Sunday, January 13, 2008

The 'Demonization' of Immigrants Rubs Groups the Wrong Way

The negative talk about illegal immigrants has affected all immigrants, even the ones who are already citizens. Some people think that everyone with a foreign accent is an illegal immigrant. DP

Polarizing Rhetoric
Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency NEW YORK Though it lies nearly 500 miles from the nearest international border, the little town of Postville, Iowa whose kosher meatpacking plant has drawn a melting pot of Chasidic Jews and Hispanic immigrants to the Iowa heartland, presents a case study of the tensions that have made immigration a top concern for voters there heading into primary season.

Last summer, the backlash against Postville's new arrivals spilled over onto the Town Council, one member of which made derogatory remarks about Hispanic residents; he accused them of not respecting the town's law and culture, and importing drugs and crime. Seven local clergy, including a rabbi, shot back, denouncing the council member, who also had unkind words for Postville's insular ultra-Orthodox community.

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement urging presidential candidates to refrain from polarizing rhetoric that demonizes minority groups, but particularly Hispanics. The statement follows a lengthy ADL report showing how inflammatory rhetoric has seeped into the national discourse on immigration.

"In our view, demonizing illegal immigrants has the effect of demonizing many minorities, particularly Hispanics, regardless of their citizenship status. It is contrary to the high ideals upon which our nation -- a nation of immigrants -- was founded," the ADL said recently.

In its report, the ADL objected to rhetoric that portrays immigrants as invaders seeking to colonize the United States, while importing disease and crime, and eroding the American way of life. The report also showed how portrayals of immigrants as disease-carriers has spread to mainstream discourse -- employed by media personalities such as CNN's Lou Dobbs and MSNBC's Patrick Buchanan.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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