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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oregonian weighs in on racial attack

There was a disturbing attack near Molalla, Oregon last week.
Gonzales, 27, and Guzman, 26, who work at a nearby lumber mill, went to the park to drink beer and unwind after their shift ended. At one point, the attackers hurled grapefruit-size rocks at the men as they attempted to flee in Gonzales' car.

Law enforcement officials said the attack was an unusual event that resulted from a combination of alcohol, stupidity, immaturity and a pack mentality.

Others say the incident is an example of hostilities that some Oregon Latinos encounter.

"I think it's an ongoing thing and I think it's being exacerbated by this backlash about immigration," said Ramon Ramirez, president of Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United, a Woodburn-based agricultural workers union.
Today The Oregonian weighs in with an editorial that puts the blame where it belongs -- on the nasty, hateful "debate" over immigration that is fueled by conservative propagandists. (My words, not The Oregonian's. They're a little more delicate:)
The United States needs its current immigration debate, but too much of it clearly has become overheated. Hate crimes against Latinos soared by 23 percent between 2003 and 2005, according to the FBI.

Last week's viciousness at Wagon Wheel Park was anything but "isolated."
Anyone who has followed U.S. politics the last several years can see that the immigration "debate" is yet another conservative disaster. Desperate for traction on any kind of issue that will fire up their base, the GOP resorted to that old standby xenophobia with a soup├žon of racism (or more) thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately for Republicans, most people saw through it and are revolted at the nasty tone. Just as Pete Wilson severely damaged the California GOP in the last decade with his anti-immigrant stance, so too the national GOP shall reap what it sows on the electoral front.

As for the incident in Oregon, let's hope that appropriate charges are filed and the people responsible are held accountable. The offenders may have been young, but that's no excuse for such a violent mob attack. It's easy to imagine that "alcohol and stupidity" played a role, and that's something prosecutors, judges and perhaps juries might consider, but when two men have to flee for their lives while being assaulted by an angry mob, something is very, very wrong.

MORE -- Andrew Villenueve, NPI's Executive Director, passes along this tidbit from Media Matters on May 16:
On the May 16 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host and CBS Early Show special contributor Lou Dobbs accused two officials of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of misrepresenting a claim made on the April 14, 2005, edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight concerning the number of leprosy cases in the United States. But the SPLC's assertion -- that CNN correspondent Christine Romans inaccurately reported there were 7,000 leprosy cases "in the past three years" -- is true, and, when confronted by CBS News correspondent corespondent Lesley Stahl in a May 6 profile of him on CBS' 60 Minutes, Dobbs insisted it was accurate, then again insisted on its accuracy on his own show the following night.
Dobbs is an embarrassment to CNN. He has some populist opinions at times, but his endless propaganda about immigration is tiresome, and inaccurate. Of course, nobody ever holds these alleged journalists accountable for their inflammatory and misleading conduct.

We have very strong First Amendment protections in this country, as we should. But that doesn't mean CNN should give Dobbs carte blanche to spread hysterical lies about immigrants. It's called editorial judgement, CNN, look into it.

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