After watching the news for the past several weeks, I’m aware of two things. The first is that I long for the days when people actually meant what they said. The second is that I miss the days when people at least wore their bigotry openly.


After watching the news for the past several weeks, I’m aware of two things. The first is that I long for the days when people actually meant what they said. The second is that I miss the days when people at least wore their bigotry openly.
For example, in a Feb. 8 Washington Post story, an Alabama state legislator was called out for his use of the phrase “empty the clip” when referring to illegal immigration.
To quote the story, “Sen. Scott Beason said Tuesday he used the phrase in a weekend speech to the Cullman County Republican Club, but not in the sense of firing all the ammunition in a weapon. He said he meant that it will take a wide array of government action to solve illegal immigration and other problems.”
OK, so why not just phrase it that way? That got the message across just fine. It will take a wide array of government action to stop illegal immigration. Why revert to idiot playground speak? You’re a senator, not a low-rent action movie screenwriter.
In all fairness, however, it’s getting hard to tell the difference.
It’s also getting harder and harder to call people out on more obvious bigotry, because we seem to constantly “misunderstand” people, or “misconstrue” what they really mean.
Take Kansas State Representative Connie O’Brien, who recently said she knew a community college student was in the country illegally because she was “olive skinned.”
Testifying before the House State and Federal Affairs Committee - you know, let me say that again with some emphasis added - TESTIFYING BEFORE THE HOUSE STATE AND FEDERAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE - O’Brien said, ON TAPE, in regard to her son applying for financial aid:
“My son, who’s a Kansas resident, born here, raised here, didn’t qualify for any financial aid. Yet this girl was going to get financial aid... We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was, we didn’t think that was proper. But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country.”
When a member of the committee asked how she was able to divine such information, O’Brien, who seems to love hole digging, replied, “Well, she wasn't black," O'Brien said. "She wasn't Asian. And she had the olive complexion.”
I suppose it’s a sign of progress that African Americans and Asians can now be in the citizen club based on first glance.
O’Brien said she needs a few days to figure out how to respond to criticism of that statement, but it’s all good because her son-in-law has “the olive complexion,” too. She also said that she understands how her statement could have been “misconstrued.”
My dear, I don’t think anyone misconstrued your statement. I think it is impossible to “misconstrue” anything about that statement. You saw someone with a different skin color and you leapt to a conclusion based solely on that one piece of information.
This is, of course, indicative of a larger problem in today’s politics - the scapegoating of the illegal immigrant.
Lest anyone leap to other conclusions, I am not an advocate of illegal immigration. I am very much in favor of legal immigration, and I believe the process needs to be streamlined. However, it seems to me that politicians have latched on to the illegal immigration issue much in the same way Roman politicians found they could keep the public distracted and happy by feeding Christians to hungry lions.
I refuse to believe that illegal immigration is destroying this nation. That’s what Congress is for. We have bigger problems. Yet, we live in angry times, and angry people are motivated people. It’s only natural that politicians, an opportunistic breed if ever there was one, would exploit that anger by providing a target.
It’s an old trick. Once upon a time it was the Irish that took the role of the hated “other.” Catholics, Jews and Mormons felt that particular lash, too. I suppose it’s the Mexicans’ turn, unless there’s a horrible Canadian illegal immigration problem I’m not aware of.
It’s that anger that lets people like O’Brien get away with such obviously bigoted language, and further get away with saying she could be “misconstrued.” It’s anger like that that lets that Alabama state senator talk like some hillbilly Rambo.
This nation has survived a revolution, an invasion, a civil war, two world wars and several seasons of reality television. I think we’re going to get through people with “the olive complexion” just fine. I’m just not sure we can survive “leaders” who can’t seem to get through a sentence without cramming their entire leg in their mouth.
So, in that spirit, if you’re really that concerned about a specific ethnic class ruining this nation, just own it. If you really want to “empty the clip,” then do so. Just don’t insult our intelligence by saying you didn’t mean it, or that you are being “misconstrued.” Just because you’re that dense doesn’t mean the rest of us are.