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On its website, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) bills itself as a “reliable source of information” on immigration.
But FAIR President Dan Stein wasn’t exactly reliable on facts concerning his own organization when he appeared last night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” During the combative 15-minute interview, Stein claimed that FAIR never gave money to a group whose leaders included self-described white separatist Virginia Abernethy.
“We never gave that organization a dime,” Stein insisted. “And secondly, even if we were going to give them a dime, we wouldn’t have given them a dime with Virginia Abernethy associated with it.”
Maybe Stein should have checked FAIR’s website. When The Maddow Blog later fact-checked Stein, it found multiple references there to FAIR’s financial support for Protect Arizona Now, whose national advisory board was led by Abernethy. (PAN backed a successful 2004 ballot initiative that requires Arizonans to show proof of citizenship when voting and penalizes government workers who fail to report suspected undocumented immigrants seeking public benefits.) One FAIR news release (no longer on the organization’s website but accessible from an Internet archive) quoted none other than Stein touting FAIR’s role in PAN’s campaign. “Every dime that FAIR and these other organizations have raised to obtain signatures for Arizona’s PAN has been spent in Arizona to get signatures,” he said.
Stein also attempted to dismiss as irrelevant Maddow’s questions about FAIR founder — and current board member — John Tanton, who has made bigoted statements about Hispanics and advocated a European-American majority. (Much of Maddow’s most incendiary information on Tanton and FAIR came from research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes this blog; see here and here and here.) “We have a big tent,” Stein said. “People have lots of ideas.” ( continue to full post… )
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Three soldiers are among a group of skinheads accused of severely beating a homeless man with baseball bats and pipes in Cincinnati.
Police have charged two Iraq war veterans, Pvt. Riley Feller, 24, and Spc. Travis Condor, 25, with the felony assault of 52-year-old John Johnson at a homeless encampment earlier this month, according to news accounts. Feller is with the 16th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Knox in Kentucky, while Condor is a member of the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
Michael Hesson, 24, who is not in the military, was arraigned Tuesday on the same charge. Authorities are looking for an unidentified fourth man, also believed to be a soldier. Johnson was treated overnight at a hospital for a head wound and other injuries suffered in the April 10 attack. ( continue to full post… )
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Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law was written by a lawyer at the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-immigrant hate group since 2007. The law, a recipe for racial profiling, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. (See statement by SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer.)
Kris Kobach, the author of the Arizona law and a lawyer at FAIR’s Immigration Reform Law Institute, has been the prime mover behind numerous ordinances that seek to punish those who aid and abet “illegal aliens,” including laws adopted in Farmer’s Branch, Texas, and Hazelton, Pa.
The laws have not done well and have cost some localities immense sums of money to defend. Recently, the city of Albertville, Ala., refused to work with Kobach on just such an ordinance, reportedly because of the high legal costs incurred by these other communities.
Before joining FAIR, Kobach served as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s top immigration adviser. He then moved on to take charge of Department of Justice efforts to tighten border security after the 9/11 attacks. There, he developed a program — the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — that called for close monitoring of men from Arab and Muslim nations, even legal U.S. residents. The program collapsed due to complaints of racial profiling and discrimination.
Given Kobach’s history with racial profiling, it is particularly alarming that he was tapped by Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio in February to train his officers. A federal grand jury investigation is under way amid a slew of complaints that Arpaio used racial profiling techniques to round up suspected undocumented immigrants. The grand jury is also reportedly looking at whether Arpaio used his office to target political opponents. ( continue to full post… )
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Last year, California far-right pastor Wiley Drake prayed for President Obama to die. Almost 11 months later, the president not only is alive but healthy enough to play tennis over the weekend. But that hasn’t discouraged a spelling-challenged creator of a Facebook page who also is praying for Obama’s death.
“Dear Lord, this year you took my favorite actor, Patrick Swazie [sic],” the site’s creator wrote. “You took my favorite actress, Farah [sic] Fawcett. You took my favorite singer, Michael Jackson. I just wanted to let you know, my favorite president is Barack Obama. Amen.”
The site has generated a lot of attention, with 1.1 million people expressing approval. But it also has spawned other sites urging people to contact Facebook and demand that the page be deleted. The social networking site gives members wide latitude on what they may post. Its statement of rights and responsibilities, however, prohibits posting content that is, among other things, hateful or threatening.
Some Facebook members who support the anti-Obama page claim that those who object to it had no qualms about ugly comments directed at George W. Bush while he was president. “Some people need to learn how to take a joke,” one woman wrote. “It’s only a joke when it pokes fun at Bush or Palin, didn’t you read the liberal handbook?” another woman replied.
Almost as prevalent on the page as anti-Obama rhetoric — “obama HATES AMERICA!!!” — are vulgar doctored photos of the president. One depicts a hand removing excrement from a toilet bowl, Obama’s head poking out from the feces. Another shows the president supposedly urinating on an American flag. There also is a photo is of a toilet with a hand-lettered sign, “Free Obama Dolls” and an arrow pointing downward in the direction of the toilet bowl. A bogus campaign poster features a rendering of Obama with devil’s horns and flames licking around him. “Anti-Christ ’08,” it reads. ( continue to full post… )
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Bill Davis, the founder of an Arizona border vigilante group called the Cochise County Militia [motto: “Doing the job our Government refuses to do!”] has taken pride in recent years over what he says is the group’s responsible and safe surveillance of Mexicans coming illegally into the United States. “To this day, it is the most effective, safest and active of the border watch groups,” the group’s website claimed last year. “We have a perfect safety record since 2001 with nobody hurt while attending a Border Event!”
