I’m sure that the Paul McNamara campaign would be surprised to learn that he is going to build a detention center in Escondido and declare it a sanctuary city if elected mayor. That was what Melinda Santa Cruz, the first speaker under oral communications at last Wednesday’s city council meeting, claimed she had heard—adding that one would have to be really stupid to support that.
She began her comments with a strange anecdote about a friend who had a girlfriend who worked for the San Diego City Schools. Very few of her students spoke English, so therefore when this friend developed a case of bacterial meningitis it must have been due to his indirect contact with his girlfriend’s students? She said he wasn’t diagnosed until six hours before death. Did he die? Before she had made this outrageous statement, she referenced Dr. Michael Savage’s Diseases Without Borders, listing a long list of diseases brought by immigrants into the country, including chicken pox, T.B., malaria, as well as lice and scabies (which she did not differentiate as infestations.)
I would like to write-off the woman as a nut case—but I think that there are many in Escondido who have similar fears about immigrants, and Mayor Sam Abed and company are only too happy to stir up that fear. Abed is not shy about breaking the rules and responding to those who are critical of anything he does during oral communications from the public, but in the case of this woman’s outrageous statement about McNamara’s intentions, he remained silent. The fact that a detention center would be a concept that is totally contrary to a sanctuary city seems not to have occurred to this woman.
Just a few weeks before, at a City Council/Mobilehome Rent Review Board meeting, a man, representing the residents in a mobilehome park, during the discussion of a request for a short-form rent increase item, began his complaints about the maintenance of the park by thanking Abed for keeping Escondido from being a sanctuary city. Here’s a mobilehome owner subject to rent increases that are almost automatically approved by the Escondido City Council in their role as the Mobilehome Rent Review Board, still supporting Abed, even though Abed receives lots of campaign donations from mobilehome park owners, and consistently votes to support the park owners’ interests. His fear of immigrants evidently outweighs his fear of rent increase.
No matter how you look at the current political situation, here and abroad, the rise of extreme anti-immigrant rightwing political movements is basically about racism, and fear of “the others”. Rightwing politicians know that increasing fear of immigrants by outrageously exaggerated claims of their bringing disease and crime will increase the number of people who support their politics, as I pointed out in more detail in my last blog.
How can we overcome this fear? Education? There were two cases of meningococcal disease in San Diego County in 2017—was this woman’s friend one of them, or one of the three cases so far this year? https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/documents/Monthly_CD_Report_March2018.pdf I’m sure this woman’s convinced that there is a major epidemic caused by immigrants. Never mind that it might very well have been an endemic source. It is spread by droplet infection—was her friend’s girlfriend sick too—or was her friend in his girlfriend’s classroom?
It’s been my experience that you can provide tons of empirical evidence to people who still support Trump, or Abed, but it’s like talking to a brick wall. Facts don’t seem to matter anymore—they’re written off as fake news. But I will continue to try.