COMMENTARY: We at NMPolitics.net value respectful discourse. In our reporting, the guest commentaries we publish, and in our social media discussions, we aim to cut through the mud and crud of these times we’re living in to find common ground and a path forward.
Key to that is treating everyone with dignity – be they ranchers, including a New Mexican, who occupied a wildlife refuge with guns, or immigrants living here without legal status.
So we reject labels like “terrorists,” which some called the ranchers, and “illegals,” which too many people call immigrants who don’t have legal status.
When people act from a place of desperation, like the ranchers who chose to make a stand or immigrants who risk everything to cross our border, they deserve to be heard. In my experience, such people have points of view that are enlightening and worthy of consideration.
The spaces where people with different backgrounds and views can gather to find common ground are shrinking. The news media has a choice – help foster bridge-building conversation or fan the flames of division that are tearing at the very fabric of our society.
That’s why it was so disappointing to see the Albuquerque Journal recently choose to run an editorial cartoon that demonized dreamers while also taking a cheap shot at Democrats. The image shows three men – two MS-13 gang members and an apparent Islamic terrorist – holding up a white couple. The white man says to the woman, “Now honey… I believe they prefer to be called ‘dreamers’… or future Democrats.”
The Journal issued a half-apology, half-defense of the thinking behind running the cartoon and said maybe the cartoon was poking fun at the white couple.
It wasn’t. It was a racialized and negative message about non-white people.
The folks who make decisions about what appears on the Journal’s editorial pages chose to promote the labeling of a class of young people who came to the United States illegally through no choice of their own, and know only this country as their home, as some of the worst criminals in our society. In doing so, they gave credence to the false rhetoric of the president and his most extremist supporters.
The days when Washington politicians from both sides of the political aisle worked to find a realistic and humane solution to our immigration issues appear to be behind us, at least for the time being. We’re left with a circus in our nation’s capital.
But in New Mexico we know better. At least most of us do. Unfortunately, those who opted to publish this cartoon don’t appear to know better.
This isn’t a Journal-bashing note. The newspaper’s reporters, who are separate from those working on its editorial pages, have done amazing work since that cartoon was published, fairly reporting under immense pressure on a very serious crisis for their employer. That’s no surprise. They often do great work for New Mexico. I’m sympathetic to the difficulty this situation creates for them.
I read the Journal regularly, and I’m not going to stop.
But the Journal’s editorial pages are clearly a problem. I’ve called out its editorial board before for defending the Martinez administration’s falsehoods about freezing Medicaid funding in 2013 and enabling the governor’s behavioral health tragedy.
Now this. It’s telling and sad that the Journal’s editorial board thought a cartoon that promoted false and damaging racial stereotypes had any place on its editorial pages.
Journalists should be prophetic. It’s our role to stand against the cancer that is consuming this nation – dark money, divisiveness, false characterizations and narratives.
That’s what we aim to do at NMPolitics.net. We’ve rejected commentaries, quotes and comments that call ranchers terrorists, Trump supporters racists and deplorables, LGBTQ folks pedophiles, millennials lazy and immigrants illegals, among others.
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