They're Still At It: Arizona Immigration Law
Is Part Of A Decades-Old Right-Wing Campaign To Attack Minorities For Political
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them real fast: mediamatters.org, the New York Times, the Washington Post,
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cbsews.com and McClatchy newspapers.
Before analyzing any legislation
touching on race that comes from the right, it's absolutely critical to know the
right's history in this realm. So
let's go over that before discussing this particular Arizona law.
What I want you to get in the habit
of doing is, with this law, and with any measure proposed by right-wingers that
touches on race, immediately say to them: "Mr. or Ms. Right-Winger, any
measure you propose is automatically suspect as being racist, given right-wing
past practice and behavior. The
burden is on you to prove otherwise."
Here's the historical evidence you
can draw upon to be able to confidently make this assertion to your friendly
To start off with, we have to debunk
the line that the right-wing will always throw at you: the Democrats are the
racist party. Lincoln freed the
Yes, the Democrats were
the racist party, the operative word being "were," as in the past
tense, things change, sometimes even get reversed, which is what happened here
Before the Civil Rights era in the
60's, the Democrats had a racist wing, the Dixiecrats.
The split back then on race wasn't Democrat vs. Republican. It was
conservative vs. liberal. By and
large, liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans supported the Voting Rights
Act, right-wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans opposed it.
And --this is what's important --
after civil rights legislation passed in 1964 and 1965, the Republican Party,
the GOP, became the place where racist voters and politicians migrated.
Whites changed their vote to Republican, African-Americans to the
And to encourage this process, the
Republican Party flipped from being the party of Lincoln, to become the party of
the Southern Strategy.
The Southern strategy was designed to
get the support of Southern whites who were upset that Democrats had led the
effort to protect the civil and voting rights of African Americans.
The GOP used race as a wedge issue,
in order to produce white votes for Republicans.
Richard Nixon was the first
to employ the southern strategy in a presidential campaign.
The existence of the Southern
strategy is something you should never let a right-winger deny.
You can quote some prominent right-wingers themselves.
Lee Atwater, Karl Rove's mentor, explained
You start out in 1954 by
saying ‘N-word, N-word, N-word.’ By
1968, you can’t say ‘N-word.’ That
hurts you. Backfires.
So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.
In 2005 Republican National Committee
head Ken Mehlman said
the GOP's effort to benefit from racial polarization had been wrong.
Current GOP head Michael Steele just recently lamented
that the GOP had pursued a Southern Strategy.
deals with this in detail.
Dixie dog whistle appeals weren't all
the GOP did to hurt minorities. Right-wingers
engaged in what's called "vote-caging."
You send out a mailing and if a letter comes back, you tell the voting
registrar, that person doesn't live there, remove him from the rolls.
And Republican registrars did just that.
The Republican National Committees'
vote caging operation, its voter suppression operation against
African-Americans, got under way in 1981.
The Republican Party was sued,
The consent decrees that
resulted prohibited the party from engaging in anti-fraud initiatives that
target minorities or conduct[ing] mail campaigns to "compile voter
Check out podcast 99
for all the gory details.
Continuing on, guess who personifies
all this racist GOP behavior? Their
icon, Ronald Reagan. I call what
you'll now hear, the Five Pillars of Ronald Reagan's racism.
One, Reagan opposed
the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Who
except the Ku Klux Klan or its fellow travelers would oppose such a measure?
Two, Reagan opposed
the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Same
Three, Reagan sent a huge, Southern
Strategy Dixie dog whistle during his presidential campaign.
Philadelphia, Mississippi was notorious for being the town outside of
which three civil rights workers -- James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael
Schwerner -- had been murdered. In
an unprecedented move, Reagan chose to give a speech at the County Fair there.
He didn't even mention the civil rights workers.
Instead, he spoke
of states rights, code words at the time for pro-segregationist sentiment.
Four, Reagan opposed making Martin
Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.
And five, Reagan sided
with the racist, apartheid South African government in its fight against
worldwide economic sanctions. Archbishop
Desmond Tutu called
Reagan's policies evil, immoral and unchristian.
Do listen to podcast 159
for much more on Reagan's racism.
Was the right-wing Southern Strategy
successful? You betcha.
LBJ reportedly said,
as he signed civil rights legislation, that the Democrats had lost the South for
a generation. He underestimated.
