Climate of Hate Means Immigrant Rights Organizations Should Commit to Excluding Punitive Policies in Any Reform Proposal

May 5, 2009

This post was inspired by another post by my friend, Alisa Valdez, who uses the MSM’s coverage of the Markoff “Craig’sList Killer” case to draw our attention to how twisted -and dangerous-the values of the media ecology we inhabit have become. Reading Alisa’s tight analysis alongside reports of that the racist killers of immigrant Luis Ramirez were declared innocent (and of course, the daily bread of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hate found on radios, TV’s and websites everywhere), triggered concerns made even clearer during a recent visit to Europe to cover the UN conference on racism. More specifically, Alisa’s piece provided me with the spark to say something I’ve been mulling for while: the dangerous even murderous anti-migrant climate requires that immigrant advocates commit not to support any “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (CIR) proposal containing punitive immigration policies.

The piece below floats the seemingly uncontroversial idea of a petition asking immigrant rights orgs-and their leaders- to commit
to excluding, not supporting any and all punitive policies in any “comprehensive immigration reform.” Seems pretty obvious,
but the absence of such accountability allows the noxious policies-and the immigrant=criminal logic undergirding them- to pass
with the apparent support of that segment of the “immigrant rights movement” that can afford media flaks, PR spinsters, bloggers
and others allowing them to speak for the entire immigrant rights movement. Hopefully, this is non-controversial, but let’s put it to a test.

Neither aggressive, nor hostile, such a petition simply commits its signatories to excluding policies that, in such a radically hateful
climate, enable further hatred, terror and death in immigrant communities. how could anyone purporting to be a defender of immigrants
not agree to something so basic?

I encourage any comments, suggestions or disagreements those of you reading this might have. Gracias, R

Here’s the response to Alisa’s piece:

That a crazed murderer would be described with such fawning language while maids, gardeners and immigrants and other Latinos are described in the harshest, most hateful language speaks powerfully to how perverted the “values” of this decadent “civilization” have become. Reinforces a theory I have about how we’ve moved beyond the rather stale notion that legalization or increases in the Latino vote will do anything to diminish the rise in hate towards Latinos.

Between radical demographic shifts (young, rapidly growing Latino population, aging, diminishing white population), editorial rooms chock full of old- and young- still mostly white “editors” who normalize lethal logics and the companies that capitalize and profit from “news”programs, talk shows premised on promoting Darwinian racial ideologies, what we have is the possible institutionalization of perpetual race war targeting Latinos, especially immigrant Latinos, who are suffering the brunt of hatred, death and devastation.

In such a lethally charged climate, at such a decadent moment in the history of this country, we need to raise the cost of promoting or enabling the radical racial logic of the newsrooms described so cogently by Alisa. This is why I propose, for example, that we start eviscerating any trace of the racially charged immigrant=criminal logic in our own “community.” We can start addressing this by developing and circulating a petition or some document demanding that any “immigrant rights organization” commit itself to excluding any and all punitive immigration proposals they might advocate in the name of “legalizing the 12 million” or whatever spin people come up with in their efforts to legitimize the now deadly immorality known in legislative circles as a “tradeoff” (legalization in exchange for more punitive policy). We can then extend the commitment to the Hispanic Caucus and other members of Congress and move forward into the editorial rooms with greater force and unity of purpose.

As the possibility of “comprehensive immigration reform” rears its head again, we might want to consider the possibilty that, in allowing or even supporting punitive policies, we in the “immigrant rights movement” are unconsciously accepting the logic of criminality by allowing or supporting laws premised on now extremely lethal notions of immigrant criminality manufactured in hate groups, “think tanks” and the news rooms Alisa aptly describes. Make no mistake, in times when hating immigrants is proven to yield daily profits for news organizations and their advertisers, times when you can kill an immigrant and go scott free (or even hailed as heroes as in the gross distortion that is the Compean case), “tradeoffs” mean we are willing to accept logic that kills, the same logic of the racists disguised as editors use. I also think that the institutions-news orgs, hate groups, political parties, including Democrats- invested and investing in this radical, deadly turn deserve the same treatment we used to give those who enabled the slaughter of innocents in El Salvador: pouring colored red liquid symbolizing the blood of the dead and maimed on their offices-or even their suits and dresses. Things, have, I believe, reached that point of urgency-but the “news” will not report it or, if they do, they’ll do so in the most banal terms possible. Such are the rotten fruits of decadent “civilization.”

Thanks again for your work on this, Alisa. Good writing should spark discussion and debate and you succeeded.



3 Responses to “Climate of Hate Means Immigrant Rights Organizations Should Commit to Excluding Punitive Policies in Any Reform Proposal”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Wow, great post. I have been thinking about all of these things a lot lately. I was extremely disappointed with the Huffington Post article on the Luis Ramirez verdict. I thought it was really poorly written and left out a lot of the essential facts of the case. It also spawned the following conversation, which I include as an example of how each of these incidents and our reactions to them are a microcosm of the community at large. It’s sooo frustrating to me that so many of my “immigrants’ rights” friends are so eager to see things from “all perspectives” that they fail to acknowledge the broader implications of accepting these racist points of view as valid, oftentimes over their own instincts.

    Amigo #1: [link to Huffington Post article] Wow let that have been the other way around and Luis Ramirez would have been on death row.

    Amigo #2: Probably. But still, this shows there’s a high price to pay for pride.

    Me: But still, what? There’s a price to pay IF you’re brown in the wrong part of town.

    Amigo #2: sure, but according to the article, one guy charged at SIX football players after hearing some words he didn’t like. I’m just saying the whole issue might have been avoided.

    Me: The whole issue might have been avoided if SIX football players wouldn’t have begun taunting and provoking ONE person. I fail to see why you choose to defend these murderers. What if the ONLY difference in the story was that the 6 teenagers were Mexican immigrants and the adult was white? Do we even need to play THAT scenario out to its logical verdict?

    Amigo #2: Amanda, no te enojes conmigo. Yo no estoy defendiendo a nadie. Nada mas estoy viendo el asunto desde todas las perspectivas. Esta bien claro quienes hicieron el acto asesino, y eso yo no lo estoy disputando. Pero los dos partidos tuvieron parte en el asunto. No es que agarraron a Ramirez por detras, desprevenido. Sin duda, Ramirez es inocente, … pero el no hizo nada dentro de lo posible para prevenir la pugna. Algo tan sencillo como ignorar los comentarios–especialmente sabiendo que en este pais, y en comundades pequeñas como esa, hay prejuicios en contra de los inmigrantes–probablemente hubiera resultado en un noche normal de discriminacion, sin muertes.
    En mi opinion la moraleja de este cuento es que a veces es mejor tragarse el orgullo, especialmente si estas en un lugar donde el sistema judicial no te favorece. No deben tener miedo los inmigrantes de situaciones como esta–yo jamas admito ni abogo por el miedo–pero si si deben estar alertas y no dejarse caer en trampas.

    SIGH. Is that REALLY the moral of the story, here? Or is there something larger and much more important that we are missing? All I know is that I, for one, have swallowed too much pride already.

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