Saturday, May 06, 2006
The primary reason organizations like the Minutemen pose a threat to our national well-being is not that they pose an immediate prospect of vigilante violence.
It's that they represent the mainstreaming of far-right appeals to anti-immigrant sentiments, especially the demonization of Latinos as the problem. The more people like the Minutemen are beating this drum, the more it will be picked up as legitimate by people in the mainstream, including those in positions of authority and influence.
So, meet Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, who recently posted a screed against illegal immigrants on his Web site that sounded like a David Duke speech circa 1982:
- What would that May 1st look like without illegal immigration? There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines that plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of meth that day by 80%. The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.
As Rev. David Ostendorf of the Center for New Community put it in his response, this kind of hateful disinformation is "unconscionable":
- For a Member of Congress to engage in the repetition of sweeping, offensive, and unfounded generalizations about "illegal" immigrants as "drug smugglers," "murderers," "drunk drivers" and "disease carriers" is pandering of the worst kind. Such statements serve only to contribute to the level of hatred growing at the hands of extreme anti-immigrant forces in the country, and do nothing to add to public debate and discourse on one of the most critical domestic issues facing the nation today.
That this is happening should not be a surprise. After all, ugly nativists like Steve King are increasingly the face of the conservative movement in America.
And when they claim they're abandoning the fast-sinking George W. Bush because he isn't a "true conservative," this is largely what they're talking about.
Their own facts
Thursday, May 04, 2006
One of the reasons the nativists keep resorting to cockamamie nonsense like the Reconquista theory is that, well, it's about the best they've got. Their arguments regarding immigrants and immigration are so poorly grounded that they're forced to just make shit up.
A lot of times, this disinformation circulates through e-mail mass mailings of dubious authorship, the kind your Dittohead brother-in-law likes to send around to everyone on the planet. One recent version of this was the video game that let you take potshots at Mexican border crossers.
Another is the list of supposed costs to American taxpayers inflicted by illegal immigrants, reproduced in all its gullible glory by those geniuses at ChronWatch:
- 1. 40% of all workers in Los Angeles County (Los Angeles County has 10 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This was because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card.
2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
4. Over 2/3's of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal
alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
5. Nearly 25% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
9. 21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish speaking.
10. In L.A.County 5.1 million people speak English. 3.9 million speak Spanish (10.2 million people in Los Angeles County).
(All 10 of the above facts are from the Los Angeles Times)
Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 29% are on welfare. http://www.cis.org
Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration.
The cost of immigration to the American taxpayer in 1997 was a NET
(after subtracting taxes immigrants pay) $70 BILLION a year, [Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University].
The lifetime fiscal impact (taxes paid minus services used) for the average adult Mexican immigrant is NEGATIVE.
29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.
Fortunately, the folks at Snopes.com are good at sifting through this kind of crap:
- The various figures quoted above were not taken from a 2002 Los Angeles Times article. They appear to have been gleaned from a variety of sources and vary in accuracy ...
The piece goes on to examine the claims and determines that only one -- regarding the number of Spanish-language radio stations in L.A. -- was factually accurate. Some are made up out of whole cloth; others have a grain of truth to them but are otherwise distortions.
Those that aren't just made-up shit have been debunked. A Professor Donald Huddle did write something similar to the claim in the list. On the other hand, his work has been rather publicly torn apart, as Michael Fix and Jeffrey Passel of the Urban Institute have done with aplomb; their work on immigrants and welfare reaches similar conclusions. (See this report from Migration News for an overview.) The most important finding of the Fix/Passel study:
- Overall, annual taxes paid by immigrants to all levels of governments more than offset the costs of services received, generating a net annual surplus of $25 billion to $30 billion.
Of course, facts don't matter much to the nativists. What matters is spreading their message: Latinos are the problem. And we won't solve it until we send them back.
So, even though this disinformation has been debunked, it takes on a life of its own through those regurgitated e-mails from your forgotten uncle. Then it makes its way into letters to the editor. And, bit by ignorant bit, the bullshit grows deeper.
UPDATE: The L.A. Times does its own fact-checking. Key point:
- As Readers' Representative Jamie Gold has pointed out, this list, which is being forwarded around the world at lightning speed, is a hoax.
We combed our archives to see whether the paper has indeed written anything like these facts, and found just one Op-ed column -- by leading anti-immigration figure Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) -- that comes close to stating what the e-mail hoax claims.
- Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children's ice cream!...You know when fluoridation began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.
-- Gen. Jack D. Ripper
You know, a conspiracy theory like Mexican 'Reconquista' is just too good to give up on easily, I guess -- especially when your whole enterprise is all about busily grasping at whatever straws might float your way.
So Gen. Michelle D. Ripper decides to swing away again, claiming she has proof, dammit, that "Reconquista!" is real:
- On the Sean Hannity radio show Monday, I debated (or rather listened to five minutes of screeching by) a young member of the radical group MeCha. A student at the University of San Francisco, she denied that her group still subscribed to 1960s identity politics, then promptly delivered a full-throated rant about Mexico's right to reclaim American territory: "We believe that we have the right to be in this land…Aztlan is California! Aztlan is this country! This country was ours ... We didn't cross the borders. The borders crossed us ... This country is based on exploitation!"
On NPR's "All Things Considered," Gloria Ramirez Vargas, a politician in Baja, Calif., rallied her constituents with a similar cry: " Many Mexicans are nourishing the ground in the U.S. , but those lands were once ours. Those same lands, which now with intelligence, with love and with a lot of work, we are re-conquering again for our Mexico."
On leading conservative talk show station KFI in Los Angeles, hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou interviewed Tony Valdez, who also invoked "manifest destiny" as a rationale for supporting the sabotage of our immigration laws. He pontificated about 1846, recycled the "We didn't cross the borders" nonsense, inveighed against the war in Iraq, and exclaimed: "You took this country. You killed people in order to take this country for yourselves."
Valdez is a FOX News 11 reporter at KTTV in L.A.
OK, so let's review:
-- Malkin presents us with the usual parade of fringe signs from the marches, ignoring of course the prevalence of American flags and pro-American signs. None of the signs are about Mexico retaking U.S. lands -- though there are many that advocate the notion that the Southwest is part of Latinos' indigenous homeland.
-- She gives us three live examples that are supposed to represent people advocating that the Southwest be returned to Mexico. Who are they? A student. An obscure local politician. And a TV reporter.
But note that only one of them (Ramirez Vargas) seems to actually advocate that. The reporter is talking about past injustices. The MEChA member is advocating the concept of Aztlan, which essentially holds that the Southwest is part of her people's indigenous homeland. She says nothing about "Mexico's right to reclaim American territory." Malkin's putting words in her mouth.
