An interview from last year with Tea Party activist Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, the Republican favorite in Arizona’s District 3 (in Tucson), is causing controversy for her glaring hate speech against whom she labels to be “Middle Easterners.” The interview began circulating on 27 August by her district rival through a youtube video entitled “The Real Gabriela Mercer - We Don’t Want Middle Easterners.”
Giving her thoughts on immigrants from countries “other than Mexico,” she identifies the “Middle Easterner” as apparently hard to differentiate because, like Mexicans, people from the Middle East have “dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes — and they mix — they mix in,” she warns. “And those people;” she insists — “their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States. So why do we want them here — either legally or illegally?” she concludes.
Obviously, “we” don’t want them here at all, in her terminology. But who is “we”?
The constituency that Mercer is appealing to, and from, include many of the top echelon dominating Arizona politics. Notorious current Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, herself endorsed Mercer’s Tucson District 3 race, stating, “I’m proud to support Gabriela because I know she’ll always put Arizona first.”
Also, Arturo Del Cueto, the President of the National Border Patrol Council, wrote Mercer “on behalf of nearly 3,500 rank and file men and women in the US Border Patrol in the Tucson Sector” to say “it is my pleasure to endorse you and your campaign.” State senator Al Melvin assured constituents that Mercer “will add a touch of class to a district that has been largely misrepresented” by her rival.
Racist conspiracy claims
Later in the same interview, Mercer distinguished “Middle Easterners” as part of a “bigger” plot. Citing unnamed environmental groups that pick up trash in the desert, Mercer claims they “have found prayer rugs … [and] … copies of the Quran.” Mercer is satisfied that these infiltrators are not just “poor illegals that are trying to come to this country and find work. It is bigger than that.”
To Mercer’s benefit, Tucson’s daily paper, The Arizona Daily Star, saw fit to, in turn, distinguish her from those “poor illegals,” not to speak of Mercer’s perceived Middle Eastern enemies, recognizing Mercer’s somehow law-abiding humanity as “a legal immigrant from Mexico.”
On 28 August, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) released a statement condemning Mercer’s remarks as a model example of the bigotry and racism within US politics generally. “The continued use of such language,” the ADC statement reads, “has led to an increase in hate crimes and violent attacks on Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian communities.”
At Tuesday’s primary election, Mercer garnered more than 60 percent of Republican votes and moves on to face current Rep. Raul Grijalva in November.
Keeping in mind the political landscape of Arizona (though failing to accurately assess that of Tucson’s), Sam Stein of The Huffington Post observes it is “unclear” whether Grijalva’s publicity of Mercer’s remarks “will help or hurt her campaign.” If Stein is right, then Arizona — and US society in general — is perhaps worse off than it appears.