Friday, June 17, 2005
- This man is simply a piece of excrement, a piece of waste that needs to be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated.
-- KVI's John Carlson, discussing Sen. Dick Durbin, on his Seattle-based talk show Thursday
The right is in full froth over Sen. Dick Durbin's remarks comparing the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to the way other regimes -- including the Nazis, the Soviets, Pol Pot, and other dictators -- treated their prisoners.
The frenzy is reaching ugly proportions very rapidly. And don't think for a minute that they'll stop with Durbin.
Spin and distortion are, as always, playing a critical role in the brouhaha. The key is that conservatives are deliberately misrepresenting what Durbin said, and twisting his words into a campaign to paint liberals as treasonous vermin worthy of extermination.
Here are those words:
- When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
"On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
It's quite clear, especially in full context, what Durbin was saying: That torturers who violate basic human rights and standards of decency are the antithesis of everything this country, at its best, is supposed to stand for; it is the domain of history's most horrid monsters.
But that's not how the right is describing it. According to them, Durbin was claiming that all our soldiers are Nazis. Perhaps typical of this was the nakedly false Washington Times headline, "Gitmo called death camp."
The leading torchbearer in this particular twilight parade is, unsurprisingly, Rush Limbaugh, who on his show today ran a snippet of Durbin's remarks -- omitting the first two sentences of the FBI agent's remarks, a patently dishonest edit that masked the clear abuse of the prisoner described therein. He also sneered at Durbin's fairly clear defense of his remarks by insisting that Durbin had compared Gitmo to death camps.
But more important was his larger thrust:
- Dick Durbin has just identified who the Democrats are in the year 2005, particularly when it comes to American national security and when it comes to the US military. These are the same people they say they support the troops. This is how they do it, huh? They give aid and comfort to the enemy. They make it possible for Mullah Omar and bin Laden, whoever else is out there still alive, to laugh themselves silly at us. Mogadishu all over. Remember what bin Laden said after we cut and run out of Mogadishu? "That's when I knew the US was a paper tiger, that's when I knew they didn't have the guts, that's when I knew they couldn't take casualties," and that's what fueled his planning for 9/11. He has said so. So, bammo! Here you go, Dick Durbin. Thanks once again for telling our enemies just what a bunch of soft patty cakes we are and how we'll back away from our own treatment of people much less back away from dishing it out to people like our enemies.
Ah yes, the long-festering "treasonous Democrats" meme, which has been bubbling along steadily ever since Sept. 11.
Of course, the rest of the conservative chorus, particularly in the blogosphere, immediately chimed in. These ranged from Michelle Malkin, who called the remarks "treachery," to PowerLine's Paul Mirengoff calls it a "big lie" that "slanders his own country. Normally that kind of slander is uttered only by revolutionaries seeking the violent overthrow of the government. Yet Durbin purports to be part of a loyal opposition."
And, of course, it was all over talk radio too. Following the Oxycon Artist's lead, it was the leading topic on nearly every right-wing show I tuned in to today. Michael Savage, as always, was particularly vicious.
But I was a little stunned to hear nearly the same kind of talk emanating from none other than KVI's John Carlson, who certainly has shown no compunction in embracing the right-wing talking point du jour in the past, but has always maintained at least a facade of civility and rationality. He was, after all, the GOP nominee for governor in Washington state in 2000 (he lost handily). I've been on John's show, some years ago, and thought he was a model of thoughtful conservatism.
Today, he took all of the conservative talking points that had been bubbling up through folks like Limbaugh and Malkin and Powerline -- liberals hate the military, liberals hate America, they'd love to see us lose just to spite Bush, they're worthless scum -- and boiled them down into a few moments of unadulterated eliminationism. He described Durbin not merely as vermin or disease (a typical eliminationist mode) but as outright waste -- to be, explicitly, eliminated.
Taken in combination with Limbaugh's insistence that Durbin was perfectly representative of mainstream liberalism, the inference from Carlson's assertion becomes even more disturbing: Are liberals mere excrement too, fit only for scraping from the walkways?
You could tell that Carlson was teeing off of the points raised by others, particularly Limbaugh, by repeating Limbaugh's claim that the push to shut down Gitmo originated with the since-discredited Newsweek story about Koran abuse there. Here's how Limbaugh described it (and Carlson nearly perfectly reiterated):
- Look at what one erroneous story from Newsweek has led us to. One error in Newsweek about what they were supposedly doing to the Koran is what's led us to this, close down G'itmo.
