CROSSPOST: $15 and Change: How Seattle Led the Country’s Wage Revolution

Seattle’s path to a $15 minimum wage is a winding tale of effective organizing, smart messaging, and blind dumb luck. It is also a roadmap for bypassing partisan gridlock—one city at a time. Click here for stories of the workers on the frontlines of Seattle’s wage revolution.

“It’s easy to not think about the person serving you your food,” 21-year-old Caroline Durocher told me as she prepared for the 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at a Taco Bell in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Sometimes the most direct path toward achieving a national progressive agenda is to pursue one locally.

Durocher had been working low-wage jobs since she was 16, but after five years of so-called “entry-level” employment, she felt stuck. Unable to get a better job without a college degree, but unable to earn enough money to go back to college, Durocher barely scraped by serving up 99-cent tacos to a steady stream of impatient drive-thru customers before heading home to the studio apartment she shared with her father.

“We definitely get disrespected a lot and looked down upon for being in fast food,” sighed Durocher. But she was about to earn some respect.

Shortly after 11 p.m. that night, May 29, 2013, Durocher walked off her $9.19 an hour job to become the first fast-food worker in Seattle to strike for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The next day, hundreds of Seattle fast-food workers and their supporters followed her lead, temporarily shutting down as many as 14 restaurants to chants of “Supersize our salaries now!”

It was an outrageously ambitious goal—a 64 percent pay hike to more than twice the federal $7.25 an hour minimum wage. Yet only one year and four days later, the Seattle City Council met their demands, unanimously approving the first $15 minimum wage in the nation. Seattle’s path to a $15 minimum wage is a winding tale of effective organizing, smart messaging, bold experimentation, opposition missteps, and blind dumb luck. It is also a roadmap for bypassing our nation’s partisan gridlock by rolling out a broader progressive agenda one city at a time.

Partly through its early support of Occupy Wall Street, New York Communities for Change (NYCC, formerly the New York City chapter of ACORN) came to focus on the minimum wage as a tool for improving the lives of the working poor, taking a lead role in organizing the first of what would eventually become a series of national, rolling, one-day, fast-food strikes. It was a bold plan with potentially big media appeal. But what exactly were the workers’ demands? A $10 minimum wage seemed way too low, especially in pricey New York City, but $20 an hour seemed unrealistic. It was at a meeting in Brooklyn that organizers settled on splitting the difference. And thus the $15 minimum-wage movement was born.

On Nov. 29, 2012, about 200 fast-food workers walked off their jobs in New York City to strike for $15 an hour and the right to unionize, the largest such job action ever to hit the industry. The powerful….

Read full post at YES! Magazine

5 distortions that prove the nativist movement doesn’t care about American workers

The organized anti-immigrant movement in this country thinks we’re stupid. Why else would its leaders continue swearing to us that they care so deeply about American workers?

Now, as those concerned with immigration reform await an announcement from the Obama Administration regarding administrative relief for immigrants, these leaders are again broadcasting deceptions concerning the role of immigrants in the American economy.

Killing Economic Growth on the Vine

The president’s plan for relief will only come after the House of Representatives failed to bring up the Senate’s immigration reform bill (S.744), which passed with bipartisan support well over a year ago. Reckless Congressional Republicans have responded with threats of another government shutdown.

Helping the House flounder, the organized anti-immigrant movement played a pivotal role in obfuscating the important issues surrounding that bill, even going as far as to politicize the lives of children fleeing violence from a trio of small Central American countries. Working in quiet coordination with their influential allies in the House Judiciary Committee, the principals of that movement disregarded the lives of immigrants daily with their facilitation of yet more House GOP fecklessness.

In doing so, they’ve done damage to American workers.

Our economy lost $37 million in revenues every day the House failed on reform. Revenues we’re still losing. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) report on S.744, passing the bill would’ve increased the GDP, increased wages for all workers over the long run and led to higher levels of capital investment and entrepreneurship. Further, the bill would’ve expanded the labor force, employment and raised the level of labor and capital, as well.

