C-SPAN: South Carolina GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats; Roaches

rats_600pxObviously, folks are free to speak their minds.  I don’t begrudge anyone that right.

…but it also means that others are free to critically assess what gets said, and this was totally inappropriate.

The individual making the comments was the mother-in-law of David Bossie, and quite frankly I really don’t hold anything against her or her opinions.  She’s free to hold them and cage her argument in the language she desires.  Fine.

But this?

People are coming into this country, across our borders, like rats and roaches in the woodpile.  We’ve got… (laughter/applause) we’ve got a state like Minnesota that says it’s not our business to check them out; we just register them.  We’ve got to get control.  That’s what they need to know, and they need to get that law passed.

Rats and roaches in the woodpile.

Of course, it was recently reported that most immigrants coming to America are 20-something Chinese students and Indian nationals.  It’s not well reported that almost 2/3 of illegal immigration doesn’t come across “the border” (Mexican or Canadian — because we certainly aren’t talking about solely Hispanics in this equation, are we?) but rather comes through expired visas.

Here’s the clip, courtesy of C-SPAN:

Now you tell me… nativism or patriotism?

Again, I really don’t blame the little old lady speaking her mind.  What I do blame is a cottage industry and a crowd that finds humor and righteousness in calling other human beings “rats and roaches” — and just in case one assumes this incident is isolated, well… Ken Cuccinelli has been apt to using similar metaphors in jest.

One wonders whether or not we would be using similar language if it were 8-20 million Canadians who were in this country undocumented?

Of course we wouldn’t.

Here’s where we agree: everyone knows the immigration system is broken, everyone wants a different system where acculturation rather than waiting is the delimiter for American citizenship, no one wants to reward those who jump in line, everyone wants the best and the brightest to come work here, and no one believes that for people who want to build better lives for themselves, their children, their families that it should be a crime that they come to America to do it.

The solution isn’t anti-immigrant rhetoric comparing Mexicans to rats, and applauding that is an embarrassment beyond embarrassment.

What is required is a just and moral immigration system, and that means reform.

UDPATE:  Steve Albertson over at The Bull Elephant responds:

Yes, there are people who oppose liberal immigration policies because of racism, and who have done so in ways more hateful and hurtful than this woman in South Carolina and the idiots who whistled and cheered her on. But that does not mean the vast majority of us are like that.

A GOP committee meeting last night in Loudoun County offers up just one anecdote that illustrates that your typical GOP voter isn’t motivated by bigotry.

What follows is a pretty good example on how the good guys in the immigration debate can fight back.

Read it all — though I would add that if we’re in the realm of anecdote, one counterpoint doesn’t necessarily absolve the point made here.  There is a nativist problem within the Republican Party with regards to immigration… but good examples like the one cited by Albertson help push back against the more unsavory and impolitic instances made here.

The sooner we reject race and ethnicity as a rationale for policy, the sooner we can have a rational solution.  Glad to see it happening in Loudoun; sincerely hope to see it elsewhere.

UPDATE x2:  …as for the 2/3rds claim that most of the illegal immigration is through visas and lawful means, it really depends on whether or not you believe the number of undocumented workers strays towards the 8 million number of the 20 million number:

That “overstay” population typically represents about one-third to roughly half of the country’s illegal immigrants. Therefore, about half to roughly two-thirds of illegal immigrants are generally those who entered the country illegally.

If you’re in the 11 million range, that number is estimated to be about between 40-52%.  Not quite two-thirds…. but still dwarfing what is coming along the U.S.-Mexico border.