Wednesday, September 06, 2006

No One Is Illegal

Justin Akers Chacon on racist vigilante groups such as S.O.S. & the MinuteKlan:

" As individuals, with no sense of collective power, they create enemies more vulnerable than themselves to rationalize their own importance. In their blindness, they rage against sections of U.S. society that are even more oppressed by the same system. The more helpless they feel, the more they militate against immigrants. Ulitmately, by attacking immigrants and creating racial and national divisions in the working class, they increase the power that corporate America wields over all."

" While vehemently denying the racist character of their organizations, they can hardly contain their contempt for the negative effect "foreign" influence is having on "American culture". Their ideology combines racism with misguided economic theories, enabling a broad swath of forces to unite in common cause. During their inaugural expedition along the Arizona border, Gilchrist (leader of the MinuteKlan) let slip what really bothers him about immigrants from Mexico. "It's a silent Trojan horse invasion that is eroding our culture," he told reporters."

" The new racism runs throughout the nativist movements, which under the aegis of "opposing illegal immigration" declare total war on Mexican culture and Mexican people, documented or not. The same groups that have led the debate against immigration have been working for years to overturn bilingual education and multicultural programs, and have underwritten legislative proposals that seek to deny social services to all immigrants."

"But good old-fashioned overt racism is rife in the anti-immigrant movement as well.Barbara Coe, director of the California Coalition on Immigration Reform, regularly refers to Mexican people as "savages". Chris Simcox (leader of S.O.S.) consistently evokes racist stereotypes, alleging that immigrants are "trashing their neighborhoods, refusing to assimilate, standing on street corners, jeering at little girls walking on their way to school."

" The Minuteman Project also generally chooses to ignore the Canadian border and it's sparsely protected 79 points of entry, yet bleats about Mexico's 37 heavily monitored points of entry. Some groups make no effort to hide their disdain for immigrants. The website for Save Our State (S.O.S.) asks, " Are you tired of watching your state turn into a Third World cesspool right before your eyes?"

" The open contempt and the insinuation of the need for violence against immigrants have provided an opening for the active participation of fascist elements. Expressing his desire to take more direct action, James Garret, a "tactical officer" for the Arizona Minutemen, lamented to journalist Peter Lauffer, "We need a revoultion [because] my goverment precludes me from fighting the Mexicans." A member of the California Minutemen, James Chase, urged his followers to come prepared to the July 16th, 2005 patrol in Campo, California, and bring "machetes, stun guns, and baseball bats." This was urged in order "to protect our people against the monster, should they appear."

" Groups adopting the Minutemen mantra are springing up all over, some openly espousing fascist ideology. The Southern Law Poverty Center has documented the participation of the Neo-Nazi National Alliance in Minutemen activities in Arizona. Two days before staged actions, Alliance pamplets were distributed across the Minutemen base town of Tombstone calling for extreme measures against immigration."

" Human rights groups have also documented the participation of such racists as Joe McCutchen, a member of the white supremacist organization Council of Conservative Citizens.Preparing for a border action, he described the immigrants they were there to hunt: " They've got tuberculosis, leprosy. I mean, you don't even want to touch them unless your wearing gloves. So why the hell should we pay our taxes to cure them?" One particpant summarized his relationship to the Minutemen Project in the following way: " We understand why Gilchrist and Simcox have to talk all this P.C. crap...It's all about playing to the media. That's fine. While we're here, it's their game and we'll play by their rules. Once Minuteman's over, though, we might just have to come back and do our own thing."

" Neo-Nazi organizations have also appeared at SOS rallies in California. At a July 16th, 2005 protest against immigrants at the Laguna Day Laborers Center in Orange County, members of the National Vanguard turned out, mixing with other SOS members, carrying an SOS banner and openly unfurling Nazi flags. While some SOS members were alarmed at their presence, SOS founder Joe Turner chastised those who sought to disassociate themselves, stating, " So, if you are in [SOS]...accept this reality[of Nazi's being at our events]. If you cannot accept this reality or feel uncomfortable about it, then it is time for you to bow out and move on to another organization. No hard feelings. No grudges."

" It is no coincidence that the appearance of the Minutemen parallels a general increase of hate crimes against latinos across the United States. Across the South, there has been a resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activity increasingly directed at latino immigrants. Concealing their former identities under the now acceptable Minuteman label, Klan and Nazi groups are finding a new lease on life, and a new target at which to direct their hate and violence."