The CBO also concluded that “changes in direct spending and revenues under the legislation would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014–2023 period and by roughly $700 billion over the 2024–2033 period.”

That in mind, the anti-immigrant movement’s abhorrent record on aiding American workers extends far beyond their recent role in destroying immigration reform’s vast economic benefits.

5 Distortions

1. This movement has never supported a piece of policy – like raising the minimum wage – without also or first attaching such benefits to the advocacy of harsh immigration enforcement measures, the eradication of visa categories and/or other political crowbars and monkey wrenches. I challenge all leaders of this movement to prove otherwise.

2. This movement has long attacked farmers, small business owners and entrepreneurs in vital sectors of our society for their lawful employment of immigrants, even in areas of the labor force long ago vacated by the vast majority of Americans. And their powerful lobbyists and lawyers have fought hard alongside politicians to see the passage of bills that have nearly collapsed some of those sectors, as happened in Georgia and Arizona.

3. This movement refuses to acknowledge the daily realities of existing as working class, or poorer, underneath the powerful structures that orchestrate the global economy and manipulate transnational capital. Instead, nativist leaders aim their bigoted criticisms at immigrant workers. And they pretend that the following realities simply don’t exist: powerful lobbies favoring foreign investors, regressive corporate welfare and corporations abandoning their domestic workforces for tax breaks abroad and/or access to vulnerable labor forces.

4. This movement also fails to critique U.S. foreign policies that have destabilized countries and catalyzed the “push factors” behind many larger migration patterns. These destabilized spaces are so often then exploited by the powerful forces described in point three. Workers of all nationalities thusly suffer.

5. This movement disgracefully poses as a champion for the rights of African American and Black workers. Nativist leaders purport that immigrants are directly responsible for the high unemployment rates in African American and Black communities. Several anti-immigrant leaders are connected to organized white nationalism. Unsurprisingly, their messaging never confronts the historical legacy of structural and institutional bigotry that has ravaged those communities. Instead, these leaders – nearly all are white – attempt to cast immigrants as the self-positioned beneficiaries of racial oppression, when many are also victims.

Scapegoats & Demons

To understand these points is to understand how the organized anti-immigrant movement seeks to pit working people against one another. In doing so, its leaders seek to capitalize on the legitimate grievances of American workers, willfully dressing up immigrant workers as scapegoats and cultural demons.

By continuing to broadcast distortions, movement members continually reveal to us that 1) they lie to Americans, and happily, about the root causes of workers’ struggles, and 2) they’re content compounding those struggles by disguising harsh anti-immigrant policies as economic solutions.

Importantly, though, nativist leaders lose when Americans understand that immigrant workers are often fleeing fragile economies and oppressive, deadly conditions manufactured by the same forces that also treat Americans as disposable.

Aaron Flanagan is the director of research at the Center for New Community.

Image Source: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook via Creative Commons


FAIR Promotes, Co-Headlines Event w/ “Poster Sheriff” Coordinated by Minutemen Activist

On August 30, nativists with ties to the extremist Minutemen movement will hold a townhall-style event in Ottawa, Illinois. The event is being promoted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) – the flagship organization of the modern day anti-immigrant movement – with the group’s national field director, Susan Tully, listed as a featured speaker.

Tully’s presence marks the second time in recent months that FAIR has formally associated with Illinois-based anti-immigrant activists with established records of bigotry.

Based on recent posts on social media and far-right message boards, Rosanna Pulido appears to be one of the event’s organizers. Pulido is a founder of the virulently nativist Illinois Minuteman Project and a longtime anti-immigrant activist with extensive ties to FAIR. At one point, Pulido worked under Susan Tully’s supervision as a regional field coordinator for the group and also served as a spokesperson for the FAIR-founded anti-immigrant front group You Don’t Speak for Me, which sought to sway Latinos and Hispanics in favor of its policies and messages.

