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Anti-Immigrant Spin on Russell Pearce Loss: Blame the Messenger

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Mark Krikorian: Pearce’s Rhetoric Was Too Extreme & Divisive in Defending Extreme & Divisive Immigration Laws 

The fallout continues over last week’s recall election of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (R), the architect of that state’s “papers, please” anti-immigration law.  As analysts ask what the result might mean for the future of anti-immigrant extremism and for Arizona’s potential competitiveness in the 2012 elections, Pearce’s ideological allies are spinning the results to a foregone conclusion – that the anti-immigrant policies weren’t the problem, just the tone and messenger associated with them.

In particular, Mark Krikorian of the leading anti-immigrant organization the Center for Immigration Studies thinks the lesson from the recall election was that Russell Pearce lacked the needed “good-natured geniality” to put a happy face on extreme, anti-immigrant legislation.  Wrote Krikorian, “Pearce is an angry guy, and that wore thin with lots of voters…Good-natured geniality is, for instance, a big part of Herman Cain’s appeal — not to mention Reagan’s. And if that’s important when discussing taxes and spending, imagine how much more important it is in the immigration issue…This is why my Center for Immigration Studies has always tried to articulate a pro-immigrant policy of low immigration, and why Numbers USA has had at the top of its homepage, from the very beginning, ‘No to immigrant bashing.’  And it’s not a pose. But even if you didn’t believe it, it would be the politically smart thing to do.”

Meanwhile, Krikorian avoids the possibility that Pearce’s obsessive focus on an anti-immigrant agenda, including the SB1070 “papers, please” law and his push to repeal the birthright citizenship component of the 14th Amendment, grew tired for voters more interested in bread and butter concerns.  This attempt to pin the loss on the angry messenger is especially ironic coming from Mark Krikorian, a man with a long history of slip-ups that expose his true uncompromising and hardline agenda.

According to Frank Sharry, “According to Mark Krikorian, Russell Pearce’s sin was that of blatancy.  So his theory goes, instead of masking his true intentions behind a façade of smiling respectability, Pearce was too angry and too obvious in his anti-immigrant and anti-Latino ways.  Not only does this absolve Krikorian and his allies from any responsibility about the failures and consequences of their mass-deportation agenda, but it rings hollow given Krikorian’s own record of transparent gaffes.”

Despite Krikorian’s avowed “geniality,” his own writings include calls to strip Puerto Ricans of their citizenship, pleas to Anglicize the pronunciation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s name, efforts to pin Haiti’s problems on Krikorian’s belief that it had not been colonized long enough, and straight-faced endorsements of reports attempting to blame immigrants and Latinos for a range of ills, including global warming, the health care crisis, and the subprime loan financial collapse. 

Concluded Sharry, “there’s simply no way to endorse or implement mass-deportation policies in a manner that doesn’t expose them for what they are – blatant attempts to round up and deport the entirety of the undocumented population in our country.  As we’ve seen in Arizona and now in Alabama, it’s not the tone of law supporters that’s to blame.  It’s the laws themselves and their negatives consequences on state economies and reputations.”

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