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Talk About a Smear Merchant! | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Talk About a Smear Merchant!

Last week on The O'Reilly Factor Michelle Malkin referred to me as a "smear merchant." This was her attempt at a response to my appearance on ABC's This Week, where I noted the overlap between white nationalists like David Duke and the position of Rep. Tom Tancredo when it comes to immigration policy.

As Max Blumenthal recently reported on TheNation.com, decades ago "Duke called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants and harsh penalties for businesses that employ them." Duke also led the "Klan Border Watch" along the Mexican-Californian border at a time when he and his cohorts were dismissed as paranoid.

More than 25 years later, Rep. Tancredo is leading the House effort to make felons out of undocumented immigrants and punish those who would offer them aid or shelter. And the vigilante group now on the scene is the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, whose president recently referred to the southern border as "a virtual war zone." In fact, Tancredo addressed a February 8 rally at the Capitol in support of the Minuteman Project and his website praises them as well.

Simply put, what once was considered extreme is now well-represented in the mainstream by the anti-immigrant forces of the Republican Party.

And before Ms. Malkin asserts that Rep. Tancredo "has done nothing more than insist that we enforce our borders and that the federal government fulfill its obligation to provide for the common defense," she might try explaining his insistence that undocumented immigrants are "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation," and that "they are coming here to kill you and to kill me and our families."

After slamming me, Malkin goes on to slam the demonstrators in Los Angeles: "These are people who believe that the American Southwest belongs to Mexico…. Who do nothing more than try to sabotage our sovereignty." In her column she labeled Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Lt. Gov. Bustamante "Latino supremacists." Talk about smearing people.

My interest on this issue is the same as with any pressing issue: to pursue constructive debate, examine the facts, and advocate the path I believe represents our nation's greatest ideals and values.

I sincerely doubt Ms. Malkin can say the same.

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