And note: None of them -- not one -- uses the phrase "Reconquista." Nor do any of the signs she cites.
Let's revisit Malkin's original claim:
- Aztlan is a long-held notion among Mexico's intellectual elite and political class, which asserts that the American southwest rightly belongs to Mexico. Advocates believe the reclamation (or reconquista) of Aztlan will occur through sheer demographic force. If the rallies across the country are any indication, reconquista is already complete.
Are any of the people Malkin cites "among Mexico's intellectual elite and political class"?
Can she cite any examples of those "elite" -- or hey, even some shoot-from-the-hip right-wing pundit -- advocating "Reconquista"?
As for MEChA, there is no instance of "Reconquista!" advocacy on its record. The phrase does not appear in either El Plan de Santa Barbara or El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, two of the 1969-era documents that get the "MEChA is racist" crowd all worked up. Nor can you find it in the more comprehensive, and current, "Philosophy of MEChA". None of them talk about returning Southwest territory to Mexico.
Indeed, as I pointed out way back when, the actual record of MEChA's activism is largely one of all-American advocacy. As one commenter I cited put it:
- MeCHA has been an integral part of student life for decades; many, if not most, of my Chicano friends and acquaintances were involved with it; it was then and probably is now an advocacy organization which worked to bring Chicanos (now Latinos) into the educational institutions, to feed and clothe underprivileged children in the community, including those of the migrant farmworkers, was involved with Caesar Chavez in advocating for better working conditions for the migrant workers, and provided tutoring, mentoring, and fellowship for students, as do many other student organizations.
I don't think the Minutemen can say the same.
Perhaps more to the point, as I explored in detail then as well as more recently, where did the idea of "Reconquista!" originate?
Gen. Malkin won't tell you, Mandrake.
That's because it originated on the extremist right. It appears to have been coined, as a term applied to the current immigration wave from Mexico (the original Reconquista involved Spain's reacquisition of formerly Muslim lands), by Glenn Spencer, who runs the white-supremacist American Patrol organization. You know: the fellow who helped originate the concept of anti-Latino border patrols.
The kind of fellow who says things like:
- "If the Border Patrol had done its job, using the technology that is available to us, we could stop these people," Spencer said in November, when he was a guest on the Donahue show. "This is an invasion of the United States!"
The kind of fellow who hands out videotapes of his conspiracy theory in Congress -- with a notable courier:
- Spencer sent every member of Congress a copy of his videotape — "Bonds of Our Nation" — that purports to prove the Mexican government and Mexican-Americans are plotting to take over the American Southwest and create the nation of Aztlán. Hand-delivering the videos was Betina McCann, the fiancé of neo-Nazi Steven Barry.
The kind of fellow who fires shots into his neighbor's garage door:
- After a neighbor reported hearing two shots fired and a weapon cocked outside her home, local officers drove out and found that bullets had been fired into the woman's garage door. Spencer, claiming that he opened fire after hearing suspicious noises outside, was arrested on three felony counts of disorderly conduct with a weapon, one felony count of endangerment and one count of misdemeanor criminal damage. A few days earlier, following a series of death threats against Spencer, his home headquarters had been burglarized, Spencer claimed.
Ah, yes ...
- I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love...Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I-I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake ... but I do deny them my essence.
Secrecy, corruption, and gas
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Where there's secrecy, there's corruption. And when there's corruption, the rest of us wind up paying for it.
These simple facts of life are the reason we have open-government laws, many of them passed in the 1970s in response to the corruption of the Nixon regime. But the Bush administration, as I pointed out long ago, has been operating on the basis of expanding executive powers since the get-go:
- Certainly in many other areas -- particularly the aggressive assertion of executive powers in setting up military tribunals and designating citizens "enemy combatants," as well as various surveillance powers under the so-called Patriot Acts -- the Bush White House has displayed all the signs of attempting to reacquire powers lost to the executive branch in the 1970s ... a belated "Nixon's revenge," as it were.
As John Dean (who would know) pointed out to Joel Connelly, this was the case even before 9/11:
- "They moved in, pulled the shades and closed the doors," Dean said. "I can't find another presidency so positioned from the start to expanding the powers of the presidency."
The chief way it has done so is by lowering a veil of secrecy over everything it does. And secrecy, as always, has begotten corruption.
Likewise, we are all now paying for it. The tip of the iceberg: Gas prices.
The Bushian veil of secrecy is finally starting to falter. Glenn Greenwald (whose forthcoming book will be required reading) has been all over this, of course, particularly the recent Boston Globe stories revealing that "Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office."
Nearly as valuable, I thought, were the stories this weekend in the Chicago Tribune detailing how Dick Cheney has played such a significant role in this:
- A standing executive order, strengthened by President Bush in 2003, requires all agencies and "any other entity within the executive branch" to provide an annual accounting of their classification of documents. More than 80 agencies have collectively reported to the National Archives that they made 15.6 million decisions in 2004 to classify information, nearly double the number in 2001, but Cheney continues to insist he is exempt.
Explaining why the vice president has withheld even a tally of his office's secrecy when such offices as the National Security Council routinely report theirs, a spokeswoman said Cheney is "not under any duty" to provide it.
The most significant episode came early:
- The White House has resisted efforts by Congress to gain information, starting with a White House energy task force headed by Cheney and continuing with the president's secret authorization of warrantless surveillance of people inside the United States suspected of communicating with terrorists abroad. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) recently threatened to withhold funding for the surveillance program unless the White House starts providing information.
... Bush has a partner -- some say mentor -- in Cheney, who from the start resisted efforts to disclose the inner workings of a task force devising administration energy policy. He defeated an unprecedented lawsuit by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, to unveil that task force and carried his fight successfully to the Supreme Court.
The resulting "energy plan" was entirely predictable. As the Natural Resources Defense Council put it in its subsequent study of the plan:
- President Bush's energy plan offers a smorgasbord of incentives for the energy industry, emphasizing the need to increase domestic fossil fuel supplies and renewing a commitment to nuclear power. The administration's proposal -- prepared by Vice President Cheney's energy task force -- also includes modest proposals related to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. However, it is clear that, as Mr. Cheney stressed in a recent speech, the Bush administration views conservation as perhaps a "sign of personal virtue," but "not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."
... The Bush plan would provide no short-term relief for Americans struggling to pay their gasoline and electric bills this summer. And, over the long-term, it would increase pollution, despoil the environment, threaten public health and accelerate global warming. Moreover, it would have no impact on energy prices, and no practical effect on U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil. Who would benefit? The oil, coal and nuclear industries that shoveled millions of dollars into Bush campaign coffers.
