Hate Speech Cited in Immigration Debate
By SUZANNE GAMBOA
A national Latino group said Thursday it is fighting back against what it considers to be “hate speech” that has emerged from the debate over immigration.
National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia announced plans to pressure television network executives and candidates seeking their parties’ presidential nominations to clamp down on such remarks.
The group launched a Web site to counter the speech, www.wecanstopthehate.org, with clips of what it considers offensive comments on television as well as a tracking of hate crimes.
“Hate groups and extremists have taken over the immigration debate in an unprecedented wave of hate,” Murguia said. Although some comments could be considered free speech, “there is a line that sometimes can be crossed when it comes to free speech,” she said.
Some of the remarks the Hispanic group identified included referring to immigrants as an “army of invaders” or an “invading force,” associating immigrants with animals, accusing immigrants of bringing crime and diseases like leprosy to the U.S., and purveying a conspiracy theory that Latinos are trying to take back parts of the United States once ruled by Mexico.
Murguia named as offenders Pat Buchanan, who appears on MSNBC as a commentator, CNN’s Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck of Headline News, a CNN network.
Beck once offered a joint solution for immigration and energy on his radio program, Murguia said. “He read a proposed ad for a giant refinery that produces Mexinol, a fuel made from the bodies of illegal immigrants coming here from Mexico to find work,” Murguia said.
Murguia accused the television networks of cloaking members of hate groups as anti-immigrant experts on their programs. Among those she singled out was Jim Gilchrist, a co-founder of the Minuteman Project.
In response, Gilchrist called the National Council of La Raza a racial supremacy group that “dwarfs the combination of Black Panthers, KKK, American Indian Movement and Asian gangs.”
“I’m exercising free speech and I’m giving my opinion,” Gilchrist said. “My son-in-law is Mexican and two of my three grandchildren are half Mexican. The Minuteman Project is comprised of every race color and creed. … She has a right to her opinion, but she’s wrong.”
CNN Worldwide’s CEO agreed to meet with the group, said Cecilia Munoz, the council’s senior vice president. CNN spokeswoman Janine Iamunno said CNN had no comment.
A message left on voicemail for an MSNBC spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
On the Net:
National Council of La Raza: www.nclr.org