Kenneth Roberts on Mexicans – An Unflattering View of K.R. the Man

I came across a blog today (Making History Podcast: The Blog) that referenced Kenneth Roberts and his Post days in a post that seeks to show that “xenophobic and racist tirade[s]” against Mexicans is not a new issue (the reason for this post is Jay Severin – a shockjock – (never heard of him) and his recent dismissal from a radio show for his comments on Mexicans.  The author(s) of this post reference a quote made by Roberts in one of his articles for the Post:

And here is what Saturday Evening Post columnist Kenneth Roberts said, not last week but in 1931: “They are the criminal Mexicans, worthless in labor and always a social problem. They are also chronic beggars and sizzling with disease. This class should never pass the immigration officers on the border.”

They conclude their reference to K.R. with: “We are now, just as then, in the throes of an economic crisis where anxieties become attacks and the targets prove to be the nation’s most vulnerable populations.”

Roberts’ comment aside, I don’t think the analogy between Severin’s comment and Roberts’ comment is that relevant of an analogy.  The link the authors see is that Severin made his comment in a time of dire economic straits, a growing Hispanic population in America and during the middle of an outbreak of a Mexico-born virus.   The authors seem to pick Roberts’ comments in part because of the time he wrote it – 1931, the year the Great Depression began (but was the quote written before or after Black Friday?  They do not say, nor do they reference what edition of the Post in which the quote appears).  The authors do not, however, make any other connection to Severins’ comment and context.  Despite similar vitriol in the two quotes, Roberts’ comment is not necessarily a result of the economic crisis of his time, for it could be just a prejudiced comment made by a very opinionated man – a comment that would have been made no matter what state the economy was in.  Roberts just happens to express a similar view to that of Severin, which is more than likely just coincidental.

Nonetheless, this quote gives a rather unflattering glimpse of Kenneth Roberts – a man known for his being very opinionated.


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