The Boston Marathon bombings have brought a lot of people's prejudices to the fore.
Almost immediately out of the gate was Erik Rush, a Fox News regular. He tweeted shortly after the incident: "Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let's bring more Saudis in without screening them! C'mon! #bostonmarathon."
When challenged, Rush responded in a subsequent tweet: "Yes, they're evil. Let's kill them all."
Rush was soon joined by a better-known Fox colleague, Laura Ingraham, who used her soapbox to stoke fear about immigrants.
"I just think that there are all sorts of security implications aside from the other arguments on immigration -- national security implications that we don't talk about with enough frankness, and, I think, certitude here," Ingraham said. "We can't stop every attack, but my goodness, if we had borders that were shut down and we actually had a proper screening process, maybe we could stop some of them."
These are commentators on a famously irresponsible media outlet. But when members of Congress join them in such discourse, it really becomes a problem.
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert saw it fit to target both Latinos and Muslims.
"We know Al Qaeda has camps over with the drug cartels on the other side of the Mexican border," Gohmert said on C-SPAN. "We know people are being trained to come in and act like Hispanic when they're radical Islamists."
As some Twitter users asked: How exactly does one "act like Hispanic"?
But this comes from a guy who believes that birthright citizenship should be ended since radical Islamist mothers are arriving in this country to give birth to jihadists, and who has implied on the House floor that President Obama's real allegiance is to Muslim countries.
Gohmert was almost matched by fellow Congressman Steve King from Iowa, who attempted to use the horror to argue against immigration reform.
"Some of the speculation that has come out is that, yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa," King told the National Review. "If that's the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture."
And there was the media coverage itself. CNN made an infamous gaffe on Wednesday in wrongly declaring that a suspect had been apprehended -- along with a mention of his race.
"I want to be very careful about this, because people get very sensitive when you say these things," CNN's John King said. "I was told by one of these sources who is a law enforcement official that this is a dark-skinned male."
The National Association of Black Journalists pointed out how wrongheaded King's announcement was.
"There have been various reports identifying a potential suspect as 'a dark-skinned individual,'" it said in a statement. "This terminology is not only offensive, but also offers an incomplete picture of relevant facts about the potential person of interest's identity."
In a time of tragedy and terror, politicians and media figures need to be especially careful with their words.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Corporations Are Champion Tax Dodgers."
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