Now Davis is aiming to take a harder line at the border. On Monday, he told supporters via email that his Tombstone-based militia will be forming a PMC — a private military company, which is “completely legal!!!”
Davis said he prefers combat veterans for his venture but will consider others. There is no pay. “We can be considered paramilitary, but not vigilantes, mercenaries, etc.,” Davis wrote in the email. That’s in sharp contrast to his website’s discussion of weapons, which says that “we don’t want to appear as a para-military group in any way.” ( continue to full post… )
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Update: Police announced that they arrested Barrett’s neighbor late Thursday afternoon and charged him with murder in connection with Barrett’s slaying. Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington told The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger that Vincent McGee, 22, had done yard work for Barrett. Barrett was stabbed to death and his body set on fire. Though McGee is black, police have not revealed whether Barrett’s racism played a role in the killing.
Richard Barrett, a longtime white supremacist leader who generated more publicity than influence, was found dead this morning in his Pearl, Miss., home, apparently the victim of a homicide.
Firefighters discovered his body in a bathroom after neighbors reported a fire at Barrett’s home around 8 a.m., according to news reports. Few details have been released about the incident, which is under investigation by local, state and federal authorities.
Though Barrett, a lawyer, never became a major leader in white supremacist circles, he drew substantial press attention by organizing rallies and filing free speech lawsuits. “He was known not only for being one of the hardest of the hard-core haters but a gadfly as well, because of his limited legal knowledge,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernandino. “And he was notorious for claiming legal victories, some of which he never actually won.” ( continue to full post… )
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Talk radio host Lou Dobbs excoriated nativist leader William Gheen on air today for making comments about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s sexual orientation.
“I cannot even imagine why you would do such a thing,” Dobbs told Gheen, who appeared as a guest on Dobbs’ nationally syndicated show. Gheen, who heads Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), had asserted in a South Carolina Tea Party speech and in a news release that Graham, a South Carolina Republican, should reveal that he’s homosexual. (Graham has previously denied rumors that he’s gay.) Dobbs called Gheen’s remarks “disgusting” and urged him to “dump the hate from your heart.”
“Bill, you’ve become someone I don’t recognize,” Dobbs said.
As he’s done before, Gheen insisted that Graham’s sexuality is relevant because the lawmaker could be working with Democrats on immigration reform to avoid being outed. “The lives, jobs, wages, health and security of Americans — the sovereignty of America we are trying to save — is more important than Lindsey Graham’s personal feelings,” he said. Gheen claimed that ALIPAC had received a “huge amount” of support for his statements and asked Dobbs how it feels to “be the Southern Poverty Law Center yourself.” The SPLC had been a frequent critic of the former CNN anchor, who demonized Latino immigrants night after night before he resigned from the network under pressure in November. After leaving CNN, Dobbs told Telemundo that “we need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants under certain conditions,” and he has appeared to reach out to the Latino community. The Telemundo interview prompted Gheen to apologize to his supporters “for being wrong about Dobbs.”
Gheen struggled during the 13-minute debate, flailing at Dobbs and frequently sounding flustered. At one point Gheen mispronounced the name of National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia. When Dobbs corrected him, he accused the radio host of working with “the open borders lobby.” It wasn’t Gheen’s only blooper: Near the beginning of the show, he huffed that Dobbs had “come on this show all indignified.”
“It’s called indignant,” Dobbs replied.
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Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based group notorious for turning tragedies into gay-bashing opportunities, is pretty much universally reviled. Even an Arizona-based Ku Klux Klan group forcefully (if ungrammatically) rejected the group in a “disclaimer” published on its website. “The Ku Klux Klan, LLC, has not or EVER will have ANY connection with The ‘Westboro Baptist Church,’” it said. “We absolutely repudiate their activities.”
Not the Dove World Outreach Center, a Gainesville, Fla., church that has used similar tactics to attack both gays and Muslims. “We support Westboro who [sic] came to Gainesville because of its ‘Gay’ reputation,” the church states on its website.
In fact, Dove became virtually the only group in the history of Westboro’s anti-gay and anti-Jewish campaigning to join forces with the Topeka, Kan., church. Dove enthusiastically took part in Westboro’s Sunday protest against Gainesville’s tolerance of homosexuality. About 30 members of Dove World Outreach Center joined fewer than 10 Westboro representatives outside Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville, according to the Gainesville Sun. Many of the Dove protesters wore their signature “Islam is of the Devil” T-shirts — a message they’ve also promoted on signs outside the church.
The Independent Florida Alligator, the University of Florida’s student newspaper, reported that Dove and Westboro members sang variations of “This Land is Your Land” (“This Land is Going Straight to Hell”), “I’m Proud to Be an American” (“I’m Ashamed to Be an American”) and “God Bless America” (“God Hates America”), among other tunes. “I think their church is willing to stand up for what the whole Bible says,” Dove pastor Wayne Sapp said in a video of the event shot by the Alligator. “Most churches like to preach part of the Bible. Westboro Baptist Church talks about these are things we need to turn away from: accepting homosexuality, accepting perversion, accepting adultery, accepting that that’s just how people are. That’s not the truth.” ( continue to full post… )
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Nativist leader William Gheen routinely demonizes undocumented immigrants, whom he portrays as violent, disease-ridden criminals.
Now he’s targeting Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), saying the longtime Washington politician should acknowledge that he’s gay. “The national border security organization known as Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) [Gheen’s group] is officially calling for [Graham] to make his homosexual lifestyle public knowledge in the interest of political integrity and national security,” Gheen wrote in a news release today.
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