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This Is Why I Don’t Watch TV

At this point, my television exists to play DVDs, stream Netflix documentaries, and blare Foo Fighters videos for my five-year-old son (hey, the kid has good taste).

I rarely turn on the TV just to channel surf. As such, I almost never see commercials, which has improved my quality of life substantially.

For this reason, I have missed one of the key advertising trends of recent years. I’m talking about the steady flow of heavy-handed, crass, xenophobic, ignorant race-baiting political ads that demonize Latinos for the sole purpose of terrifying old people into voting for Republicans.

I consider myself lucky on this count.

Yes, these ads convince people that unless they pull the lever for the GOP, hordes of deranged Hispanics will knife them in the street and violate their dead bodies, before executing their families just for kicks.

Now, you might think these ads appeal primarily to those bigots who already harbor anti-Latino sentiment, functioning as a wake-up call to drive them to the polls. That’s true, of course.

But what’s even more disturbing is that these ads are not just tapping into anti-Hispanic hatred. They are creating it.

Yes, a recent study has found that “ads and inflammatory language are actually ‘activating’ voters’ latent stereotypes about Latinos and immigrants, and those sentiments in turn are influencing how voters feel about immigration policies.”

Yikes — it’s not enough that Latinos have to fight the president, his legions of like-minded lunatics, institutionalized racism, Hollywood stereotyping, and the cultural baggage of centuries of anti-Hispanic hysteria. Now, we have Madison Avenue converting people into fear-based, irrational, racist voters.

It’s almost as if advertising agencies have some experience convincing Americans to buy something that’s horrible for them.

But I digress.

In any case, the researchers found that “misleading messaging tying immigrants to criminal gangs, such as MS-13, triggers fears among people, which in turns drives strong sentiments against immigrants and sanctuary city policies.” Furthermore, these fearful attitudes “are not in response to crime, but about stereotypes regarding Latinos and immigration.”

It gets worse.

The study also shows that “Republican ads using negative imagery about Latino immigrants and crime activates latent bias and contributes to support of anti-immigrant policies.”

Just how “activated” are these biases? Well, the researchers found, for example, that there is no correlation between crime rates and support for banning sanctuary city laws. As we know, sanctuary cities tend to have lower crime rates than other cities. But the perception that they are nests of rapist immigrants is strong, and this perception gets jacked up with every ad that depicts these areas as dangerous.

So we end up with a situation where people are not “evaluating their support for ending sanctuary cities on the basis of crime in the area. Instead … support for ending sanctuary cities correlated with a higher rate of Latino population growth.”

In fact, the researchers found that “residing in a high-Latino-growth area is predictive of support for Trump,” but this has only been the case since Trump arrived on the scene with “his utterance of inflammatory and bellicose comments about Mexican immigrants.”

Basically, Trump not only whipped up hatred against Latinos and made it ok to be overt about it. He actually helped create more racism. Yes, it’s yet another thing we can thank the current occupant of the White House for.

The bottom line is that, for the GOP, it’s “an effective strategy to first paint immigrants as dangerous, and then base your campaign on addressing that as a problem,” creating an issue where there wasn’t one before, and thereby conjuring up a whole new batch of hate-filled racists in its wake, all for the sake of scoring a few more votes.

The study concludes that, unfortunately, the GOP continues to “double down on this message,” meaning that “anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment will continue to grow, and it is on Republican elites for driving this.”

Of that, there can be no doubt. It is indeed on all on them.


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