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Barbara Coe, Racist Nativist Leader, Dies in California

By Hatewatch Staff on September 6, 2013 - 11:38 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Extremist Propaganda
Barbara Coe, Racist Nativist

Barbara Coe, the vitriolic California racist who regularly called undocumented immigrants “savages” and once claimed that these “barbarians” were busily “cutting off heads and appendages of blind, white, disabled gringos,” has died.

Although she was widely known for statements like those, especially in recent years when she also charged that President Obama was not American and admitted she was a member of a hate group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity,” Coe was once a key player in the nativist movement. In 1994, her California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) helped push through the state’s Proposition 187, which barred the undocumented from services including non-emergency medical care but was ultimately struck down by the courts.

Coe, who was 79 when she died of lung cancer at her Huntington Beach home on Aug. 31, made a routine of viciously attacking immigrants and anyone who supported them. When an 18-year-old student committed suicide because he could not get legal status in the United States, she described his story as just another “sicko yellow-belly coward illegal alien ‘sob story.’” During the 2003 Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, held to support legalization of the undocumented, she wondered “how many in this group of foreign invaders have robbed, raped and possibly murdered law-abiding American citizens and legal residents?” When Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2005, she accused the son of a Mexican immigrant of plotting to return Southern California to Mexico. After newly elected California Gov. Gray Davis refused to pursue the Proposition 187 court case, she accused him of being a Communist and began calling him “Red” Davis.

She despised Obama, who she characterized as a lying Muslim born in another country. Less than an hour after the president announced the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, she wrote her followers: “OBAMA is a proven, radical pro-Islamic Muslim BUT will do/say ANYTHING to get re-elected. OBAMA has illustrated that he complies with Sharia Law — which demands Misleading or Lying (TAQIYYA) to promote the Koran’s mandate to ‘torture, kill ALL non-Muslim infidels.’ DUMP OBAMA (and his fellow-TRAITORS) or DIE! YOUR CALL!”

Not that she limited herself to hating Democrats. At a 2007 March Against the North American Union — referring to a baseless conspiracy theory about a secret plot to merge Mexico, the United States and Canada — she said that President George W. Bush and undocumented immigrants were working together to impose the “New World Order,” a reference to a much-feared global government. “Illegal aliens,” she said, “are the ground troops needed by Bush Jr. and his globalist buddies for the ultimate death of America.” She went on to charge that Bush and other “globalists” were exploiting the “herd mentality” of immigrants to achieve their aims.

In Orange County, Coe’s death was noted in an Orange County Register story that described her in forgiving terms. Coe, the obituary said, was “best known for tapping into some citizens’ deeply held concerns about illegal immigration.” The piece said nothing of her self-admitted membership in the Council of Conservative Citizens, an openly racist group, and it quoted none of her more vitriolic statements. It did, however, cite CCIR board member Evelyn Miller, who insisted that the “charge of racism is used by charlatans” and vowed to continue Coe’s work.

Others celebrated Coe’s dubious contributions. According to the Register, the far-right Eagle Forum of California planned to honor her in a meeting yesterday. And the CCIR itself vowed to continue her work, the paper reported, with board member Vaughn Becht saying, “We have a board that will carry on her legacy.”

Barbara Coe was born on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota, but eventually moved to California, where she became a crime analyst for the Anaheim Police Department — until she left in 1994 after reportedly being caught using a department camera to photograph striking workers she suspected of being undocumented immigrants.

By her own account, Coe’s hatred for immigrants took off when she accompanied a friend to a social services office in Orange County in 1991. “I walked into this monstrous room full of people, babies and little children all over the place, and I realized nobody was speaking English,” she recalled three years later. “I was overwhelmed with this feeling: ‘Where am I? What’s happened here?’”

During the 1994 Proposition 187 campaign, Coe announced plans to post fliers near polling places on Election Day saying “Only citizens can vote.” She was accused of trying to intimidate voters, and the FBI questioned her but did not bring charges.

