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

Arizona Councilman Attacks Mural for Highlighting Dark-Skinned Youth

By Hatewatch Staff on June 7, 2010 - 4:29 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Anti-Latino

A city councilman with a history of racial insensitivity in Prescott, Ariz., has been fired from his talk radio show after his complaints about a school mural featuring children of several races helped propel the artwork into an embarrassing national news story.

Last month, Steve Blair commented on KYCA about a mural at the Miller Valley Elementary School that depicted children of several races using “green” transportation. On the May 21 radio show, Blair took exception to the art prominently featuring a dark-skinned boy.

“I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who’s president of the United States today and based upon the history of this community — when I grew up, we had four black families who I have been very good friends with for years — to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?’” the Associated Press reported Blair saying.

Last week, Blair was reported as saying, “I’m not a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but whenever people start talking about diversity, it’s a word I can’t stand.” He added that he had received complaints about the mural and that, “What these people don’t like is somebody forcing diversity down their throats.”

Never mind that several Miller Valley Elementary School students posed for a photo that was used as the basis of the mural.
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IFI’s Laurie Higgins Goes Off the Deep End, Again

By Mark Potok on June 7, 2010 - 10:39 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Christian Right

So you thought McDonald’s was a huge fast-food restaurant chain making huge profits and reaping some criticism in the process over the healthiness of its food?

Well, think again. The company whose 31,000 outlets serve nearly 47 million people a day actually is a full-fledged font of evil. It is “hell bent on using its resources to promote subversive moral, social, and political views about homosexuality to our children.” It “hoists high the rainbow colors of the homosexual movement that points to the substitution of the worship of man for the worship of God and leads to depravity and destruction.” McDonald’s, in a phrase, “promot[es] the homosexual agenda.”

Or so says Laurie Higgins, the slightly mad director of the “Division of School Advocacy” at the Illinois Family Institute, a particularly virulent anti-gay, religious-right organization. McDonald’s, the intrepid Higgins insisted in a furious “Call to Action” issued last Friday and entitled “McDonald’s Promotes Homosexuality, Again,” “has once again revealed it true colors.”

And what’s all the fuss about? Ms. Higgins, you see, is mad, really, really mad, because McDonald’s is airing an ad in France, entitled “Come as you are,” that depicts a teenage boy talking to his boyfriend on a cell phone at the restaurant. The whole scene is just, well, a little too normal-looking for the “school advocate.”

“[P]lease,” Higgins implores, “do not use your resources to support McDonald’s.”

Of course, this is Laurie Higgins speaking — the same woman who, in one of her rabid weekly rants, recently fumed about President Obama’s “commitment to radical, subversive change.” In a white-hot lather over Obama’s proclamation of June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, Higgins raged about the proclamation, fulminated about Obama’s signing of the 2009 federal hate crimes bill — a statute that many religious-right leaders falsely claim could lead to pastors being jailed for merely condemning homosexuality as unbiblical — and concluded angrily that the president is “implicitly … embrac[ing] heresy.” ( continue to full post… )

Minuteman Co-Founder Accused of Threatening Family

By Heidi Beirich on June 4, 2010 - 2:39 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman movement and a principal nativist leader, threatened to kill his wife and family last year, according to a petition filed in Maricopa County Court in mid-April by his estranged spouse, Alena Simcox.

According to Phoenix New Times’ Steve Lemons, who broke the story yesterday, a Maricopa County court commissioner granted the petition April 16 and ordered Simcox to remain 200 yards away from Alena, their two children, and Alena’s child from a previous relationship. The order prohibits Simcox from possessing, receiving or purchasing firearms or ammunition.

The filing describes several violent incidents, Lemons reports. On Nov. 29, 2009, Alena alleges, Simcox was “drinking” and threatened her “with a gun. Repeatedly pointed it at me, saying he was going to kill me, and my kids, and the police. Kids were present and saw him. Very verbally abusive to me throughout the incident.”

On Aug. 22, 2009, Alena alleges, Simcox again confronted her with a weapon: “On our wedding anniversary, he was drinking and angery [sic]. Got a revolver gun and loaded with kids present. Then proceeded to ask me to ‘shoot him.’ I said ‘no,’ so then he said he would shoot entire family and cops.”

In late April, Alena Simcox file a petition for divorce from Simcox after five years of marriage. She was temporarily granted legal custody of the children, pending resolution of the divorce. A reply to the court, filed by Simcox’s lawyer John Acer, denies the allegations of domestic violence. The two were married in late 2005, when Simcox was 44 and Alena was 25.

This isn’t the first time Simcox has been accused of violent and bizarre behavior by a spouse. In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that Simcox’s second wife, Kim Dunbar, had filed an emergency appeal in September 2001 to obtain full custody of their teenage son because she feared that Simcox had suffered a mental breakdown and was dangerous. ( continue to full post… )

Religious Right Leader Says Gays in Military Bring Nazism

By Hatewatch Staff on June 3, 2010 - 11:38 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Christian Right

It appears Congress is on the verge of repealing the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy for gays in the military. But that, according to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, would be a mistake of epic proportions: It could produce gay, goose-stepping Nazis in America.

Fischer, the religious-right group’s director of issue analysis for government and public policy, claimed last week that Adolf Hitler’s storm troopers were, in fact, a sinister gay fighting force. Only homosexuals were sufficiently vicious to carry out Hitler’s most brutal orders without question, Fischer argues. Heterosexual soldiers just weren’t up to the gruesome task.

Fischer gave this history lesson on his radio program last month and followed it up with a May 27 blog post on the AFA website. For Fischer, the lesson from history is clear: Repealing DADT will open the door to horrific atrocities.

“The bottom line from what follows is this: Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews,” Fischer wrote. “Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting. Maybe it’s time for Congress to learn a lesson from history.”

Actually, the vast majority of historians reject the claim that Hitler was gay. Virtually all serious historians of the period reject the allegation that homosexuality was an important part of the German Nazi Party. In fact, after the Nazis came to power in 1933, homosexuals were persecuted (and many inside the Nazi Party were murdered), and ultimately some 100,000 were arrested. Many of those were sent to concentration camps, where an unknown number died.

Among his sources, Fischer cites The Pink Swastika, an unhinged and defamatory history that makes the entirely false claim that gays helped orchestrate the Holocaust. He cites the book to wipe away what is for him a serious historical problem — the very real Nazi persecution of homosexuals. “[T]he homosexuals the Nazis persecuted were almost exclusively the effeminate members of the gay community in Germany, and … much of the mistreatment was administered by masculine homosexuals who despised effeminacy in all its forms,” Fischer wrote. ( continue to full post… )

What’s in a Name? For Donna Lee Wray©, Millions

By Mark Potok on June 3, 2010 - 10:49 am, Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens

Many people, seeing their immediate family members killed after allegedly murdering two police officers, might retreat into pained silence. Some might even find a way to express their condolences to the officers’ loved ones.

Not Donna Lee Wray.

On the contrary, the 50-year-old Floridian who describes herself as the common-law wife of Jerry Kane has spent much of the time since Kane and his son Joseph apparently gunned down two West Memphis, Ark., officers on May 20 issuing angry threats, hurling epithets at reporters, accusing police of a cover-up, and trying to charge millions of dollars for use of her “copyrighted” name. The Kanes were killed by police in a gunfight some 90 minutes after the double murder, but apparently managed to badly wound two more officers before being shot themselves.

Last week, after I was quoted in some press accounts describing Jerry Kane as an enthusiast of the tax- and law-defying “sovereign citizens” movement, Wray wrote me a furious E-mail saying that I had “profiled” her (not Kane or his 16-year-old son) and that this was a “Felony act.” Moreover, she said, neither she nor the Kanes were so-called sovereign citizens, and that “a child could comprehend” that “there is no such thing as a sovereign citizen.” She said I “better have excellent insurance” and threw in a few sophomoric insults for good measure.

In fact, the sovereign citizens movement is a well-established part of the American radical right. Adherents typically believe that they are not bound by government laws and are not liable for taxes. Many subscribe to so-called “redemption” theories — the completely bogus idea that sovereign citizens can escape their debts in many circumstances. Jerry Kane spent the last two years giving seminars that hawked the idea that many people do not have to repay mortgage loans. And, according to The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal, Kane declared himself a sovereign man not bound by the government’s laws in a 12-page, April 8, 2003, document filed in an Ohio court.

In her E-mail, in fact, Wray repeatedly referenced classic sovereign citizens language and ideas — including the notion that “common law” is the real law of the land and that people (sovereign citizens, that is) can “copyright” their name. “Mark Potok,” she wrote, “has violated my common law copyright notice for use of my name and my Claim of Intent and Fee Schedule properly recorded and noticed is in effect, that requires any entity that uses my name without my express written permission must pay me a fee of $1,000,000.00. For each use.” ( continue to full post… )