JIM SHARPE

Sharper Point: Rep. Stringer’s words racist — but not why you think

Jun 15, 2018, 11:26 AM | Updated: 1:51 pm
(Facebook Photo/David Stringer)...
(Facebook Photo/David Stringer)
(Facebook Photo/David Stringer)

Arizona state Rep. David Stringer is taking heat for making supposedly racist remarks at a Republican men’s forum.

What I find interesting is that everybody seems to be focusing on the part of his speech where he said that “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” while discussing school integration in Arizona.

I don’t know if his claim that 60 percent of public school children in Arizona today are minorities is true. Or if that complicates racial integration efforts. If he’s correct with his numbers and racial integration is a goal, then maybe saying that we don’t have “enough white kids” isn’t a racist statement.

I think the media is drawn to that part of his speech because he actually mentions skin color.

But I want to focus on something else Stringer said that is racist — and politically stupid, to boot.

After making the “white kids” statement that has everybody so worked up, he went on to say that “immigration is politically destabilizing.”

On this point, he’s right (although probably not for the reasons he thinks): Immigration can be politically destabilizing.

When my biological father became a U.S. citizen, he didn’t just leave his native country of Jamaica behind; he left its pervasive political ideology behind as well. That ideology helped create a Jamaican economy where the average person earns barely $12,000 (U.S.) per year.

Many immigrants advocate for, and vote to, adopt the same policies here that helped create bad conditions in their home country. Conditions that drove them here.

So, yes, Rep. Stringer, immigration can be a destabilizing political force.

But, moments later, when he talks about how our country’s “demographics” will change thanks to immigration, he’s totally using a racist dog whistle: “If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country — it will not be the country you were born into.”

Wow.

Make no mistake, when he says “demographics” he means skin color — not political leanings and voting trends.

Now, that is offensive. And racist.

But he went beyond just being racist. He became a bad Republican.

What Stringer said flies in the face of American ideals and sensibilities — and Republican sensibilities. There’s a part of the Republican playbook that says candidates and officeholders need to make a distinction between immigration and illegal immigration.

One can be against illegal immigration and not be a racist. Illegal immigration creates crime at the border. The people who work in the shadows can easily be taken advantage of. And trudging through the blazing heat of the Arizona desert can have deadly consequences for those who cross the border illegally. It’s not inherently racist to be against illegal immigration.

But what Stringer is complaining about in regard to legal immigration is.

My immigrant father hates illegal immigration — but he’s a big fan of legal immigration. It’s what’s made it possible for him to become a Republican in the first place.

I’m a fan, too. Because I wouldn’t exist without it.

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Sharper Point: Rep. Stringer’s words racist — but not why you think