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:
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:
Savage went on to suggest that the Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, ask herself,
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:
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."