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Has Anti-Latino Sentiment Peaked?

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By now, you've heard all about the Kansas legislator who said it was a fine idea to hire gunmen to fly around in helicopters and shoot undocumented immigrants. Republican Virgil Peck made what he calls a "joke" during a public hearing on how to control the feral-pig population (like you, I was unaware that this was a huge problem in Kansas).

In any case, Peck has apologized for comparing immigrants to hogs, and while he was at it, for advocating that the state just start executing people it doesn't like.

Of course, Peck's comments are not in the smallest way indicative of the GOP's hatred for Hispanics. As conservatives are quick to point out, that is all a liberal-media myth, and the Republican Party truly loves Hispanics. After all, you only joke about slaughtering people like vermin if you really respect them.

To be fair, it can't be easy for Representative Peck. You see, he knows, on some subconscious level, that this is probably the high-water mark for anti-Latino sentiment in this country. His homey brand of racism just isn't going to fly much longer.

There are many reasons for this. Foremost is that Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in America. As such, badmouthing Latinos for all the wrongs of this country won't resonate in the future, when so much of the audience will be brown-skinned. Along those lines, now that Hispanics are putting up such serious population numbers, our influence on American culture will only grow. And keep in mind that it's difficult to hate the exotic "other" when they've probably married into your family.

Still, perhaps Peck is in denial about the scary U.S. Census numbers. Even in that case, however, he must have noticed the fate of SB 1070. Conservatives originally regarded Arizona's law as the forefront of a wave of anti-immigrant legislation. Instead, it is looking more and more like an absurd overreach.

Witness that no other states have passed laws similar to Arizona's (with the exception of Utah's less-onerous version). And this failure has come despite the Republican push to strike while the iron was hot. If they cannot get forty-nine other little SB 1070s passed now, what are the odds that that they will get it done in the future?

Even Arizona itself is rethinking its lunatic stance on Latinos. The state's creators of SB 1070, who for some bizarre reason thought that people were clamoring for a sequel to their divisive legislation, recently introduced several new attacks on Hispanics (and upon the Constitution, while they were at it). But those bills all went down in flames.

In essence, individuals like Peck are breaking into icy sweats at the thought that they might not be the unquestioned masters of America for much longer. Why, it's getting to the point that they can't make an innocent joke about gunning down ethnic minorities without getting called on it (what's this country coming to?).

Peck's feeble attempt at humor lines up with the more overt shrieking of those conservatives who are terrified of Latinos, immigrants, undocumented people, or all three. They know that their mindset, once the default setting for the nation, is fading away.

It's the same reason why gay-marriage opponents are screaming more loudly than ever about banning Adam and Steve's wedding. They know that the younger generation doesn't share their biases. And that undeniable fact means that the old vision of America will soon be relegated to ignominy.

So perhaps we should encourage Peck to laugh it up while he can. After all, soon no one will care what he thinks.

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