Five Things This Weekend’s [July 18-July 20] Rallies Tell Us About The Nativist Right
For weeks now, anti-immigrant groups have been hyping a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge,” meant to be two days of protests in cities across the country in reaction to the Central American children who are coming to the southern border to flee violence in their home countries.
The protests were a bust. Local news reports and pictures posted on social media show anemic turnout, from about 40 people in front of the United Nations in New York to just three at a McClellan, Texas, border control station who wondered if they had gotten the wrong address.
These small but vitriolic protests, although they didn’t meet the hype of their organizers, tell us everything we need to know about today’s anti-immigrant movement.
- It’s driven by extremists.
This weekend’s protests were organized by three fringe groups: Make Them Listen, Overpasses for America, and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
Overpasses for America is a group led by activist James Neighbors that organizes demonstrations over highway overpasses to call for President Obama’s impeachment. The group went a step further this year when it backed Operation American Spring, an effort meant to flood Washington with protesters and force Obama out of office , which also came up slightly short of expectations .
Overpasses frequently shares images like this on its Facebook page:
The group also uses the platform to share its views on immigrants, including this image and its accompanying caption.
Americans for Legal Immigration is a one-man anti-immigrant hate shop run by North Carolina-based activist William Gheen. Gheen has said that “illegal and violent” means might be necessary to remove President Obama from office and has a long record of virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric . Gheen’s last national action was encouraging his supporters to mail used underwear to undocumented immigrants.
Gheen also has ties to the right-wing militia movement: he personally invited the anti-government group Oath Keepers to join the weekend’s protests.
Other groups listed as “participating organizations” in the event included 2 Million Bikers To DC, whose leader wants to repeal all but the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and which deals in racist Facebook images, and Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, which is led by white supremacist Roan Garcia-Quintana .
The largest recent anti-immigrant protests — the attempts to turn back busses of migrant children in Murrieta, California, and Oracle, Arizona — were also populated by anti-government fringe groups. The Murrieta protest, which was organized by activists tied to the Minutemen and the John Birch Society, drew some of the same people who had recently set up shop at the anti-government standoff at the Bundy Ranch.
- It relies on xenophobia.
Signs and chants at this weekend’s protests show that the movement draws its energy from Nativism and xenophobia.
A number of signs at the events drew from the ginned-up fears of migrant children carrying diseases. In New York, one protester parodied Emma Lazarus, shouting, “bring us your smallpox, bring us your malaria, your scabies.”
Another woman in New York held a sign calling “illegals” and President Obama “cockroaches.”
At the Raleigh event, attended by Gheen himself, protesters in front of the Mexican consulate held a large sign reading “No Way Jose.”
A protester in Texas held a sign saying, “We are a nation of immigrants, not a nation of welfare.”
Another protester in Florida wrote a sign that read, “Send Them Back with Birth Control.”
- The fringe and the “mainstream” are closely knit.
The weekend’s protests were organized by fringe extremists, but they were promoted by large national groups that have access and influence in national politics.
The largest anti-immigrant organizing groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Numbers USA quietly promoted the events: Numbers sent a notice about the events to its email list and a number of FAIR’s state affiliates directed members to events in their areas.
Prominent GOP-tied activists also promoted the events. The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios urged listeners of her radio show to attend events in their area and advertised the protest on Facebook. The Right’s favorite “constitutional scholar” Mark Levin also advertised the rallies on Facebook.
Rep. Steve King, the leading anti-immigrant voice in Congress, spoke at a sparsely attended protest in Nebraska, telling his audience that the migrant children at the border represent an “invasion” the size of “Santa Ana’s army.”
- The movement’s running on fumes.
The small turnout at the weekend’s rallies highlights the truth that the anti-immigrant movement is desperately trying to hide: it just doesn’t have that much support.
Reports from cities across the country show just small handfuls of people showing up to yell about the child migrants to passing cars.