For example, here's a stat
to make your neck hairs stand on end: the 25 states that had the highest
lynching rates per capita, all supported George Bush in the 2000 and 2004
Ok, that's a good hunk of the
historical context of GOP racism. Is
there evidence of it continuing to this very day?
How about some current-day examples
of right-wing Dixie dog-whistling. Actually,
as you'll hear, some of it isn't even that subtle.
There's of course, the recent
"Oops, forgot about that slavery thing!" brouhaha.
Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of
Virginia declared last
April Confederate History Month in Virginia.
That would be bad enough. But
his proclamation didn't even mention slavery.
McDonnell explained that he had
"focused on the [aspects] I thought were most significant for
Virginia." After an uproar,
he made a mistake.
Still, days later, Mississippi Gov.
Haley Barbour, right-winger to the core, said
he didn't think the original proclamation was a mistake.
He said all the controversy was a "nit" and "doesn't
amount to diddly."
Any racist listening knows just what
Let's now turn to our good friend,
Mr. Rush Limbaugh.
Here's what this fine gentleman had
audio: Rush Limbaugh
What is it that's
remarkable about the tea party is that it's the first time an uprising of
common, ordinary, average everyday citizens since the Civil War has risen up
The Civil War was an uprising of
common, ordinary, average citizens?! Insanity.
And apparently not limited to Rush.
Former Virginia Governor George Allen
supported Confederate History month by proclaiming that the Civil War was really
"a four-year struggle for independence, sovereign rights and local
As New York Times columnist Gail
Collins deftly put it:
Confederate History Month
was promoted by … George Allen…with such cheer that you would really think
the fight was all about zoning.
The dog whistle chorus grows.
Now back to Limbaugh again, for
something also very racially ugly.
People are finally
standing up to this little boy, this little man-child President, whose primary
job, if you want, in life, has been leisure.
This guy is practiced at leisure more than anything else.
This is a level of racist invective
just below explicitly using the N-word.
In the segregated South, one of the
ways African-American men were humiliated, was by being called "Boy."
Limbaugh knows this.
Every time he calls Limbaugh a little boy, a man-child, it's Limbaugh's
Dixie dog whistle to the racists: "We all know what Obama is, don't
Another of the more vicious racist
stereotypes, is the "lazy Negro."
Limbaugh said Obama's "primary
job" in life has been leisure. That
Obama is "more practiced at leisure" than anything else.
It's crystal clear, this explicit
harkening back to the old racist stereotype.
How about we take a look now at the
tea party people? They're certainly
a visible bunch of right-wingers these days.
And boy, are they racist.
A CBS/New York Times poll
that a majority of them feel that "too much has been made of the problems
facing black people." They're
far more likely than the general public to feel that the Obama administration
favors blacks over whites.
Even worse: A University of
Washington poll found that a majority of tea party supporters don't even think
that blacks are intelligent, hard-working, or trustworthy.
Wow, pretty hard-core.
The GOP's continuing Southern
Strategy obviously has a sizeable built-in audience.
Lots of eager ears pining to hear those Dixie dog whistles.
Of course, the Arizona "show me
your papers law" is directed not at African-Americans, but at another
minority, Hispanics. Don't worry,
there's equal opportunity racial bigotry and hatred on the GOP right.
Listen to radio talk show host Neal
Boortz. He's not fringe.
audio: Neal Boortz
…During the warm-up hour
of The Neal Boortz Show, we came up with a marvelous suggestion for solving two
of America's problems at the same time: disposing of nuclear waste and doing
something about the illegal aliens in this country. And that is, if the evil
listeners to talk radio can just succeed in killing the amnesty bill, or if we
can at least succeed in getting an amendment to the bill that says before you
can get a visa to work here, you have to go home. OK?
Then all of the Mexicans
who are here, as they leave the country we can give them a lovely parting gift,
like they do on Jeopardy! We can give them a little -- yeah, a little bag of
nuclear waste from one of our nuclear power plants or maybe one of our nuclear
Give 'em a little bag of
nuclear waste as your lovely parting gift. AMF, which means "Adios, my
friend." Send them back across the border to Mexico. Tell 'em it's a
tortilla warmer. You know, to put it in the tortilla box, and the tortillas stay
warm. And then they will. And you'll be able to find them at night too, because
they'll glow. And this will be a big hit.
Black or brown, the name of the game
is the same.
Current GOP head Michael Steele
the question, do African-Americans have a good reason to vote for Republicans.
