Cops and immigrants
Friday, September 09, 2005
Even though the Bush administration has put on a brave face with its attempts to court the Hispanic vote with a "moderate" immigration policy, it's becoming increasingly clear that the paleo-conservative faction (aka Tom Tancredo's gang) is driving the whole immigration agenda for the Republicans in power.
This was made clear this week when an ACLU lawsuit finally produced a memo that the Bush administration appears to be relying on in its enforcement policies. As the ACLU release puts it:
- The Department had repeatedly invoked the memo to justify a radical shift in immigration enforcement policy that has generated considerable controversy among state and local police, immigrant advocates, and others, but refused to release it until ordered to by a federal Court of Appeals.
That shift, in essence, puts the burden of enforcing federal immigration laws on local and state police and law enforcement officials -- a stark shift that is bound to generate a world of problems for everyone involved.
It's the Bush version of trickle-down theory: Cut back on federal responsibilities so that the burden of necessities falls upon local and state entities. We've seen it everywhere, particularly in the areas of traditional social safety nets, but also in other areas of law enforcement. In other words, an unfunded mandate created through the back door.
As the ACLU explains:
- The federal government's longstanding policy used to be that state and local police should not, and legally could not (absent special circumstances), attempt to enforce the non-criminal provisions of the immigration laws. Suddenly, in 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the federal government was now asking state and local police to make certain civil immigration arrests. He pointed to a new Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo as legal justification.
Ashcroft's announcement caused immediate alarm in many quarters. Immigrant advocates and many law enforcement officials believe that state and local police should not engage in immigration enforcement because immigrants will be afraid to report crime or interact with the police. Further, immigration enforcement will take police resources away from important public-safety missions; state and local police, who lack specialized training, will fail to properly evaluate whether individuals are in compliance with the highly technical immigration laws, and increased racial profiling, discrimination and costly litigation will result.
Moreover, it appears that the Justice Department -- evidently continuing Ashcroft's policy under Alberto Gonzales -- has been justifying this policy on the basis of a Justice Department memo whose contents are, at best, questionable:
- The memo claims that state and local police have the "inherent authority" to enforce all federal laws, including immigration laws. The ACLU says that the legal memo is filled with legal errors and that the opinion by Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General:
-- Selectively reads case law in order to conclude that the federal government has not preempted local authority to enforce complicated, multi-layered immigration law;
-- Misconstrues decisions in cases where police assisted in criminal enforcement to extend them authority to enforce civil laws as well; and
-- Repeatedly ignores instances in which Congress authorized police to assist in immigration enforcement under specific situations, even when the Congressional Record reflects the fact that lawmakers intended such provisions to grant new authority that police did not already possess.
You can read the memo itself here, and a critique of it here. [Both PDF files.]
By way of illustrating the broad ramifications of the policy for law enforcement, consider if you will, its near-certain effect on hate-crime enforcement: That is, it will almost certainly increase the numbers of unreported hate crimes.
This is already a considerable problem, since it's been estimated that only a quarter of all the hate crimes committed in this country are reported, and a substantial portion of those crimes go unprosecuted altogether. These crimes only widen and deepen the nation's racial and cultural divides, as does the massive failure to respond adequately to them.
Part of the problem lies with the system of reportage itself. As I explain in Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America, in Chapter 13:
- Initiated in 1990 with the passage of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, the project [for collecting hate-crime statistics] under the care of the FBI was largely understood in its early years to be nascent and problematic at the outset, for a variety of reasons: many law-enforcement agencies were slow to participate; the initial numbers of hate crimes were likely to be skewed by the sharp increase certain to result from increased awareness of the crimes; and uncertainty and confusion reigned regarding the need to report and how to do it. It was hoped that, given enough time, the reporting system's flaws would self-correct and begin providing a clearer picture of the phenomenon. That was largely what happened. As already noted, by 1996 the wild fluctuations in numbers that occurred early on had largely disappeared, and the statistics began indicating a fairly stable phenomenon indicating about 8,000 bias crimes reported annually, and largely stable percentages of the kinds of the different kinds of hate crimes.
However, what closer examination -- particularly the Department of Justice study [titled "Improving the Quality and Accuracy of Hate Crime Reporting, conducted by the Justice Research and Statistics Association released and coauthored by Northeastern University's Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research] -- revealed was a reporting system that was deeply flawed, with statistics distorted by widespread failures to report the crimes and moreover, confusion about the differences between the absence of a report and the active reporting of zero hate crimes. The DOJ study, which surveyed 2,657 law-enforcement agencies, reported a "major information gap" in the data: It estimated that some 37 percent of the agencies that did not submit reports nevertheless had at least one hate crime. Worse yet, roughly 31 percent of the agencies that reported zero hate crimes did, in fact, have at least one; about 6,000 law-enforcement agencies (or one-third of the total of participants) likely dealt with at least one unreported bias crime. All told, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that the total number of hate crimes committed annually in America is closer to 50,000 than the 8,000 found in statistics.
