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Maddow: Heritage Foundation immigration study is exercise in Republican racism

By David Ferguson
Thursday, May 9, 2013 9:48 EDT
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On Wednesday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow talked about the futility of attempting to do minority outreach when your party’s platform is openly hostile to non-white Americans. She highlighted a study by the Heritage Foundation that said Latino immigrants should therefore be admitted to the U.S. only sparingly because their supposedly lower brain power will cost the country trillions of dollars.

The Heritage Foundation is a right wing “think tank,” a foundation established as the intellectual clearing-house for American conservatives. The group has sponsored studies and polls that have formed the intellectual fundament of conservative policy for a generation.

Recently the organization was taken over by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R), under whose stewardship the group authored the spurious immigration study, the goal of which is to undermine the immigration reform currently underway in Congress.

“The Heritage Foundation is not supposed to be a campaigning foundation,” Maddow explained. “They are supposed to deal with policy, facts, figures, and complex data sets. They can’t just appear to be killing immigration with straight-up politics, but they have to try to use something that looks like research, something that looks like a study of some kind.”

Enter Heritage fellow Jason Richwine, who co-authored the report in question and argued that immigration reform would end up costing the U.S. $6.3 trillion in lost productivity and social programs because Latino immigrants are a burden on society.

“The basic argument is immigrants are parasites and their children will be, too,” Maddow said.

Richwine’s Harvard dissertation, said Maddow, is like something out of the golden age of Third Reich eugenics. Hispanics, argued Richwine, have inherently lower IQs than whites, which makes them undesirable as an immigrant population.

“The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population and the difference is likely to persist over several generations,” Richwine wrote. “No one knows whether Hispanics will reach IQ party with whites but that they’ll have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”

“The solution he proposes is an immigration system based on IQ selection,” Maddow said, “but he said ‘Don’t call it that.’ Instead, it should be called ‘skills-based immigration.’ People won’t freak out if we call it a ‘skills-based selection process.’”

Heritage is being forced to backtrack on the report, but Maddow feels that it underscores an ideological truth about the American right and its deeply entrenched racism. She welcomed New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich to the program to discuss the ugly undercurrent of racism in the Heritage study.

Rich said that the claims of the study are particularly galling considering the Republican Party’s stated intention after the 2012 election to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities.

“It’s a fascinating battle within the base exemplified by these clowns, if I may use that word,” said Rich. “How are they going to do this, how are they going to square the circle? They claim to be welcoming Latinos and are literally insulting their intelligence and even their unborn children’s intelligence. Grandchildren that aren’t even here yet are already being called mentally inferior.”

Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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