2-Pane Combined
Full Summaries Sorted

Are Anti-Immigrant Statements Racist or Nativist? What Difference Does it Make?



Rene Galindoa and Jami Vigilb

a University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO and b Socorro: Legal Services for Immigrant Women and Children, Denver, CO


Press-media accounts of anti-immigrant statements question whether the statements were racist, but typically not whether they were nativist. The absence of the term “nativism’’ in the press-media is striking given the long history of anti-immigrant legislation, policies, and attitudes in the US. The absence of “nativism’’ obscures the historical patterns of anti-immigrant sentiment from previous eras. Two cases of anti­immigrant statements as reported in newspaper articles and as interpreted in editorials were analysed. The implications of distinguishing nativism from racism for policy outcomes, for making visible prejudice directed against Latinas/os, and for under­standing the place of Latinas/os within the nation are explored.


nativism; racism; immigration; multiculturalism; press-media Introduction

The topic of immigration continues to receive considerable attention as the press media reports on demographic shifts, proposed immigration laws and policies, and accounts of popular reaction to immigrants including reports of

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anti -immigrant statements. A key question in the press media reports of anti - immigrant statements has been whether or not the statements were racist. However, these press media accounts have generally side stepped the question of whether or not the statements were nativist. Given that immigrants are the targets of anti immigrant statements, failure to mention nativism by the press media is notable. The focus on racism and the absence of nativism in press media accounts is telling and reflects a historical amnesia of the recurring patterns of nativism across previous eras of anti immigrant sentiment in the history of the US (Perea, 1997). Behdad (2002) noted this historical amnesia in the following two questions, ‘‘What is it about nativism and xenophobia that liberal American wants to forget?, and What role does the forgetting of nativism play in the construction of national consciousness in the US?’’ (117). An additional question raised in this study of press media accounts of anti immigrant statements is whether the term ‘‘racism’’ has come to replace the term ‘‘nativism’’ in the post Civil - Rights era. The answers to these three questions hold important consequences since interpreting anti immigrant incidents as either racist or nativist lead to very different policy and social justice outcomes (Sanchez, 1997).

These two concepts, racism and nativism, although always a part of the American social and political landscape, were each especially prevalent in the public discourse during two distinct and separate historical periods. Racism in the current era was made a pressing issue in racial/ethnic societal relations by the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s. Nativism, like racism, also has a very long standing history in America, being the prominent societal response to mass immigration during different periods of immigration such as the American ization period of the first two decades of the 20th century (Higham, 1955). The dramatic immigration growth of the last two decades of the 20th century and accompanying anti immigrant sentiment have provided an occasion for the re emergence of nativism as a major force in America, and is increasingly appearing as anti immigrant animus and restrictionistic policies (Perea, 1997).

Cases of anti immigrant statements during a period of renewed nativism provide an opportunity to examine the dynamics of the nativism that is directed against Latinos. Unlike the European immigrants who were the targets of nativism at the turn of the twentieth century, the nativism of the current era is directed against a group of immigrants who are predominantly people of colour from Latin America and other non European countries. The ethnic/racial backgrounds of these immigrants, which differ from the European immigrants, highlight the complexity of the nativism directed against them, which involves an intersection of both racism and defensive nationalism. In spite of the different histories of Latino immigrants and African Americans, anti immigrant statements and other forms of nativism directed at Latinos are understood by the press media through the black and white dichotomy developed from the African-American historical experience (Sanchez, 1997). This tendency to view

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discrimination in terms of Blacks and Whites to the exclusion of Browns and other people of colour is termed ‘‘racial dualism’’ (Cameron, 1997). Such a view ignores the racist policies and the history of discrimination that is unique to Latinos. For example, Mexican-origin Latinos in the Southwest offer a unique history of the intersection of racism and nativism due to both their historic presence in the US and their recent immigration. As long-term residents, they have faced discriminatory policies such as segregation, and as recent immigrants they have been targeted by restrictionistic policies such as Arizona’s Proposition 200. This distinct history of Latino discrimination and racialization calls for a different lens than the one offered by the black and white dichotomy (Sanchez, 1997). To develop such a lens, the differences and interactions between nativism and racism in anti-immigrant incidents need to be analysed. At a minimum, there are three important reasons for drawing distinctions between racism and nativism. First, discrimination that is based on nativism is often not recognized as discrimination when only viewed through the lens of black and white racism. The non-recognition of discrimination based on nativism obscures current and historical patterns of discrimination directed against Latinos. Secondly, discriminatory practices, such as restrictionistic policies, will continue as long the defensive nationalism that drives nativism remains unexamined. Finally, the exclusionary definition of national identity defended by nativism will continue to define cultural and linguistic diversity as alien to the nation. Drawing attention to nativism as a term, ideology, and political practice will make visible previous and current patterns of prejudice and discrimination directed against immigrants that was undertaken under the cover of defensive nationalism.

Racism and nativism overlap and interact in complex ways which can be understood only be analysing specific cases. The interaction between nativism and racism will be examined here in the context of press media coverage of two incidents involving anti-immigrant statements, with a special focus on editorials - the unsigned opinion pieces that represent the newspaper’s official position. Editorials are unique and particularly telling in that they express the analysis, interpretations, opinions, and recommendations of the newspaper’s editorial board (Vermeer, 2002). Editorial recommendations are influential because they are directed at both the political elite as well as the general public (van Dijk, 1991). As such, editorials are considered authoritative expressions of how given events should be understood and reacted to, as well as the important policy implications arising from the particular situation. Newspapers and news magazines have been productive sites for the analysis of immigrant issues as illustrated by several studies.

In an analysis of abstracts of newspaper articles from the New York and the Los Angeles Times, Keogan (2002) examined how undocumented immigration was portrayed in those two contrasting settings. He found divergent cultural orientations towards immigrants with the Los Angeles Times viewing undocumented immigrants as a ‘‘threat’’ and assigning them a negative social

status. In contrast, the New York Times presented undocumented immigrants more positively by linking contemporary immigrants to immigrants from the mythic past. In another study, Coutin and Chock (1995) analysed newspaper articles to identify how immigrant identities were constructed. They described their findings with the phrase ‘‘legalization narratives’’ that described the shift in immigrants identities from threats to immigrants on the path towards citizenship. In another study of newspaper representations of immigrants, Santa Ana, Moran, and Sanchez (1998) examined the metaphor representation of the discourse of immigration used by the Los Angeles Times in their articles and editorials. They found that although the LA Time editorials were anti Proposition 187, they were not pro - immigrant and both the editorials and articles shared a view of dehumanized immigration. In a study of news magazine cover illustrations of immigration, Chavez (2001), found that immigration was cast primarily as a national crises and alarmist images of immigration grew in frequency and became the dominant covers illustrations during the 1980s and 1990s.

An examination of nativism and its relationship to racism, nationalism, and nation building is presented before the analysis of the press media coverage of the two cases of anti immigrant statements is discussed.


Nativism is generally defined as the favouring of native born citizens over immigrants (Higham, 1955). It is an ‘‘intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign connections,’’ with modern nationalism serving as the energizing force of the intense opposition (Higham, 1955, 4). Nationalism, expressed in the continual process of nation building, which marks distinctions between those who are inside from those who are outside of the nation, is the driving force behind nativism (Higham, 1955). However, nationalism does not simply cause nativism, rather nationalism by definition includes a nativist or anti foreigner component which creates an imagined sense of a national community that is based on distinctions between insiders and outsiders (Behdad, 2002).