What's happened? Voila! Record profits for oil companies, and record prices at the pump!
The Bush energy policy is only part of the much larger web of corruption that has enfolded the Republican Party, especially when you factor in Enron's role in the task force's findings. After all, Enron was also a major player in the DeLay/Abramoff money machine that is now caving in around the GOP like a rotten mineshaft.
In all the reportage on gas prices, though, you won't find anyone making this connection.
That's because the right is, if nothing else, still good at blowing up a smokescreen. Going back to the Chicago Tribune piece, there was this bit of rationalization for the closed style of government now practiced by the right:
- "I really think they think of it in terms of good governance," said James Carafano, senior fellow for national security and homeland security at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "It's a very corporate style of leadership."
Well, yeah ... if your corporation is Enron: secretive, corrupt, and a massive rip-off.
Not in Spanish!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Now, this should drive the nativists completely nuts:
- "Yo prometo lealtad a la bandera
de los estados Unidos de America,
y a la Republica que representa,
una Nacion bajo Dios,
con libertad y justicia para todos."
The end of the end of racism
- The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
-- William Faulkner
If you turn on your cable tonight, and you happen to have Turner Classic Movies, you'll be able to watch, for one of the first times in broadcast, D.W. Griffith's classic silent, The Birth of a Nation.
It's an instructive film, in part because Griffith introduced so many innovations that we now take for granted. One of these, of course, is the wealth of racial stereotypes that run throughout it.
It's also instructive that it's happening now, because there seems to be a fresh wave of thinking out there that sees this whole ugly racism thing now as a thing of the past. We can sift through its bones and quaintly examine them, tut-tutting the primitives of a century before, smug in our certainty that of course it lives no more.
One of these is Shelby Steele, who wants to argue that "white guilt" over the depredations of white supremacy keeps us whites from doing what we need to do in places like Iraq and on our southern border:
- To maintain their legitimacy, they practice the minimalism that makes problems linger. What but minimalism is left when you are running from stigmatization as a "unilateralist cowboy"? And where is the will to truly regulate the southern border when those who ask for this are slimed as bigots? This is how white guilt defines what is possible in America. You go at a problem until you meet stigmatization, then you retreat into minimalism.
Possibly white guilt's worst effect is that it does not permit whites--and nonwhites--to appreciate something extraordinary: the fact that whites in America, and even elsewhere in the West, have achieved a truly remarkable moral transformation. One is forbidden to speak thus, but it is simply true. There are no serious advocates of white supremacy in America today, because whites see this idea as morally repugnant. If there is still the odd white bigot out there surviving past his time, there are millions of whites who only feel goodwill toward minorities.
The notion that racism is dead has been a favorite theme of the right for awhile now. It began, probably, with the Thernstroms' America in Black and White, and continued with Dinesh D'Souza's The End of Racism. In a similar vein, the new White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, suggested awhile back that he thinks racism a dead issue:
- "Here's the unmentionable secret: Racism isn't that big a deal any more. No sensible person supports it. Nobody of importance preaches it. It's rapidly becoming an ugly memory."
-- Tony Snow, on an October 2003 edition of Fox News Sunday
What Snow is really doing, of course, is defining racism away. This is only true if "racism" is largely just the purview of the Ku Klux Klans and Silver Shirts, the David Dukes and Hal Turners and the National Socialist Movements of the world. It's also only true if you believe that the only racism of possible significance is that which might be condoned by public officials -- that racist acts by ordinary citizens are of no consequence.
The stark reality, however, is that racism not only continues to thrive in America both in less obvious, institutional ways, but also through the auspices of the conservative movement and its official wing, the Republican Party. The 21st-century American right has proven remarkably content not merely to let the embers of racism smolder away at the roots of our society, but to fan them in ways both subtle and unsubtle.
There is a long history of this: the long-running collaboration with neo-Confederates in the South, courtesy of the Southern Strategy and its transformative effects on the GOP, is only the best-known instance. The transmission of appeals from the far right in the 1990s, though less remarked upon, is certainly a piece of the picture.
Then there are the increasing numbers of overt white supremacists, clothed in seemingly normal personas, stepping up and running for public office as Republicans. The nice young man running for the Mosquito Control Board in Florida is also an avid member of the National Alliance. Out in Montana, another neo-Nazi announced his plans to run for the state Legislature.
And even though Republican officials there, appropriately, condemned the man's candidacy, it does little to drown out the consistent drumbeat we hear from conservative quarters these days. The more common refrain from rank and file conservatives, especially when it comes to the immigration debate, sounds a lot more like Michael Savage when he calls pro-immigrant marchers "vermin."
Let's take the most recent variant: the bizarre overreaction to the new Spanish-language version of "The Star Spangled Banner."
John Chuckman noted the weirdness of the reaction -- and the underlying cause:
- "This is evoking spirited revulsion on the part of fair-minded Americans," offered John Teeley, representative of one of innumerable private propaganda mills in Washington commonly dignified as think-tanks. Mr. Teeley continued, "You are talking about something sacred and iconic in the American culture. Just as we wouldn't expect people to change the colors of the national flag, we wouldn't expect people to fundamentally change the anthem and rewrite it in a foreign language."
A foreign language? There are roughly thirty-million Spanish speakers in the United States. The analysis here is interesting: an immigrant singing an anthem in his own language resembles someone changing the national flag. This argument does, perhaps unintentionally, reveal the real concern: Hispanics are changing our country, and we don't like it.
As No More Mister Nice Blog points out, there have been previous renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner" in German, French, Polish, and Tagalog. According to the Wikipedia entry on the song:
- The Star-Spangled Banner was translated into Spanish in 1919 by the US Bureau of Education. It has also been translated into a number of other languages. In 1861, it was translated into German (and is also on that page in Latin). It has been translated into Yiddish by Jewish immigrants and into French by Acadians of Louisiana.
It has also been translated into Samoan:
O Roketi mumu fa'aafi, o pomu ma fana ma aloi afi
E fa'amaonia i le po atoa, le fu'a o lo'o tu maninoa
Aue! ia tumau le fe'ilafi mai, ma agiagia pea
I eleele o Sa'olotoga, ma Nofoaga o le au totoa
The whole uproar reminds me a bit of the outrage that followed Jimi Hendrix's performance of the national anthem at Woodstock:
- The creation of these effects was groundbreaking in its own right, far expanding the traditional techniques of the electric guitar. The rendition has been described by some as a generation's statement on the unrest in US society, and others as an anti-American mockery, oddly symbolic of the beauty, spontaneity, and tragedy that was endemic to Hendrix's life. It was an unforgettable rendition remembered by generations. When asked on the Dick Cavett Show if he was aware of all the outrage he had caused by the performance, Hendrix replied: 'I thought it was beautiful.'
