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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fox News host @kilmeade compares refugee caravan to oil spill

This morning on Outnumbered, Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade said that he thought all US citizens should see the refugees fleeing violence as if they were an oil spill head towards our shores:

There are difficult issues to figure out, and they're easy issues to figure out where both parties stand, but I thought this would be as black and white as the Deepwater Horizon oil leak, when everyone who saw when that platform exploded, that oil leaking into the water in the Gulf, they said "We've got to stop that!" And Obama paid the price because it took forever to do it, he was just starting. We all agreed "Stop the oil leak!"

When you have eight thousand people, roughly, marching towards our border, who we know nothing about, who Sarah Carter just told me on the radio, she's in Guatemala, most of them are men, very few families. We know nothing about them, coming to our border. I would think Democrats and Republicans would go "Yeah, this is a problem. We have a System."
Dehumanizing immigrants and refugees in not new on Fox News, their mouthpieces gleefully parrot President Donald Trump when he implies all undocumented Latinos are MS-13, and refers to these immigrants as "animals," but this may represent a new low in their efforts to stoke the genocidal side of racism.

Fancying myself something of a wordsmith, I can appreciate how well crafted these 146 words are. First, he adopts a causal attitude while stating that his position is a "no-brainer," that the only two possible parties, or positions, obviously should agree with it. With that out of the way, he brings to mind questions of race with his reference to "black and white." There is a lot being done with those three words here, so we must spend a minute on them.

Those words are used often in reference to race on Fox News, so naturally they bring to mind that topic, but here Kilmeade is using them as synonyms for "good" and "bad," or "right" and "wrong." These are the primary, immutable, even pre-cultural meanings of these words. The application of the word "white" to the European settlers in the "New World," and eventually to Europeans everywhere, and the simultaneous labeling of Africans, or in many cases, all people of color, as "black," are secondary definitions these words acquired less than 400 years ago as African slavery was being established in colonial America. The original trick of white supremacy was the fraudulent claiming of the label "white," together with all its virtuals, for a selected group of people based on a lighter skin color. I have written more about this in The two meanings of white. Here Kilmeade encapsulates all of that in his choice of these three words as he segues into his racist analogy: He compares people fleeing violence to an oil leak that needs to be stopped.

Eight thousand was an over-estimation when he said it.

The choice of "roughly" as a synonym for "approximately" was also not an accident. It was designed to support the image of men marching towards our border, and to support the lie that this is not a caravan of families, which it is.

He brings up Obama, but then gives him a pass. This is to show that he's not a racist.

He has the gall to claim "We know nothing about them," in spite of the fact that, by now, just about every major news organization in the US, including Fox News, has reporters among the marchers. The message: They aren't human like us, a point he makes twice.

He evokes these racist images of white and black again with his oil spill analogy. He doesn't have to mention the colors again. The image he brings to mind is that of black oil spoiling our white beaches.

These forty seconds simply reek with racist imagery. This was a purposefully crafted statement, almost certainly read from a teleprompter. It was no accidental outburst. Fox News is quite consciously attempting to create a fear of immigrants of color coming to what they project as a white country under siege. The way they chose to do this lays the psychological basis for the most inhumane treatment of refugees, including genocidal mass murder. After all, we put fire on advancing oil slicks to stop them from reaching our shores, didn't we?

Attempting to contain Deepwater-Horizon oil spill with fire
Honduran migrant caravan on the move
Oil soaked pelicans from the spill (Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace)
Fox News lies, many women & children are in the caravan
Every major genocide of the last century was proceeded by a propaganda campaign carried out by  media outlets designed to paint the targeted people as less than human. In Rwanda, it was radio stations that called the Tutsi "cockroaches," in Nazi Germany, Goebbels' control of all media labeled the Jews as "rats." Now we have Fox News referring to refugees as an oil leak. David Moshman wrote about the role such dehumanization plays in promoting genocide in a paper titled "Us and Them: Identity and Genocide," 2007 Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
In dehumanization, those deemed to be members of the out-group are denied the status of persons. Rather than being seen as members of a human community with individual identities of their own, they are construed as elements of a subhuman, nonhuman, or antihuman collective (Woolf & Hulsizer, 2005).

In the period leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, for example, the Tutsi were persistently portrayed in Hutu Power propaganda as inyenzi, cockroaches. Not only were they a group distinct from the Hutu, regardless of their individual identity commitments, but they were increasingly construed as a group distinct from humanity, not capable of meaningful individual identities. Thus the killing of Tutsi was no more a violation of individual rights than the killing of cock roaches or, in another metaphor also popularized by Hutu Power, the pulling of weeds. On the contrary, given the threat allegedly posed by the Tutsi to the future of Rwanda, their elimination was deemed a moral imperative.

Similarly, a key aspect of the path to the Holocaust was the relentless dehumanization of Jews (Stannard, 1998, pp. 182–183). As Germans with Jewish ancestry were increasingly seen as Jews above all else, they came to be seen as less than fully German, and ultimately as less than fully human, part of a nonhuman mass of Jews. For Hitler, Jews were anti-human. Weitz (2003) provides a concise summary of the biological metaphors of Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “Jews were the maggots feeding on a rotting corpse, the parasites that had to be surgically removed, the sexual predators preying on German women, a spider that sucks people’s blood, a plague worse than the Black Death, the sponger who spreads like a noxious bacillus and then kills his host” (p. 106). Franz Stangl, in contrast, did not share Hitler’s animosity toward Jews, but Stangl’s blander dehumanizations were sufficient to enable him to serve as commandant of the death camp Treblinka (Moshman, 2005b; Sereny, 1983). To him the Jews were more like “cattle,” a mindless herd, making its way toward the slaughterhouse where it would be transformed into “a mass of rotting flesh” that “had nothing to do with humanity.” The Jews were “cargo” to be transported and their bodies were “garbage” to be disposed of. “I rarely saw them as individuals,” he explained. “It was always a huge mass.” (Sereny, 1983, p. 201)
This brings us right back to the Fox News analogy of the Honduran refugee masses hoping to be saved by coming to the United States as a dirty, smelly, dark, oil slick approaching our white beaches. A danger that clearly must be warded off at all costs. This is first rate racist propaganda. Goebbels would be jealous.

In many racist memes, the people to be dehumanized are called some other animal, like a monkey, rat, or cockroach, in Kilmeade's metaphor, the Honduran refugees aren't even considered animals, not even the distressed oil-soaked birds above. They are likened to the oil.

Its hard to imagine a more racist projection. Its easy to see how it supports the psychology of genocide. A billionaire's corporation is promoting this in the United States today for a reason.

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