Nativism consists of more than personal grudges or individual anxieties. It is a body of interconnected ideas about American government and society, about the past and future of the US, and about who counts as an American (Knobel,

  1. . More than just xenophobic attitudes of a few isolated individuals, nativism has been one of the most sustained social movements in the US, spanning over 150 years (Knobel, 1996). Opposing allegedly excessive ‘‘foreign’’ influences in American life, probably the most memorable slogan to come out of this movement has been ‘‘America for Americans’’ (Knobel, 1996). Through nativism and nativistic organizations, prejudice is disguised as patriotism and individual indignation and anxiety and fear of others has been converted into

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coordinated action (Knobel, 1996). Nativist movements sought, and continue to seek, to reinforce their narrow view of a national culture and purport to protect national unity or security against perceived threats from immigrants. Different cultural traits or activities of immigrants are considered ‘‘foreign,’’ or ‘‘un- American,’’ and a threat to the nation (Higham, 1955). A perceived failure to assimilate, such as continuing to speak a non English language, is considered un American and as evidence of disloyalty to the nation.

Throughout US history, three types of nativism, based on readily identifiable traits can be seen: (1) political nativism, under which political activity or views were thought to be a threat to the nation, such as in the case of refugee radicals during the ‘‘Red Scare’’ thought to be promoting class -warfare; (2) religious nativism, directed against members of a particular religious denomination, specifically Catholics; and (3) racial nativism, where members of a particular ethnic group were targeted based on physical features or cultural traits, including language (Higham, 1999). Of these three types, racial nativism has been the most prominent and long lived, and has given rise to fraternal organizations and political parties that seek to ensure a certain ethnic make up of the country (Knobel, 1996, xviii). These organizations try to control the ethnic composition of the nation not only because foreigners are perceived as different but also possibly because they are reminders of struggles for equity in the past as well as foreshadowing a future in which cultural and linguistic diversity will be among its defining features (Fox, 2002). Nativism becomes especially rampant during times of national stress and fear, as in times of war, economic recession, or demographic shifts stemming from unwanted immigra tion. Nativistic attitudes respond to stress and fear by triggering ‘‘restrictive laws aimed at persons whose ethnicity differs from that of the core culture’’ (Perea, 1995).

The term ‘‘nativism’’ is often associated with the anti immigrant sentiment that occurred at the turn of the 19th century, during a time of mass immigration from Europe. However, over the past few years, anti immigrant sentiment focusing on ethnicity and language has again become a regular feature of American discourse as illustrated recently by the anti immigrant Proposition 200 in Arizona that was passed in 2004. In another recent example, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington (2004) charged that Mexican immigrants were the greatest threat to American national identity and that they have the potential to divide the nation into two peoples, Anglo versus Hispanic, with two cultures and two languages, English and Spanish.

The current racialized nativism directed against immigrants is driven by three fears (Sanchez, 1997). Current manifestions of racial nativism are marked by antipathy towards non English languages driven by a fear that linguistic diversity will undermine national unity (Galindo and Vigil, 2004). This fear has resulted in restrictionistic polices such as the English only and anti bilingual education initiatives. A second fear is that multicultural policies, such as

affirmative action, favour communities of colour and are considered ‘‘un American’’ because they run counter to the ideology of meritocracy. A fear also exists that these policies encourage the maintenance of distinct racial and ethnic identities. A third fear embodied in California’s Propostion 187 and Arizona’s 200 is that immigrants are a drain on public resources such as education and health care. Across these three fears, immigrants are construed to be threats to the nation.

Increased nativism was particularly evident following the national tragedy of 9/11. Among the numerous consequences of 9/11, and the following ‘‘war on terror’’, was the view of immigrants as threats to national security. Several national structural and policy changes occurred post - 9/11 based on this new view of immigrants and immigration matters. One particular structural change was the elimination of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the transfer of immigration functions from the Department of Justice to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. The decision to grant authority to the Department of Homeland Security over immigration underscored the message that all immigrants will first be considered possible threats to national security and, only secondly, as newcomers (Tumlin, 2004). This current linkage between terrorism, national security, and immigration is a contemporary manifestation of the political variety of nativism identified by Higham (1999) and is similar to other instances of political nativims such as the demands in 1880 by labour movements to exclude “revolutionary foreigners” and the Red Scare of 1919-1920 (Behdad, 2002).

Immigration policy is viewed primarily as a means for fighting terrorism since 9/11, and immigration policy has lost its own independent policy agenda apart from anti terrorist measures (Tumlin, 2004). No new immigration policies have been created independently from terrorism policies since 9/11 (Tumlin, 2004). The national view of immigrants as threats to national security, and the accompanying policy shift from immigration to terrorism, has strengthened the stance of anti immigrant border vigilantes who can now mask their nativism with patriotism by claiming the more acceptable concern over national security and border enforcement (Bauman, 2002; Shore, 1997). The effect has been to reinforce and legitimize prejudices and stereotypes by labelling Latinos and others attempting to cross the border as security threats to the nation.

Nativism vs Racism

Inadequate attention has been paid to the distinctions between racism and nativism. As a result, nativism and discrimination against immigrants is seldom differentiated from racial discrimination against non immigrants. While nativist discourse is linked with racist discourse, important differences exist that lead to different consequences as Sanchez (1997) states, ‘‘while nativistic discourse is often decidedly linked to racial discourse, they are not one and the same and they often lead in different directions” (p. 1013).

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First, nativism and racism differ in their definitions and goals. Although both nativism and racism are based on fear, nativism demands assimilation through the elimination of undesirable cultural, linguistic, religious, or political traits. In contrast to the concept of racism, nativism ‘‘divides insiders, who belong to the nation, from outsiders, who are in it but not of it’’ (Higham, 1999, 384). Racism, on the other hand, is more concerned with distinctions between the ‘‘civilized and barbarian than with boundaries between nation states,’’ and with maintaining a lower societal status for those groups considered to be inferior (Higham, 1999, 384). Although nativism is often racialized, and is thus racist, in its essence nativism espouses assimilation into the dominant culture through elimination of ‘‘foreign’’ traits - such as languages other than English, whereas racism entails exclusion from the dominant culture as illustrated by the Jim Crow laws. Nativism operates as a result of revisions of national history that ignores the historic presence of cultural and linguistic diversity such as the presence of Spanish and indigenous language in parts of what are now the Unites States that predate the arrival of the English language. The Spanish language is now considered ‘‘foreign’’ in states where the names of cities and geographic locations indicate otherwise.

Increasingly, immigrants today are from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. These immigrants more often then not possess physical, cultural, and linguistic differences distinct from the dominant American society, and it is this combination of differences that makes the nativism faced by today’s immigrants unique. Anglo society views Latinos, with their Spanish language and surnames, their non Anglo culture, and their different physical appearance, as foreign and different (Perea, 1995). These differences prevent full acceptance by the dominant society, regardless of how long these immigrants have been in the US. As Juan Perea (1995) notes, ‘‘[A]n important part of the public image of the Latino is the Latino as alien: an immigrant, a recent arrival, a foreigner not really belonging to, or in, America’’ (Perea, 1995, 977). Although at times considered members of different racial groups, European immigrants did not face the same barriers of entry into American society because they were white. Ultimately, the European immigrant could assimilate.

