Saturday, April 08, 2006


This may put me in the minority of bloggers, but I don't much care for blogging when I travel. Especially when I'm spending my days escorting my daughter through the commercial wonders of Disneyland, which primarily constitute serial adventures in line-standing and swollen, aching feet.

But duty beckons, thanks to Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse, who wrote a lengthy response to my recent post at Firedoglake regarding the way that mainstream conservatism has increasingly come to reflect genuinely extremist values and ideas, largely through the sorts of thinly veiled appeals it makes.

It's noteworthy because, as readers know, this is a trend I've been documenting for some time, most notably in my two Koufax-winning series. And in all that time, I haven't seen anyone on the right try to tackle the argument in anything approaching a serious fashion. Most avoid my thesis like the plague, and if any do acknowledge it, it's usually given the standard substance-free airy dismissal (to wit: this is just too absurd to dignify with a response).

Alas, for all the words that Moran expends on my behalf, the end product is thin gruel indeed.

Take, for instance, Moran's claim that I "put the cart before the horse" regarding the movement of far-right appeals into the conservative mainstream; he claims, instead, that right-wing extremists have simply adopted mainstream positions and tried to spin them as their own:
The only problem with Mr. Neiwert’s notions of insidious issue creep by racists and fascists into the mainstream of conservatism is that he is blaming the responsible right for the fact that the racists adopted these issues, mixed them into an unrecognizable porridge of nauseating half truths and bowdlerized slogans, and spewed the result onto the internet and elsewhere trying to appear reasonable.

In short, while trying to connect Neo-Nazis to conservatives, Mr. Neiwert makes a classic, some would say stupid mistake; he puts the cart before the horse. It was not conservatives who adopted these issues from the extremists; it was the other way around.

This is his strongest argument, incidentally, and if his chronology were actually correct, he'd have a point. But it's not.

You see, David Duke and like-minded neo-Nazis were adopting these issues in the 1970s, well before they became part of Republican cant. And while it is true that many of them surfaced in the Reagan '80s, well before Pat Buchanan offered his formula for transmitting far-right ideas into the mainstream, the reality is that the trend has rapidly accelerated since then.

Take, for instance, the way the extremist right served as an echo chamber for mainstream conservative appeals during the Clinton years, especially in building up anti-Clinton animus with a whole raft of bizarre charges that formed the foundation for the impetus to impeach. Moreover, it's become embodied in the way that genuinely fringe figures like Randall Terry, Jim Gilchrist, and Jared Taylor have been subsequently embraced by the mainstream right as somehow representative of their ideals. It's also embodied in the way that Duke themes -- particularly his 1990s tomes describing how white America's values were in danger of being overrun by brown hordes -- keep popping up among mainstream conservatives; not surprisingly, the best example of this was Buchanan's book The Death of the West.

Moran's subsequent point borders on the downright inane:
I would suggest to Mr. Neiwert that his next article deal with the adoption by the Communist Party USA of many liberal issues such as racial justice, anti-war agitation, universal health care, and reigning in corporate power. Or better yet, he might want to take on Osama Bin Laden and that worthy’s peculiar habit of regurgitating liberal talking points about America, the war, and western civilization every time he makes a videotape.

Of course, it's Moran who himself is putting the cart before the horse himself here -- that is, extremists like the Communist Party are simply latching themselves onto legitimate mainstream issues, such as they did with civil rights in the 1950s -- if he thinks this kind of argument has any legitimacy. But it's clear he doesn't; he's just hoping to score rhetorical points, which only works if your characterization of the case is accurate. (As for Mr. Bin Laden, perhaps Moran hasn't noticed that the reality of fundamentalist Islamic radicals is that what they hate most about the West is embodied most in what are traditionally liberal quarters: free speech, sexual tolerance, a desire to break free from the chains of oppressive traditionalism.)

