Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for the Washington Post, "outed" himself today as an undocumented immigrant in a self-authored New York Times Magazine piece detailing his experience as a young Filipino immigrant working hard to achieve the American dream. It wasn't until Vargas attempted to obtain a learner's permit at his local California DMV that he learned the citizenship documentation he had been provided by his naturalized grandparents was fake.
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I've tried. Over the past 14 years, I've graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I've created a good life. I've lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant.
Predictably, it took almost no time for the right-wing slander machine to gear up its attacks on Vargas and his family.
First up, National Review's Daniel Foster accused Vargas of "fraudulent tax fraud," in a piece posted today:
Vargas entered the country illegally after his grandfather paid a coyote $4,500 to smuggle him in. The grandfather then obtained a fake passport and green card for Vargas, which they used to acquire a valid Social Security card. But that card, which subjected Vargas' right to work to the approval of the then-INS, was illegally doctored, allowing Vargas to secure job after job for more than a decade by showing nothing more than a photocopy of a fake document.
The first part of Vargas' story -- a kid living and loving America for years before his shocking discovery that he has been made complicit in a crime -- does indeed elicit sympathy. It's stories like these that make me open, at least in principle, to something like a narrowly-tailored version of the "DREAM" Act. But the second part of his story, in which a fear- and shame-driven Vargas, with the aid of his family, perpetuated and compounded those crimes (Vargas eventually got around to what you might redundantly call fraudulent tax fraud, repeatedly reporting himself as a citizen rather than a "permanent resident", when in fact he was neither), elicits from me nothing like the outpouring of support Vargas is already enjoying on the Left.
Right-wing media have attacked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for recently saying that it is "not good logic" to target Muslim men younger than 35 for security screenings at airports. In her comments, Napolitano instead recommended screening based on travel plans, behavior, and existing intelligence -- a method recommended by experts who note that racial profiling is ineffective.
It turns out that Fox Business' Eric Bolling's tweet about President Obama "chugging 40s" in Ireland didn't have any racial overtones at all. That's the assessment of Meredith Jessup, a blogger for Glenn Beck's The Blaze, who observes that white people, such as herself, have also consumed malt liquor out of 40 oz. bottles:
Apparently making a reference to "40′s" -- meaning 40 oz. -- is inherently racist. Why? NewsOne (For Black America) explains:40s is slang for 40 oz bottles of beer, usually malt liquor, that was popular in hip hop in the 90s.
Uh, so? Do white people not drink 40s? I have. Did white people not enjoy hip hop in the 90s? I don't really want to admit it, but in fact I did.
All of this pseudo-racism nonsense detracts from the real struggles people have gone through in battling actual racism and only serves to divide people more.
So if white people also do it, it's not racially insensitive? By that standard, this horribly racist mailing from a California GOP group depicting Obama on a food stamp with fried chicken and watermelon is actually quite anodyne, given that white people also use food stamps and have been known to eat fried chicken and watermelon.
This is how racial stereotypes typically work -- they transform unremarkable things (food stamps, fried chicken, and 40s) into damaging slurs. Claiming that the stereotype Bolling invoked isn't offensive -- or doesn't exist -- is willfully obtuse.
Saying "white people also do it" isn't an argument against the hurtfulness of the stereotype. It's an acknowledgement of its unfairness, and argument against the stereotype itself.
The right-wing media have reacted to President Obama's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by complaining either he "flip-flop[ped]" or "double[d] down" on his previous comments or both. However, in his speech to AIPAC, Obama simply reiterated his earlier call that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should be "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."
Immediately following the announcement by tea party favorite Herman Cain that he is "running for President of the United States" and "not running for second," Fox News wasted no time in jumping to gush over Cain.
Gushing is not an exaggeration. From an article on the Fox News website:
At a rally attended by thousands, the businessman, author and talk radio show host showed he knows how to wow a conservative gathering. The crowd chanted, "Herman, Herman, Herman," as Cain unleashed the same soaring rhetoric and relentless attacks on President Obama that has created buzz in recent weeks.
"And we've got a deficiency of leadership crisis in the White House," he said to roaring cheers.
But the propaganda parade didn't end there. The very same article highlights his beliefs and stance on various issues, as well as touts Cain's tea-partyesque underdog status as someone who has "never held elected office":
Cain supports a strong national defense, opposes abortion, backs replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax and favors a return to the gold standard.
He's never held elected office, losing a three-way Republican U.S. Senate primary bid in Georgia in 2004 with one-quarter of the vote. His "Hermanator" political action committee has taken in just over $16,000 this year.
Cain says he's running "a bottoms-up, outside-the-box campaign." Supporters say he taps into the tea party-fueled desire for plain-speaking citizen candidates.