History of Violence, Connections to FAIR

The Minutemen movement has been responsible for horrific anti-immigrant violence. Two of its most infamous members have been Shawna Forde and JT Ready. Forde is former a border vigilante currently on death row for murdering a nine year-old girl and her father in their Arizona home. Ready was a neo-Nazi border vigilante and suspected weapons trafficker who committed suicide after murdering his girlfriend’s family and infant daughter.

After a few years of apparent inactivity, Pulido (left, at microphone) and the Illinois Minuteman Project resurfaced in April to organize a “Save the American Worker Rally” in downtown Chicago. FAIR also promoted that event. Susan Tully (right, with flag) was photographed in attendance. After the group of around twenty protesters left, Tully and Pulido were observed getting lunch together at a nearby restaurant.

In addition to resurrecting her Minutemen group, Pulido is involved in other far-right causes that include attending local chapter meetings of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America and joining up with homophobic activists when the Illinois state legislature debated – and eventually passed – a marriage equality measure last October.

Speaking alongside Tully at the Ottawa event will be Tony Childress (pictured above), Sheriff-elect of Illinois’s Livingston County. In July, Childress joined Tully and seven other sheriffs from across the country on a “fact-finding mission” to McAllen, Texas that was organized and funded by FAIR.

Tully and Childress will discuss the trip at Saturday’s event, and according to FAIR’s promotional email, explain “what is really happening and how you can make a difference.”

FAIR’s Law Enforcement Allies Maintain Poor Track Record

FAIR has long attempted to cultivate lasting ties with law enforcement officials. Sheriff-elect Childress is among latest to be recruited to their cause. Before he further aligns himself with the anti-immigrant movement, Childress should ponder some of FAIR’s other friends in law enforcement: Sheriff Terry Johnson of North Carolina’s Alamance County and Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County, for instance.

Both sheriffs have been embroiled in legal challenges rooted in the anti-immigrant and racially insensitive enforcement practices of their departments—standards that FAIR and other anti-immigrant organizations have, in part, inspired or at least tacitly approved. A lawsuit alleging racial profiling brought against Johnson’s department has already cost taxpayers nearly $500,000. Thanks to Arpaio, some Arizona taxpayers will have to pay approximately $21 million. Clearly, supporting the anti-immigrant movement is costly.

Compounding such shamefulness, bigoted enforcement practices wreak emotional and physical havoc on immigrant families.

By actively participating in events organized by extremists, FAIR continues to demonstrate that it’s not a credible organization, certainly one that has no positive role to play in local law enforcement.

FAIR’s promotion of and presence at Pulido’s upcoming event only reaffirms that organization’s continued commitment to supporting the efforts of fringe populists. From that, Sheriff-elect Childress should answer publicly for his involvement with such groups, as other FAIR-connected sheriffs have.

Image Sources: and Center for New Community Archives

Virulently anti-Muslim activist wins FL primary

On Tuesday, notorious anti-Muslim activist Joe Kaufman won his primary election for the Republican nomination for Florida’s 23rd district of US Congress.

Kaufman, who runs the ironically named group “Americans Against Hate,” has a well-documented history of anti-Muslim activity. For example, Kaufman previously protested Muslim Family Day at a Six Flags amusement park, claiming it was sponsored by terrorist organizations. Following the actual terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Kaufman recklessly advocated the use of nuclear weapons against unspecified Muslim countries.

Kaufman will be running against incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz in November’s midterm election.

Geller, Spencer fail to disguise Islamophobia at recent rally

The organized nativist movement continues to politicize current events in order to push its agenda in attempts to sway public opinion. The Aug. 17 American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) rally held in New York City’s Union Square was no exception.

AFDI’s leaders, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, framed their rally as supportive of Israel and “minorities prosecuted under Islamic rule.” As the event unfolded, though, the day was just another manufactured context wherein which the duo sought to vilify Muslims.

