American Renaissance, December 2004
The 11th Hour
Turkey has wanted to be a member of the European Union since 1963, but has been kept out because it does not meet requirements for democratic government, human rights, and respect for minorities. In September, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunther Verheugen, toured Turkey and found it is close enough to requirements to justify membership negotiations. Mr. Verheugen made no promises: Talks should be suspended if Turkey reneges on human rights reforms or fails to stay democratic. He also suggested that if the EU did admit Turkey, it should consider limiting Turkish immigration. European leaders are expected to endorse Mr. Verheugen’s recommendation this month. [Stephen Castle and Pelin Turgut, The Turkish Question, Independent (London), Oct. 7, 2004.]
Still, there is a good chance Europeans will block Turkish membership. Politicians who oppose Turkey have been afraid to say so publicly, but now that accession has become a real possibility, they are speaking up. In early September, outgoing European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein of the Netherlands warned that the EU could “implode” if it expands too quickly. He cited the example of Austrian imperial expansion a century ago: The incorporation of 20 million Slavs threatened Austria’s own culture, and the EU risks becoming “an Austro-Hungarian empire on a grand scale.” He worries that some of Europe’s great cities, including Rotterdam and Amsterdam in his own country, will soon have Muslim majorities, and pointed out that Turkish membership would hasten this transformation. If Europe becomes Islamicized, he added “the liberation of Vienna [from Turkish armies] in 1683 will have been in vain.”
Shortly after Mr. Bolkestein’s speech, Franz Fischler of Austria, another outgoing commissioner, expressed his own doubts about Turkey. He published a private letter he had sent fellow commissioners saying Turkey was “far more Oriental than European” and “there remain doubts as to Turkey’s long-term secular and democratic credentials.” In late September, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin asked, “Do we want the river of Islam to enter the riverbed of secularism?” [Christopher Caldwell, Islamic Europe? Weekly Standard, Oct. 4, 2004.]
Commissioner Verheugen’s recommendation prompted an impassioned debate in the European Parliament. One German member claimed, “The future of the European Union as a peaceful community is at stake.” On the other side, French member Francis Wurtz stated that the West “is no longer a Europe of white Christians,” and to exclude Turkey on the basis of religion is “irresponsible and loathsome.” [Elaine Sciolino, Turkey Advances in its Bid to Join European Union, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2004.]
The incoming European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, opposes Turkish membership. Moreover, France has now declared that it will hold a national referendum on Turkish membership, and Jose Barroso of Portugal, incoming head of the European Commission, says he welcomes national referenda on the issue. [EU Fine-Tunes Crunch Report on Turkey’s Membership Bid, EU Business, Oct. 4, 2004. Turkey Entry Splits EU Executive, EUPolitix.com, Oct. 7, 2004.]
Polls show Europeans would soundly reject Turkish membership. Fifty-six percent of the French oppose accession, and only 36 percent support it. Fifty-seven percent of Germans oppose membership, as do three out of four Austrians. [John Henley, French Poll Shows Depth of Hostility to Turkey, The Guardian (London), Sep. 29, 2004. Turkey Faces Long Road Ahead as EU Opens Door, AFP, Oct. 6, 2004. Austrian President Supports Start of Turkey’s EU Talks, AFP, Oct. 25. 2004.]
The United States supports Turkish accession. In June, Pres. Bush called Turkey a “great and stable democracy,” and said membership in the EU “would expose the ‘clash of civilizations’ as a passing myth of history.” He went on to praise Turkey as “Europe’s bridge to the wider world.” These remarks infuriated Europeans. Pres. Jacques Chirac, who favors Turkish membership, said Mr. Bush should mind his own business. [Susan Jones, Turkey Belongs in the European Union, Bush Says, CNSNews.com, June 29, 2004.]
Old South Sympathies
Although they are now unenforceable, many Southern states still have segregation-era laws on the books. One example is the Alabama constitution, which still requires poll taxes and separate schools for white and “colored” children. Many Alabama politicians, including the governor, think these provisions are disgraceful, and they backed an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to strike them down.
