Adam Kwasman, a Republican state legislator now running for Congress in Arizona, is one of those far right politicians who is simultaneously demanding that all of the refugee children be sent back immediately and that Obama is to blame for the mistreatment that led them to come here in the first place. And he has an anecdote to prove it:
Republican congressional candidate and state legislator Adam Kwasman had just raced up to Phoenix Tuesday morning from the Oracle protest over the expected arrival of dozens of migrant children at a shelter.
He had tweeted from the scene, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.” He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus.
Kwasman later told me he saw the migrant children. “I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces…. This is not compassion,” he said.
There was just one little problem: The bus he saw was kids on the way to a YMCA summer camp, not refugees. Amanda Marcotte accurately spots a pattern:
I have to imagine most of you, except of course our right wing trolls, are as appalled and even depressed at the display of raw racist hatred that has been emanating from the right in recent weeks with regards to the exploding number of unaccompanied minors migrating to the U.S., usually to escape severe poverty or violent persecution in Mexico and Central and South America. To hear conservative pundits and politicians tell of it, migrant children are only here because they want to rape white women and give diseases to white men while cackling evilly at how they tricked us all by being, you know, children. I’ll leave it to the more academically minded to parse out all the various sociological research about the reactionary approach to youth, race and ethnicity, etc. that is feeding into this disgusting display of pure inhumanity towards these extremely vulnerable young people.
But what I do know and know well is how right wingers consider their own public image and how to manipulate it. And “manipulate” is the right word, as conservatives feel fully entitled to lie and bullshit to present a “compassionate” image to graft over their real motivations, from waxing poetic about “liberating” Iraq to pretending that they worry about women seeking abortion to claiming they want to end universal health care to protect people to claiming they want to end the social safety net to help poor people. They know that hate doesn’t sell well and so will generally, in the face of bad press, try to come up with some line of bullshit about how they’re trying to help the people that they’re actually out to hurt. And so it was just a matter of time before they realized that screaming about how 12-year-old migrants are disease-ridden rapists was a bad look and they needed to feign concern about their welfare, so as better to accomplish the real goal of sending them back home to be murdered by gangs…
While this is funny, it also points to a larger problem that tends to flourish in racist and reactionary circles: The role that urban legends and assumption-drawing on very thin and anecdotal evidence plays in all this. There’s a lot of right wingers hearing someone speaking casually in Spanish at the grocery store, and by the time they get home, it’s turned into some elaborate morality play about the evils of immigration. Or seeing a kid gazing out of a bus window and, before you know it, you have concocted his whole life story. Or seeing Latino men walking down the street and drawing elaborate and unfair conclusions about what they’re up to. Or sharing legends about how you heard from a friend of a friend that some immigrant did something awful and therefore all your paranoia and hatred is justified.