Sharon Angle, a Tea Party candidate from Nevada, released a television ad criticizing Senator Harry Reid's vote to give "special tax breaks" and "preferred tuition rates" to undocumented immigrants. And although a tough stance against illegal immigration is no surprise for the GOP, Angle's most recent ad has some serious racial overtones.
Anyone who knows me personally, knows I rarely throw around the term "racist." In fact, I'm proud of the fact that I rarely apply the term to anyone unless there is good evidence.
However, the commercial that Sharon Angle ran in Nevada is, quite frankly, racist. The ad begins by saying Harry Reid voted for to give special tax breaks to undocumented immigrants. The picture they showed of "illegal aliens" showed Hispanic men wearing wife-beaters, backward baseball hats, and skullcaps. They were creeping along the border fence in the dead of night looking like burglars with their flashlights and black outfits.
A reasonable question is why Angle didn't show a more realistic picture of immigrants crossing the border, a picture of say, desperate mothers carrying their young children. Or would this not convey the same hoodlum-like effect that Angle was trying to achieve?
The ad gets worse. It said that Reid was trying to give preferred tuition rates to illegals, but in doing so, they showed more unkind imagery. First, they showed a glimpse of 11 white students gathered together in their graduation gowns. The idea was to convey a group who rightfully deserved preferred tuition rates. The second image showed three Hispanic men wearing clothing typical of gang members. In other words, white students that progress from high-school to college look like classy graduates. Undocumented Latinos that migrate from high-school to college, however, tend to look like street-dwelling troublemakers.
Scary Elements of Angle's Advertisement
I'll try not to make too much of this analogy, but I feel it's worth a mention. When Arizona first passed its immigration law, some of my friends compared it to what the Nazis did in Germany. Of course, the comparison is ridiculous. However, there is one component that sticks out. When Hitler effectively programed German citizens to detest resident Jews, he ran ads comparing them to brute animals. Hitler's ads attempted to dehumanize and desensitize the public to a particular ethnic group.
Sharon Angles' ad accomplishes a similar goal, albeit with less offensive imagery. By depicting undocumented people as gang-bangers and troublemakers, Angle is attempting to desensitize the public to a segment of the Latino community for a singular purpose, and that is to turn the people against Harry Reid.
Keep in mind, this is the same segment of people that come to this country with a gleam in their eye and an entrepreneurial spirit. They chose to sacrifice familiarity for a pursuit of happiness. And much like our European ancestors that crossed an ocean before us risking their lives to come to a foreign land, undocumented immigrants only want what's best for their families. We may argue about the ethics of illegal entry or even the necessity to protect our borders from terrorist networks, but it's not right to singularize a particular ethnic group in the process.
To be clear, I am not an open-border advocate. I do not side with liberal organizations like Voces de la Frontera on what they consider comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that government has an obligation to follow the law, but I also believe that the people have a right to change laws they consider to be inept - including immigration laws.
What Angle did in her ads was deplorable, but Democrats often do the same thing. When they study Tea Party rallies in order to find that one racist sign sign, they are seeking to turn the public against a diverse group of people for political gain. It's wrong no matter what side of the political isle does it.
It seems that every step forward the GOP makes with the Hispanic community is followed by two steps backward. If the GOP wants to stay a viable political party, they will have to learn how to deal with illegal immigration with wisdom and practicality. Too often, Republicans do what's politically profitable in the short-term (e.g., Brewer's introduction of Arizona's immigration law), but by doing so, they risk a relationship with the Hispanic community for the long term.
At this juncture, the Democrat party has taken the Hispanic community for granted. Even with a massive majority in both houses of Congress and control of the White House, they have proved impotent in keeping their promise to implement comprehensive immigration reform. Harry Reid, a key leader of the democrat party, pulled a gimmick by attaching a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy to the DREAM Act essentially killing them both. The GOP has an opportunity to capitalize, but it looks like they are more interested in November's election.