Racist Attacks on Immigrants

The sharp escalation of right-wing rhetoric in this year’s political campaigns now includes much racialized political propaganda, as in this Sharron Angle ad:

The images intentionally try to stereotype Mexicans/Latinos as dark, sneaky, dangerous and/or threatening, and of course ignore the reality of numerous undocumented immigrants not being Latin American. This negative imagery reminds me of the kind of propaganda imagery used in the case of a black man (the ads about white-named “Willie” Horton, using intentionally scary photos) in the earlier George Bush I campaign. Angle is also attacking the Dream Act youth, who have to be among the most hardworking and courageous Americans in their efforts to get good educations and become good citizens– just like the white immigrants (many also undocumented) most white families celebrate as part of their ancestry.

This type of skewed and racialized “threat” propaganda has a few ominous parallels to that used by Hitler and his minions, such as Goebbels, in the Nazi era in Germany. See, for example, the very good book on propaganda, Hitler: The Führer and the People by Joseph Peter Stern.

According to the Washington Independent, Angle is not alone in using this racist propaganda:

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is the latest GOP candidate to come under fire for a campaign ad against illegal immigration. The ad features men and women climbing through a hole in a chain-link fence, set to arguments that Vitter’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon, wants to welcome undocumented immigrants into the country. Through the fence, the immigrants are greeted by a marching band, a welcoming committee and a group holding a giant check. The non-partisan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana [stated] that Vitter’s immigration spot is “totally abhorrent and shocking” and “racist” in its depiction of illegal immigrants. “In this ad, he has these Hollywood stereotypes, caricature-types portraying Latino workers,” a spokeswoman from the Chamber said. “First of all, he uses the word ‘illegal’ so many times.”

In addition, the evidence is now clear that Vitter and Angle, and perhaps other conservatives, are using as a central feature of these ads a stock photo of Mexican citizens in a town square in Mexico, not of undocumented immigrants actually trying to cross the border. (See more here) It appears that to such white conservatives, in this case part of the elite, “all Mexicans look alike”?