Many people opposed the initiative, including Roy Moore, who was ousted as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court last November for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument outside his courthouse. He said what the people behind the amendment really wanted was to raise taxes. Besides eliminating the school segregation clause, the initiative would have removed language saying Alabamans have no right to an education at public expense. Legislators added this in 1956 in an effort to get around the requirement for school integration. Mr. Moore argues that if Alabama declares education a right, courts could require that the state increase funding for public schools, which could mean higher property taxes. [Jay Reeves, Opponents To Striking Vestiges Of Segregation From Alabama Constitution Accused Of Racism, AP, Oct. 21, 2004.]
Mr. Moore seems to have prevailed with the electorate, who voted against the initiative by a small margin, though the final outcome will not be known until provisional ballots are counted. Mr. Moore accused the initiative’s backers of having a hidden agenda, but he may have one himself. He has never publicly endorsed segregation, but he is friendly with those who do. Recently, when he spoke at the Indiana Baptist Temple, he had his picture taken with a minister who advocates segregation and believes God means for whites to lead other races. The victory over the initiative means it is more likely Mr. Moore will run for governor in 2006. [Mary Orndorff, Moore Speaks to Controversial Church Group, Nov. 5, 2004.]
The motives of Alabama voters are also unclear. Although they may have voted down the initiative because it could have led to higher taxes, four years ago 40 percent voted to keep an unenforceable ban on interracial marriage in the constitution. Gabriel J. Chin, a University of Arizona law professor who is an expert on Jim Crow laws, says, “Some people still support segregation. They won’t say it in public, but they will say it in the voting place.” [Alabama to Vote on Segregation Language, AP, Oct. 13, 2004.]
Nov. 2 brought another victory for Mr. Moore: Alabamans elected Tom Parker, his former aide, as Supreme Court Justice. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) campaigned against Mr. Parker. They published a photograph of him handing out small Confederate battle flags at the funeral of the last Confederate widow. Flanking him in the photo were members of the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South, which the SPLC calls “hate groups.” The SPLC also reported that Mr. Parker had attended a party commemorating the birthday of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
To his credit, Mr. Parker shrugged off the finger-pointing, saying he “must be doing the right things” if the SPLC was attacking him. “If there is any more appropriate place for the display of the Confederate battle flag than the funeral for the last Confederate widow, I would like for someone to explain it to me,” he added. “Political correctness should not cause people to dishonor our history.” [Parker Defends Handing Out Confederate Flags at Funeral, AP, Oct. 19, 2004. Jay Reeves, Ala. Vote Shows Some Old South Sympathies, AP, Nov. 5, 2004.]
Diana Cortez and Sandra Lopez, the former mayor and bookkeeper of the small border town La Grulla, Texas, recently pled guilty to misusing federal grant money. Between 2001 and 2003, the town, which has a median income of only $16,400, received $410,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for subsidized housing and community development. Instead of spending the money on housing, the mayor put it into the town’s general fund, which the two women tapped for payments to psychic Cesar Macias. They wrote checks totaling $53,700, which were payable either to Mr. Macias or to fictional businesses with titles like “Macias Machinery & Equipment Supply Company Contractor” and “Macias Equipment Company.” [Former Mayor Pleads Guilty to Using Money for Psychic Readings, KGBT 4 (Harlingen, Tex.), Nov. 4, 2004.]
Richard Sanchez, a 23-year-old Mexican who was adopted by a Kansas couple when he was a child, visited his country of birth in September to meet his birth family. Unfortunately, while at the family’s ranch in Chihuahua City, he fell 40 feet from a cliff and badly injured his head. He had just changed jobs, and had no health insurance. His family took him to the hospital but doctors would not treat him because they had no assurance of payment. A second hospital kept him on life support for three days before he died. He might have lived if he had received immediate treatment.
