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

Newspaper Publication of Anti-Latino Comments Stirs Controversy

By Robert Steinback on October 21, 2011 - 2:20 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino

Never let it be said that the words of a simple “man on the street” can’t have far-reaching consequences in the modern world.

The Hazleton, Pa., Standard-Speaker newspaper is still coping with the fallout of an interview it published Aug. 15 in a regular print-edition-only feature called “Know Your Neighbor,” in which a local individual is stopped at random and asked to comment briefly on life in Luzerne County. That day, the paper interviewed a man identified as Richard Yanoski of the nearby town of McAdoo.

Asked to opine about the worst aspect of living in the Hazleton area, Yanoski replied, “All the Hispanics who moved here.”

Asked how he would improve the quality of life in Hazleton, he said, “Get rid of the Hispanics.”

By publishing Yanoski’s racially repugnant comments, the Standard-Speaker threw gasoline on the highly volatile local issue of native-immigrant relations: Hazleton in 2006 was one of four U.S. communities that passed tough legislation against undocumented immigrants ahead of the passage of Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070. Hazleton also is just 20 miles away from the Schuylkill County town of Shenandoah, where Latino-white tensions boiled over in July 2008 with the unprovoked beating death of Luis Ramirez by three intoxicated white teenagers who had just left a party. An all-white jury later convicted two of the boys merely of misdemeanor assault, acquitting Brandon Piekarsky of third-degree murder and Derrick Donchak of ethnic intimidation. The two were later convicted of federal hate crime violations and each sentenced to nine years in prison.

The Standard-Speaker item also shattered the peace of another man – former Hazleton resident Richard Peter Yanoski Jr., 39, now of Harrisburg, Pa., who received such a barrage of nasty comments over the feature that he had to shut down his Facebook and LinkedIn pages. He wasn’t the man who made the comments; the newspaper subsequently identified the actual interviewee as Richard Mark Yanoski, 53.

Yesterday, the newspaper wrote an article clarifying that Richard Peter Yanoski had not made the incendiary comments published Aug. 15. Today, it additionally published a Letter to the Editor from this “wrong” Yanoski, who said: “I am hopeful that the publishing of this letter will reinforce to the public that there are multiple people who share this name and that two of us (my father, Richard Sr., and I) do not espouse the values that have been attributed [to] ‘Richard Yanoski’ based on the quotes of another person with the same name. My father and I hold value systems that are antithetical to those espoused by the person who made those quotes.”

Standard-Speaker Managing Editor Carl Christopher told Hatewatch Friday that the newspaper felt an obligation to help Richard Peter Yanoski clear his name – even though reviving the issue in a news story launched it into cyberspace, where it went viral.

“We felt that we should do a story on what happened, the fallout from this and the effect it had on this other guy’s life, which we did,” Christopher said. “I also I told him he was more than welcome to write a Letter to the Editor, which he decided to do, and we published that today.”

Comment threads on the newspaper’s website included opinions sympathetic to the plight of Richard Peter Yanoski – but also some who seconded the anti-Latino sentiments of Richard Mark Yanoski. One, who identified himself as Sean Donahue, a “write-in candidate for mayor of Hazleton,” wrote that Latinos “bring drugs, crime and violence and the [sic] milk the system of all its benefits so that the people from Hazleton can get nothing. If [Richard Peter] Yanoski doesn’t share the views of [Richard Mark] Yanoski, them [sic] maybe he should.”

Christopher, the managing editor, said he regretted that the original interview had ever run. Though the newspaper did not make an editorial comment on the matter, it ran a number of sharply critical Letters to the Editor about it.

“Know Your Neighbors,” which runs only in the print edition and not online, is meant to be an innocuous feature, Christopher said. “It’s not meant to be controversial. It’s just supposed to be a way to get names and faces in the paper. This guy who was featured that particular day said something that was unbelievably racially insensitive – not the kind of thing that belongs in that feature. We felt afterward it really shouldn’t have been in the paper. So yes, absolutely we had second thoughts [about having run it]. We wouldn’t do it again, and we don’t believe it should have been in in the first place. It was just one of those things that slipped through, unfortunately.”

Hazelton’s anti-undocumented immigrant measure was written by current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who also authored the other three municipal ordinances and Arizona’s S.B. 1070. All of those measures have been blocked in whole or in part by federal courts, triggering expensive legal battles that are as yet unresolved. The battle over Hazleton’s passage of the Kobach bill propelled the career of then-Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who rode the controversy to a seat in Congress, where he defeated a political rival who had beaten him twice earlier.

  • White man

    I get it now, only white people can be racist, oh well, I guess we’ll just have to hand out race cards to all non whites at birth, problem solved.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Yo, Dick:

    Not every Mexican person is of Iberian descent. There are still many, many native Mexicans left in the world.

    But once again, thanks for supplying the stupidity. It’s a great service you provide!

    Fool.

  • Dick Lancaster

    A.D.M.:
    I assumed Ruben is of European decent because he keeps reminding readers that he is Mexican. Mexican, Latino, Hispanic–they all hail from the Iberian Pennisula which juts out into the Mediteranian from Europe.

