Fox News host Laura Ingraham retweeted a link Thursday night from white nationalist site VDare for an article blaming immigrant communities for the spread of coronavirus at meatpacking plants.
VDare is a white nationalist group that pushes the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which alleges that white people are being systematically “replaced” by people of color through mass immigration. The site recently posted a YouTube video calling for a white ethnostate, titled “Whites Have Rights: It's Time to Get Serious About Secession,” and has also run commentary speaking favorably about the ideologies of white nationalist mass shooters in El Paso, Texas, and Christchurch, New Zealand.
The VDare article Ingraham retweeted is a syndicated column by right-wing author Michelle Malkin, who frequently spreads conspiracy theories about immigration and used to make frequent appearances on Fox News. She also published a book in 2004 defending the Japanese American internment during World War II and calling for a similar program against Muslim Americans.
In the column, Malkin claims that a town in Iowa was “fundamentally transformed” by a community of immigrants working at a meatpacking plant, and she blames “demographic conquest fueled by big business' insatiable appetite for cheap labor” — both complaints that echo the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory. She also attacks faith-based groups for working to resettle refugee communities, some of whom then went on to work in meatpacking plants:
Let's remember: Tyson Foods was embroiled in an illegal immigrant smuggling racket two decades ago. The company has paid Swamp lobbyists like Republican Ed Gillespie millions of dollars to push for illegal immigrant amnesty. And Big Meat coordinates with refugee resettlement racketeers to import tens of thousands of cheap laborers from Asia, Africa and Latin America into the heartland.
Just one example: Tyson fundamentally transformed Waterloo, Iowa, by working with faith-based government contractors to ship in thousands of low-wage Burmese refugees to fill jobs at the meat plant now at the center of a coronavirus outbreak. Since 2002, 9,143 refugees from 37 countries have resettled in Iowa (which doesn't include so-called secondary migration, or friends and relatives moving to Iowa from their primary settlement location). Taxpayer-subsidized Catholic Charities, Lutheran Services and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants have reaped millions dumping them across Central Iowa—and abandoning them in cultural, linguistic and economic ghettos at the mercy of exploitative employers.
As Refugee Resettlement Watch founder and investigator Ann Corcoran reports, "The dark underbelly of the giant globalist meatpacking industry in the US is being exposed as large numbers of slaughterhouse workers are creating US hotspots for the spread of the Chinese virus."
It’s true that meatpacking plants appear to have become especially dangerous environments for the spread of COVID-19 — but not because of the workers themselves, nor because of their particular ethnic backgrounds.
“The meatpacking industry already has been notorious for poor working conditions even before the coronavirus pandemic,” USA Today noted. According to the paper, a 2017 GAO report found “the health units in these meatpacking plants have numerous problems, including ‘lack supervision of medical personnel, personnel working outside their scope of practice, out-of-date health unit protocols, inappropriate response to injuries and illness, lack of quality assurance, poor worker access to health units, and inadequate recordkeeping.’”
In fact, plant workers are now speaking out against decisions to keep the plants running during the coronavirus crisis after President Donald Trump used emergency powers under the Defense Production Act to force them to stay open.
Right-wing media personalities such as Ingraham have been adamant about branding the virus according to its geographic origins in China — thus creating a stigma against Asian Americans. But Malkin and Ingraham clearly both see this public health crisis as an opportunity to scapegoat people of any foreign background.