At the international level, ‘‘xenophobia’’ the general term used for anti immigrant sentiment and definitional distinctions have also been made between anti immigrant sentiment and racism. At an international conference sponsored in part by the United Nations, racism was defined as an ideological construct that assigned a given race a position of power over others on the basis of physical characteristics or cultural attributes, where the ‘‘superior race exercise domination and control over others’’ (International Labour Office, 2001, 2). In contrast, xenophobia described attitudes, prejudices, and behaviours that reject, exclude, or vilify persons based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners to the society or national identity. According to Hobsbawm (1992), the dramatic societal changes introduced by globalization, transnationalism,

and immigration have positioned xenophobia to become the mass ideology of the current era. As a consequence, the national community will continue to be defined on the basis of exclusion, labelling those who do not belong or should not belong to the nation.

A second key distinction between racism and nativism is that nativism is fuelled by nationalism. Unfavourable reactions to personal or cultural traits are not necessarily nativist but may still be racist. It is only when combined with hostile, defensive, and fearful nationalism that they become nativist (Higham, 1955). Nationalism is the driving force behind nativism, peaking during times of nation-building efforts. Within this context, when nation- building efforts appear to falter, such as during times of increased immigration, nativism appears as expressions of tension directed against immigrants (Higham, 1999). The identification of internal threats to the nation is both a characteristic of nativism and an integral to nation building in which national unity is achieved at the expense of excluded internal racial, religious, or ethnic groups (Marx, 1998, 275). National allegiances create a common prejudice against internal minority groups and cast them as ‘‘foreigners’’. Such allegiances reinforces national unity at the cost of reproducing inequality and continued conflict. An expense that continues to be deemed worth the cost as illustrated by the popular support for anti -immigrant state ballot initiatives. Anthony Marx (1998, 275) states, ‘‘Countering prejudice to build a truly inclusive or civic nation was more difficult. When internal conflict emerged or re emerged, the crutch of exclusion was too handy to ignore’’. Although distinct in their basic definition, racism and nativism intertwine during processes of nation building when immigrants happen to also be people of colour.

Nativism and Latinos

Nativism directed against Latinos continues to reproduce their social positions as ‘‘foreigners’’ who do not belong to the nation. Even political elite Latinos, such as Congressman Luis Gutierrez are not immune from the nativist refrain, ‘‘go back where you came from’’ (Roman, 1998). In addition to expressions of individual nativist sentiment, federal policy resulted from nativist attitudes during the repatriations of the Great Depression and during ‘‘Operation Wetback’’ of the 1950s when thousands of Mexicans, including some who were citizens, were sent back to Mexico (Hoffman, 1974; Garcia, 1980). In addition to anti immigrant initiatives, a primary expression of nativism directed against Latinos is language discrimination. Examples of language discrimination include work place restrictions against the use of other languages; anti bilingual education initiatives passed in California, Arizona, and Massachusetts; and Official English initiatives, such that government agencies cannot provide language assistance to non English speakers, for instance during driver’s licence examinations (Moran, 1997; Chen, 1999).

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Language discrimination can serve as an acceptable method of discriminating against a certain group without explicitly resorting to race (Chen, 1999). Not always as blatant as it the past, discrimination against Latinos is often now directed by proxy in targeting the Spanish language (Johnson and Martinez, 2000). As an example, Johnson and Martinez (2000) point to voters who supported the anti bilingual proposition 227 in California discriminated against Mexicans by proxy since the largest bilingual education programs were for Spanish speakers. Juan Perea (1992) drew similar conclusions noting that strong popular support for language restrictionism, such as Proposition 227, not only indicated an affirmation of English as a symbol of national identity, but also a devaluing of Latino culture and of the Spanish language. Such devaluing of the Spanish language, an important and highly visible symbol in its own right, reproduced the nativism and negative mode of incorporation that the Mexican origin community had experienced for over a century (Perea, 1992).

The characterization of languages other than English as ‘‘un American’’ is central to anti bilingual education and English only policies and to the two anti immigrant cases analysed here. This dimension of nativism is also illustrated by legal precedent and court rulings, which prohibit the exclusion of possible jurors on the basis of race, but not on the basis of language. In the US, while it is no longer acceptable to discriminate against persons on the basis of race, it is still acceptable to discriminate against persons solely on the basis of their membership in a linguistic minority. In the case, Hernandez v. New York, 500 US, 352 (1991), the US Supreme Court held that a prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges during jury selection to exclude all bilingual, English and Spanish speaking, Latino jurors was constitutional - even if the exclusions resulted in all potential Latino jurors being excluded. In this case, all of the excluded jurors also spoke English; they were fully bilingual. The prosecution argued that because one of the witnesses would be testifying in Spanish, they believed that the bilingual, Latino jurors would not adhere to the office English translation of the witness’s testimony. In essence, it was assumed that the Latino jurors would not be able to comply with the court’s order to follow the English version of the witness testimony should they believe that the English version differed from what they understood the Latino witness to be. All jurors were asked if they would abide by the English version, and all said that they would. Language discrimination cases are not always covered by legal protections against discrimination such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment. This lack of coverage is illustrated by contradictory court rulings, which differ on whether language discrimination is a form of national origin discrimination (Locke, 1996). The result is that Latinos may be discriminated against resulting in the arbitrarily denial of state privileges on the basis of language.

The two cases

The interplay between nativism and racism will be examined through press accounts and editorials of two cases of anti immigrant statements. The first statement was made in 2002 by country western musician, Chad Brock. The second account was made in 2004 and included statements by the Maryland comptroller and governor. These two cases are well suited for analysis because both news articles and editorials were written in several newspapers in response to each incident. In combination, the articles and editorials provided back ground information, analysis, and recommendations. The background to the cases developed from the news articles will be presented in the following sequence: (a) the incident, (b) call for an apology, (c) the clarification, and (d) support for the statement. The analysis of the editorials follows the background sequence for each case.

Case no. 1 - The Brock Incident

Chad Brock, a country western singer and former professional wrestler, drew media attention and the ire of the Latino community as a result of comments he made during his concert at the Colorado Independence Stampede, in Greeley, Colorado (about 60 miles north of Denver with 77,000 residents), on July 4, 2002. Brock complained to the crowd of about 7,000 during a break between songs, ‘‘Why should we adapt? You are coming over to our country. We don’t speak Russian. We don’t speak Spanish. We speak English here.’’ The Greeley Tribune additionally noted that Brock said, ‘‘get the hell out’’ (Greeley Tribune, July 10, 2002a, b). Many Latinos walked out of the concert while other members of the audience cheered Brock’s comments. For Latinos in Greeley, his statement reopened old wounds of Mexican segregation and Ku Klux Klan activity in Greeley (Riley, 2002a, July 14).

The call for an apology

Latino activists denounced Brocks comments and were upset that Greeley officials had not condemned his statements. The Independence Stampede rodeo had already gained ill will with the Latino community due to its decision of a few years to cancel ‘‘Fiesta Latina,’’ a portion of the rodeo dedicated to Mexican music and performances. Latino activists met with representatives from Greeley’s Human Relations Commission to air their complaints against Brock. They also held a news conference where Latino leaders demanded an apology from city officials, the event sponsors, and the Stampede organizers. Jorge Amaya, director of the Northern Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce, stated, ‘‘For some reason the Stampede seems to bring out the worst in the community. It seems like this is the time of year when the closet racists come out’’ (News Staff, 2002, July 9). He also said that the real problem was a lack of willingness on the part of community leaders to condemn Brock’s statement.

