Preface: With the net neutrality debate heating up, I was asked if LatinoPoliticsBlog would post this piece by Jorge Bauermeister.
By Jorge Bauermeister
The political world was abuzz this week as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unequivocally stated, “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.” Senator Reid’s comment was inarticulate at best and serves as an unfortunate reminder of the all too common practice of inserting race, gender and even fear into American politics. His quote also reminded me of a blog post I wrote in July, Free Press: Shame on You! For those not familiar with Free Press, it’s an organization dedicated to media policy and is a powerful lobbying force in Washington.
In the world of political blogs and 24/7 news coverage, I’m rarely surprised anymore, however after reading a report paid for by Free Press, yes even I was a little shaken. This wasn’t a slip of the tongue on the campaign trail, it was a well thought out strategy to categorize and influence Americans. While funded by Free Press the report was composed by the Harmony Institute, a non-profit research institute according to their website. The goal of the report is to explain how to sway the public on an Internet regulation policy known as Net Neutrality.
While the lengthy report is filled with questionable logic, one section is particularly troublesome especially for those in minority communities. The report explains that “core supporters” of their policy issues are affluent whites while the group labeled “persuadables” includes African Americans, women, the unmarried and those of a liberal persuasion. Additional characteristics of “persuadables” include living in the southern region of the US or rural areas and having a low income. What’s equally disturbing is the patronizing tone throughout the entire report. I am dismayed at the sponsors of any report that can so easily talk down to others and label people as “targets” without any thought to the repercussions of lumping people together based on skin color, gender or circumstance. Haven’t we been taught that our individuality is what makes our country unique? Isn’t our common thread as Americans the belief that others have the right to think for themselves even if we disagree?
As a Latino American I certainly hope Free Press and Harmony Institute take stock in the thoughtful criticisms of their report. We must ask ourselves, should race and financial status be part of our political mudslinging for the foreseeable future? While Senator Reid is certainly taking some heat for his comments, I’ve seen little in the press or blogosphere bringing attention to the alarming Harmony Institute report. Please tell your friends, fellow bloggers and fellow Americans, this sort of calculated exploitation of women, minorities and the disenfranchised will not stand.