Limbaugh proceeded to engage in a bit of projection: "This is precisely how the left-wing propaganda mill works."
This characterization of the Gitmo stories and concern about what's been occurring there is similar to the right-wing tactic with the story surrounding Bush's military records: Create a media "scandal" over an apparent journalistic failure that kills the underlying story, and thereafter treat any discussion of that underlying story as having been dismissed along with the "scandal."
In reality, of course, much of the discussion about Gitmo was fueled by a number of other reports, most famously the Amnesty International report that compared Guantanamo to the Soviet gulag.
The concerns about American interrogation practices have been on the front burner for many human-rights groups since even before the revelations of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, including reports that arose immediately after the invasion of Afghanistan. As I remarked when Abu Ghraib became public knowledge, there is considerable evidence that the problems are systemic and may indeed originate at the highest echelons of the Bush administration.
Back when the Afghanistan deaths were reported, I ran a letter from Joan Kirkpatrick, the renowned (and, sadly, late) international-law expert who was early in the forefront in decrying the Bush administration's interrogation practices. It contained, I think, the definitive response to all those, like Limbaugh, who dismiss torture as mere fraternity pranks or a matter of mere discomfort for the prisoners:
- These practices also violate human rights treaties to which the United States is a party, specifically the prohibitions on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The United States may not transfer Al Qaeda suspects to other states to facilitate their torture; that too is a violation. Moreover, there is no state on earth "that does not have legal restrictions against torture" ("Questioning of Accused Expected to Be Human, Legal and Aggressive", March 4, 2003, A13). The prohibition on torture is a peremptory norm of customary international law binding on all nations. The torturer is the enemy of all mankind.
Dick Durbin was right. The practices at Gitmo, as well as everywhere else in the American "war on terror" detention system, as Amnesty International is insisting, need to be shut down and investigated, precisely because the torture techniques that Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin are so quick to defend are practiced only by inhuman monsters: Nazis, Stalinists, tinpot dictators. In defending them, they only reveal their own inhumanity, and the depths to which they have fallen.
They constantly refer to the events of Sept. 11, or the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime, as justification. But the comparative standard for our behavior is not Saddam. Monstrous acts do not justify further monstrousness. And it is no victory for America if, along the way, we lose our soul -- as does any person, let alone nation, who condones torture.
This is why their attacks on Durbin are so vicious. They are so intent on taking America with them over the cliff and into this moral abyss that they will destroy anyone who dares remind them of their own moral vacuousness. Not only do they intend to silence dissenters, they intend to eliminate them. John Carlson, in the end, was only giving final voice to the entire thrust of the "Durbin scandal."
Radio Free Orcinus
Thursday, June 16, 2005
I'm going to be interviewed tomorrow by Richard Estes, host of Speaking in Tongues, on KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, Calif. The interview is scheduled to be aired from 5 to 6 p.m. PDT.
We'll be discussing my new book, Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community. I gather, from our pre-interview conversations, that we'll also bring in some of the subjects discussed on this blog.
If you click on the KDVS link above, you'll be able to listen to it live on the Web. KDVS archives its shows, so I hope to provide a link afterward to the interview.
Also coming up: A discussion of hate crimes with Michael Medved on his radio show Tuesday at 1 p.m. PDT. I'll have more on that this weekend.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
[An unsigned painting, originating in Kansas, from the 1920s.]
Those three burned crosses in North Carolina of a couple weeks ago sure got everyone stirred up. Including, it seems, the Ku Klux Klan:
- The national director of the Ku Klux Klan on Tuesday denied any involvement in the recent burning of crosses in Durham and offered to add to the reward fund for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
"Anybody with a copy machine or a computer can make a flier and incriminate the Klan," said Thomas Robb during a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. "I'm confident that is what they will find this time."
Heaven forfend that anyone should suspect the Klan of burning crosses, for goodness's sake. When have they ever done anything like that?
And they're, you know, just folks, too:
- In a news release faxed Tuesday to The Herald-Sun, Rachel Pendergraft, the Klan's membership coordinator, said she was concerned that fliers left behind at one of the sites attributed the acts to the Klan.
"Our members are busy raising families, taking part in the business community and volunteering for community programs," Pendergraft said in the release. "Your child's teacher may be a member or perhaps your den's Girl Scout leader is a member.
"I also find it strange that no one would see a group of white people in mostly black areas carrying and mounting 7-foot-tall crosses," the statement says.