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Another Latino, Roberto Cordova, a local college professor, said that Brock’s comments were ‘‘bigoted, inflammatory, and hateful’’ (Riley, 2002b, July 9). The Mayor of Greeley, Jerry Wones, was not inclined to condemn Brock’s comments, stating that although they were ill advised, Brock had the right to make them. A spokesperson for the rodeo told the press that they were not pleased that the incident had happened and the marketing director, Kyle Holman, said Brock had the right of free speech but that his opinions were not necessarily those of the Greeley Independence Stampede (Riley, 2002b, July 9).

The clarification

Shortly after the incident, Brock stated that his comments were meant to express his pride in being American and were spurred by a recent court decision regarding the phrase ‘‘under God’’ found in the Pledge of Allegiance. Brock directly addressed the charge of racism, stating, ‘‘I am not a racist. I wasn’t directing the comments toward any particular group. I was speaking my mind as an American during the 4th of July holiday. But I had no idea that there were so many Hispanics in Greeley. I didn’t mean to offend anybody’’ (Riley, 2002b, July 9). While he was sorry that his comments were offensive to some, he would not apologize. He also added, ‘‘I had the guts to speak out, but I think a lot of people feel the same way’’ (Riley, 2002b, July 9). Brock elaborated that his comments were general in nature and not directed at any one community, ‘‘I’m sorry I touched a nerve. I’m not pointing to the Mexican community, I’m not racist. I’m just an American speaking out. If my comments stirred that much, something needs to be addressed in that community’’ (Greeley Tribune, 2004, July 9). Claiming that his comments were covered by the principle of free speech, Brock stated, ‘‘that’s the beauty about this country. We can say what we feel’’ (Greeley Tribune, 2004, July 9).

Support for the statement

Support for Brock’s comments was documented on The Greeley Tribune website, which received more than 1,622 replies in response to the question, ‘‘Do you think that Chad Brock’s comments about immigrants were appropriate during Friday night’s concert at the Greeley Independence Stampede?’’ . Approximately 75% of the votes supported his comments. Critiques of Brock’s comments by members of the Latino community were documented at public meetings and in press interviews. One example comes from a Latino veteran who challenged Brock’s assertion that was speaking as a patriot, ‘‘It bothers me when people use patriotism to mask their racism’’ (Garner, 2002, July 10). The editorials written in response to Brock’s statements will next be examined preceded by a brief explanation of their analysis.

Analysis of editorials

Editorials typically address policy relevant issues and make policy recommen dations based on their analysis. On occasion they comment on specific incidents as in the cases of the Brock and Ehrlich statements. In cases like these two, the object of analysis is not an issue, but controversial statements and their policy implications. The editorials presented their interpretation of the controversial statements, including whether they consider the statements to be racist, and made recommendations on how to respond to such statements. Editorials that respond to controversial statements use reported speech, meaning direct or indirect quotations, to develop their argument. Reported speech is typically understood as direct or indirect quotation but it may be more broadly considered as ‘‘speech within speech and message within message and at the same time it is speech about speech and message about message’’ (Voloshinov, 1971, 149).

In the analysis of the editorials presented here, identifying the functions of reported speech was the principal focus given the status of the editorials as the newspapers’ official message about the message contained in the anti immigrant statements. Reported speech is understood here in its more general meaning to encompass the editorials’ interpretations of what the words meant, the editorials’ positive or negative evaluations of the messages, and the editorial characterizations that described the controversial statements as in the Greeley Tribune’s characterization of Brock’s statement as a ‘‘tirade’’ or the Rocky Mountains News’ characterization of ‘‘patriotic homily’’. These characteriza­tions are both interpretations and evaluations of the controversial statements that reflect the editorial’s point - of-view. They are the building blocks of the editorials’ message about the controversial message. The functions of reported speech in the editorials were analysed to identify how they were used to: provide background on the incident, explain and evaluate the statements, dismiss the message, or persuade the readers to the editorial’s point of view. The analysis also utilized Van Dijk’s (1991) three -part functional categories to identify the editorials’ interpretations and conclusions regarding the statements. The functional categories divide editorials into the following sections: Definition of the Situation, (what happened); Explanation and Evaluation, (why did it happen); and Conclusion/Moral, (what should be done).

Brock editorials

The Greeley Tribune’s (GT) editorial, ‘‘Singer’s Words Reveal Discord’’ (2002a, b, July 10), defined the situation as a controversy that resulted from immigrant bashing. The Denver Post’s (DP) editorial, ‘Y’all Don’t Come Back’’ (2002, July 10), defined the situation as one in which an offence had been committed and to which Latino activist requested an apology and The Rocky Mountain News (RMN), editorial (2002, July 16), ‘‘Is Speaking English a Sign

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of Patriotism’’ called it a case of a confused connection between speaking the English language and patriotism.

The GT editorial in its opening paragraph wrote that there must be a good country western song amid the controversy - called ‘‘brouhaha’’ by the GT - that was sparked by ‘‘Brock’s tirade’’. The GT editorial lamented that a song would be the only good thing so far to come out of the controversy. In calling the discussion, a ‘‘brouhaha’’ the GT editorial foreshadowed its final recommendation: the need for reasoned discussion on the topic of immigration with more listening and less name calling. The DP interpretation was that Brock had given a ‘‘boorish performance’’ that offended Latinos as well as the editorial board. For its part, the RMN editorial’s interpretation was that Brock delivered a ‘‘patriotic homily’’.

In Defining the Situation, the GT labelled Brock’s statements ‘‘immigrant bashing’’ which drew responses from extremist from both sides of the political spectrum. According to the RMN, Brock’s comments were based on an ‘‘irrational connection’’ between speaking English and defending national symbols (the Pledge of Allegiance). Brock told those who did not like his views, to ‘‘get the hell out’’. Brock’s statements were further characterized by the GT as ‘‘drivel’’ that displayed his ignorance. While acknowledging Brock’s free speech, the GT called on community leaders to state that ‘‘hate filled speech’’ was not welcomed in Greeley. In contrast to the GP, neither the DP nor the RMN called for public condemnation of Brock’s comments. The GT editorial backed its call for a public condemnation of Brock’s statement by negatively evaluating his speech as a tirade, immigrant bashing, and drivel. The editorials’ message about Brock’s message was that it was ultimately hate filled speech. The DP took a different position from the GT categorizing Brock’s statements as ‘‘political speech’’. Although it considered Brock’s comments ‘‘misguided’’, as political speech, the DP thought that it should not be condemned.

In spite of calls from the Latino community for an apology, the RMN and DP wrote that they never thought that Brock was a racist. The DP quoted directly from Brock’s letter to the editor, ‘‘I’m not a racist. I was not directing the comments towards any particular group. I was speaking my mind as an American’’. Brock claimed his American identity in defence of his comments, as if those offended by his comments were not also Americans and part of the nation. Brock’s quote in the DP editorial was preceded and followed by reference to the Latinos who were offended and to their growth in Greeley where the Latino population doubled during the 1990s, clearly indicating that they were the affected community.

