Schwarzenegger’s Remarks: “Base Racism”?
Yesterday, during an interview on illegal immigration, Arnold Schwarzenegger touted The Minuteman Project, a “citizens’ neighborhood watch along our border.” Some were displeased:
Nativo V. Lopez, president of the Mexican-American Political Association, called Schwarzenegger’s comments Thursday “nothing short of base racism.”
“Those of immigrant stock should have no illusions about what his real sentiments and feelings are toward them,” he said.
Schwarzenegger’s press secretary called the issue a matter of national security.
“It’s not racist to ask the federal government to enforce its laws,” Thompson said.
Schwarzenegger’s comments came a week after he faced criticism for telling a gathering of newspaper publishers that the United States needed to “close the borders.” He apologized the next day, blaming faulty English and saying he really meant the borders should be secured.
My thoughts on the Project happen to be closer to those of President Bush, who’s said: “I’m against vigilantes in the United States of America. I’m for enforcing the law in a rational way.” In general, since I don’t consider illegal immigration to be the high-priority issue that the Governor clearly does, I have qualms about his recent statements, as well as fears that he’s following Pete Wilson’s lead to energize conservatives.
Nevertheless, Lopez is completely out of line. Just because the Governor wants to tighten border controls — and even supports rather questionable measures to implement them — does not necessarily mean that he harbors hateful “sentiments and feelings” toward Mexicans. Indeed, if the Governor is guilty of catering to his base, then Lopez is even more so. He’s being an ineffective grassroots leader, to boot.