It had to happen. Immediately after the birth of the Bellflower octuplets, TV anchors cooed and newspapers trembled with feelgood reports of the miraculous C-section. It wasn't long, however, for the births to reveal the fear and anger about immigration and race that simmer just below the surface of American life. A sample of online comments responding to the L.A. Times' updated story of the births disclosed how many people assumed the births were an act of welfare fraud or worse.
One reader named Skip wrote: Does anyone know if the
mother is "Legal"? I still remember the last story the Los Angeles
Times ran about the illegal alien mom who used fertility drugs and
ended up with 10 kids, all at California Taxpayer expense.
Barb in Akron replied: I heard she's an illegal and we the taxpayers are gonna foot the bill. For the rest of their lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Other comments from the Times:
ED: I will bet my house that this person isn't even in the country legally
and that she had planned from the start to use this brood for monitary
Lawyer24: This is not a gift from G-d because it is unnatural for humans to
produce "litters" they are not dogs, cats, etc. . . . even horses only have
1 or 3 max . . . large mammals do not have natural litters. so don't
confuse fertility treatments with the work of G-d.
comments echo louder and angrier, the further you move away from the
paper of record and to the darker corners of talk radio and the
blogosphere. On the anti-immigration site Americans for Legal Immigration,
the octuplet story provoked "Proud American and wife of a wonderful LEGAL immigrant
from Ireland" to report on her Internet research on the mother's need for fertility treatment:
"I am reasonably certain she is Middle Eastern and not Hispanic. . . . maybe her
husband/boyfriend was no longer around to get her pregnant again. Maybe
he is in club gitmo."
there it's a short hop and a skip to the overtly white-supremacist Web
sites that have exploded with predictable vitriol -- although at their
heart, their reader comments are not much different from those of the
"Nighted," a poster to Stormfront, was even annoyed by the racial makeup of the Kaiser Permanent staff who delivered the eight babies:
"Wow, no one has mentioned that most of the hospital staff
aren't White. Also, the 3 doctors in the first video are ALL bLACK!
(Yes, I count the bugeyed indian as black.)"
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At the even more virulent ChimpOut site, "aryangirl" drew comfort from the murder-suicide deaths of the Lupoe family that had claimed seven lives in Wilmington:
"Those octuplets are niggers. At least the murder/suicide yesterday somewhat maintains the nigger balance."
So much for the new, post-racial America.
[Note: An early version of this post erroneously identified the mother as Angela Suleman, which is her mother's name. The octuplets' mother's identity has since been revealed to be Nadya Suleman.]