After Defining the Situation in evaluative terms, the GT editorial presented its recommendation that the best response to ignorance was reason. It called on Hispanic activists to help sort out the mess left behind by Brock. However, the GT wrote that Latinos’ calls for the Stampede organizers to apologize were misguided. The GT next offered an explanation for Brock’s speech. The

editorial noted that entertainers were often outrageous and the GT recalled Brock’s former occupation as a wrester. It explained that ‘‘bluster’’ was common in that profession and that other musical entertainers were also outrageous. The DP also turned to Brock’s wrestling past to explain his lack of manners and sensitivity but also stated that it took ‘‘umbrage at his loutish misuse of an entertainment venue to insult immigrant communities on the nation’s birthday’’. The GT editorial softened its characterizations of Brock’s speech in the paragraphs where it explained the Brock incident. Instead of its previous characterization as immigrant bashing and as a tirade in the ‘‘Defining the Situation’’ section, in the ‘‘Explanation’’ section of the GT editorial, Brock’s speech now became merely ‘‘bluster’’ that was common in the professional wrestling. The shift in tone did not appear in the DP and RMN editorials, instead the DP discussed the topics of political speech and the RMN discussed tensions over immigration policy.

The GT further developed its explanation by shifting from the topic of entertainment to free speech. It stated that the First Amendment covered the words that people did not want to hear. The editorial returned to its theme of reasoned discussion and wrote that immigration policy was a complex problem that demanded discussion and not finger pointing. In another characterization of Brock’s speech, the GT wrote that by ‘‘blurting out his frustrations,’’ Brock tapped into the concerns and questions of many Americans regarding the recent large wave of immigration, the unclear border policy, and the cost benefits of immigration. The GT wrote that understanding complex immigration issues was not advanced by jingoistic slogans such as ‘‘American: Love it or Leave it’’. Explaining the larger message of the Brock incident, the editorial wrote that the country’s strength lies in dissent without fear of jail (for those who make statements) or pressure to leave (for those who disagree with statements).

The GT defended its editorial analysis of Brock’s ‘‘off-the cuff political position’’ that could be easily dismissed as inconsequential by noting that intense community reaction warranted the attention. However, not much attention was given in the editorials to the reaction of Latinos. The GT editorial next shifted from explaining Brock’s speech to challenging his logic by critiquing the fundamental flaw behind Brock’s statement. The GT wrote that Brock assumed that immigrants did not want to learn English. The editorial replied that they do, but that it took time. While English will always be the language of the country, the GT recommended that bilingualism should be encouraged for all. The RMN also commented on this topic noting that Brock had implied that immigrants were cultural separatist when in fact they were ‘‘following the trail blazed long ago by millions of previous immigrants.’’ The RMN also noted that the complete acquisition of English by immigrants takes more than one generation. The RMN further explained that the presence of non English languages in the US was at one of its highest levels.

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In contrast to the other two editorials, the RMN alone challenged Brock’s logic in linking the speaking of English to patriotism. Quoting from Brock’s letter, ‘‘if Americans and immigrants to this great nation were to embrace being American (in all its aspects) as we did after the September 11 tragedy, the solidarity might better protect us all from the evil deeds of outsiders. What better way to embrace being American than to speak the language of its government, people and mainstream populace?’’ The retort from the RMN was that it could think of better ways, including having people embrace and understand its representative government. The RMN message about Brock’s message was that it was a false equation between speaking English and American patriotism.

The RMN criticized not only Brock’s logic but also the indirectness of his message. If Brock thought that the numbers of immigrant threaten national unity, the RMN wrote that he should say so instead of insulting members of his audience. Also, if Brock’s point was that a common language fosters social cohesion, the RMN agreed and the RMN thought that the vast majority of immigrants would also agree. The RMN concluded that these false assumptions were the reason some Hispanics took offence at Brock’s statements.

In its conclusion, the GT editorial assumed the voice of the majority and advocated the middle road, which was shared by ‘‘most Americans’’, in spite of the ‘‘shouting from those on the fringes of the political spectrum’’. In this middle of the road position, Anglos could question immigration policy without being called racists and Hispanics could speak out against injustice without being told to leave. In response to the ‘‘brouhaha’’ that followed the Brock incident, the GT and the RMN recommended, ‘‘a lot less name calling and a lot more listening’’. The DP recommended that the Stampede ‘‘never book him, or the horse he rode in on again,’’ but the DP did not identify the horse as racism and/or nativism.

Case no. 2 - The Ehrlich incident

On May 5, 2004, the governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich, was quoted as saying on a radio talk show that multiculturalism was ‘‘crap’’ and ‘‘bunk’’ and that he rejected the idea of multiculturalism. He further stated that young immigrants should learn English and assimilate into American culture. The governor stated, ‘‘Once you get into this multicultural crap, this bunk, you run into a problem. With respect to this culture, English is the language. Should we encourage young folks here to be assimilated, to learn the culture and values? Of course.’’ (Mosk, 2004, May 8). Ehrlich had been asked to react to comments made one day earlier by State Comptroller William Schaefer, who had complained about the trouble he had communicating with a Spanish speaking McDonalds employee. Schaefer stated, ‘‘Then I got a bag, and instead of having English on it, it had Spanish and German and every other language. I don’t want

to adjust to another language. This is the US. I think they ought to adjust to us.’’ (Nitkin, 2004a, May 9).

Call for an apology

Community groups, Montgomery County Council members, and state law makers held a news conference on May 11 and demanded in English, Korean, and Spanish an apology. Hispanic leaders called Ehrlich’s comments divisive, destructive, and shocking. One leader, state delegate, Ana Sol Gutierrez (D Montgomery), a first generation immigrant from El Salvador, stated, ‘‘I think what the governor said absolutely is offensive. It’s also a dangerous comment. What I am sensing is that these kinds of comments from leadership, from people who are in high level positions, are really fuelling an environment that is very dangerous and negative. It says it is okay to consider people who are different as something less’’ (Mosk, 2004, May 8). A group of Hispanic, Native American, and African American civil rights activists in Baltimore also demanded apologies from Ehrlich and Schaefer (Nitkin and Pelton, 2004, May 14).

The Montgomery County Council adopted a resolution on May 11, 2002 that was also critical of Ehrlich’s comments (Montgomery County Council, 2002). The resolution acknowledged that Montgomery County was the home to nearly half of all foreign born residents of Maryland and had the state’s most diverse population. Additionally, it acknowledged that the US was a diverse country. The County Council defined multiculturalism as the appreciation and celebration of multiple cultures rather than a single culture. Multiculturalism also meant tolerance for languages other than English and other religions, races, and national origins. The action section of the resolution expressed deep concern over the Governor’s ‘‘ill chosen remarks’’ because they could contribute to a climate of intolerance towards limited English speakers, those that speak with accents, minority groups, and those who practice minority religions. The Council reaffirmed pride for its open door to diverse communities and for the American and Maryland values of tolerance, acceptance, and multiculturalism. The resolution suggested to the Governor that the phrase, ‘‘I’m sorry’’ was appropriate to the occasion.

Baltimore Mayor, Martin O’Malley delivered a rebuttal in Spanish (a language he had not studied since high school according to Nitkin, 2004b, May 13) to the Governor’s comments on his weekly radio show. The mayor gave recognition to the immigrant ancestors of most Americans who struggled for decades to learn English and suggested that people should remember this during encounters with immigrants who are learning English (Barker and Pelton, 2004, May 12).

