Nightly Nativism | The Nation


Nightly Nativism

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Still, CNN showcases its popular anchor at every opportunity. In May, when President Bush gave his national speech on immigration reform, CNN watchers heard more from Dobbs than from the President--first on his own show, then on The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer, and later on Larry King Live and Anderson Cooper 360. "It's time to cut through the nonsense here," Dobbs announced on The Situation Room, assuming the grave-yet-contemptuous look he reserves for this issue. "We have a border that is the source of the principal amount of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and meth coming into this country," he proclaimed. "Six thousand National Guardsmen in an adjunct support role is pure cotton-candy nonsense.... We should also be holding the government of Mexico accountable.... They are exporting poverty. They are overcrowding the major schools in Los Angeles. They are creating a crime wave in point of fact in certain parts of the country." (According to experts like Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson, the opposite is true: The nationwide decline in violent crime throughout the 1990s was correlated with a sharp increase in immigration; others have shown that immigrants appear to be less violent than non-immigrants and have the lowest rates of incarceration.)

Research support for this issue's articles on the new American nativism was
provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. The fund
provides research and travel grants for investigative reporting in the
independent press.

About the Author

Daphne Eviatar
Daphne Eviatar, a Brooklyn-based lawyer and journalist, is a senior reporter for The American Lawyer.

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Dobbs's concerns go far beyond illegal immigration. When he accepted the Katz Award from CIS--after a glowing introduction from Congressman Tom Tancredo, the leading anti-immigration extremist in Washington and a frequent Dobbs guest--he explained that illegal immigration "spans a broad range of fundamental issues that should be of concern to all Americans who are worried about the direction of this country." After noting that the US population has doubled in forty years, Dobbs warned his audience, "We are importing the population growth of other countries, whether it's China or Mexico or any country in the world."

Dobbs's fears about the cultural impact of immigration on the United States apply to Latino American immigrants across the board, legal or illegal. That some sang the national anthem in Spanish while protesting the Sensenbrenner bill this spring, for example, seemed to hit at the heart of his concerns: What will this nation look like, and sound like, in the future?

That anxiety, fueled in part by demographic studies showing that white Americans will be a minority within the next two decades, may well explain why Dobbs connects with such a large and loyal audience. The anchor takes care not to discuss immigration issues in explicitly racial terms. But he schedules guests on his show to make the demographic point.

After Diane West, a columnist for the conservative Washington Times, wrote that the United States would "cease to be a nation" if the Senate's immigration reform bill passed, Dobbs invited her on his show and gave her ample time to elaborate. Projected immigration "has the effect of a demographic tsunami, and it will be mainly Hispanic," West said. "It will be mainly Mexican. And so, what the question becomes is, Do we want to become a northern section of Latin America? Do we cease to become literally an English-speaking people, become bilingual, and/or Spanish-speaking? And with these questions, you really begin to get at the heart of the matter ... a new demographic."

Dobbs prudently eased away from West's "demographic" concern. But not completely. "The issue of multiculturalism, however, and the issue of multi-language," he said. "That becomes a very serious issue, doesn't it?"

For the hundreds of thousands who tune in faithfully to watch Lou Dobbs, securing our "broken borders" may be as much about preserving white American culture as about security or economics. It's a cause white nationalists have long advanced. But it's a new role for television news.

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