Friday, August 28, 2015

Anchor Baby

Can someone tell me how the term "anchor baby" suddenly turned out to be some sort of racial taunt?  It has been used for years, and seems to me to be a pretty descriptive term with nothing obviously racist about it, yet all of a sudden it is as taboo as the n-word.  Is this one more loony product of the "trigger warning" people?  Does someone actually think it is a winning issue against the likes of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump?  I just don't get it.

1 comment:

Zog said...

Kevin Drum has a good account of the phenomenon here.

Originally, the term didn't indicate the immigration status of the parents. Indeed, the "anchor" referred to the American-born offspring of Vietnamese "boat people."

HOWEVER . . .

The ultra-reactionaries have turned its meaning to "American-born offspring of immigration law violators, especially those churned out for the purpose of keeping said violators in the United States so they can leech off taxpaying citizens."

As Drum points out, "If anchor babies are basically a myth, then the term is obviously a slur. There's no reason to make up this name for something that never (or very rarely) happens except as a way of demeaning a class of people and appealing to crude xenophobia. But if it does happen, then it makes sense to have a term for it. Otherwise you can't even talk about the subject sensibly."

Since (a) having an American-born child is not a defense against being deported, and (b) immigrants use public services at a lower rate than people born in the United States, the reactionaries' idea of "anchor babies" is a lie and myth; hence the use of the term is racist.