The clarification

The governor’s press secretary clarified his comments stating that Ehrlich believed that ethnic groups were important to the fabric of life in Maryland but

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that ethnic groups ‘‘needed to develop a singular culture as Americans and speak English’’ (Mosk, 2004, May 8). The governor himself later clarified his position and said that ethnicities were valued but that Americans shared a singular culture. He further stated that people should not separate themselves into different cultures and that this country was a melting pot. Immigrant advocates challenged the governor to back up his comments by funding adult English as a second language classes for immigrants at a greater rate. In another attempt to clarify his comments, the Governor stated, ‘‘With regard to this culture, English is the language. Can [immigrants] obviously honour their ethnic traditions and languages at home and other places? Of course. They are not mutually exclusive. The point here is there is a major distinction between ethnic pride, which is appropriate, and multiculturalism, which is damaging to the society in my view.’’ (Nitkin, 2004a, May 9). He also said the goal should be a common culture with a common language and not ethnic separation, which was ‘‘utter common sense’’ (Johnson and Mosk, 2004, May 12).

For his part, Schaefer let his spokesperson clarify his comments by stating that the criticism directed at the governor’s and his comments missed the point that people serving customers should be able to speak English. While the Comptroller was sympathetic towards immigrants, he did not think that it was fair to customers nor the employee not to be able to transact business because of a language barrier (Barker and Pelton, 2004, May 12). At one of his meetings, Schaefer passed out bumper stickers that said, ‘‘Schaefer, He Says What You Think’’. Neither Ehrlich nor Schaefer offered an apology in response to the demands of community members and elected officials. Ehrlich would not apologize for the words of tone of his remarks but reaffirmed the importance of ethnic groups to Maryland and the US (Carson, 2004, May 11).

Support for the statement

The Ehrlich Schaefer incident received widespread press media attention with 68 articles written within two weeks of the statements (Siedt, 2004). This broad coverage gave the incident considerable attention. Support for Schaefer’s comments came in the form of public comments. Schaefer’s office received 220 phone calls and emails with only 10 being critical of his statement (Mosk, 2004, May 8).

Analysis of editorials

Three editorials on the Ehrlich incident were located. The Washington Post (WP) editorial, ‘‘Un Big Mac Por Favor’’ (2004, May 13), defined the situation as a misunderstanding of definitions in which the multiple meanings of the term ‘‘multiculturalisms’’ were mixed up by Ehrlich. The Maryland Gazette (MP) editorial ‘‘Venting by Ehrlich, Schaefer not best use of English’’ (2004, May 15), defined the situation as another of Schaefer’s outbursts and tirades that was ‘‘amplified’’ by Ehrlich’s statements. ‘‘No Bunk’’ (2004, May 13) by the

Baltimore Sun (BS), defined the situation as one in which inappropriate comments were made by the Governor.

Of the three editorials, The Baltimore Sun’s ‘‘No Bunk’’ was the most unique and consequently will be analysed separately. The editorial consisted of only a short statement: ‘‘Maryland is a society of many cultures. The comments by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer were highly inappropriate. Maryland needs more people of all talents, no matter their country of origin. And that’s no bunk.’’ This one statement was reproduced in the editorial six times, each time in a different language starting with German, the language of Ehrlich’s ancestors, followed by Spanish, French, Russian, Korean, and finally English. These six languages represented the predominant ethic groups in Maryland. The different languages and scripts visually communicated the message regarding diversity that the editorial expressed. The editorial interpreted Ehrlich’s comments as inappropriate and appropriated Ehrlich’s term ‘‘bunk’’ in support of cultural and linguistic diversity in its final sentence. It used Ehrlich’s own words to reject his message.

In its opening paragraph, the WP editorial critiqued Ehrlich in a general recommendation that serious politicians stay away from the terms ‘‘crap’’ and ‘‘bunk’’. It then specifically recommended that Governor Ehrlich consider staying away from the term ‘‘multiculturalism’’ which the WP recalled had been characterized by Ehrlich as ‘‘crap’’ and ‘‘bunk’’. In contrast, the MG’s opening paragraph focused on Schaefer and his ‘‘outburst’’ at his weekly meetings where ‘‘Mount Shaefer’’ erupted on a regular basis, drawing attention to his words rather than his work. Schaefer’s immigrant comments had already drawn media attention when the Governor decided to ‘‘pitch in’’ with the ‘‘rumblings’’ still being felt at the time of the MG editorial. The MG’s characterizations of Schaefer commented critically on his patterns of prior verbal behaviour.

The MG provided the requisite background regarding Schaefer’s ‘‘complaint’’ in its Definition of the Situation. It quoted his words, ‘‘the person who was waiting on me didn’t speak English. I had to go through a long process of trying to order something ...I don’t want to adjust to another language... This is the US. I think that they should adjust to us .the schools should say, ‘English first, then Spanish.’ or whatever language they are.’’ Presenting its interpretation of the meaning of Schaefer’s message, the MG wrote that if he meant that immigrants had to learn English to succeed, then the MG agreed. However, the MG noted that it was not one of Schaefer’s better ‘‘tirades’’ and that he should look for better targets than low wage workers in grueling jobs. According to the MG, ‘‘many of us’’ trace their history back to hard working immigrants who originally spoke languages other than English. Although the MG agreed with the content of Schaefer’s message, it evaluated the form of the message as a ‘‘tirade’’.

In the Explanation and Evaluation sections, the editorials provided an examination of how Ehrlich used the term ‘‘mutliculturalism’’. According to the

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MG, Ehrlich ‘‘amplified’’ Schaefer’s words when the Governor stated, ‘‘I reject multiculturalism’’. Both the MG and the WP noted that Ehrlich’s message was not clear because Ehrlich did not provide a definition of multiculturalism, leaving both editorials to provide one. Both editorials understood the multi culturalism that Ehrlich critiqued as the notion that immigrants do not have to ‘‘learn our language and adjust to our values, and that government will force society to adjust to them’’ (MG). The MG negatively dismissed such a definition as ‘‘folly’’. The WP wrote that another distinct definition of multiculturalism from cultural separatism was tolerance, and that Ehrlich’s comments appeared to critique the tolerance definition when he meant to critique the cultural separatism definition. The WP presented its view that it did not think Ehrlich had meant ‘‘anything quite so bigoted and offensive,’’ countering one possible interpretation of his message.

Like the GT in the Brock case, the MG bemoaned the lack of a constructive approach to a pressing issue facing society that was illustrated by both Schaefer and Ehrlich statements. The MG’s message on the larger context of the incident was in the form of a question, ‘‘Where do we draw the line between respect for cultures and language immigrants bring with them, and insistence that they learn English and assimilate enough of our customs and values to carry their own weight here?’’ Both, the MG and the WP recommended, as a constructive approach, that English language classes be provided to immigrants. The WP cited the under funding of this area in the Erhlich administration with a waiting list of approximately 2,000 in Montgomery County alone. In their negative evaluation of both Ehrlich and Schaefer, the MG wrote that the problem will not be solved by ‘‘venting at multiculturalism and fast food servers’’ or throwing ‘‘crude insults’’ at cashiers (WP). Both the WP and MG were critical of Ehrlich and Schaefer’s comments, but unlike the Brock incident, the calls for apology were not mentioned in either editorial.

In their analysis of the Brock and Ehrlich cases, the editorials engaged in a work of interpretation, attempting to decipher the message of their statements. Across both cases, the editorials’ negative evaluations of the anti immigrant statements were expressed through the terms, tirade, venting, boorish performance, insult, immigrant bashing, and drivel. In spite of these negative evaluations, none of the editorials supported the community calls for an apology. They also either made excuses for the comments, as in the Brock case, or gave the benefit of the doubt, as in the Ehrlich case, that the statements were not meant to be bigoted. Common also across both incidents, the editorials in their final recommendations concluded that the statements were not a constructive contribution to the national questions raised by immigration.

