Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Immigration and the haters

-- by Dave

Imagine my surprise:
Supremacist activity flourishes, fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments

Associated Press

NEW YORK - Huge street protests made millions of immigrants more visible and powerful last year, but they also seem to have revived a hateful counter force: white supremacists.

Groups linked to the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and neo-Nazis grew significantly more active, holding more rallies, distributing leaflets and increasing their presence on the Internet - much of it focused on stirring anti-immigrant sentiment, a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League says.

"Extremist groups are good at seizing on whatever the hot button is of the day and twisting the message to get new members," Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights director, said Monday. "This one seems to be taking hold with more of mainstream America than we'd like to see."

Old Klan chapters have been revived and new ones started throughout the South, historically the heart of the group, and in other places such as Michigan, Iowa and New Jersey, says the report, which was scheduled for official release Tuesday.

Last May in Alabama, an anti-immigration rally included slogans such as, "Let's get rid of the Mexicans!" according to the document, titled "Ku Klux Klan Rebounds."

"The Klan is increasingly cooperating with other extremist groups and Neo-Nazi groups," Lauter said. "That's a new phenomenon."

Between 2000 and 2005, hate groups mushroomed 33 percent and Klan chapters by 63 percent, according to Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes.

Here's a link to the ADL report on the Klan. Some excerpts:
The League, which monitors the activities of racist hate groups and reports its findings to law enforcement and policymakers, has documented a noticeable spike in activity by Klan chapters across the country. The KKK believes that the U.S. is "drowning" in a tide of non-white immigration, controlled and orchestrated by Jews, and is vigorously trying to bring this message to Americans concerned or fearful about immigration.

"If any one single issue or trend can be credited with re-energizing the Klan, it is the debate over immigration in America," said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "Klan groups have witnessed a surprising and troubling resurgence by exploiting fears of an immigration explosion, and the debate over immigration has, in turn, helped to fuel an increase in Klan activity, with new groups sprouting in parts of the country that have not seen much activity."

... The troubling Klan resurgence has manifested itself in a number of ways:

-- Longstanding groups have increased their activity and experienced a rapid expansion in size.

-- New groups have appeared, causing racial tensions in communities previously untroubled by racial issues. They hold anti-immigration rallies and recruitment drives and distribute racist literature with a new emphasis on the immigration issue, and Hispanics.

-- Klan groups have become more active in parts of the country that had not seen much activity in recent years, including the Great Plains States such as Iowa and Nebraska, and Mid-Atlantic states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Klan groups increasingly are cooperating with neo-Nazi groups, especially the Minnesota-based National Socialist Movement.

-- The Klan has adopted new publicity tricks, such as sending racist fliers to school teachers during Black History Month, and has embraced the Internet as a means to spread anti-Semitism and racism. One group, the Empire Knights of the KKK, runs an Internet-based radio station, dubbed "KKK Radio," which broadcasts white power music and racist and anti-Semitic propaganda.

Well, if you've been reading Orcinus, you probably could say you could see this coming, but it's not exactly comforting to note that these warning signs not only went unheeded, but these kinds of reports continue to be shrugged off.

Democrats inside the Beltway have been particularly weak in confronting the problem. Just this week, on KPCC-FM in northern southern California (an NPR station) you had Terry McAuliffe, out campaigning for Hillary Clinton, essentially capitulating to the Nativists and joining in the immigrant bashing. A fellow named "John in Santa Monica" calls in [about 13:20]:
John: I'm one of those Republicans who helped change the political arrangement by sitting on the sidelines, and if you want to get 10 percent of the Republicans, right now, to vote for Hillary Clinton -- and I would be one of them, and I've been a Republican for 40 years -- you do the following things. You eliminate your support for NAFTA, that was Bill Clinton. Eliminate your support for amnesty and wide-open borders -- Bill Clinton, I've heard him say it many times, and I believe I've heard Hillary say it also -- and you start getting self-deportation of the 20 million illegal aliens here that are taking the jobs, the wages, and the working conditions, and destroying them for working Americans, which I always thought Democrats supported.

Wrapping up, "John" cites a dubious statistic from John McCain claiming that 4 million illegal immigrants are enterting the country every year.

McAuliffe, rather than pointing out that scapegoating the immigrants rather than confronting the economic forces creating the problems only worsens them, utterly capitulated:
I couldn't agree more. We've got to shut these borders down. These people shouldn't be coming in this country. We need to enforce our border protections. We have to do something for the people who have been here for years and have paid taxes -- you know, we're for the people who have been in this country and paying taxes and raising their family. But for the people who have not been here, who have been here illegally and have taken advantage of the situation, we need to have a plan to get them back to the countries they came from, and more important, which is the first thing John talks about, we have gotta shut these borders down. I couldn't agree more.

... I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, we all agree you've gotta shut the borders down. People who are coming into this nation taking our jobs.

It would be nice if, for a change, liberals trying to tackle the immigration debate set out initial terms decrying the would-be scapegoating of immigrants who themselves are already victims of the economic forces creating the immigration push. It would be nice if they framed the debate in a way that explicitly repudiated the ugly racism and general extremism that is increasingly framing so much of the debate, and that is playing out on the ground in ways that are both predictable and poisonous.

But they aren't. And because they aren't, they're part of the problem.

[Hat tip to Prup for the McAuliffe interview.]

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