Perhaps more to the point, he seems not to understand that the concept of "transmission" -- that is, the movement of ideas and appeals from the extremist fringes into the mainstream through their careful repackaging -- does indeed hold as true for the left as for the right. Likewise, what he also neglects to comprehend is that the very real difference is that, for mainstream liberalism, such transmissions are nearly nonexistent now, however much they may have occurred in the past (and the historical instances are actually few and far between, and typically relegated to lesser issues, unless you're one of those nuts who believe FDR really was a communist). The nearly opposite is true of the mainstream right currently.

Moran goes on to not only demonstrate an abysmal grasp of the facts regarding right-wing behavior, he actually goes on to reproduce some of the same transmissions by way of acting as an apologist for his cohorts. To wit:

-- Michelle Malkin, he claims, has only a peripheral association with the hate group VDare, which exists only because they run her syndicated column. If Malkin's associations with the VDare clan ended there, he might have a point -- though a limited one, since columnists do have the right to deny anyone they like (or dislike) the right to run their work; if the National Alliance or Council of Conservative Citizens or Stormfront, all nakedly racist outfits, wanted to run Malkin's column, I would assume she would deny them that option (though that might be a bad assumption). Moreover, Malkin blogrolls VDare on not just her blog, but also on her subsidiary Immigration Blog. Additionally, she has on several occasions sprung to the defense of the VDare crowd, particularly Steve Sailer.

-- Glenn Reynolds, he claims, is really not a right-wing blogger at all but a libertarian one. Of course, Reynolds has made this claim for years as well, but those familiar with Reynolds' track record of uniform support for conservatives and their agendas, and converse animus towards liberals and theirs, tends to belie the claim. The decisive factor for me has been Reynolds' uniform support for the Bush administration's seemingly endless undermining of civil liberties, supposedly the heart of libertarian ideals. I have in my possession an e-mail that Reynolds sent in 1997 to a listserv I was on, attacking Clinton's post-Oklahoma City push for bolstering law-enforcement efforts for intelligence gathering on domestic terrorists and claiming that he didn't think any American should be willing to give up their privacy rights for the purpose of preventing terrorism; and yet his track record regarding the Bush administration has been precisely the opposite (uniform support for the Patriot Act -- which made the Clinton initiatives look minor in comparison -- and its sequel, as well as Bush's use of NSA for domestic surveillance).

-- He goes on to defend Reynolds' and other right-wingers smear of MEChA without really comprehending that what Reynolds did in calling MEChA "fascist hatemongers" and "racist and homophobic" was, among other things, to link MEChA to a group of Latino anti-Semites without any grounding for doing so, and then, after the mistake was pointed out to him, simply noted that the connection was in error: no apology, and no attempt to explain to his readers that his characterization was grossly off course.

-- Even worse, Moran defends Reynolds and Malkin by citing El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan (a document written in 1969) and noting:
The translation of that last little ditty is "On behalf of the Race, everything. Outside the Race, nothing."

But hey! Don't call them hatemongers!

Note that Moran calls this phrase MEChA's "motto" when, in fact, it is not; it's simply a slogan that appeared in some of its early organizing documents. Its actual motto is "La union hace la fuerza," or "Unity creates power."

Moreover, as I explained way back when, in a post that was included in the links of the Firedoglake post:
Most of the characterizations of MEChA's rhetoric have ranged from the extremely tendentious to outright gross distortions. And nearly all of them are devoid of both historical and current social context.

One of the prime examples of distortion in the debate is the way a number of the anti-Mechistas, including Malkin and Kaus, have zeroed in on the MEChA slogan: Por la Raza, todo. Fuera la Raza, nada.

Kaus offers the translation of this slogan that in fact has been used by every one of the MEChA critics:

(Many American Jewish groups fight against assimilation too, but I haven't seen any with a slogan equivalent to "For the Race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing.")

Before supposedly smart people go publishing such nonsense, it would help if they consulted, say, a native Spanish speaker (and one would think one would be available somewhere in Santa Monica).

