A GUEST POST BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR
The Franky Benitez blog has been a lightning rod for Latinos in the social media sphere, myself included, to vent their indignation about the disparaging talk by the hosts of the BBC’s show Top Gear. At the same time, there is a LACK of talk I find equally troubling.
There is still very little talk in the national media about the trial in the shooting death of nine-year-old Brisenia Flores, killed in Arizona during a home invasion by three people with ties to border vigilante groups. Shawna Forde, a former member of the self-appointed border patrol calling themselves the Minutemen, is accused of leading two men into the home of Raul Flores in the early morning hours of May 30, 2009 and shooting Flores, his wife and daughter in a robbery attempt. Reports say Forde and the others believed Flores was a drug dealer whose money the killers would use to fund their border security operations.
CNN, NPR and the Washington Post have carried stories about the trial of Shawna Forde. But the trial — and Brisenia’s brutal murder — have failed to match the coverage in over 300 newspapers that followed the death of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, whose killer was believed to be an illegal border crosser – but never arrested. The media frenzy following Krentz’s death was used by Arizona legislators to justify the passage of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070.
As a Latino, I cannot help but feel a sense of bias by this disparity of media attention. And perhaps that’s what makes me especially sensitive to the disparaging words by the three louts on Top Gear.
Cartoonish jokes about national character may seem like frothy fun to the BBC. But the consequences of such talk take on a wholly different tenor in the U.S. today.
In 2010 alone, Hispanics were killed in hate-motivated attacks in Arizona, Maryland, New York and Washington. Each time these stories were published online, ethnic slurs like those on Top Gear have appeared in the comments section by those who apparently feel the victims deserved their fate. Even online reports on the case of Brisenia Flores — a nine-year-old shot in the face in cold blood — have drawn similar talk from those whose hatred seems to trump the bounds of decency.
Meanwhile, Top Gear host Jerermy Clarkson states in a public explanation for his comments: “I’m sorry … that you have no sense of humour.” To Mr. Clarkson, I reply: It’s not that we don’t have a sense of humor, sir. It’s that you are a clueless, arrogant ass.
Raul Ramos y Sanchez is the award-winning author of the novels AMERICA LIBRE and HOUSE DIVIDED from Grand Central Publishing. For more information visit www.RaulRamos.com.