The outbreak of swine flu has led some media pundits and bloggers to demonize Mexicans and immigrants, blaming them for the spread of the virus. Anti-immigrant groups and some mainstream media commentators are using the outbreak to advance their prejudiced views and agendas, warning that the virus in the U.S. is the result of illegal immigration.
The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors and reports on the rhetoric of anti-immigration activists and their supporters, has documented how these individuals and groups have long promoted the notion of immigrants as bringing disease, crime and environmental problems into the United States.
The following are examples of some of the rhetoric in response to the outbreak of swine flu in the United States and countries around the world:
Glenn Beck, a former CNN host who now has a weeknight show on FOX News and a nationally syndicated radio show, used airtime during his April 27, 2009 radio broadcast to discuss the alleged propensity of “dying” Mexicans to “flood [the] border.” He alleged, “…if you are a family and you’re down in Mexico and you’re dying and those in America are not, why wouldn’t you flood this border?...People start to come and rush this border. Then what happens? Gee, it’d be nice if we had some border security.”
Michelle Malkin, nationally syndicated conservative news commentator and FOX News contributor, whose columns appear in mainstream newspapers across the country, wrote in an April 25, 2009 post to her blog:
- 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. We’ve heard for years from reckless open-borders ideologues who continue to insist there’s nothing to worry about. And we’ve heard for years that calling any attention to the dangers of allowing untold numbers of people to pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening — as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country — is RAAAACIST. 9/11 didn’t convince the open-borders zealots to put down their race cards and confront reality.
Michael Savage, a nationally syndicated shock jock who has a history of making inflammatory statements, exploited the swine flu outbreak to demonize immigrants and Muslims on his radio program. During his April 24, 2009, broadcast, Savage stated:
- I’m going to talk about the horrible, horrible story of illegal aliens bringing a deadly new flu strain into the United States of America. Make no mistake about it. Illegal aliens are carriers of the new strain of human swine avian flu from Mexico. Make no mistake about it….The question to me is, there’s only one question in my mind, which is this: Is this a terrorist attack? Did these demonic terrorists make a new form of influenza A virus never before seen which is a mixture of human, swine, and avian viruses mixed together?
Savage went on to suggest that the Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, ask herself,
- Could this be a terrorist attack through Mexico? Could our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this virus and planted it in Mexico knowing that you, Janet Napolitano, would do nothing to stop the flow of human traffic from Mexico, and they are a perfect mule, perfect mules for bringing this virus into America…?….I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do, and I don’t give a damn if you don’t like what I’m gonna say. I’m gonna have no contact, anywhere, with an illegal alien, and that starts in the restaurants. You want intelligence? Stop eating at restaurants where they have undocumented workers in the kitchen…Number two, I will have no illegal alien workers around me. I will not have them in any of my properties, I will not have them anywhere near me.
Pat Buchanan, a racist and anti-Semite who maintains a consistent presence in the mainstream media as a commentator, authored an April 30, 2009 article entitled “The Obama Flu?” In the piece, Buchanan suggested the possibility that Obama is pandering to the “open-borders crowd” by refusing to ban planes and buses from Mexico City and thereby risking American lives. Buchanan, who has a history of blaming immigrants for societal ills, exploited the outbreak of what he termed the “Mexican swine flu” to reiterate his long-held allegation that “an invasion of illegal aliens” has imported a “raft of diseases never seen here before…multiple drug resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, measles, syphilis, Chagas disease, dengue fever and new strains of hepatitis.” He finished off the paragraph by implying that undocumented immigrants are responsible for the “bed bugs [that] have invaded half the American states.” Buchanan’s article appeared in several places on the Internet, including the Web site of MSNBC, on which he was described as a “political analyst.”
Jay Severin, a Boston-based radio host, was suspended indefinitely on April 30, 2009 after blaming Mexican immigrants for the swine flu, calling them “leeches,” “primitives,” and more. During a previous broadcast, Severin claimed:
- So now in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico, women with mustaches and VD, now, now we have swine flu….And when we are the magnet for primitives around the world...and when you scoop up some of the world’s lowest of primitives in poor Mexico and drop it down in the middle of the United States, poor, without skills, without language, not share our culture, not share our hygiene, haven’t been vaccinated…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. Now, at this particular moment in history, they are exporting to us a more, rather more active form of disease, which is the swine flu…Middle class people are fleeing California in droves to get away from the criminaliens, as we know…Hundreds of kids are sick…all of them because of Mexicans.
Neal Boortz, a Georgia-based, nationally syndicated radio host who has made a series of remarks that advance stereotypical images of Mexicans, has used his Web site to continue to spread inflammatory rhetoric about Mexico, its citizenry, and undocumented immigrants. In a May 1, 2009 posting to the “Nealz Nuze” section of his site, Boortz crossed out the term “swine flu” and replaced it with the phrase “fajita flu.” On April 27, “Nealz Nuze” included the following advice from Boortz: “Wash your hands and don’t kiss any illegals.” Boortz also wrote on April 27, “If the Mexicans are as successful in sending this bug north as they were in sending framers and sheet rock installers, we might be in for a spot of trouble."