According to a Mexican consul, it is not unusual for Mexican hospitals to refuse uninsured patients. “In general, Mexican hospitals will not start treating patients without some prepayment of the estimated charges or some sort of evidence of how the person plans to make payments, even in life-threatening cases.” The State Department warns that Mexican doctors are likely to charge foreigners more than locals and to charge for services not rendered. [Chris Strunk, Newton Man Finds Tragedy in Mexico, Newton Kansan, October 1, 2004.]
The laws are, of course, different in the United States, where hospitals must provide emergency medical care to all-comers, including Mexican illegal aliens, who are usually uninsured. The cost is cripplingly expensive. Los Angeles County hospitals alone spend $350 million a year on illegal immigrants. In the last 15 months six county hospitals have closed their emergency rooms because of these costs. [Federation for American Immigration Reform, Immigration Impact — California, www. fairus.org. Jason Felch, Valley’s Oldest Hospital to Close, Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2004.]
For most Floridians, hurricanes are an inconvenience, and for some, a major disaster. To Mayan priest Miguel Angel Chinquin Yat of Lake Worth, they are an opportunity to commune with God — or at least the god of the hurricane. Mr. Yat is the director of the Organization of Maya People in Exile, and last September, while most residents of Florida were battening down the hatches or preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Jeanne, Mr. Yat was organizing a “welcoming” ceremony for the storm.
Mr. Yat believes hurricanes are the forces that helped create the universe, and that spirits reside in them. When Hurricane Frances came ashore he spent three hours a day speaking to its spirit and to his departed ancestors. He says the arrival of Hurricane Jeanne so closely on the heels of Frances means that “Mother Earth has suffered greatly.” [Tanya Wragg, Local Maya Priest Welcomes Hurricanes, Palm Beach Post, Sept. 25, 2004, p. 10A.]
None of the Above
The Census Bureau has a hard time classifying Hispanics. In 1930, the census introduced a “Mexican” category but dropped it in 1940. In 1960, the Bureau announced that it considered Hispanics white unless they were “definitively of Negro, Indian or other non-white race,” and the Bureau continues to use this classification today.
In 1950, the bureau first introduced an “other race” option, intended for some Asians and people of mixed race, but now, it is most commonly used by Hispanics. The 2000 census race question asked people if they were white, black, American Indian/Alaska native, or one of many varieties of Asian or Pacific Islander, including Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, and Samoan. Forty eight percent of Hispanics said they were white; two percent, black; 1.2 percent, American Indian; 0.3 percent, Asian; and 6.3 percent, two or more races. The remaining 42.2 percent chose “Some other race.” In the blank, most wrote “Hispanic,” “Latino,” or geographic descriptions like “Mexican” or “Puerto Rican.”
The trouble is that the Latin American system of racial classification is different from the Census Bureau’s. There are many mixtures in the region, and people use dozens of categories, such as jabao, indio, trigueno, moreno, or mestizo, to describe different ancestries and skin colors. Hispanics have other quirks. Many Dominicans, for example, whom Americans would say are black, consider themselves white because they think of Haitians as black.
The Census Bureau has to come up with a race for all respondents because government, business, and researchers need this information for electoral districting, “civil rights enforcement,” and the like. Vague Hispanic answers are a nuisance. Census demographers try to guess the race of “other race” Hispanics by checking relatives’ answers, and looking up the racial makeup of the neighborhood.
To end the confusion, the Census Bureau has proposed to eliminate the “some other race” option for the 2010 census, and force everyone to choose a category. Hispanic groups like the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund have yelled. Carlos Chardon, the chairman of the Census Bureau’s Hispanic advisory committee resents being forced to choose. “We don’t fit into the categories Anglos want us to fit in. The census is trying to create a reality that doesn’t exist.” If the “other race” option is eliminated some Hispanics may refuse to answer the race question.