    White Nationalists/Separitists are a minute minority among whites. Most white folks can’t tolerate their antics. If your only source for news is the SPLC and its related blogs I can understand why you would think we’re all like that.

    But it is interesting to note that there are no third world foreigners trying to sneak into Zimbabwe.

  • A.D.M.

    Dick, how do you know Ruben is of European descent? I’m not saying he is or isn’t, but I don’t think assuming someone’s genetics is called for if you don’t kno anything about it. And on the contrary, the white nationalists/supremacists do make everything about race because they like to point out other people’s faults while thinking they can do no wrong and always use the myth of superiority to make themselves feel better. They also like to play the victim card and say they’re being cast out of society. So, yes, they are race conscious.

  • krissy

    That was really stupid for them to air that comment, but it was nice that other members of the community challenged it. I guess you’d rather not know some of your senile neighbors.

  • Dick Lancaster

    Ruben: Having read you indentify yourself as Mexican several times in various posts and having read your unkind words to David Sanderson concerning the past criminal behavoir of his white race, I hesitate to inform you that you are of white, European ancestory yourself.

    In regards to Steinback’s article, the “incidiary” Yonski interview and the violent reaction that followed is indicative of the dangerous consequences of publicly expressing an opinion. But the glaring fact is that if Ruben had expressed his views about white people in that paper it wouldn’t have been “incindiary.” White people just don’t get that upset when their race is insulted. That’s because, contrary to the theme and mission of the SPLC, white people aren’t all that race conscious.

    It is the LIBERAL minority reaction to percieved and real insults that keeps the race pot boiling. It has become a major industry and employs many an otherwise useless and untalented minority “leadership”. One of the top employers of this race division industry is the SPLC itself.

    Without white “haters” to hate, SPLC employees would have to find real jobs.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AronL Aron

    ADM,

    I realized that just as I made my post. While an ethnic group, they do not possess the traits of a separate ‘race.’

    Thank you for your further explanation. It is greatly appreciated :)

  • Peter Hockley

    “David Sanderson said,

    ON OCTOBER 24TH, 2011 AT 3:25 AM
    I’m very concerned about racism, being white and British I face it all the time, thanks to PC liberals for that.”
    I’m white and British, the only racism I’ve ever seen has been towards people who are black, brown, yellow or different in some other way. I really don’t know what country you are living in but it is not the country I’ve observed through a lifetime.

  • A.D.M.

    Aron, Hispanic is not a race because it’s actually a European ethnic group. Hispanic means “of or pertaining to Spain.” Hispanic people are really people from the European country of Spain, people that are inhabitants of the European country of Spain, or people of Spanish descent. If you visit countries such as Cuba and Dominican Republic, you’ll see those countries and others have a large black population, a population of African descent. If you visit Guatemala or Mexico, you’ll see lots of indigenous people (Mayans, Aztecs).

  • http://www.twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Charles,

    Without getting into the debate over whether race is even a real thing, how is Hispanic not a race?

  • Charles P. Lamb

    Hispanic is not a race.

  • http://yahoo ruben

    david sanderson….compare the racist fueled damage that white immigrants from england and the rest of europe have done to the indigenous people of the lands they stole and colonized all over the globe to someone calling you whitey…..yeah i thought so!!

  • Mitch Beales

    I suspect David is upset because someone burned a union jack on his lawn.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    David, please tell us about all the terrible things that happen to “white”, “British” people. Have you been forced to move out of your house? Are you writing this from inside some kind of concentration camp or prison, where you were taken for being “white”? We’re you denied a job or medical care because you are white? Do police harrass you for being white? Are you not allowed to study in the English language, or use it in your job? Are you denied higher education for being white? Do banks refuse to lend to you because you are white? Have you been sacked from your job because you are white? Please, tell us all about it!

  • David Sanderson

    I’m very concerned about racism, being white and British I face it all the time, thanks to PC liberals for that.

  • Hunter Wallace

    Robert,

    You forgot to mention that the Hazelton ordinance was unblocked by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year. The Supreme Court also upheld Arizona’s E-Verify law.

    There is nothing stopping states and localities now from passing copycat laws. You people lost that round. As for all the crying about the onerous cost of litigation to cities that pass copycat ordinances, that is now a thing of the past.

    Next year should be interesting.

  • CM

    I had never heard of Hazleton, Pa., until now, but it appears to be an interesting case study. According to U.S. Census figures, Hazleton’s 2000 population of 23,329 consisted of 22,092 whites, or 95 percent. In 2010, the city’s population had grown overall by 2,011 people to 25,340, up 8.6 percent from 2000, but the white population had shrunk by 4,500, or 20 percent, to 17,592, so now Hazleton is only 69 percent white. That’s a pretty significant change.

