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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Regarding Bedbugs (as in "Crazy as a ... ")

Posted By on Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Whenever I feel in need of a dose of right-wing nuttiness, The Bulletin's editorial page never lets me down. If the editorials themselves fail to deliver, the "In My View" pieces or letters to the editor always come through.

This morning's winner was a letter from Margaret Dement of Madras blaming the rise of bedbugs in New York City on the twin evils of "multiculturalism and mass immigration."

"Bedbugs are uncommon in Western, industrialized nations," Dement writes, "but endemic in less-developed countries from which U.S. elites and left-wing groups are eager to import cheap labor and future voters, according to Middle American News."

I had never heard of Middle American News, but a couple of minutes with the Google quickly turned it up. It's a rag published out of Raleigh, NC, with a strong right-wing political bias and an openly racist attitude. Its website says it "advocates preservation of America's historic European-derived cultural identity, and believes the American people have the right to advocate and work for the establishment of national policies designed to preserve and protect the majority status of its core, European-descended population." Its contributors include such luminaries of the loony right as Patrick Buchanan, Phyllis Schafly and Ann Coulter.

Bedbugs are endemic not only in "less-developed countries" but throughout the world, and have been for thousands of years. Their resurgence in New York and other parts of the United States is due not to hordes of dirty brown and black people flooding across our borders, but mostly to the banning of DDT and the bugs' increasing resistance to other pesticides.

Increased travel also has helped the bugs spread widely and rapidly, because they're great at hitching rides in people's luggage. A wealthy businessman returning from a trip to Europe probably is more likely to bring bedbugs into his house than his Hispanic gardener is.

Depicting the targets of bigotry as filthy carriers of vermin and disease has always been a staple of racist rhetoric. "The Eternal Jew," a 1940 Nazi propaganda film, describes the Jew as "a wandering cultural parasite. ... While members of the Aryan race live healthily, rich Jews are shown as living in bug-infested and dirty homes, even though they could afford better."

I would have liked to ask The Bulletin's editors whether they thought they were doing their readers any service by printing racist drool, but I know from experience that they won't talk to me. So if they want to defend their decision, they're invited to do it by posting a response on this site.

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