I'm not going to weep any tears for CNN's erstwhile token nativist Lou Dobbs, who resigned on air Tuesday, handing a victory to Latino groups who've sought his ouster through the Basta Dobbs campaign, led by activist/writer Roberto Lovato's Presente.org.
Dobbs has been a despicable opportunist, cynically dousing the anti-immigration bonfire with gasoline, spreading rumors and untruths about Mexican immigrants, slandering them as carriers of disease, and as criminals.
His latest blunder, insinuating that a stray bullet that hit his home was some sort of attack on the life of himself or his wife, surely did not help his cause as Hispanics cried for his head. Dobbs said it was due to a "climate" created by critics of his brown-bashing ways. The police chuckled at this characterization, suggesting it had more to do with hunting season in rural New Jersey, where Dobbs owns a farm.
Ironically, it may have been CNN's Latino in America series, which delivered the coup de grace. Latinos tarred CNN with the label of hipocresia, for appealing to them via the sympathetic series, while allowing Dobbs to spew his anti-Hispanic blather. The label stuck.
The New York Times reports that Dobbs had been given an ultimatum by CNN months back: Keep the nativism confined to his radio show and do a straight broadcast, or hit the bricks. His contract did not expire till 2011. But, Dobbs informed viewers, he and CNN President Jonathan Klein "have agreed to a release from my contract that will enable me to pursue other opportunities."
The reaction of Hispanic groups has been one of total ecstasy. The Basta Dobbs campaign's Web site declared "WE DID IT!" in bold letters. When I spoke to Phoenix civil rights activist Sal Reza, whose group Puente was part of the Basta Dobbs coalition, he couldn't stop laughing. Later, he e-mailed me the following statement:
"CNN with a huge viewing audience of CNN en Espanol, all over Spanish Speaking Countries, had to make a hard dollar decision during hard economic times. The global consumers won, led by a media savvy campaign led by Roberto Lovato. CNN had to make a choice toward the multiculturalism of the 21st century or the backwaters of racism and xenophobia spouted by Lou Dobbs.
"It is a lesson that Fox News has not learned yet, or one that Sheriff Joe Arpaio will have to learn the hard way. Whenever, xenophobia and racism show their ugly head, the persecuted with their numbers and buying power sooner or later will overtake. Congratulations to Roberto Lovato and all the organizations that made this victory over intolerance possible."
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