Bonanza: The Fear Merchants, episode of the Bonanza television series
Five out of five stars
While this episode first aired on January 30, 1960, the message remains appropriate for the latter years of the twenty-teens. There has been a major outbreak of anti-immigrant sentiment around the world, nowhere more pronounced than in the country that has accepted more immigrants than any other, the United States.
The premise is that a major candidate for mayor of Virginia City is campaigning on a strong and uncompromising dislike of people of Chinese descent. The episode opens with Hop Sing, the Cartwright’s cook, being beat up by thugs in the employ of the candidate. When a Chinese boy in his late teens is falsely accused of murdering a teenage girl, public sentiment runs strong and the only allies the Sheriff has against a lynch mob are the three Cartwrights.
Much of the dialog could be transplanted into the modern conversation, where several highly ranked politicians openly accuse immigrants of being non-American and criminals. Just as significant are the people that acquiesce in accepting the most inflammatory rhetoric.
This is a superb episode, showing the Cartwrights as the upstanding and brave citizens they claim to be. Without them, Virginia City would have reverted to mob rule and an innocent man would have been killed by the actions of a cold and ruthless man.