Over the weekend, U.S. Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at a group of migrants who were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana. The incident led to photos of scared women and children who had been struck with the tear gas. Some of the migrants, part of the caravan that was frequently in the news leading up to the midterm elections, had reportedly attempted to breach the border fence. Other reports stated that the migrants had been throwing rocks after the government announced the closing of the San Ysidro border crossing.
In light of the news, Fox News’ daily morning show Fox & Friends, hosted the president of the Border Patrol Federation, Ron Colburn on Monday morning. As reported by the Hill, Colburn, who is also a former U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief, defended the actions of the border agents who fired the tear gas.
Asked by Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy if the use of the tear gas was warranted, Colburn replied, “absolutely.”
“To clarify, the type of deterrent being used is OC pepper spray. It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes. It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos, and eat it.”
On Fox & Friends, Border Patrol Foundation president defends pepper spraying latinx migrants because “it’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.” pic.twitter.com/QLdQXqqNno— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) November 26, 2018
This was not, in fact, the first time someone on Fox News has compared pepper spray to food. Back in 2011, students affiliated with the Occupy movement were pepper-sprayed by campus police at the University of California-Davis, leading to the firing of at least one officer. Following the incident, then-Fox hosts Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly talked about the pepper spraying on O’Reilly’s show, as reported at the time by New York Magazine.
“First of all, pepper spray — that just burns your eyes, right?” O’Reilly asked.
“It’s like a derivative of actual pepper,” Kelly replied. “It’s a food product, essentially.”
Kelly did acknowledge that the tape of the incident “looks bad.”
Perhaps needless to say, being sprayed with tear gas or pepper spray is not the same thing as sprinkling pepper on one’s nachos. For one thing, it often goes in people’s eyes. For another, as pointed out by Scientific American during the 2011 controversy, the chemicals used in pepper spray are considerably hotter and more powerful than even the hottest of peppers that are ever used in food products.
And it’s also perhaps noteworthy that the commentator chose to mention “nachos,” in reference to an incident that took place in Mexico.