I started listening to the piece about a few minutes in during my 15 minute drive to San Francisco. In the piece Mark Potak, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that hate crimes directed against Latino immigrants (legal and undocumented) are not isolated cases by a few wackos but that, instead, "he's tracked a 40% rise in hate groups since 2000. At the same time there's been an explosion in anti-illegal immigration groups, Potak says some 250 created within the past two years."
This type of "cross-fertilization" bleeds over into the mainstream realm and "before you know it," Potak says, "you end up seeing it on places like CNN television."
Some other parts of the piece that highlight this troubling patern is an interview with Gordon Baum, the leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is a group that is opposed to all "non-European immigration" and states that Blacks are a "retrograde race." In the interview Buam said that after the pro-immigrant rallies of last year there had been "a spike in interest" in his group.
During the interview Baum said. "The very heart and soul of it is: do we want to keep America as it is...or do we want it to be changed into a third world country."
Another sickening highlight comes from a radio program that was broad casted in front of a live audience in Nashville of last year:
An anti-immigration activist was speaking in front of a live audience about her visit with boarder patrol agents. She told the conservative talk show host how the boarder patrol may repeatedly deport the same Mexican migrant if a check shows he or she has no criminal record.Telling her story to the host. "I said, 'How many times are you going to do that.' He said, 'Seven.'"
"Seven?" The host interrupted.
"Seven times," she answered back indignantly. "This is policy. I said, 'What do you do on the eighth time.'"
"SHOOT HIM!" The host interrupted. This elicited loud cheers and applause from the audience and laughter from the woman.
Now, if this had been in a normal radio studio and he said that comment and she laughed that it would still sicken me to no end. But the fact that it was in front of a live audience (of what sounds like more than a few hundred people) and the fact that nearly the entire audience (normal every day folks) erupted in loud cheers and applause, that is truly disturbing.
These groups and these types of people are the ones who are fueling the anti-immigration debate and these are the ones that are organizing all sorts of people, in grassroots efforts, against the Latino (and Latino immigrant) community.
As the NPR piece ended the reporter said:
For analyst Mark Potak that audience reaction shows the reach of extreme rhetoric about illegal immigration. And yet he admits, you can't blame it all on hate groups. Potak says what's happening is not a debate anymore but a full scale nativist backlash.Not something that exactly warmed me after a long and hard shift at work.
Southern Poverty Law Center