Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shame on You, Manoli (Revisited)

Well, this maven was wrong (in part) in my posting Thursday. And as my motto indicates, I am not afraid of being wrong and admitting it. In my post, I lambasted 68th district House of Delegates candidate Manoli Loupassi for his television ad. I said that at worst the ad was a lie and at best it was a distortion. After further consideration I must conclude that the ad is a distortion not a lie.

I am getting older. Sometimes I see and hear things strangely. Thursday I said that Mr. Loupassi’s ad criticized Delegate Katherine Waddell for having voted against a bill that would make undocumented aliens ineligible for in-state tuition rates at the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities. As I pointed out in my post, Ms. Waddell voted in favor of that legislation. Thursday night I saw the ad again. Now I see that the ad criticizes Ms. Waddell for opposing a different bill, a year earlier, that totally bars undocumented aliens from our institutions of higher learning. I went back to the General Assembly’s Legislative Information Service and discovered that in 2006 Delegate Waddell did vote against House Bill 262 that made undocumented aliens ineligible to be admitted to Virginia’s public colleges and universities. Since Mr. Loupassi’s ad does not indicate that in the next year Delegate Waddell voted in favor of withholding in-state tuition rates from undocumented aliens, I view the ad as a distortion of Ms. Waddell’s record. I apologize for calling Mr. Loupassi a liar.

Confession should make me feel better, but I don’t. I still find myself very angry with Mr. Loupassi’s ad. I feel almost as angry as I did two years ago when I saw Jerry Kill-more’s capital punishment ads against Tim Kaine.

I am sure that this statement does not apply to all Republicans, but I see many of the GOP’s candidates running campaigns that appeal to the basest of human instincts. Just two weeks ago I was up in northern Virginia and saw a mega-sign for a candidate for chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors that read (I paraphrase) “He knows how to handle illegal aliens.” Now, it’s Manoli Loupassi that is trying to ride to office on the backs of undocumented aliens. I abhor this type of us-them politics. It triggers our inborn xenophobia and makes us fear and hate “the other”—those who have entered this country illegally. What is worse is that most of these illegal aliens speak Spanish. The stigma that is attached to them by this hate-based politics naturally transfers to all Spanish speakers. When we hear construction workers or the people behind us in the check-out line speaking Spanish we start wondering whether they are here legally.

Yes, illegal aliens are in this country without permission. Yes, illegal aliens have broken the law. But, they are not murderers or rapists or child predators. Their crime is that they came into this country to earn money because they are unable to do so in their home country. Things are so bad where they come from that they are willing to risk their lives in the often perilous journey across our borders. And, let’s not forget that they serve a very useful purpose in this country. They work at jobs for low pay that few other people would do. Without them in our economy the prices of much that we buy would increase drastically.

Mr. Loupassi and his fellow Republicans need to realize that these aliens are human beings. They are not vermin that need to be eliminated. Mr. Loupassi must understand that his ad creates animosity against these aliens. The words of the ad that speak of these “undesirables” taking the places of good American children in our colleges and universities can have no other purpose than to marginalize people. Marginalizing people leads to considering them less than human. This can lead eventually to such nice things as internment camps and even genocide.

Mr. Loupassi, my grandparents came to this country just before the First World War They answered the call of the Statue of Liberty to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I am therefore an immigrant. I assume that your ancestors came to this country at some time after the settlement of Jamestown and that you are also an immigrant. Manoli, if your ancestors were like mine they were not treated very well when they arrived here. They dressed strangely, they spoke foreign languages, they were different. They were considered undesirable by all the true Americans—those who had come here a few years earlier. Since we know what it is like to be the “other” we should be the last to cast aspersions on today’s others. In the words of Scripture, we must “love [the stranger] as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34)

Why do candidates rely on this type of extreme negative campaigning? Because they are told by the professional political salesmen that they have hired that it works. If Mr. Loupassi is elected on Tuesday, I fear that we will have more of this nasty campaigning in the future. If residents of the 68th District deplore this type of politics as much as I do they must show the political professionals that it does not work. They must vote for the reelection of Delegate Waddell.


RVA Foodie said...

While "ol' Loup" was on City Council he was asked to vote for a living wage ordinance for city workers (instead of paying minimum wage and sometimes below thru exploitative staffing agencies). The argument was made to him ten different ways and he ended the meeting saying, "I don't disagree with you. Paying a living wage makes sense. But I can't go on the record supporting that kind of thing, because I hope to have a future in the Republican party." Anyhow, he's the worst kind of opportunistic politician... one who knows better, but doesn't care.

Scott said...

What about the time he proposed banning all vendors in the City aftr 8 pm?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Very informative. Waddell has my vote. I'm making the time Tuesday morning. I just wish more people would get involved. I'm so weary of fear-based, negative campaigns and mud slinging.

Anonymous said...

Which part of the phrase "Illegal Alien" don't you understand? Of course these people are human beings; my problem is that there first act upon coming to America was they broke the law. Legal immigrants certainly are welcome!

Anonymous said...

Anon: Which part of the words "pandering" and "xenophobia" do you not understand? If this is the best Loupassi can do, shame on him indeed.