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Warning: Toxic Immigrant Blame Game Tied to Pandemic Paranoia

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 04/27/2009 at 7:15pm

ToxicAs usual, right-wing media is off blaming immigrants for everything wrong with the world. To recap: yes, swine flu is wreaking havoc in Mexico and has taken over a hundred lives there. Yes, it is a major disaster that needs to be tracked, treated, and contained – and our government is working to do that. But no, Michelle Malkin, swine flu is not the fault of immigrants living in our nation.

Kudos to Media Matters for some great analysis of the air-borne paranoia (call it blame the immigrants fever) at play:

Following an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and subsequent confirmation of dozens of cases in the United States, conservative media personalities have baselessly blamed Mexican immigrants for spreading the disease across the border, continuing their long-standing trend of scapegoating immigrants while discussing major news stories. However, Rear Adm. Anne Schuchat, M.D., the interim deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s science and public health program, stated in an April 26 media availability: “I know that we have confirmation of disease in people who have traveled to Mexico, and I don’t know the numbers, but I know that that is definitely the case in some of our cases, and that’s an important factor to consider.” Indeed, several media reports on U.S. swine flu patients indicated that they had recently traveled to Mexico.

Examples of conservative media figures blaming Mexican immigrants for the spread of swine flu into the United States include:

  • During the April 24 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage stated: “Make no mistake about it: Illegal aliens are the carriers of the new strain of human-swine avian flu from Mexico.” Savage also stated, “If we lived in saner times, the borders would be closed immediately.” Savage went on to theorize that the outbreak might be part of a bioterrorism threat: “[C]ould this be a terrorist attack through Mexico? Could our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this virus and planted it in Mexico knowing that you, [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano, would do nothing to stop the flow of human traffic from Mexico?” Savage continued: “[T]hey are a perfect mule — perfect mules for bringing this virus into America. But you wouldn’t think that way, would you? Because you are incapable of protecting America’s homeland, Napolitano.” Savage also stated: “How do you protect yourself? What can you do? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, and I don’t give a damn if you don’t like what I’m going to say. I’m going to have no contact anywhere with an illegal alien, and that starts in the restaurants.” He added, “I will have no any illegal alien workers around me. I will not have them in any of my properties, I will not have them anywhere near me.”

  • During the April 27 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz asked: “[W]hat better way to sneak a virus into this country than give it to Mexicans? Right? I mean, one out of every 10 people born in Mexico is already living up here, and the rest are trying to get here. So you give — you give — you let this virus just spread in Mexico, where they don’t have a CDC.” Boortz went on to say: “So if you want to get that epidemic into this country, get it going real good and hot south of the border. And, you know, then just spread a rumor that there’s construction jobs available somewhere, and here it comes. Because we’re not gonna do anything to stop them from coming across the border.”

No xenophobia there.

Listen to the whole clip from Media Matters:

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