For starters, the stage was decorated in various anti-Muslim advertisements that AFDI works to place in public transit and bus systems throughout the country. This included their flagship ad equating Muslims to savages and more recent ads that conflate Islam with anti-Semitism. From there, Geller and Spencer used the Israeli conflict to peddle conspiracy theories about the threat of “global jihad” and its aims for world domination.

A stage set for extremism

As has always been the case, nativist groups attract extremist voices to their rallies — because they’re extremists. Unsurprisingly, one of the featured speakers this past Sunday was controversial New York assemblyman Dov Hikind. Hikind has a well-documented history of Islamophobia, supporting unwarranted surveillance on Muslim communities, and having ties to the Jewish Defense League, a domestic terrorist organization as recognized by the FBI.

Dwindling support and media coverage

Following the event, Geller took to her blog to express frustration at the lack of media coverage the rally garnered.

Aside from a local news affiliate, one of the only mainstream media outlets to report on her event was the Huffington Post.  Geller, who said the publication “pimps” for radical Muslim terrorists, was anything but enthused by this:

“The whole point of the Huffington Post covering this rally was to mock, smear, and destroy anyone associated with this issue,” she wrote. “This is not coverage, this is Islamic propaganda.”

The Post set the record straight about Geller’s claim of thousands in attendance, counting only about 150 protestors present. This lack of national attention was a testament to Geller’s perhaps waning  influence when compared to previous rallies behind which she’s proven a pivotal organizer.

Summer is coming to an end, but Geller and Spencer’s daily attempts to vilify and to marginalize Muslim communities is sure to drudge on. With that, we will continue to expose their bigotry, along with their anti-immigrant counterparts, and show their rallies and gatherings for what they are: manifestations of their hate-filled agendas.

Kobach, Voter ID and the threats to Women’s Suffrage

Kris Kobach

On Aug 26, 1920, women in the United States won the right to vote. Almost a century later, women’s access to the ballot is now at risk again. Laws that have targeted poor and minority voters are also disproportionately impacting women – particularly those laws that require Voter ID and proof of citizenship.

No one is more central to those concerted attacks on voting rights than Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has spearheaded a larger push to elect Secretary of State candidates nationwide who will leverage their positions to suppress votes.

Of course, those efforts are touted under the false premise of preventing voter fraud. Just yesterday, Kobach was featured on NPR scapegoating immigrants as a threat to voting integrity.

This November, Kobach will be up for re-election, and so will be forced to defend his record as a national leader within the GOP, one renowned for linking together attacks on immigrants and voting rights.

Recent Anti-Immigrant Advocacy

One would presume that being Secretary of State amounts to a full-time job, but Kobach’s schedule is full of work for the national anti-immigrant movement that distracts him from his constituents. For example, he serves as counsel for the legal arm of the organized nativist movement at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), and he has already announced plans to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s pending plans for administrative relief for immigrants. Such an effort will mirror his current lawsuit filed against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an administrative relief program enacted in 2012.

Defending Voter Suppression

Just yesterday, Kobach was scheduled to make a case in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals defending Kansas’s SAFE Act, a harsh law that combines a strict voter ID law and proof of citizenship requirements. His SAFE Act creates a two-tiered voting system that blocks 19,000 Kansans from casting a vote in state and local elections.

This week, Kobach will also defend a similar law in Arizona. The court’s decision in that case will impact other states currently considering a similar two tiered voting system, which highlights the heart of the issue.

Kobach has national ambitions.

From his seemingly isolated position in his home state, the Yale graduate is targeting as many voters and ballots as his movement can. In a 2012 interview, Kobach infamously explained some of his ambitions: “Ideally, Kansas can become a place where conservative ideas of government are tried and exported to other states.”

Rollbacks for Women

The laws he is currently promoting require not only a valid photo ID at the voting booth but also proof of citizenship. A person’s name on her or his valid ID must also be consistent with her or his name on voter registration rolls. And while that might seem intuitive, in practice many people change their names – especially women who marry and divorce. For those who have done so, hurdles as significant as they are unnecessary instantly appear.

