Gabriel Arana

Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The New Republic, The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast.

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Recent Articles

John McWhorter's Silly Analysis of 'Palinspeak.'

John McWhorter has an analysis of "Palinspeak" at The New Republic that has gotten quite a bit of attention . As a trained linguist (by happenstance I was a PhD candidate at Cornell, where McWhorter taught, before switching to journalism), I think his take is refreshingly devoid of cliché alarmism over the "decline of the English language." McWhorter makes the interesting observation that the style of political speech has shifted from the rigid scripted performances of politicians like Warren G. Harding to a more casual, unprepared style. But McWhorter goes too far in providing a psychological profile of Sarah Palin based on her linguistic tics. He writes: What truly distinguishes Palin’s speech is its utter subjectivity: that is, she speaks very much from the inside of her head, as someone watching the issues from a considerable distance. The evidence McWhorter provides for this assertion is that Palin uses "distancing words" -- that instead of this or the , there instead of here :...

They Doth Protest Too Much

These days, what's a good old-fashioned street demonstration worth?

The Human Rights Campaign choreographed its rally against "don't ask, don't tell" last month to the smallest detail. Held midday on Washington's Freedom Plaza, it was headlined by comedian Kathy Griffin, who brought along the camera crew from her reality show, My Life on the D-List . After emerging from a cordoned-off area reserved for media, Griffin told a few jokes, then read letters from fans who had been affected by the military's policy. Rally participants held American flags distributed by HRC staff -- no drag queens, no rainbows -- and were told to pose, facing East, then South, then West. Photographers circled around them, snapping photos. It was a picture-perfect performance until Lt. Dan Choi, the former military officer who has become the poster boy for DADT repeal, got on stage. He had not been scheduled to appear. DADT is "no joke," Choi said, angrily denouncing the military policy and asking those present to march with him to the White House. He proceeded to lead a few...

Downplaying Nativism

Responding to my piece about the souring prospects for immigration reform, Ezra Klein makes the odd statement that nativism is the "dog that didn't bark" ( Kevin Drum has a good response to this here ). Ezra writes: The Tea Parties haven't been very focused on immigration, and while abortion and socialism both became major issues during health-care reform, fears that the bill would cover illegal immigrants (it won't, incidentally) never became a marquee issue. Except coverage for illegal immigrants played a significant role in the health-care debate. It was the subject of Rep. Joe Wilson' s "You lie!" outburst , and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus threatened to derail the whole thing over a provision in the Senate bill barring illegal immigrants from participating in the insurance exchanges. The Tea Party has indeed focused primarily on health care, but even as the health-care battle was heating up in November, Tea Party members organized demonstrations in at least 50...

Better Path to Citizenship.

Dara Lind responds to my critique of the Schumer - Graham blueprint for immigration reform. Her primary point is that the 800-word-or-so piece published in the Post is bound to exclude the full details of their proposal, especially those that are still being hammered out. However, I don't think I missed the importance of the Schumer-Graham plan to provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Here's Dara: It’s hard to see [legalizing undocumented workers] as the central provision reading over the [Schumer-Graham] framework, at least as it’s drafted in the Post — the framing is cautious, centrist, and security-focused, with flashy but untested proposals such as a national biometric ID. … [But] as Jamelle and other progressives finally turn their attention to immigration reform as a priority, I hope they’ll be smart enough — and honest enough — to look past a frame they wouldn’t have chosen and see a goal they, too, desperately...

The Slow March Toward Immigration Reform

Since the last push for reform in 2006, America has become a much harder place to be an immigrant.

Osman Villanueva, 23, of Baltimore, Md., watches as immigration-reform supporters march by the Capitol during a rally in Washington, on Sunday, March 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Last Sunday, 200,000 immigrant-rights protesters shared the National Mall with a Tea Party crowd that shouted racial epithets and spat at members of Congress. Unsurprisingly, the media focused on the histrionics of the Tea Partiers, but Sunday's immigration demonstration was an important manifestation of the movement's building impatience. In its enthusiasm and optics -- legal and undocumented immigrants chanting " Sí se puede ," singing folk songs, and waving both American and Mexican flags -- the demonstration was reminiscent of the immigration protests in 2006. Then, as now, immigration-rights advocates were banking on a president's campaign promise to reform the broken immigration system. But the parallel largely ends there. While far from perfect, the 2006 immigration-reform effort at the very least featured Republicans and Democrats coming together on legislation. The almost comical juxtaposition of the Tea Partiers and immigrant-rights demonstrations underscores a basic...