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Arizona nativist Laine Lawless, chief of the vigilante group Border Guardians, pitched a fit in 2006 after the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report published the contents of an E-mail she apparently sent to a high-ranking member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) to urge a campaign of violence and harassment against Latino immigrants.
“Steal the money from any illegal walking to the bank or check cashing place. … Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school,” the E-mail to “SS Commander” Mark Martin of the NSM’s western Ohio chapter said. “Be creative. … Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status.”
Lawless, who refused to comment prior to the publication of the Report’s 2006 article – even after being sent copies of the E-mail over her signature to Martin – later told the media that the message was fabricated. In a long rant on her blog, she declared that the SPLC is part of an “essentially EVIL … Communist conspiracy” intent on destroying America. She was no neo-Nazi or racist, she insisted.
So it was particularly enlightening to learn that she took some time out from immigrant-bashing last Thursday to go to a speech by British writer David Irving in Phoenix. Irving, author of an infamous and ahistorical Hitler apologia called Hitler’s War and some 20 similar books, has cultivated a reputation as the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier. In 2000, at the conclusion of an exhaustive British trial in which he accused a Jewish scholar of libeling him by calling him a Holocaust denier, the judge of the London High Court ruled flatly against him. The judge concluded that Irving “displays a distinctly pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish bias” and is “an active Holocaust denier” who “deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.” Later, in 2006, Irving served time in an Austrian prison for denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz. He has been barred from entering Australia, New Zealand and Germany for similar reasons. More recently, he has suggested that the Jews’ best friend in 1930s Germany was Hitler.
Last week’s lecture, titled “The Life and Death of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s lieutenant: 44 years in 44 minutes,” was attended by about 15 people including Lawless, reports Stephen Lemons of Feathered Bastard, a blog of the Phoenix New Times newspaper. Other attendees included Jesse Curnow, Arizona coordinator for the white supremacist Nationalist Coalition, Lemons reported.
Lawless’ denials about the NSM E-mail notwithstanding, the Mexican flag-burning nativist is known to be friendly with at least one prominent neo-Nazi. On her blog last October, she praised J.T. Ready — a one-time member of the NSM, founder of numerous armed border vigilante groups, and buddy of immigrant-bashing Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce — as a “patriot” at risk of being “target[ed] for assassination by DHS [the U.S. Department of Homeland Security] and/or the [Mexican] cartels.”
Lawless, whose group is listed as a hate group by the SPLC, and Ready have something else in common. They may be the last remaining defenders of Minuteman American Defense (MAD) founder Shawna Forde, who was sentenced to death in February for the slayings of Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia during a May 2009 invasion of their home in Arivaca, Ariz. Lawless defends and promotes Forde on several websites; as well as in an eternally “soon-to-be-released” book about Forde titled Blonde on the Border.
Lawless, who offers no evidence at all to support her contention that Forde is innocent, has convinced virtually no one. On Monday, a Tucson judge added 65 years to Forde’s two death sentences for the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Gonzalez, Flores’ wife and the mother of Brisenia and five counts of burglary, aggravated assault and armed robbery. Gonzalez was wounded, but she managed to fire back, driving Forde and her two accomplices out of her home.
During the first week of Forde’s capital murder trial, the often bizarre Lawless sneaked into the courtroom clad in a wig, sunglasses and dark coat, violating the judge’s order barring her from the courtroom because she was scheduled to appear as a witness for the defense. She protested to the judge that she was a “citizen journalist” entitled to cover the story, but was thrown out of the courtroom anyway.
Lawless’ “patriot” pal J.T. Ready doesn’t bother to protest Forde’s innocence. To him, the double murderer is a hero. “I would like to personally thank Shawna Forde for doing the job the U.S. government won’t do itself. We can all sleep a little better at night knowing that at least one Mex drug trafficker scumbag is gone for good,” he wrote in July 2009. (Forde and her accomplices believed that their victims were drug dealers who would be flush with cash, which turned out not to be the case.) “Too bad we do not have one hundred thousand more Shawna Forde’s [sic] in America. … Instead of getting locks and cold steel bars, Shawna should be presented with the key to the city where she took out the trash.”