But then, as the editors of the Herald-Sun adroitly noted, "wouldn't a group of people of any race seem out of place anywhere if they were carrying and mounting 7-foot crosses?"
It's a typical lame Klan maneuver to try to blame black "agitators" for acts committed by their own members -- or at least their sympathizers. But it may not have been one of Robb's followers, and it still might have been a Klansman. Remember, there are about 110 different Klan organizations (or Klaverns) and four well-known "national" organizations (Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Kamelia and the Imperial Klans of America) as well as some lesser groups that aspire to those heights. Finally, there are many thousands of people who probably subscribe to white-supremacist beliefs but do not belong to any organization, and when these folks act, they show no hesitation in adopting traditional racist symbology and rhetoric.
Now, there are indeed false reports of racist violence that turn out to be a hoax or wrong conclusion. But endemic to the hoax cases is a general half-heartedness on the part of perpetrators; the pattern and spread of these burnings suggests a far more serious intent.
However, as with some of these other cases (notably the Lefkow murders), the reaction of the extremist right to the reportage of these incidents is in some ways more noteworthy than the originating incident. And the indignation of these good, upstanding Klan members is worth more than a mere chortle.
Remember, if you will, that at one time the Klan was widely perceived as exactly the kind of good, upstanding Americans and neighbors that Mrs. Pendergraft described it as being even today. The rider in the Klan painting at the top of this post was meant to be seen as heroic, not nightmarish.
The Klan wasn't just a popular civic organization that existed in all 48 states. It was a real political power.
As the Wikipedia entry on the Klan explains:
- The second Ku Klux Klan rose to great prominence and spread from the South into the Midwest and Northern states and even into Canada. At its peak, most of the membership resided in Midwestern states. Through sympathetic elected officials, the KKK controlled the governments of Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Oregon in addition to those of the Southern Democratic legislatures. It even claimed to have inducted Republican President Warren Harding at the White House. Klan delegates played a significant role at the 1924 Democratic National Convention in New York City, often called the "Klanbake Convention" as a result. The convention initially pitted Klan-backed candidate William McAdoo against New York Governor Al Smith, who drew the opposition of the group because of his Catholic faith. After days of stalemates and rioting, both candidates withdrew in favor of a compromise. Klan delegates defeated a Democratic Party platform plank that would have condemned their organization. On July 4, 1924 thousands of Klansmen converged on a nearby field in New Jersey where they participated in cross burnings, burned effigies of Smith, and celebrated their defeat of the platform plank.
You can read more about the Klan's brief reign in the 1920s here.
And yes, they had a fairly substantial female contingent, mostly a kind of ladies' auxiliary. Here's a shot of them marching on the Capitol (along with thousands of regular Klansmen) in 1928:
The Klan and its members have always seen themselves as the red-blooded proponents of "100 percent Americanism." That's why they've been working so hard at mainstreaming themselves. They see the post-9/11 environment as a ripe one for their agenda -- and, given the success of right-wing extremists like the Minutemen, they seem to be right so far.
Failing in the present
Monday, June 13, 2005
There are hollow gestures, and then there are appallingly hollow gestures that only highlight the grotesque incompetence of our nation's political leadership.
Today the Senate managed the latter, when it voted to apologize for its manifest failure in never having passed an anti-lynching bill.
Having done so, the question immediately becomes: Just when do you think you'll get around to passing one?
The gesture, such as it is, is actually rather laudable. Indeed, I've noted many times that the demise of an anti-lynching law, in the eyes of history, is one of the more notable moral failures on the part of Congress; it's abundantly clear now that this failure was a horrendous misjudgment. As the story noted, during the height of the "Lynching Era," several thousand black men were summarily murdered, often with outright official sanction:
- During that time, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress, and three passed the House. Seven presidents between 1890 and 1952 petitioned Congress to pass a federal law.
But the Senate, with Southern conservatives wielding their filibuster powers, refused to act. With the enactment of civil rights laws in the 1960s and changes in national attitudes, the issue faded away.
The story goes on to explain what motivated this outburst of civic-mindedness, other than recent Republican agitation denouncing the filibuster as the root of evil itself (and rest assured that the next time the filibuster is on the line, this resolution will get trotted out by the GOP):
- The sponsors of the resolution, Landrieu and George Allen, R-Va., said they were motivated in part by a recent book, Without Sanctuary, Lynching Photography in America, in which author James Allen collected lynch pictures, mostly taken by those participating in the killings.
