Muddied Xenophobia

7 01 2008

Ryan Lizza’s piece in the New Yorker on how anti-immigrant sentiment has engulfed the GOP contained a colorful quote from a fellow named Buddy Witherspoon, a Republican National Committeeman in South Carolina, from a town of 30,000 people.

“Some of these people may be coming in here to get jobs washing dishes, but some of them are coming in here to hijack airplanes,” he explained. “If you’re down there trying to look at the people coming across the border, maybe a lot of them are just motivated by economics, and they want a job washing dishes or cutting grass. But I can’t tell Jose Cuervo from the Al Qaeda operatives by looking at them, because they cut their beard off. It’s like trying to get fly manure out of pepper without your glasses on, you know? I mean, not a racist thing, but they’re all brown with black hair and they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Arabic or Spanish, so if they don’t belong here and they don’t come here legally, I want to know who’s here.”

How is a sober thinking person suppose to react to this? I did not know if I should laugh or feel pity or anger at this man’s ignorance. But it is telling how in the minds of many Republicans that the conflation of unauthorized immigration and terrorist threats is so uncritically embraced.

“I mean, not a racist thing, but they’re all brown with black hair.” That’s absolutely priceless.




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