News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, June 1, 2007

Why must nativists lie?

The extent to which some nativist groups will go to foster their agenda is so blatantly biased it’s almost laughable—if it didn’t mask a boiling xenophobic hatred.

I experienced this ethical and intellectual corruption firsthand when a right-wing blog V-DARE, characterized my novel America Libre as a “Marxican insurgency imagined.” Talk about jumping to conclusions. I am neither Mexican nor Marxist, nor are any of the characters in the book, a cautionary tale about the dangers of extremism on both sides of the growing cultural divide over the immigration issue. But a little thing like the truth did not stop this blog from smearing the story as a plot by “Aztlan commies” where “the men in sombreros” are the good guys. Although I wrote V-DARE correcting their assumptions, they have yet to publicly respond. (See my May 14 blog entry below for more details.)

However for outright bias posing as objectivity, it would be hard to beat this poll by NumbersUSA. Here is an example of their online poll, which claims to be “non-partisan” in the footnote:

These folks are pulling out all the stops here. First, they chose Ted Kennedy, a favorite right-wing whipping boy, as the face for the legislation while calling it an “Illegal Alien Amnesty.” The choices for your vote are “Hate it” or“Love it.” This is very revealing of the nativist mindset. There are no tough choices in a complex situation. You either hate it or you love it. Hold on, though. This farce gets even better. Just for grins, I clicked on “Love it,” although I hardly love the proposed legislation. Here is the follow up screen:

The last veneer of objectivity disappears after you vote. “We’re sorry you feel that way,” the poll announces. It then lists as your fellow travelers a number of organizations loathed by the right-wing. However, the fun doesn’t stop there. No, you can have one more chance to vote their way.

What made this example of political legerdemain ironic is that, by a better than two-to-one margin, people have voted that they LOVE the “amnesty.” The braintrust at NumbersUSA must be thrilled about this colossal backfire.

Why do nativist so frequently resort to fabrication and truth-bending? Could it be that the anti-immigrant argument of the nativists is so thin, lies are the only way to make their case? Judge for yourself.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez