On Fox News, radio host Lars Larson repeated the myths that immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime and that the Obama administration "has not been great on deportations." In fact, data don't support the claim that undocumented immigrants have high crime rates; moreover, under Obama, deportations are at an all-time high.
Last August, more than 600 right-wing activists gathered for a Tea Party Nation rally on private land near the U.S.-Mexico border in Cochise County, Arizona. Fluttering in the desert breeze were hundreds of tiny American flags attached to a border fence of 15-foot-tall rusty poles.
|Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a Tea Party Nation rally on the border last August|
Rally speakers included Tea Party candidates for the US Senate and House of Representatives, as well as marquee names from Arizona's anti-immigration movement. The headliner was Fox News favorite Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the swaggering lawman whose ski-masked deputies terrorize suspected "illegals" in controversial round-ups, and whose idea of a good photo op is the forced march of shackled Latino immigrants down a city street.
"We have an invasion going on that's going to destroy this Republic," Pearce said.
"USA!" came the chanted reply. "USA!"
Spencer's founding of American Border Patrol in 2002 pre-dated the first Minuteman "civilian border patrols" by three years. Before his ranchland became a Tea Party rallying point it served as both meeting grounds and temporary housing for high-ranking members of various border vigilante factions. Minuteman American Defense leader Shawna Forde lived on the property in an RV owned by Spencer in the summer of 2008.
The following May, Forde masterminded the home invasion murders of a nine-year-old girl and her father in Arivaca, Arizona. Two weeks after the slayings, a SWAT team arrested Forde on murder and conspiracy charges as she was leaving American Border Patrol headquarters. (There is no evidence Spencer had any prior knowledge of the murders.)
Spencer informed Media Matters that he travels almost weekly to speak at Tea Party events, and that his ranch, the onetime vigilante outpost where Forde took shelter, is now a Tea Party rallying point. "Plans are for Tea Party groups to come to the ranch every week from now on," he said. "They are really fired up over the border issue."
Despite his association with Forde and his well-documented history of bigoted ranting and "reconquista" conspiracy mongering, Spencer is a rising star in the Tea Party movement.
He's not alone.
Fox & Friends seized on a story of over 500 migrants who were caught packed into trucks in Mexico to attack President Obama's claim that "far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally." But immigration data supports Obama's claim that illegal border crossings have decreased.
Media conservatives attempted to discredit President Obama's speech on immigration before it even happened, launching a nonsensical attack on the location of Obama's speech -- El Paso, Texas -- to push the myth of immigrant violence. In fact, the location underscores how preposterous that myth is.
Criticizing Obama for holding the speech in El Paso, CNSNews wrote:
El Paso is across the border from Juarez, Mexico, a city where 3,111 civilians were murdered last year--more than in all of Afghanistan.
El Paso is one of nine Border Patrol sectors along the almost 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border, running from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Ocean. Located directly across from the Mexican city of Juarez, it has been among the more dangerous border areas in recent years.
Fox Nation trumpeted the CNS piece, calling El Paso the "wrong town" for an immigration speech:
But what about the crime rate in El Paso, where the speech was actually held? It turns out that El Paso is one of the safest large cities in the nation. In fact, CQ Press rated El Paso the city with the lowest crime rate in the United States with a population of over 500,000 residents in 2010.
Indeed, El Paso actually illustrates the success of federal agents and local law enforcement in keeping violence from spilling over to the United States.
On April 19, Fox News' supposedly "straight news" programs used a White House meeting on immigration reform to fearmonger about immigration, bash President Obama, and refer to undocumented immigrants as "illegals."
The Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky advertises its World Famous, twice-a-year Machine Gun Shoot as "Family Friendly" entertainment. The slogan: "Nothing brings families together like blowing stuff apart...safely."
I won't deny the red-blooded-American joy of firing automatic weapons at exploding targets.
Still I have to ask: What's up with the little kids in Nazi shirts?
I was on site at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot fewer than 20 minutes last Saturday before I passed a shaved-head lad with with a Totenkopf death head on his chest. (The Totenkopf was the symbol of the Nazi SS division that ran death camps like Auschwitz during the Holocaust.)
The shirt looked brand new. I took that to mean the kid or whoever gave it to him bought it from one of the dozen or so permitted vendors who openly sold white supremacist merchandise. This included a wide selection of t-shirts and flags bearing symbols popular with racist skinheads and neo-Nazis. (And no, I'm not counting Confederate battle flags.) Also for sale were the race war fantasy novels Hunter and The Turner Diaries by William Pierce, founder of the National Alliance, a notorious hate group. A Friends of the NRA fundraising booth was located within sight of a stall of swastika flags.
Video- Guns and neo-Nazi merchandise
This week, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is holding a rally hosting a various extreme anti-immigrant radio hosts. Yet FAIR promotes themselves as a mainstream organization, touting their ability to "shed light on this complex subject on their website." Below the jump are some of the extreme, violent, offensive and false comments that FAIR's rally guests have made.
