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Thread: Amid swine flu outbreak, racism goes viral

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Default Amid swine flu outbreak, racism goes viral

    Amid swine flu outbreak, racism goes viral

    Anti-immigrant hatred spreads on talk radio, Web sites


    By Brian Alexander
    msnbc.com contributor
    updated 12:46 p.m. ET, Fri., May 1, 2009

    Brian Alexander

    “No contact anywhere with an illegal alien!” conservative talk show host Michael Savage advised his U.S. listeners this week on how to avoid the swine flu. “And that starts in the restaurants" where he said, you “don’t know if they wipe their behinds with their hands!”

    And Thursday, Boston talk radio host Jay Severin was suspended after calling Mexican immigrants "criminalians" during a discussion of swine flu and saying that emergency rooms had become "essentially condos for Mexicans."

    That’s tepid compared to some of the xenophobic reactions spreading like an emerging virus across the Internet. “This disgusting blight is because MEXICANS ARE PIGS!” an anonymous poster ranted on the “prison planet” forum, part of radio host and columnist Alex Jones’ Web site.

    There is even talk of conspiracy. Savage speculated that terrorists are using Mexican immigrants as walking germ warfare weapons. “It would be easy,” he said, “to bring an altered virus into Mexico, put it in the general population, and have them march across the border.”
    As more than 140 cases of H1N1 virus, known as swine flu, have been confirmed across the United States — from San Diego to New York City — the growing public health concern has also exposed fear and hate.

    Fear and blame are counterproductive and even dangerous in any disease outbreak because the more stigmatized any group feels, the more reluctant people in that group may be to seek medical care. That only helps propagate the disease.

    The attempt to scapegoat Mexicans, immigrants and Hispanic Americans is no surprise to Latino rights groups, who are now mobilizing a countereffort.

    ‘Ignorant beyond the pale’

    Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, called such comments “racist and ignorant beyond the pale … these so-called commentators shame themselves turning public health concerns into an immigrant bashing fest.”

    “What we have seen is that the anti-immigrant groups are using this to shamelessly to promote their agenda,” said Liany Arroyo, director of the Institute for Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza.
    While the war of words is mainly between the conservative commentariat and Latino advocacy groups, individual Mexican-Americas are beginning to worry.

    “Our people are calling us and they are concerned,” said Florencia Velasco Fortner, chief executive officer of Dallas Consilio of Hispanic Organizations, an umbrella of affiliated service groups. “Even our staff members are starting to get a little discouraged. There was anti-immigrant sentiment prior to this and this adds fuel to the fire.”

    The Consilio has mounted its own education campaign to teach Dallas-area Hispanic audiences proper disease prevention and hygiene techniques. Because many are uninsured and may avoid seeking medical care, the Consilio is also helping them find non-profit clinics and encouraging them to visit these immediately if they develop symptoms rather than waiting until they are severely ill.

    As swine flu fears have spread, the backlash has also affected some Mexican restaurants’ business, possibly fueled by disparaging comments like those of Savage questioning the hygiene of workers.
    Jennifer Pesqueira, whose family has owned and operated El Indio Mexican restaurants in San Diego since 1940, said her business has seen a 20 percent drop in business since the outbreak began.

    Activist groups have advised their communities to be aware and on guard. “Board members put an alert out,” said Jan Hanvik, executive director of Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center in New York. “It was a heads up, saying ‘pay attention.’ ”

    Blaming ‘the other’

    Fearmongering and blame are almost a natural part of infectious disease epidemics, experts say.

    “This is a pattern we see again and again,” said Amy Fairchild, chair of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City. “It’s ‘the other,’ the group not seen as part of the nation, the one who threatens it in some way that gets blamed for the disease.”

    Often, a disease outbreak is an excuse to vent pre-existing prejudices. “It’s fear of people we do not know or who look different,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan and author of “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed.” “You take the fear of the unknown that already exists and then combine that with a real or perceived threat that is contagious disease and it’s explosive.”

    During the medieval Black Plague, Europeans blamed Jews, saying they poisoned the wells. In an 1892 cholera pandemic, the U.S. blamed immigrant European Jews. In the flu of 1918, Markel said, “Italians blamed the Spanish. The Spanish blamed the Italians. For HIV it was gay men and Haitians.”

    Americans “have a history of trying to keep ourselves ‘pure,’ ” Fairchild explained. “You saw it after the Civil War when slaves were denied citizenship, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when we were alarmed over southern and eastern European immigrants. There were fears that they would pollute America’s germ plasm, make us a weak nation of imbeciles.”

    Americans have time and again responded to emergencies by clamoring to shut the borders and pull up the bridges.

    “I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration,” conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote on her Web site. “9/11 didn’t convince the open-borders zealots to put down their race cards and confront reality. Maybe the threat of their sons or daughters contracting a deadly virus spread from south of the border to their Manhattan prep schools will.” (The cluster of New York school students who first contracted H1N1 brought the virus back from Mexico. The school is in Queens.)

