Bomb On Immigration

LA Times columnist's comments cast blame on state's woes

By Fernando Oaxaca
Published on LatinoLA: July 31, 2002

Bomb On Immigration

Three times a week the readers of the Los Angeles Times are assaulted by a column cryptically called "Points West" written by Steve Lopez, a fairly recent staff acquisition by the still-recovering Times.

The Times is convalescing from being acquired by the Chicago Tribune dominated press empire and is still trying desperately to figure out who their audience should now be. When articles are published by the Times like Mr. Lopez's latest, giving his views on the Latino-dominant "Immigration Bomb", one wonders whether respect for Latinos is even vaguely included in their community relations, Latino employee relations, marketing or audience coverage plans. It is inconceivable that they would dare print a comparable article with Black or Asian immigrants as the specific focus

In fact, just before arriving on the local scene, Lopez was pointed out to this writer by Times editorial honchos at a luxurious lunch in their sixth-floor executive trattoria, as part of their plan to fill the gap left by their relegating the very "Mexican" columnist Agustin Gurza to covering Latin Pop music. Later, Lopez, native Californian and a self-described job-related "defector" to the East Coast, said in a June 2001 Times column, "My long journey, which essentially is a search for a homeland, brings me now to the international festival that calls itself Los Angeles." What a way with words!

Lopez further says in that 2001 piece that the primary difference between the East Coast and West Coast is that on either coast, those who don't like what he writes (and he implies there must be many) invite him to go back to Puerto Rico or Mexico, depending on where they read his material. He seems to consider either alternative distasteful and comments further, "You can't imagine the identity crisis I suffered over this (suggestions for his travel), particularly since neither I nor anyone in my lineage had ever been to Mexico or Puerto Rico."

Well Steve, (would he tolerate "Esteban"?), after your latest opus, "The Immigration Bomb, Bill Simon, Are You Listening?", the majority of Latinos in Los Angeles would most likely not miss you either, though they might not impose you on Mexico. They might prefer that you started drifting again to a former employer that might take you back.....back to The Philadelphia Inquirer, or Time Magazine, to others all the way back to 20+ years ago with the San Jose Mercury News or that icon of balanced news, the Oakland Tribune, where you sharpened your canines, so to speak. Because, Steve, you just don't get don't understand what we Southern California Latino hicks are all about and how your piece purporting to advise Bill just plain offensive!

Is it possible that your tongue was in your Spanish-surnamed cheek when you wrote, "The tired, the poor, the huddled masses are all coming to California, and we're swimming in dung off the coast of Orange County, for God's sake"? Not likely. But I think you have the locus and origins of "dung" confused, Steve; it may be closer than you think!

I am going to assume wildly that your journalistic awards indicate a reasonably quick and creative mind and that it must be sheer ignorance on our part when we interpret as insulting to our immigrant friends and relatives your forceful words, "Now is the time for the challenger (Bill Simon) to take ownership of one issue that's on the mind of virtually every resident of California but is taboo as a campaign topic. I refer, of course, to the state's insane population growth. And, yes, I'm talking about slowing down immigration.

"Take just about any problem in California and the chief cause goes unmentioned. Education is a disaster. Traffic is a nightmare. We've got a water supply crisis. The housing shortage is chronic. The health-care system is so overwhelmed ambulances often can't unload emergency room patients. Our shore is so polluted, Southern California leads the nation in beach closures." You forgot to blame us for sleeping sickness and the bubonic plague, Steve!

Do you think we just fell off the cilantro truck, Steve? Is your carefully constructed juxtaposition of words like "population growth" and "foreign immigration" and "corraling sprawl" supposed to lull us into classifying you as merely a sophisticated but well-meaning and concerned witness to the passing parade? Frankly, amigo, you have really joined the immigrant bashers. But Steve, not to worry; they're always very glad to get a Spanish-surnamed recruit into their bigoted ranks.

By the way, Esteban, we found where you possibly plagiarized the alarming statistic in your piece, "we're growing by one person every minute." It's right from the website of your much quoted "Californians For Population Stabilization" or "CAPS". at It's such a cute name and an even cuter acronym. It almost brings to mind the "population stabilization" of Jews in Germany some decades ago!

You forgot to give your new friend, Diana Hull, Ph.D., head of CAPS and quoted profusely in your piece (perhaps to give you cover), credit for the subject of some recent CAPS press releases displayed proudly on the internet:

"Mexico Not Such a Great Friend After All"
"Bush Trying to Sneak Illegal Alien Amnesty Through Congress"
"Population Growth--the Forgotten Issue of this Earth Day"
"Call to Reduce Immigration Benefit Fraud"
"From the Absurd to the Ridiculous: Hijacker Visas and Paying off the Government to Stay in the Country"
"E Magazine Article Focuses on California's Overpopulation Problems"
"New TV Campaign Calls For Immigration Control As Key Element In War Against Terror"
"CAPS Poll Shows Immigration Among Top Five Problems Facing Southern California"
"America Exposed by Federal Non-Feasance at the Borders"
"George W. Bush and Amnesty: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places"

The Voice of Citizens Together (Glenn Spencer, President) would be proud!

We're stupid and gullible, Steve. Reading these CAPS ideas makes us think that perhaps you sincerely do propose a revival of the spirit of Proposition 187 so as to propel Bill Simon to victory. Some of us who have not had the soaked-to-the-skin exposure to the Eastern big-time media as you have actually might think that you really want to be an "hermano" to Glenn Spencer and Barbara Coe and the other Orange County Latino-hate propagation artists!

But guess Latinos, we are naturally polite and considerate of uninformed newcomers. So we propose to let you off the hook, on the grounds of ignorance and gross insensitivity, regarding your thoughts and recommendations about immigrant policy. Just this once, all you have to do is apologize to the Los Angeles Latino community for considering them to be so naive and susceptible to your "big media" writing and clever use of English that they could possibly be amused by such hurtful drivel.

Finally, Esteban, you must get a Spanish-English dictionary and read La Opinion of a few days ago so you can be more accurately informed on where Bill Simon has already expressed himself on the immigration issue. You will find, to your dismay and that of your buddies at CAPS, that Mr. Simon has strongly rejected the ideas of Proposition 187 and that he echoes the attitudes of many of us in the Latino community about the past contributions and potential of immigrants to help make for a grander California.

Further, your concerns about the insufficiency of California infrastructure are old news to those who read about Mr. Simon elsewhere other than the Times. The need for more and better schools, new highways, more power generating capacity, new water supplies and other growth-sustaining measures have been part of Simon's message since before he won the Primary in March 2002. But you would never know it from the Times stories!

Unfortunately, you see almost no positive side of Mr. Simon in English print in your paper. Your colleagues at the L.A. Times have to endure the same editorial policies on their stories that bind or influence you and bias political coverage and grandiose photo-ops in favor of the incumbent Governor.

To help with your day job, have you tried anti-cynicism pills?

   print this


Arts & Entertainment Comunidad Forum People El Editor's Blog

Careers Expresate Hollywood Tecnología RSS Feeds