PRESSING 2 MAKES YOU TANCREDO SCAPEGOAT
June 10, 2007
Author: Linda Valdez, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 3
Can we have an Olympic event for Creative Scapegoating? I'd like to see Rep.
Tom Tancredo get the gold medal.
The guy's amazing.
At last week's GOP debate, Tancredo took the increasingly popular sport of Blame
the Immigrant far beyond the usual conspiracy theories about the reconquista of
He put culpability for one of the modern world's true evils squarely onto the
backs of Maria and Diego.
"And how long?" he asked the audience in New Hampshire. "How long will it take
us for that -- for us to catch up with the millions of people who have come
here, both legally and illegally, and assimilate them? I'll tell you this. It'll
take this long -- until we no longer have to press 1 for English and 2 for any
The crowd applauded. And no wonder.
Is there anything more pernicious -- more dreaded -- than the recorded telephone
"menu of options"? It is the bane of modern existence.
Find a way to link immigrants with the anguish of Americans who get endlessly
transferred into deep and inescapable circles of Phone Menu Hell, and you've won
the immigration debate.
If all it takes to put real, live operators back on the other end of the line is
deporting 12 million people, then start lining up the buses.
But Phone Menu Hell was not created by migrants, and the Spanish-language option
isn't the result of Latino lobbying.
Free enterprise gets the credit.
Spanish is a menu option because it's good business to court the
Spanish-speaking customer. Spanish-speaking customers are plentiful because it
has been good business all these years to hire poorly paid Latino workers.
You may think things will change for the better if all the migrants go home.
Be careful what you wish for.
Businesses eliminate employees, such as phone operators, the nanosecond an
automated option can be found. They move offshore as soon as it becomes more
profitable. If cheap migrant workers are no longer available in the United
States, a lot of farms and meatpacking plants will move to countries where cheap
labor is available.
Communities that now rent apartments to the millions of illegal immigrants that
Tancredo blames for not assimilating will experience high vacancy rates. Stores
that sell them clothing, cellphones, furniture, food, toys, cars and assorted
other goods will suffer a big drop in sales. Jurisdictions that collect sales
tax on what they buy will also see a drop in revenue.
Migrants don't live in a vacuum. They spend money. They create demand for goods
They also live according to a work ethic and set of family values that was
considered all-American back in the days when real people answered business
phones and earned decent money doing it.
If you ever get lucky enough to call a business and get an operator on the line,
be very, very nice to her. She's an endangered species. You might also want to
smile at the person who rings up your groceries. Those self-checkout lines that
keep appearing in stores weren't designed for your convenience, no matter what
the signs say. They are about eliminating the cost of salaries and health
These jobs aren't disappearing because of migrant labor. They are falling to the
free-market, profit-seeking business strategies the Republican Party endorses.
Blaming the migrants is a handy diversion for GOP candidates who want to appeal
to the working man or woman who feels understandably threatened by today's
Tancredo is a master at this type of scapegoating. Give that man a medal.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edition: Final Chaser