Earlier this month, Rush Limbaugh came as close as he ever has to the truth—that is, a half-truth.
A week before the Republican debates, Limbaugh cautioned conservatives from media diversions. Summarized by one fervent writer at the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, the radio host insisted that “Republicans should ignore illegal immigration because the left and its mainstream media allies are using it to distract them from the key issues.”
An immigration bugbear did indeed misdirect conservative audiences when the debates finally aired, but it neither came from the cryptic “left” nor did it regard “illegal” immigration. Instead, it emerged in the form of two 30 second commercial slots purchased by the group Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), which it then used to deride all immigration for an audience of about 5 million people.
In its 25 years, CAPS has carved out its lot by generating general panic related to population growth and “overcrowding,” using this to then malign immigrants as the cause of every misery from unemployment to environmental crisis. Thus, CAPS seeks to halt any form of immigration into the United States, which it argues would effectively “stabilize” the population. The organization has also accepted money from the Pioneer Fund, a private financier for a cornucopia of racist pseudo-sciences. Pioneer was founded by Wickliffe Preston Draper in 1937, enthused by eugenics after a trip to Nazi Germany.
CAPS, then, would hardly garner the popular designation of “leftist,” but its commercial apparently mystified its audience into an accusatory delirium.
After seeing it, one indignant contributor at the conservative forum Red State complained that the “same people who want amnesty and pardons via the DREAM Act are now calling for the elimination of legal immigrant workers,” and then further warned, “Don’t be duped by the Democrats and La Raza.” Assuredly, CAPS shares absolutely nothing with the DREAM Act supporters, Democrats, or La Raza, especially considering that it has systematically rebuked all of these groups.
The misleading CAPS commercial further perplexed conservative writers, including one at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com, who chided it as conspiratorial and oppressive. Glenn Beck himself has disparaged CAPS’s agenda on his now-defunct Fox News show, questioning what he called its “spooky” messaging. Yet, TheBlaze.com attributed the advertisement to the arch-liberals at MSNBC, again stumbling into the trap of identifying the “population” fanatics with their “leftist” foes.
It seems counterintuitive, but this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
With the advent of the Tea Parties arose the trend of equating the Democratic platform to a nascent fascism. For many hard line right-wingers, especially those in the media, a world absent of the Republican Party resembles something like the set of Blade Runner, with Trotsky’s ghost orchestrating the bedlam.
And it’s this kind of crude partisanship that truly distracts from the more pressing problem, namely that of despotic “population control,” regardless of the political ideology propagating it.
And to claim that apocalyptic authoritarianism is a “leftist” tendency is clearly disingenuous. But this kind of misdirection is becoming typical, greatly benefitting the fringe groups flooding political forums with twaddle. Though it is a decidedly good thing that right-wingers overwhelmingly dismissed the CAPS commercial, it remains troubling that they can only identify fanatical agendas with their opposition.