Vice President Biden this week engaged in some of the most egregious race baiting of the campaign, charging that the policies of Mitt Romney and Republicans with respect to Latinos were the modern equivalent of xenophobic and discriminatory practices of the past.
The clear race baiting, largely ignored by the mainstream press, came during a speech Biden gave to the National Council of La Raza in Las Vegas.
Biden went so far as to suggest a parallel between the Republicans and the 19th-century Know Nothing Party, a sometimes violently anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant movement that flourished briefing in the 1850s:
Then as now, it wasn’t just those seeking to come who got the brunt of this xenophobia, it was those who had been here for a long time, like my Irish Catholic family. The same kind of backlash – that kind of backlash – is not new in American history.”
Biden indicated that GOP-backed initiatives to counter illegal immigration and to enact voter identification laws were animated by a dislike for Latinos and fear of them because they are “different” and growing in numbers:
You, the Latino community, is the fastest-growing population in America. You now make up 16 percent of the population of the United States of America.
But there are voices among us who fear your inclusion. But that’s not new in American history. There’s always been a fight between the voices of inclusion and the voices of exclusion. Between those pushing forward and those who continue to try to pull us back.
Between those appealing to our hopes, and those who continue to appeal to our fears. People fear what they don’t know. People fear that that is different to them.
Biden framed support for Obama’s immigration policies as a rejection of discrimination and intolerance against Hispanics, saying those who agreed with a recent Obama executive order allowing the children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country were responding to “the better angels of the American people.”
Biden lumped in what he termed “attempts at voter suppression” – the voter ID laws – with early education, Pell Grants and affordable health care as issues where Republican policies were menacing toward Hispanics.
Biden’s attempt to stoke racial fires comes even amid a boomlet of support for Obama from Hispanics in the wake of his executive order.
A Wall Street Journal poll released late last month found that the number of Hispanics with a “very positive” view of Obama leapt by ten percentage points to 41 percent, and that Obama now has a lead among Latinos over Mitt Romney of 66 percent to 26 percent.