After Macaca: Virginia’s Next Youtube Moment

Curator's Note

Forget Iraq. For those surprised by the effectiveness and overwhelming dominance of the gay marriage issue in motivating the hate vote, Lou Dobbs’ bloated populism on CNN, the defeat of the “Dream Act,” and the current spate of local “anti-illegals” measures introduced in Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia should serve as a heads-up to The Issue for the coming election. In Virginia, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the harshest local measure yet against undocumented residents. Now, with the board up for reelection in November, local activists went live with Liberty 9500, a Youtube channel integrated with other Web forums and blogs. The “real-time interactive documentary” features footage from the battleground, from short documentaries to public hearings and personal testimonies. The chance for another Macaca moment is slim, in the face of rhetoric that no longer bothers to dress up its bigotry. But the networked site is an instructive field manual for what’s coming in ‘08.


Tasha, thanks for posting about this interesting documentary project. There is little doubt that the Lou Dobbs crowd is fueling a lot of misinformation and even hatred on this issue, and it's well worth supporting and promoting projects like this one. It's also a compelling use of the web video medium. Here's a direct link to the YouTube channel for anyone who is interested.

By Anonymous

After watching the video clip, I found some of the coments made to the minorities to be offensive. On one hand, I understand the citizen's, (notably white) problems with illegal immigration, taken from a legal standpoint in which some of the people in question are "illegal immigrants" and thus, breaking the law. However, I think the comments made by the man in the beginning towards the minorities, during which he assumes that "these people don't" speak English, act as negative stereotypes, and do in fact bring about racism as an underlying issue, regardless of whether or not it is intentional. Further, the group of minorities being spoken to in the video clip is in fact composed of mostly, if not entirely, US citizens, thus making his points invalid in reference to their own status, though the situation may have a severe impact on them regardless, due to the racism and prejudice being placed upon the minorities.While I understand both sides exercised freedom of speech, I agree with previous comments that if the issue is strictly about a legal matter of "illegal immigration," then racial stereotypes and prejudice should not be included in order to maintain credibility, and perhaps tact, if nothing else.

First I want to say that I do not think it is right for people to live in the United States illegally. I come from a family of immigrants who all took the necessary steps to become US citizens. I feel that it is the right thing to do. With that being said I do not condone the acts of racism, discrimination, racial profiling, and prejudice which are happening in PWC, VA. I was disgusted by the older gentleman’s comment about Hispanics working in America: “I don’t appreciate people speaking Spanish in my country.” His country? His words made me sick to my stomach, it seemed as though he had so much hatred built up inside of him towards immigrants and especially Hispanics. His unwillingness to listen to other’s point of view just made him appear more ignorant. I feel like this group (9500Liberty) in PWC, VA is doing a good thing by posting these videos and building awareness of the sudden discrimination and acts of racism going on in the area. Someone left a comment on 9500Liberty’s website saying that they were born in Virginia and that’s all they had to do to become a United States citizen. I found that statement very touching, that’s all I had to do as well. By chance I was born here instead of in Greece like the rest of my family. But it is still not right for people to break the law. Maybe the problem lies in the process of obtaining citizenship and its level of difficulty. I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know that this has always been an issue and it will most likely always be.