A more accurate translation of the slogan would recognize that though "Por" translates to the English "For," it is used in a very specific sense of the word -- namely, "On behalf of" or "In the service of". "Fuera" is not "for those outside" but rather refers to the speaker, and means "Apart from." So what the slogan actually says is this:

In the service of the race, everything
Apart from the race, nothing

There is nothing remotely racist, particularly in the sense of being exclusionist or derogatory, about this, of course. The second line clearly only refers to the need to maintain one's ethnic and cultural identity. It is only racist if you deliberately mistranslate it: "For those outside the race, nothing."

Perhaps even more to the point, as I explained subsequently, "la Raza" is specifically a pan-racial concept, describing a populist notion of "the people," a notion that specifically includes a number of races, since the people of Mexico are actually constituted of a range of distinct races:
A more accurate translation would read, "In service of my people, everything; [for] apart from my people, [I have] nothing." There is neither the exclusionist nor the racist content that Malkin implies. La Raza, it must be noted, is not a racial concept but an ethnic one (it comprises multiples races, in fact).

This kind of sloppiness is typical of Moran's entire argument here. As you can see, his case simply falls apart when you examine it with any care.

In the end, though, I was most amused by Moran's remark that I "ought to be ashamed of [my]self."

And you know, it's true: I am ashamed of myself. I'm ashamed for having worked for so many years in mainstream media and, even while recognizing these trends as they developed in the 1990s, never having written about them with any detail or clarity because I thought it would be impolitic.

I'm ashamed for having assumed, for so many years, that the differences between the extremist right and the mainstream right were more significant than their similarities. That is, until it became all too apparent that the differences were growing smaller and the similarities growing much, much greater.

That's what I'm ashamed of.

But it's amusing that Moran would think I should be ashamed, yet he somehow couldn't bring himself to say the same of Ann Coulter when she called Muslims "ragheads" in a major convention speech; instead, he just called her "beyond over the top" and tut-tutted her obvious extremism. Though perhaps we should give him some credit for at least recognizing that.

However, he seems unable to bring himself to admit that Malkin and Reynolds -- let alone the Little Green Footballs or Lucianne Goldberg crowds, all of whom reside on his blogroll -- likewise have plenty to be "ashamed of." Indeed, it seems that there's little right-wing behavior he can find that anyone should be ashamed of.

Which is, really, a shame. But hardly surprising.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Those transmitters

I'm late getting this up (it's been that kind of day) but I hope all my regular readers got a chance to read my guest post at Firedoglake regarding the creep of right-wing extremism into the conservative mainstream, and the role of right-wing bloggers in making that happen.

Many thanks to Jane and the gang for giving me the opportunity to speak to their deservedly large audience.

And a special thanks to James Wolcott for the link and lengthy cite. Be sure to read his take on all this, including his always-trenchant account of the antics of one Dr. Jack Wheeler.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Crazy Curt and the Moonies

Somehow, I suspect that if Republican Rep. Curt Weldon had such a choice available, he'd be recommending that his opponents' families obtain treatment in hospitals operated by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. A flashback:
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, former felon and current owner of The Washington Times, was the man in the spotlight, declaring himself humanity’s "savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."

The event, which took place March 23, was sponsored by the Washington Times Foundation and the International Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), a Moon-led group. Present at different points during the event were Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Mark Dayton (R-Minn.).

One of Moon's claims that evening was that "Hitler and Stalin have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons."

Reporter John Gorenfeld originally broke the story in Salon, and followed up a few weeks later by examining Weldon's role and his response:
Well, when it comes to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the office of U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon is speaking with a definitive -- uhh, well, not so fast.

While Weldon vows that Moon will never again dupe him, his chief of staff, Michael Conallen, won't rule out Weldon's attending future events held by Moon's front group, the International and Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), which apparently tricked several members of Congress into attending the March 23 "Crown of Peace" awards at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

After I broke the story on last week, subsequent publicity centered around legislators who claimed they were duped into attending the meeting. (The usual method of the IIFWP and Washington Times Foundation -- Moon owns the paper -- is to invite VIP speakers for Day 1 of the conference, photograph them and keep them in the dark about what's to be discussed Day 2.)

