Like certain animals that seem docile but attack when they feel threatened, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn awoke from a state of lethargy that lasted months—some would say years—and bared his teeth to avoid defeat this Tuesday.
This time, once again caught between a rock and a hard place, Mayor Hahn has listened to his lowest instincts and, during the last mayoral debate aired last Tuesday by CBS, he took it out against undocumented immigrants. Using inflammatory language that no other candidate would dare to say, he stated a total fallacy: undocumented immigrants, he said, are “ruining” our economy.
Hahn answered the question last—and the calm mayor, who usually speaks slowly, gazing out to the horizon, suddenly seemed like an aggravated tiger.
He started talking about what an injustice it was for the Dodgers not to be able to import a Japanese player because there weren’t enough visas, only to later declare that “they are invading our borders because the federal government doesn’t do its job.”
The diatribe didn’t end there. He blamed employers who “invite these people,” and those who hire them and “decrease salaries and ruin our economy.”
Nor did the mayor forget to use the most offensive of all expressions referring to the undocumented—an expression that no other candidate said: illegal aliens or illegal foreigners, a term so commonly used among anti-immigrant groups, that the other side adopted the term “undocumented immigrants” to tone it down.
It doesn’t escape us that Hahn could be trying to recover some of the white Anglo vote—or the conservative vote of any race—that helped elect him in 2001 and now may not be so easy to maintain as a result of his fight against the Valley’s attempt to secede.