Jimi was so cool.
Unfortunately, the harpies of the nativist right are not.
You see, to them, it doesn't matter that there have been other renditions of the National Anthem in other languages. For them, it's the same thing as those dirty Mexicans who were waving Mexican flags: they polluting our culture. They're taking away our lily-white, English-speaking past and replacing it with a multilingual, multiracial present.
Some of this is plain old ignorant provincialism. Americans are the only people I know who are positively insulted when someone tries to speak to them in another language. And some of it, frankly, is latent white supremacism: the belief that "traditional" white culture is innately superior, and any dilution of it is a bad thing.
The overarching narrative, though, is fairly clear: Latinos are the problem, and they should be sent back to Mexico.
The reality is that much of the demographic change fueling this anger is occurring in places that, previously, have been homogeneous white communities: rural and suburban communities in the West and Midwest and South. The kinds of places where, only fifty years ago, it was not uncommon to encounter signs on the city borders reading: "Nigger, Don't Let the Sun Set on You Here."
These signs were particularly common in the Midwest, but also could be found out West and in the East as well. They were less common in the South, which dealt with its black population differently, through Jim Crow laws and segregation; the rest of the country simply ran blacks out of their communities and forced them into urban black neighborhoods. As James Loewen documents in his book Sundown Towns [more about which I'll soon be writing] the direct effects of these policies have given us a legacy of racial separation that is still with us. And most of these privileged white communities, despite the changes in modern racial sensibilities, still continue to resist any demographic change.
One of the ways this resistance manifests itself is in the form of hate crimes, which as I've explained previously, are known to occur not in correlation with economic downturns, but rather with dramatic demographic shifts. (I go into this in some detail in Death on the Fourth of July.) Particularly in formerly homogeneous communities facing an influx of easily identifiable Others.
So it should not surprise us that, as the ADL recently reported, the levels of threats and actual violence directed against Latinos is rapidly rising in these precincts around the country. A sampling:
- January 2006, California. Ryan Nicholas Newsome, a member of the Another Order white supremacist gang, pleaded no contest on January 20, 2006, to assault charges in Yuba County. He pleaded no contest to assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury with a criminal street gang enhancement as a result of an August 2005 incident, in which he and an associate allegedly assaulted a Hispanic man.
December 2005, Tennessee. A Blount County judge on December 1, 2005, sentenced Jacob Allen Reynolds and Thomas Matthew Lovett to four years in prison and six months in prison (and two and a half on probation) respectively after they pleaded guilty to vandalizing a Mexican food store in Maryville on May 7, 2005, causing over $17,000 in damages. The men allegedly broke windows and a refrigerator, vandalized a car, and spray-painted Nazi symbols on the store. Three others charged still await trial.
November 2005, Texas. Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, a prison escapee, was recaptured on November 5 and charged with murdering three men in the Fort Worth area during his month-long escape. Wilkins, who is according to police a self-proclaimed white separatist heavily tattooed with a variety of white supremacist tattoos, including a portrait of Adolf Hitler, is alleged to have killed two Hispanic men and one African-American man by gunshots to the head. Police are examining a possible racial motive. Wilkins had been living at a halfway house in Houston, after being released from federal prison, and left the house without permission.
November 2005, Tennessee. A federal judge sentenced former Klansman Daniel James Schertz to 14 years in prison for selling pipe bombs to a person he thought would use them to kill Mexican and Haitian immigrants. The person turned out to be an undercover informant. Schertz, a former corrections officer and member of the North Georgia White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, pleaded guilty to making five pipe bombs to be used to blow up a bus carrying Mexican workers. Later, Schertz expressed gratitude that the government had stopped him, but said, "We should have people here who know how to speak English. They are over here illegally and nothing gets done to them."
October 2005, California. A Sacramento man and two other suspects who allegedly attacked and injured six people in a hate-crime spree at two local parties were arrested in the early morning of October 16, 2005. Ryan Marino, 22, posted bail from El Dorado County Jail later Sunday after being charged on four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with an extenuating circumstance of a hate crime. He allegedly used brass knuckles after shouting epithets against Hispanics and proclaiming "white pride" at a home Sunday evening. Party attendees later identified Marino, who police said crashed the parties with the intent of "beating up Mexicans."
September 2005, Utah. A federal judge on September 27, 2005, sentenced Lance Vanderstappen to 20 years in prison for trying to kill a Hispanic man while in a holding cell in July 2005 awaiting sentencing for a racketeering charge. The victim had stab wounds to his neck, throat and chest. In court, Vanderstappen, a member of the notorious Soldiers of Aryan Culture white supremacist prison gang, admitted that he targeted the victim because he was Hispanic, saying "I intentionally tried to kill him." Vanderstappen pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
September 2005, New Jersey. Joseph Schmidt of Little Egg Harbor received a sentence of three years' probation in September 2005 after pleading guilty in June to two counts of bias intimidation, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of criminal mischief, two counts of possessing weapons for an unlawful purpose, and simple assault. The charges were related to a string of attacks on minorities, primarily Hispanics, in Ocean County in 2003. Schmidt, a member of the white supremacist skinhead group East Coast Hate Crew, received a light sentence because he had cooperated with authorities in prosecuting other members of the group. Three others involved in the incident pleaded guilty and one was acquitted. Others have yet to go to trial.
July 2005, California. Four people, three men and one woman, were arrested in Riverside, California, on July 11-12, 2005, charged with making terrorist threats with a hate crime enhancement. Some of the people arrested had "white pride" tattoos, according to authorities, who also seized a variety of white supremacist items. According to police, the suspects drove to a home and challenged several Hispanics there to a fight, threatening them and using racial slurs. A similar episode occurred the next night. According to police, the people arrested claimed no particular group affiliation but said they were proud to be "members of the Aryan race."
May 2005, Arizona. White supremacist Steve Boggs was sentenced to death on May 13, 2005, for murdering three fast-food workers in Mesa, Arizona, in 2002 during a robbery. He had been convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and various robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges. Boggs shot the victims, a Native American and two Hispanics, then stuffed their bodies into a freezer at the store. Boggs wrote to a Mesa police detective that he had wanted to "rid the world of a few needless illegals. I don't feel sorry." Another defendant still awaits trial. According to prosecutors, the two men were members of a small hate group they called the Imperial Royal Guard.