"The overall numbers are worthless," says hate-crime expert Donald P. Green, a Yale University professor whose work includes debunking the notion that tough economic times increase the likelihood of hate crimes. Green says that bias crimes are especially likely to arise when minorities, for a variety of economic reasons, begin moving into communities that were previously homogeneous (that is, for the most part, predominantly white, such as the Midwestern communities that are currently experiencing a large influx of Hispanics); or when previously oppressed minorities, such as homosexuals, begin asserting themselves in public fashion.
Forcing local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws will immediately create a barrier between them and local immigrant communities, which remain among the most vulnerable to hate crimes. As I explain later in the same chapter:
- Of all the factors that cause law-enforcement officers to fail to identify and investigate bias crimes, the most significant, the DOJ study's authors found, was the gap between the victims and the police. The less trust that exists between minorities and their local law enforcement, the greater the likelihood that hate crimes will go unresolved.
The Filipino family that encountered Chris Kinison and his friends in Ocean Shores was a textbook example of how hate crimes can go unresolved this way. Many of the victims spoke poor English and had difficulty communicating with the police officers who came to their rescue; even though some of them later reported that they had wanted to pursue harassment charges against the men, the officers either failed or refused to register this. And the officers, little trained in dealing with hate crimes, clearly did not recognize that they had come upon the scene of a felony, which in most other such cases would require a careful and serious investigation and specialized handling of the victims.
By seeming eager to simply break up the potential violence and send everyone on their respective ways -- and particularly by escorting the family to the town's borders -- the officers communicated to the victims the message that the harassment they had endured was insignificant. This in turn feeds the distrust that any outsider (particularly a minority) in a strange town is likely to feel.
Moreover, the incident vividly illustrates that the problem of letting hate crimes go unresolved extends well beyond the mere statistical issues, and that the stakes can be very high indeed, especially for small towns. The result, as it was in Ocean Shores, was that these crimes can escalate from simple harassment to outright violence. Perpetrators, as some studies have observed, see their escape from the arm of the law almost as an invitation to step things up.
Other studies have likewise observed that the most common cause of this cascade of crime is the failure of police to proactively bridge the gap between themselves and the victims. The JRSA's Joan Weiss, in earlier research, found that the reluctance of victims to report crimes was significantly higher for hate crimes than for other crimes. The DOJ study reiterates this point: "For a multitude of reasons, hate crime victims are a population that is leery of reporting crimes -- bias or otherwise -- to law enforcement agencies."
Most hate-crime victims are minorities in the communities where the crimes occur. In many cases, they have poor English skills and have difficulty asking for assistance; in others, they may simply be unaware that what has happened to them is a serious crime. This is particularly true for immigrants, who may be reluctant to even contact police because of their experience with law enforcement in their homelands, where corruption and indifference to such crimes are not uncommon. Likewise, hate-crime victims may be confused about or unaware of the bias motivation involved, interpreting a threat or assault as a random act when other evidence suggests it was not. At other times, they may be reluctant to tell police about the bias aspects of the acts against them, fearing the police won't believe them or that they simply won't do anything about it anyway. And in the case of gays and lesbians, many are reluctant to report the crimes out of fear they will be forced to reveal their own identities as homosexuals; many more fear (sometimes with good reason) that they will wind up being humiliated and victimized further by police.
Likewise, many minorities in certain communities -- blacks in the South or Hispanics in the Southwest, for example -- have long histories of built-up distrust of law enforcement in their communities, and may simply refuse to participate in an investigation without proactive efforts on the part of police to bridge that gap. Indeed, this level of involvement was almost unanimously the chief factor reported by advocacy groups when queried by the authors of the DOJ study about what most affected hate-crime victims' decision to call or cooperate with police.
Putting local police in charge of immigration law enforcement will only create a massive amount of distrust of these forces in the immigrant communities, whether legal or not. It's a policy bound to produce myriad personal tragedies.
This is only one facet of what will no doubt be a multi-faceted problem created by this policy. Here's hoping the ACLU wins this one.
Just different clues
Thursday, September 08, 2005
You know, when I read this:
- Already there's talk of rebuilding N.O. in such a way as to exclude those most affected by the hurricane.
The impact of the hurricane diaspora on the country will be interesting.
I can't help but recall this:
- At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had ''absolutely no credentials.''
She related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Michael Brown.
''He said 'Why would I do that?''' Pelosi said.
'''I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'''
Indeed, it looks like -- once the Newspeak and information-suppression counteroffensive gets into full swing -- things will turn out just swimmingly for Bush and his cohorts. Katrina will have provided all kinds of opportunities: clear an entire city of its lower-income (and blue-voting) blacks, blame black culture and local Democrats, and replace them all with upper-income "entrepreneurs." Meanwhile, it'll give El Presidente plenty of photo ops with swarthy firemen.
If he can keep surfing that wave, what indeed went wrong for Bush?
Sort of like when he "hit the trifecta."
Sure, it was arrogant. I'm not sure Bush was quite as "clueless" in this response as everyone seems to think.
That's not to suggest that there was a conspiracy or that "Bush knew", at least not any more than he did with 9/11. But there is a reason that, after being properely warned, Bush stayed on vacation and, essentially, sat on his hands, both before 9/11 and Katrina: It was in his best interests to do so.
