« Guest Blog: What's the Immigration Issue Really About? | Main | Stephen Jones: We the People versus the State of Arizona »

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

GOP House Candidate Tom Mullins: Consider Land Mines on Border with Mexico But NOT Canada (Audio)

TomMullins Tom Mullins (right), the Republican candidate who is challenging Dem incumbent Rep. Ben Ray Lujan for the U.S. House seat in NM-03, is in hot water with local and national media alike. The revelation that he discussed placing land mines on the Mexican border as an option in a KNMX radio interview during the recent GOP primary has created a national firestorm of criticism and mockery of Mullins. His name is all over the internet due to his suggestion that land mines might be useful in keeping out illegal border crossers and "terrorists" like the one who recently tried to set off a bomb in Times Square.

Mullins has since "clarified" his stance by telling the AP that, "I am not suggesting we do that." Well. Listen to the audio (mp3) of last month's radio interview and judge for yourself. You might ask why he would discuss the proposal in such depth if he wasn't all for it.

One thing's clear from the interview, though. Mullins said we should consider the land mine option on our border with Mexico only -- not the Canadian border. Ironic because, according to both the host and Mullins, the 9-11 terrorists gained entrance to the U.S. via Canada, not Mexico (untrue). What conclusion can we draw from this distinction? All I can fathom is that Mullins thinks Mexicans and the Mexican border are inherently more dangerous than Canadians and the Canadian border -- and that it's OK to put Mexican border crossers at risk of being blown up by land mines, while we have to shield border crossers up north from that kind of danger. 

Does Sr. Mullins have a problem with brown people or was he just mindlessly plumbing the right-wing talking points about scary Mexican immigrants -- and weaving in some colorful "suggestions" to spice things up? If he doesn't recommend mining our southern border, why suggest it as a "possible" option? Was it more of the kind of "dog whistle" language so many right-wingers have used to telegraph racist messages in code to the muddy and mean depths of the Republican base?

Mullins Lampooned on the Internets
What's next? Putting piranhas in the Rio Grande as Steve Terrell sarcastically suggested in the title of a recent post? Mullins' suggestion is prompting similar mockery from other blogs and news sources. The Delaware Liberal calls it, "another case of GOP minority outreach," while Views From Bay Ridge refers to it as a proposed "DMZ on the Rio Grande" and says, "There's also the possibility of introducing stealth crocodiles to the Rio Grande too." The South Florida Daily reports on the incident as "Those Wacky Republicans: Exhibit 99" and feels it necessary to mention that the story ISN'T from The Onion. They note that Mullins' website says, "Tom is a Christian, a Conservative, and an American who cares deeply for his fellow man," and then suggests that his fellow man consists of "Christian Conservative Americans. But definitely not them border-jumping Mexicanos."

The Mex Files notes that the proposed land mines would probably be legal, given that the U.S. hasn't signed the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction." Gather Politics points out that, "Mullins’s district actually does not include any part of the Mexico border in it." Meanwhile, Swing State Project pipes in with, "Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Dale Peterson - step aside. Tom Mullins has officially come up with the most insane Republican idea of the cycle: he thinks we could put land mines (!!!!!) along the US-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration. I love it when Republicans get all eliminationist with their rhetoric."

Even Comedy Central's Indecision blog piped in that Mullins' "clarification" provides an opportunity for reporting some positive news:

The good news is that — despite what the words that he said with his mouth in front of thousands of radio listeners — New Mexico House candidate Tom Mullins is not in favor of putting deadly explosive devices under U.S. territory to kill or mutilate the bodies of potential dishwashers and hotel chambermaids seeking to enter the United States illegally.

How Low Can They Go?
I think New Mexico blogger Jim Baca is on the right path in seeing Mullins' suggestion as a part of a larger effort by Republicans to use immigration as a hateful wedge -- getting farther and farther out as November's election gets closer:

Landmine ... Now a bill has been introduced to deport legal American citizen children of Mexicans who entered the country illegally. Damn! Why stop there? Why not grandchildren and great grand children too? You know this might even force GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez to be forced out of the country. We are all the off spring of immigrants. And there is this idiot republican for Congress Tom Mullins suggesting land mines on the border. Yes, blowing legs off children would be a good deterrent wouldn't it.

