Ed Kelley, editor of The Oklahoman, has published a NewsOK.com video editorial that criticizes the overreach of legislators who have proposed “30 bills or so” that deal with illegal immigration.
Some legislators here want police to be able to require more people to prove they are here legally if authorities suspect otherwise, an imitation of recent legislation in Arizona. At least one legislator, probably many, many more, wants the state to issue different birth certificates “one for children with at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen and one for children born to illegal immigrants.”
Kelley points out current legislators, some of whom helped pass draconian anti-illegal immigration that was signed into law by former Gov. Brad Henry in 2007, should push the federal government to address the issue rather than make it a state issue.
He’s absolutely correct. Different state illegal immigration laws across the country only create chaos and also wind up costing states money and legal problems. The only real solution for the problem has to come from the federal government. I believe the schism among Republicans on this issue between corporate apologists who want a cheap labor pool and the law-and-order types who want massive deportations is the reason Congress won’t act.
But what Kelley doesn’t acknowledge, and will probably never acknowledge, is that historically The Oklahoman hasn’t promoted the type of culture milieu here that values tolerance and acceptance. Former newspaper staffers have even argued the newspaper has, in the past, engaged in deliberate racism. According to Wikipedia:
In 1999, the Columbia Journalism Review published an article calling The Oklahoman the “Worst Newspaper in America”; the CJR cited the paper’s conformance to the right-wing political views of the Gaylord family, alleged racist hiring practices, and high costs of ads.
Sure, the newspaper has improved since the death of its longtime owner Edward L. Gaylord in 2003, but it’s still under the control of his family and it continues to virtually only support Republicans for major office on its editorial page. The newspaper has been a heavy participant in the right-wing noise machine that uses fear mongering and right-wing hyperbole to create fear and anger in people, a real violation of intellectual integrity and fairness. This a newspaper, for example, that continues to support U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and the junk science he uses to claim climate change is a hoax. Some things have change, but the newspaper still supports right-wing politicians who present nutty ideas and nutty legislation. When it does call someone out on an extreme proposal or action, it has no credibility.
The Oklahoman has been a major force in shaping a majority voter base here that sees nothing wrong with legally institutionalizing hate against groups of people-Hispanics, Muslims, others-and which might well be the most hostile to the nation’s first African American president.
Kelley makes reasonable points about many political issues in Oklahoma today in his video editorials, but until The Oklahoman starts publishing real, consistent commentary from progressive writers, everything he argues is framed by the newspaper’s huge moral failure of unfairness, lack of intellectual integrity and, as some have argued, racism.
It’s also looking more and more like a business failure as well. The newspaper recently announced even more layoffs. Why does the current business model of The Oklahoman explicitly alienate readers or potential readers who are liberal or even just left-of-center or many centrists?
Consider this: State Sen. Andrew Rice, the progressive Oklahoma senate minority leader collected 527,736 votes in his 2008 campaign to unseat Inhofe. Inhofe got 763,375 votes. The newspaper, as other media outlets did, called it a landslide victory for Inhofe. That’s fine. But to purposely, on a daily basis, alienate more than a half of million potential readers or NewsOK.com viewers seems like business suicide.