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Decoding Immigration Doublespeak
By Ben Johnson | April 14, 2006

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” – Old Chinese proverb.

The elite media have always been out of touch with American values, and their reporting has often been at odds with reality. (See “Offensive, Tet.”) However, their coverage of the last week’s massive pro-illegal immigration rallies bordered (no pun intended) on the Orwellian, virtually requiring one to believe the inverse of everything they reported. Among their many distortions, sanitizations, euphemisms, and lies were:

“Pro-Immigration Rallies.” The elite media consisted presented the protests as rallies in favor of immigration or immigrants rights. The Washington Post called the protestors “pro-immigration demonstrators.” New York Times “reporters” described a rally in Madison, Wisconsin – home to a large, left-leaning state university, naturally – as a “rally for immigrants’ rights,” burying in the second paragraph the inconvenient reality, “many of [the protestors are] undocumented immigrants who speak no English.” The sympathy of the masses would be moved in quite another way were these described by more accurate terms, like “Open Borders Rallies,” “Pro-Lawbreaking Rallies,” “Anti-Homeland Security Rallies,” or “Massive Collections of Perhaps Felonious Welfare Recipients.”

Rallying for their Rights. The “pro-immigration” rallies inevitably demanded “rights.” New York Times “reporters” wrote, in blatant advocacy, that pro-illegal immigration spokesman Alfonso Zepeda-Capistran, “along with the encouragement of community activists, spread by Spanish language radio, helped immigrants in the Madison area, many of whom had lived in the shadows of their illegal status for years, find their voice. And they showed they weren't afraid to speak out for their rights.” On the Left Coast, the L.A. Times was dismissive of those who did not adopt the media’s lexicon: “Peter Lanteri, director of New York's chapter of the Minutemen…he thought it was ‘ridiculous’ that illegal immigrants were protesting for their rights.” Even Fox News’ Megyn Kendall cheerleaded for the rally’s throngs “demanding their rights.” The false dichotomy this reporting engenders is that anyone opposed to “immigration rights” is a cross-burning monster. But the U.S. Constitution bestows its blessings upon “We the People of the United States of America.” Because the United States is a great and benevolent nation – I’ve called it “The Great Santa” – we freely bestow certain rights upon non-citizens, such as free emergency medical care (which Mother Jones magazine noted six years ago is bankrupting hospitals along the border). We even refuse to torture terrorists plotting to kill our citizens. Our treatment of illegals differs markedly from the way Mexico treats illegal Guatemalan immigrants, who are frequently raped before expatriation. America grants this dignity to non-citizens because of her innate goodness, not because of any binding legal obligation. The only inalienable “rights” illegals enjoy under our system is the right to remain silent, the right to a speedy trial, and right-of-way on the first southbound mass transit system.

Organized by Hispanic Radio. As with the last rallies, the “mainstream” media claimed “Hispanic radio” pumped out a half-million demonstrators in Los Angeles and tens of thousands more nationwide. The New York Times worked this canard into the headline of a story by Barabara Miner and Maria Newman: “Spanish-Language Radio Draws Crowds to Rallies in Madison.” However, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the organizers were less benign: left-wing labor unions, far-Left Open Borders groups, Hispanic racists, and anarchist organizations. Again, the media buried these details. The Times noted, “The action was supported by a wide array of political, religious, labor and civic figures, including Robert Morlino, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison, state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, and Mayor David Cieslewicz of Madison.” The Washington Post quoted L.A. protest organizer Maria Elena Durazo of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, who in a moment of unguarded candor acknowledged the massive pro-lawbreaking rally “was not an overnight thing.” WaPo adds, “Among labor unions, the Service Employees International Union played a central role in helping to organize rallies in a number of cities, including on the Mall.” The union Unite Here also involved. So, too, was International ANSWER, a prime organizer of this event. Ditto the Atlan partisans at La Raza. Which should give the lie to the media’s contention the rallies were….

Patriotic and Pro-American. The protestors’ sudden affinity for the Stars-and-Stripes fooled no one in Middle America – and a few of the organizers were surprisingly forthright about their disingenuous motives. The L.A. Times reported Cardinal Roger Mahony told his flock to put away Mexican and Latin American flags: “They do not help us get the legislation we need.” The New York Times quoted Miami protest organizer Maria Rodriguez instructing the crowd:

This is the people bringing the flags. It seems that they heard the message: American people want flags. We'll, let's give them flags! It's really spontaneous. It's not about the flag. It's about people getting a chance.

Perhaps most outspoken in his non-pro-American rhetoric was L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who shouted:

America we've come here to work, we clean your toilets, we clean your hotels, we build your houses, we take care of your children. We want you to help us take care of our children as well. Today we say to this great America, America you were founded on the backs of immigrants.

Like reparations advocates, their cry is, “We are owed.”

The Republican Bill “Criminalizes Undocumented Workers.” The rallies were allegedly called to oppose the GOP House immigration bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, which would “criminalize” illegals. During the protests, Rachel L. Swarns of the New York Times wrote Sensebrenner’s impotent counterparts on the Senate Judiciary Committee “voted to eliminate the provisions that would criminalize illegal immigrants.” CNN, CBS, and the Washington Post (among others) have uncritically reported the bill would “criminalize” undocumented workers. Of course, illegal immigrants are, ipso facto, criminals; hence, the modifier illegal. The House bill would not change their status as lawbreakers deserving deportation; it would merely raise the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony. Such a move may not be the wisest course of action (or it may be), but that is an internal matter for American citizens to determine.

This is a Civil Rights Rally. Observing these uprisings by individuals who have no right to be in our country, the New York Times summarized, “some immigrant advocates [are beginning] to hail what they describe as the beginnings of a Hispanic civil rights movement.” Protestors sang the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” in Spanish. In D.C., Ted Kennedy (whom the L.A. Times described as “a stalwart of the civil rights movement”) invoked Martin Luther King Jr. “More than four decades ago, near this place, Martin Luther King called on the nation to let freedom ring. Freedom did ring — and freedom can ring again.” Fabian Rodríguez, who spoke at the Atlanta rally, lied, “We are in a situation that Rosa Parks was in several years ago: enough is enough.” He continued, “I want things to work out in our favor, or we go back to our country.” (Finally some sense!) “But we can't keep living the way it is now.” Only later did the NYT’s crack journalists note what had these alleged Rosa Parks clones so up in arms they might consider going back to Mexico: “They were supporting immigrant rights nationally and protesting state legislation awaiting Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature that would require adults seeking many state-administered benefits to prove they are in the country legally.” In other words, these illegal immigrants – who “only come into this country to work” – rallied by the thousands for their “right” to continue to collect welfare without even pretending to be U.S. citizens.

The actual civil rights movement – in which David Horowitz has been a lifelong participant – secured the legitimate rights of an entire race of people who had been full citizens of this country for more than 100 years and whose Constitutional dignities had been denied as long. This nation extended a promise to them during Reconstruction, when another set of Radical Republicans passed the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. But the nation grew tired of their “extreme” and “polarizing” rhetoric, and more “moderate” Republicans reached an 80-year bipartisan agreement in which GOP presidents refused to interfere in the Southern, Democratic-run apartheid system of exploitation and terror. These citizens, who were lynched, beaten – and their grandchildren who were sprayed with firehoses and abused by Bull Conner’s attack dogs – merely demanded “this great nation rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” Blacks fought for the rights they had always been long-promised but ever denied as American citizens. They have no counterparts among the throngs who have broken our laws in order to cash in on our extravagant economic largesse.