Sunday, September 25, 2005

Mark "Kettles" Hyman Trades in More Race Baiting

In '>his latest commentary, Mark Hyman has the gumption to camouflage his racist rhetoric with the words of a Founding Father—a morally criminal act, to be sure, but perhaps one our Mark can’t help, given the possible genetic influences that might be at work. (Click on the link at the end of this post to see what I’m alluding to).

Hyman alludes to an essay by Benjamin Franklin in which he sarcastically suggested that in return for Britain sending convicted criminals to the American colonies, America should send rattlesnakes to inhabit London parks. After summing up Franklin’s essay, we get a bizarre rhetorical turn:


The U.S. has a gigantic immigration problem today. Legal immigrants
are and should be welcome in America. The problem is the mind-staggering number
of illegal aliens who enter this country daily. What we need is a Ben Franklin
in charge who probably wouldn't hesitate in sending a few crates of rattlesnakes
to the leaders of some of the offending countries to stop the flow of illegal

Let’s track this analogy closely: according to Hyman, undocumented immigrants are the equivalent of convicted convicts forcibly sent to America. People whose crime is limited to crossing the border without documentation are equated with murderers and thieves, and a government’s inability to fence its citizens in is equated with the deliberate transporting of its criminal class to a colony.

But the words by themselves don’t do justice to the ugliness to Hyman’s editorial. As his voiceover intones the words “Legal immigrants are and should be welcome in America,” we see a shot of a busy sidewalk, populated almost exclusively by Caucasians. As soon as we hear the phrase “The problem is the mind-staggering number of illegal aliens,” the video jump cuts to stock footage of Hispanic individuals climbing a fence and running through a culvert.

Here are a few facts Hyman leaves out (and hopes you won’t know): According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the employment rate for male undocumented immigrants is 92%. Roughly a quarter of undocumented immigrants have some college education, and half have completed high school.

You don’t have to be a bleeding heart liberal to see the what these immigrants bring to the table; the United States Chamber of Commerce (not an organization well-known for left wing tendencies) has argued that the problem is not undocumented immigrants themselves (who, as they point out, take on any number of vital jobs that might go unfilled otherwise), but rather the fact that there is so little chance for those who want to come here legally to do so.

And despite the claim that undocumented immigrants are a drain on taxpayer resources, studies suggest that these workers actually contribute more than they receive from government programs.

Government bureaucracy in both the United States and in the native countries of immigrants (most notably, Mexico) turn the honest quest for an immigrant to make a new life for himself into a Kafkaesque nightmare of endless forms and endless waiting, often with no resolution.

But the ethical and moral concerns of treating fellow human beings with decency and the practical arguments about providing needed labor don’t move Hyman, a man who has (let us remember) called undocumented immigrants “terrorists” and compared them to al-Qaeda.

Hyman’s comparison of transported convicts (who were often criminals sentenced to death who were given a reprieve and sent to the colonies instead) with undocumented immigrants whose main crime is wanting to make a better life for themselves is a case of apples and oranges (or perhaps rotten tomatoes to oranges).

But in one way, Hyman’s analogy with the words of Franklin are apt: just as Hyman is shortsighted in his estimation of what immigrants can bring to this country, perhaps old Ben was also a bit too harsh in evaluating what the convicts sent to America’s shores might produce.

After all, it might just be that some well-known contemporary Americans might have had ancestors who fell afoul of the law back in the old country.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 2.92


At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Hyman's a dork too. In the link at the end of your article, you're implying Mark Hyman's ancestor was a criminal. But if you actually cared to read what you thought you were disparaging Mark Hyman with, you'd see the story is a typo and the last name is "Pyman", not "Hyman".

This is visible in the linked original criminal complaint:

It's visible in the linked plain text web page of the summary:

And it's clearly visible in the linked original document from the summary:

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Amanda-Please respond said...

Hello, Ted. No comments on this specific posting, but I am curious about your blog in general. Are you from Iowa? And do you have an email address I can contact you at please? Let me know at Thanks so much!

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Hi Anon--

Yes, I think you're right about the typo. The summary of the sentence spells the name "Pyman" as well, now that I check it. Having said that, there are other Hymans that could be mentioned (there's a Hyman put in jail for forgery in 18th century London too--

The larger point I was trying to make (albeit in a perhaps too-cutesy way)was that we probably all have connections to those who weren't terribly well-respected. I have no way of knowing if our Mark is actually related to any of the Hymans that pop up in criminal cases of yore, but the wider point is just that most of us in the U.S. are descendents of people who weren't way up on the social ladder. Most of them were religious, political, economic, or criminal refugees of one sort or another. This makes it particulary revolting when someone like Hyman equates anyone who comes to this country without the proper documentation with convicted criminals.

Great catch, though!



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