This past Saturday, Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason (R) gave a speech at the Cullman County Republican Party breakfast on the topic of immigration and how he believes lawmakers can resolve the issue. One solution Beason provided was suggesting that lawmakers “empty the clip” and stop undocumented immigrants from destroying the U.S. economy. The Cullman Times reports:
“The reality is that if you allow illegal immigration to continue in your area you will destroy yourself eventually,” said Beason. “If you don’t believe illegal immigration will destroy a community go and check out parts of Alabama around Arab and Albertville.” [...]
“The illegals are always praised for sending money back home, ‘they are so great’, ‘such family people’,” he [Beason] said. “But why is it right for them to send billions of dollars home, before they even try to buy some health insurance here that you and I pay for— it doesn’t make them sound so wonderful does it? They’re basically saying, no we’re going to keep the money and you’re going to pay for what I need.”
Beason ended his speech by advising Republicans to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done”.
Beason now insists that his comments were taken out of context and that he was using an analogy and not urging violence. “I did say that but it was completely taken out of context,” he stated. “Look, I’ll take my beatings when I mess up. But no way was I urging anyone to do harm to Hispanics or illegal immigrants. I would never do that.”
Yet, his explanation doesn’t really justify his alarming statements. “I began telling the story about a family visiting a big city when some guy with a knife or gun jumps out from behind some bushes and comes at them,” Beason told The Birmingham News. “The story talks about how a Democrat handles the situation, I think I said the Democrat tells the guy he’ll put together a charity basketball league or something to raise money to help him. The second family, that father has a gun but takes only one shot. The third family, and that father also has a gun, but he empties the clip. He solves the problem.”
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard defended Beason, stating, “Given what happened recently in Arizona, the media is especially sensitive to how political speech is phrased…But they must not become so sensitive that they stifle legitimate political debate.” Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy denounced the remarks. “Sen. Beason’s remarks in Cullman were unnecessary and dangerous, particularly in light of the recent tragic shootings in Tucson,” Kennedy said in a statement.
The thing is, Beason’s comments aren’t just troubling in light of the tragedy that unfolded in Arizona last month. Throughout the country, a number of citizens have resorted to violence as they’ve taken what they perceive as an immigration problem into their own hands. First, there were the string of hate crimes in Long Island which ultimately led to the fatal beating of an Ecuadorian immigrant. In Pennsylvania, a Mexican immigrant was also beaten to death by teenagers yelling racial slurs. In June 2009 a leader of the Minuteman American Defense and two of her associates allegedly burst into a Latino family’s home, killing a nine-year-old girl and her father. Neo-nazis who have “declared war on ‘narco-terrorists’ and keeping an eye for illegal immigrants” are parading through the Arizona desert armed with assault rifles, body armor, and gas masks.
Ultimately, Beason’s remarks don’t contribute anything to the “legitimate political debate.” They do, however, add to the hatred and vitriol which makes it hard for politicians who are serious about working on the immigration issue to propose rational solutions.