The mistakes that were made in the runup to both events were in fact a direct outgrowth of policies that benefited Bush's cronies and his political allies. Counterterrorism -- derided in the early Bush administration as a "Clinton thing" -- was deemphasized in favor of the greatest defense-spending black hole ever devised, "missile defense." Preparing for a federal emergency in the event of a real disaster -- whether a terrorist attack or a hurricane in New Orleans -- was forsaken on behalf of pursuing a needless war in Iraq. The outcomes of both have been nothing but a huge bonanza for Bush's cronies.
Those policies were a product of this administration's priorities, which in the end are always about promoting the well-being of the moneyed class at the expense of the middle classes and poor, while effectively driving a wedge within those classes. That's no conspiracy; it's just the way the world works, especially with men like Bush in charge.
New Strawberry Days dates
I'll be making some more appearances this month on behalf of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community. Here's the quick rundown:
- September 9: University Bookstore, Bellevue, 7 p.m.
September 10-11: Aki Matsuri Festival, Bellevue, 2 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday
September 21: Montana Book Company, Helena, MT, 7 p.m.
September 23: Montana State University Bookstore, Bozeman, MT, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
I'm especially looking forward to the Aki Matsuri Festival appearance on Saturday, because it won't just be me talking about the book; I'll be joined by a collection of the elderly pioneer Nisei who helped contribute to the book (and with whose story it is chiefly occupied). It's a chance to honor their contribution to the development of the Eastside and its communities.
I'm also looking forward to the Montana trip, just cuz. (I tried to get a Missoula date, since I'll be staying there several days, but couldn't work it out on admittedly short notice.)
If you're in the vicinity, I hope you can make it.
Robertson at the Katrina trough
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Max Blumenthal has an excellent, "must read" report at The Nation examining "Pat Robertson's Katrina Cash":
- With the Bush Administration's approval, Robertson's $66 million relief organization, Operation Blessing, has been prominently featured on FEMA's list of charitable groups accepting donations for hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA's list, unwittingly acting as agents soliciting cash for Robertson. "How in the heck did that happen?" Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing's inclusion on FEMA's list. "That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars."
Though Operation USA has conducted disaster relief for more than twenty-five years on five continents, like scores of other secular relief groups currently helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, it was omitted from FEMA's list. In fact, only two non-"faith-based" organizations were included. (One of them, the American Red Cross, is being blocked from entering New Orleans by FEMA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.)
There really are no depths to this administration's dogged attachment to the religious right -- even at the potential expense of alleviating the suffering and death in the hurricane's wake. Of course, Max's dad has already reported, the New Orleans tragedy was not only predicted and forwarned, it was decisively worsened by Bush policies before and after the storm. Why should it change its MO now?
Still, with Robertson horning in on the action, you would be well within your rights to ask how Robertson has been discussing the Katrina tragedy in his sermons.
And, well, there's this in Max's report:
- The 700 Club's featured guest was Wellington Boone, a black minister invited by Robertson to provide a counterpoint to the ubiquitous Rev. Jesse Jackson. Boone is a member of the Coalition on Revival, a Christian Reconstructionist organization that advocates replacing the US Constitution with biblical law. Throughout his career, he has distinguished himself from his black clerical colleagues with such remarks as "I believe that slavery, and the understanding of it when you see it God's way, was redemptive" and "The black community must stop criticizing Uncle Tom. He is a role model."
Though Boone's appearance on The 700 Club consisted mostly of benign appeals for "laser-beam prayer," CBN featured a separate interview with Boone on its website in which he declared, "We need to consider the culture of those people still stranded in New Orleans. The looting of property, the trashing of property, et cetera, speaks to the basic character of the people." He added, "These people who have gone through slavery, segregation and the Voting Rights Act are doing this to themselves."
A role model, indeed. Indeed.
Malkin and McCloy
Michelle Malkin dedicated her book In Defense of Internment to the memory of two men: David Lowman, author of the oft-debunked MAGIC: The Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the Evacuation of Japanese Residents from the West Coast during WW II and Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, who in later years -- attempting to defend the internment as well -- would claim that he and other officials were indeed heavily influenced by the MAGIC decrypts that form the core of Malkin's thesis.
Malkin takes McCloy's claims at face value, and throughout her text depicts him as the chief driver of the decision to incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans for the duration of World War II. From pp. 76-77:
- Under normal operations in the military, the local commander -- in this case [Lt. Gen. John] DeWitt -- would be the one to make the recommendation based on his evaluation, which he would then send to War Department officials in Washington, D.C., for approval. This has been the assumption of virtually every popular account of the West Coast evacuation, written by historians convinced that DeWitt's alleged racism and West Coast hysteria drove the decision. In truth, the push came from higher up, where knowledge of the MAGIC intelligence outlining Japan's alarming espionage operations rested. Army historian Stetson Conn's account makes this clear. On February 11, 1942, McCloy informed Bendetsen that Roosevelt "had specifically authorized the evacuation of citizens." This was two days before DeWitt's final recommendations had been sent to Washington, dated February 13. ...
When McCloy testified before Congress in 1984, he affirmed that the MAGIC cables helped shape the decisions of those who ordered the evacuation. He stated that he read MAGIC messages on a daily basis, and that it was a "very important" factor in the development of the evacutation policy.