May 2005, Texas. Two racist skinheads pleaded guilty on May 5, 2005, to a racially motivated beating of a Hispanic man in January 2003. Douglas Brannan of Hockley and Mark Fletcher Smith of Spring, both sporting many white supremacist tattoos, were convicted of civil rights violations. The two men, and a teenager, had attacked a Hispanic customer at a gas station, beating him and kicking him with steel-toed boots until he was unconscious while shouting "border jumper," "spic," and "we kill people like you." Brannan received a five year sentence and Smith a three year sentence.
December 2004, California. Ten racist skinheads from Redlands and Riverside attacked three Hispanics in the parking lot of a topless bar on December 29, 2004. According to police, they assaulted the men while yelling racial slurs at them and identifying themselves as members of skinhead groups. No arrests have yet been made.
November 2004, Wisconsin. Mark Lentz of Sheldon, Wisconsin, received a three-month sentence and two years of probation, as well as 40 hours of community service, after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor hate crime. Lentz was the last of four racist skinheads to be sentenced for luring a Hispanic man outside a bar in Waukesha, then hitting him on the head with a bottle and repeatedly kicking him. Mark Davis II of Watertown earlier received a 3 ˝ year sentence and two years of extended supervision, Kasey Bieri received an 18-month jail term and three years of probation, and Jeffrey Gerloski received four months in jail and two years probation.
June 2004, Texas. Ranch Rescue member Casey Nethercott was convicted by a Texas jury of felony firearm possession in connection with an attack on two illegal immigrants from El Salvador outside of Hebbronville, Texas, in 2003. He was sentenced to five years in prison. The two immigrants (now in the U.S. legally) successfully sued Nethercott and others involved in the incident for a total judgment of $1,450,000.
November 2003, Idaho. Aryan Nations member Zachary Beck was arrested for felony malicious harassment as a hate crime for attacking a Hispanic male in the parking lot of a supermarket after asking if the victim was Mexican. While awaiting trial on that charge, he was later re-arrested after allegedly shooting at a police officer in Longview, Washington, during a standoff. He still awaits trial on the alleged crimes.
June 2003, California. Two racist skinheads, Waylon Kennell and James Grlicky, were convicted in separate trials for the brutal beating of a Mexican migrant worker in San Diego in the fall of 2003. Grlicky was convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy, robbery, assault and battery, with a hate crime enhancement. Kennell was convicted of assault causing great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury. According to the prosecutor in the case, the two went hunting for a "beaner" to beat and rob. They kicked the victim in the head around a dozen times, including "curbstomping" him—kicking down on the back of the head when the victim's open mouth is placed against a concrete curb (emulating a scene in the movie "American History X"). The victim suffered brain damage as a result of the attack.
May 2003, New Hampshire. Aryan Nations member Russell Seace, Jr., of Hampton Beach, pleaded guilty on May 27 to being a felon in possession of a firearm as part of a plea bargain with the federal government. In exchange for money, Seace had agreed to kill a Hispanic inmate after he was released, in retaliation for an alleged attack by the Hispanic man on a white prison inmate.
February 2003, Oregon. A Mexican landscaper in Beaverton was beaten with a baseball bat, robbed, and told to "go back home," by a man with a shaved head and a coat with "KKK" on it. Baseball bats are one of the weapons preferred by racist skinheads. Authorities posted a reward but were unable to make an arrest in the crime.
The most recent, and horrifying, such case occurred recently in Texas, where two shaved-headed young men with a history of racial epithets and brawling attacked a 16-year-old Hispanic youth, sodomized him with a broomstick, carved him with a knife, poured bleach over him, and left him near death. (Somewhat predictably, prosecutors are declining to file hate-crime charges at this time.)
And, as the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported, there has been a regular onslaught of racist, clearly white supremacist ugliness floating around the anti-immigration forces recently, almost certainly whipped up by the pro-immigrant marches. This includes death threats against public officials.
There's no reason to be surprised by this, though. Anyone watching the anti-immigration agitation carefully -- particularly the semi-official celebration of violent viglantism known as the Minutemen -- can hear for themselves the old embers of racial hate crackling back to life.
So while Minuteman founder Chris Simcox works steadily to deny the presence of any kind of white-supremacist element in his ranks, you can hear one of his early fellow border patrollers expounding:
- No, we ought to be able to shoot the Mexicans on sight, and that would end the problem. After two or three Mexicans are shot, they'll stop crossing the border and they'll take their cows home, too.
At an anti-immgrant rally in Tennessee four days before the marches, this proposal drew applause:
- On Apr. 27 -- four days before a mass movement that includes undocumented workers, legal immigrants and U.S. citizens refused to go to work or school in observation of the "Great American Boycott" -- more than 1,000 people attended an anti-immigrant meeting called "Demagnetise America" in Franklin, Tennessee.
Those in attendance heard Nashville radio talk show host Phil Valentine say that he thought that U.S. Border Patrol Agents should consider shooting undocumented immigrants as they come across the border.
According to the news story posted at the website of the Centre for New Community's Building Democracy Initiative, Susan Tully, the national field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- present at the event -- "chuckled at the idea, while the large crowd erupted into applause".
At the immigration marches themselves, pro-Minuteman agitators showed up and shouted racial hatred:
- The Minutemen were doing their best to incite the Mexican protesters to violence, with shouts of "you motherfuckers" (from the black woman pictured above) and "go home, Mexicans", not to mention the skinny guy (pictured above, middle finger extended) who kept flipping them off and grabbing his crotch (really!). There were several people who did a wonderful job keeping the marchers away from the line of cops and the Minutemen, telling them that there was no need to sink to that level and that "we're better than that". There was never a point where I thought violence was imminent, to the credit of the police and the rally organizers.
You see, everyone knows that being a racist is bad. That's why no one ever admits to being a racist, even when they're rather nakedly so.
But that doesn't mean that people actually stop being racist. It just means that it goes on under the surface, when people think they aren't looking.
So the Minutemen loudly proclaim that they're weeding out any white supremacists and neo-Nazis. But then former organizers come forward and tell quite a different tale:
- Neo-Nazis volunteered for Jim Gilchrist's recent congressional campaign and distributed racist propaganda at Gilchrist rallies with the full knowledge of the Minuteman Project co-founder and his campaign managers, according to a former Gilchrist campaign volunteer whose account is supported by photographs, video footage and postings on the white supremacist Web site Stormfront.