    But that’s not strictly relevant to the issue of Latino immigration. “Hispanic” is not a race category in the Census Bureau’s way of looking at things; in other words, Hispanics may be either black or white or American Indian or “some other race” or “two or more races,” etc., when race is counted up. So the drastic drop in whites as a percentage of the population doesn’t necessarily correlate with a big increase in Latinos.

    It’s true that the Hispanic population of Hazleton did grow rapidly during the past decade. In 2000, the Hispanic population of Hazleton was 1,132, or 5 percent of the total. In 2010, it was 8,776, or 35 percent of the total.

    Something that might tell us a bit more about Hazleton then and Hazleton today is the African American population. In 2000, there were 192 black people in the city, or 0.8 percent of the population. In 2010, there were 1,003, or 4 percent of the total. So the black population of Hazleton has more than quintupled, though it still remains small.

    Not to drag things out and create false suspense, the biggest growth group from 2000 to 2010 was the “some other race” category, which jumped to 5,572, almost nine times what it was in 2000. I’m tempted to surmise that some of the previously “white” citizens disappeared into this category by declaring themselves Vikings or some such, but I have no evidence to support such a conjecture. It’s also possible that many of the people in this race category are Hispanic, but, again, the evidence is absent.

    What I do know is that Hazleton is a fairly small city in the boondocks of north-central Pennsylvania and that like other such small cities, its economy is at the mercy of the bean-counters in New York, London, Brussels, Zurich, Tokyo and, increasingly, Beijing. And like every other similarly situated small city in America, that used to have a factory or two that employed everyone and his brother and son, Hazleton is dying, and some of the people there want to find someone to blame. I’m inclined to point them toward Wall Street, but of course the “alien” is always an easy sell when you need a villain.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Regarding the anti-Latino legistlation here in AZ(S.B.1070), Which was co-authored by KKKris KKKobach as mentioned in the article, along with the recall doomed Senate President–russell pearce. Last week the federal court judge had dismissed sock puppet Jan Brewer’s lawsuit against the federal government on key isssues in SB1070. Which means that another black eye was given to the racist Republiklans in the state of Arizona. Since AZ is ground zero on immigration matters, the nexus of anti-Latino hate. What happens in AZ on terms of federal and state battles within the courts, can or may affect how other state’s enforce and/or enactments of anti-immigration policies. And possibly paving the way for more comprehensive and humane immigration reforms. Since most Americans are against illegal immigration.

  • RoughAcres

    At least when racism is brought into the open, you can smell its stink. When it’s hidden – as much is in America – one can attempt to disguise the smell with ‘economic justification’ like pumping Lysol into the air of a room with a dead cat.

    Need to get that dead cat outta there first….

  • White Neighbour

    From overseas it looks like white Americans are more full of hate than ever. The only difference is that most of it is directed at each other these days. The only difference between old Yanoski and his hate-mailers is that Yanoski is 53 and hasn’t been taught that “tolerance” is taking out your anger on other people who don’t have the same opinions as you (as long as they aren’t in a different ethnic/racial/religious group). He said what he really feels instead of lying to stay out of trouble like most white Americans. Not that I’d blame them, since you get stalked and harassed (or worse) for saying the wrong thing.
    When American statesmen say they are bringing “freedom” to other countries we don’t feel optimism, we feel despair because we can see what the US has become.
    Smart people preach anti-racism and live and work in places that contain nothing but white people. Then they look down on poor white people in poor neighbourhoods who have to get along with different kinds of people. Mr Yanoski could sell up, move to a white area and become a self-righteous bore. Or maybe he can’t afford to, or maybe he doesn’t like the Hispanics, but they’re still better than living with a bunch of snobs.

  • ruben

    being of mexican decent all i can say is that alot of white america is looking more and more like the hard core muslim extremists that they like to slander and hate.

  • Leslie

    After living in Mexico I became impressed with their loyalty to family and community and respect for older people. I think Latin Americans are excellent neighbors, friends, and associates. Unfortunately, drug use is prevalent throughout our society. It is a red herring to blame one ethnic group over another for that problem.

  • Reverend Boony

    Well…They definatly shouldnt have posted that idiots anti-hispanic drivel in the first place…My little brother’s wife is latino and I’d wager a far better mother than the caucasion woman who gave birth to me.

  • Sam Molloy

    I can’t recall being there but it does not sound like a real fine area to want to move to. The reason for the Hispanics there is people like Mr.Yanoski who assume some jobs are beneath their high standards of dignity. I seriously doubt they get any government benefits except perhaps innoculations for the children. If there are drugs there it’s because people like Mr. Yanowski give their brats money to buy them.

  • William Wolf

    Seems as if the paper tried to make headlines by exposing racism but stepped on its own testes. If I was either of the three Yanoski’s I’d be suing all parties involved. I’m just surprised the SPLC had nothing to do with it, or did they? Since they are usually behind most race-baiting situations.
    Simply another attempt to belittle and smear White people.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Good for the newspaper. I’m very glad to see there are some vestiges of journalistic ethics still left in the world.

    And shame on the other Yanoski. It is opinions like his that have made the United States into the laughingstock it is today.

    Aron