There are many problems with this account, not the least of which is that the document trail makes clear that the actual architects of the internment were Provost Marshall General Allen Gullion and his protege Lt. Col. Karl Bendetsen, both of whom agitated for mass evacuation from early on in the process, and whose advice profoundly affected the decisions made by both DeWitt and McCloy. Even more dubious, though, is Malkin's credulousness about McCloy's later testimony.
Now a document has surfaced that makes plain that McCloy at the time was not affected by the MAGIC decrypts -- a fact that seriously undermines Malkin's whole thesis.
In today's Seattle Times, Bruce Ramsey reports that historian Greg Robinson uncovered the following document during recent research:
This is a memo from McCloy to his immediate superior, War Undersecretary Robert Patterson, describing his view of then-current agitation (which I describe in Strawberry Days) to make conditions for the Japanese American internees actually harsher. Note particularly the handwritten lines at the bottom of the memo:
- These people are not 'internees' -- they are under no suspicion for the most part and were moved largely because we felt we could not control our own white citizens in California.
This directly contradicts McCloy's later claims that the intelligence, particularly MAGIC, led officials to have concerns about the security risk presented by the entire Japanese American population on the West Coast. The second half of the note is also, as Robinson notes, not very accurate; the official pretense was a nonexistent "military necessity," and there is no evidence that white vigilantism was anything more than a peripheral concern for the officials who made the decision.
Like Eric Muller, Ramsey notes that the meaning of this second half-sentence may have been more along the lines of acknowledging the political realities that government officials faced regarding the racial hysteria that swept the Coast after Pearl Harbor:
- I see another meaning in the words, "we could not control our own white citizens." McCloy may have been saying the government could not control its white citizens' political demands.
The sense of alarm ran deep. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, people were told the West Coast was undefended.
A map in The Seattle Times showed likely invasion beaches at Grays Harbor, with big black arrows sweeping toward Seattle and Portland. Japan had no capability of launching an invasion across the Pacific, but the article gave the impression that maybe it did. Another article told of Japanese Americans arrested in Seattle for attempting to sell gasoline tanks to Japan; the tanks, it said, would hold enough fuel for bombers to fly all the way from Tokyo to Seattle and back. Japan didn't have bombers that could fly that far, but the article gave the impression that maybe it did.
Editorially, The Seattle Times was neutral on the internment (though its news coverage does not feel neutral). But the Los Angeles Times was beating the drums for it. The entire Pacific Coast congressional delegation was for it. The mayor of Seattle told a congressional committee the people here were for it.
It is, in any event, already abundantly already clear that there is little actual basis for Malkin's claim that McCloy, reading those decrypts, was the man who decided that rounding up citizens en masse according to their race was the appropriate policy. Indeed, as Muller and Robinson explained previously:
- One of the two or three most significant historical claims that Michelle makes is that it was Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy who pressured others in the War Department for wholesale eviction of all people of Japanese ancestry because of his access to MAGIC.
In 1992, Kai Bird, a distinguished biographer, published The Chairman, a definitive 663-page biography of McCloy.
Here's what Bird has to say about McCloy and MAGIC:
- "The signing of Executive Order 9066 later came to be regarded as one of the most controversial decisions associated with McCloy's career. . . . More than any other individual, McCloy was responsible for the decision, since the president had delegated the matter to him through [Secretary of War Henry] Stimson. . . . Why ... did McCloy become an advocate of mass evacuation? One answer is simple racism, particularly evident in Stimson's attitudes. Another is that McCloy and Stimson were 'led by the nose by second-rate people like Colonel Bendetsen.' And it was true ... that at the time, McCloy was 'distracted and distraught with a large number of problems.' But he also possessed a unique combination of predilections that made him particularly vulnerable to Bendetsen's and [Provost Marshall General] Gullion's arguments [for mass evacuation]. [Gullion] had convinced him that the enemy would inevitably engage in sabotage. Ever since Amherst and his enthrallment with the military-preparedness movement, he had been instinctively swayed by national-security arguments. Theoretical objections to strong action on civil-libertarian grounds were indications of soft thinking. ... "Another major factor was McCloy's exposure to intelligence sources. Some observers in recent years have cited evidence of Japanese American disloyalty in such special intelligence resources as the Magic intercepts. There is no doubt that McCloy was reading Magic intercepts of Japanese diplomatic traffic at the time of the evacuation decision. But, as in the question of how much warning the Magic cables should have given him regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor, it is difficult to determine whether this intelligence information was a factor in his thinking. McCloy himself, in testimony before a congressional commission forty years later, did not mention the intercepts. "Only a handful of Magic cables, out of thousands intercepted, might have conveyed the impression that Tokyo had recruited both alien Japanese and Japanese American citizens for espionage work. . . . "Prior to Pearl Harbor, there had been no systematic analysis of Magic intercepts. So any references McCloy saw in the Magic intercepts to Japanese American espionage were fleeting and impressionistic. A meticulous analysis of the intercepts, in fact, would have shown that the intelligence information cabled back to Tokyo came almost exclusively from 'legal' espionage conducted by Japanese diplomats out of their embassy and consulates. Even the covert, 'illegal' espionage coordinated out of these Japanese consulates was not very sophisticated or extensive. One Magic intercept, for instance, reveals that, as late as May 1941, the Japanese Embassy was reporting that 'only about $3,900 a year is available for actual development of intelligence ...' The few agents hired were invariably Caucasian Americans or German nationals. "Whereas such Magic evidence was highly ambiguous, McCloy also had access to intelligence that firmly dismissed the potential for sabotage. ... "It is hard not to conclude that McCloy allowed his fears of sabotage and his penchant for decisive action to sweep aside any other considerations." (from pages 154-56)
In earlier pages of the biography (145-51), Bird depicts McCloy as racked by indecision about what sort of action to take against ethnic Japanese--and favoring far more narrowly targeted action than that ultimately taken--until as late as February 6 to February 10, 1942. He says that it was unremitting pressure for mass eviction from Provost Marshall General Gullion that finally led McCloy to settle on that course of action.
