The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Rachel Maddow Goes A-Steinin’

By Sonia Scherr on April 30, 2010 - 4:47 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino

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.”

Maddow’s interview comes after FAIR took credit for writing a harsh new law in Arizona that critics including SPLC lawyers say would lead to racial profiling. The law, which has provoked a nationwide debate, allows police to arrest people merely because they’re suspected of being in the country illegally as long as the police have some other reason to make contact with them.

Rather than address the issues, Stein was reduced to blaming his favorite bugaboo, frequently accusing Maddow of using “talking points from discredited smear artists like those folks down in Alabama.”

We’ll take that as a compliment. Stein’s dubious performance last night has been mocked throughout the blogosphere. The Political Carnival website opined that “because of this interview (read: tussle; read: battle; read: slaughter), we have a new word: ‘Steined’ … as in, ‘You’ve been Steined by Rachel Maddow.’”

  • Rick

    SPLC is ignoring the negative environmental impacts that immigration is having in the United States. Someone has to speak out for the rest of life on this planet which is being wiped out by people. We are going through a mass extinction at this time. Will the SPLC stand up for the rights of other living creatures? Isn’t it important that our children have the opportunity to enjoy biodiversity and nature? Immigration to the United States is contributing to its population growth, leading to suburban sprawl, congestion, and pollution. Is pointing this out “racist”?

  • Rick

    Obviously there are white separatists among FAIR staff. Rachel Maddow loses out on this interview however because of her up front attack on the moral character of her guest. If she would have taken a less hostile approach perhaps she would have gained a little more information about FAIR’s internal dynamics.

  • Mitch Beales

    I urge anyone contemplating travel to Arizona to contact the authorities there to find out what documents will be accepted as proof of immigration status.

  • beholder

    The proliferation of FAIR and its pseudo-credibility in the MSM are perfect examples of what happens when America is more concerned about leisure, luxury and lard than about the basic principles of our liberal democracy.

    We deserve the liberty that we take with our own hands, and not the promise of “rights” handed to us as a stipend by the idle auspices of our vote, or our simple disinterest in the exercise of freedom. We are Citizens, not Subjects, in this country.

    If we do not take to the streets now and push back for civil liberties, the inherent political laziness of the American people will led things slide into bondage. Immigration is a ruse: the real issue is liberty.

    A stark reminder of the peril of inaction from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience:

    “All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote. “

  • geoff Bryant

    she is so quick and witty at the end. I really hope there is a second interview.

    Maddow’s Thesis: If your blatantly racist, you do not have the credibility and expertise to draft immigration policy of the diverse makeup of an ever-changing America.

  • Shadow Wolf

    But at that same time, I must conclude that we do need comphrensive border security. Given to the high level of threat that we face from dangerous criminal elements associated with the narco-drug violence. Recently, a PCSO Deputy was shot and wounded by suspected criminal aliens carrying marijauna as well as AK-47s. But the racist law(SB1070) would surely done nothing to prevent that shooting incident. Mexico is on the verge of central governmental collaspe. Let alone if they actually have a functioning government at all. So its still imperative that Arizona takes matters into their own hands with regards to border security. This, after Obama’s comments on U.S. Air Force One, where he states that he has “no appitite” for comprehensive immigration reform. Which brings me to another point–if the Feds continue to be inactive in securing the border to lessen the threats of alien invasion. Then States(such as AZ) should have the power to create State laws deemed appropiate under grave and dire threats of narco-bloodbaths on our soil. The focus should merely be at the border, rather than designing controversial laws that jeopardizes our personal Liberties and Civil Rights.

  • Shadow Wolf

    The racist law(SB1070) will probably not survive, given to the level of opposition it faces: Law Enforcement Agencies, including some Sheriffs in southern counties of AZ, Politicians locally as well as nationally from both sides of aisel, Libertarians(see Freedoms Phoenix), Human Rights orgs, Civil Rights orgs(see the Rev. Al Sharpton’s plans for “Freedom Walk”), Cities and Mayors in the U.S., half of AZ’s City Council members from Tucson to Flagstaff, Lawyers, The ACLU, Major Sports Teams such as MLB and NFL, Coventions, The Entertainment World, Clergy and Church orgs, Average Americans etc etc….the list goes on. To predict that the racist law will most likely not survive, can conceptually be found in the Arizona’s history. When the backwarded state refused to adopt the MLK holiday, a boycott has ensued. Costing the state billions of dollars lost in revenue. This forced the state to adopt the MLK holiday. The same tactic was proven for Ceasar Chavez whose grape boycotts forced unions to sign contracts with its workers. The massive boycott taking place these days within the 90 days before the SB1070 becomes law, is a towering impact, which can be proven disastrous to Arizona’s already weaken economy. The odious law reeks of racist implementations when it was discovered by its authors(neo-Nazi associator Russell Pearce R-Mesa and Kris KKKobach), whose propagendas were clear. Rendering many to oppose it for the obvious reasons.

  • YK

    I wrote to Maddow congratulating her, but mentioning my disappointment that she made no defense of SPLC. I have been a supporter for years and the hate crime cases of Billy Ray Johnson, Jordan Gruver, and several others could not have been made without the passion, commitment, and effectiveness of SPLC. As an African-American, I never move to a new state without checking on their growth of hate groups levels. I still move, but at least I know what I’m getting into – LOL. Thank you sincerely for all that you do to combat the hate spread by dissimulating groups like “FAIR.”

  • Athena

    Well done! :D

  • GottaLaff

    Thank you for noting my newly coined word “Steined”! Here’s the link to the post: