Saturday, January 17, 2009

Yeah, xenophobia

Over the course of the last election cycle, Republicans were making a great big to-do over illegal immigration. "They're criminals," the Republicans cried! "They're diseased! They're freeloaders!" They insisted that it wasn't all immigrants they were directing their ire against, only illegal ones. But if you listened for any length of time, they seemed to forget about the "illegal" part and just rant on and on about immigrants. Nevertheless, they always insisted that they were motivated by concern for the law, or public health, or whatever, and not just by plain old-fashioned xenophobia.

Then you hear about something like this. Liberal blogger Oliver Willis listens to Rush Limbaugh interviewing Ann Coulter so we don't have to, and picks up this tidbit from Ann the Man:

COULTER: …What I think is interesting about Soros; and Marcos, whatever his name is, of Daily Kos; and Arianna Huffington are, you know, basically the three unofficial spokesmen of the Democratic Party and they all speak in foreign accents of their foreign upbringings. Can’t you wait a few generations? Let your grandkids do the America bashing, you know, not right away. You can barely understand them.

And there you have it, folks: good, old-fashioned nativist xenophobia from one of the leading intellectual lights (if you'll forgive the oxymoron) of the conservative movement. It really is all about fear of the Other with these people. Mind you, the Republican Party has always had a strong nativist streak going on, dating back to the 1850s when they absorbed the xenophobic Know Nothings. In a sense, then, the GOP is returning to its roots, such as they are. At the same time, though, the original GOP included a large contingent of abolitionists, and started out championing the rights of African Americans. They gave that up once and for all when Nixon instituted his Southern Strategy of pandering to white racists, and the recent revival of nativism marks the effective end of Karl Rove's initially successful efforts to attract Latinos. All the GOP has left now are a dwindling pool of white bigots and a (somewhat overlapping) pool of white Christian fundamentalists, both based in the former Confederacy.

Interestingly, Ann the Man made a dumbass mistake (surprise, surprise) in the midst of her rant. It's true that Soros and Huffington did indeed immigrate from their native countries as adults, and do indeed speak English with foreign accents. Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, on the other hand, was born in Chicago and sounds just as American as Ann the Man, if not more so. It's true that Kos' father and mother are both immigrants (from Greece and El Salvador, respectively), and that he spent several years of his childhood in El Salvador before the family moved back to the United States when he was nine. Ann the Man probably chose to group him together with Soros and Huffington because his name sounds foreign and she heard somewhere about him growing up in another country. So even though she didn't know whether he had a foreign accent, she assumed he did, and wound up sounding ignorant as well as vile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coulter is a leading dim light for the extreme-right but to suggest that she is intellectual is a far stretch. Ann Coulter is as dumb as dumb can be. It is her outrageous and immature rants that have put her in the freak show spotlight rather than any intelligent thought.