Univision may have broken the irony meter with this particular booking: Congressman Luis Gutiérrez on Sunday political talker Al Punto, in order to discuss the attempted recent mail bombings and make distinctions between types of nationalism. Given Gutiérrez’ history, perhaps it would’ve been best that he sit this one out.
Here is Gutiérrez, trying to blow past Ramos’ question on Hillary Clinton’s calls for incivility and suggesting that President Trump’s professed nationalism was somehow a call for violence, as aired on Univision’s Al Punto on Sunday, October 28th, 2018:
JORGE RAMOS, SENIOR ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Hillary Clinton said the following after receiving the package bombs in her residence. Let’s listen:
HILLARY CLINTON: But it is a troubling time, isn’t it? And it’s a time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.
RAMOS: This is what Hillary Clinton said after having received the mail bombs. However, Hillary Clinton also said that when the principles in which one believes are attacked, that you don’t have to act in a civilized manner. Eric Holder said that when Republicans attack, you have to,,,you have to hit them. Is this also the manner in which Democrats should act, Congressman Gutiérrez? Can both Republicans as well as Democrats be blamed for this?
U.S. REP. LUIS GUTIÉRREZ (D-IL): First, Jorge, I believe in peaceful civil disobedience, ah? In order to bring change. So I’ve taken (sic) and when I say that we’re going to hit them, we’re going to hit them in a peaceful manner, and in a way that is legal within the law. Good. I believe this should be done. But let’s be clear. The leader is the President of the United States. And he should begin to be the President of the United States, Jorge…
RAMOS: But he didn’t send the mail bombs, right?
GUTIÉRREZ: Yes, but I believe…
RAMOS: That’s what the White House says.
GUTIÉRREZ: But I believe that you have to put it in context, Jorge. When you talk about Benito Juarez, you know that he’s a nationalist because he loves Mexico. José Marti is a nationalist because he loves Cuba. I could name nationalists that the people know very well, by their love of their homeland. But when this president says, “I’m a nationalist”, he’s talking about a fascistic nationalism, and he’s calling on all those ultra right wing groups to take action as we’ve already seen throughout this country.
What made this exchange all the more jarring is that the question was posed to Gutiérrez right after Al Cardenas, former chair of the American Conservative Union and of the Republican Party of Florida, pointed out the fact that the man who shot up a baseball field full of Republican members of Congress (gravely wounding Majority Whip Steve Scalise and two Capitol Police officers in the process) was a follower of socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Gutiérrez doesn’t even bother to acknowledge this, preferring instead to immediately go into both his lecture on peacefully and lawfully beating up the opposition, and his strange colloquy on nationalism.
With regard to the latter, Gutiérrez’ moral blind spot is glaring- and evidence of Univision’s fundamental unseriousness when booking this segment. Because, you see, Gutiérrez is well known for having a bit of a soft spot when it comes to nationalist bombmakers:
RAMOS: Congressman Gutiérrez, some compare Oscar Lopez to a Puerto Rican Nelson Mandela. Others, because he belonged to a group that placed bombs, would call him something different. How do you believe that history will remember the man (seated) next to you?
GUTIÉRREZ: Ha. Like Ramon Emeterio Betances. Like Eugenio Maria de Hostos. Like José Marti. Like all the great leaders and heroes of the struggle for the fatherland and for their nation. That is where he will be placed. Look, if this were the war for the independence of the United States, of the 13 colonies, Oscar Lopez-Rivera, in the London newspapers, they would have said the same of him that they said of George Washington. Look, the struggle for independence is a struggle that every people has the right to and a responsbility, as Oscar has said, to do.
Apparently, some terrorism and bombmaking is acceptable so long as the cause is agreeable to Gutiérrez. As we can see in the interview, Gutiérrez compares Lopez Rivera to José Marti, a cited exemplar of “good nationalism” as opposed to Trump’s bad, “fascistic nationalism”. Unlike last week’s mail bomber, the radical FALN has a body count. One would think that Univision would have considered Gutiérrez’ fawning over Lopez Rivera before booking him to do a segment on the political climate.
Gutiérrez’ behavior, while gross, should ultimately surprise no one. He is who he is. Shame on Univision, though, for making a mockery of such a delicate subject matter by booking...for lack of a better term...a rhetorical bombthrower.