There has been heated debate within the Census Bureau between those who want clarity and those who defend Hispanics’ rights to racial ambiguity. Indeed, during a meeting on the question, two officials on opposite sides argued so fiercely that the bureau asked the partisan of the “other race” question to resign — which he did. [Rachel L. Swarns, Hispanics Debate Racial Grouping by Census, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004.]
As part of an image overhaul to boost flagging sales, Sears has decided to turn 97 of its 870 outlets into “multicultural stores,” in which clothing, signs, décor, and displays are geared to Hispanics, blacks, and Asians. The remodeled stores are in areas where at least 60 percent of customers are non-white.
As part of the makeover, Sears is hiring more bilingual staff, using more non-whites in advertising, and introducing clothing designed to appeal to non-whites. After two years of research, Sears discovered that non-white women have different tastes from whites, and that what fits the average white woman is too small for many blacks and too big for many Asians and Hispanics. They found that Hispanics want “stylish,” form-fitting clothing in bright, loud colors like orange and crimson, and high heels — the higher the better. Blacks need more “plus” sizes. In the multicultural stores, Sears displays the loud clothing prominently on racks near the entrances. Clothing white women buy, like the more conservative Land’s End line, is relegated to obscure corners.
Although Sears has been marketing to Hispanics for years (it started publishing a Spanish language magazine Nuestra Gente in the 1990s and has long featured signs in Spanish), the multicultural stores are a more open pitch to non-whites. [Christina Hoag, Right Look, Right Size: Sears Woos Minorities, Herald (Miami), Oct. 7, 2004, p. 1A.]
IRS v. NAACP
Federal law prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations “from intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” The IRS is investigating whether NAACP chairman Julian Bond violated the law in a speech last July in which he criticized Pres. George W. Bush.
In remarks representing the official NAACP position, Mr. Bond said, “The election this fall is a contest between two widely disparate views of who we are and what we believe. One view wants to march us backward through history — surrendering control of government to special interests, weakening democracy, giving religion veto power over science, curtailing civil liberties, despoiling the environment. The other view promises expanded democracy and giving the people, not plutocrats, control over their government.” If the IRS determines that the speech was electioneering, the NACCP could lose its tax exempt status.
That, says Mr. Bond, would be “catastrophic. It would mean that people who give $100 and who write it off their income taxes couldn’t do it anymore.” He admits his speech was highly critical of the President, but denies it was done in support of Sen. John Kerry (Sen. Kerry spoke before the NAACP convention while Pres. Bush declined). “It is Orwellian to believe that criticism and partisanship are the same thing. It’s just unbelievable that criticizing the President would bring the weight of the IRS down on you.” Mr. Bond believes the IRS investigation is intended to stop the NAACP from registering black voters. The IRS denies this. [Tony Pugh, NAACP Speech Prompts Tax Probe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 29, 2004, p. A1.]
The Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, a black church in Mt. Airy, Pennsylvania, is also in hot water with the IRS and may lose its tax-exempt status. On Oct. 24, following Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy’s pro-Kerry stump speech from the pulpit, Bishop Ernest Morris told the congregation, “I can’t tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you what my mama told me last week: Stay out the bushes.”
The remarks prompted a complaint to the IRS from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the fifth made this year against pro-Kerry activity in black churches. Director Barry Lynn says Bishop Morris’s statement “shows blatant disregard for federal tax law.”
The law allows churches to hold bipartisan candidate forums and distribute voter guides, and they can invite candidates to speak as long as opponents get equal time, and there are “no demonstrations of approval or disapproval of any candidate.” Pastors may even endorse candidates, provided they make it clear they are doing so as individuals and not on behalf of the church, and not during worship services.
Melissa Rogers, professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest Divinity School in North Carolina says Bishop Morris may have crossed the line. “The IRS has said it’s not just a flat-out ‘vote for Kerry’ but the use of code words that will get you into trouble,” she explains. “He made a biased statement.” Still, she says the bishop may not need to worry, noting that the IRS “is pretty cautious” about going after churches because the agency “doesn’t want to be seen as a brigade of spies in the pews.” [Jim Remsen, IRS Asked to Probe Political Activity at Mt. Airy Church, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 29, 2004, p. B10.]