About 12 people turned up on an overpass in Milwaukee. A similar number gathered in Oklahoma City and Placentia, California. An event in Dover, Delaware, seems to have attracted about twenty. About eight appear to have made it out to hang an “Obama Sucks” banner on an overpass in Chattanooga. Three people turned up on an overpass in Oregon. San Diego mustered 25 people. A small group of protesters in Columbus, Ohio, were disappointed that so few people had showed up. About 15 people made it to the parking lot of the Mexican consulate in Little Rock; consulate officials and local police assured local news that they weren’t too concerned about needing additional security.
Meanwhile, Think Progress reporters in McClellan, Texas, ran into a group of three anti-immigrant demonstrators who wondered if they had gotten the wrong address for the protest. They were drowned out by the more than 60 people rallying in support of the refugee children at the border.
The protests this weekend were an attempt to create the illusion of widespread outrage at the children coming to the southern border and at the concept of immigration reform. A number of the protest groups, however small, garnered local news coverage and were able to say that they were part of a large nationwide effort. A look at reports from across the country shows that that was not the case.
The anti-immigrant movement, for all its smoke and mirrors, consists of a small network of closely tied advocacy groups who rely on fringe extremists like Gheen and Neighbors to rally scant amounts of grassroots support.
- The GOP is still listening.
The anti-immigrant movement may be smoke and mirrors, but it has some very influential people fooled. House Speaker John Boehner still refuses to bring immigration reform up for a vote in the House. Ted Cruz now says that deporting DREAMers is his “top priority.” Republicans in Congress, spooked by the victory of ALIPAC-supported David Brat in Virginia, say that immigration reform is dead — even though an overwhelming percentage of Republicans want Congress to take action to fix the immigration system and a majority of Republicans want that to include a path to citizenship or permanent residency for undocumented immigrants.
The child refugee crisis has brought out the true colors of the anti-immigrant movement. Even as some conservative groups are urging compassion and care for the children fleeing to the southern border, Republican leaders seem to be buying the narrative of the small, Nativist anti-immigrant fringe.
Posted by Gypsy Chief
From Colorado Pols.
Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal wrote at length on a subject we have been intimately familiar with in Colorado: Congressman Cory Gardner’s Personhood problem. It has now been more than 4 months since Gardner first tried to flip-flop on Personhood (but only the “Colorado” kind), and he’s had a hell of a problem with the issue ever since. Gardner has tried hard to distance himself from the issue — which was the point of the flip-flop to begin with — but things have gone so bad that 4 months later Personhood is still dogging the Republican Senate nominee. He’s now being criticized by Cosmopolitan magazine, which is a problem for a lot of reasons.
Since we all agree that women are probably the key to winning statewide races in Colorado, a new story out today should absolutely scare the hell out of the Gardner campaign — not just for what it says, but for where it says it: Cosmopolitan magazine. Ada Calhoun writes this week about the federal “Life at Conception Act,” which Gardner sponsors and which is pretty much the exact same thing as the Colorado Personhood ballot measures:
A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last year has major criminal implications for women. If it passes, women could be prosecuted for seeking an abortion or even for taking a drug and then having a miscarriage. It would also outlaw IVF and any form of contraception that could theoretically prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, including Plan B, the IUD, and the pill …
… More than anywhere else, the debate over personhood is playing out in Colorado, the home base of Personhood USA. There, Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, has been pounding his challenger, Cory Gardner, with ads calling him out for his support of personhood. Gardner responded in a commercial that he no longer supports personhood after he “listened” to his constituents. But Udall’s campaign launched a website that shows Gardner with a cartoon of the federal personhood bill perched on his shoulder, and Planned Parenthood Votes released an ad calling Gardner “still wrong for women’s health.” Gardner’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
“Colorado might be a little unique because Coloradans know what this means,” says James Owens, deputy communications director for the Udall campaign. “We’ve had two ballot initiatives on [personhood] in the last six years, and they’ve failed by overwhelming margins. So when people hear that there’s a congressman running to represent the entire state who still has his name on a federal personhood bill, they know what that means for their access to birth control and safe access to abortion.” …
… “[Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood,” Personhood USA president Keith Mason told Cosmopolitan.com. “I think he’s just listening to some bad advice, and he’s playing politics.” [Pols emphasis]
Whoa. That quote from Personhood USA president Keith Mason is a doozy. When you call out Gardner for basing “his entire political career on support of personhood,” it absolutely kills Gardner’s hopes of trying to make this look like a reasonable re-think of a controversial issue. And it’s not like there isn’t a preponderance of evidence against Gardner on this “change of heart.”