For the last 40-plus years
we had a 'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on
the white male vote in the South…You really don't have a reason to, to be
honest -- we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one.
You might ask your right-wing
friends, do they think it's any coincidence, that there
hasn't been a single Republican African-American in the Senate or the House
since 2003? And -- get this -- a
total of three -- three! -- since 1935.
Ok, all this is the historical
context, the sewer of racist appeals and actions that the Arizona law has to be
looked at in. And why you can tell
any right-winger you're talking to, that the presumption is that this right-wing
law is racist, that the burden is on them to prove it's not.
Before we get to the Arizona law
itself, there's one more thing particular to the area of this law, immigration,
that I must add.
For over two decades, we in effect
invited undocumented workers into our country with a wink and a nod.
We won't police our borders, we won't bother you when you're here, just
come and work for us cheaply, and you'll be fine.
You can marry and raise a family and send your kids to school.
Just work for us cheaply. This
went on for over two decades. Millions
of Mexicans and others took us up on our offer.
We benefited from their cheap labor.
So, as I argued at much greater
length in podcast 100,
analogizing to some legal concepts which I won't get into here, it is absolutely
unfair and immoral to now, all of a sudden, scream at these millions of people,
"What, you snuck in here without our permission, violated our sovereignty,
and have been evading the law? We'll
find and deport you."
But that's exactly what the Arizona
law is designed to do.
GOP wordmeister Frank Luntz and other
right-wingers have tried to mislead
people into believing, that the law only gives Arizona police the power to
question the immigration status of those who are caught in the process of
committing a crime.
That's just plain wrong.
The Arizona police already had the power to check the immigration status
of anyone committing a crime, or even suspected of a crime.
No, this new law "greatly
expands" the power of the police to check immigration status, directing
them to check the status of anyone that they merely stop or detain.
And this applies to non-crimes, like violations of traffic rules and city
and country ordinances. Speeding.
An expired registration. Loud
parties. Barking dogs.
All could trigger an immigration check and deportation.
You know that if a policeman wants to
stop someone, there's always a reason that can be found.
The police must have "reasonable
suspicion" the person is here illegally.
The law says color or national origin can't be the "sole
factor" in establishing reasonable suspicion.
But I'll bet it'll be a pretty big
All mere window dressing so an argument can be made that at least on its
face as written, the law isn't unconstitutional.
But you know why the law was written, and how its supporters want it to
Arizona apparently wants to find and
deport, all the brown people it allowed to settle on and peacefully live in its
territory for over 20 years. Or at
least the right-wing politicians in that state want it to appear so -- a new
type of Dixie-dog whistle, as it were -- a Rio Grande dog whistle -- to
stir up racial antagonism and garner white votes.
In a moment, more evidence of the
racist intent behind this law. Stick
Want some more evidence to back up
the claim that there is racist intent in Arizona behind their new immigration
How about this nugget from Arizona's
Arizona was the last state that refused
to accept the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
Things got so bad, that there had to be a national boycott of Arizona
before it agreed to honor Dr. King. What
could the motivation have been for Arizona's defiance, other than racist
sentiment? Think that racism has
Jumping back into the present, did
you know that shortly after passing its new anti-immigrant law, the Arizona
lawmakers then decided to target
ethnic studies in that state? They
passed legislation aimed at ending
I couldn't put
it better than columnist Eugene Robinson, who wrote that in light of the new
anti-ethnic studies law:
At least we don't have to
pretend anymore. Arizona's passing of that mean-spirited new immigration law
wasn't about high-minded principle or the need to maintain public order.
Apparently, it was all about putting Latinos in their place.
The real kicker is, some of the
propaganda the right is putting out to garner support for the Arizona anti-brown
immigrant law. Evoking memories of
the Willie Horton ad, the right is screaming that Arizona had to pass the law to
protect itself against rampant illegal
O'Reilly: "The Arizona
authorities say we're desperate ... Our crime problem is through the roof.
Phoenix is one of the most dangerous cities in the country."
William La Jeunesse, Fox News
correspondent: "[T]he state is
staggering under the impact of human smuggling, drug trafficking and other
crimes committed by foreign nationals who shouldn't be here."
The facts are the exact opposite, as
if often the case when right-wingers are making assertions of any sort.
Crime rates in Arizona are at the
lowest point in four decades, and have dropped in other border states as well.
Phoenix crime is the lowest in 15 years.
