Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tea-Party Hearts Soar In Oregon For Another 'Gathering Of Eagles'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I am soooooo disappointed. I can't tell you how disappointed. Because, alas and alack, I'm going to have to miss next week's gathering of tea-partying wingnuts down in Oregon, aka the "Gathering of Eagles".

My friend Carla at Blue Oregon tipped me off about this shindig. Seems they held the GOE last year at the same rural ranch outside of Turner, and everyone had such a grand time they decided to hold it there again.

You remember the "Gathering of Eagles." These were the pre-Tea Party Cro-Magnons who organized back in 2008 to create a right-wing counter-protest intended to "protect" the Vietnam Veterans memorial in D.C. One of their Fearless Leaders raised eyebrows a couple of years back by telling Chris Dodd to go kill himself.

Just for fun, you can go read belief system, which really can just be summed up with the penultimate entry:
Together we will fight liberalism, socialism, progressivism, and communism and bring back our individual freedoms to choose our own destiny.
Here's the PDF. I dunno about you, but I'm just all verklempt to miss out on this prime opportunity to hobnob with both Tom DeLay and John Fund. The conversations we could have!

FWIW, the host is a genial fellow who sells roofing compound and ran for Oregon governor back in 2010 (not so successfully).

Among the guests, besides DeLay and Fund, will be Bob Basso, who got famous pretending to be Thomas Paine on a few episodes of the Glenn Beck show, which he then parlayed into a swinging career on the right-wing chicken-dinner (or eagle-gathering, or what have you) circuit. You can tell that none of these morons ever bothered to actually read Paine, especially not "Agrarian Justice" -- else they would know that "income redistribution" not only well preceded Karl Marx, it was adamantly advocated by their hero!

We especially recall the time Basso called for an armed "Second Revolution" to take back the country from the evil Obamaites:
Basso: Join the grassroots movement of the Second American Revolution -- not of guns and violence, but of pressure, pressure, pressure. ...

Take back America now! Choose to be part of the Second American Revolution! Pressure, pressure, pressure! No presidential candidate, no political party can save you now. Only an aroused citizenry will turn this uncommon sense around. And he or she who does nothing now is helping them to destroy America!
One can hardly wait to see the eagles soaring. Darn.

I have to be off camping and watching whales again. What a bummer.

Evidently, Minutemen Founder Gilchrist Doesn't Like Us

Jim Gilchrist and Shawna Forde patrolling the Arizona desert together

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I mentioned the other day that Minuteman movement cofounder Jim Gilchrist has been adamantly denying to everyone in sight the truth of what I reported about him earlier this week -- namely, that not only was he tightly associated with child killer Shawna Forde right up to the moment of her arrest, but he was aware of the crazy schemes she had in mind well before she tried enacting them.

It seems that yesterday, he posted in the comments of the AlterNet piece where I reported all this -- and I guess we can call this definitive:
Dear Readers,

David Neiwert's attempt to glorify the murder of a nine-year-old girl and her father for the purpose of bogus journalistic acclaim and the financial gain he anticipates from
selling books represents perhaps the lowest form of "dirty" journalism.

I just got off the phone with private investigator Mike Carlucci and we both agree that David Neiwert has made up most of the so-called facts in his article. I, nor Mr. Carlucci ever had any discussion with Shawna Forde about her agenda to rob drug dealers.

Furthermore, the Minuteman Movement was not seriously interfered with by whatever Shawna Forde and her two accomplices did. The Minuteman Movement was put into a temporary tailspin by some selfish opportunists posing as immigration law enforcement advocates whose true interest was in hijacking the movement for their own financial and egotistical interests, in my opinion.

David Neiwert is a fiction writer who should be forthright with his readership and disclose that his selfish agenda is to sell books and be falsely heralded as "one of the great thinkers of our time."

Shawna Forde and her two thugs were lone wolves who operated their own organization distinct and separate from other immigration activist groups. She also regularly communicated with many of the hundred or so similar groups established around the country. Simply, the murderous trio used a feigned participation in the immigration law enforcement movement as a convenient veil to cloak some sinister plans to rob drug dealers and coyotes.

David Neiwert knows this, yet he revels in the opportunity to hang as many innocent persons as possible...all the while salivating at the glossy-eyed, delusional thought that such unprofessional behavior will somehow bring him recognition and money.

Not so.

There are professional journalists, and there are "dirty" journalists. David Neiwert, and his counterparts in the Southern Poverty Law Center who cooperated with him in his propaganda efforts, are dirty journalists. The veracity of their writings should be accorded the appropriate skepticism due a propaganda mill.

Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project
--a multiethnic immigration law enforcement advocacy group--
I'm not going to bother responding to much of this, other than to say I've conversed with Carlucci after his conversation with Gilchrist, and I'm quite certain Gilchrist is lying through his teeth about Mike's views of my reportage. But that should not surprise anyone here.