"More than a half-century ago, mere feet from where we sit ... the Senate failed you and your ancestors and our nation," Landrieu told descendants at a lunch in the Capitol.
... The nonbinding resolution apologizes to the victims for the Senate's failure to act and "expresses the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States."
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said President Bush talked about slavery and the travails of American democracy in a meeting Monday with five African leaders.
The Senate, McClellan said, "has taken a step that they feel they need to take, given their own past inaction on what were great injustices."
Gosh, it almost makes your heart swell with civic pride to read such uplifting thoughts.
At least, until you realize that these same Republicans just last October managed to kill, yet again, the most recent iteration in the ongoing effort to pass a genuine federal hate-crime statute.
Hate crimes, it should be clear, are the direct descendants of lynching. Lynching always was about "keeping the niggers down": its purpose was to enforce official and unofficial racial segregation, to terrorize minorities into abject subjugation. Even as lynching -- which in its heyday was a mass community celebration involving thousands of upstanding citizens -- became increasingly stigmatized and the practice relegated to smaller handfuls of extremists, the objects of this kind of hatred have grown in number, now including not just blacks and Jews but Asians, Muslims, and gays and lesbians. But the purpose of the crimes -- whether mere cross burnings or horrendous murders -- has always been to terrorize minority communities into subjugation and, ultimately, elimination.
Congress never passed an anti-lynching law. The closest thing to it on the books can be found in the criminal provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which largely limit federal investigations to cases involving violations of federal laws or crimes occurring on federal property.
To date, there are no federal hate-crimes laws on the books that either have any teeth or are otherwise ever used by federal prosecutors. There was the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which ordered the FBI to keep track of hate crimes in order for law enforcement to get a better handle on the phenomenon. The Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancement Act passed in 1994 at first glance appeared to be an effort to finally create a real federal anti-hate-crime law. But HCSEA was notable as well for the shortness of its scope; the law, contingent as it was on existing federal law, only considered violent crimes committed on federal property or in the pursuit of a federal activity (such as voting in an election) as potential hate crimes. As such, it continues to be only rarely prosecuted.
There have since been two serious efforts to pass a federal hate-crime law: The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act. Both passed the Senate. Both were killed -- the LLEEA twice now -- by Republican House leaders through backroom maneuvers. The most recent demise of the LLEEA, last October in the midst of the election (when it was rather nakedly killed so that it didn't have to cross Bush's desk), went completely unnoticed by both the press and by progressives in general.
I'd like to repeat some of the observations I made back in October when the bill was killed:
- This was a bill that had been approved overwhelmingly by the Senate in June by a 65-33 vote. The House itself passed a resolution 213-186 instructing the House leaders -- namely, Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert -- to pass the bill through the House Conference Committee.
They ignored it, and last week stripped it out of the Defense Appropriations Bill to which it had been attached, effectively killing it.
This is now the third time DeLay and Co. have pulled this stunt and gotten away with it. They used precisely the same tactic to kill the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 1999, and to kill its successor, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, in 2000.
As the Human Rights Campaign explained in its press release:
- The measure enjoys strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and many others.
That didn't matter. What mattered to Republicans was the freedom to bash gays.
Oh, we know they hide behind phony and nonsensical arguments like "all crimes are hate crimes" and "these laws create thought crimes." But let's get real about what's really happening here: These laws are not being passed because the Republican leadership -- including George W. Bush -- is determined not to allow any improvement in the laws for gays and lesbians.
The reality is that Republicans have established credibility with their base -- especially fundamentalist Christians -- by making emotional appeals to their "values"; this is, as many observers have noted, an essential element of their ability to persuade working-class people to vote for an agenda clearly at odds with their own self-interest. And, after abortion, attacking the "homosexual agenda" is easily the most prominent and flagrant of these "values."
Republicans also like to talk about the need to live up to the consequences of their actions. And one of the real consequences of the House's refusal to pass this legislation is that more hate crimes will occur.
Here's a reality check for Republicans:
-- We know, from FBI statistics, there are at least 8-9,000 hate crimes committed in this country every year.
-- We also know, however, from Justice Department studies, that these statistics are horribly unreliable because hate crimes are egregiously underreported every year.
-- The magnitude of the underreporting is substantial. The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that the number of hate crimes in this country annually approaches closer to 40,000. That means roughly 30,000 hate crimes are going uninvestigated and unprosecuted every year.