Not that we’re surprised this isn’t going well. Take a look at what we wrote in late April, and notice how you could use the same paragraph months later:
Look, we get it. We understand the idea here. Rep. Cory Gardner was obviously concerned that his longtime support of the Personhood issue — both in Colorado and in Congress — would be a significant problem in his quest to defeat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in November. From a broader perspective, it probably seemed like a wise move to try to distance himself from his Personhood past. But Gardner and his campaign team didn’t spend enough time thinking this through.
Not only has the Personhood issue failed to fade for Gardner, but his clumsy handling of the flip-flop has actually made things worse for his candidacy. And from what we hear, some high-level Republicans are quietly growing nervous about Gardner’s silly mistakes.
If Gardner loses his bid for the U.S. Senate largely because of the Personhood issue, he’ll have nobody to blame but his own campaign. Personhood was going to come up in this campaign one way or the other, but Gardner’s own arrogance at thinking he could just tell people he “changed his mind” has kept this as a top issue as we enter August and the busiest time of the campaign season. He should never have tried to flip-flop on an issue as seemingly black and white as Personhood, but now he’s living with the consequences.
Posted by Gypsy Chief
From Alternet. Published July 16, 2014. Written by Amanda Marcotte.
There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America , which is at historically high levels. There are a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics, women’s growing empowerment, the Internet, the economy and cable news. But religion and religious belief plays an important role as well. There’s no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more like western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. And caught in between are a group of liberal Christians that are culturally aligned with secularists and are increasingly and dismayingly seeing the concept of “faith” aligned with a narrow and conservative political worldview.
That this polarization is happening is hard to deny, even if it’s harder to measure that political polarization. The number of Americans who cite “none” when asked about a religious identity is rising rapidly, up to nearly 20% from 15% in 2007, with a third of people under 30 identifying with no religious faith. Two-thirds of the “nones” say they believe in God, suggesting that this is more of a cultural drift towards secularism than some kind of crisis of faith across the country.
But even this may underrepresent how secular our country really is getting, as many people who say they belong to a church don’t really go to church much, if at all. While Americans like to tell pollsters they go to church regularly, in-depth research shows they are lying and many of them blow it off, putting our actual church-going rates at roughly the same level of secular Western Europe.
Even when people identify with a label like “Catholic” or “Methodist”, that doesn’t mean they consider it an important part of their identity in the way that people used to. Take, for instance, the way that weddings have quietly changed in this country. It used to be that you had a wedding in a church, and only people who were eloping got married by someone other than a minister. Now, outside of very religious circles, it’s more common to see weddings on beaches or at country clubs, and very often officiated by friends of the couple rather than clergy. Indeed, state laws are slowly beginning to change to reflect this reality, allowing more flexibility for people to have the secular weddings they increasingly desire.
Published July 13, 2014 here. Written by Vyan.
Yeah, uh, ya think?
From ABC’s “This Week”
Kristol seemed to agree [with Eric Holder's withering assessment of Palin] during an ABC News panel discussion on Sunday.
“No responsible Republican official has called for impeachment,” he explained. “And one problem with it is, of course, is you just get Joe Biden as president. The Republican task is to elect a Republican Senate, and to elect a Republican president in 2016, not to create a phony issue that allows Democrats to make Republicans look extreme.”
Republican strategist Ann Navarro agreed that “nobody of responsibility, nobody in leadership, nobody of relevance has talked about impeachment … So, can we stick to talking about people who can actually make something happen say, and not just folks who want to make headlines say?”
My my my … so now we’re supposed to only be talking about what “Responsible” Republicans have to say, not what those outside leadership, with no relevance, and who only want to make headlines say or think?
Sniff! I think I smell a really mean, snarky, semi-literate facebook post about Kristol in Palin’s immediate future.
And just where exactly does all this put John Boehner and his Impeachment-Lite Plan to Sue the President? Will it appease the pitchforkers, or simply enrage them further as too little and too late?
Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles.
Published July 11, 2014 in Alternet. Written by Jay Walljasper.
You can see big changes happening across North America as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.
“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users—busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”
Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means— and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special bike traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections. Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.read more…
Published July 1, 2014 by Campaign For America’s Future. Written by Emily Divito.
Here is the clearest, and scariest, implication of the Supreme Court’s Monday [i.e. June 30] ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — is fatally flawed. It is clear we now need a public, single-payer health care system — because the Supreme Court can no longer protect us.
The fact that Hobby Lobby Inc. actually had a legal standing to bring this case to court in order to contest providing comprehensive health care to their 18,000 employees should prove that a key feature of the Affordable Care Act is unsound: It relies too heavily on private entities to deliver a public good — health care.
Published on June 14, 2014 in The National Memo. Written by Cynthia Tucker.
Update by Gypsy Chief
This article was published June 14, 2014. Around that time Open Carry activists started taking long guns into Target stores. Gun safety groups such as Moms Demand Action pushed back threatening a boycott. On July 2 Target asked customers to leave their long guns home. Moms Demand Action started a petition thanking Target Stores for this policy change. I signed the petition and “liked” Target’s Facebook page.
In order to really get the essence of what Cynthia Tucker is saying in this article you could see Target’s Facebook page, various entries, from June 17 to July 4. To hear gun advocates tell it crooks are reading newspapers and planning where to go based on where there are ‘gun-free’ zones. Now that these ‘law abiding’ open carry types are not welcome everybody who shops at Target is now a ‘sitting duck’. Meanwhile, World Net Daily [far right loony fringe source] says that Target Stores are being robbed.
When I was growing up in the Cold War era, teachers instructed their pupils in the fine art of ducking under the desk as a shield against a strike from an atom bomb. That was a futile exercise, of course: A desktop provides no protection from the powerful destructive capacity of a nuclear weapon.
But it allowed teachers and their charges to pretend to have a defense against a frightening communist enemy whose might nearly equaled our own. It created a psychological barrier against helplessness.
These days, teachers train to protect their students from armed madmen who shoot up schools. They are taught to recognize not just the sound of gunfire in the hallway but also to hear the bone-chilling thump of an empty clip hitting the floor. They learn to hide their students; they memorize escape routes; they practice throwing ordinary classroom tools, like staplers, at an armed assailant.
As schools search for solutions, a manufacturer’s spokesman said sales of a product called the “Bodyguard Blanket,” a bulletproof covering that might offer a bit of protection from a school shooter, have been surprisingly strong. Why wouldn’t it sell quickly? Since the December 2012 Newtown massacre, there has been, on average, a similar incident every five weeks, according to CNN.
However, there’s a huge difference between the dangerous enemy we confronted in my youth and the current menace: Average citizens could defeat the lunacy now threatening our children. We are not helpless. Instead, for reasons that I simply cannot fathom, we are paralyzed by a crazed gun lobby.
It’s difficult to adequately describe our sense of defeatism in the face of the firearms fanatics. We don’t fight back when they insist on laws allowing guns in schools, in bars, in churches. We throw up our hands when they resist background checks. We shrug when another child is gunned down at school.
Oh, polls show our support for common-sense measures that would curb the death rate. After Newtown — when 20 small children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School — 91 percent of Americans supported background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows and private sales. Yet the Senate could not manage to pass a bill that closed the “gun show loophole.”
It’s unlikely that any of the senators who voted against the measure will be called to account in the only way that matters — with defeat. While 41 Republicans (and five Democrats) voted against the bill, the GOP is expected to gain seats in November’s elections. What kind of message does that send to the gun fanatics?
Meanwhile, the gun lobby’s favorite arguments for its positions have been, well, gunned down. Gun advocates claim that widespread firearms ownership by responsible law-abiding citizens would help to stop the carnage. They insist that a would-be school shooter, for example, would be killed before he could hurt anyone if only teachers were armed.
Experience shows it rarely works that way. Earlier this month, anti-government extremists, husband-and-wife team Jerad and Amanda Miller, killed two police officers in Las Vegas, ambushing the officers as they ate lunch. The couple then went to a nearby Walmart, where they encountered an armed citizen, Joseph Wilcox, who spotted Jerad and tried to stop him. Wilcox, too, was shot dead.
