Leave it up to the political right to attempt to make a cheap attempt to politically as well as perversely capitalize off human tragedy. For most people, the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26th was a disaster of horrific proportions. Americans across the political spectrum expressed their sorrow and prayers toward the victims as well as their families. On the contrary, for many in the bombastic world of right-wing conservatism, it presented an opportunity to partake in a seemingly favorite hobby: inject racism into the issue at hand.

Simultaneously, as first responders frantically plunged into the frigid waters of the Patapsco River looking for survivors, the right-wing machine was using the tragedy to further agitate its ongoing xenophobic and bigoted campaign toward immigrants and the perceived albatross of “wokeism.” Users – boosted by the site’s algorithm — shared videos of Brandon Scott, the Black, 39-year-old mayor of Baltimore, with racist dog whistles. “This is Baltimore’s DEI mayor commenting on the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge,” wrote one user with over 250,000 followers. “It’s going to get so, so much worse. Prepare accordingly.” On X,(formerly Twitter),  Anthony Sabatini, a Republican congressional candidate in Florida, posted a video of the bridge collapsing with the words “DEI did this.”

Other right-wing politicians weighed in, with sinister intentions to leverage such misfortune to garner political, social and cultural capital among their fervent political supporters. Phil Lyman, a Republican state representative and current candidate for governor of Utah, responded stating: “This is what happens when you have Governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens.” In a follow-up tweet he added, “DEI=DIE.”

Interestingly or perhaps, ironically, just as Republicans have railed against “woke” and critical race theory — despite the fact that many of them can’t specifically define what these terms really mean — they have eagerly moved to nullify DEI programs and initiatives. In July 2023, Republican Representative Alex Mooney of West Virginia introduced legislation to terminate the House DEI office, shortly after ratification of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Six construction workers filling potholes on the bridge were killed in the collapse. The bodies of two were recovered on March 27th after they were found trapped in a red pickup truck in the Patapsco River, according to Maryland State Police. The six people who are presumed dead were from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, according to Col. Roland L. Butler Jr, the superintendent of Maryland State Police. Two bodies were recovered and have been identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes from Mexico and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera from Guatemala. The two workers were filling potholes on the bridge and were later found trapped in a red pickup truck in about 25 feet of water, Butler said. These are men who came to America in pursuit of a better life for their families and themselves. These were individuals who were willing to brave freezing temperatures in the middle of the night in an effort to help improve the lives of fellow citizens.

The fact is that the Baltimore bridge tragedy arrived at a moment when voters have ranked “immigration” as the number one issue in this year’s presidential election. That’s propelled by fear-mongering over a humanitarian crisis at the southern border by GOP candidates, engineered by sadistic ring leader Donald Trump, and by Fox News hosts like Maria Bartiromo, who foolishly asked if the crash occurred due to “the wide-open border.” Please!

These heroic men who lost their lives were not “poisoning the blood of our country,” rather, on the contrary, they were rejuvenating it! This is a moment of reckoning when we need to roundly reject the virus of xenophobia. America is a diverse, pluralistic society. This is a goal we must strive to continue to embrace and maintain.

BlackCommentator.com Guest

Commentator, Dr. Elwood Watson,

Historian, public speaker, and cultural

critic is a professor at East Tennessee

State University and author of the recent

book, Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in

Contemporary America (University of

Chicago Press), which is available in

paperback and on Kindle via Amazon and

other major book retailers. Cotnact

Dr.Watson and BC.

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