"They were basically allowing Skinheads and white nationalists to work the phone banks and do IT [computer work] and distribute National Alliance fliers targeting non-whites," Cliff May, a dance instructor in Orange County, Calif., told the Intelligence Report. "When I told Mary [Gilchrist's finance manager] and Eldon [Gilchrist's grassroots coordinator] that I didn't want to work for a campaign that was tainted by white supremacy in any way, they told me not to cause a stir.
"When I kept bringing it up, they kicked me out."
Photographs taken at an Oct. 29 Gilchrist rally in Sacramento show a man outfitted like a Nazi Skinhead distributing propaganda from the neo-Nazi National Alliance. "I talked with Gilchrist about it and he said they'd decided to, in his words, 'let it go,'" May said. Three weeks later, May says he spotted two neo-Nazis among a crowd of Gilchrist campaign volunteers at a City Council meeting in Lake Forest, Calif. May recognized the young man and woman from photographs of neo-Nazis giving seig-heil salutes in front of swastika banners at an anti-immigration protest in Laguna Beach four months earlier, in July. May said he videotaped the neo-Nazis at the November meeting in Lake Forest and immediately afterward played the footage on a big screen television at Gilchrist's campaign headquarters.
"I identified the couple on the tape as white supremacists and started asking everyone if they'd actually been working the office, and the front desk person and other volunteers said they had," said May. "Gilchrist was there and stated that he didn't want to deal with it and he left." May said he later learned from Gilchrist's campaign managers that some neo-Nazis were told they could work for the campaign as long as they kept their ideology quiet. "Gilchrist had assured the media several times he had a zero tolerance policy toward white supremacists. But from what I saw from the inside, it was more like, 'Don't ask, don't tell,'" May said.
At Thursday night's hearing where Simcox spoke, the Minutemen were treated to a long series of harangues against them, including some that entered the realm of inaccurate hyperbole.
But the real prize came from Simcox:
- Also, I take great pride in being part of the Civil Rights Movement -- Martin Luther King. And of course I admire the original border Minuteman, Cesar Chavez, who warned us about illegal immigration 25 years ago and actually marched to the border to protest illegal immigration and predicted the problems we have today.
It's factually true, but distorted; Chavez would never have condoned an operation so clearly aimed at demonizing Latinos as the Minutemen. Nonetheless, some of the Minutemen's supporters sounded similar notes. One in particular chastised the crowd for exhibiting its "prejudice" against the Minutemen, and wondered aloud, at numerous points, "What would Martin Luther King say?"
Human Rights commissioner Ellis Casson, a Seattle pastor who actually knew King, piped up at the end in response.
"I knew Dr. King," he said. "I know what he would say:
"'Here we go again.'"
[Photo courtesy of Sasha Magee.]
[Hat tip to Gene Lyons for the Steele piece.]
The Simcox makeover
Monday, May 01, 2006
You have to admire, in a way, people who can pull off a human-chameleon act, at least convincingly. People like Minuteman leader Chris Simcox.
I drove up to Bellingham on Thursday to watch Simcox testify during the Washington Human Rights Commission hearing.
For most of the night, Simcox and the Minutemen were under steady rhetorical barrage from local human-rights and Latino activists. At times, the rhetoric became overblown hyperbole; but much of it was deadly accurate.
Nonetheless, when it came time, Simcox was well prepared. He stepped up to the mike and delivered the following remarks:
- Three minutes is not a lot of time to respond to such distorted and untrue untruths, and I typically don't spend a lot of time defending myself when it comes to instances of ignorance. But in this situation, I guess we should do that. Many quotes tonight about 'what we don't know, we fear' -- I don't think I've been in a room full of such fear and hate such as I have tonight in my whole life. [Applause] I also want to thank the human rights groups and the ACLU for defending the rights of my biracial Euro-African American children, and my five Mexican American nephews and nieces, who they really appreciate you standing up for them -- facts that of course not too many people talk about. Also, I take great pride in being part of the Civil Rights Movement -- Martin Luther King. And of course I admire the original border Minuteman, Cesar Chavez, who warned us about illegal immigration 25 years ago and actually marched to the border to protest illegal immigration and predicted the problems we have today. Of course, many of you who engage in revisionist history probably don't know those facts.
A couple of other things, I just, uh -- We are nothing more than a neighborhood watch group. If we were not, we would be in jail, what with the scrutiny of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, all law enforcement whom we've interfaced with, we wouldn't be in business if we had ever done anything wrong. That's a fact.
In fact, since October of 2002, we have assisted Border Patrol with apprehending -- not us, we've assisted Border Patrol in locating, and they apprehended 10,007 people since yesterday. That represents people from 24 different countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Russia. We don't discriminate on the color of anyone's skin. We watch the border. We answered our civic duty and our call of our nation and our president to be vigilant, to be observant, and to report suspicious illegal activity to the proper authorities, which is what we've done. I don't care what color your skin is, where you come from, or what language you speak or what your purposes are. If you're breaking into our country in a post-September 11 world, you are a potential problem and should be reported to proper authorities.
During that time, we have made 217 life-saving rescues, including women and children, a fact that doesn't ever seem to be reported. We have a DVD video coming out of all the life-saving rescues, including giving medical attention and having men and women and children air-vaced out of the desert, so that they don't die because of human slave-trade smuggling that's going on on our nation's borders. We've also unfortunately recovered 33 bodies of people who've died in the desert at the hands of human smugglers. We have a serious problem on our borders. It can be brought to an end by securing our borders. When we secure our borders, we protect immigrants. It's pro-immigrant. We don't have immigrants dying in the desert. We stop drugs. We stop criminals from entering our country. There's never been a reported case of a legal immigrant dying at a port of entry, being raped, robbed, or murdered at the hands of bandits or human smugglers, or sold into slavery in this country. Of course, that's a whole 'nother point.
Um, some of the mistruths about me personally, real quick ... um ... DVDs: clever editing. The FBI and law enforcement have watched these DVDs and they've ascertained that there were no wrongdoing in these DVDs. Clever editing, of course, which is one of the instances, including the quotes I've heard a couple of times about me saying, 'Immigrants should be shot on sight.' A clever -- taking a quote out of context. I said drug dealers should be shot on sight. They're poisoning our children. I never said that about illegal immigrants. And there were many untruths, and quotes taken out of context.
Too bad racism has entered this debate, because it has nothing to do with race. It has to do with forcing our federal government to do its job. Washington, D.C., has failed us miserably -- I agree with many of the discussions tonight about NAFTA and the injustices that have been perpetrated by our government. We need a good housecleaning in Washington, D.C. We need to stand together as American people. We do need to resolve this mess that has been created by elected officials. We choose to do it by protecting our neighbors on the borders of the south, and certainly, for those of you who think we are looking for illegal aliens on this northern border, it is a symbolic stance, a First Amendment stance, about our federal government failing us miserably. Let's hope can work together, let's hope we can solve this problem.