"I can definitively say," adds Conallen, "the congressman will never speak at any event where anything remotely like what happened on March 23 occurred."

As Gorenfeld searched further, though, it turned out that Weldon had indeed been fully informed about the day's events. Not only that, this wasn't the first time:
After the pictures finally went through, the story changed to "apparently he was there, but we really had nothing to do with it. … We may have been a Congressional co-host, but we have nothing to do with the agenda, the organization, the scheduling, and our role would be limited explicitly to the attendance of the Congressman."

Not so, as it turned out. While Weldon's office maintains there was no way of knowing Moon would be there, a March 8 invitation stated that Moon and his wife "will also be recognized that evening for their lifelong work to promote interfaith cooperation and reconciliation," according to the Washington Post.

Seoul, mid-February 2002: The U.S. is at war, but Weldon is at the IIFWP's Assembly 2002 festivities, according to several Unification Church Web sites. His appearance, says his office, was related to his historic delegation to North Korea, though it wasn't on the same trip.

Speaking there was Chung Hwan Kwak, the president of the UPI wire service, the man who was in charge, according to estranged Moon daughter-in-law Nansook Hong, when members of the D.C. church were imprisoned and beaten by a man Moon believed to be the reincarnation of his son. Kwak tells the Seoul audience about a "culture of true love." Moon then gives a speech identifying the "Four Conditions for World Peace." The next day, Weldon speaks at the event, which, like most Moon events, is an exercise in making the founder look like the greatest man on earth.

"For decades," says Steve Hassan, a former group member who's now a self-described cult counselor, "Moon recruiters have deceptively lured people to isolated workshop settings and indoctrinated them to believe that they should renounce their own family and become a member of the "True Family.'"

On Nov. 22, 2002, Weldon was a keynote speaker at the IIFWP's U.S.-U.N. symposium, according to the IIFWP site. The site claimed the speech foreshadowed Weldon's partnership with U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, a Democrat from Illinois, which would see both praising the IIFWP's "Ambassadors for Peace" on the floor of Congress on June 19, 2003.

In April 2003, while the country's eyes were on Iraq, two things happened. One, a remarkable new edition of the church's Unification News came out. Two, Weldon spoke at an IIFWP symposium in New York.

The church newsletter described cross-removal hitting its stride, declaring that the painful symbol (painful because it prevents religions from uniting under Moon) was gone from 123 church walls. ("The Congressman does not accept or support any of Rev. Moon's teachings or beliefs," explained Conallen cautiously. "That statement certainly applies to any specific attacks or insults against the Christian faith.") And at the conference, held at the Moon-owned New Yorker Hotel, Weldon spoke about the United Nations.

Money from these events, according to Conallen, wasn't pocketed by Weldon, but went to pay for the Michael Horrocks Playground Fund, named for a 9/11 pilot. Today, Weldon remains listed on the Pennsylvania Parents Day nominating committee of Moon's American Family Coalition. As the Washington City Paper revealed in its 1995 story "Honor Thy Parents: How the Unification Church Convinced the U.S. Government to Endorse Its Holiday Honoring the Rev. and Mrs. Moon as the True Parents of Mankind," Parents Day is yet another way to glorify Moon, while pretending to honor others.

As Chris Bowers at MyDD points out, Weldon actually pinned a medal on Moammar Ghadafi at the March 23 event.

President Pants-On-Fire

The news today:
A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

And that's not all:
Although not reflected in the court papers, two senior government officials said in interviews with National Journal in recent days that Libby has also asserted that Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to a number of journalists during the run-up to war with Iraq. In some instances, the information leaked was directly discussed with the Vice President, while in other instances Libby believed he had broad authority to release information that would make the case to go to war.

In yet another instance, Libby had claimed that President Bush authorized Libby to speak to and provide classified information to Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward for "Plan of Attack," a book written by Woodward about the run-up to the Iraqi war.

