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The Worst of Humanity: It’s in the Comments Section

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Some days writing about our southern border really gets me down. Not because I have to read about everything that’s happening out there (at least I try to). The problem is the comments on the stories.  I always tell myself I won’t read them, yet I always do … and this is where my heart just sinks.

What in the hell is wrong with people? This was my thought last night (well, at least one of the thoughts that can be printed) as I read an Associated Press story about the 15-year old boy from Juarez shot and killed Monday under an international bridge by a Border Patrol agent. The AP story had 2,197 comments last night almost all of them sick, hateful, racist and downright disturbing. Here’s the very first comment from a guy called Jonah:

Hey, Border Patrol. Keep up the good work. You’re doing America a great service by keeping these@#$%roaches out of this Once-great nation. This should also be added to immigration reform: shoot illegals first then ask questions later. Simple and plain.”

I always wonder what these people are like in their day-to-day lives? In his spare time Jonah likes to wear a pointy white pillowcase on his head (with large eye holes mind you, so he can see his computer screen) and refer to human beings online as “cockroaches that should be killed.” But hey, he’s a great dad and coaches Little League on the weekend.

Here’s another one:

“No sympathy for a 14 year old who acts like an adult criminal viciously assaulting American law enforcement. This is the beginning of the mexican crime spilling into OUR country. This violent gang member, drug dealing, B A S T A R D deserved to die.”

The second commenter like most of the commenters I suspect, didn’t even read the story. This is especially disheartening for journalists. (Not only did they not read the story, now they are going to leave some poisonous comment that has nothing to do with your story.) At least I hope that’s the case, otherwise this person is just delusional. The kid allegedly threw rocks at the Border Patrol officer. And we won’t even be sure he threw rocks until the FBI concludes its investigation. (if he did, does that offense deserve death?) Plus, he was shot and killed on Mexican soil. I didn’t see any reference in the article to the boy being a drug dealer, a violent gang member or a bastard for that matter.  Plus, the commenter is saying that a 15-year-old boy deserved to die?!

The immigration stories are the worst. Nothing makes these online bigots more rabid and xenophobic than the notion of “illegal immigrants.” In their eyes, there is no punishment severe enough for “the illegals.”  Forget BP, forget Goldman Sachs and our corrupted financial market – all of it is the illegals fault.  “WHAT PART OF ‘ILLEGAL’ DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?” They like to write in their hate-filled comments. (Do they not understand that block letters mean they are YELLING at everyone, or is their eyesight just bad?)

I think the turning point for me was last summer when we had the flu outbreak that originated in Mexico. A commenter in a Houston Chronicle story said he hoped that “the flu killed all of the Mexican children.”

The comment just floored me. How can people so disassociate themselves from humanity that they can advocate for the deaths of children, and other commenters encourage this kind of hate-filled diatribe online?

I’m an advocate for free speech. But these hate-filled comments truly make me want to take a rain check on humanity. I was raised to believe that America was a country that encouraged tolerance and racial inclusion.  Something like what happened in Germany could never happen here. I tend to think that bloggers over-step the line when they refer to Nazi Germany. So I never do. But in this case—when people are advocating for the deaths of an entire nationality and their children—I don’t think the analogy is off base.

Intolerance, ignorance and racism are alive and well in the good ‘ol USA, folks. If you don’t believe me, just read the comments section.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.