Will someone ask Susan Martinez where she stands on land mines? (pun) Will someone provide Mullins with some lessons in human decency? Will someone urge Chairman Harvey Yates, the head of the republican party in New Mexico, to say land mines are a bad idea? Afterall, he didn't like negative TV Commercials in the GOP primary so this shouldn't be very difficult for him. Although, he didn't condemn Susana's over the top commercial on Diane Denish last week.

Don't Look at Our Record of Failures!
Yes, Mullins' "option" is crazy, and funny as hell when looked at from one angle. But the problem is that his rhetoric (and that of many other Republicans this year) conveys an underlying message that reeks of hate, bigotry and violence. Why are they talking like this? Because they don't want anyone paying attention to what they really stand for -- the failed right-wing policies that got us where we are today.

BP oil gusher? Check. Out of control pyramid schemes on Wall Street? Check. A teetering financial system here and around the globe? Check. A shrinking and floundering middle class? Check. A vast concentration of wealth at the top while working families struggle? Check.

The right-wing policies of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts for the wealthy coupled with deregulation of everything under the sun, as well as lax enforcement of any rules that remain, are primarily responsible for almost all of our current problems. So, to win in November, the GOP has launched a avalanche of distractions to point the finger of blame away from themselves and onto immigrants, LGBT people, scientists, "big government," whatever works.

All Together Now! Martinez, Pearce, Barela

SusanaMartinez82 StevePearce Jonbarela1

The next time you see an ad by GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez, think about what she really means when she says she's "tough on immigration" -- even if her newest ad features her speaking Spanish. Look for the "man behind the curtain" who's orchestrating this effort at scapegoating and tokenism to convince ordinary citizens to vote against their own best interests and support the crazy collection of off-center candidates who make up this year's Republican slate. And that includes fellow GOP BS-ers Steve Pearce and Jon Barela.

Bottom Line: They aren't what they pretend to be -- for the people. Count on it.

June 15, 2010 at 03:01 PM in Border Issues, Civil Liberties, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, Minority Issues, NM-03 Congressional Race 2010, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Republican Party, Right Wing, Susana Martinez | Permalink


This is classic divide and conquer politics, which Republicans have been using in places like Texas for a long time.

Unfortunately, it works. If you go look at the Daily Kos blog, for instance, you will see that any discussion of why the New Mexico governor's race should get attention is completely buried under an avalanche of the much more fun hooting and laughing about the land mine comment.

While everyone is having fun with the stupidity of that, the fact is that a more important discussion is entirely being obliterated.

This is directly the result of the Republican campaign strategy behind the Martinez campaign. They know that all the air can be sucked out of the room for intelligent discussion and debate on issues that really matter by grabbing everyone's attention with a divisive wedge issue.

The negative atmosphere that Martinez & Co have generated has resulted in a gaffe by a minor candidate. It is the atmosphere that has been created that ought to be of concern.

This strategy really works.

Posted by: StuartH | Jun 15, 2010 4:12:45 PM

If there's a problem with discussion of issues I think it's with Diane Denish. She needs to come out with some real Democratic positions and stop playing on Susana's turf. If we can't get the Democratic base energized she will lose by a big margin.

Posted by: Wake up Diane | Jun 15, 2010 4:30:24 PM

I get what you are saying, StuartH but I don't agree. Mullins went too far but he is stating the GOP position on immigration and I'm glad it's getting some attention. Sometimes humor is the best way to get attention for the horrible positions of the teabag lovers. What he says is mimicked my all the GOP candidates and we need to keep calling attention to that.

Posted by: pct chair | Jun 15, 2010 4:35:20 PM

It's pretty disgusting that all the GOP can think of is blowing people up. Now "signal mines" might be a good idea. I'm thinking of something that an intruder steps on that triggers a signal that can be picked up by the border patrol and help them locate illegal entry points.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Jun 16, 2010 5:04:59 AM

The republican line is: kill all undocumented workers to include all hispanics regardless if they are american citizens. Mullen is a coward who has never served in combat in the defense of our constitution. Susana Martinez is a rightwing surrogate who will do anything to get elected and she will support all policies in the likes of Arizona's anti hispanic law's. Diana needs to speakout against Susana Martinez envolvement with the Tea Party. Progressives must standup now and not take the Tea Party lighty.

Posted by: Eli Chavez | Jun 19, 2010 5:44:03 PM