Friday, July 26, 2013

"Drug Mules?" Why, The Nerve!

Ha! Ha! We all laughed. It was quite amusing.  The Huffington Post reports

Three undocumented immigrants delivered cantaloupes to Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) office Thursday and called for his removal from the House Judiciary Committee after the lawmaker insisted that many Dreamers are involved in the drug trade.

"For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,"King recently told Newsmax, referring to undocumented young people known as Dreamers. "Those people would be legalized with the same act."

Maricela Aguilar, a 22-year-old organizer for Dreamer group United We Dream, said that King was trying to "give this narrative of us being criminals and bad people, when we're not." Aguilar is a graduate student at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and said that she was in the top 10 percent of her graduating class in high school.

The Dreamers delivered two cantaloupes to King's staffers, but were not able to speak with the congressman because he was in a meeting. King's office did not respond to a request for comment.

But you knew about King's statement, so offensive it was denounced even by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ( "inexcusable") and by Speaker Boehner, who said it "does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party."   (Boehner wisely did not admit the sentiments were less ridiculous than the values of the Republican Party.)   Joe Scarborough labeled the comments "inexcusable" and Jim Vandehei, executive editor of Politico, wrote "It's these guys that say these crazy things that are routinely getting picked up and have us talking about it, have other people talking about it, and it defines down the Republican Party."

The "extreme" or "crazy" or "irresponsible and reprehensible" (as described by Idaho Representative Paul Labrador of Idaho) characterizations appeared not to refer to King's charge that illegal immigrants are bringing huge amounts of grass across the border but instead to his reprehensible description of a set of human beings.  But when Labrador maintained the remarks were "out of touch with the conference," he reflected the widespread belief in his party that King was out of line and threatened to damage further the reputation of the party among Hispanics.

It's never good to compare a portion of the anatomy of an entire group of people to cantelope or other, less delicious, food. (Although calling one's spouse "honey" is quite acceptable. Go figure.)  Labeling them "drug mules" can bring only widespread refutation, condemnation, and shunning.

Not always.  Steve King is a pariah among Democrats, a large swath of independents and of the mainstream media, and- if we are to believe their wails of outrage- a few Republicans.  But if King were located much further east, were much larger, represented an entire state, and terrible at his job, perhaps the reaction would be different:

A day ahead of school budget elections statewide, Gov. Chris Christie today escalated his war of words with the state teachers' union, accusing union representatives of "using the students like drug mules" to carry information about whether their parents planned to vote.

Christie cited what he called a "mandatory" homework assignment instructing children in the Monroe Township School District to interview their parents about whether and why they would vote on Tuesday. 

"These are the typical kind of scare tactics that they involve themselves in," Christie said about the 200,000-member New Jersey Education Association, which has been critical of his proposed $820 million cut in school aid. "Scaring students in the classroom, scaring parents with the notes home in the bookbags, and the mandatory 'Project Democracy Homework' asking your parents about what they're going to do in the school board election, and reporting back to your teachers union representatives, using the students like drug mules to carry information back to the classroom, is reprehensible."

Steve Wollmer, a spokesman for the NJEA, said a third-grade teacher in Monroe distributed the homework as part of a civics lesson on voter participation, and it had nothing to do with how parents would vote.

"It's just astounding that a governor who just spent a week telling people how to vote would be upset at a teacher for just wondering if people are going to vote," Wollmer said.

A U.S. Representative claims with questionable evidence that illegal immigrants are drug mules.  A state governor claims public school students have been turned into drug mules by their teachers.  The former politician is excoriated; the latter becomes the favorite Republican of the traditional media. of many Independents and Democrats, and of MSNBC.

Blame Christie-love.  Or recognize that insulting illegal immigrants is far more dangerous politically in this neo-liberal age than demeaning public school students and teachers.  Your mileage will vary.  Either way, however, the double standard is remarkable and as outrageous as Steve King's remarks themselves are.

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