Churchill on Race
Like most men of his era, Winston Churchill had realistic views on race — so realistic, a modern biographer has decided to censor them. As Gretchen Rubin writes in Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill:
To shield his reputation, this account has downplayed Churchill’s deplorable attitudes toward race. Churchill used opprobrious terms like blackamoor, chink, wop, and baboo and distinguished between the white race and others. [emphasis in the original] For example, he wrote that at a September 1944 conference, he was ‘glad to record’ that ‘the British Empire . . . was still keeping its position, with a total population, including the Dominions and Colonies, of only seventy million white people.’ He never outgrew his views. His doctor recalled that in 1955, Churchill asked whether ‘blacks got measles’ . . . When he was told that there was a very high mortality among negroes from measles, he growled, ‘Well, there are plenty left. They’ve a high rate of production.’
[Gretchen Rubin, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, Ballantine Books (New York), 2003, p. 222.]
Dereliction of Duty
Last October, local authorities arrested 25 illegal aliens working at Rapp Bros. Pallet Services, Inc. in Williams Township, Pennsylvania. They charged the men — all from Mexico or Central America — not with immigration violations, but with identity theft and/or tampering with public records because they used fake or stolen Social Security numbers to get jobs.
On Nov. 3, the men appeared before Judge Leonard N. Zito to plead guilty and be sentenced. Prosecutor Jay W. Jenkins asked for terms in the county jail, pointing out that identity theft and tampering with public records are serious crimes. Judge Zito agreed, but said the men apparently didn’t mean any harm. He then found the men guilty, but ordered them released without punishment. “Their crime was simply to go to work,” he says. “In some ways, it’s a sad day for this country.” The men face deportation as criminal aliens, but since they have been released, it is unlikely ICE will ever find them. [Tyra Braden, More Than 2 Dozen Admit Working Illegally, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.), Nov. 2, 2004.]
American Indian descendants of chief Crazy Horse, who helped Sitting Bull defeat George Armstrong Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn in 1876, are demanding that a Paris strip club change its name out of respect for their ancestor. The swanky Crazy Horse Paris club opened near the Champs-Elysées in 1951 and is widely known for its risqué entertainment.
On Oct. 16, Alfred Red Cloud, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, delivered a letter from the tribe to the club’s owners, saying, “The name is sacred to our people. Nobody uses that name back home — even our own people. I’m not trying to close the establishment down, I just want the name changed.” The letter, written by Harvey White Woman, a descendant of Crazy Horse and the executor of his estate, adds, “I want the young people of my tribe to remember him as a strong leader and warrior and not some nightclub in Paris.” [Crazy Horse Kin Want Club Renamed, AP, Oct. 17, 2004.]
Browning the Congress
When the 109th Congress convenes next January it will include more non-whites than the previous Congress. The Congressional Black Caucus will grow by three, to 40 members. Says Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, “I think the caucus will play a major role and will be listened to very carefully.” The number of Hispanics in Congress will increase by one, to 23. There will be three East Asians in the House, one South Asian, and one Indian, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma.
The Senate will have two Hispanics, Democrat Ken Salazar of Colorado, who won the seat vacated by Republican (and Indian) Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida. There hasn’t been a Hispanic senator since Joseph Manuel Montoya of New Mexico was defeated in 1976. The incoming senator gaining the most national press attention is Barack Obama of Illinois, the son of an African immigrant and a white mother. Mr. Obama, the darling of the 2004 Democratic convention, will become the first black male senator since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts left in 1979. Elijah Cummings says Mr. Obama’s election is a “tremendous victory” for black candidates, adding “It shows that an African-American who has the right kind of message and is bright and has a lot on the ball can win in a situation where it is predominantly white.” The media are already raising the possibility that Mr. Obama will appear on a national Democratic ticket, perhaps as early as 2008. The next Senate will also include two returning Asians, Hawaii senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye. [Jim Abrams, New Congress to Look More Like Real America, AP, Nov. 5, 2004.]
