May 21, 2010

AP Wastes Almost 1,000 Words Wondering: ‘Is Dora the Explorer an Illegal Immigrant?’

DoraTheIllegalImmigrantThe Associated Press’s Sophia Tareen has apparently had a lot of time on her hands the past couple of days, and her wire service bosses couldn’t find much for her to do. How else to explain Tareen’s devotion of almost 1,000 words to the burning question of whether cartoon character Dora the Explorer is an illegal immigrant?

You read that right, but it’s worse than that. Tareen claims that images of Dora “are being used by those who oppose and support Arizona’s law,” but could only cite actual instances of usage by leftists at the Huffington Post and at a a Facebook page whose category is “Just for Fun – Outlandish Statements.”

Along the way, Tareen oh-so-predictably resurrects the late-1990s “Teletubbies are Gay” kerfuffle (incompletely, of course); waits until the 27th paragraph to tell us that the image at the top right, which “is circulating widely in the aftermath of Arizona’s controversial new immigration law,” has really been around since last year (originating at freakingnews.com); and quotes a “gender studies” professor at the University of Arizona who — undisclosed to readers, naturally — is virulently anti-capitalism.

Having appropriately forewarned everyone, here are samplings of Sophia’s choice chestnuts:

In her police mug shot, the doe-eyed cartoon heroine with the bowl haircut has a black eye, battered lip and bloody nose.

Dora the Explorer’s alleged crime? “Illegal Border Crossing Resisting Arrest.”

The doctored picture, one of several circulating widely in the aftermath of Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, may seem harmless, ridiculous or even tasteless.

But experts say the pictures and the rhetoric surrounding them online, in newspapers and at public rallies, reveal some Americans’ attitudes about race, immigrants and where some of immigration reform debate may be headed.

… It’s not the first time a children’s character has been dragged into a serious debate.

In the late 1990s, Tinky Winky the Teletubby, a purple children’s TV character with a triangle antenna — was called out by Christian leaders for being gay. Sesame Street roommates Bert and Ernie are often involved in statements on same-sex marriage.

Both shows’ producers say the characters aren’t gay.

… since the passage of the Arizona law — which requires authorities to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally — Dora’s life and immigration status have been scrutinized and mocked.

Several websites, including The Huffington Post, have narrated Dora’s mock capture by immigration authorities. One picture circulating on Facebook shows an ad for a TV show called “Dora the Illegal Immigrant.” On the Facebook page “Dora the Explorer is soo an Illegal Immigrant,” there are several images showing her sailing through the air over the U.S.-Mexican border.

Tareen conveniently “forgets” that “A 1998 Salon.com article previously had noted (Teletubby) Tinky Winky’s status as a gay icon.” That’s like “forgetting” that Al Gore used the Willie Horton incident as a campaign weapon during the 1988 Democratic presidential primary long before Bush 41′s people referred to it.

As has been almost universally the case in the establishment press, Sophia’s sophistry mischaracterizes Arizona’s law by conveniently leaving out the fact that law enforcement officials (not “authorities,” ma’am — read the law) first have to be involved in a “lawful contact” before they can question a person’s immigration status — and only then if “reasonable suspicion exists.”

The AP writer spends eight excruciating paragraphs trying to glean clues about Dora’s origins from her appearance, background scenery, music, and characters’ voices, deciding that none “provide insight.” It seems like it might be a bit more useful if Tareen would explore the writings, backgrounds, and associations of, say, Elena Kagan, but I obviously don’t have my priorities straight.

Later, she goes to Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, describing her as someone “who teaches gender studies at the University of Arizona.” While true, there’s much more to Ms. G-H, whose main focus really appears to be “Latinidad,” described here as “a shared sense of a ‘Latino’ identity.” Cutting through the excessive verbiage, Latinidad (or Latinidades) appears to be directed toward ensuring political groupthink instead of individuality or specific home-country identity among America’s legal and illegal-immigrant Hispanics.

Ms. G-H’s take on certain aspects of Dora the Explorer’s success is expressed in a 21-page 2007 paper (downloadable at the link, if you can bear it). At bottom, she is intensely hostile to capitalism, still carries a 500-year grudge, and assumes the worst in others, as these snippets will demonstrate:

  • (Page 6) “capitalist-style individualism is not consistent with the cultural values embedded in Latina feminist liberation strategies”
  • (Page 18) “Dora as explorer (because of her knowledge of geography and cartography) and global citizen is a radical departure from the ‘original’ script of colonizer of the New World.”
  • (Page 8) “While … (having Dora as a universal Latina subject) is a useful way to understand the contradictory position of Dora the Explorer in this moment of global capitalism, it is politically dangerous because the dominant viewing group can assume that all Latino/as are like Dora and thus are all the same.”

But as noted at the beginning, Ms. Tareen’s most important error is that she claimed that some Arizona law supporters are exploiting Dora and provided no specific evidence. Without it, what remains is leftists exploiting one of the more interesting examples of creative, capitalistic success in the past decade to further a cause that would work to destroy the system that made her.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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1 Comment

  1. My take:

    Dora, “the Explorer”, certainly performed a legal border crossing. With a call to “the Map”, which appears from her trusty Backpack, she traveled over three obstacles to reach her destination.

    Oh, wait…say “Sniper, no Sniper”. There, the bad illegal was taunted to go away.

    xxxxxxx

    Now, those Teletubbbies on the other hand. They’re definitely “aliens”. Anything with a tv in its belly is not human. But, I think there “legal” aliens. I’m surprised Area 51 allows the videos out of their adventures, as we humans try to learn their language and culture prior to attempting takeover and colonization of their homeland.

    They’re language is actually more tough to understand then you’d think. Try it! Seriously. They don’t use pronouns. We have taught them to use one, sometimes greatly spaced out. It took me quite a few episodes of careful listening to catch enough pronouns to guess a gender for each of the foursome.

    To sum up: I believe Dora is U.S. citizen on a legal expedition to Explore, probably sponsored by National Geographic.
    And the Teletubbies are alien guests, videotaped by as a covert CIA operation then with public release by Public Television. The latter provides a useful cover story and a way to siphon the taxpayer funds to the scientists trying to decipher the alien language.

    Cheers :-)

    Comment by Cornfed — May 21, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

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