Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Opinion: Putting a perverse publicity stunt in perspective

Students at UT Austin

 In the continuing learning process of how to act in a changing society, a conservative group at the University of Texas’ flagship university in Austin got a lesson in humility it will surely want to forget.

Young Conservatives of Texas were to hold a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event this week, where club members would wander around campus “wearing signs that say, ‘illegal immigrant’, and students who capture them and take them to the Young Conservatives’ recruiting tables will get $25 gift certificates”.

This level of diaper-wearing attention-seeking by the group’s chairman, Lorenzo Garcia, would be embarrassing enough to any parent. Yet Garcia was desperately seeking attention for his sick publicity stunt, and the media gave Garcia what he was looking for.  A story on the prospect of “an illegal immigrant hunt” was bound to get clicks, so the media gave Garcia what he was looking for.

Yet it’s important in a democratic society to respond to the littleness of such ideas precisely because of its privileged source.

Insensitivity to human suffering is one thing, and promoting policies that needlessly contribute to human suffering is yet another. But reveling in that suffering by mocking those caught in the claws of our immigration system is a level of sociopathic behavior that can only be matched by the irony of the event being held at a university of immense privilege, in fact already a majority-minority school, by a kid with a Hispanic surname.

In fact, the same kid recently held an affirmative action bake sale.  Students were sold baked goods on a price scale where minorities paid less than whites and Asians, the message being that whites and Asians are being discriminated against by affirmative action policies.

One wonders what access to privilege students like Garcia are yearning for when the median wealth of whites is almost twenty times that of blacks, and whites outpace blacks in almost any socio-economic measurement imaginable.  Acknowledging our history of discrimination against minority groups is a small gesture by institutions of higher learning to consider in the admissions process, and the current gauntlet of depravity thrown at minority communities known as the “war on drugs” is yet another reason to fight for comprehensive admissions policies.

Our immigration policy is but another system of control over minorities, most of which who come here as a result of American foreign policy decisions that are impoverishing the homes of the immigrants among us we now resent, and Mr. Garcia finds so much joy in his perverse publicity stunt.

The response by the Greg Abbot for Governor campaign was to rightfully call this a “repugnant effort” and to distance itself from the Young Conservatives leader.

Garcia was forced to cancel the event when the President of UT-Austin voiced his denunciation of the young conservatives’ proposed stunt and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement objected to the event by calling it a violation of the student honor code.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed, but only because social media and our institutions of information compelled others into the admission that the sources of power are changing.

Lesson learned, for now.

Opinion: Putting a perverse publicity stunt in perspective     stephen nuno nbc final e1370610376199 news NBC Latino News
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.

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