Sunday, May 21, 2006

Whence comes this xenophobia?

In the past few weeks, I've noticed a disturbing amount of what I can only call xenophobia in the press and in political chatter. I just don't understand where it's coming from, and why it's descending on our collective consciousness from all directions simultaneously.

For example, a few weeks ago, a mainstream conservative pundit referred to Muslims as "ragheads." The comment was greeted with wild applause. This wasn't on television on in a newspaper column. This was at one of those most significant conservative events of the year. I guess we'll be hearing "sand nigger" next.

Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, immigration has become a topic of immediate urgency. Not that it's something we need to rationally and reasonably deal with, but something that is suddenly so important, Bush it talking about mobilizing the National Guard and shipping them down to the border. (I guess after they return from Iraq, they don't have enough to do, like living their lives or returning to their jobs.) No one is talking about increasing the strength of the forces of the Border Patrol. The National Guard is to be federalized in times of national emergency, not political expediency. Where is this emergency? What's happening this month that wasn't happening last month, or every month for the previous few decades?

The influx of illegal immigrants to this country is increasingly becoming referred to as an "invasion" by those on the Right. Activating the National Guard is actually an appropriate response to an invasion. But I don't call people coming over to be hired by Americans to clean our toilets and pick our vegetables an actual invasion. Orcinus has an excellent analysis of this and how it's just a repetition of typical anti-immigrant hysteria, previously directed towards the Japanese and Chinese (i.e. the "Yellow Peril").

Don't think that this is about GWOT security, either. No one is talking about building a fence at our northern border. There are no Montana Minutemen. Remember that the Canadian border is the one that actual terrorists have actually crossed illegally.

Coincidentally (snort) Congress is voting on making English our national language. Not "official language," mind you, but "national language." Now, I think it's a good idea for immigrants to have a decent proficiency of English, but the resolution in front of Congress strikes me as mean-spirited, unnecessary, and ineffective.

I'll give you two guesses which language the use of which conservatives are objecting to. It ain't Sumerian. On FOX News a couple of weeks ago, John Gibson chided America, saying "we need to make more babies" so that the majority of the country isn't Hispanic in twenty-five years. "We" of course means "white people," not blondes with bad haircuts.

Rush Limbaugh recently said a letter written by Iran's president contained "liberal Hollywood Jewish people talking points." That's actually rather clever because it manages to conflate the current political bugaboo (Iran) and the traditional nemesis of the Republican party (the evil, liberal, baby-eating -- and now apparently Jewish -- Hollywood elites). Behead two birds with one stone, if you will.

None of this sort of behavior from the Right is new. It's been going on for quite some time. It just seems to be ratcheting up in intensity lately.


Matthew said...

Just wanted to say that this is a good post.

I had written an in-depth, lengthy comment response to it a few days ago, but Blogger comments ate it.

Oh well.

Narc said...

Thanks, Matt. Except you excite us with the promise of your insight, then leave us hanging. Tease. :-)