When Ignorance Is Bandied About As Fact

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By Felicia Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 10, 2012: Recently, my cousin Michael brought to my attention a posting on the wall of a Republican/Tea Party Facebook “friend” showing a photo of the 9/11 terror attack that purported that it was “illegal aliens” who brought terror on America on that horrific day.

The false claim was already “liked” by several until my cousin of course, who went to great lengths to insist that the poster get the facts straight. Upon hearing of this, I visited this “friend’s” wall and like my cousin, warned that such ignorant and mischievous information was wrong and only continued to lead to an alienation of the Republican Party from immigrant voters.

The next day, both my cousin and I were “defriended” by this right winger, who then proceeded to verbally abuse us on his Facebook wall and insisted he was happy to “take out the liberal trash.”

The move from this individual was surprising and somewhat disturbing but it definitely represents a trend that has been eerily a part of the right’s campaign to scapegoat immigrants –both legal and illegal.

The 9/11 claim has been one bandied around for a while now by the right. In fact, current GOP Presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, in an ’08 bid for the White House against then hopeful, John McCain, released an ad on his website and to YouTube mistakenly suggesting 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta did not have legal status in the U.S. Photos of Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers appeared in the ad and the word “Illegally” was printed in bold, red letters — flashed over the screen.

Citizens United, a conservative group lobbying against the immigration bill, paid for the ad at the time purchased a “six-figure” media buy for the ad to appear on cable television.

The truth is that all of the 19 men who hijacked planes on September 11th, including Atta, entered the United States on a tourist, or student visa, issued by the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Now with another election up for grabs, the false claim has resurfaced and is making its Internet rounds as the scapegoating of immigrants resumes.

When is this going to stop? Would it be the same if more of the so called “illegal aliens” were not brown or black?
The lies continue to be perpetrated by organizations with the ironic name of FAIR! There’s nothing fair about the deceitful claims put out by FAIR and then promoted by right wingers. For instance, after President Obama’s State of the Union last month, the group put out a press release that screamed: “President Asks Congress for Amnesty Plan but Fails to Mention He’s Already Launched it without Their Approval.” Which speech exactly did these folks watch?

And this past week, on CNN, FAIR ran an ad attacking not just illegal but now legal immigrants, claiming they are taking away jobs from Americans who can’t get jobs.

The reality is that each “legal” immigrant coming to America on an employment visa has to prove they are not taking away a job from an American. The work being done by many “illegals” across this country, picking fruit and vegetables for $3 per box, washing dishes in restaurant or cleaning homes, lawns and supermarkets and fish, is work even those unemployed Americans will refuse.

But let’s give it a test FAIR! Let’s get the unemployed to apply for the jobs in the American farms desperate for labor and see how that will turn out.

The reality is that border crossings are down, more “illegals” have been deported under the Obama administration than any other President, Republican or Democrat; many U.S. businesses are hurting as they urgently need skilled and unskilled migrant labor; many immigrants are heading up major companies or starting businesses and the undocumented are paying taxes and making a significant contribution to this country. Those are the facts so let’s not be consumed by lies and ignorance. No one wants an open border policy or general amnesty. Those are lies from the right that offer no real solutions and continue to perpetuate the ignorance. The reality is we need immigration reform that can benefit our country and economy and one that is humane and offers solutions not a head in the ground, racist pronouncement.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.