The issues of free speech in the Brock case and multiculturalism in the Ehrlich case were central in the editorials’ interpretations of the statements. These issues along with the consequences in both cases of calling anti immigrant statements

either nativist or racist will be discussed in order to further examine the editorials’ interpretations.

Free speech

Although several of the editorials found the comments made by Brock, Ehrlich, or Schaefer either offensive, insulting, or bigoted, they did not call the comments racist or nativist. In the Brock case, only one of the three editorials, called for community leaders to publicly state that ‘‘hate filled speech’’ was not welcomed in Greeley. Two editorials considered his comments as political speech or individual expression and thereby protected by the First Amendment. Only one of the five editorials came even close to calling the comments either racist, nativist, or both. The Greeley Tribune used a term similar to nativism by likening Brock’s comments to jingoistic, or anti immigrant, slogans. By not using the term ‘‘nativist’’, the Greeley Tribune however failed to connect Brock’s comments with those recurring eras of anti immigrant legislation and sentiments found across the history of the US.

The editorials failed to identify the comments as racist or nativist because they considered them to be speech protected by the First Amendment. Brock himself also invoked the First Amendment in a letter to the editor where he stated, ‘‘We as Americans have the right and the freedom to speak’’ (Brock, 2002, July 12). The Greeley Tribune presented its understanding of the First Amendment by stating that it was meant to protect not only speech that is agreed to by the majority, but rather that its strength was in protecting words that people do not want to hear. However, that interpretation did not keep the Greeley Tribune from being the only newspaper to call for the content of Brock’s comments to be publicly condemned due to their harmful public effect. Congress itself has on one occasion condemned hate speech. In spite of concerns on the part of some members of Congress that the Constitution was being hurt, Congress passed, by a vote of 361-34, a resolution condemning racist, ant - Catholic, and anti Semitic comments made by a member of the Nation of Islam as racist speech. (Hook, 1994, February 26). A closer look at the issue of free speech is needed in order to understand the editorial’s interpretations of the Brock incident.

Traditionally acts, such as assault and battery, have been punishable by law but words have been considered acts of individual expression. A current debate exists among legal scholars concerning whether racist hate speech should be included as one of the limits of the First Amendment. Understanding what constitutes racist hate speech can help develop a criteria from which to judge Brock’s comments. Racist hate speech is ‘‘[s]peech or conduct aimed at a group of historically disenfranchised; speech that reviles, ridicules, or puts in intensely negative light a person or group on account of who they are’’ (Leder and Delgado, 1995, 5). Linda Greene (1995) defined it as the use of epithets and

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similar words with which the speaker intends to cause emotional harm and grievous insult. The purpose of racist hate speech is the subordination of one people by another (Leder and Delgado, 1995).

Many legal scholars have called for a re -examination of the traditional understandings of the First Amendment in light of racist hate speech, noting that free speech is already curtailed by competing state interests such as in the case of libel or plagiarism, or by other rights, such as equal protection (Leder and Delgado, 1995). These scholars support the regulation of racist hate speech because it ‘‘demoralizes and silences its victims while denying them credibility in the eyes of the public at large’’ (Leder and Delgado, 1995, 6). Instead, they propose that racist hate speech should be viewed as a form of discrimination. Greene (1995) also questioned whether hate speech should be considered free speech. She recalled the connection between hate and violence with racial epithets that were visible in film footage of demonstrations during the Civil Rights era. Such film footage had a strong impact on its viewers and made it clear that hate speech was harmful and that it was the audible reminder of the ideology of racial supremacy, enforced inferiority, and the rejection of equality. For Greene (1995), protecting racist hate speech through the First Amendment devalues and weakens equality for historically excluded groups while granting privilege for historically dominant groups. The free speech argument provides a lofty rationale for behaviour that is difficult to defend. The result is that racial harassment becomes protected through privilege and subordination is main tained through harassment and intimidation (Greene, 1995).

The definition of racist hate speech presented by Leder and Delgado (1995) includes directing comments towards a historically disenfranchised individual or a group. Brock addressed this issue when he defended his comments by saying that he did not single out any one group. He stated, ‘‘If I had said, ‘All Mexicans get out. We don’t want you here’, then I would have said the wrong thing, and I would apologize. But I didn’t address any specific race and I won’t apologize.’’ (Garner, 2002, July 15). In contrast to Brock’s interpretation that he didn’t single out a group, Latinos in attendance at his concert that felt singled out enough to get up and walk out. While not labelling it racist or hate speech, the Denver Post did identify Brock’s comments as offensive to Latinos and to the editorial board and insulting to immigrant communities in general. However, the Denver Post did not clarify on what grounds the comments were offensive.

In the Brock case, the Denver Post and the Greeley Tribune explained his comments by referring to his previous career as a professional wrestler. The Rocky Mountain News did not consider Brock a racist, merely confused over the nature of patriotism and all the foreign languages that he had been hearing. These excuses, which may have been made to justify or legitimize Brock’s comments, are exactly the type of rationales described by Greene (1995) that protect the privilege of members from dominant groups to continue racial ethnic harassment.


Ehrlich’s comments linked the topic of immigration, which has characterized this country’s development across its history, with the notion of multi culturalism, which in the current era became prominent in the public discourse as a result of the 1960s civil rights movement. The connections between immigration and multiculturalism may not be readily apparent, given the historical differences. However, Geyer (2003), a newspaper columnist, also made this connection by calling multiculturalism a set of suppositions underlying an advocacy approach to legal and illegal immigration. Others have linked multiculturalism to nationalism by writing that multiculturalism is an ‘‘anti western’’ ideology that undermines national unity (Starr (2004), is anti nationalistic, and repudiates the idea of a national identity (Rorty, 1994). In comments such as these, multiculturalism and diversity are seen to undermine national unity. This view of multiculturalism can understood by the contrasting definitions of nationalism presented through the terms ‘‘ethnic’’ and ‘‘civic nationalism’’.

The nationalistic critique of multiculturalism by Ehrlich and others illustrate the distinctions between civic and ethnic nationalism. In this critique, the affirmation of diversity through the notion of multiculturalism is taken to be anti nationalistic and anti patriotic. Ethnic nationalism presumes that national unity requires cultural linguistic uniformity. In contrast, civic nationalism views common political principles as the basis for national unity rather than cultural linguistic homogeneity (Benhabib, 2004). Equality under civic nationalism is not based on sameness, but on respect for difference (Benhabib, 2004). Civic and ethnic nationalism represent poles on a continuum that can be illustrated by ethnic cleansing at one end and official multicultural policies and access to citizenship for immigrants on the other. The English language in the US operates as the symbol of the common ethnic identity presumed under ethnic nationalism and English only and anti bilingual education efforts can be understood as attempts to enforce through the power of law the cultural linguistic homogeneity demanded by ethnic nationalism. The Rocky Mountain News editorial challenged Brock’s ethnic nationalism that presumed an English language based patriotism and countered with its own civic nationalistic view of patriotism that called for an understanding of and participation in the country’s representative government.

