When the News Media Kills
As Klan-like rhetoric makes the rounds in legacy media, attacks on the Latino community continue to spike
Hate crimes against Latinos are rising nationwide as media outlets allow bigots to spread lies to tens of millions of people while using militaristic language in their reporting about the US-Mexico border. Helping the spread of Latinophobia is the silence from the same people who held former president Donald Trump to account as the Latino community continues to bear the brunt.
They’re making it seem as though they were bothered by the former president more as a person than they were by his policies.
However, because of his rhetoric, former president Trump is largely responsible for the rise in Latinophobia. Coinciding with the normalization of xenophobia against migrants of color, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) hate crime statistics showed a 35% increase in hate crimes against Latinos in 2021. An alarming spike despite 40% of police departments not participating in the voluntary Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
More recently, in the lead-up to the end of Title 42 and the manufactured hysteria from legacy news outlets left many in the US in a panic - made obvious by the ensuing flood of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Major media echoed the militaristic language coming from the US State Department (State) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as they announced the use of the Department of Defense (DOD) to help with the incoming “border crisis” that never manifested.
Now the narrative shifted to another type of panic: the “strain” migrants are putting on cities using a narrative born of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The same KKK that echoes the language of the founders who feared the “Germanization of America” and the end of the white race. The founders feared Germans, Spaniards, Irish, and Italian immigrants were overrunning the country and wiping out the “advances” of the Anglo-Saxon white man.
“Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion … the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians, and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s the same language used today based on generational ignorance passed down for centuries. The only difference is who the targets are. When looking at modern history, it’s not just the KKK using this rhetoric. The most prominent politicians, media personalities, and social media influencers do as well. Even legacy media outlets promoted the “immigrants are diseased criminals” narrative.
But wait… There’s more.
Pat Buchanan once echoed the same KKK language that the Proud Boys use today. “The existential question, however, thus remains: How does the West, America included, stop the flood tide of migrants before it alters forever the political and demographic character of our nations and our civilization?” Buchanan said. He’s not alone either. Republican strategist Lee Atwater, former presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and even Donald Trump parroted KKK rhetoric regularly when targeting non-white people.
“It is not true that all creeds and cultures are equally assimilable in a First World nation born of England, Christianity, and Western civilization. Race, faith, ethnicity and history leave genetic fingerprints no ‘proposition nation’ can erase…Race matters. Ethnicity matters. History matters,” Pat Buchannan, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, 2006.
When former president Trump said, “Why are we having people from shithole countries coming here… why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,” he was echoing the 14 words by neo-Nazi David Lane which read, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The connection between the two statements is clear and explains why white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Klan members alike all continue to support the former president.
Similarly, the idea that immigrants are criminals that bring disease across the border is also Klan rhetoric that put migrants of color in serious danger. Statements that may have been true at the turn of the 20th century when immigrants from Europe were flooding the US haven’t been true for decades. Asylum-seekers who come to the US have been medically screened as well as background checked prior to being granted asylum or humanitarian parole.
However, recently CBS News, like every other major media outlet, let a local resident in a major city spew similar xenophobic rhetoric. In a segment talking about the strain migrants are supposedly causing in cities across the US, a man was seen saying, “I don’t feel safe with adult males with no health screenings, no criminal background checks around our children.” CBS News made no efforts to correct the record nor did they clarify that what he said isn’t true.
So what happens when major media promotes hate speech? It kills people. It exacerbates the damage they have been doing for decades, and more recently in the Trump era, to demonize non-white people. It’s not like they don’t have practice. They’ve been doing this to Black people for centuries. They went from targeting “swarthy” Europeans to the Chinese, Japanese, and now, migrants of color coming through the Southern Border.
This is why you never hear about Ukrainians or Russians coming US-Mexico border. That’s not an accident either. Charlie D’Agata (also from CBS News) reminded us all why Ukrainian blue-eyed blond-haired children were more important than children from the Global South. He made that abundantly clear as did every other major media outlet in an appeal to “Americans” to support a long drawn-out and expensive war in Ukraine.
All of this has led us to a place where Latinos aren’t welcomed in the US because we’re dirty, diseased criminals to bigots across the country. When supposed “unbiased” media outlets platform hate they provide ammunition to racists which helps boost hate group recruitment numbers and drive hate toward non-white groups. This is the systemic racism we often talk about on these racial justice streets. Ignoring it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
Instead, it gives them the power to keep doing it.
Arturo is a writer, journalist, and publisher of The Antagonist Magazine and a regular contributor at Latino Rebels and Unicorn Riot. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.