Michelle dedicates her book to the memory of John McCloy (and David Lowman). But Kai Bird's biography of John McCloy does not appear in her bibliography.
They are not, of course, the only historians to question this point, which is the real linchpin to her claim that the MAGIC decrypts provided the "real" reason for the internment. Another is Klancy Clark deNevers, author of the definitive biography of Bendetsen, The Colonel and the Pacifist.
DeNevers also examined Malkin's text, and thoroughly eviscerated it in a separate critique:
- Malkin's main thesis is that the decision to exclude was based not on racism or wartime hysteria, as a government commission found in 1983, but on information obtained in translated cables of Japanese diplomatic traffic prior to December 7, 1941. She asserts with boring repetition and no convincing evidence, that the MAGIC translations were the real basis for the military necessity of the evacuation and internment of the ethnic Japanese (which they were not). She asserts that information in the cables PROVES that there were "espionage networks" among the Japanese communities and that this was sufficient reason for the mass incarceration. In order to argue that such a network could be dangerous she fills several chapters with accounts of the perfidious behavior of Japanese agents in numerous countries in South East Asia prior to Pearl Harbor. To support her contention that Japan was the "only Axis country with a proven capability of launching a major attack on the United States" (a claim she has had to withdraw) she mentions actions by Japanese submarines in the first weeks of the war and the shelling of Goleta, which occurred after the decision to exclude was made.
Moreover, as Charles Lofgren points out, Army historian Stetson Conn found that the evacuation plan originated primarily with Bendetsen. Malkin's claim that Stetson's account makes McCloy out to be the chief driver of the evacuation plan is simply false.
Malkin has turned a pretty penny selling fraudulent history. She cannot evade this reality forever.
Update: Robinson has more here and here.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
You've probably been hearing the phrase "race baiting" a lot lately. Especially from conservatives eager to tear down critics of the Bush administration who raise serious questions about the racial components of its manifestly inadequate response to the disaster in New Orleans.
Problem is, none of them seem to really know what "race baiting" is -- which may, in fact, explain why so many of them are also engaging in it.
You can find it every pool of the conservative swamp. Nearly every discussion of race in the context of New Orleans available at the Free Republic, for instance, refers to any questions raised about the racial component of the response as "race baiting". Same in the blogosphere, at places like The Corner, Wizbang, Red State, Little Green Footballs, Rathergate, and on and on.
It would help, perhaps, if we recalled exactly what race baiting really is:
- Race baiting is the act of using racially derisive language, actions or other forms of communication to anger or intimidate a person or groups of people, or to make those persons behave in ways that are inimical to their personal or group interests. The term race in this context can be construed very broadly to include the social constructs which define race or racial difference, as well as ethnic, religious, gender and economic differences. Thus the use of any language or actions for the purpose of exploiting actual or perceived weaknesses in persons who can be identified as members of certain groups in order to do them some sort of harm can be contained within the concept of "race baiting."
The act of accusing others, particularly white Americans, of racist behavior typically does not entail racially divisive language, unless it features talk about honkies and crackers and white-hooded Klansmen. It doesn't disparage white people generally, but, if it is disparaging, it tends to be disparaging of behavior that is racist.
This is only "race baiting" if you believe that exposing bigotry by whites somehow inflicts harm upon them; if you believe that whites are themselves the victims of systematic, oppressive, and widespread "reverse racism" in America -- a notion that enjoys considerable support among the angry white men of the right, but for which the evidence is scant indeed; and that suggesting at times that their behavior might be motivated by racism is itself a degrading racial stereotype.
This may be true in a handful of instances, but more often the charge is raised in instances where there is no derisive language, only serious questions. Indeed, compared to the real history of oppression and racism in this country, both in the past and present, such claims appear, more than anything, to be little more than the bathetic whining of the privileged.
Reformulating "race baiting" to include raising concerns about racism is a form of Newspeak: it inverts the actual meaning of the phrase to suggest its nearly polar opposite, thereby rendering it meaningless. As I've discussed previously, the right in recent yeaars has deployed Newspeak primarily to nullify and muddle our understanding of precisely the behavior that they themselves are prone to engage in. The appearance of Newspeak is actually a reliable indicator of the conservative movement's own intended behavior.
