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Remember 1986’s “S.744 National Press Day” Recalls Same Old Nativist Obstructionism


Aaron Patrick Flanagan • May 20, 2013

Rusty Childress of Remember 1986

On April 9, G. Russel “Rusty” Childress, head of the nativist group Remember 1986 (R86), took to his group’s Facebook page to vent:

“We cannot afford to become a Country of Entitlement by, [sic] and for the outlaws: The Illegal Aliens.”

Childress is hoping to underscore such sentiments with R86’S sponsoring of tomorrow’s “S.744 National Press Day,” all in the hopes of obstructing the progress of the Senate’s immigration reform bill and without presenting a single solution beyond (self-)deportation.

The “S.744 National Press Day” will see a large network of generally quite small anti-immigrant and nativist-leaning Tea Party groups descend on their respective state houses and representative’s home offices, hoping to showcase the grassroots opposition that the national leadership organizations who are directly supporting the day’s efforts–Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA–have been claiming for months exists beyond the Beltway.

R86 is listed as an official state contact group on FAIR’s website (14 such FAIR groups are participating). Childress also recently traveled to Washington, DC for FAIR’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event where he participated in the lobbying visits the group conducted. NumbersUSA is lending its capacity for digital activism, promoting the event and writing model press releases, and providing participating groups with media contact lists.

In truth, it remains to be seen what numbers they can mobilize.

JT Ready (I) with Russell Pearce of BAN (right)

What is certainly on display on R86’s Facebook is evidence of the bigotry that is refueling nativist paranoiacs who truly believe a flood of “outlaws” are about to overwhelm our country. A simple scan of the page, active since February 25, reveals numerous connections to the established anti-immigrant movement and numerous indulgences of racism, both casual and more fervent:

  • Russell Pearce and his group Ban Amnesty Now have jointly produced posters for local protests with R86, with Pearce appearing at a recent R86 meeting. Read here about Pearce’s numerous racists emails  and links to neo-Nazis.
  • Childress reflects the depth of his group’s criticism with 2 Facebook posts in particular: above a post about Jewish Americans supporting immigration reform, he writes, “Amnesty is kosher”; and above a post regarding LGBTQ unauthorized immigrants, he writes, “LGBT…hahaha.”
  • Childress shared a link on R86’s website to the YouTube page of BirtherReportDotCom, a page full of farcical conspiracies regarding President Obama. The group’s YouTube avatar is a photo of President Obama with “Undocumented Worker” emblazoned across his chest.
  • R86 shares numerous posts in support of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a populist idol of nativists across the U.S. The group has protested in support of him. Barb Heller, who is listed as a contact on R86 press releases, shares links to Sheriff Arpaio’s “birther” investigation on her own page.
  • Childress has shared numerous pieces from the virulently white nationalist, anti-immigrant web-hub VDARE.com, including a glowing piece written about himself. VDARE is operated by Peter Brimelow, a white nationalist “thinker” who is apparently an unlisted member of FAIR’s advisory board.
  • R86 features numerous links to the nativist films They Come to America I & II — films so poorly made and offensive that not a single production company or film distributor in the U.S. or Canada would release it. Numerous FAIR state groups have held screenings of the film over the last year. NumbersUSA is now offering free copies with donations.

Childress and those coalescing around this “S.744 National Press Day” all claim that those supporting immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship are out-of-touch with Americans. Yet, Childress and R86–as its Facebook profile proves–have unabashedly supported Sheriff Joe Arpaio and have put forth Russell Pearce as one of their own representatives.

Sadly, for them, many of us remember Russell Pearce’s emails. We remember his involvement with Kris Kobach and FAIR. We remember his friendship and endorsement of the border vigilante and member of the National Socialist Movement who murdered his own family, JT Ready. And we certainly remember when the people of his district organized and had Pearce recalled because of his racist fixations and failed policies.

In mid-April, Childress offered another reminder on R86’s Facebook page, “FAIR needs your help to remind Congress that amnesty is not the solution.”

In a time when huge swathes of the GOP have openly distanced themselves from such groups in order to support reform, it is telling that FAIR and NumbersUSA–two groups who have long-battled and failed to disprove allegations of extremism–would openly remind everyone of their connections to nativist hard-liners who joke about Jewish people and members of the LGBTQ community. Such a reminder will only enhance the clarity with which the GOP and Conservatives at-large recognize this anti-immigrant/population-control Trojan Horse within their party, thus hopefully facilitating their further alienation.

On tomorrow’s “S.744 National Press Day,” others must remind our country that the peddlers of such bigotry simply have no place in the present immigration debate.

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