"I just love him," gushed Laura Miller, a self-described "Cainiac" from Jessup, Ga. "What he says makes so much sense."
Later in the same article, the gushing continues with a quote from former GOP Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp:
The late Jack Kemp, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996, once described Cain as having "the voice of Othello, the looks of a football player, the English of Oxfordian quality and the courage of a lion."
But it's not just one article. Fox Nation has an opinion, too:
Following President Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East, right-wing media have characterized Obama's call for the creation of a Palestinian state "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" as Obama "sid[ing] with the Palestinians." However, this characterization obscures the fact that Obama's plan has Israeli and Jewish support; for instance, the leader of the Israeli opposition party and several American Jewish organizations applauded Obama's plan, and prominent Israelis have previously supported similar plans.
Right-wing media have continued to attack energy standards that will phase out inefficient light bulbs by 2012, claiming the bill will "ban" incandescent light bulbs and force consumers to instead purchase either $50 light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or "dangerous" compact florescent lights (CFL). In fact, the bill only bans inefficient incandescent light bulbs, and efficient bulbs -- whose prices vary considerably depending on the type of bulb and are also projected to drop -- will save consumers money in the long run; experts have also said that concerns over mercury in CFL bulbs are overstated.
Following the announcement of a new national emergency alert system that will alert the public to significant emergencies via mobile phone messages, right-wing media have attacked the plan, claiming that it will allow "Dear Leader Obama To Send You Text Messages." But the plan was implemented as a result of legislation introduced by GOP Sen. Jim DeMint that was overwhelmingly passed by Congress in 2006 and accompanied by an executive order signed by President Bush.
Bill O'Reilly attacked Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, whose church President Obama attended on Easter Sunday, as a "race activist" for claiming that Fox News provides a forum for racially charged statements. In fact, Fox News has a history of hosts and guests who make race-baiting statements, in addition to its relentless promotion of the phony New Black Panthers controversy.
Following Obama's official announcement that he is running for reelection, the right-wing media has resorted to a series of racially charged attacks against the president. These attacks have ranged from false claims about the president's place of birth and religion to claiming Obama has "black nationalist sympathies."
Fox and Glenn Beck are once again continuing their attacks on the Obama administration for watching and talking about the importance of Al Jazeera. Fox Nation, for instance, claimed that the Obama White House is "Go[ing] Gaga for Al Jazeera."
However, since Fox News itself has turned to Al Jazeera to provide coverage of important events in the Arab world, Fox Nation and The Blaze appear to be arguing that rather than monitor Al Jazeera, the administration should stay uninformed about what is going on in the Middle East.
Here is Fox Nation's post, which links to a piece in Politico.
The Blaze stated:
Hillary Clinton loves it. It seems to love the Muslim Brotherhood. And now Barack Obama seems to be a fan of it, too. What is "it?" The Middle Eastern cable news channel Al Jazeera.
In a lengthy article, Politico reveals that the once-demonized outlet during the Bush administration has become a favorite in the Obama White House. In fact, its programing is plastered all over Pennsylvania Avenue and Obama is singing its praises.
Glenn Beck's The Blaze and a number of anti-abortion rights outlets are highlighting audio of a 9-1-1 call made by Planned Parenthood employees after a patient who had received an abortion apparently began bleeding.
Here's The Blaze's inflammatory headline:
REPORT: RECORDING REVEALS PLANNED PARENTHOOD INJURED WOMAN IN BOTCHED ABORTION
Aside from invading the patient's privacy, it's unclear what the point of this particular anti-Planned Parenthood frenzy is.
It's not exactly news that abortion -- like any other legal medical procedure -- can occasionally lead to complications, as apparently happened in this case. Abortion obviously has well known risks, but those risks are rare. According to a frequently cited 1999 article, less than 0.3% of abortion patients developed complications that required hospitalization:
Discredited right-wing activist Lila Rose is promoting yet another video hoax, falsely claiming to have caught Planned Parenthood officials lying about the organization's work providing patients with access to cancer screenings, including mammograms. But the comments Rose highlights in no way contradict the undisputed fact that Planned Parenthood provides patients with access to these services.
Glenn Beck's website The Blaze is promoting Donald Trump's demand that Obama show his birth certificate, arguing that Trump's "logic is hard to argue with." Beck himself has repeatedly criticized the birther movement, calling birthers "idiot[s]" and "the fringe elements."
The Urban Institute recently published a report contradicting the claim often pushed by Fox News that the health care reform law will "kill jobs." But Fox's Bill Hemmer nevertheless used the institute's report to attack health care reform and its "effect on jobs."