-- What all of this underscores is the fact that, even though we passed a law in 1989 ordering the collection of hate-crime data, we still don't have firm handle on the scope and depth of the hate-crime problem nationally. And we won't until law enforcement at all levels -- particularly on the local level -- are adequately trained at identifying and investigating hate crimes.
-- The LLEA's main provisions, as its name suggests, are devoted to enhancing the ability of local police and prosecutors to obtain training in hate crimes.
-- However, it also expanded the federal categories of hate crimes to include a bias against gays and lesbians. For that reason alone, it was killed by the House leadership despite its broad support.
The end result: Tens of thousands of hate crimes that go unreported and uninvestigated, and no end in sight. This problem is especially acute among gays and lesbians, most particularly in rural areas, where their quite reasonable fears of being outed often prevent them from even reporting such crimes. And of course, those same rural areas are nearly uniformly Republican; the coalescence of attitudes with top-down political leadership is hardly accidental.
In other words, Republicans' actions directly make lives more miserable for gays and lesbians and their families, all of whom have to deal with the trauma and tragedy that inevitably results from the violence and intimidation that is the essence of hate crimes.
Likewise, those pious Republicans who now look to the sky and wish the Senate had passed an anti-lynching law all those years ago would make a much more meaningful gesture in that regard by resurrecting the LLEEA, passing it out of the Senate and House, and sending it along to President Bush for his signature.
But then, as Shrek puts it: "Yeah, right, like that's ever gonna happen!"
Minutemen: Not welcome
At least one authority has decided to say no to the Minutemen. Sure, it may just be a Native American tribe -- but it's a start.
According to the Yuma Sun report by Jeffrey Gautreaux, a group of militiamen tried bullying their way onto the Cocopah Indian Reservation, which is bordered by the U.S.-Mexico line, last week and were turned away:
- The Yuma Patriots were turned back by the Cocopah Tribal Police as they were trying to begin their patrols Wednesday night. The border watch group said it would be back and planned to call in more help.
The Patriots ran into a blockade of vehicles when they attempted to get onto the Levee Road at County 14th Street at about 6:45 p.m. They were told they were on reservation land and were not allowed. The patrol area was scheduled to be the Levee Road from County 14th Street to County 18th Street.
CTP officers went down the line of Patriots' vehicles and told each one to turn around.
After about 15 minutes of discussion, the Patriots left and drove over to the Levee Road on County 10th Street, off of reservation land. The group stayed there until about 8:30 p.m. and then returned to Yuma.
During the discussions at County 14th Street, the CTP officers simply told the Patriots that "the levee was closed" and that "they had already entered Cocopah Indian Reservation and they should turn around."
There were no threats of arrest made by Cocopah officers. There was discussion that at times came close to heated.
One Patriot repeatedly asked for the probable cause for what CTP was doing. An officer who identified himself only as Sgt. Wessels said, "The levee is shut down. You can deal with the tribal administrator (today) during business hours. I'm not going to debate this with you."
When asked a question by The Sun, Wessels said he had no comment. He said that all questions should go to the tribal administrator today.
Patriots founder Flash Sharrar of Yuma said the Patriots plan to be out patrolling -- on the Cocopah Indian Reservation -- Saturday morning, starting at 4:30 a.m. He also said he planned to call for reinforcements.
"I'm going to call my buddies at the Minuteman Project and let them come down and help us," Sharrar said.
That sounds like a real recipe for ugliness. But keep in mind that these fellows are mostly experts at producing large volumes of hot air.
Sure enough, the Patriots showed up on Saturday, according to the Sun's followup report, and managed to make it appear as though the tribe had backed down and was supporting them:
- The Yuma Patriots carried out a planned patrol of the levee near the Cocopah Indian Reservation on Saturday morning without interference from the tribe.
According to Patriots organizer Flash Sharrar, a group of at least 14 volunteers went to the levee at 4:30 a.m. Saturday for about three hours and had no trouble getting onto reservation land.
"(We went) exactly where I told the Border Patrol we would go, between (County) 8 and 12 (streets)," Sharrar said.
During the three-hour period, the Patriots observed a group of five illegal immigrants, four males and one female, and called the U.S. Border Patrol, who arrived at the scene and took the illegals into custody.
"I would like to thank the Cocopah Indian Tribe for the wonderful job they did securing the Cocopah Nation and assisting the Yuma Patriots and the U.S. Border Patrol in securing the other end of the levee," Sharrar said, adding that Cocopah Police patrolled one section of the levee while the Patriots watched another. "They did a fantastic job this morning."