Bush three years ago:
"There's just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." [Bush, 9/30/03]

"I want to know the truth. ... I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." [Fox News, 10/8/03]

"I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information." [Bush, 10/28/03

I'm sure footage of these fibs exist. I wonder if they'll get as much play as Clinton's finger-wagging Lewinsky denial.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Minutemen's month

When I pulled up to "Camp LeBas" -- the rural acreage the Minutemen are using for headquarters this month in their operations on the Washington-British Columbia border -- the first time Saturday, I was struck with a brief sense of deja vu, since the setting had the look of the Montana Freemen compound in miniature: the rough edges; the clusters of cars, RVs, and trailers; the flags and signs.

The Freemen place was more spread out, by far; the Minutemen have several neighbors right across the road and others just above and below them on the hill, while the Freemen's nearest neighbors were not even visible from the place. Still, the look of the place reminded me not just of the Clark ranch in Jordan but a dozen other "Patriot" properties I visited in the 1990s, from Cal Greenup's to Bo Gritz's: slightly chaotic, slightly grubby, but strategically situated.

I especially took note of the flags, since one of them -- a "Don't Tread on Me" Revolutionary War flag -- was identical to one that John Trochmann used to sell through the Militia of Montana, while the second flag was a military one:

As I took the photos from the roadway on Sunday, a Minuteman official -- Gary Cole, the Minutemen's former national director of operations, who you can see standing just outside the trailer, checking me out, in the top photo -- came out to greet me. I pulled in the driveway and got out to talk.

I wound up chatting with Cole, a glib and pleasant man, for a good 45 minutes, during which time he more or less regaled me with a presentation about the Minutemen he'd obviously given a number of other times. He continually emphasized that the organization's prime concern was with border-control issues.

Cole admitted to me that a border watch on the Canadian border wasn't really going to be about catching illegal aliens as they attempted to cross surreptitiously. What the Minutemen were about, he said, was "making a statement."

It was also clear that "making a statement" entailed attracting as much media attention as possible, which meant that they were far more media-friendly than the militias and Freemen ever were. They were quite successful, too; there were Seattle TV news stations there, and a variety of newspapermen too. They kept track of how many reporters they'd talked with that weekend, and they carefully tailored their talk for the cameras and tape recorders.

After I finished chatting with Cole, I talked for awhile with Tom Williams, leader of the Bellingham Minuteman contingent, inside the outfit's operations center, which was located inside the smallish equipment shed. Coffee and doughnuts were spread out on a table, and a map showing the border watch locations was spread across a wall.

Williams, who was involved with last April's Minuteman Project in Arizona (he says he was charged with weeding out white supremacists) is a pleasant and straightforward-seeming fellow. He was even more insistent about emphasizing border-security issues, and was likewise adamant that he had nothing against Latino immigrants.

For all the resemblance they bore to the Patriots on the outside, inside the Minutemen's compound things were remarkably different. There was none of the paranoia and anger that hung in the air like a fetid smell at Patriot compounds. It was jovial, friendly, and seemingly well organized.

That same feeling prevailed when I talked with the Minuteman volunteers. One of them, a retiree named Larry Pullar who lived in the nearby town of Custer, manned one of the outposts next to the Canadian border where, it was apparent, someone could just walk across a grassy ditchway between two roadways to cross the border.

Pullar was clear that what drove him to join the Minutemen was his concern about the lack of border security, especially after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He said he has nothing against Latino immigrants and is not concerned about them.

I asked Pullar about the Minuteman leadership and their national advocates, who do emphasize those issues. He said he hadn't paid any attention to them; he was in this to push for more secure borders. He seemed sincere.

The Minutemen had attracted about some 22 border-watch volunteers, and a number of support people, to the camp for the weekend, most of them from the region. Most of them were like Pullar. Indeed, it was remarkable that, in all of my discussions that weekend, the only person who was interested in talking about Latino immigration was Gary Cole -- who, as it happened, was all too happy to expound on the notion that illegal Mexican immigrants constituted an "invasion" of America.

