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Penélope Cruz Controversy Reveals Duplicity in Immigration Debate

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Posted on December 20 2010 12:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Providing us with another convenient excuse to share an image of the radiant Penélope Cruz, some readers responded with indignation to last week’s post regarding the actress and her unborn child. The source of their angst was a position taken in defense of the term “anchor baby.” A conservative Hispanic group, Somos Republicans, took a hard stance against FOX News Latino for using the term in reference to Cruz’s unborn child, equating it to epithets like “wetback.”

The counter-argument was simple. An epithet’s only purpose is to demean. The term “anchor baby” references a relevant concept in our political discourse, the birthing of children in the United States for the purpose of benefiting from their citizenship. It is therefore not an epithet, and likely opposed by amnesty advocates not because it demeans, but because it effectively conveys an idea damaging to their position. The call for FOX News Latino to apologize is thus an example of political correctness, an attempt to stifle debate by dictating which ideas may be expressed.

Whether any individual or group finds a term offensive is beside the point. Arguments are won and lost on their merits, not emotional reactions. The information provided by our readers in support of Somos Republicans only bolsters the claim that they are leveraging political correctness in lieu of a substantive argument.

Reader Kevin Solis kindly forwarded a press release from DREAM Team LA, another group advocating for the DREAM Act which claims “anchor baby” is an offensive term.

Jonathan Perez Mejia, an organizer and spokesperson for DREAM Team LA had this to say:

“The entire immigrant community stands with Penelope Cruz and support her decision to give birth to her son in the United States, now the target of anti-immigrant media. As DREAM Act students we can sympathize; our own mothers wanted the same opportunities and freedoms for us. The term “anchor baby” is derogatory and dehumanizing; that somehow Penelope Cruz will use her baby to gain benefits and citizenship, yet she already has U.S. legal status. Is anyone with a Spanish surname now an anchor baby?”

This comment succinctly demonstrates several points. Note the use of the term “anti-immigrant media.” No distinction is made between legal and illegal immigration. Removing legal status from consideration is essential to the claim that “anchor baby” is somehow “derogatory and dehumanizing.” Note the appeal to sympathy, an emotion meant to obscure objective meaning. Note how Mejia first implies “anchor baby” is an epithet, only to affirm the concept by admitting there are “opportunities and freedoms” that come with American citizenship.

As was conceded in last week’s post, FOX’s use of the term may have been inaccurate in reference to Cruz. However, that is a matter altogether separate from whether the term is inherently defamatory.

Next: Rhetorical foul…

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