Actually, that's a little bit of Patriot-style spin -- which is to say, it turns reality on its head.
In fact, the tribe did not back down, and remains adamant that the border watchers do their thing on someone else's land.
I contacted the Cocopah tribal administrator on Monday, and he patiently explained that the update was "not entirely factual", adding that the tribe would be issuing its own correction soon.
"What happened is that our land starts at County 12 1/2 and goes to County 18," the administrator said. "They patrolled from County 12 back to County 8."
In other words, if any tribal police were securing the levee, it was against any incursions by the Patriots. And the Patriots may have been patrolling in the area, but it wasn't on tribal land.
The tribe remains opposed to Patriot patrols on their land, and that policy will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, the administrator said.
Of course, the irony of all this no doubt eludes the Patriots: While protesting the border crossings by illegal immigrants into U.S. territory, they're threatening to cross reservation borders, come onto tribal lands unauthorized, without permits, without the proper protocol, and refusing to respect the tribe's decision to exclude their patrols.
But then, grotesque hypocrisy tends to be their strong suit anway.
Kookoo for Cocoa Puffs
Sunday, June 12, 2005
One of the more fortunate generic personality traits of right-wing extremists is that they are all so ego-driven, power-hungry, and insecure that eventually, they turn on each other. Far-right movements are most noteworthy, I think, for their constant fracturing, largely because of the fractious nature of the people who join them and lead them.
The same is true of the Minutemen, whose rising acceptance in the mainstream is a real cause for concern, as I've been saying. This fact was underscored by Brock Meeks' appallingly thin coverage for MSNBC, which seemed to view this increased influence rather approvingly.
But, as Meeks' report suggests, the Minutemen are looking like they may come apart because of internal squabbling. A recent Associated Press report provides more detail on this:
- The groups' leaders accused each other during interviews Friday of being aggressive and extreme in their desire to stop illegal immigration.
Clifford Alford, leader of a group called the New Mexico Minutemen, claims that members of the Minuteman Project -- a group that drew international attention in April when volunteers showed up in Arizona to patrol the border -- like to run around in paramilitary uniforms and carry assault weapons.
"They really don't give a rip about anyone's civil rights," he said. "We want our effort to be more humanitarian."
Mike Gaddy, who is leading the Minuteman Project in New Mexico, said Alford wasn't part of the group's monitoring project in Arizona.
"Alford hasn't been a Minuteman for a minute," Gaddy said. "He is part of a renegade organization that has absolutely nothing to do with the Minutemen whatsoever."
Alford was appointed to his new post last week by James Chase, a California man and a member of the Minuteman Project who was ousted from the group because leaders accused him of behaving like Rambo.
Chase, on the other hand, said he's a Minuteman in good standing who helped the group plan patrol tactics in Arizona. He said the schism started because he and a leader in Arizona disagreed on the firing of certain volunteers and the group's use of fundraising to pay salaries.
Ah, but that's really just the start. Right-wing extremists also have a track record of gallivanting off into conspiracy-land, thereby revealing themselves as the addled crackpots that they really are.
See, for instance, the latest campaign a-brewing at Chris Simcox's Minuteman Project site, something titled "Operation Spotlight":
- THE MINUTEMAN PROJECT "OPERATION SPOTLIGHT" IS ASSEMBLING A NETWORK OF FORMER AND RETIRED SPECIALISTS FROM THE AMERICAN JUDICIARY SYSTEM FOR THE PURPOSE OF LEGALLY PROVIDING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE RELATIVE TO DELIBERATE VIOLATIONS OF STATE OR FEDERAL IMMIGRATION, TAX OR EMPLOYMENT LAWS.