    “People who do not really know anything are creating ideas that don’t really exist,” said Sergio Ornelas, owner of a bi-national publishing and advertising business in El Paso. “I am worried these kinds of articles and comments might create panic.”

    Fighting racism with information

    Blame-the-victim reactions can be fought with clear, accurate information about the disease and about how it is spreading, said Dr. Larry Kline, a San Diego physician and member of the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission. “People get snippets of information here and there, and unfortunately much of it is inaccurate. That makes things ripe for blame and blame and fear never helped anybody.”

    Tamping down blame and fear isn’t just the right thing to do morally, experts agree, it’s also the right thing to do medically. Germs, Markel stressed, don’t care about skin color or national origins or borders.
    “These are naturally occurring events,” he said. “We expect flu pandemics every 30 to 40 years. It’s the cost of living in a world of emerging infectious diseases. That’s the folly of prejudice. They are wherever humans are.”
    Amid swine flu outbreak, racism goes viral - Swine flu- msnbc.com


    And a lovely little update on the radio douche:


    WTKK-FM suspends Severin for derogatory comments about Mexicans

    April 30, 2009 08:20 PM

    By David Abel, Globe Staff
    Jay Severin, the fiery, right-wing radio talk show host on Boston’s WTKK-FM radio station, was suspended today after calling Mexican immigrants "criminaliens," “primitives,” “leeches,” and “women with mustaches and VD,” among other incendiary comments.




    Jay Severin

    Heidi Raphael, a spokeswoman for the station, said Severin had been suspended indefinitely from his afternoon drive-time show. She declined to say which of his comments – made since an outbreak of swine flu was linked to Mexico in recent days – sparked the suspension. “I can assure you that the station has not been using the remarks for which he has been suspended in on-air promos,” she said, declining to comment further.

    In an email, Severin, a bombastic voice whose views often mirror those of fringe conservatives and who rarely lacks something to say, referred questions to his lawyer. “I am simply not at liberty to discuss it at this time,” he wrote.

    George Tobia, his lawyer, said it was not clear how long his client will be suspended. “All we know is it’s indefinite,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’re just learning of it, and we’re dealing with it.”

    Severin’s comments sparked deep concern among Mexicans and other Latinos living in the Boston area, prompting what Tobia described as a flood of complaints to the station management in recent days about Severin’s comments about Mexicans and the swine flu.

    “It would certainly be unfortunate if someone was suspended because some people didn’t like what he said,” Tobia said.

    He did not know Severin’s precise comments.

    In one of his broadcasts this week, Severin said: "So now, in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico – women with mustaches and VD – now we have swine flu."

    Later, he described Mexicans as “the world's lowest of primitives.”
    “When we are the magnet for primitives around the world -- and it’s not the primitives’ fault by the way, I’m not blaming them for being primitives -- I’m merely observing they’re primitive,” he said.

    He added Mexicans are destroying schools and hospitals in the United States. He also criticized their hygiene.

    "It's millions of leeches from a primitive country come here to leech off you and, with it, they are ruining the schools, the hospitals, and a lot of life in America,” he said.

    He added: "We should be, if anything, surprised that Mexico has not visited upon us poxes of more various and serious types already, considering the number of crimaliens already here."

    In a previous broadcast this week, Severin argued the Obama administration wasn’t taking sufficient action to seal the border.
    "The usual 5,000 criminaliens that come across the Arizona border will probably be 8,000 tonight, and maybe tomorrow it will be 12,000, because even Mexicans are going to be trying to get out of Mexico at a greater rate."

    Afterward, while talking to a nurse who called his show to complain about healthcare provided to immigrants, he commiserated with her when she said she was glad she didn't work in an emergency room.

    "Yeah, well, that's become essentially condos for Mexicans," he said.

    It’s not the first time Severin has faced criticism for derogatory comments about minorities on his weekday program. On a 2004 broadcast, he compared US Muslims to a fifth column, and when a caller suggested the United States should befriend Muslims, Severin responded: "You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them."

    He has called former Vice President Al Gore “Al Whore,” former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “a lying [expletive],” and Senator Edward M. Kennedy “a fat piece of lying garbage."

    Severin also has been criticized over the years for falsely saying he had won a Pulitzer Prize and that he had earned a master’s degree from Boston University.

    Amparo Anguiano , deputy consul of the Consulate General of Mexico in Boston, called Severin’s latest language “hatemongering.”
    “All he does is spread hate,” she said. “It’s not the first time immigrants have been denigrated unfoundedly for being dirty, uncivilized, and bringing in diseases. There’s nothing more to say, other than these statements spread unfounded biases, hate, and prejudice.”

    Marcela Garcia, editor of El Planeta, a Boston-based publication distributed to Latinos throughout the region, said she shudders when she hears Severin on the radio.