It was clear that they were all "on message," that is, to keep emphasizing border-security issues, because those enabled them to steer clear of the rising charges of racism. And indeed, if that was all that the Minutemen were really about, they might have some legitimate points to make (even if their concerns might be overstated).

But you don't have to look far to see that the border-security issue is more of a ruse than a reality. Because from the very top, the advocacy for the Minutemen has come from quarters where the primary concern is about the supposed evils of illegal Latino immigration.

This begins with national organizations like VDare and American Patrol, who concocted the Minuteman idea as an adaptation of the old white-supremacist and militia tactic of border militias. And it continues right down to the state level, where Minuteman supporters are proposing draconian measures aimed at eliminating health care and emergency services to illegal aliens:
Washington voters may be asked to decide in November whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to receive public benefits.

Bob Baker, a Mercer Island resident who heads a group called Protect Washington Now, has filed an initiative to force the state to deny illegal immigrants benefits like those in a handful of programs administered by the Department of Social and Health Services.

Baker volunteers with the Minuteman Project, which got its start in Arizona two years ago to spot and report illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico.

This reality belies the Minutemen's savvy public-relations efforts, and is the real reason for an opposition campaign that likewise has formed in Whatcom County:
"The reason this has escalated to such a national level is because of groups like the Minutemen project that are out there causing fear, pain, and frankly pushing people to the limits," said Rosalinda Guillen, director of the Aguila Del Norte Legal Observer Program for the Coalition for Professional Law and Border Enforcement.

The Aguila Del Norte legal observers are there because "we've been getting second-, third-, fourth-hand information from the sheriff, the media. We want to get the information ourselves," she said.

The program will monitor Minutemen, watching for aggressive or harassing tactics that target Latinos. She said that four to six observers visited Minutemen border sites over the weekend.

"We still believe this is an extremist group, it's racially motivated," Guillen said.

Guillen is far from alone in this belief, and it's certainly a well-founded one. Juan Santos at Dissident Voice recently explored the way the Minutemen are reviving old-style nativism, and how the recent pro-immigrant rallies have been the first wave of opposition to them:
Minutemen co-leader Chris Simcox would have us believe that "we need the National Guard to clean out all our cities and round them [migrants] up. They are hard-core criminals. They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughters and they are evil people."

The temptation, of course, is to dismiss these people as mere crackpots. The problem with that analysis however is clear. These people have power. They've dominated and defined the debate on immigration for the past year, at least until this past weekend, when well over a million -- even two million people -- marched in opposition to their xenophobic and persecutorial dementia.

Southern California activists have seen that racist dementia up close, time and again, as we confronted the Minutemen and their allies in an effort to keep things from ever getting this far.

We saw it in the eyes of breakaway Minuteman leader James Chase in the darkness of the southern desert at midnight, he armed with a shotgun, we with nothing but our bare hearts.

We saw it in the eyes of Minuteman supporter Hal Netkin as he slammed his car into a crowd of mostly Chicano protestors as Jim Gilchrist addressed the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. Gilchrist joined the Coalition, which has been identified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Painted as American a hero by the likes of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gilchrist has been accused by a former campaign volunteer of integrating Nazi activists into his campaign for Congress. He lost the special election, despite his endorsement by Sensenbrenner ally Tancredo.

But he put fear into Republican politicians -- fear that incumbents would face vote draining, immigrant bashing third party candidates in November if they didn't take a ard right line against migrants. They feared Gilchrist sympathizers like the rightist California group Save Our State, which has regularly drawn organized Nazis to their protests, and which uses the exact rhetoric used by open white nationalists and supremacists, such as calling Mexican culture a "cesspool".

The corporate media, informed time and again of Nazi, white nationalist and militia connections to the anti-migrant movement, has continued to paint the anti-migrants as part of a mainstream. Gilchrist himself has claimed he has "240 million" supporters, despite the fact that the anti-immigrant movement as a whole could field only 700 activists for its "National Day of Protest" this year. They were outnumbered 10 to 1 wherever they turned across the country.

