Words Have Consequences

"Under siege," "pro-illegal alien," "open-borders lobby," the U.S. being "overrun" by immigrants, immigrants causing a "crime wave." These are the words we hear every day in news casts, city council meetings, political advertisements, and that we see on websites, intended to cause a great panic in every community. Isolated incidents are blown up to seem like "epidemics." In a time of economic crisis, and with the changing demographics of the United States (not only due to immigration), hate groups have found a scapegoat in Hispanics, and the latest victim of their angry rhetoric is Luis Ramirez, a Hispanic recently beaten to death by a group of teenagers in Shenandoah, PA - just 20 miles from Hazelton, the first locality to attempt to pass a slew of anti-immigrant laws after the failed Comprehensive Reform Legislation bill in the U.S. Congress, and where Lou Barletta has a very directed anti-Hispanic, "anti-immigrant" campaign. The trend of hate crimes against Hispanics has been growing, and it is particularly frightening considering that the changing demographics of the U.S. is a reality - as Conor Dougherty from the Wall Street Journal reports, the Hispanic population continues to spread beyond traditional "gateway cities."

Maria Anglin, from MySanAntonio.com (yes, the news of this crime horrifies people all over the country) summarizes the job of Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and others like them.

Fear, anger and disappointment are emotions that surge within all of us. The young men charged in the attack, who said they'd been drinking, weren't unruly kids always getting into scrapes with the town cops; they're reportedly good kids who made good grades and participated in high school sports. In other words, young Americans ready to take on the future before fear, anger and disappointment turned a not-particularly-imposing immigrant into the "boogeyman."

There is a fear in America that immigrants, especially Mexicans, will change America. They want to speak Spanish whenever they please; that kind of thing stirs fears that can blossom into a full panic. It's no wonder hate crimes happen; nobody likes the boogeyman. There are those who have made high-profile careers out of fueling fear, anger and disappointment; who dole out large doses of carefully crafted hate speech, gloomy forecasts and xenophobic fear of outsiders to millions of good people itching to blame someone for everything from the price of gasoline to salmonella outbreaks to every crack-cocaine death in America.

And if it's true that immigrants, just by being in the country's classrooms, restaurants and front yards, have the power to shift the nation's values, it is also true that it doesn't take much goading by some wise guy on TV - or a parent, relative, neighbor, family friend, teacher, mentor or politician - to tilt the balance of fear, anger and disappointment in teenagers learning to find their way in the world into the realm of full-blown hate.

Packs of angry boys can be dangerous; the mob mentality that takes over can turn even the harmless kid who eats paste into a hell of a lot of trouble. Add a little underage drinking and things can get ugly really fast. But those who fan the flames of fear, anger and disappointment are much scarier.

These words are tactfully employed to instill fear in the hearts of all Americans, and then one is made to think you're not "American" if you don't feel that fear and hate. Below are a few examples of those who fuel the fire. Just THIS MORNING, CNN reported on marijuana being farmed on the border, and instead of focusing on the drug problem, or asking what the U.S. and Mexico are doing to fight the drug cartels, the CNN reporter volunteers how it "infuriates" a lot of people, "that people can cross ilegally into this country.." - which has nothing to do with the issue at hand and doesn't address the problem.

Video on the Luis Ramirez murder:

Examples of "Fear and Loathing" against Hispanics/immigrants on major networks:

Neighbors upset that Hispanics live in Prince William County, VA:

Cory Stewart, the man who pushed for local law enforcement to develop a way to identify "probable cause" for believing someone was undocumented, essentially racial profiling. 

Hispanic U.S. Citizens are questioned by police for "appearing" to be undocumented.   

And my personal favorite: being called "Mexican trash" by minutemen outside of NCLR's Annual Conference (it wasn't just me, the guy was calling "La Raza," i.e., all Hispanics, "Mexican trash"...in Spanish.