Governor Ehrlich’s critique of multiculturalism was grounded in the popular image of the melting pot, which symbolizes national unity through cultural linguistic uniformity. The melting pot image was first used in the early decades of the 20th century when strong anti immigrant sentiment emerged during the social movement known as Americanization that spawned assimilationism and restrictionistic policies that limited the participation of immigrants in certain sectors of society such as teaching (Ross, 1995). Politicians use rhetoric such as

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the melting pot image to gain support from the strong emotional resonance of that image. But listeners who respond strongly to the image may not be aware of the historical legacies, such as restrictionism, that are resurrected through such discourses and the potential harm that they can create. Enough memories of the civil rights fight against racism remain in people’s consciousness that attacks against the larger goal of societal equity for minority groups would be challenged. However, that does not prevent politicians from using images like the melting pot to challenge pro - diversity views such as multiculturalism. Like the 1960s, the early decades of the 20th century witnessed social turmoil regarding national identity stemming from mass European immigration. However, across time that turmoil and the Americanization movement became historically distant.

Nativism has become a forgotten prejudice as a result of historical amnesia of the Americanization era. Attitudes developed during the Americanization era toward national identity that can be described as ethnic nationalism continue to feed today’s anti immigrant political and popular rhetoric. Another result of historical amnesia of the Americanization period is that multiculturalism is viewed as a product of liberal 1960s policies. Like nativism, ‘‘multiculturalism’’ also has a long history and was termed ‘‘cultural pluralism’’ during the Americanization period. Opponents of nativism during that time period who were educators developed the area know as intercultural education. In a similar fashion to current day multicultural educators, the interculturalists believed that diversity enriched society (Banks, 2005). The lack of a critical examination in the press media of nativism and of the mixing of immigration and multicultural discourses helps produce a post civil rights era in which: (a) multiculturalism may be considered a recent liberal anti nationalistic invention by some, (b) multiculturalism is publicly attacked as an out dated notion in spite of its long history and the societal goal of equity, and (c) and the historic legacy and recurring patterns of anti immigrant sentiment in the history of the US remain invisible.

Nativism or racism, does it make a difference?

The discourse concerning anti immigrant statements in the press media is filtered through the lens of raced based prejudice, but these statements are actually concerned with nativism and nationalism and may be considered acts of banal nationalism (Billig, 1995). Charges of racism draw attention to acts of discrimination but not to the process of nation building, which involves forging national unity at the expense of an internal minority. Evidence of this process of forging allegiances for national unity in the Brock case was the 75% approval rating that Brock received on the Greeley Tribune website and Schaefer’s bumper sticker, ‘‘Schaefer say what you think.’’ Another aspect of nation building is the manipulation of symbols to reproduce a narrow definition of

national identity. The primary symbol of national identity referred to in both the Brock and Schaefer cases is the English language. In the Brock case, nation building was also flagged by the 4th of July celebration during which his comments were made. Brock defended speaking English while supporting another national symbol, the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rocky Mountain News did not accept Brock’s argument of patriotism and challenged his nationalist connection between patriotism and speaking English. In nation building discourse, patriotism is often a cover for nativism and its’ use stirs up turmoil as illustrated by the reactions to the statements (Billing, 1995). As the Chicano veteran stated in the Brock case, ‘‘It bothers me when people use patriotism to mask their racism’’ (Garner, 2002, July 10). Prejudice or bigotry, the term used in the editorials, is camouflaged by nativism through its defence of national symbols such as the English language (Shorris, 2004).

While society frowns on discrimination based on race, discrimination based on nationalism and fuelled by nativism is not always recognized as discrimination. The symbolic indexical function of a language to represent a national or ethnic group is not always recognized and that makes discrimination on linguistic grounds publicly acceptable whereas discrimination on ethnic or racial grounds would not be (Woolard, 1998). Attitudes towards immigrants and linkages that were established during the Americanization period, such as the English language as the key symbol of national identity, appear today as having always existed and as self evident and not as historically based social constructions. The result is that defence of the English language as a national symbol reaffirms definitions of national identity on ethnic rather than civic terms. An important consequence of not understanding nativism is that anti immigrant statements are not considered to be discriminatory. In both cases analysed here, the calls for apologies by community members went unheeded and the editorial boards saw no need for an apology. Not recognizing prejudice based on nativism makes it difficult to challenge the view that immigrants are an internal threat to the nation and these attitudes in turn contribute to restrictionistic policies directed against immigrants who are blamed for societal ills (Massey, 2004).


Like the Americanization period, the current immigration era has raised questions about national identity resulting from demographic shifts. Immigra - tion from Latin American, African, and Asian has changed the face of the nation; with Latinos becoming the nation’s largest minority group. As this demographic shift is made, it is not yet clear whether popular understandings of national identity will ever expand to embrace the cultural and linguistic diversity represented by the new immigrants or whether those traits will continue to be considered foreign to the nation. Will conceptions of national

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4 43

identity and unity continue to be understood as requiring the cultural and linguistic uniformity demanded by ethnic nationalism? Or, will civic national ism be recognized as the needed foundation for national unity in an increasingly diverse society? Answers will begin to emerge as the public, the media, and politicians are able to understand and respond to the legacy of nativism as they understand the legacy of racism.

The civil rights era taught the nation that public discussion must continue to identify and understand forms of racism as they emerge in practice and policy. However, the immigration era that followed has not benefited as much as might be expected from this legacy. The lack of benefit may be due to the difference between eliminating societal barriers stressed under the civil rights model and expanding definitions of national membership called for in anti nativistic efforts. From a legal and policy perspective, the civil rights model sought to eliminate barriers to access by addressing the effects of past discrimination through policies such as affirmative action (Moran, 1997). However, respect for and the positive view of the cultural and linguistic contributions of minority groups to society may not have received adequate attention. A pluralistic model is needed in addition to the civil rights model to achieve the goal of a discrimination free society that values cultural linguistic diversity (Moran,

  1. . Under a pluralistic model, the right of Latinos to speak Spanish would be respected, even if they also speak English. In addition, the cultural and linguistic markers of Latino identity would not have to be eliminated as demanded by nativism for Latinos to be considered part of the nation and be able to insist on equal treatment in schools and in the workplace.

Another reason that the recent period of immigration has not benefited more from the gains of the civil rights era is the lack of understanding of nativism’s role in producing anti immigrant policies and practices. Campaigns to raise awareness of nativism, such as the South Africa national ‘‘Roll Back Xenophobia’’ campaign are needed. This campaign involved activities on the part of governmental, religious, civic, and media organizations along with training for police and union officers. (International Labour Office, 2001). While the melting pot image is a well known and commonly used phrase, its links to the strong anti immigrant actions of the Americanization period remain unknown to the majority of the public. The historical recovery needed for a new understanding of nativism will be a challenge, especially since nations are selective of their history as is indicated by the old saying, ‘‘getting one’s own history wrong is part of being a nation’’ (Renan, 1990).


The research reported here was supported in part by the Spencer Foundation and is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are solely those of

the authors. The feedback provided by Elizabeth Kozleski on an earlier version of this article is also gratefully acknowledged.

About the author

Rene Galindo (Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1990) is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado at Denver. His recent publications have appeared in the Harvard Latino Law Review, The Journal of Latinos and Education, and the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy.

Jami Vigil (J.D., University of Colorado Law School, 2002) is Executive Director and Managing Attorney for Socorro: Legal Services for Immigrant Women and Children, a non profit that provides free legal and educational services. Ms Vigil clerked for the Honorable Justice Alex Martinez on the Colorado Supreme Court and is a practicing attorney in the area of immigration law.


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