Readers Compare Lawmakers to Rats, Apologize to Rats

A roundup of the week's best discussions at

By Channing Kennedy Nov 13, 2010

So many good conversations happening this week on! Reasonable discussions just busting out all over. Here’s just a sampling of the many highlights from our community this week.

Another white southern legislator compares poor people to animals — undocumented people and rats, in this case. Lagay says:

Lets see, comparing them to animals – first of all its dehumanizing. Then comparing undocumented immigrants (who are predominantly poor black and brown folks) to an animal that feeds off garbage and spreads disease? – beyond racist and classist. And finally, he is insinuating that undocumented immigrants are all coming here to "breed" (yet another animal reference and one which harkens to language used by slave owners when referring to their slaves reproducing) which is just that ol’ tired "welfare queen" bullshit. Yeah, cuz its so enticing to risk your life, your families life to cross a militarized border in order to live in a country that pays you less for the same work that citizens ppl do – or won’t do – and treats you like an animal ….just for basic WELFARE. Oh, and shit, i might as well have more babies so i can have a bit more since it doesn’t cost anymore to raise 2 kids as 1, right. Shit.

The DREAM Act may have suffered its final indignities, as Democrats prepare to cave under the Republican electoral victory. While this post attracted several thoughtful exchanges on policy (as the DREAM Act always does), I’ll highlight this passage in which Alyx gets personal:

… i am 21 years old, have been DYING to join the Air Force since i was 15, only to be told that i can’t once i turned 18 due to my status. i speak fluent Russian, graduated from high school, and have NO criminal record. i have loved this country since i moved here, and have been wanting to serve this country and and contribute to the society, but i’m unable to.

this is just a little snippet of what i have been going through, with no way of giving back to this country, as much as i want to. most Americans believe that illegal immigrants and undocumented aliens are here to destroy this country, and we’re not. it makes me very distraught that some people have that state of mind and are [too] stubborn as to even TRY to see what good this bill would do for this country.

And our old friend Antoine Dodson is still prodding us, intentionally or not, to question our ideas of race, identity, and ownership. On a collection of photos of blacked-faced white kids celebrating Halloween 2010, Oh Goddess asks:

.. I still see a difference between those horrid bad old days "entertainers" who were obviously derogatory and racist in their "entertainment" acts and the kids who are dressing up as Antoine because they are fans. Those old performers were NOT emulating someone as a fan, they were intentionally making profit off racism and intentionally fueling those racist fires that kept their audiences coming. The kids are fans of Antoine’s, hence the intent is vastly different. Should intent and fandom be taken into consideration? Or is coloring your skin just inherently bad no matter what the intent, whether it is imitation as the highest form of praise (as in fandoms) or imitation meant to degrade and humiliate (Al Jolson, et al)?

I won’t attempt to answer that very large question in this margin, but I will gladly direct interested readers to this excellent essay by Kartina Richardson, illustrating the damaging power of ‘positive’ stereotypes.

Don’t forget that in addition to the site comments, you can also join the conversation on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.