The conflicts in PWC show that prejudice still exist in our nation. The elder Caucasian guy demonstrated this by telling some people they knew how to speak English and some did not. The depressing thing about it was most of the people he was talking to have legal documentation to be in the United States. I thought that it was pure bigotry to insult them because he doesn’t know all of the immigrant’s background knowledge. Just because someone of the same ethnicity upset you somewhere else, doesn’t mean you offend everyone within that ethnicity. His view on the national identity of the United States shocked me. I did not think it was right for him to get upset because someone was speaking Spanish at store in America. As diverse as our nation is, how can he just say that everyone has to speak English everywhere? That’s like saying if he went outside the United States that he would have to speak the language in the country he goes to. He would not want that to happen to him just like most immigrants don’t want people telling them they can’t speak their first language. On another note, fussing with the immigrant’s children doesn’t make sense either. The kids didn’t ask to be in the situation they are in. Their knowledge of race and immigration affairs is slim compared to the elder Caucasian. Moreover, our nation and its political leaders continue to be hypocritical about rights. How can a documented alien to this country be told they are restricted of access to public services? What happened to freedom? I am sure most of these aliens (illegal or legal) do not want to immigrate to other countries in order to make profit. But sometimes people have to do what they have to do. The United States knows that immigrants are living in there country. Tmshphnot666 said it best that it is not a problem when the immigrants are around when we have a better economy. However, once a recession hits, the political climate of immigrants (illegal or legal) becomes confused and begins to degrade against immigrants. Just look at how Mexican day laborers are picked up on corners in Austin, Texas. If the illegal immigration was such a problem, the government would crack down on the fact that these “illegals” come to work everyday in the U.S..

Seem to be 2 sets of arguments Legals status, anti-illegals Quality of life, preservation issues Overcrowding, littering, crime, language, appearance of poverty Ways to handle it Lynch mob Effectively racial profiling laws “probable cause” to suspect illegal status Day laborer centers attract illegal immigrants? …and pubs attract alcoholics, point? Not all pub patrons are alcoholics low income, working class Ride of the Valkyries, wow. I will never look at elmer fudd the same way again historic use of Wagner as a rhetorical agent Wow, the video is rich with dialogue promoting a White vs. Hispanic conflict but I see at least several frames for the events in PWC: “Racial”, Anti-Illegal, and Anti-Immigrant. Groups supporting the proposed legislation are accused of being racist or having “racial” or Anti-immigrant motivations for seeking or supporting this resolution but many comments have been quick to label this a fight against illegal immigration. These arguments appear to be spurious but not entirely because of directly racist motivations. The video interviews clearly show stereotypes are at work. The prejudicial assumptions that Hispanic immigrants don’t speak English, can’t read or write, and contribute to societal depreciation are long established in the media in forms of late-night comedy routines and documentaries like Los Trabajadores. There is no legitimate way to observe “probable cause” for investigation of legal status. Without checking every driver’s residence status, the only option would amount to racial profiling. If the argument is anti-ILLEGAL immigrants, I wonder where the harm is. I want to see the bodies. The anti-illegal argument reeks of hypocrisy when one considers European colonialism but it falls within the law. There is an unspoken assumption that legal immigration status is available to all who apply for legal immigration options are held to the same standards. One comment suggested the government officials were acting on the will of the people, but just who are those people? It is clear from other comments that the citizenry of PWC is divided on this issue. This comment also suggested there was systematic inherency to correct because Illegal immigrants place an undue burden on the educational system by requiring more ESL teachers to handle the overload of undocumented students. Is the problem really about more teachers, or are people afraid of changing languages? Others suggested it was about principle of law and policy: If illegal immigrants are allowed to stay after cutting in line they devalue the citizenship bestowed upon people who follow the rules and obtain naturalization. Is this alleged “devaluation” of the process really harmful or is it a stand against immigration altogether? Are our citizenship and naturalization systems really just designed to keep people out? Is our society acting out of fear and protectionism as if somehow integrating other cultures and languages into our own would somehow make us less American? One comment brought up the use of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie as a backdrop for the Help Save Manassas rally and its rhetorical connection to Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and the Nazi concentration camps as a symbol of Aryan pride and nationhood. This was an utterly horrifying realization. Media will play a crucial role in this conflict. I can only hope the KKK is kept at bay. As a side note on the significance of media, YouTube is a public tool. The following video, How to Harass Illegal Aliens Legally: promotes the notion that all day laborers are illegal immigrants. It is loaded with harmful stereotypes of animalistic, untouchable others. It has high production values; a group of people must have organized the event, wrote script, pre-staged cameras, and edited this in a way reminiscent of a Daily Show or Colbert Report farce. Even with its construction and “humor”, the workers appear to be real people. This shows the lengths people will go, in a day and age we like to think has moved beyond this form of hatred. While there is the right to free speech and expression we have to make sure these hate videos are not allowed to exist unchallenged or they could promote copycats and eventually outbreaks of violence.

