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July 21, 2009
Ethnic lobbies handed victory in Austin, TX (updated)
A radio station in Austin, Texas, has canceled a talk show after local ethnic lobbies expressed outrage over politically incorrect banter on the show concerning illegal immigration.
KLBJ-AM announced on Monday that it had canceled the "Todd and Don Show" following complaints and lobbying from local "Hispanic leaders" and the Austin-based U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association.
The entire show may be heard here. The program's two hosts, during their morning broadcast last week, frequently uttered the term "wetback" when discussing the political correctness of illegal immigration and, specifically, the terms used to describe illegal immigrants.
The radio personalities, who'd already apologized for their comments, had been on unpaid suspension for two weeks. They'll reportedly be reassigned.
According to the local newspaper, the liberal Austin American-Statesman, the use of the term "wetback" by the radio hosts had deeply offended local "Hispanic leaders" and members of the Austin-based U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association. The paper described "wetback" as an "ethnic slur."
Unfortunately for the radio hosts, the contractors' group and local Hispanic leaders," said there were not satisfied with their mere two-week suspension. Accordingly, the contractors' group threatened a boycott of the radio station's parent company. Emmis Austin Radio, its six local stations and their advertisers.
Interestingly, the radio hosts had not engaged in name calling. Their use of the term "wetback" was part of a wide-ranging discussion about illegal immigration and the terms used to describe people who cross the nation's borders illegally. At some points during the show, the two hosts even expressed sympathy for illegal immigrants. They even gently upbraided a listener for having, they said, made unfair assumptions about Spanish-speaking families standing in lines at local grocery stores. (She said she knew they were illegal immigrants.)
But no matter.
The radio show was too much for politically correct and ultraliberal Austin -- an open-borders and "sanctuary city." Here, local media outlets avoid terms like "illegal immigrant" or "illegal alien." More often than not, a person's status as an illegal immigrant is not even mentioned when that person is arrested by police.
In its hyperventilating news stories about the ethic "slur scandal" -- as the Statesman called it -- the paper frequently referred to "Hispanic leaders" being outraged over the radio show. Those Hispanic leaders included a former Austin mayor Gus Garcia and former Texas Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos.
Interestingly, they and other Hispanic leaders involved in the "slur controversy" were at the center of another controversy last year -- one in which when they reportedly pressured Austin's new city manger to award city contracts to Hispanic contractors. The meeting between the city manger and Hispanic leaders had racial overtones, because the newly hired city manger is black.
Describing what occurred, local Statesman columnist Alberta Phillips, who is black, contended that City Manger Mark Ott was not insensitive toward Hispanics. She condemned the Hispanic leaders for having "tried to pressure Ott into steering more city contracts their way and promoting Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza to the position of deputy city manager -- never mind that the post does not exist."
The uproar over the politically incorrect radio show take a strange twist when it emerged that the website of the Hispanic contractors group contained a video clip making fun of the local gay community. The contractors' association, however, did not suffer any of the fallout that befell KLBJ-AM and its two radio hosts.
While the Statesman frequently referred to the outrage of "Hispanic leaders" over the show, there was a more muted reaction from many of the Statesman's readers who -- in comments left at the paper's website -- identified themselves as Mexican-Americans or as Americans of Mexican descent. Many said they either were not offended or felt that many people were overreacting to the alleged "ethnic slur."
Beyond that, many readers said the uproar over the radio show -- a controversy the Statesman hyped to the limit -- was a case of political correctness gone amuck and a defeat for free speech.
Some noted that members of the local "Hispanic community" use terms like "wetback" and "gringo" - terms that also are heard on local Spanish-language radio shows.
Two comments underscored the political and cultural divide in Texas regarding illegal immigration.
One reader wrote:
Another reader responded:
Update from David Paulin:
Update: The Austin American-Statesman finally did a story about what many in politically correct Austin see as a double standard by the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association. The Austin-based ethnic lobby has been in a rage over the use of an alleged "ethnic slur" ("wetback") during a local radio show last week. Yet the contractors' group, ironically, had itself crossed the line of political correctness: On its website was a video clip making fun of gays. Whether anybody at the contractors' group suffers the same fate as the radio hosts, who are white, remains to be seen. The contractors' group pulled the gay-bashing clip from its website after finding itself in the glare of the political correctness spotlight -- a spotlight the politically correct Statesman belatedly turned on the contractors' group late Tuesday afternoon.