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Frank Rich: How Hispanics became the 'new gays'

Published: Saturday June 10, 2006

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"How Hispanics became the new gays," Frank Rich explains in his latest column slated for Sunday's edition of The New York Times, RAW STORY has found.

"Gay people, though traditionally handy for that role, aren't the surefire scapegoats they once were; support for a constitutional marriage amendment, ABC News found, fell to 42 percent just before the Senate vote," Rich writes.

"Hence the rise of a juicier target: Hispanics," Rich continues. "They are the new gays, the foremost political pinata in the election year of 2006."

Rich calls some politicians "equal opportunity bigots."

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is singled out for "demanding that immigrants be quizzed on the Federalist Papers" and "proclaiming that in his family's 'recorded history' there has never been 'any kind of homosexual relationship.'" Republican congressional candidate Vernon Robinson is also slammed for running a radio ad which warned that if his opponent Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) "had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals."

Excerpts from Rich's column:


As has not been the case with gay civil rights, Bush has taken a humane view of immigration reform throughout his political career. Some of this is self-interest; he wants to cater to his business backers' hunger for cheap labor and Karl Rove's hunger for Hispanic voters. But Bush has always celebrated and promoted immigrants and never demonized them -- at least in Texas...Now Congress has acted without him, turning immigration reform into a deadlocked culture war not unlike the marriage amendment. A draconian federal law is unlikely, but the damage has been done: The ugly debate has in itself generated a backlash against a vulnerable minority.

Most Americans who are in favor of stricter border enforcement are not bigots. Far from it. But some politicians and other public figures see an opportunity to foment hate and hysteria for their own profit. They are embracing a nativism and xenophobia that recall the 1920s, when a State Department warning about an influx of "filthy" and "unassimilable" Jews from Eastern Europe led to the first immigration quotas, or the 1950s heyday of Operation Wetback, when illegal Mexican workers were hunted down and deported.


Tolerance and dignity are already on life-support in this debate. If the president doesn't lead, he will have helped relegate Hispanics to the same second-class status he has encouraged for gay Americans. Compassionate conservatism, RIP.