The conflict in the You Tube video demonstrates that prejudice still exists in our nation. Yes! It’s sad but true. The older Caucasian male demonstrated this by telling the Hispanics that they need to speak English. It is interesting because these people do have legal documentation that they have legal rights to be in the United States. I thought it was ignorant to insult these people because he doesn’t know anything about them. Yelling with the immigrant’s children made me mad because they are just as innocent as their parents. And who is he to judge someone. He was basically stereotyping Hispanics and saying that they can’t speak English, when clearly they can. He also refers to “Our”. This is “our” country and “our laws”. What exactly is he referring to? Is he referring to the term white privilege and the thought that whites have superiority over minorities? People, it is the year 2007 and we need to wake up and get rid of discrimination. It is sad to watch because it’s dividing races and racial profiling Hispanics. How can you tell who is illegal and who is not by just looking at them. Tasha Oren’s comment makes you think about what the future holds for us when it comes to racism and bigotry. We do have election coming up next year. What are we teaching our children to think about minorities?

While I am torn on the issue of what to do about illegal immigrants in this country, I whole-heartedly feel that resorting to any form of violence about the matter is completely unacceptable. The youtube video really got me thinking about the issue. I do feel that if you are going to come into this country, you should do so legally. I have many friends that come to this country legally and pay the expenses in order to do so. It is not fair for them to see people coming here illegally and getting to stay. Unfortunately the issue of illegal immigration is very tricky and I don’t think it will be able to be resolved easily. Prince William County’s resolution is completely unacceptable in my eyes. It is just going to make the situation worse for that area and cause many racial profiling problems. Just because someone looks Hispanic is no reason to make them show their paper work, and that is what is going to happen by leaving it up to “probable cause.” If someone looks Hispanic they are going to be targeted by this resolution, regardless of their immigration status. Like one woman pointed out in the video, this resolution is going to make “peace keeping officers” become “immigration officers.” It is going to cause a lot more harm than good. I feel that this is a serious issue that really needs to be addressed and I applaud 9500 liberty for doing so. The comments on the page were shocking to me. It is sad that we live in a country that values freedom of speech, but as the posts on the page showed, many of these immigrants are afraid to speak openly because of threats of violence. Another person posted that “this is not a complicated issue at all. Those who are here illegally need to remove themselves from the country and apply to enter the country properly.” Sounds easy in theory, but in actuality it isn’t. I do not see any easy, uncomplicated way of getting the illegals that are already here to go back willingly. While I feel that people should not come into our country illegally, and that illegal immigration is a huge problem that our country needs to address, I do not feel that Hispanic people should be targeted by some resolution passed by the local government. Legal immigrants are having to face discrimination and threats of violence that are uncalled for. America is and has always been the “land of opportunity” and our families were all once immigrants to this country. We need to remember that when thinking about this illegal immigration issue and try to come up with a solution that still holds true to what our country’s values and ideas were based on.