The sole South Asian elected to the House of Representatives is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, whose parents immigrated from the Punjab in 1970. Mr. Jindal ran unsuccessfully for governor of Louisiana, but won a Louisiana congressional seat in suburban New Orleans with a crushing 78 percent of the vote. Mr. Jindal graduated from Brown University and was a Rhodes Scholar. Just 33 years old, he has had a meteoric career, no doubt helped by the fact that he is a non-white Republican. In Louisiana, he has been secretary of the state’s health system, president of the state university system, and director of a national commission to reform medical care for old people. In 2001, he was an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, which made him the highest-ranking Asian Indian in the US government. Like Barack Obama, Mr. Jindal is already being touted as a rising star in national politics.
Mr. Jindal’s election was cause for much celebration in his parents’ hometown of Sangrur. Residents are said to have thronged the pharmacies operated by his first cousins, Subhash Jindal and Harvinder Kumar. [Bobby Jindal Wins Louisiana, Sify.com, Nov. 3, 2004. Town Erupts into Joy as Bobby Romps Home, Sify.com, Nov. 4, 2004.]
Another Sad Story
Josaia Gucake, a Fijian, served as a senator of his country’s Multicultural Party at a time when non-native Indians dominated the government of the South Pacific island nation. When native islanders staged a coup in 2000 and overthrew the government, Mr. Gucake feared he and his family would be killed as race-traitors for having collaborated with the Indians, so he fled to the United States with his extended family, and became an illegal resident of suburban Seattle. Mr. Gucake applied for political asylum in 2002, but was denied. His appeal was denied in December 2003, and last month, federal agents arrested him, his wife, and several of their siblings.
Media coverage of the story has been typically maudlin. Mr. Gucake reportedly became a senior pastor at Christ Tabernacle Church in Lynnwood, Washington, studied to become a paralegal, and helped other Fijians with their immigration paperwork. His wife Grace cared for old people. His nephew, Joe Nawaciano, worked for a local charity. “We do good things for the community,” he says. The children are heart-broken at being separated from their parents while in custody, and at the prospect of leaving school friends. The locals are, of course, fond of their illegal neighbors — ”They are kind, gentle and beautiful people,” says Chris Kratz, a secretary at the high school attended by the Gucake’s eldest daughter Adi — and raised money to help with legal and moving expenses.
Immigration authorities held firm, and deported the Gucakes on Nov. 2, or at least the ones they could get their hands on. They sent back eight adults and five children, including Mr. Gucake, his brother, and various cousins and/or in-laws. Two adults, including the kindly Mrs. Gucake who cared for old people, are on the lam.
As for Mr. Gucake’s fears for his safety back in Fiji, Nirmal Singh, a spokesman for the US Embassy says he has nothing to worry about. “There has not been any politically motivated killing,” he says, since the military transferred power to a democratically-elected government. “Everything is back to normal.” [Bill Sheets, Fijian Families Face Deportation, The Herald (Everett, Wash.), Oct. 21, 2004. Bill Sheets, Fijians Lose Fight to Stay in US, The Herald, Nov. 4, 2004.]
The (Republican) Party Line
An AR reader recently wrote President George Bush, to complain about plans to grant stealth amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. He received a polite reply that included the following:
The President is committed to keeping America and our borders safe. He opposes amnesty for undocumented workers and believes that migration to the United States should be legal, safe and orderly while addressing our economic, security and humanitarian needs . . .
Without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens or control over our borders, we can make our immigration laws more rational and more humane. For this reason, the President recently asked Congress to develop legislation that would match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs . . .
The President’s proposal would help deter illegal immigration by increasing enforcement against employers who hire undocumented workers . . .
