The frenzy over swine flu has spurred another potentially deadly outbreak: racist hate-mongering against Mexicans and Mexican-American immigrants. Conservative journalists and scared American citizens are looking for someone, anything to blame for this still small global outbreak. With no proof to support his beliefs, California radio jock Michael Savage said, "Make no mistake about it: Illegal aliens are the carriers of the new strain of human-swine avian flu from Mexico." He also added that it would be a good idea to avoid contact with illegal immigrants, insisting that people who eat out are "morons who eat in restaurants with illegals all over the kitchen." Fox News columnist Michelle Malkin also weighed in with frightening commentary: "I've blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration."
Rampant misinformation has even motivated the ALIPAC, or Americans For Legal Immigration, to ask Congress to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border in order to contain the swine flu. And talk show host Neal Boortz has gone so far as to suggest Islamic terrorists created the deadly flu strain and introduced it to Mexicans as a sneaky way to spread it to the U.S. "What better way to sneak a virus into this country than to give it to Mexicans....then spread a rumor that there are construction jobs here, and there they come," Boortz stated.
Perhaps the scariest thing is that these ignorant people with large platforms aren’t feeling any repercussions from their comments. Why are certain public figures allowed to be so openly racist and hateful? Is it because many people find an odd comfort in placing the blame on a group they consider to be outsiders? Members of the Latino community are marginalized enough as it is, and this level of hate-talk is only making things worse. "It's a virus. Any of us can get it,” says Lalo Rios, a radio DJ in Reno, Nevada. “Closing the borders is not going to help. Pointing the finger at certain groups isn't going to help anything either.”