The next year, she and racist nativist Glenn Spencer organized a speaking event for Peter Brimelow, another nativist who runs the white nationalist VDARE website. VDARE stands for Virginia Dare, said to be the first English child born in the New World.

With Spencer, she claimed to have discovered another non-existent foreign plot against the United States — the so-called “Plan de Aztlan,” a supposed Mexican conspiracy to reconquer the seven states of the American Southwest.

In the late 2000s, Coe became a board member of the Minuteman Project, a major anti-immigrant citizens border patrol group whose members President Bush once characterized as “vigilantes.” While there, she became embroiled in a complicated internal battle over control of the group, helping to fire founder Jim Gilchrist for alleged mismanagement. She resigned from the group’s board in 2007.

“She was fire and brimstone,” Spencer told the L.A. Times for its obituary earlier this week. And she was certainly fire, as anyone who has heard her speak can testify. But Barbara Coe may be even better remembered as brimstone, an archaic word for sulphur.

  • Kiwiwriter

    I refuse to expend energy and give this woman any piece of control over my life by expending hate upon her (take notice, Brock Henderson).

    She is not worth my vitriol, as she has wasted her life and energy on petty and appalling causes. She will not be mourned, only forgotten, except by a couple of haters who share her values and students of American political radicalism.

    In truth, I pity her. Her life was a titanic waste, and her legacy is an empty one…bitter weeds and hurt needlessly inflicted on others: people she knew and people she didn’t.

    She is not worth my thoughts.

  • hunglikejesus

    Hell fire burned a bit hotter.

  • Arthur deVitalis

    Adios loco Gringa!

  • julia

    Another hate monger gone. No loss. People who choose to hate don’t contribute anything to society except destruction. Good riddance.

  • kevin

    “Not going to BE crying”

    Sorry for the typo!

  • kevin

    Yeah, not going to crying any tears over losing that hatemonger. Sounds like the world is a better place without her in it.

  • aadila

    By the way not hating is not the same as doing nothing about it. It just means using mental energy wisely, where it can do some good.

  • aadila


    If you can prove to me that hate is going to be helpful in addressing this problem, I will have no choice but to agree with you.

    But until then, I will consider righteous hatred in the same category as righteous lyme disease. It usually just wipes out the carrier.

  • Sam Molloy

    Aadila, it is right to hate evil like this.

  • aadila

    Linnea, ain’t that the truth! How amazing, how rare it is to have life, and yet we squander it like this. The real victims of hate are those who cling to it in an effort to protect themselves from pain, loss, sorrow, harm, poverty whatever it is we fear will happen to us in life. Hate chases away our happiness and you can actually see a physical transformation on people’s faces when it happens. It is very ugly, easy to recoil from it. But at the core each person there is the recognition of goodness. We all have it, even if it’s just like a tiny firefly. Those who are hateful don’t like to be reminded because it is like pulling off their plastic, shoddy armor against the world. It reminds them of their vulnerability, and so they react aggressively or derisively to the basic message of peace. As hard as it is to see it at times, I think what hateful, evil people are defending is, at some level, their goodness, their vulnerability, their hurt. Everyone suffers from this I think. It is unfortunate that goodness is eaten away by the means we use to defend it. That is why I think it is so important to remind ourselves what is good, and what we have done that is good, to perceive what we are destroying through hate. I don’t think her life was wasted. Perhaps she learned something.

  • Linnea

    Somehow I doubt that thought ever crossed her mind, aadila. Sad. Seems as though hate just ate away her heart. What a waste of one’s life.

  • aadila

    The problem with a life of hatred is that we create all these enemies waiting for us everywhere, like someone traveling a dangerous road. With a life of goodness, at the end of our days we find boundless joy, like coming home to warm home filled with all our friends and family. No one really can be said to be all good or all bad, but we all have the potential to take either path at every moment. Knowing this, it becomes possible to choose goodness, because we understand our destination.

    For this reason I think it is very important for people who have embraced a life of hate to remember what it means to be kind. That is something we can do, if we wish to fight hate crimes, to help people remember what it means to be kind. The recognition of even one small, selfless act someone has done can be enough to propel a person from a hateful life to a much better state of being, where one sees friends all around them, not enemies. I hope Barbara Coe had a chance to reflect on this.

