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The Abominable Mr. Dobbs

It’s time for CNN to drop Lou Dobbs, the extremist cable host, from its network for his constant assaults on immigrants and Latinos in this country.

In contrast to CNN’s balanced news anchors, Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper, whose mantra is “Keeping Them Honest,” Dobbs constantly spews his xenophobic views on a regular basis. Maybe the charismatic Cooper can do us all a favor by keeping Dobbs honest?

It’s amazing to me how Dobbs blames immigrants, particularly Mexican immigrants, for everything that’s wrong with this country. From crime to disease, from the recession to the so-called erosion of American values, according to Dobbs, immigrants or what he calls “illegal aliens” appear to be the source of this country’s problems.

While everyone has the right to his or her own opinions, not everyone has a right to their own facts. Dobbs claims, for example, that undocumented immigrants account for one third of the total U.S. prison population. When journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! questioned this figure, countering that only 6 percent of the total prison population consists of non-citizens (which includes undocumented immigrants and others), Dobbs appeared unfazed about reporting false information to support his views toward immigrants.

In addition to crime, Dobbs constantly fabricates and exaggerates the extent that undocumented immigrants play in the spread of disease in this country.  Dobbs claims that immigrants pose a danger to this country by spreading diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and leprosy without providing scientific research to support his claims.  For example, according to Dobbs, undocumented immigrants cause 7,000 cases of leprosy every 3 years in this country.  Contradicting this claim, television journalist Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes found that only 7,000 cases of leprosy have been reported during past 30 years in the U.S., without any direct link to immigrants.  When questioned by Stahl on 60 Minutes, Dobbs seemed unconcerned about the gross discrepancies between his statements and the facts.

When it comes to the economy, undocumented immigrants, according to Dobbs, have wreaked havoc on this country’s financial stability. While it’s one thing to blame corporate America for outsourcing jobs to foreign countries and to hold the federal government accountable for free-trade policies that endanger the middle-class in this country, it’s quite another thing to hold undocumented immigrants responsible for America’s economic ills.

How in the world can an undocumented immigrant who works in a service-oriented job that most Americans avoid due to the low wages and social stigma associated with so-called immigrant jobs, present a threat to America’s economic prosperity? Instead of attacking Lehman Brothers and the Republicans’ reckless deregulation policies for hurting the American economy, Dobbs and fellow conservatives act like it’s the Garcia brothers and their willingness to work in this country’s most dangerous and lowest-paying jobs that best explains the current economic meltdown.

Apart from linking undocumented immigrants to the United States’ current problems related to crime, disease and the recession, Dobbs and other conservatives assert that recent immigrants threaten the social fabric of this country.

For example, the late political scientist Samuel Huntington of Harvard University famously wrote an essay titled “The Hispanic Challenge,” where the distinguished professor unabashedly portrayed Mexican immigration in particular as one of the biggest threats to the “Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream.”

It’s maddening to see that, in a time where many people claim that we live in a so-called post-racial society, especially with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and successful appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to Supreme Court justice, that powerful public figures like Huntington and Dobbs can spew their anti-immigrant views without internal pressures from reputable institutions like Harvard and CNN, respectively.

Shame on them all.

Just like the Civil Rights Movement for the black community, it’s incumbent upon the growing Latino community, especially those of Mexican descent, along with individuals who value a society free of discrimination and exploitation, to help remove Dobbs from his privileged position at CNN.

CNN is not a public or democratically elected institution, where we have a constitutional right to vote for who speaks on behalf of this organization. We can, however, put pressure by boycotting the corporations who underwrite Dobbs’ anti-immigrant views through advertisement dollars.

Those corporations whose advertisement dollars keep Dobbs on the air are guilty by association and don’t deserve the tremendous purchasing power of the Latino community.

Fortunately, an ongoing effort led by community leaders and a coalition of pro-immigrant advocacy groups, such as bastadobbs.com, are currently engaged in a campaign to stop Dobbs from spreading more hate and fear against honest, hardworking people in this country.

In short, the time has come for those who believe in a more just and humane society to work together toward sending Lou Dobbs to where he belongs: Fox News.

ALVARO HUERTA is a doctoral student at UC Berkeley. He can be reached at: ahuerta@berkeley.edu

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Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

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