The right has been redefining "race baiting" to include any attempt to raise serious charges of racism for some time now. Recall, for instance, that Trent Lott's defenders were quick to charge his accusers with "race baiting" (see, for instance, the Claremont Institute's defense of Lott). It has enjoyed a considerable half-life among right-wing pundits such as Mona Charen. Meanwhile, Instapundit has made a virtual career of this misuse of the phrase, while the rest of the right-wing blogosphere has followed suit. Needless to say, this redefinition of the term is also now an article of faith at Free Republic and the Council of Conservative Citizens, as well as such reliably racist outfits as American Renaissance and Stormfront.
Just for clarity, I thought it might be useful to provide some clear examples of genuine race-baiting, just so no one is confused about its meaning:
- "The mob stands today as the most potential bulwark between the women of the South and such a carnival of crime as would infuriate the world and precipitate the annihilation of the Negro race."
-- John Temple Graves, editor of the Atlanta Georgian, 1904
- "As long as rape continues lynching will continue. For this crime, and this crime alone, the South has not hesitated to administer swift and certain punishment. ... We are going to protect our girls and womenfolk from these black brutes. When these black fiends keep their hands off the throats of the women of the South then lynching will stop."
-- Rep. Thomas Upton Sisson, D-Miss., 1921
- "This is a race war! The white man's civilization has come into conflict with Japanese barbarism. ... Once a Jap always a Jap. You cannot change him. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. ... I say it is of vital importance that we get rid of every Japanese, whether in Hawaii or on the mainland ... I'm for catching every Japanese in America, Alaska, and Hawaii, now and putting them in concentration camps... Damn them! Let's get rid of them now!"
-- Rep. John Rankin, D-Miss., 1941
- "If our buildings, our highways, and our railroads should be wrecked, we could rebuild them. If our cities should be destroyed, out of the very ruins we could erect newer and greater ones. Even if our armed might should be crushed, we could rear sons who would redeem our power. But if the blood of our White race should become corrupted and mingled with the blood of Africa, then the present greatness of the United States of America would be destroyed and all hope for civilization would be as impossible for a Negroid America as would be redemption and restoration of the Whiteman's blood which had been mixed with that of the Negro."
-- U.S. Senator Theodore Bilbo (D-Tenn.), 1947
- "The negro is a native of tropical climate where fruits and nuts are plentiful and where clothing is not required for protection against the weather ... The essentials of society in the jungle are few and do not include the production, transportation and marketing of goods. [Thus] his racial constitution has been fashioned to exclude any idea of voluntary cooperation on his part."
Dixicrat platform of 1948
- "And I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the negro race into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches."
-- Strom Thurmond, 1948
- "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
-- Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., 2001
And for some more recent samples, out of the New Orleans disaster:
- Most people have seen videos depicting the brutality and inhumanity of the African tribal uprisings and lawlessness. Now you don't have to watch a video shot in Africa, just look at the many videos from an historic and once beautiful American city, New Orleans.
... One must ask, is this a story about tribal brutality in Uganda…the raiding by bandits of a children’s hospital?
No, its happening in one of the most beautiful and historic of American cities. And my dear friends, it is only a foretaste of what’s ahead for the multicultural America of the future.
... Differences do exist and these differences can be seen consistently across racial lines around the world. Take for instance Japan. Japan suffered a series of devastating earthquakes, and yet the Japanese people in these communities pulled together, rooted by their common heritage, culture, and racial unity and they helped each other. There was no anarchy, no bands of simian-like Japanese in cars trying to raid nursing homes!
-- David Duke
- "Our society (thanks soccer moms) is far to tolerant of it's degenerate gangsta sub-culture. We make it's more talented members wealthy heros and role models, via rap music, movies and sports. In many ways the gangsta sub-culture was brought to us by Hollywood and the NBA, bleeding heart soccer moms tolerate it at the voting booth. Maybe now that we can see exactly what is in store for all of us, soccer moms get raped first, maybe we as a society will become far less tolerant. One can only hope."
--- Free Republic commenter "jpsb"
- It also should have been expected that a large fraction of New Orleans's lower class blacks would not evacuate before a disaster. Many are too poor to own a car, or too untrustworthy to get a ride with neighbors, or too shortsighted to worry...
In contrast to New Orleans, there was only minimal looting after the horrendous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan—because, when you get down to it, Japanese aren't blacks.
-- Steve Sailer, VDare
Of course, once a bit of Newspeak becomes entrenched, it's hard to dislodge. Look for a lot more claims of "race baiting" to arise along with serious questions about the role of race in the response to the Katrina disaster.
Bolstering the bigots
Monday, September 05, 2005
Remember how Michelle Malkin likes to claim that, while her book In Defense of Internment makes the case that the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II was perfectly justified, she's only making the argument for "limited measures" against Muslim Americans in the war on terror?
Heaven forfend, of course, that anyone else might use her "findings" to argue for anything harsher than that, right?
In which case, I'm sure she'll be eager to denounce a piece just published by the Center for Immigration Studies titled "Keeping Extremists Out: The History of Ideological Exclusion and the Need for Its Revival", authored by a Hoover Institute fellow named James R. Edwards.
