Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | February 10, 2003

O'Reilly slurs Latinos

My family settled in a nearly all-White suburb of Chicago when we immigrated from El Salvador in 1980. Not only did I speak very little, and heavily accented English, but I looked different than everyone else. Throw in the fact that I was woefully skinny and looked years younger than my real age, and it's easy to see how I was the target of every invective known to man.

In the pantheon of slurs, the Latino equivalent of the "N" word is "spic". It's not a fun word to endure, but one that I could match with my own arsenal of four-letter words.

However, there is nothing worse (for Latinos) than the word "wetback". While "spic" implies a base hatred of my ethnicity, "wetback" goes so much further -- it also implies illegitimacy, that I don't belong in this country. That one really hurts. (It's probably the reason I am so sensitive to charges that my anti-war views are "anti-American".)

So why am I not surprised to hear that blowhard Bill O'Reilly of Faux News used the word?

[O]n Thursday night, the Fox News talk host Bill O'Reilly, used the word "wetback" as he fumbled for the word "coyote" to describe smugglers who transport illegal immigrants over the border.

Mr. O'Reilly returned a call to say: "I was groping for a term to describe the industry that brings people in here. It was not meant to disparage people in any way."

Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, whom Mr. O'Reilly was interviewing when the word slipped out, said in a statement: "Of course, he didn't intend to say it. But the fact that 'wetback' is a part of his vocabulary and slipped out is a clear sign of where his views fall."

O'Reilly says "I was groping for a term to describe the industry that brings people in here". And who are the people the Coyotes bring in? Not "undocumented immigrants", or "illegal aliens", or "Mexicans" or "Latin Americans" or "Latinos" or "Hispanics". Nope, in O'Reilly's mind, coyotes bring in "wetbacks". And that's why the slur slipped in.

What a jackass.

Posted February 10, 2003 08:12 AM | Comments (70)


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