Even so, Tancredo, Sensenbrenner and the extreme, racist right wing elements they represent were on the verge of a major legislative victory. They were so close they could taste it.

Until Sunday.

Nonetheless, the Minutemen are claiming that that the rallies have actually stirred a backlash that will bolster their support:
Within 48 hours of the 20,000-strong march in Phoenix, the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps signed up about 300 new volunteers for patrols along the U.S.-Mexican border, said Chris Simcox, the organization's leader.

Today, volunteers plan to kick off a monthlong border watch in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas and report undocumented immigrants to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Simcox said the pro-immigrant rallies "really went a long way to awaken the sleeping giant in America."

"People are just astounded," he said. "They had no idea about the number of illegals in the country."

Nationally, major organizations that push for tighter immigration controls have been flooded with sometimes-alarming phone calls from people upset about the mass demonstrations that brought hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters, some waving the Mexican flag, into the streets of Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago.

... Susan Tully, national field director for the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates reducing illegal immigration, said her office has been "overwhelmed" with phone calls from frustrated people looking for a way to get involved in a counterprotest.

Tully said she has been alarmed by some of the calls and urged restraint and caution.

"I can tell you the frustration you can hear in their voices and the outrage. It's pretty scary," she said.

"I really think the best way for the American public to oppose this guest-worker plan at this point is to continue to make phone calls, faxes, write and go visit U.S. senators and representatives rather than taking to the streets."

She also worried about how pro-immigrant demonstrators are interacting with members of FAIR and other anti-illegal immigration organizations.

"I promise you if we announced tomorrow that we were going to have a march in Los Angeles or Phoenix, the other side would be out there to confront them, and it could get really ugly," Tully said.

It certainly looks that way, especially considering the kind of fresh support that the "backlash" seems to be producing. Check, for instance, the White Revolution Web site, where the posts all prominently play up those Mexican flags and, moreover a plan for "Anti-Invasion Day" events across America on April 10:
Will you just sit idly by on this historic day and allow the mestizo hordes to claim America as theirs? Then stand with us, for Race and Nation and let's Take America Back Now!

April 10th: Anti-Invasion Day

Bush calls for civil debate ...

Illegal immigrants push for civil war ...

White Revolution calls for nationwide patriotic display on April 10th!

Tens of thousands of illegal invaders and their treasonous collaborators are calling for a national "Day of Action" on Monday, April 10th, to support illegal immigration.

In response, White Revolution is calling for a national day of patriotic expression against illegal immigration on the same day.

You can wear an American flag t-shirt or baseball cap. A lapel pin, or tie. A red, white, and blue ribbon. Even an American flag sticker. There are many ways that you can show your support for this great country our ancestors built with their sweat and blood. Wherever you are, whatever you will be doing, stand with us on April 10th, to demonstrate against illegal immigration and the invasion of our nation.

Mark your calendars, now! April 10th: red, white, blue, and you!

I believe people like Larry Pullar and Tom Williams are sincere about not wanting to be associated with this kind of element, and not just because it makes them look bad. As with the militia movement in the 1990s, the Minutemen's success has been predicated on its ability to draw in people from mainstream America, largely by disguising their larger agenda and promoting themselves in a way that appeals to mainstream concerns (in this case, about keeping our borders secure).

But they seem not to stop and question why it is that their organization actually attracts neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and various ill-disguised hate groups whose existence is predicated on scapegoating racial minorities. If they did, the answer would be a simple one: Whatever concern the Minuteman leadership might actually have regarding border security is inextricably bound up with their belief that Latino immigrants are harming American culture.

In the end, the Minuteman vision of "border security" is just a pretext for "keeping the Latinos out." The Minutemen attract these elements because their agenda is only a vague reformulation of a major component of the traditional white-supremacist program for America.

