'Bordertown' adds to immigration misinformation - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

'Bordertown' adds to immigration misinformation

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Jose de la Isla writes a weekly commentary for Hispanic Link News Service. Email him at joseisla3@yahoo.com

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:03 pm | Updated: 12:13 pm, Thu Sep 22, 2011.

According to A&E cable channel publicists, a new reality show, called "BORDERTOWN: LAREDO" starts in October. It's about "five Mexican-American cops determined to take back their community." The question is who kidnapped it?

The cable publicists say, "The explosive drama, violence and conflict that unfold daily along the U.S.-Mexico border" is the story about "local cops, members of the Laredo Texas Police Department narcotics unit, who are waging a daily battle to protect the U.S." Okay, so it is about local police who protect not just the border city but the nation.

It has all of the elements of that new blend of entertainment where reality gets mixed with misconception and passes as non-fiction dramatization. It's as if "COPS" is about police-community relations. Or as if Jerry Springer is about family therapy.

For that matter, it's as if last week's Republican debate, co-produced by the formerly credible CNN and the Tea Party Express, was not also about the demise of a major party and a news organization.

In the Sept, 7 GOP debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry said that President Obama had commented on a trip to El Paso that "the border is safer than it's ever been." Instead, Perry mocked Obama and claimed the President either had "some of the poorest intel of a President in the history of this country or he was an abject liar to the American people."

Actually, the President was right. And the facts stack up that El Paso has been among the nation's safest big cities for most of the last decade. Would not a real moderator (and post-debate news anchors) have jumped all over that "truthiness?" According to Wikipedia, "Truthiness is a truth that a person claims to know intuitively from the gut in that it feels right without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination or fact."

That holds for Laredo. Last July, the Texas Department of Public Safety ranked Laredo first in crime reduction. Now if the governor of the state doesn't believe his own figures, or that most of the U.S. border with Mexico is safe and secure, why expect the rest of the nation to believe it?

After all, this is the age of inventing any convenient truth, even making up reality, or "truthiness." For instance, if, as the 24/7 cable news network claims that co-sponsoring the next Republican presidential debate with Tea Party Express did not compromise its news integrity in any way -- well, that is a novel way to superimpose a truthiness-template claim over evidence to the contrary.

Or when Lou Dobbs, who formerly hosted a CNN program, perpetuated the lie that the border was invaded by "criminal law-breakers" when the truth is they disproportionately include women, husbands and their children seeking to reunite with their family members already in the U.S.

It is not, nor was it a stealth incursion by terrorists or malevolent elements but mainly working people trying to make their way in life. But repeating a lie, over and over and over, had the effect of creating a virtual truth.

Dobbs would not even admit to one of his lies, although CBS News caught him at it.

At least A&E ("arts and entertainment") is an admission that its program is not truly true -- just kinda, sorta, could be, but probably or maybe not, or another kind of truth.

Laredo is an important U.S. community and it is undeserving of a flawed mischaracterization. It is a shame that A&E's publicity department says Laredo is the largest inland port on the U.S.-Mexico border and in the next long sentence claims it "is the premier gateway used by Mexican drug cartels to transport illegal narcotics into the U.S. and exports billions of dollars in cash to Mexico." That may or may not be true.

I'm not so sure about "premier" and what sounds like trailer trucks hauling back "billions of dollars in cash to Mexico." The drug trade just doesn't work that way.

The disingenuous part is conflating this nation's second largest NAFTA trading partner (read, helps create jobs) with U.S. demand-driven drug trade. This confetti of concepts would be comical were it not so bloody.

But truth doesn't have the entertainment value it used to, so it's better just to make it all up instead.

Jose de la Isla writes a weekly commentary for Hispanic Link News Service. Email him at joseisla3@yahoo.com

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