Hatewatch

Congressman’s Immigration Remarks Prompt Calls for Death, Torture

Posters on neo-Nazi forums are publicly calling for the torture and murder of Congressman Pete Stark (D-Calif.) over comments he made on June 26 during a Fremont, Calif., town hall meeting. The Youtube video of the event has gone viral among racist and anti-immigration groups.

During the meeting, Stark mocked a questioner who identified himself as a Minuteman, the loosely organized movement that is best known for holding armed border-watch patrols, by saying, “Who are you going to kill today?” When the Minuteman claimed that border security was a disaster, Stark replied: “If you knew anything about our borders, you would know that’s not the case. Our borders are quite secure, thank you.” Stark’s remarks were met with jeers from the audience.

Stark’s assertion that U.S. borders are secure has been met with violent reaction in racist circles. On the neo-Nazi Vanguard News Network forum, poster “Mike Todd” suggested the congressman be tortured to death by being “staked out along the border face up with his eyelids cut off to be eaten by ants.” In the same thread, “Fred” wrote, “Stark will have one rope reserved for him on the ‘Day of the Rope,’” a reference to a scene in the infamous race-war novel, The Turner Diaries, when “race traitors” are murdered and hung from lamp posts and trees.

“The incredible vitriol directed at Congressman Stark is really quite frightening,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which found and publicized the comments. “But these kinds of comments are not entirely limited to those on the radical right. In fact, the furious tone of many opponents of immigration has helped to unleash this kind of visceral rage.”

On Stormfront.org, which is the world’s largest racist forum and run by a former Alabama Klan leader, “EagerWarrior” wrote: “If there is any Justice in the World that ‘man’ will suffer a horrible slow death at the hands of the Mestizos he so obviously represents.”

The thread about Stark on the white supremacist political party American Third Position's website is particularly nasty. A poster going by the name “Robert Jones,” who is described as a leader and senior moderator of the party’s forum, wrote: “Treason, may his death be protracted and his suffering severe. We do have laws for dealing with such treachery if only we can gain the political power to enforce them.” “Marcius” pitched in with “His acts can only be described as verging on treason.”

Gaining political power is what the American Third Position is all about. This past January, ATP co-founder William Daniel Johnson said that he intended to qualify “high-level people,” meaning prominent white nationalists, for campaigns on the ATP ticket in a large number of states. The party, which says it exists to represent “the political interests of White Americans,” is currently attempting to gain ballot access in California by registering the required 88,991 voters, which would allow the party to field candidates on that state’s ballot.

ATP is a relatively new group, established just this past year. But given the group's explicitly anti-immigrant platform, it establishment is part of a larger trend. Demographic change, propelled largely by immigration, is one of the major factors driving an explosion in hate groups. In 2009, the number of hate groups reached an all time high of 932, up from 602 groups in 2000. That represents a more than 50% rise in the number of such groups over the course of the last decade.