And the impact is clear.

A survey conducted by The Brennan Center survey reveals that “just 48 percent of voting-age women have easy access to their birth certificates, and 66 percent of those women have access to proof of citizenship with their current legal names.” Such data plays out in Kansas, which is one of ten states where strict Voter ID and proof of citizenship laws create intense barriers to women’s suffrage.

Beyond the issue of name changes, Voter ID laws disproportionately impact women. Stemming from that, people of color and especially women of color are particularly hard-hit by voter suppression measures.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice found that women of color were less likely than white women to have a photo-ID, and more likely to take advantage of same day voter registration and early voting. According to another study by the Brennan Center, “African-Americans are more than three times as likely as Caucasians to lack a government-issued photo ID, with one in four African-Americans owning no such ID.”

Broader Consequences

In addition disproportionately barring African-Americans and women from voting, voter suppression laws pushed by Kobach and his cohort also disenfranchise recently naturalized citizens, those over 65, the poor, people born out of state and students.

So, most people.

On both voting rights and immigration enforcement, Kobach has consistently and repeatedly tested what the courts will tolerate and what Kansans will endure. Voters across the country have reason to pay close attention to this November’s election in Kansas, as perhaps a large percentage could one day find they’re barred from their local voting site in their own states.

Lauren Taylor is a field organizer at the Center for New Community.

CROSSPOST: Militarization of U.S. police finally dragged into light by horrors of Ferguson

The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”

The harrowing events in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.

As is true for most issues of excessive and abusive policing, police militarization is overwhelmingly and disproportionately directed at minorities and poor communities, ensuring that the problem largely festers in the dark. Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized. But those who bear the brunt of this transformation are those who lack loud megaphones; their complaints of the inevitable and severe abuse that results have largely been met with indifference.

If anything positive can come from the Ferguson travesties, it is that the completely out-of-control orgy of domestic police militarization receives long-overdue attention and reining in.

Read full post at The Intercept.

3 examples of nativist hypocrisy on ‘rule of law’ evidenced in attacks on migrant children

Hypocrisy permeates the work of the organized anti-immigrant movement. Perhaps nothing underscores their collective hypocrisy more consistently and clearly than that movement’s “rule of law” argument against legislation and reforms that would aid the young.

During a two-year-long drudging refrain, its communicators have trotted phrases like “executive fiat,” “imperial amnesty,” “backdoor amnesty” in order to misguide the American public about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The successful executive action the president issued in 2012 has extended much-needed protection from deportation to nearly 600,000 young immigrants living in the U.S.

The Obama administration is reportedly drafting a framework for broader relief – one modeled on the successes of DACA – that could positively impact the lives of 5-6 million more immigrants.

Of course, through its lobbyists and allies in Congress, the influential cabal of organizations leading this movement in Washington, D.C., has been positioning to undercut further relief. In the past few days, two of the three organizations comprising that cabal have provided more evidence of their hypocrisy.

One example appeared Monday night when NumbersUSA issued an email alert to its members, asking them to 1-click send a pre-written fax urging their senators to join the House in passing a bill designed to destroy DACA. In a little more than 150 words, NumbersUSA managed to squeeze in numerous mentions of an “unconstitutional executive amnesty program” (i.e. administrative relief), which they criticize even though it is constitutional, for which there is precedent and that will work within the existing law.

Of course, none of those facts stopped Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies, from providing our second example. Kirkorian – who so often writes like a large-lexicon’ed college freshman in love with the dialogic flourishes exhibited on HBO’s Deadwood – delved deep into his bag of rhetoric to produce the following:

“But when a president proposes to issue a ukase amnestying millions of illegal aliens [….] it does indeed represent a leap into the antidemocratic dark.”