Fox & Friends hosted Dan Stein, head of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to fearmonger both about "anchor babies" and so-called "birth tourism." But the "anchor baby" concept is a myth, pushed by anti-immigrant groups like FAIR, which is considered a "hate group," and the number of children born to women visiting the United States is "fairly miniscule."
This morning on Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy introduced us to a Rollins College freshman who, in Doocy's retelling, is being harshly and unduly criticized for "simply giving her opinion" in an op-ed (registration required) for her college newspaper. That opinion, its merit, and the coherence of its expression can all be gleaned from the op-ed's title: "Illegal Babies Should Be Illegal Citizens." What the hell is an "illegal citizen," you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.
I'm not here to bash on a college op-ed, but a brief summary is required: birthright citizenship is bad, "pregnant foreigner[s]" are at this moment "waltz[ing] right over our borders" to have "anchor babies," and the 14th Amendment should be changed so that America will attract "only the best and the brightest to its golden shores." Apparently, and unsurprisingly, she took some heat for her poorly articulated nativism and that provided the hook for Doocy, who offered up this confused student as yet another victim of liberal academia, or something.
Imagine that. Someone was criticized for offering a controversial opinion. Quelle horreur.
The infuriating aspect of this is the assumption that "anchor babies" actually exist and are a valid topic for debate. They're a myth. The Pew Hispanic Center found that the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants who became parents between 2009 and 2010 had already been in the country for years. People enter the country illegally looking for work, not to have children.
But Fox News' reality, of course, is a very different place where the idea of pregnant women dancing freely across the border to give birth isn't just true, it's beyond criticism.
Following the release of a dubious report on "birth tourism" by the Center For Immigration Studies, Andrew Breitbart's website Big Peace highlighted the study's conclusions that hundreds of thousands of women visiting the United States give birth to babies here each year and that some of them are likely "terror babies" who will eventually use their U.S. citizenship to attack the United States in 20 to 30 years.
Media Matters' Will Bunch previously reported on the shortage of media attention paid to Shawna Forde, the leader of an armed movement against undocumented immigrants, who murdered a 9 year-old girl and her father as part of an attempt to finance her anti-immigrant group. Forde was recently sentenced to death. To their credit, Fox News Latino believed this was front page news, promoting a story by Spanish newswire EFE:
Fox News, once again demonstrating the difference between Fox News and Fox News Latino was entirely silent. Instead, they helped perpetuate the myth of immigrant violence by focusing on stories where immigrants were the ones committing the crimes. From FoxNews.com's immigration section:
During a discussion about immigration this morning on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade used the term "anchor babies" to describe children of undocumented immigrants. However, unlike other instances on Fox when the term has been used, today the network used it as a legitimate term, as though this was the accepted phrase to use when discussing immigration, blatantly disregarding the fact that the term "anchor babies" has been called "derogatory, even racist."
Fox News promoted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that the federal government has failed to "do its job" on border security without mentioning that border security efforts have increased measurably under President Obama: Deportations, drug seizures, and the number of Border Patrol agents have all increased.
Among the many derogatory labels that have been deployed by anti-immigrant activists to shape the public debate over immigration, few are as ugly or as potent as the term "anchor baby." Used to describe a child of undocumented immigrants born in the United States and thus entitled to American citizenship, it's a nasty turn of phrase that simultaneously dehumanizes a child and impugns the integrity of the parents, who are presumed to have jumped the border just before birth so that they might benefit from their baby's U.S. citizenship. For demagogues, "anchor babies" are a very serious issue -- one California anti-immigration activist told the Los Angeles Times in 2009: "It's invasion by birth canal."
It's long been understood, however, that the "anchor baby" phenomenon was a myth. Indeed, a child born to non-citizen parents can not sponsor them for citizenship until he or she turns 21, and even then there are legal hurdles aplenty. But the term has persisted in the media as state legislatures and even some congressional Republicans have pushed "anchor baby" legislation aimed at denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, citing dubious legal interpretations of the 14th Amendment. Newly released data, however, confirms what we already suspected was the truth: "anchor babies" are a myth.
A Pew Hispanic Center report released yesterday found that of all the undocumented immigrants who became parents between March 2009 and March 2010, 91 percent arrived in the U.S. before 2007. Put simply, those immigrants came here for reasons other than quickie-citizenship for their offspring. As The American Prospect's Adam Serwer wrote: "The data suggests a really shocking conclusion: People come to the U.S. to get jobs, not to have babies."
That's not going to stop the activists who popularized the term from using it -- they have their agendas, after all -- and it's not likely to disappear from Fox News, where just last month Bill O'Reilly decried the "misuse" of the Constitution by "foreigners" who "sneak across our borders to give birth." [The O'Reilly Factor, 1/6/11] But the new data should impel the more responsible corners of the press to cease the blithe repetitions of the term and allowing demagogues to tip the rhetorical debate in their favor.
From the January 31 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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