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Nothing charming about hillbilly bigotry

The Pakis Are Coming, The Pakis Are Coming!
Huckabee’s Racist Hysterics

Republicans are on a hysterical search for a candidate they can seriously call their own amid a field of bores (Thompson), stay-the-course warmongers (McCain, Giuliani) flip-flopping liars (Romney, Giuliani), 9/11 necrophiliacs (McCain, Giuliani) and reconstructed thugs (Giuliani, Giuliani). So they have seized on Mike Huckabee, who himself seized on a kind of manufactured oh-shucks sincerity as the most opportune seduction routine since Ronald Reagan’s genial head-cock (and look where that got us). The current narrative has it that Huckabee’s neotaliban view of the world (“My faith doesn’t influence my decisions, it drives them…. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives,” “I support and have always supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” “I consistently opposed banning assault weapons and opposed the Brady Bill”) doesn’t matter because at least he’s sincere. He wears his faith on his sleeve, as if that somehow absolves him of nurturing a theocratic corporatism up his sleeve. Sooner or later the reality of Huckabee as a kind of reactionary that would make even Antonin Scalia think twice about voting for him will, one hopes, emerge. It’s beginning to.

On Thursday evening, Imam Huckabee had this to say about the Benazir Bhutto assassination: “We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.” That was in Orlando. On Friday in Iowa, he said: “When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he told reporters in Pella. “And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.”

So there it is. Benazir Bhutto is assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Logically, a 700-mile fence covering less than one-third the length of the border with Mexico is the next-best step for American immigration policy. (For the record, Bhutto was assassinated most likely either by Taliban elements who mistrust what she might to do them or by military elements controlled by Pervez Musharraf, who, capable as he was to declare martial law a couple of months back and fire the Chief Justice of Pakistan on fears that his election might be nullified, is entirely capable of firing a few well-placed bullets and suicidal shards at his next-principal opponent, whom he couldn’t fire any other way.)

So much for Huckabee’s sincerity. His using the assassination to jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon should reveal him to be as opportunistic as the rest of the GOP’s flock of xenophobic buggerers. But Huckabee is something else, too: he’s a liar. Or at least an ignoramus, although for a person in his position the two should not be distinguished: ignoring basic facts isn’t innocent. It’s misusing facts at the moment when they’re heard most, knowing that the correctives will be heard by one-tenth the people who heard the original allegations. That turns ignorant declarations into more than lies. It makes them knowing, malicious declarations. In the case of Pakistanis, Huckabees slandered a whole people with his malicious lies.

It isn’t, of course, true that “we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border.” Not even close. Have a look at the latest figures from the Department of Homeland Security, based on January 2006 figures (“Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States”).

Pakistan doesn’t even make the top-10 list, although to be fair to Huckabee maybe he thinks in good Arkansas hillbilly fashion that when it comes to India and Pakistan, they’re all the same, yes? Just as the Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese illegals are all the same, just as, by “those immediately south of the border,” he means anything brown-skinned and Spanish speaking.

One more huckabee howler: “The fact is that the immigration issue is not so much about people coming to pick lettuce or make beds, it’s about someone coming with a shoulder-fired missile.” Never mind that in all the years of “illegal immigration,” not a single one of the people who’ve crossed into the United States from the Mexican border—not one—has ever done so with a shoulder-fired missile that anyone knows of, let alone fired one. Never mind that not a single act of terrorism has originated with illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico, or that the 9/11 hijackers were able to pull off what they did not because they managed to be here illegally, but because they played their CIA, FBI and NSA minders like Jerry playing Tom. Never mind that the 11.5 million illegal immigrants in this country are here precisely because the jobs are better, the pay is better, the chance of keeping food on their families’ tables, some of them here, some of them back home, are better—that it is, in fact, about picking lettuce and maki9ng beds, in Huckabee’s crass reduction. Never mind, in sum, that the immigration issue is as far from the terrorist issue as facts about Pakistan are from Huckabee’s gray cells.

Will this be a lesson to Huckabee? Not a chance. He’s just hitched his rising star to that other noxious cloud of American politics these days: race-baiting. He said what many people, especially those in the constituency he’s crack-piping to (and I do mean piping in the French sense), want to hear.

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