Another setback for Republicans’ minority outreach

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR REPUBLICANS’ MINORITY OUTREACH…. In railing against the DREAM Act last night, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who likes to call the bill the “Affirmative Action Amnesty Act,” insisted he wants to stand up for “non-minority” Americans.

“Uh, Mr. Speaker, uh, if an illegal immigrant, if this act passes, if an illegal immigrant happens to be of a racial or ethnic minority, which the vast majority of illegal immigrants are, that individual, as soon as legal status is granted, will be entitled to all the education, employment, job training, government contract, and other minority preferences that are written into our federal and state laws.

“As a result, the DREAM Act would not only put illegal immigrants on par with American citizens, but would in many cases put them ahead of most American citizens and legal immigrants. So those voting for this so-called DREAM Act are voting to relegate the position of non-minority American citizens to behind those who are now in this country illegally.”

As a substantive matter, this is all pretty absurd. The legislation forces applicants to pay taxes and steep fees before they can seek citizenship, and imposes strict requirements on what these applicants can do with their time. “Non-minority American citizens” — i.e., white folks — would be no better or worse off either way.

But when it comes to House Republicans, fact-challenged policy arguments are simply the norm. What matters more with Rohrabacher’s remarks is the racial subtext. Adam Serwer explained this very well:

As an argument against the substance of the DREAM act, Rohrbacher’s tirade falls flat. But as an expression of the widely held conservative view that minorities and whites in America are in a zero-sum competition for scarce resources, I think it’s relatively concise. When “those people win,” real Americans lose. That’s Rohrbacher’s argument against the DREAM Act. It’s Rep. Steve King’s argument against the Pigford settlement. It’s Glenn Beck’s argument against the Affordable Care Act, the conservative-dominated Civil Rights’ Commission’s argument against the financial regulation bill, and Rush Limbaugh’s Rosetta stone for understanding why unemployment remains high.

Since it’s actually worse to call something out as racist than do something racist, politeness dictates that we pretend these are all substantive objections to policy rather than fairly blatant attempts to exploit white racial resentment.

On a related note, Glenn Beck told his minions this morning, “If you are white or you are an American citizen or a white American citizen you are pretty much toast.”

And the Republicans’ minority outreach efforts suffer yet another setback.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.