U.S. border towns have similar rates of violence compared to
Immigrants have lower incarceration
rates than U.S-born men.
Even the CATO institute felt
compelled to say "[i]t is a smear to blame low-skilled immigrant workers
from Latin America for creating a crime problem in Arizona."
From the law enforcement perspective,
the Phoenix police chief says
the law isn't needed to fight crime, they already have the tools they need.
In fact, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police says it could hinder
the police by diverting scarce resources to immigration matters.
Yet none of this matters to the
right. Fox News continues to promote
scary, discredited claims, like their on-screen graphic reading "2,158
killed by illegals every year."
While you now know the facts, most
people don't. And the right knows
they're tapping into a primal need, to feel safe.
audio: Laura Ingraham
[G]ood people who are law-abiding and just want to
live in peace and just to feel safe on the streets, those people are being
demonized, frankly, by the President of the United States.
Unfortunately, the right-wing's
effort has been successful.
A trio of recent polls show that
nearly two-thirds of Americans support
the Arizona law. A fourth New York
found 60% of people supported the law or wanted it to go further.
This was even though they felt that it would " burden police
departments and disproportionately affect certain ethnic groups." A Wall
Street Journal/NBC poll found
majority support, even though respondents agreed it would likely result in more
discrimination against legal immigrants.
Almost half of Democrats support the
law. Young people support the law
less than others, but still almost half do.
You know the Blast The Right bottom
Everything the right-wing
does is designed to accomplish one of two things, either (a) transfer wealth
from everyone else to the rich, or, (b) distract everyone else from the fact
that (a), that wealth transfer, is occurring.
This anti-immigration law is a
perfect example of (b), a wedge issue, a distraction mechanism, riling up the
base against brown people, who are violent criminals, don't you know?
And (a), the wealth transfer, is
involved as well. How? Because
the wealth transfer can occur, only if the right is in power.
And riling up the base helps the right win elections.
But there's more to this law.
And it's not without historical precedent.
Did you know that the late Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court, right-wing Republican William Rehnquist, earned
his political chops in Arizona by challenging minority voters at the polls?
And present-day Arizona Governor Jan
Brewer improperly has prevented
at least 100,000 voters, most of them Hispanic, from registering to vote.
One of those US attorneys fired by
Karl Rove was David Iglesias, for refusing to fabricate evidence of illegal
voters in Arizona.
Super-investigative reporter Greg
Palast sees the current anti-immigration law as part of the same process, of
intimidating even legal Hispanics into not voting, since many might not be
easily able to find their birth certificates or other documentation.
What moved GOP Governor
Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding
number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote -- and daring
to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive
is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast.
Or, if you like, tortillas.
Not just Arizona Republicans.
The entire right-wing knows that nationally, by 2012, "non-Hispanic
white births will be in the minority."
So where do we stand?
Around the nation, boycotts are being
Arizona. The City of Los Angeles has joined
in. At this early stage, the
city of Phoenix alone stands to lose $90 million in hotel and convention
U.N. human rights experts have said
that the Arizona statute may
laws that are binding on the United States.
Such experts are also saying the same
thing about the anti-ethnic studies legislation.
Now self-professed right-wing
Christians like Ann Coulter have advocated deporting all undocumented
audio: Ann Coulter, Bill
build a wall--in fact, I'd hire illegal immigrants to build the wall--and throw
out the illegals who are here.
throw them out.
Yes! Actually, we could have
done it very easily in the last week, since they organized themselves into
groups. We could have just sent
paddy wagons to the protests.
And moreover, it's actually very easy to catch them.
I mean, these people are living amongst us.
They have to apply for jobs, they show up in hospitals, they show up in
But now, in light of the Arizona law
and other developments, there are several evangelical leaders calling
for a path to citizenship for these individuals.
So there is some positive movement.
Let me close.
You've seen here that GOP right-wing
racism is consistent, deep-rooted and irrefutable.
The right-wing is all about money,
money, money and power, power, power. Right-wing
leaders will happily sow racial dissension and polarization in order to get the
money and stay in power.
William F. Buckley famously said:
Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!'
Stop the world's progress?
Sorry right-wingers, you can't do that, and you'll be seeing yourselves
increasingly thrown into the dustbin of history.
We progressives, on the other hand,
are happily pushing history along, fighting for social justice.
So take heart, my friends, you and I
may not see the entire victory, but we can rest assured that our efforts will
have helped achieve it.