Saturday, August 11, 2018

Laura Ingraham Accidentally Lets the Cat Out of the Bag

On a recent segment of her Fox News show, “The Ingraham Angle,” Laura Ingraham said the following:

In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they're changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically, in some ways, the country has changed. Now much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.

The comment has drawn widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum; a majority of it coming from conservatives who, I suppose, were probably more offended by the fact Ingraham continues to call herself a conservative.

This is not the first time Ingraham has been called out for making inflammatory statements. Back in March, she took a "planned vacation" after she tweeted that David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting, was "whining" about not getting into four colleges he had applied to. After several advertisers decided to boycott her show, Ingraham did an about face and issued a half-hearted apology.

She did likewise after this latest atrocity, claiming that she wasn't talking about race. Of course you weren't, Laura. You were just warning us about an impending invasion of Klingons intent on wiping out most of humanity and forcing the rest of us to eat gagh. Jesus, the only thing I hate more than a racist who won't own her words, is a racist who continually wears a cross around her neck without the slightest idea of what that cross means. You should really take it off, Laura, it isn't helping you.

In a way, though, I suppose we should be grateful to Ingraham. I'm not sure if she realized it or not, but her words, as hateful and racist as they were, perfectly crystalized the alt-right movement in this country. But more than that, they underscored the fear that many in the white community are experiencing about these "demographic changes" that Ingraham alluded to; changes that will inevitably lead to the white race in this country being a minority within the next 30 to 40 years.

Donald Trump has preyed upon that fear to activate the most reprehensible elements in our country. I'm still not prepared to admit that it alone was enough to carry him across the finish line, but it undoubtedly played, and continues to play, an integral role in virtually all of his stances. From his hideous wall, to his administration's decision to separate children from their parents, to the militarization of ICE in the round-up of illegal immigrants that would've made Himmler proud, all of these policies are intended to appeal to that constituency that Ingraham spoke about; the people who "don't like" the direction the country's headed in.

Forget dog whistles, people. We have a president who openly uses Twitter like a bullhorn to spew his racism and a network, masquerading as a cable news channel, that enables it on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. That Ingraham still has a job is proof positive that this tactic is working. More and more, white people are falling for the canard that their way of life is coming to an end, just because the country is becoming increasingly brown. Rather than appeal to our better angels, people like Ingraham appeal to our darker natures.

The fear that these people are invoking today is no different than the fear the country was gripped in more than a century ago when the Chinese, the Irish, the Italians, the Germans and the Jews were singled out as somehow "different," i.e. inferior, to the people who were already here. Steps were taken then to "limit" those people from emigrating into the country. The internment of the Japanese during World War II remains one of the nation's most embarrassing chapters.

My religion tells me that the only way to defeat hate is with love. You cannot successfully combat it on its turf. Indeed, evil wants to draw us into battle; that's how it spreads. Just look at all of Trump's opponents. Virtually all of them employed his tactics and all of them ended up on the losing side. As the singer / songwriter Jewel once sang, "I will gather myself around my faith, for light does the darkness most fear."

I am not being pollyanna when I say that the overt racism which has inflicted this nation will eventually be defeated, not because I am naive enough to believe that we can ever entirely eradicate it from the body politic, but because we can expose it and its proponents to the light of day. The truth is all of us, on some level, have a story to tell about what our parents or grandparents went through when they entered this country. The bigotry they endured should sound a wakeup call for all of us.

Among my heritage, signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply" lined the local shops and businesses of New York City in the early 20th century. In Mel Brooks's classic movie Blazing Saddles, the people of the fake town of Rockridge were willing to take in the Chinese, but when it came to my people, they were defiant:"We don't want the Irish!" A joke in 1974, but a stark reality in 1904.

America has often been referred to as a melting pot. I rather think of it as a pressure cooker. And like any good pressure cooker, the ingredients are simmered together to create a meal of distinctive flavors and aromas. Taken separately they amount to nothing, but together they form the sustenance needed for a healthy society to flourish and grow.

The United States of the early 20th century looked nothing like it did during its colonial days. And the United States of today looks nothing like it did a hundred years ago. Fifty years from now, it will look vastly different. And that is a good thing. Our founders did not create a perfect union. Rather they created one that is constantly becoming more and more perfect.

The fact that Laura Ingraham doesn't understand or like it, doesn't change that fact. In the end, the racism that she and this president espouse will be relegated to the ash heap of history.

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