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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    In or out of context, anti-Arab comments have no place in political office

    It seemed like voters barely had time to breathe before Raúl Grijalva and Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, the candidates in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District race, exchanged fiery remarks over comments Saucedo Mercer made in 2011.

    During an interview with Western Free Press, an Arizona-based conservative online news site, Saucedo Mercer made controversial remarks about people of Middle Eastern origin, saying, “Their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States, so why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?”

    The Grijalva campaign compiled a video of Saucedo Mercer’s comments and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee demanded an apology.

    Saucedo Mercer continued the shouting match via Twitter and claimed that the video took her interview answers “out of context.”

    This is often the claim made by public figures who make comments they later regret saying out loud, but, more often than not, they are proven wrong. The claims are just covers to save face.

    Saucedo Mercer’s interview proved to be another such case.

    The comment regarding “Middle Easterners,” as she called them, came during an interview question about “other than Mexican” immigrants entering the Unites States illegally.

    After saying that Arabs and other people from the Middle East only wish to “cause harm” to the U.S., Saucedo Mercer proceeded to say that prayer rugs and Qurans were being found in the desert, in a tone of voice that made it clear she believes that these immigrants harbor common, sinister motives toward the U.S., whether they immigrate legally or illegally.

    Neither she nor the interviewer, Brad Zinn, brought up the subject again. No follow-up question was asked, no apology or clarification was made and nothing even remotely related to the Middle East or its people emerged in the remaining 20 minutes of the conversation.

    Saucedo Mercer did not say, “Let me make it clear that I am not anti-Arab.”

    Zinn did not ask, “Just to be clear, are you against Arabs being present in this country, either legally or illegally?”

    She did not say, “I do not believe that Arabs have a goal of harming the United States.”

    There was nothing in the interview to indicate that Saucedo Mercer meant anything other than what she said.

    She cannot claim that her remarks were made “out of context.”

    Saucedo Mercer should realize that she should live with what she said.

    And voters owe it to themselves to watch the whole interview and know exactly what this congressional candidate believes about foreigners and their “ominous threat” against the U.S.

    They should realize that this is just a continuation of Tea Party rhetoric that has dominated the national conversation for the past three years and should make an effort to steer the national conversation back to sanity and common sense this fall.

    — Andres Dominguez is a senior studying political science and journalism. He can be reached at
    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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