  • Sam Molloy

    We are getting off point here, as I agree the lady in this article will not be missed by anyone with normal Human feelings. However, demonstrations at our state Capitol, and apparently that one, are by permit and are protected by law against counterdemonstrators, hecklers or video cameras where they are not wanted. I have been to demonstrations for Fairness (anti discrimination for LGBT) laws. We were screened upon arrival and protected from all the various yahoos that Kentucky has to offer. So far there is no statewide Fairness Ordinance, but the capitol city of Frankfort has passed a local city law, the fourth city to do so in the state. This person could have taped this from the free public sidewalk instead of deliberately causing trouble. Liberals think of freedom of speech as having a one way, left turning ratchet, but the law has to work for everyone equally. The lady trying to speak was effectively silenced by someone who had no right to do so.

  • Reynardine

    Yes. It’s not a “private permitted area.” It’s state property, and if it were not, we would still be looking at assault and battery.

  • Aron

    Sam, there is nothing private about a state Capitol. But nice try. You don’t need a permit to videotape public events.

  • Sam Molloy

    Rey, so a person with video equipment invaded the private permitted area of an event without said permit and, while trespassing, attempted to film an ex illegal alien give a speech about how proud she is to have become a citizen. Is there a problem here?

  • Reynardine

    As long as we’re at it, folks,check out this:

  • concernedcitizen

    I agree with with Aron…

    Nothing but rubbish…

  • Gregory

    That was the only thing I could say about Babs that would make it out of the moderation queue.

  • A.D.M.

    Looks like you’ll have to put “Date of Death: 2013″ in the Barbara Coe profile. RIP.

  • Matthew Bright

    I remember that Prop. 187, as I was living in California at the time. It was the one that would have made it illegal to educate children, or would have left them to bleed to death if they got hit by a car in the street. I also remember knowing people who tried to convince me it was a right a proper thing to vote for it.

    I’m not religious, but I couldn’t shake the sense that if I did support it, I’d end up in Hell.

    That was some old woman, all right.

  • Kiwiwriter

    What an appalling, angry, and hateful woman.

    The sad thing is that she used her talents and passions in her life for hateful, vicious, purposes.

    Now, her tombstone will only say: “She hated.”

  • Aron

    Gregory, normally I agree with you. But I tend to make exceptions for special cases like Barb here.

    While I feel badly for her family, I feel worse that they had to put up with her over the years.

  • Reynardine

    I’ve seen her. She has been a curly blond in a kind of dirndl, a curly brunette, a sultryish redhead, and- as I remember her from my mother’s kitchen table most of a lifetime ago- a languid, pale-skinned brunette in a wine-red dress.

  • Gregory

    Social convention advises us not to speak ill of the dead. Damn me for being too lazy to speak ill of her when she was alive.

  • Mark Potok

    Well, you can’t have mine, Rey! You’ll be interested to know that it’s adorned with a picture of a very white white lady…

  • Reynardine

    Actually, it turns out it’s the same Virginia Dare company. They no longer make wine, but they make flavorings which they sell to other wineries and distilleries. It appears that’s where your bottle came from.

  • Reynardine

    Well, damn, Mark, where can I get some? We need all the bug poison we can find in this area!

  • Mark Potok

    It still is a cheap vanilla extract. I know because I have a bottle of it sitting on my desk, a gift from a colleague who found it amusing given VDARE’s use of the name!

  • Aron

    Good riddance to disgusting rubbish. I thank goodness my beloved bubbes (alevai shalom) weren’t this evil little shrew. She made Phyllis Schlaffly look like Mister Rogers.

  • Reynardine

    I remember when Virginia Dare was a cheap wine.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “Coe, the obituary said, was “best known for tapping into some citizens’ deeply held concerns about illegal immigration.” ”

    Praising with faint condemnation.

    I don’t think you need to be an MD to diagnose paranoid schizophrenia in this case. The problem is, her views were adopted as political mainstream.