Saturday, June 20, 2009

Violent Attacks on Latinos: Is It FAIR?

Nine-year-old Brisenia Flores was sleeping soundly in her bed in Arivaca, Arizona when she was shot and killed in cold blood.

It was no random act of violence.[1] Shawna Forde, the suspected mastermind of the home invasion robbery in which Brisenia and her father Raul were killed, is the leader of the vigilante group Minutemen American Defense and has been tied to the national Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).[2] Both groups have been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate groups” and have a long record of routinely dehumanizing immigrants and vilifying Latinos.

The problem is bigger than FAIR or any other group. Some members of Congress have been legitimizing these organizations for years—inviting them to testify as “experts”—while the rhetoric coming from these groups has given rise to violence against Latinos, like the killing of Brisenia and Raul Flores.[3] That needs to end now.

We should demand that Congress renounce FAIR, the Minutemen, and other anti-immigrant hate groups. such attacks are not fair nor just. We should seek the elimination of this group just like the FBI eliminated the Black Panther Party in the 1970's. These groups are a clear and present danger to American democracy.

FAIR and the Minutemen groups are regularly quoted in the mainstream media—FAIR more than 500 times in 2008—giving them a megaphone to broadcast their hateful rhetoric: like FAIR executive director Dan Stein’s claim that “illegal aliens are more prone to criminal activity than the rest of the population,” or Minutemen co-founder Jim Gilchrist’s assertion that it is “okay to say ‘rapist,’ ‘robber’ and ‘murderer’” when describing “illegal aliens.”[4]

As vile as their rhetoric is, even more disturbing is when our elected representatives applaud their efforts and parrot their messages. Take Ranking Republican Congressman on the House Immigration Sub-Committee, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a long-time friend of extremist groups, who wrote that a day without immigrants in America would mean “the lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day.” Those debunked claims were then repeated hundreds of times by FAIR and others, creating an echo chamber of racism and hate.[5]

Or take Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has likened immigrants to terrorists and child molesters, as well as taking money from a group with white-supremacist ties.[6]

Elected leaders like these, together with their allies in extremist anti-immigrant groups, create a climate of hatred that leads to violence – as evidenced by a recent string of hate-motivated killings across the country [7].

Enough is enough. Please join me in holding members of Congress accountable by demanding they stop legitimizing FAIR and the Minutemen.










Anonymous said...

Dr. Harvey,

Be careful with your criticism of those elected officials! I want to continue to read your article! Talk to you soon!

Nickalus T. Holt

Harold Michael Harvey said...

Mr. Holt,

I understand your concern. But I simply can't sit idle, while my country is being destroyed from within, by those who purports to be patriots.

As James Baldwin once wrote, "If they come for me in the morning, they will be coming for you in the afternoon."

Anonymous said...

Read your article and it was good...however, did you mean to imply that the Black Panthers were a threat to American democracy?I don't agree with that.

Did I read it wrong?


Harold Michael Harvey said...

I did not mean to imply the Panthers were a threat to American democracy. What I meant was if the prevalent thinking of that day was Negroes with guns were threats; then why do we not take the same position when white men have guns. The government essentially destroyed the Panthers in their sleep. The exact thing these hate groups are doing to innocent young girls.

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