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Cancel the Curtis show: Sliwa and the latest anti-immigrant movement

Curtis Sliwa live on "Hannity" claimed his group was attacking a migrant who just committed a crime. Authorities, however, say this wasn't true. (Fox News)
Curtis Sliwa live on “Hannity” claimed his group was attacking a migrant who just committed a crime. Authorities, however, say this wasn’t true. (Fox News)

Perpetual gadfly Curtis Sliwa was being interviewed live on Fox News Tuesday when he dispatched his Guardian Angels goons to go beat up a supposed migrant shoplifter, giggling on-air about how “his mother back in Venezuela felt the vibrations.” This would have been repellent enough, but then it turned out the man was not a shoplifter (and not a migrant), and was simply issued a summons for disorderly conduct.

Sliwa should fold up his show and retire his red beret while the cops and DA Alvin Bragg must see he or his guys committed a crime.

How idiotic and ignorant to assert, as Sliwa did, that someone was probably a migrant because he spoke Spanish? Then, even if the man was a migrant, how would that be remotely relevant to this violent altercation?

Had there actually been shoplifting, let’s also not lose sight of the fact that the remedy to that is absolutely not a group beatdown. That the former GOP mayoral nominee felt he could order such a brawl on live TV, nonchalantly and without real concern for consequences, is a marker of the sadly predictable endpoint of local migrant politics over the past couple of years.

We’re not here to say that the migrant arrivals have been easy or simple for the city to contend with, and in fact we’ve written many times about specific challenges and chided the federal government’s lack of coordination and funding around the arrivals. We’re also not going to say that each and every single migrant is an upstanding person who wouldn’t hurt a fly, not least because that standard is impossible for any group; there is not one single demographic that can claim perfection.

None of that changes the fact that we’re skirting uncomfortably close to a wholesale demonization of migrants who, despite the anxieties projected on them, are by and large just people who are trying to get a better shake in life.

Mayor Adams earlier this week donned a bulletproof vest to accompany the NYPD on a raid of an alleged migrant robbery ring, amid continuing saturation coverage of the cop beating at Times Square, including runaway misinformation. Yet all of the innuendos seem to boil down to just specific instances of individuals or small groups engaging in wrongdoing.

This all comes into clearer focus if we just remember that this isn’t new. Anti-immigrant backlash panics have happened more or less identically in cyclical fashion over the last 200 years or so.

In the 1850s, the so-called Know-Nothings launched arguably the first full-fledged political movement centered mainly around fear of and opposition to immigration, with more or less the same points: these newcomers were inherently disposed towards criminality, less educated, gaming America’s generosity to poison it from the inside with their barbarous nature and simplistic civic conceptions.

This was said then not about Latin Americans and Africans but Jews, Irish, Slavs and Italians — incidentally, the latter two of which make up Sliwa’s own ancestry. The Know-Nothings were wrong then, and their contemporary counterparts are wrong now. Sliwa’s shtick was never too entertaining and it’s just gotten more dangerous and embarrassing. This road of hate and prejudice leads nowhere good, and we’d do well to slam the brakes now.