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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Wanted: New scapegoats.

For most of Dubya's term in office, one of the easiest and most reliable way to deal with sliding poll numbers was to play the gay card. Just mention gay marriage, and the GOP's most fervant supporters would flock to the polls to keep the homosexual menace at bay.

Unfortunately for the bigots, their failure to get the anti-gay marriage amendment onto the floor of the US Senate shows that this strategy may finally be outdated. Polls that show public support for same-sex marriage has increased substantially since Dubya was re-elected, which makes it unlikely that the amendment will re-appear in Congress any time soon. At least as a tactic in national politics, it looks like the persecution of the country's lesbian and gay citizens has probably passed its high-water mark.

That's why the right wing needs a new set of scapegoats. And, as Frank Rich explains, the new target of right-wing bigots is Latino immigrants:

The most pernicious demagogues on immigration often invoke national security as their rationale, but no terrorist has been known to enter the United States from Mexico. Even the arguments about immigrants' economic impact are sometimes a smokescreen for a baser animus. As John B. Judis of The New Republic documented in his account of Arizona's combustible immigration politics, the dominant fear in that border state has less to do with immigrants stealing jobs (which are going begging in construction and agriculture) than with their contaminating the culture through "Mexicanization." It's the same complaint that's been leveled against every immigrant group when the country's in this foul a mood.

That mood was ratcheted up last week by the success of Brian Bilbray's strategy in winning the suburban San Diego House seat vacated by the jailed Duke Cunningham. Mr. Bilbray, a card-carrying lobbyist, was thought to be potentially vulnerable even in a normally safe Republican district. But by his own account, his campaign took off once he started hitting the single issue of immigration, taking a hard line far to the right of the president who endorsed him. Mr. Bilbray goes so far as to call for the refusal of automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants â?? a repudiation of the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War to ensure citizenship to everyone born in the United States....

The practitioners of such scare politics know what they're up to. That's why they so often share the strange psychological tic of framing their arguments in civil-rights speak. The Minuteman Project, the vigilante brigade stoking fears of an immigration Armageddon, quotes Gandhi on its Web site; its founder, Jim Gilchrist, has referred to his group as "predominantly white Martin Luther Kings." On a Focus on the Family radio show, James Dobson and the White House press secretary, Tony Snow, positioned the campaign to deny gay civil rights as the moral equivalent of L.B.J.'s campaign to extend civil rights. James Sensenbrenner, the leading House Republican voice on immigration policy, likened those who employ illegal immigrants to "the 19th-century slave masters" that "we had to fight a civil war to get rid of." For that historical analogy to add up, you'd have to believe that Africans voluntarily sought to immigrate to America to be slaves. Whether Mr. Sensenbrenner is out to insult African-Americans or is merely a fool is a distinction without a difference in this volatile political climate.

If you're a NY Times subscriber, you can read the full column here, behind the pay firewall. Otherwise, we suggest heading over here.

The usual big Magpie thank you to the Peking Duck.

| | Posted by Magpie at 1:37 AM | Get permalink




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