I want to bring this to an end. We are in business to be put out of business by a federal government doing its job. Resolving this problem, enforcing our laws, welcoming immigrants who are protected and who have respect when they enter a port of entry legally, they enter this country with dignity, and we show them the respect they deserve in coming here by following our rules. Thank you very much.
Afterward, I caught up with Simcox in the foyer and asked a few questions. Another reporter asked him about the recent reports of connections to neo-Nazi organizations. He responded:
- They're totally unfounded. Again, wild allegations to create fear in the community that have no basis in fact. All of our volunteers are thoroughly screened -- they go through criminal background checks, psychological vetting, we have an Internet-based search system where we look for their e-mail addresses, their names or anything on any site that could be racist. We go to great lengths to make sure we screen our people. I have never talked to anyone in our organization who has ever been connected to any group like that, and I wouldn't tolerate it if it were.
What about Laine Lawless? I asked. He looked sharply at me and said:
- She was with us for two months. And we quickly vetted her out. That was because of her rhetoric. And we did more research into her background. She was quickly dismissed.
And off into the night he went, with the pack of Minutemen -- who numbered about 20 in a crowd of around 200 -- in tow.
Simcox, really, was rather impressive: clean-cut, very straightforward seeming, very smooth. He seemed almost preppy with his new clean-shaven look and crew sweatshirt.
Especially when you consider the old Simcox, who liked to alternate between camos and jeans and sport an American-flag ballcap, spout endless conspiracy theories and quasi-racist fearmongering, and demonstrate his utter idiocy to anyone familiar with gun safety by holstering his pistol down the front of his jeans, which is a really good way to shoot off your dick. It's one of those Darwin-in-action things.
That Simcox, it appears, is ancient history, now to be buried under the careful coaching of the D.C.-based public relations firm that Simcox hired. They've done a pretty good job of making Simcox over completely. Paul deArmond, who also testified at the meeting, observed that he reminds you of David Duke; I agree, but think that Simcox might be actually be smoother -- probably not as intelligent, but much more personable and appealing.
But before the old Simcox disappears completely, let's rewind the tape one last time and run through some of the things Chris Simcox has actually said in the past. None of them appear to have been "cleverly edited."
What's especially common in the old Simcox's rhetoric is fearmongering about an "invasion" by Mexicans who bring drugs, crime, and pestilence:
- I feel that the people that are coming across, invading this country, I think that they should be treated as enemies of the state. We need to putting them in work camps. Anyone could walk through these borders of this country bringing bombs, chemicals, weapons of mass destruction. I think they should be shot on sight, personally.
-- Nikolaj Vijborg's documentary film USA Under Attack. [Quote appears to be a single audio take heard as an overdub.]
- "It's a public safety issue because 30 percent of crimes are committed by aliens," said Simcox, who cites no source for the statistic. "There's an explosion of vicious gangs with no respect for human life that target us because of soft laws."
-- Susana Hayward, Knight-Ridder, "Migrants flock to Arizona border," July 15, 2005
- "It's an invasion. ... There's too much crime coming over that border, and Americans are being victimized."
- Of illegal immigrants, Simcox added: "They're trashing their neighborhoods, refusing to assimilate, standing on street corners, jeering at little girls walking on their way to school."
-- Southern Poverty Law Center report
- "These people don't come here to work. They come here to rob and deal drugs," Simcox told the Intelligence Report in a 2003 interview. "We need the National Guard to clean up our cities and round them up."
-- SPLC report
The SPLC, indeed, noted back in that Summer 2005 report the propensity for the Minutemen leaders to be freshly tailoring their rhetoric for mainstream consumption and hiding or denying their longtime Latino-bashing:
- The old Simcox said of Mexicans and Central American immigrants, "They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughter and they are evil people." The new Simcox said he sympathizes with their plight, and sees them as victims of their own government's failed policies.
The SPLC's subsequent investigation into Simcox's past also noted his propensity for bizarre conspiracy theories, including one he tried out on the audience at a California Coalition on Immigration Reform gathering:
- "Take heed of our weapons because we're going to defend our borders by any means necessary," he said. "There's something very fishy going on at the border. The Mexican army is driving American vehicles -- but carrying Chinese weapons. I have personally seen what I can only believe to be Chinese troops."
Along similar lines, you can see Simcox ruminating on the future, in a single, unedited cut, in the Vijborg documentary USA Under Attack:
- Those guys [D.C. politicians] need to be, you know, lynched. If we're attacked again, then we need some vigilanteism. Then we need some going into Washington, pulling them out of their offices, kicking them out of office. We need revolution.
To hear the new Chris Simcox talk, you'd think Gandhi and Martin Luther King were his bosom heroes, and the Minutemen are actually out there on a mission of mercy to rescue those poor illegal immigrants.
But that, of course, has never been what the Minutemen are about.
What they really are is right-wing street theater, a PR stunt intended to spearhead a larger anti-immigration campaign, and their chief effect is to scapegoat Latino immigrants for all the nation's ills. This is why they so clearly attract haters of all stripes, including neo-Nazis, so eagerly to their cause.
For all Simcox's protestations that they are weeding out neo-Nazis, the evidence so far suggests otherwise, as the SPLC reported:
- Early this year, white supremacist and neo-Nazi Web sites began openly recruiting for the Minuteman Project. In response, Gilchrist and Simcox proclaimed that neo-Nazi Skinheads and race warriors from organizations such as the National Alliance and Aryan Nations were specifically banned from participating. Pressured by journalists to explain exactly how they planned to keep these undesirables out, the two organizers said they were working with the FBI to carefully check the backgrounds of all potential Minuteman volunteers, only to have the FBI completely deny this was the case.
Gilchrist and Simcox then claimed they were personally checking out each and every potential volunteer using on-line databases. Even if this were true, one of Gilchrist's computers crashed the morning of April 1, wiping out the records of at least 75 pre-registered volunteers. As a result, the registration protocol in Tombstone rapidly degenerated into a free-for-all, and virtually anyone who showed up and gave a name was issued a Minuteman Project badge and told where to go the next day to be assigned to a watch post.
Gilchrist and Simcox further claimed to the media prior to April 1 that the only volunteers who would be allowed to carry firearms would be those who had a concealed-carry handgun permit from their home states, an indication that they had passed at least a cursory background investigation. In fact, virtually no one was checked for permits.