If Gilchrist were so confident that I reported even a single false fact, he and his attorneys would be lining up the libel suit as we speak. But he's not, because I didn't, and therefore he can't. He's stuck, he knows it, and is now relegated to blowing off steam in my general direction. Which bothers me not even the slightest.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another AZ Minuteman's Twisted Character Manifests Itself

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I don't know if any of you caught this little tidbit the other day over at the SPLC's Hatewatch, who got ahold of Minuteman movement cofounder Jim Gilchrist the day after my AlterNet expose on the Minutemen and Shawna Forde was published. It seems that Gilchrist adamantly denies that he had the conversation with Forde that I reported him having regarding her plans to rip off drug dealers:
Reached by Hatewatch yesterday, Gilchrist flatly denied that he had ever talked to Forde about robbing drug dealers and said she was not even in the car on the way to CWU.

“This is bullshit,” Gilchrist said, adding that Forde “was just part of the audience” at the CWU talk. He also said he did not remember Carlucci driving to CWU.
So I guess it comes down to Mike Carlucci's word against Jim Gilchrist's. You probably wouldn't be surprised if I told you that not only does Carlucci have the ability to back up every word, he's only revealed the tip of the iceberg in terms of the depth of the Minutemen's relationship with Forde.

Moreover, it's a Minuteman's word against that of a respected private eye. Considering what we've been learning of late about the fine, upstanding character of the people the nativist border-watch movement attracted -- even beyond Shawna Forde -- that's not a hard choice to make.

First there was Forde. Then there was J.T. Ready, the neo-Nazi border watcher who ended his career by shooting up his girlfriend and her family and then shooting himself.

Now we have Todd Hezlitt, erstwhile companion of Shawna Forde and now a fugitive on the lam with someone's 15-year-old daughter:
You could chalk up some of border militiaman Todd Hezlitt's troubles to bad luck - who knew when he associated with Shawna Forde in 2008 that she would end up killing people the next year and drag his name into the mud?

But his most recent trouble - deputies say the 38-year-old Hezlitt ran away with a 15-year-old girlfriend - seems to be of his own doing.

Hezlitt was arrested in April and accused of two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, a student in the Flowing Wells Unified School District. Then on June 1, the Pima County Sheriff's Department reported that Hezlitt and the girl had both disappeared, apparently together.

He's facing felony charges of sexual conduct with a minor and has violated the terms of his release from jail by contacting the girl, causing an arrest warrant to be issued, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Sgt. Dawn Barkman said.
You can see Hezlitt in this video of Forde's border-watch operation, taken by a Norwegian film crew in 2008. Hezlitt is the guy emerging from the tent at about the 1:45 mark and strapping on body armor:

As Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star observed:
There are other, more borderline cases of criminality, bad acts, or overt racism associated with people connected to this border movement. Jeffrey Harbin, for example, was convicted this year of making improvised explosive devices for use on the border, but I've not been able to find evidence he actually participated in border patrols. And of course, the inspiration for the citizen-border-patrol movement, Roger Barnett, was successfully sued for kidnapping and allegedly striking illegal immigrants.

In any case, this list is long and could be longer, but I think it explains why the citizen border patrollers continue to be viewed in the news media and some parts of the public with skepticism.

It's Morning In Post-Racial America, People! Geez!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Don't you just love living in post-racial America? You know, that country where, according to our conservative and centrist friends, all the racial, ethnic and religious divisions of the past have been buried in the avalanche of the election of our first African-American president?

I'm sure these folks down in Mississippi just love it:
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (WLBT) - It was to be their big day, but a Jackson couple says the church where they were planning to wed turned them away because of race.

Now, the couple wants answers, and the church's pastor is questioning the mindset of some of members of his congregation who caused the problem in the first place.

They had set the date and printed and mailed out all the invitations, but the day before wedding bells were to ring for Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson, they say they got some bad news from the pastor.

"The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church," said Charles Wilson.

The Wilsons were trying to get married at the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs -- a church they attend regularly, but are not members of.

"He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple," said Te'Andrea Wilson. "I didn't like it at all, because I wasn't brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody."
You may say, "Aw, that's the South." But how about these innocent Jewish kids in Pennsylvania?
Five people face charges for allegedly terrorizing a Jewish summer camp in Pennsylvania.

In three separate episodes earlier this month, three adults and two juveniles caused property damage as they sped dangerously through Camp Bonim in Wayne County in a pickup truck, shouting anti-Semitic epithets and firing paintball guns at campers and staff, District Attorney Janine Edwards said in a press release. The three adults were arrested Wednesday morning and face felony and misdemeanor charges, including ethnic intimidation, terroristic threats and assault.

