monday's comments, Kobylt and Chiampou made clear that promise includes a vow to continue the very reckless commentary that has led advertisers to reconsider sponsoring them in the first place.
Read Kobylt and Chiampous's response after the jump.
With immigration back on the front pages and in-state tuition for certain undocumented students a barometer by which some GOP presidential candidates have set their conservatism, Fox has renewed its push to promote anti-immigrant efforts. In a post last week, Fox Nation featured two students from a conservative group at Texas A&M University who are trying to repeal the Texas DREAM Act, a law that grants in-state tuition to certain undocumented students to attend college in Texas. Fox Nation trumpeted their opposition after they appeared on Fox News' Fox & Friends:
The students, Steven Schroeder and Justin Pulliam, from a student group called the Texas Aggie Conservatives, appeared on Fox & Friends and argued that "Texas taxpayers should not be forced to subsidized the college education of adults who cannot legally work in the United States." The Aggie Conservatives have started a petition asking Gov. Rick Perry to "call special legislative session to end in-state tuition for illegal immigrants." A separate group at the University of Texas countered with a statement of its own, condemning the Aggie Conservatives' action.
During the interview, co-host Gretchen Carlson agreed that "many, many, many, many, many millions" of taxpayers do subsidize undocumented students' college education. She did not point out, however, that the state gained more than $11 million in 2010 from the tuition and fees paid by undocumented students.