    “It’s aggravating, insulting, and disgusting,” she said. “I just can’t listen to him. He doesn’t just show a lack of respect; he shows a lack of knowledge about what immigration means to this country. What he says just fuels the racist dialogue going on about immigration.”

    Franklin Soults, a spokesman for Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, called Severin’s language “dehumanizing.”

    “What he said is just patently offensive,” he said. “There has been a huge rise in hate crimes against immigrants, especially Hispanics, and on the show, he doesn’t just talk about Mexicans as criminals, he talks about them as if they were animals and should be quarantined.”

    Tobia, Severin's lawyer, said he does not know what’s going to happen, but he ultimately expects Severin back on the airways.
    “I think we’re going to sit down with them [station officials] soon and just go forward and put it past us …. I’m confident he’ll be back on the air soon, but I don’t know when or what the particulars are.”
    David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com.
    WTKK-FM suspends Severin for derogatory comments about Mexicans - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe
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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Idiots, every single one of them. But I'm really not surprised.
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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    I was expecting this shit.
    KILLING ME WON'T BRING BACK YOUR GOD DAMNED HONEY!!!!!!!!!!

    Come on, let's have lots of drinks.

    Fuck you all, I'm going viral.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    im not suprised. racists are idiots to begin with so why wouldn't they start shit like this zenophobia alive and well...even in a country developed by, built for and from IMMIGRANTS!

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    This isn't a shock at all. What with the economy being the way it is, you already had resentment toward Mexicans, illegal or not. The swine flu is just like adding gasoline to the fire.

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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    I didn't read the whole article, because I'm falling asslep, but I know there has been some debate about closing the borders or denying Mexicans the right to travel here.

    I don't think it's racist to heavily restrict Mexicans' traveling privileges to the US until this virus is under control. I don't want to see the US failing to protect its citizens out of fear of offending people. I also wish that our hospitals could be adamant that they will not treat non-citizens who show up with the virus. That will discourage them from crossing into the US and exposing hundreds or thousands in an attempt to get free medical care.

    As a Texan, this is something I feel pretty strongly about.

    It's a fact that Mexicans have a higher likelihood of bringing the virus into the US than, say, Canadians or people engaging in interstate travel. We need to do everything in our power to stop it from spreading.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    surprise
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    i have such an epic hate for Michael Savage.
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    ^^
    You know his real surname is Weiner.

    Thankfully, the media did not call this "the Mexican flu".

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Are they going to ban tourists from travelling to Mexico and back too?

    And deny them medical treatment? Shit, why not throw them in gas chambers while you're at it?

    Those comments are just vile.
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    YOu know that they are now suspecting that the outbreak actually started in California. It must have been Arnie.
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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernbelle View Post
    I don't think it's racist to heavily restrict Mexicans' traveling privileges to the US until this virus is under control.
    Barn door. Horse. etc sheesh.

    Quote Originally Posted by southernbelle View Post
    I also wish that our hospitals could be adamant that they will not treat non-citizens who show up with the virus. That will discourage them from crossing into the US and exposing hundreds or thousands in an attempt to get free medical care.
    Why not go that extra mile and simply execute people who show up at hospitals?


    Load of twaddle.
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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    The barn door/horse comment that Obama made does not make any sense. Yes, there are people here who are already infected. But why does that mean we shouldn't try to prevent MORE people from coming and spreading the virus even more extensively? They are closing down schools and even sports venues which have or have a high likelihood of having infected people. But suggesting they prohibit travel to and from Mexico until they get this under control is wrong? I don't believe it is.

    As far as denying them medical care, I don't feel that it's our responsibility to make sure they all have affordable health care, and I do believe that a lot of them WILL come here when they realize they are infected so that they can take advantage of our medical facilities and get the best treatment available without paying a dime. That poses a threat to our citizens.

    Part of the reason insurance premiums are so high for American citizens is because they have to account for the illegals who use medical services that they can't or won't pay for (and then get sue-happy if anything goes wrong). I feel very, very strongly that American hospitals should stop catering to this and simply refuse to treat illegals. They have hospitals there, and they can use them. Apparently, the word ILLEGAL doesn't mean anything anymore and suggesting that we actually enforce our laws is wrong.

    Our first priority should be to our own citizens. We currently cater to illegal immigrants in our healthcare system at the expense of tax-paying citizens (financially and, in this case, at the expense of our safety as well), and I think it needs to stop.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Because the people already here won't spread the viris? Riiight.
    "If you are not outraged, then you are not paying attention," Heather Heyer's facebook quote.

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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    I don't dispute that people already here won't spread it. But I think it's idiotic not to try to keep it contained by doing our best to prevent an influx of even more infected people. The more infected people we have here, the more quickly it will spread. All of the "horses" AREN'T out of the "barn," and we need to keep it that way.

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