Facts, however, don’t faze the National Rifle Association and its allies, who have long since descended into a lunacy that rivals parody. Consider this: Recently, gun fetishists in Texas have begun demonstrating their support for “open carry” laws by carrying their heavy-duty weapons into restaurants. They’ve posted pictures of themselves with their assault-style weapons — civilian versions of rifles such as the AK-47 — strapped to their backs as stunned diners look on.
The NRA posted an opinion piece on its website discouraging those antics: “It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates,” the writer said. Guess what? Within a few days, a backlash ensued from the gun cult, and the NRA disowned the commentary.
This is Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole madness. What does it say about the rest of us that we allow it to rule?
(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at email@example.com.)
Posted by Gypsy Chief
Governor Sam Brownback (R) is “fighting for his life” against Democrat Paul Davis, according to SurveyUSA’s latest poll, released on Thursday. Davis leads Brownback by 6 points (47 percent to 41 percent), with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
The poll shows that Davis has the support of 26 percent of Republicans, plus 89 percent of his Democratic base. Independents back Davis over Brownback by 19 points. Davis also leads among female voters by 14 points.
SurveyUSA notes that voters are primarily focused on education funding and taxes. Voters who prioritize education support Davis by 54 points, and those who prioritize tax rates favor Brownback by 16 percent. This reflects the divide over Brownback’s massive tax cuts, which drastically decreased funding for Kansas public education.
The Real Clear Politics poll average shows the two candidates essentially tied, with Brownback ahead by only 0.3 points.
Brownback still has five months to attempt to retain voters, but that’s a lot of time for Davis, the lesser-known candidate, to make his case to voters and to make the race a referendum against Brownback’s policies.
Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado, has been hammered with criticism over his support for Personhood measures, which would ban both abortions and most forms of birth control. The far-right lawmaker is still figuring out what to do about it.
Gardner supported a Personhood ballot measure in 2008, which Colorado voters strongly rejected. Ignoring the election results, Gardner supported another Personhood ballot measure in 2010, which was also soundly rejected. He then went to Congress where he threw his support to – you guessed it – another Personhood proposal.
Shortly after launching a statewide campaign, however, Gardner announced a partial flip-flop: he no longer supports Personhood in Colorado, though he still supports Personhood at the federal level (which, incidentally, would apply to Colorado).
The congressman, obviously hurt by the Democratic focus on the issue, is trying to convince voters he’s kinda sorta changed his mind on the issue, and yesterday, wrote a piece for the Denver Post in which he moved sharply to the left: he now supports consumer access to the pill without a prescription.
The least loved institution in America today is the U.S. Senate, and one of the reasons it is reviled is a zero-sum approach to women’s medical care. It’s time we changed that and adopt modern policies that make sense instead of using women’s medical issues as an election-year power play. One of the most rational ways for Washington to break this gridlock is to approve oral contraception for over-the-counter purchases by adults. […]
Getting the politics out of contraception will improve the lives of women all over the country. It’s time for a new generation of thinking in Washington – one that puts solving problems ahead of scoring political points.
Send this man a NARAL membership application form.
Yes, one of Congress’ most conservative members on the issue of reproductive rights, a long-time culture warrior who’s spent much of his career on the far-right side on the issue – in 2011, Gardner even tried to redefine “rape” in order limit federal funds for abortion coverage – is all of a sudden a liberal when it comes to access to the pill.
The chutzpah necessary to even try a move like this is simply breathtaking.
“This is really getting ridiculous,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “As a state legislator, Cory Gardner voted against the Birth Control Protection Act. Gardner even voted against a bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception. He voted to strip contraception funding from the state Medicaid program. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which serves women in rural Colorado. He opposed covering contraception as part of preventive health care without a co-pay. Today, he decided the best way to cover women’s health is to insult the intelligence of every voter in Colorado.”
Also note, as of this morning, Gardner is still a co-sponsor of the federal Personhood legislation.
Source: Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog.
Posted by Gypsy Chief