THE BLOG
06/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Was Anyone Surprised at the Right Wing Attacks on Latinos Over H1N1?

The swine-flu outbreak, at least the initial stage of it, appears to be subsiding. If it turns out that H1N1 is not the massive death-wave that right-wing extremists predicted, they will no doubt move on to another "end of America" crisis.

But I have to give credit to conservative commentators. They didn't immediately turn the swine-flu epidemic into a xenophobic witch hunt against Hispanics.

They waited a few days.

Perhaps that was to gather their thoughts. Although if that is the case, I'm not sure why they bothered, because the empty, tired rants aimed at Latinos were shocking not for their offensiveness, but for their predictability.

A virus originates in Mexico, for reasons that scientists still cannot explain, but anonymous commentators have the answer: Because Latinos are dirty and "Mexicans are pigs!" (an actual posting to a conservative website).

Illegal immigrants are to blame, according to other wise sages, and will soon infect us all. Meanwhile, still other rational minds postulate that the outbreak is actually a terrorist attack, instigated by germ-warfare experts who are counting on Mexicans to infiltrate the country.

Actually, that last one gets bonus points for combining three right-wing obsessions (immigration, terrorist evil-doers, and conspiratorial plots) into a parfait of pure insanity.

This kind of hate mongering goes back to the Middle Ages, when Jews became a convenient scapegoat for the Black Death. Since then, the Irish, Italians, Spaniards, gays, and many others have been blamed for nature's occasional hissy fits with us.

As MSNBC pointed out, "It's 'the other,' the group not seen as part of the nation, the one who threatens it in some way that gets blamed for the disease."

So Mexicans, already accused of bringing down America's economy and values, were set to destroy our health as well.

"Oh wait," the right winger says. "Maybe the outbreak isn't so catastrophic after all. Forget what I said."

Well, it's too late now. It's clear what we have to do: Let's focus all our fear and rage on Edgar Hernandez, the five-year-old Mexican boy who was identified as Patient Zero in the outbreak. Just look at him. Who knows what vile plot he'll unleash on us next...

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