But beyond those two examples, what has truly been “antidemocratic” and quite “dark” is how behind all this big talk about presidents acting like rogue power-drunk czars ["ukase"] are the starkest examples of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s “rule of law” hypocrisy: their all-out assault on the legal frameworks and precedents in place to process and ultimately to protect children fleeing the near pandemic of murders, rapes, and kidnappings plaguing a trio of Central American countries.

The organized anti-immigrant movement is pushing to:

1. Deny children an opportunity to tell their stories.

Telling can’t occur without hearing. Judges must be able to fairly and thoroughly examine the children’s claims of “fear of persecution,” a legitimate claim to receive protected status. The anti-immigrant movement has supported the “rocket dockets” that speed these children into deportation before they can obtain a lawyer and become prepared to tell their stories.

2. Deny children access to lawyers.

When able to obtain one, children win their immigration cases 47 percent of the time, but they are deported 9-out-of-10 times otherwise. The anti-immigrant movement knows this, which is why its leaders lobbied then applauded when House Republicans voted down funding earmarked for providing these children with access to lawyers. The hypocrisy here is wild: 92.5 percent of children show up to their hearings when they are able to obtain representation, but that number plummets when a lawyer is never made available. Simply put, nativists are concerned a child will show up and win.

3. Deny children all semblance of due process.

Without lawyers and a chance to tell their stories, children are vulnerable to being swept into detention to await deportation. The United Nations and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services have both found that a majority of the children – and many as 63 percent – have viable claims for protection under international law. Advocating for the destruction of due process in order to sneak children into deportation proceedings is a violation of the “rule of law,” literally and philosophically.

Upon being deported, some now lie in morgues, not safely in their beds.

The rule of convenient hypocrisy (and cruelty) defines NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies and their allies as they coordinate to drum up politics solely to deny rights and the protection of lives—even those of young children.

Aaron Flanagan is the director of research at the Center for New Community.

Image source: Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America

Media outlets give platform to nativists’ back-to-school scare tactics

It’s back to school season and the ire of some on the far-Right has a new target: Central American children in U.S. schools. The prospect of children fleeing the violence in that region attending American schools has become a cause for alarm in nativist circles, and the organized anti-immigrant movement is seeking to capitalize.

Since reports first emerged of children arriving in the U.S., anti-immigrant organizations and far-Right media have continually demonized these children, calling for their immediate deportation. Now those same forces are attempting to stoke further anti-immigrant sentiment. For example, an August 12 headline boasted: “Schools to Be Flooded With Illegal Immigrant Children.”

As always, nativists refuse to acknowledge that these children have a right to an eduction. In the landmark 1982 Plyler vs. Doe decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all children have the right to a K-12 public school education.

Unfortunately, a smattering of mainstream media outlets are picking up the anti-immigrant movement’s talking points and allowing nativist fear-mongering to seep into their coverage. Among the examples:

  • Last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline proclaimed a local school district is dealing with a “swarm” of immigrant students. Though, the alarmist — and dehumanizing – headline was contradicted by the article’s final sentence: “DeKalb [County Schools] typically registers about 2,000 new immigrants a year, and the tally for this school year is about 1,300 so far.”
  • The L.A. Times offered NumbersUSA a platform to criticize Los Angeles Unified School District. Chris Chmielenski, NumbersUSA’s director of content and activism, said officials are sending the wrong message to Central America by honoring the recently arrived children’s right to an education. Neither Chmielenski nor his organization, however, have any expertise on this particular matter.

Strategy has failed in past

Portraying immigrants and refugees as a debilitating threat to public schools has long been a tactic of the anti-immigrant movement. In 1994, NumbersUSA founder and president Roy Beck breached the issue in an article for The Atlantic. Beck painted a dismal portrait of Wausau, Wisconsin, where Hmong refugees had been accepted in the 1970s.

“Many sensed that their way of life is slipping away,” Beck wrote of Wausau residents.

It should be noted that at the time of the article’s publication, Beck was working as a consultant for John Tanton – the white nationalist architect of the modern day anti-immigrant movement.