As the report went on to explore, the Minutemen were indeed infiltrated by some neo-Nazis last year:
- While most of the Minuteman volunteers were not organized racists, at least one member of Aryan Nations infiltrated the effort, and Johnny and Michael said they were two of six members of the Phoenix chapter of the National Alliance who signed up as Minuteman Volunteers. They said the other four had arrived separately in two-man teams in order to cover more ground and be less conspicuous. They said the Alliance members came out to support the Minuteman Project, but also to recruit new members, and to learn the remote hot zones for border crossers in Cochise County. They said they intended to return and conduct small, roaming, National Alliance-only vigilante patrols in the fall, "when we can have a little more privacy," as Johnny put it.
Perhaps more to the point, a lack of membership or participation in far-right hate groups is certainly no guarantee that the Minutemen are not riddled throughout with violent racists:
- "It should be legal to kill illegals," said Carl, a 69-year old retired Special Forces veteran who fought in Vietnam and now lives out West. "Just shoot 'em on sight. That's my immigration policy recommendation. You break into my country, you die."
... "I agree completely," Michael said. "You get up there with a rifle and start shooting four or five of them a week, the other four or five thousand behind them are going to think twice about crossing that line."
That attitude is actually pervasive among the Minutemen, including one named Crag Howard (who shows up also in this report) who is seen working side-by-side with Simcox on the border in USA Under Attack. He's also seen saying:
- No, we ought to be able to shoot the Mexicans on sight, and that would end the problem. After two or three Mexicxans are shot, they'll stop crossing the border and they'll take their cows home, too.
Unsurprisingly, some neo-Nazis have concocted a video game based on exactly that concept.
You can get a clear idea about just how those neo-Nazis go about the business of joining the Minutemen and similar anti-immigrant organizations -- including the Save Our State group in California, where they showed up at a rally featuring Minutemen leader Jim Gilchrist, and soon were waving swastikas and Confederate flags. A neo-Nazi Stormfront forum discussion of the event brought out responses that made clear that joining groups like the Minutemen was a good idea -- but it was important to keep those flags tucked away:
- I agree with the above post; Kudos to all who actively oppose illegal immigration. HOWEVER, I would like to suggest the display of U.S. Flags only. Let's see the media characterize THAT as extremist! After all, you are trying to set an example for millions of white Americans; the use of WW2 German Swastika flags in this kind of public demonstration makes even my guts churn, and I'm on YOUR side.
When you say the locals weren't impressed with you would you say that you were able to awaken some whites or do you think your message was not being heard at all?
I ask because I feel that awakening whites should be the only goal at this time. Getting in a match with Commies and Mexicans may be fun but it is unproductive.
Why did you let people bring Nazi flags? While 80% of whites are opposed to Illegal Immigration, probably 99% are opposed to Nazism. It's no wonder that locals won't support you.
I go to a local American Legion. Most of the people are very racially conscience and I can openly talk about race however I want. If I was to come in with a swastika, I'd be beaten out the door by an angry mob.
Why use something that is going to turn off the majority of those who would otherwise agree with us?
The most vivid example, however, of the way the closed-borders nativists interact with neo-Nazis was provided in the recent SPLC report examining the activities of Laine Lawless. She was a onetime Minuteman who started up her own border-watch group, and was found to have secretly sent an e-mail to an Ohio leader of the National Socialist Movement named Mark Martin (who was deeply involved in the Toledo riots, and whose image you can see here and here) that outlined a plan of attack for white supremacists to deal with illegal immigrants:
- -- "Steal the money from any illegal walking into a bank or check cashing place."
-- "Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status. ... I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination."
-- "Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school. Be creative."
-- "Create an anonymous propaganda campaign warning that any further illegal immigrants will be shot, maimed or seriously messed-up upon crossing the border. This should be fairly easy to do, considering the hysteria of the Spanish language press, and how they view the Minutemen as 'racists & vigilantes.' "
The Minutemen, you see, are useful not just in providing "mainstream" cover for their operations: they also raise the fear levels to the point that neo-Nazis can more effectively make threats.
The SPLC report makes clear, more to the point, that Lawless' involvement with the Minutemen was more than just a two-month thing:
- Lawless, the former high priestess of Sisterhood of the Moon, a lesbian pagan organization, has been heavily involved in anti-immigration extremism since 2004, when she joined Simcox's Civil Homeland Defense outfit, as it was then called. That same year, she invited militia members to her private ranch in Cochise County, Ariz. "I coordinate with Chris [Simcox], so anyone who wants to come is welcome," she wrote in a post to an online user group, "Border War" which was reposted on sites such as "A Well Regulated Militia."
Lawless was featured in numerous media reports on the first Minuteman Project campaign in April 2005, and has patrolled side-by-side with Minuteman vice-president Carmen Mercer. Lawless also traveled to Texas to join the Texas Minutemen in October, when she was quoted in The Austin Chronicle saying she gets an "intellectual and political orgasm" from spying on pro-immigration groups. In that interview, she accused one pro-immigration activist of inserting chants of "White Power!" into an audiotape of Minuteman rallies to discredit the movement.
Simcox seems to be claiming that Lawless was only involved in the Minuteman Project for two months (and it would be interesting to find out further what "background" led them to dismiss her, since none of this activity occurred until recently) -- which may actually be the case, though this overlooks her activities in Texas, which may or may not have been as a Minuteman representative. However, I asked him specifically about the (pre-Minuteman) Tombstone Militia involvement, and he was again adamant that she was only on board for "two months" -- a claim the record clearly demonstrates is false.
Which tells you a lot about Chris Simcox's makeover. The new, squeaky-clean Chris Simcox created by PR coaches may look and sound like a middle-of-the-road civic activist. But he is also a practiced liar. And anyone who believes a word he says should have their heads examined.
In honor of Codpiece Day, some selections from The Bard:
- Why, what a ruthless thing is this in him, for the rebellion of a codpiece to take away the life of a man!
-- Measure for Measure
He that has a house to put's head in has a good head-piece.
The cod-piece that will house
Before the head has any,
The head and he shall louse;
So beggars marry many.
The man that makes his toe
What he his heart should make
Shall of a corn cry woe,
And turn his sleep to wake.
For there was never yet fair woman but she made
mouths in a glass.
-- King Lear
- LUCETTA What fashion, madam shall I make your breeches?
JULIA That fits as well as 'Tell me, good my lord,
What compass will you wear your farthingale?'
Why even what fashion thou best likest, Lucetta.
LUCETTA You must needs have them with a codpiece, madam.
JULIA Out, out, Lucetta! that would be ill-favour'd.
-- Two Gentlemen of Verona