It is unfortunate that the people of Prince Williams County in Virginia do not realize the damaging effects of their ignorance which has now been displayed across America by the media and Youtube. First, all people who are in the United States at one time or the other were immigrants. Doesn't the elderly man who's upset of going to Lowe's and hearing Spanish instead of English spoken realize that his ancestors once spoke a foreign tongue? Doesn't he realize that America presents the "Land Of the Free and Home Of the Brave"? He's confused again because he accuses the Spanish-looking people of needing to learn and speak English when all in the crowd speak and understand English clearly by their response to his accusations. One even pulls out his documentation papers when he's accused of being one of the twelve million illegal immigrants in the country. I surely wouldn't feel obligated to carry around my legalization papers in my pocket. Why should a legal immigrant? These people don't want to be classified as "illegal" any more than their angry opponent. The elderly man insists that if they attend school, study, and then go to college, he will applaud their efforts; yet, he doesn't know these people, what school they may attend, how hard they work, or why his rhetoric smacks of bigotry. For some reason, Americans of European descent think they own America. This is unfortunate for America isn't owed by anyone. America is a land that is open to all--it's the land "of the people, by the people. and for the people." Our constitution doesn't say, "America is the land of the white man." What makes America so progressive and economically advantaged is the diversity of its people. Creative ideas, innovative inventions, and working hands of all who come and have preceded us make America what it is today. It's difficult to swallow the rhetoric of some who insist that people of color do not belong when we all are decendants of Africa. When some use the "splitting effect" to try and dominate and instruct others they should know their historical backgrounds and facts before making irate accusations. What is so disturbing are the children in the crowd. They are meeting the America people in their ugliest, realizing they are not wanted and prejudiced because they are Mexican. It's the hard-working Mexican parents who are building America its homes, picking our vegetables--even if they don't want any at the fast food restaurant--, and cooking our meals. Furthermore, is it right to turn the police force of the county into immigration officers? Isn't the measure unconstitutional since the federal government is in charge of immigration? Finally, the ultimate irony is the cost. As Prince Williams County proposes this amendment that is dividing their county and forcing people to leave, they cannot afford the $14 million plus price tag.

George Allen’s ‘06 “macaca moment” was so politically incorrect, my first reaction was, “Wow, what an idiot!”. For someone in the public eye, on camera, campaigning for an election, to make such a thoughtless, racist comment seemed to be almost too good to be true. I’m pretty sure that deep down we all know there are plenty of corrupt politicians out there, fuming under their red neckties with words they cannot say. So for Allen to actually make a blatantly racist comment makes me wonder if he had ulterior motives. Maybe he knows how many anti-immigration, white supremacist voters are out there, who would pat him on the back for giving THEM a voice. But what about the millions of immigrants who are the victims of prejudice, like the people in the 9500 Liberty video? Where is their voice? We saw in the video that the older white man’s stereotypes about the “illegals” were immediately shot down. They spoke English, they were legally documented, they were not in gangs or running the streets drunk and jobless. The majority of people who migrate to this country come to seek better opportunities for themselves and/or the families they’ve left behind. After all, that’s how most of us got here and that‘s why many of us stay. Politicians and activists, like those in Prince William County, are only facilitating hate. They are dividing the people of our country, in part, denying a voice to those who believe in it the most. When we stereotype, we lose sight of the individual and his or her personal struggle. For immigrants, legal or not, when their motives for being here are questioned, in the face of ignorance, one young boy from the 9500 Liberty video responded the best, “What else am I gonna do?”.

I am glad that Ms. Oren shed light on this horrible crusade against Hispanic people. Many people made comments that they [illegal immigrants] should go back to their home countries, learn to speak English, abide by the laws set forth in the constitution. What about the legal law abiding Hispanics that are in this country? These are the ones who these new laws will affect? The [Hispanic] individuals in the clip and others who come to this country want to make a better life for themselves and their families; there is no crime in doing that. All in all, the American people are cocky and selfish. They say “learn English”, but we don’t take to time to learn other languages. Hispanics are the ones who build the roads we drive on, clean our homes, fix our cars, and pick our fruits and vegetables. Without them the US as we know it should cease to exist. Instead of trying to send them away we should thank them for doing the jobs we don’t want to do and helping our country run smoothly. This is a case of “us” against “them” on so many levels. We don’t consider legal Hispanics as Americans, we call them legal immigrants. That is because of the idea behind American is Whiteness. The people who were for this resolution were mostly Caucasian. Minority groups know what it is like to feel like a second rate citizens so many of them are empathetic to the feelings of Hispanics. Racism and stereotypes are also at play here. Instead of taking the time to get to know Hispanics as individuals, we tend to group them together as lazy, illegal immigrants that place a burden on our society. It is a shame that in 2007 we are still having racial issues like this. If we as an American people don’t get over ourselves soon we are going to see another civil rights movement and possibly even riots similar to those in Los Angeles in the early 90s.

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