The United States has struggled historically when it comes to race. Slavery and the conquering of North America from the indigenous populations are two examples of how the wealth and prosperity of this country came at the expense of so many others. In both instances, the ‘others’ were people of color.
With immigration coming to the forefront of discussion in the coming year, it is a good time to remember the values this country has always taken pride in: equality, democracy, freedom and rights for all people. While we have yet to see such values come to full fruition, the fight to strive for them has made the United States a starship of civil rights.
Anti-immigrant sentiment is racism disguised for 21st century consumption. Now, not only the civil rights organizations are taking this seriously, but so are politically extreme anti-immigrant groups.
It is no coincidence that the Tea Parties Against Amnesty for Immigrants on Saturday, November 14, sparked significant dissent amongst anti-immigrant groups who are trying to save their reputation in the mainstream.
Jim Gilchrist calls the organizer of the Tea Parties, William Gheen and ALI-PAC, a group that “present themselves in a very physically hostile manner tantamount to racist groups like the KKK”. William Gheen, ignoring the charges and perhaps engaging in deflection, launched his own assault on neo-Nazis promoting his Tea Parties throughout the U.S.
On November 13, William Gheen of ALI-PAC wrote a letter to white supremacist David Duke that was published yesterday on the neo-nazi website, STORMFRONT. The letter explicitly asks David Duke to disassociate from ALI-PAC and stop tampering with Gheen’s reputation. But not one of these groups is innocent when it comes to political extremism. Jim Gilchrist’s Minutemen Project was an associate of anti-immigrant leader Shawna Forde, who was responsible for the murder of nine-year-old Brisenia Flores earlier this year.
Some may dismiss the Tea Parties and those associated to them as a small percentage of America’s extremists. But what many might not know is that the Tea Party organizers work with politically extreme groups that have legitimacy in mainstream media such as the John Tanton Network. MN-SIR, a Minnesota group that receives support from the Tanton Network, was one of the primary organizers of the Tea Party and passed out t-shirts by the dozens to the crowd of tea party-goers.
Racism has a way of maneuvering itself in society. It finds a way to rear its ugly head. The anti-immigrant movement, with John Tanton and his network at the center, find new ways to insert racism in the mainstream. Once upon a time lies were spread that black people were scientifically inferior to white people. Now, the same people say that immigrants are the equivalent of an invading army of vermin.
In this case it is not about fact or fallacy. We must decide what values the United States will stand for when it comes to immigration.