Edwards, as Kynn Bartlett points out, argues from some of the darker corners of American history to justify a proposal to exclude "enemy aliens" from our shores based purely on their ideology. Among the historical policies of which he bases this argument are previous efforts to exclude Catholics, Quakers, and various races and ethnicities, including the Japanese.
Even more disturbing, he proposes that the current policy not be too specific, but cut an extremely broad swath:
- [I]deological exclusion should be restored, allowing aliens to be excluded or deported not only for overt acts but also for radical affiliations or advocacy. Such grounds for exclusion and removal should be based on characteristics common to the many varieties of extremism, rather than target a specific ideology.
How broad? Well, Edwards explains:
- Therefore, we should promote intelligence-gathering on aliens abroad and intense investigation by consular officers. The State Department should establish management policies that reward consular officers who ferret out fraud or identify visa applicants who are found to hold anti-American, anti-democratic, anti-Western, anti-Christian, or anti-Jewish views. All diplomatic personnel should be trained to look for such dangerous signs.
Of course, how often have we heard from the people now in charge (see, e.g., Karl Rove), as well as their chorus of right-wing-media sycophants (see esp. Rush Limbaugh), that merely being liberal is a sign of being "anti-American" and "anti-Christian"?
Edwards, as it happens, bases at least a portion of his argument on Malkin's text:
- Even before the United States was drawn into World War II, the domestic threat became more serious. As tensions mounted, ideological exclusion and removal, as well as alien registration and control laws, became all the more important tools for the U.S. government to have at hand.
Secret intelligence operations by the U.S. military, known as MAGIC, intercepted and decoded Japanese diplomatic messages beginning in the late 1930s. These communications evidenced the extent of Japan's espionage on American soil. By late 1940, MAGIC unveiled Japan's plans for spying in the United States, directing the recruitment of agents from "our 'Second Generations' and our resident nationals" among others.
As it had been invoked in previous wars, the Alien Enemies Act served as the basis for designating German, Japanese, and Italian nationals as enemy aliens, along with prudential controls during World War II, such as prohibiting enemy alien travel into certain areas, restricting alien property ownership, and internment (not only of Japanese nationals, but other Axis nationals). The 1940 Alien Registration Act resulted in nearly five million foreign nationals registering with the government during World War II.36 The context of the times saw liberal columnist Walter Lippman writing in 1942:
- The enemy alien problem on the Pacific Coast, or much more accurately, the fifth column problem, is very serious and very special. ... The Pacific Coast is officially a combat zone; some part of it may at any moment be a battlefield. Nobody' constitutional rights include the right to reside and do business on a battlefield.
German fifth columns had assisted Hitler's European conquests, thanks to "German citizens and Nazi sympathizers" living in such nations as Poland, Belgium, Holland, and France. Thus, the perceived threat was realistic.
The shoddiness of this argument is readily apparent to anyone familiar with the facts, to wit:
-- The "MAGIC" encrypt that he cites actually prioritizes the recruitment effort by the Japanese agencies involved in a telling fashion: Highest on its list are African Americans; next come white supremacists, particularly William Dudley Pelley's Silvershirts. At the bottom of the list are Japanese Americans, who were in fact widely mistrusted as "traitors" by the militarists in Tokyo. Anyone arguing that the intercepted message was reason for ethnic-based incarceration would be arguing that blacks and Caucasians should be first on the list.
-- Nearly all of the "enemy alien" Japanese incarcerated during World War II -- that is, the first-generation Issei immigrants -- had been in America for at least 18 years (immigration from Japan was shut off entirely in 1924), and many for as long as 40 years. The primary reason these immigrants still were citizens of Japan was that they were forbidden to naturalize. Most of them, by virtue of their extended tenure on these shores, had long established themselves in their respective communities as fully contributing members of society and, by most standards, good Americans in intent, if not officially.
-- Some 70,000 of the 120,000 Japanese incarcerated during the war were not "enemy aliens" at all, but American citizens.
-- Lippman's column was riddled with the classic errors of the time, particularly the failure to distinguish between citizens and aliens. And the reality of the matter was that the West Coast never, at any time, at risk of becoming an actual "battlefield" in the war.
-- Finally, Edwards cites the real threat of espionage and sabotage posed by Nazi sympathizers on the East Coast -- but neglects to observe that this threat did not result in the internment of the entire population of German-Americans on that seaboard.
Edwards' piece, as you can see from reading it, is not only problematic for its grotesque distortions of history, it's positively chilling in its call to relive some of the darkest chapters of our history -- repeating mistakes that most of us believed we had long since put behind us. Edwards not only wants to revive ideological exclusion, he wants to make it so vague that one need only hold views critical of the current government to be excluded from entering the country.
He elides, in fact, the very well-grounded reasons that "Congress effectively repealed ideological exclusion" -- namely, it was legally unsound and itself deeply unAmerican. It goes directly against the very clear and careful wording of the Fourteenth Amendment:
- All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The amendment specifically refers to "any person" as distinct from "any citizen" because the intent was to include visitors to our country as well. It's an important distinction particularly in the areas of free-speech and free-assembly rights, because excluding visitors on the basis of their beliefs is noxious to the core principles of free speech itself.