They're not fooling the racists. They're only fooling their mainstream recruits -- and a blinkered press.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Those lazy Mexicans

Rush Limbaugh, on his March 27 radio show:
I mean if -- if you had a -- a -- a renegade, potential criminal element that was poor and unwilling to work, and you had a chance to get rid of 500,000 every year, would you do it?

The first time I encountered Mexican workers was in 1975, when I came home to Idaho Falls from college in Moscow, Idaho, looking for work for the summer. The first place I could find that would hire me was a potato warehouse out on Lindsey Boulevard, next to the rail tracks.

Most of my co-workers were from Mexico, were likely illegal immigrants, and most of them spoke only Spanish. But they were friendly and tried to help me and my friend Scott, who had also gotten a job there. We both towered over them, and we were both in pretty good shape; I was 18 at the time, and had spent the previous summers hauling pipe in potato fields, so I knew what hard work was about. But we weren't quite prepared for this work.

Basically, the job entailed loading 100- and 50-pound gunny sacks of potatoes into rail cars: stacking them onto a dolly, rolling them into the car, and stacking them up. This is a reasonable job when the stack is less than chest high, but loading them over our heads was a real test.

After two weeks, I failed it. I was completely exhausted and broken down by the end of that time. I called in, said thanks for the opportunity, and quit. (So did Scott.) I wound up setting up my own house-painting business that summer and making my tuition that way.

But I'm sure that most of those Latino co-workers not only stayed on, they probably worked at the warehouse year-round. Because they were simply unfazed by it all. They could load, stack, and load some more, all of it far more efficiently than I ever could. And at the end of every day, as I collapsed in a heap, they were still in good spirits.

Not only were they the hardest-working people I ever met, they also had the best work ethic I ever saw. That is, not only did they work hard, they worked smart. I muscled those 100-pound sacks of spuds up to the top row, while they simply tossed them up with a little leverage and technique.

Oh, and my old boss back at the potato farm where I hauled pipe? Within a couple of years after I left that farm, he went to an all-Latino crew, and he admitted to me that they were mostly illegals. But, he said, they worked harder and better and far more reliably than any crew of teenagers ever had for him. Having been one of those teenagers, I knew exactly what he meant.

Since then, I have had many other encounters with immigrant Latino workers -- as well as many working-class people living in Mexico -- and my experience has been uniform. These are hard-working, decent people. America can use more people like them.

Yes, they are often poor, and poverty does spawn crime. But the notion that they are innately criminal is absurd.

And the notion that they are lazy? On what planet?

But reading Limbaugh's rant, the big question that lingers is: How does he propose "getting rid" of 500,000 illegal immigrants annually?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Waving that flag

Right-wingers are all up in arms over the Mexican flags that have been prominently displayed during the recent immigration demonstrations.

Michelle Malkin especially has worked herself up to a fine froth, while UberWanker Mickey Kaus has been doing the same. We've heard similar refrains from Jed Babbin, hosting Hugh Hewitt's show.

Some of the more, ahem, creative responses have included Michael Savage's ("Burn the Mexican flag!") and those mental wizards at Wizbang, who suggest we "shoot it off the pole."

Then I noticed this in an L.A. Times piece on Bush and the immigration issue:
During the 2000 election, Bush previewed a campaign video from ad-maker Lionel Sosa that used emotion-laden themes to woo Latinos.

As he watched, Sosa recalled, Bush's face lighted up. "How much do you need for this?" Bush asked as the two men sat with Rove in the governor's mansion in Texas, Sosa said.

Sosa replied that it would take $3 million. According to the ad-maker, Bush then turned to Rove, saying: "Give him five."

Four years later, Sosa produced a variation of that video for the 2004 campaign that was mailed to Latino voters across the country.

The video includes images that would probably rile those who today are calling for the most restrictive immigration laws. At one point, Bush is shown waving a Mexican flag. The footage was shot, Sosa said, during a Mexican Independence Day parade in San Antonio in 1998, when Bush was running for reelection as governor.

Funny that none of these people were offended by Bush's earlier gesture. Guess it all depends on who's doing the waving, right?