Wow! That sounds really interesting, you think. So what exactly are they talking about. Well, scroll down, dear reader:
- OPERATION SPOTLIGHT
THE MINUTEMAN PROJECT IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD VOLUNTEERS FROM THE FOLLOWING VOCATIONS:
PROSECUTING ATTORNEYS (OR JUDGES)
RETIRED OR FORMER MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY FROM ANY LEGAL DISCIPLINE, ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH SUBSTANTIAL PROSECUTORIAL EXPERIENCE IN:
-- IMMIGRATION LAW
-- TAX EVASION
-- CIVIL RIGHTS*
RETIRED OR FORMER INVESTIGATORS WITH SUBSTANTIAL EXPERIENCE IN THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIVISIONS OF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING, OR SIMILAR, AGENCIES:
-- BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE)
-- UNITED STATES TREASURY - INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS)
-- ATTORNEY GENERAL
INFORMANTS ARE WANTED WHO HAVE LEGALLY OBTAINED PRECISE INFORMATION LEADING TO THE INDICTMENT, ARREST AND CONVICTION OF ANY PERSON OR BUSINESS ENGAGED IN THE ILLEGAL ALIEN SLAVE LABOR TRADE, INCLUDING THE SMUGGLING, HARBORING, OR HIRING OF ILLEGAL ALIENS, OR THE EVASION OF EMPLOYMENT TAXES OR REQUIRED WORKER'S COMP INSURANCE ON SUCH EMPLOYEES.
ALSO, THE PROJECT IS INTERESTED IN INFORMATION CONCERNING FRAUD COMMITTED BY ELECTED OR APPOINTED PUBLIC OFFICIALS, OR THEIR EMPLOYEES.
-- VOTER FRAUD
-- FRAUDULENT QUALIFICATION FOR ANY TYPE OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE
-- IDENTIFICATION FRAUD (DRIVER'S LICENSE, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, ETC.)
SEEK CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS AND CIVIL PENALTIES UNDER EXISTING FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS AGAINST:
--- EMPLOYERS (OR THEIR AGENTS) WHO HAVE WILLFULLY EXPLOITED THE ILLEGAL ALIEN SLAVE LABOR MARKET IN VIOLATION OF LONG-STANDING IMMIGRATION, TAX AND LABOR LAWS.
--- OPERATORS OF SO-CALLED "SAFE HOUSES" WHO HARBOR ILLEGAL ALIENS SMUGGLED INTO THE UNITED STATES.
--- PERSONS CONDUCTING ILLEGAL HUMAN SMUGGLING OPERATIONS, ESPECIALLY THE SMUGGLING OF CHILDREN FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION.
--- PERSONS ENGAGED IN DOCUMENT FRAUD RELATIVE TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.
THE WEB OF VOLUNTEER ATTORNEYS AND INVESTIGATORS WILL COMPILE AND REVIEW EVIDENCE LEGALLY PROVIDED BY RELIABLE INFORMANTS AND DETERMINE THE LIKLIHOOD OF SUCH EVIDENCE RESULTING IN CONVICTIONS OF VIOLATORS UNDER EXISTING STATUTES. THAT INFORMATION WILL BE PRESENTED TO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY CHARGED WITH THE INDICTMENT, ARREST AND/OR PROSECUTION FOR SUCH CRIMES.
TARGET VIOLATORS AND GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS
ANY VIOLATOR IN ANY OF THE 50 UNITED STATES.
THE MMProject "OPERATION SPOTLIGHT" IS AN EXPERIMENT IN VOLUNTEERISM AND, LIKE THE ORIGINAL MINUTEMAN PROJECT OF APRIL 2005, CURRENTLY OFFERS NO SUBSIDIES OR COMPENSATION FOR PARTICIPANTS.
THE TASKS AT HAND ARE NOT FOR THE MEEK, THE WEAK, OR THE SELFISH OPPORTUNIST. IT WILL TAKE PATIENCE, STOIC DETERMINATION, INTEGRITY, AN UNDYING SPIRIT FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE…AND A FIRM BELIEF THAT THE CORNERSTONE OF THIS GREAT NATION, THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, IS THE LODESTAR TO A POSITIVE AND RESPECTABLE RESOLUTION TO THE ILLS OF A NATION VEERING TOWARD LAWLESSNESS, SOCIAL MAYHEM, AND A SHRINKING MIDDLE ECONOMIC CLASS.
Note how this campaign folds a couple of mainstream conservative memes -- attacking the judiciary and "voter fraud" concerns -- into a quasi-conspiratorial "investigation". Just who might those elected officials be who are falling under the sway of these slave-labor smugglers?
Anyway, this strikes me as yet another iteration of the classic Weekly Militia Crusade. During the heyday of Militia of Montana, founder John Trochmann ceaselessly would find a fresh new route for uncovering the New World Order -- each week, it seemed -- and announce it to his easily led flock. It was a good way to keep the interest up and the money flowing. Which I assume is what Simcox is doing here as well.
Just try not to notice the way those eyeballs rattle around in his skull.