Is Anyone Surprised?

I have to give credit to right-wing extremists. They didn’t immediately turn the swine-flu epidemic into a xenophobic witch hunt against Hispanics.

They waited a few days.

Perhaps that was to gather their thoughts. Although if that is the case, I’m not sure why they bothered, because the empty, tired rants aimed at Latinos are shocking not for their offensiveness, but for their predictability.

A virus originates in Mexico, for reasons that scientists still cannot explain, but anonymous commentators have the answer: Because Latinos are dirty and “Mexicans are pigs!” (an actual posting to a conservative website).

Illegal immigrants are to blame, according to other wise sages, and will soon infect us all. Meanwhile, still other rational minds postulate that the outbreak is actually a terrorist attack, instigated by germ-warfare experts who are counting on Mexicans to infiltrate the country.

Actually, that last one gets bonus points for combining three right-wing obsessions (immigration, terrorist evil-doers, and conspiratorial plots) into a parfait of pure insanity.

This kind of hatemongering goes back to the Middle Ages, when Jews became a convenient scapegoat for the Black Death. Since then, the Irish, Italians, Spaniards, gays, and many others have been blamed for nature’s occasional hissy fits with us.

As MSNBC points out, “It’s ‘the other,’ the group not seen as part of the nation, the one who threatens it in some way that gets blamed for the disease.”

So Mexicans, already accused of bringing down America’s economy and values, are now destroying our health as well.

Well, it’s clear what we have to do: Let’s focus all our fear and rage on Edgar Hernandez, the five-year-old Mexican boy who has been identified as Patient Zero in this outbreak. Just look at him. Who knows what vile plot he’ll unleash on us next…



6 Responses to “Is Anyone Surprised?”

  1. 1 xey
    May 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I work at my local health department, and we’ve set up a hotline where people can call in if they have questions or concerns specifically regarding this swine flu. So, honest, my co-worker said she was working the call center and got a call from someone who said, “I rent out homes to people and there were Mexicans staying in one of them but they’re about to move out. What should I do and what precautions should I take to clean it up?” Seriously. Really? My co-worker wanted to talk bad to her, but couldn’t.

  2. May 3, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Yes, the obvious and hateful efforts to racialize this virus have been, well, sickening.

    White = Pure + Brown = Impure

    Amazing how intact that formula still is.

    Studies show, for instance, that neighborhoods that see an increase in Latino residents see a decrease in crime, not the opposite. Information like that, though, never seems to have an impact. (Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t already know.)

  3. May 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Good post. I’m adding you to my blog roll, and I’ll be reading more. Keep it up!

  4. 4 pprscribe
    May 4, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Yes, little Edgar looks diabolical, all right. Not at all like that little angelic Cuban boy the Right loved so much and wanted to stay here several years ago. I know–let’s make all those people in the southwest USA go back to where they came from! Let’s make the area back the way it was! Oh, wait a minute…

  5. 5 Haysoos
    May 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Yep… the beat up continues. More subtle, but nonetheless clear is the mainstream media’s total non-coverage of hispanic-important events… see below

    I am trying to bring some “real” attention to Cinco de Mayo at CNN by letting everyone know about this iReport — http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-252478

    CNN is totally ignoring cinco de mayo. Hmmm..

    Spread the word.

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