COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
JULY 21, 2008
BY ROBERTO DR. CINTLI RODRIGUEZ
THE CHUPACABRA PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR AGAINST MIGRANTS
Scapegoating appears to have become the U.S. national pastime. Despite the deaths of thousands of brown peoples on the border and despite the rise of draconian laws massive nationwide immigration sweeps that rip families apart, scoundrel politicians have been waging an intense psychological war that has managed to convince much of the nation that these invading "brown hordes" are the source of all of their problems.
Scapegoating against the most exploited sectors of society shouldn't work, save for this sophisticated war. They – whom have come here primarily to work – have been demonized and dehumanized and nowadays treated as a threat, both to national security and the American Way of Life.
The sophistication lies in the ability to create loopholes to the precept that all people are created equal. In the United States, this equality is nowadays reserved for citizens. While exceptions generally offend our moral compass, they are not new to this country. This helps to explain land theft, genocide and slavery, along with the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is thus not a difficult leap to condone periodic massive repatriation campaigns against millions of brown peoples.
In this psychological war, we are told that it is not brown people who are being targeted: Only the illegal ones (the ones not truly human).
What is it that permits people to spew out venomous hate and to orchestrate campaigns that call for the incarceration and repatriation of brown peoples and confuse it for law and order? For example, CNN's Lou Dobbs, commentator Pat Buchanan, Rep. Tom Tancredo and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio all share something in common; they are obsessed and have made a career of haranguing so-called "illegal aliens." If their focus were Whites, African Americans, American Indians or Jews, their careers would have rightly been over long ago. Yet, because their hate campaigns target "illegal" and "faceless" brown people, these hate-mongers convince themselves that they are not racists.
However, in this same psychological war, the words "racist" and "sexist" have also now been rendered meaningless. Some even take pride in being labeled as such. In part, this is because psychological warfare is aimed at destabilizing and subverting the meaning of the words and languages we speak. This is what permits right-wing talk-show hosts and politicians to call for what amounts to ethnic cleansing, while avoiding a negative stigma. They can do this because in their own minds, they are simply calling for the protection of the nation's borders, not advocating campaigns against legitimate human beings.
In part, they are able to get away with this precisely because they have carved out a moral exception for human decency. This is the same psychological device that continues to permit segregation and discrimination – this while continuing to proclaim that we're all the children of the same God (It is not an irony that their anti-immigrant messages are not preached anywhere in any mainstream house of worship. Quite the reverse. Neither is it an irony that their hate is closely monitored by the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project: http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intpro.jsp).
The primary practitioners of psychological warfare that utilize the mis-use of language as a primary weapon are government, the military, global media giants and multi-billion dollar corporations (The president's butchering of the language does not count). Such warfare can result in the public coming to believe that wars are waged to bring about peace, that greedy and polluting corporations need to be given massive tax-breaks, that the Constitution is obsolete, that our privacy, rights and our freedoms are quaint and that the exploitation of human beings is part of a natural order.
It is what George Orwell warned about in his classic novel, 1984. Through psychological warfare, the world gets turned upside down. This is how bigots become patriots and how human rights champions become traitors. This is in full evidence everywhere, including Tucson, where Pima County Legal Defender, Isabel Garcia, is in danger of losing her job – over a piñata incident – in which she and many protestors urged Sheriff Arpaio to "get out of town." Rather than the nation's #1 racial profiler having to explain his policies, it is Garcia who is on the defensive. Phoenix Mayor, Phil Gordon, who also opposes Arpaio's racial profiling, has also been put on the defensive.
Ironically, there does not appear to be an adequate appellation for someone who does not recognize the humanity of millions. In English, there are no such words. The closest I can find is "a human Chupacabras" – a devourer of flesh, spirits and souls.