What you're about to see is the front page of the “New Neighbors” ad distributed by either supporters of Jack Martins, Republican candidate for County Executive in tomorrow's election, or Jack Martins' campaign, itself. As you should know, “supporters of” are very often just extensions of the campaign.
“Meet your new neighbors!”
I am calling this ad racist, along with proponents of it, and you deserve to know why.
Dog Whistles And Megaphones
Here's why it is inescapably racist:
MS-13 has become something of a 'dog whistle' on Long Island. A 'dog whistle' is a type of political speech that might sound perfectly normal, but to those listening for the right cues it reinforces negative racial, ethnic, religious, or otherwise stereotypes. The New Neighbors ad is a dog whistle aimed not just at White Supremacist terrorist groups, but really at anyone who is simply afraid or anxious about demographic trends showing America's changing face. The picture and the wording suggests, “Hey, you see these really bad examples of an immigrant to this country? They're all like this.” It is a stereotype of epic proportions, and a viciously negative one, at that.
It would be as if the only popular image of Italian immigrants were those of La Familia, the deadly Mafia who would kill you if you didn't pay your protection money on time. That's a scary and even, to a limited extent, accurate perception of Italian-American history! Yes! We (for I am, in part, Italian-American) have had problems with organized crime in the “New Country” as well as the “Old Country).
It would be as if saying all German-Americans (for I am also German-American) are not to be trusted because Germany collapsed into fascism and Naziism in the 1930's and 40's. We know that many Germans resisted the Nazis, even if it led to their demise.
It would be as if, wouldn't you know, that the Irish were regarded as stupid “Molly” and “Mick” characters that are still so prevalent that Notre Dame's mascot is indeed the “Fighting Irish,” who happens to look like a leprechaun. "No Irish Need Apply" was a popular slogan during the Industrial era and the Irish diaspora. Police vans are sometimes called “Paddy Wagons” because so many “Paddys” (AKA Irishmen) were arrested for drunken brawling that, well...You get the impression. (P.S., I'm also Irish-American. I'm a mutt).