The way some immigration hardliners describe Latino immigrants these days is enough to make anyone uneasy.
Immigrants, especially the undocumented, are painted as lazy, invading, thieving, mooching and wholly anti-American. Fox News anchor John Gibson infamously pleaded with his audience to “do your duty” and “make more babies” in the face of a growing percentage of Latino children.
But, for all that nativist groups like the Minute Men and the Federation for American Immigration Reform say about undocumented Latino immigrants, you know who really hates the undocumented? Other Latinos.
Surf any discussion board on immigration or the Facebook page of an intellectually entertaining Latino magazine, and you’ll find Latinos foaming at the mouths over the very thought that undocumented immigrants may be sleeping next door. Whatever racist epithet flung at Latino immigrants by flag-hugging, God-fearing Alabamans is just as easily uttered by the Latino Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst (the Jewish Ghetto Police), and it’s usually done with more fervor and less hesitance.
It seems some people with Spanish names think they’re given free license to abuse other people with Spanish names.
Exhibit A: My good friend Elissa Roberson over at The College Conservative, who in March of this year published the piece “Confessions of a Hispanic Racist.” Given the title, you already know what Elissa has to say about “Hispanics,” but “mainly illegals.” When she’s through describing the American Southwest like four-star generals describe the Afghan-Pakistani border, she complains that immigrants receive too much financial aid, have too many babies, have too much pride in their culture, do too many drugs and are too violent.
She calls these things (and more) her “problema,” though she admits, “Granted, I was a rebel and didn’t learn Spanish because I didn’t want to be lumped into a stereotype or category.” I’d love for Elissa to explain which category she’s referring to. Is it the “Latino” category?
But it’s not just my dear Elissa. There are plenty of Latinos who feel exactly as she does; some even harbor more sinister views toward Latino immigrants.
Their hatred for people they could just as easily have been stems from a bully culture in which people feel they must choose sides: either you’re the bully, or you’re the bullied. You see it everywhere, and it’s occurred during each time nativism reared its rabid head in America – against the Irish, the Jews, the Germans, the Italians, the Blacks, and now, the Latinos. As soon as a community is lambasted from above, some members of the community look to distance themselves by showing the bullies that they too can bully with the best of them.
That’s how they hope to gain acceptance from the in-crowd, saying, “Look! I hate them too. I’m more like you than like them.”
Making derogatory generalizations about a group of people millions strong and then using those characterizations to make their lives a living nightmare in hopes that they’ll “self-deport” is bullying writ large.
Personally, I can relate easier with a fifth-generation Republican than I can with someone who arrived yesterday from San Pedro Sula. But my side will always be with the bullied, because I refuse to be lumped in with the bullies.