It should also be noted that editors of The Wausau Daily Herald recently reflected on Beck’s piece — nearly 20 years after its publication — and flatly refuted many of Beck’s claims.

The Herald editors wrote, “Did our life slip away? Nope,” adding, “Wausau has grown and become stronger as it has made a substantial Hmong population part of its fabric.”

As students and schools across the country prepare for a new year, mainstream media must not lend credence to the anti-immigrant movement’s attacks on children’s right to an education. After all, these attacks stem from a movement rooted in bigotry, one advocating for unconstitutional policies with leaders who operate outside the margins of legitimate public debate.

Instead, we must honor the rights of these children by providing them with care, with access to public education being a vital component. They, like the Hmong residents in Wausau and countless others across the country before them, deserve their opportunity to contribute to our country’s fabric.

Dutch xenophobe Geert Wilders an interesting choice to speak up for Israel

Geert Wilders, center, appears with Marine Le Pen, left, in 2013.

If Tom Trento is truly concerned about standing with Israel, he should reconsider his allies.

On Aug. 11, Trento, founder and president of the United West, featured Dutch politician Geert Wilders on his web show to discuss the importance of standing with Israel against Hamas. In reality, both men used the conflict to push the anti-Muslim agenda that runs through their work.

Wilders’ far-Right Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) has been continually criticized for it’s relationship to Nazi imagery, making Wilders an odd choice to speak up in support of Israel. Furthermore, Wilders is also currently allied with political parties across Europe that are long rooted in anti-Semitism.

But like his host, Wilders, who heads the PVV, seemed to forget all of that during Trento’s show.

Tom Trento

During a July demonstration in The Hague, pro-Palestinian participants used Nazi imagery in their protest of  Israel’s assault on Gaza, leading Dutch police to rightfully crack down on such incitement. “It was shocking,” Wilders told Trento. “There were people with Swastikas, with Nazi flags moving around in the streets of The Hague.” Wilders, though, feigned surprise to see such shows of anti-Semitism, something his own party has been guilty of in that very city.

Of course, both Trento and Wilders failed to mention this during their chat.

Let’s flashback to 2011, though, when Wilders became embroiled in controversy after a flag associated with the Dutch Nazi party was spotted hanging in the PVV’s parliamentary office in The Hague. The flag in question is the Prinsen flag, a symbol synonymous with the notorious Dutch national socialist party of the 1930’s. It has since been removed. And just last year, four members of PVV wore badges with the Prinsen insignia in the Dutch Parliament itself. This was after Wilders was singled out by another Member of Parliament after one of PPV’s supporters was seen waving the Prinsen flag and giving Nazi salutes at a party rally.

As if the Dutch Nazi flags weren’t enough, Wilders is also close allies with Marine Le Pen who is currently the president of France’s Front National, a political party with a long history of promoting anti-Semitism and fascism. Le Pen has previously called for Jewish yamakas to be banned in public places. Le Pen is considered tame when compared to her father and Front National founder, Jean-Marie. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Mr. Le Pen has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and referred to Nazi concentration camps during World War II as a “mere detail in history.”

Earlier this month, Wilders was dropped from a petition combating anti-Semitism in the Netherlands. His name was removed from the document after he released a statement criticizing the Dutch prime minister for not recognizing Islam and Muslim immigration as being the root cause for an increase in anti-Jewish sentiments.

“Close the borders! Tackle Islam!” he advised.

Back in March, Wilders was widely derided, with some hyperbolically comparing him to Hitler, after he echoed the famous 1943 speech of Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels in order to push for  less immigration (especially from Morocco) into the Netherlands.

As for Trento, he has defaulted back to the kind of content that failed to secure funding for his original show that was cancelled in December: That is, feature any guest on his show as an expert as long as they echo his anti-Muslim agenda. By providing Wilders a platform, it’s clear Trento does not care about combating anti-Semitism but rather aims to capitalize on complex conflicts for his own personal gain.