As I mentioned last week, ABC’s "news" program “What Would You Do?” features scripted actors dramatizing so-called “real life” events, which call out for ordinary Americans to intervene. The program's producers love to gin up scenarios, which apparently are designed to bring out bigotry and racism from fellow Americans who are supposed to identify with the actors portraying the absurd scenarios. Most often the scenarios are played out in the heartland of America, in "red-state" locales where apparently ABC thinks it can find racists, xenophobes, and/or folks willing to gay-bash.
Well, for the program's June 21 broadcast, the network continued to troll for bigoted Americans across the Midwest. This time the focus was a Hispanic mother and daughter at a restaurant. The mother, an actress, can’t speak English well – and that irritates one racist patron -- portrayed, again, by an actor. The scenario is completely fabricated.
Again, there are racist Americans, but they’re a small proportion of the population. Time and again this is proven true on the show. And this time is no different.
In another absurd twist, however, host John Quinones prefaced the night's contrived scenario by citing some inappropriate tweets on Twitter, which, again, is hardly a gauge for how folks react in public in real-life. Nevertheless, Quinones employed Jeremy, an actor, to embody the anti-immigrant American to unleash his hatred towards Alexandria, an actor playing the Hispanic daughter, and her mother, who is also an actor.
Other patrons in the restaurant, located in Missouri, are appalled. They offer compassion and defend the mother and daughter against Jeremy’s xenophobic tirades. One family offers that Alexandria and her mother join them for lunch. That’s so racist!
JOHN QUINONES, ABC NEWS: Discrimination against Hispanics. It happens all too often. Take the case of Sebastian de la Cruz. Last week, in Texas, after singing the national anthem during the NBA finals, ugly tweets flew, saying that Sebastian, born in San Antonio, must not be an American. One tweet read, "This kid is Mexican. Why is he singing the national anthem you're not American, go home."
QUINONES: Jeremy is an actor.
JEREMY: Why don't you go somewhere like taco bell, where they speak Spanish.
QUINONES: Alexandria speaks fluent English. But not her mom -- What would you do?
ALEXANDRIA: Probably -- oh, oh, the all-American burger.
ALEXANDRIA’S MOTHER (struggling reading the menu): A big kid burger
QUINONES: With that, Jeremy’s ugly stares turn into ugly words.
JEREMY: Hey, why don’t you use English? This is America. Use English.
ALEXANDRIA’s MOTHER (struggling to read the menu): All American burger. Burger.
JEREMY: You don't deserve an all American burger… maybe all Mexican burger – or huevos rancheros or something
QUINONES: Immediately, this woman is off to find the manager.
WOMAN #1 (PATRON) The guy over there, like being really rude to a little girl who is speaking Spanish. He's like, “this is America.”
QUINONES: Meanwhile, Jeremy turns to young Alexandria.
JEREMY: Listen, young lady, why don't you take your momma to taco bell. Buy the number one, two, three, six.
WOMAN (PATRON) Sir, sir, please. God loves them as much as he loves.
JEREMY: Well, he'd love them a lot better if they were in their own country. That's all I'm saying.
QUINONES: By now, both tables surrounding a mother and daughter have spoken to the manager. But for these two women, that's not enough.
WOMAN #2 (PATRON):We have spoken to the manager and they're going to do something about this, okay?
WOMAN #1 (PATRON) Sorry you guys had to deal with that. You okay?
QUINONES: As we head in to introduce ourselves, both Jill Holt [Woman #1] and her daughter are in tears.
JILL HOLT: Well, she's going to Italy in a month and I thought, oh my gosh, I couldn't handle it if you were treated like that.
QUINONES: You said you're okay. You're an American.
WOMAN #2: Yeah. And she's an American, too. She deserves to be in the country just like everybody else.
QUINONES: Even our actress, Lorraine Rodriguez [who plays Alexandria’s mother], is touched. You were in tears.
LORRAINE RODRIGUEZ: Being that my mother came here, and she encountered the same thing, but there was no one to step in for her. To have you step in is a bit emotional.
So, this goes down as another failure in ABC’s pervasive – almost obsessive – search to find a corner of the country inhabited by racist, intolerant Americans. Keep on hunting, John Quinones.