What's next? Excluding all Muslims? Excluding "liberals" or environmentalists? This isn't just a slippery slope; this is diving over the cliff itself.
Of course, this perhaps shouldn't be terribly surprising. The Center for Immigration Studies, after all, is part of the John Tanton network of anti-immigration activists who are funded in no small part by old-line white-supremacist organizations, notably the Pioneer Fund. As the SPLC's damning report on Tanton illustrated, this network included several outright white-supremacist organizations, notably Jared Taylor's outfit, American Renaissance,, and the nakedly racist Council of Conservative Citizens (who, judging by their Web site, are currently leaping aboard the Dukesque "blame 'black culture' bandwagon" being promulgated by the extremist right).
I don't think it's likely, though, that Michelle Malkin will find much to disapprove of here. This is part of her team, after all (her immigration blog has blogrolled the CIS). It speaks volumes, of course, that she also writes regularly for VDare, designated by the SPLC as a bona fide "hate group" -- and if you read their report, it isn't hard to see why:
- Fast forward to 2003. Once a relatively mainstream anti-immigration page, VDARE has now become a meeting place for many on the radical right.
One essay complains about how the government encourages "the garbage of Africa" to come to the United States. The same writer says once the "Mexican invasion" engulfs the country, "high teenage birthrates, poverty, ignorance and disease will be what remains."
Another says that Hispanics have a "significantly higher level of social pathology than American whites. ... In other words, some immigrants are better than others." Yet another complains that a Jewish immigrant rights group is helping "African Muslim refugees" come to America.
Brimelow's site carries archives of columns from men like Sam Francis, who is the editor of the newspaper of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, a group whose Web page recently described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity."
It has run articles by Jared Taylor, the editor of the white supremacist American Renaissance magazine, which specializes in dubious race and IQ studies and eugenics, the "science" of "race betterment" through selective breeding.
Malkin's In Defense of Internment is likewise of a piece of this same willingness to indulge views that are by any measure bigoted, and in some cases, extremist, by ignoring the latent bigotry and its broader ramifications.
As I observe in the epilogue of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community:
- A thorough accounting of the entire historical record surrounding the internment clearly reveals that racism played a significant role at every key juncture. This is not to say, by any means, that racism or its associated hysteria constituted the sole cause of the internment. There were many factors that contributed to the decisions, and the resulting policy was in many ways the outcome of a tangled bureaucratic nightmare. Tetsuden Kashima, in his landmark 2004 study Judgment Without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment during World War II, surveyed the broad range of intelligence gathering (not merely the MAGIC encrypts) as well as policymaking in the years prior to the war and found that the internment was the product not so much of hysteria as of the inexorable inertia wrought by policies that had been set in motion well before Pearl Harbor. However, even Kashima makes clear that racist attitudes toward Japanese Americans had a significant role in forming these policies, just as it likely colored the policymakers' interpretations of prewar intelligence about the Nikkei; certainly, the blurring of the distinction between American citizens and Japanese nationals -- a blurring based clearly on popular prejudices -- was prevalent during the entire course of these decisions.
That same blurring, it must be observed, occurs throughout Malkin's text. In dozens of instances, she refers to "ethnic Japanese" to describe her subjects, a phrase so broad it allows Malkin to lump American-born citizens in with Japanese-born spies. After repeatedly referring to the citizen Nisei as "ethnic Japanese," she uses the same phrase to describe Japanese-born operatives engaging in espionage from inside consulates. The unrelenting appearance of the phrase transforms Malkin's thesis into a 21st-century version of the hoary "Yellow Peril" truism reiterated by General DeWitt: "A Jap is a Jap."
Likewise, her claim to only be justifying "limited measures" while arguing in defense of mass incarceration simply does not hold water:
- Malkin and her cohorts couch their defense of the decisions made in 1942 at least partially as a response to the critics of the Bush administration who have raised the specter of the Japanese American internment. To her own critics who charged that in doing so, she was opening the doors for post-September 11 internment camps, Malkin would refer to a key line in her text: "Make no mistake: I am not advocating rounding up all Arabs or Muslims and tossing them into camps, but when we are under attack, 'racial profiling' -- or more precisely, threat profiling -- is justified."
This is, however, more than a little disingenuous, since Malkin's text is not merely a rationalization for racial profiling but indeed one for mass internment based on ethnicity as well. Beyond the immediate question -- Why use a massive violation of civil rights to justify relatively limited measures such as those proposed? -- there is the effect this logic has on the discourse: Justifying an action may not be semantically the same as advocating it, but it can have the same effect. And indeed, within a few weeks, the discussion had shifted to the possibility of interning Arabs or Muslims. U.S. News and World Report columnist John Leo, while praising Malkin's book lavishly, concluded thus: "It's also reasonable and important to open an honest discussion of internment, past and present." Similarly, Daniel Pipes—a Bush administration appointee to the U.S. Institute of Peace—penned an op-ed piece likewise praising Malkin's text as reopening the way for an honest discussion of potential wartime measures against domestic enemies.
So it should be no surprise, then, that Malkin's text is being used to foment an assault on the equal-protection clause through "ideological exclusion" on behalf of a far-right agenda. That's the kind of thing fraudulent history is always good for.