"These children were terrorized and in fear for their lives by the actions of this group," Edwards said in the release. "The vicious, cruel and obscene nature of the language hurled at the campers is unspeakable. Luckily none of the children suffered any serious physical injury, however, the emotional damage is immeasurable."

A judge arraigned Tyler Spencer, an 18-year-old from Linden, Tenn., and set his bail at $200,000. Spencer is accused of attempting to hit campers as he drove the Ford-350 pickup truck carrying the group. Spencer's alleged accomplices, Mark Trail, 21, and Cassandra Robertson, 18, both of Wayne County, were held on $20,000 bail. A 17-year-old and a 16-year-old face juvenile court cases.

In the first episode on July 14, Spencer told police that he drove in circles at a high speed to damage several fields on the Bonim campus, according to a police affidavit obtained by ABC News. When he returned with the same group of passengers the next day, Spencer said they ripped the camp's mailbox out of the ground before driving into the camp.

Police said Mark Trail then yelled racial slurs such as "You f***ing Jews go back where you came from" and "I'm gonna kill you, you f***ing Jews." During that episode, 18-year-old camper Alan Rosen was struck in the leg by a shot from a paintball gun while walking near the camp's synagogue, according to the affidavit, filed by Pennsylvania State Trooper John Decker.
And hey, let's not forget: Now that our post-racial president has also blessed gay marriage, we have also buried all that old anti-gay bigotry of the past. Why, no one believes that stuff anymore, do they?

Let's ask this woman in Omaha, Nebraska:
Raymond Strozier heard sirens outside his house early Sunday and looked outside to see his neighbor bleeding in the street, the victim of a reported hate crime in which her attackers carved anti-gay slurs into her skin and tried to light her house on fire.

Strozier said he ran to her just before paramedics pulled her away.

“She had blood streaming down her body,” he said. “She was crying. She was shaking. She was terrified.”

The 33-year-old woman said she was attacked early Sunday by three masked men who barged into her house, bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties and cut her all over her body before dumping gasoline on her floor and lighting it with a match, said a friend who spoke to the Journal Star.

The victim’s friend said the woman crawled from her house, naked and bleeding and screaming for help, before reaching the doorstep of a neighbor's home.

The woman told police three masked men came in but gave no further description, Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood said. Investigators have no suspects.
Right-wingers like to accuse people who work to address systemic and institutionalized bigotry of just dwelling in the past, because "racism is a dead letter," dontcha know, and there's nothing particularly "right wing" about racism or ethnic or religious or sexual bias, dontcha know.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Extremists' Demise: Minutemen, Neo-Nazis Down In Flames

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[Above: Sebastien Wielemans' superb documentary on Shawna Forde, A Cycle of Fences.]

As many of you know, I've spent the past couple of years immersing myself in the saga of Brisenia Flores, Shawna Forde, and the Minutemen, largely with the help of the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute. The end result will be my sixth book, The Last Minutemen, which is due out from NationBooks in April 2013.

I also put together an investigative piece on the demise of the Minutemen and Forde's role in that, which will be included in the book. AlterNet has it, and as you can see, it really is just a preview:
How the Brutal Murders of a Little Girl and Her Father Doomed the Xenophobic Minuteman Movement
I expect the most interesting revelations will involve the conversations that various Minutemen leaders -- who all ran as fast and far away from Shawna Forde as they could, after she was arrested -- had with Forde over the years:
Not only did both Simcox and Gilchrist have extensive dealings with Forde over the years, both repeatedly courted her work and her organization. Simcox didn’t chase Forde out of the MCDC: he begged Forde not to leave his fold. In the case of Gilchrist, one witness to the conversation says that, in 2008, he and Forde discussed her plan to finance the movement by ripping off drug dealers — and that he was enthusiastic about it. Forde not only was fully empowered by Minuteman movement leadership, she was enacting a violent scheme with what she believed was their tacit approval.

And while you're at it, go read Mark Potok's powerful piece on the demise of the National Alliance over at The Intelligence Report:
Ten years after founder's death, key neo-Nazi movement 'a joke'

Ten years ago, the Alliance had 1,400 carefully selected and clean-cut members, a paid national staff of 17, and great respect in radical-right circles in America and abroad. Its publications, including a newsletter and a journal, set the standard on the extreme right, and its leaders regularly met with their counterparts in Europe. In Florida, it bought radio time and billboard ads. Between dues and income from its white-power music label, it was bringing in almost $1 million a year.

Today, the National Alliance is widely viewed as a joke.
Go read it all.

And yes: The good news is that both of these extremist organizations have completely fallen apart.

The bad news is that, like zombies and vampires, they just keep coming back from the dead, usually in mutated forms like the Tea Party.