Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Immigration facts, figures — and thoughts - latimes.com

Immigration facts, figures — and thoughts - latimes.com

But today I think there are other contributing factors. The political discourse overall is pretty horrific, and while immigration has always brought out the worst in people, today's polarized climate only makes matters worse.

Struggling newspapers seeking to engage readers at any cost are also part of the problem. Whereas racist rants were once confined to marginal websites, today many papers — including this one — have opened their online comments section to, well, complete nut-jobs. Allowing vitriolic racial rhetoric to remain on a mainstream website is to give it a level of acceptability. Just last week, in response to my column on the so-called burka ban in France, a rabid commenter proposed that all those crossing the U.S.- Mexico border without papers should be shot on sight. Nice. Such "dialogue" not only pushes out reasonable people, it emboldens the unreasonable ones. By allowing it to be posted, newspapers are presiding over the mainstreaming of anti-immigrant hate speech.There may be those who see hatred as a justifiable means to an end. Perhaps they hope that all this harsh rhetoric will keep even more illegal immigrants at home. But they'd be silly to think that such invective only makes life harder for immigrants. Unfortunately, it also actively degrades our culture, our public square and our democracy.



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