President Bush respects and values the role that immigrants continue to play in building our Nation, and he believes this temporary worker program reflects our country’s heritage as a welcoming society. If enacted by the Congress, his proposal will strengthen our economy and make our homeland more secure.
[Heidi Marquez, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence, Letter of June 28, 2004.]
On Oct. 22, 30 members of the League of the South demonstrated outside the Montgomery, Alabama, headquarters of Morris Dees’s Southern Poverty Law Center, denouncing it as an anti-Southern hate group. They waved Confederate flags and held up signs that called Mr. Dees a scalawag. They also set up a toilet with a sign reading, “Flush the SPLC.” Passersby honked and cheered.
“They hate everything that has to do with the South and with Southern Culture. They hate Christianity,” says Robert B. Hays, director of the League’s South Carolina chapter. League member Jim Walters of Texas says of the SPLC, “I think they’re a group of race hustlers. They are anti-Christian, anti-Southern, and anti-American.” [Crystal Bonvillian, SPLC Called ‘Hate Institution,’ Montgomery Advertiser, Oct. 23, 2004, p. 1B.]
Vicente Fox’s biggest disappointment during his term as president of Mexico was to see his plans for a “comprehensive” immigration accord (read amnesty) derailed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Fox hopes Pres. Bush’s reelection will get the amnesty ball rolling again. After the election, Mr. Fox told the President that “given that neither of our countries will be in elections” next year, “we have a year to get this accomplished,” adding, “we have to be optimistic that we will take advantage of this one-year window of opportunity we have.”
Mr. Fox and his government were to make the pitch for amnesty in mid-November when Secretary of State Colin Powell, Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge, and several other cabinet officers were in Mexico City. Mexican Interior Secretary Santiago Creel recently hinted at what the Americans could expect to hear, saying, “It’s absurd that (the United States) is spending as much as it’s spending to stop immigration flows that can’t be stopped . . .”
The Americans will also hear about Mexican unhappiness over Proposition 200 in Arizona (see article on page 9), which the Mexican Foreign Relations Department charges will “foment racial discrimination and limit migrants’ access to basic services like health and education.” [Mexico Seeks US Immigration Changes, AP, Nov. 6, 2004.]
The church of Our Lady Queen of Angels, commonly called “La Placita,” in downtown Los Angeles has historically been the heart of the city’s Hispanic population. In 1910, the Pope encouraged Mexicans to go there for marriage and baptism because the church was run by Spanish missionaries who were friendlier to them than American priests. Father Luis Olivares, son of Mexican immigrants, took over the church in the 1980s, and in 1985, he declared it a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. At one time he was sheltering as many as 200 people a night. The influx of illegals led to fights, drug-taking, and begging. The church is in the old part of Los Angeles, and local shopkeepers depend on tourists. Crime kept the tourists out, and business dropped 40 percent. Families fled the area.
In 1990 the church got new leaders who stopped housing illegal immigrants in an effort to bring back families. Tourism rebounded and merchants were happy. In 2001, however, the parish went back to its old ways. In 2002, it hired two activist priests, believers in “liberation theology” who declared the church once more a sanctuary. Two hundred homeless people now come to the church for food every night, and the priests denounce government immigration raids, and sponsor petitions and marches in favor of driver’s licenses for illegals. Every Sunday, 10,000 worshippers attend 11 masses. Between masses, there is mariachi music for the faithful, and the priests exhort the congregation to activism.
All this has sent the neighborhood downhill again. In one 30-day period earlier this year, thugs beat up two local employees, a handgun turned up in the plaza outside the church, and a vagrant died nearby from a drug overdose. The neighborhood is once again full of bums and their trash, and the tourist trade has taken a dive. The new management is unrepentant: “While others are saying no to immigrants, let’s have compassion,” says a spokesman. [Teresa Watanabe, Bringing Back the Fire, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 3, 2004.]