Diverse voices of democracy deserve better coverage
The mainstream media should provide more balanced coverage of pro-immigrant rallies.
On April 15, many in the mainstream media devoted constant coverage to the tea party protests, which drew no more than a few thousand people at the most popular events and were sparsely attended at others.
But on May 1, when tens of thousands of people rallied in cities around the country to protest against Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law and to show support for comprehensive immigrant reform, media coverage was much skimpier.
With such lopsided coverage, many in the mainstream media are missing out on the contemporary equivalent of the historic civil rights movement. It is able to mobilize people from all walks of life, bringing together community activists, civil rights veterans, labor and religious organizations, immigrants, gays and lesbians and enlightened businesspeople to demand human rights for immigrants.
No other single movement has had such popular support in decades. So what accounts for this failure to register in the national consciousness?
Latinos, whether citizens, legal immigrants or undocumented, continued to be viewed largely as foreigners, strangers in a land comprised of immigrants.
In the age of globalization, where our government’s policies and economic institutions promote the world’s interdependence, it is foolish to scapegoat immigrants. The very forces of globalization that displace them from their sources of employment in their native land readily incorporate them into the U.S. economy.
Some in the United States refuse to recognize the internationalization of our own population for fear that it might produce ethnic or cultural changes. This apparent resistance toward change underscores a provincial perspective that globalization is fine, as long as it happens in English.
Immigrants challenge traditional views of citizenship while at the same time demonstrating a high level of civic participation. Their demand for reform is premised on the very values embedded in the foundational documents of the United States.
They work, contribute to the economy, pay taxes and receive no representation. Tired of being in the shadows, they seek recognition, not just to legalize their presence, but also to gain acceptance as cultural citizens of this society — part of the complex social fabric that defines the United States.
Arizona’s new law is a mean-spirited effort that marginalizes Latinos, the largest ethnic group in the U.S. population. The reason cited for the bill, a purported increase in crime, is not borne out. In fact, statistics underscore that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born citizens.
The movement for immigrant rights is growing. It’s time that more people of goodwill joined it. And it’s time that the mainstream media acknowledge the presence and power of the immigrant rights movement and provide decent coverage to it.
. Reprinted from Progressive Media (www.progressive.org)