Thursday, July 27, 2006

How Can Nine Be a "Flood"?

Council member J.B. Loring has either backed away from or finessed his racially-biased language in his local illegal immigration fight. When he tells the Nashville City Paper, "three of the calls that I had [from individuals telling of illegal immigrants working on some Metro job sites] were people from foreign countries," Loring must mean one of two things. Either he regrets his word choice in last week's News 2 interview or he simply uses the term "foreign race" and the term "foreign countries" interchangeably. I have not seen any retractions of Loring's racially-biased language, so he probably confuses nationality and race.

However, if Loring is referring in NCP to the same calls that he told News 2 "flooded" his office about undocumented Metro workers, we can accuse him of more than just racial bias and general confusion. He is also guilty of hyperbole in the News 2 report. The math shows us the problem. Loring told NCP of three calls from people of foreign countries (or foreign race). He told News 2 that "about a third" of the calls he received were from people of a foreign race (or foreign countries). By my unscientific calculation, that means that his office was "flooded" with nine total calls about what he represents as some kind of cancer on Metro government: the hire of undocumented workers. Nine whole calls.

Now, I fully acknowledge that words like "flooded" are relative (and pejoratively so), but how can nine calls from among thousands of Loring's constituents (assuming that the nine were all his constituents) count as a "flood"? "Flood" conjures up ideas of overflowing in swarms and of drowning in a deluge of phone calls. Even if Loring's office never or rarely received phone calls on issues (which I highly doubt), could we still refer to nine measly phone calls as a "flood"? And three calls from "foreign" constituents hardly counts as some kind of organized ground swell of dissent. Fellow Council member Jason Hart got almost that many in support of Gracie Porter for interim School Board member, and he still voted for Kay Brooks. So, now that Loring is putting actual numbers on the phone calls, why should we be impressed enough by nine ringy-dingies to agree that it is a flood and to call his bill anything else but more conservative motivational flotsam on a polarizing issue?


  1. My question to Loring's callers is, how do you know the workers were illegal immigrants? Did they stop and ask for their citizenship papers? I highly doubt the management of the contractors were the ones that called Loring.

    I imagine that the calls were people who just assumed anyone with dark skin, who speaks spanish is an "illegal".

  2. Even as those who organize and scream against hiring undocumented workers will tell you that it's not about race. Yeah, right.