Luis Ramirez died two days after being brutally beaten by three teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania
Like I promised, here is a more about the dehumanization of the Other and why it must stop.
This piece was written by Gabe Gonzalez, a veteran community organizers and the director of the Campaign for Community Values at the Center for Community Change.
A few days ago two teens, accused in the fatal beating of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury. Shortly after Ramirez was brutally murdered, his grieving fiancé had a premonition about the outcome of justice in the case saying, “I know they’re going to try to make him look like nothing, and try to justify what the kids did, even though there’s no way they could justify this. I know I’m not gonna get the justice I deserve, 10-1 these kids are going to get probation or a slap on the hand. Because he’s an illegal Mexican they don’t care, right away he’s less important.”
When I heard the verdict, I was taken back to a conversation from a couple of years ago when I stood aghast with all Americans as pictures rolled out from Abu Ghraib. I remember vividly talking with a friend of mine about it. He shook his head and said what we were all thinking, “Why did they do this?” It hit me hard, because I knew the answer. I shook my head with him and said quietly, “Because they could.”
This post went up today at Think Progress about a new DHS report that since November’s election of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists and hate groups are targeting a much wider audience, looking for new recruits. Immigrant rights advocates know all too well how hate speech and vitriolic rhetoric is being tossed around these days.
From Think Progress:
Throughout the presidential campaign, the public saw extreme right-wing rhetoric on display at several McCain rallies, with some yelling “kill him” about President Obama — and others even calling him a “terrorist.”
The extreme right — those who are “hate-oriented,” “mainly antigovernment,” or those dedicated to a “single issue” — is a legitimate threat that law enforcement must deal with, according to a new assessment from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. The report, which was coordinated with the FBI and is being given to federal, state, and local law enforcement, warns:
[R]ightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.
Most extremists have made “rhetorical” statements and have “stopp[ed] short of calls for violent action,” but since the 2008 election, right-wing extremists are “reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.” Some highlights from the report:
Anti-immgration: “Rightwing extremist groups’ frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.”
Recruiting returning vets: “Rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.”
Gun-related violence: “Heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms … may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.”
If the “uncertain economy” and a “perceived rising influence of other countries” continues, “rightwing extremism is likely to grow in strength,” the report adds. “[L]one wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”
The DHS under President Bush was apparently more reluctant to make such assessments about the right. According to CQ, a 2005 report outlining terrorist threats “does not mention anti-government groups, white supremacists and other radical right-wing movements.” Bush’s report did, however, list the threat of left-wing groups such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. And a 2001 report from the Energy Department examined “Left-Wing Extremism: The Current Threat.”
Conservative bloggers — such Michelle Malkin and Newsbusters — are up in arms over the report. A DHS official responded to the right’s criticism, noting that DHS did an assessment of left-wing extremism in January. “This is nothing unusual. … This is about awareness,” the official said.
On Monday the New York Times published a powerful op-ed on the murder of Marcello Lucero in Long Island, New York’s village of Patchogue.
The piece is right on target – identifying the growing rhetoric of hate and demonization that has targeted immigrants and Latinos in the past few years. You should read the full piece after the jump, but I want to highlight the closing paragraph, which is a call to action.
Deadly violence represents the worst fear that immigrants deal with every day, but it is not the only one. It must be every leader’s task to move beyond easy outrage and take on the difficult job of understanding and defending a community so vulnerable to sudden outbreaks of hostility and terror.
Not only every leader should take on this task, but every American. Period.
Last week, I mentioned a recent Pew Hispanic Center Study which found that 1 in 10 Latinos has been stopped and asked about their immigration status by police or other authorities.
While this is certainly the most shocking statistic to come out of the study, it is only the tip of the iceberg for Latinos living in this country.
From the Huffington post:
One in seven Latinos are reporting ethnic discrimination in finding or keeping a job and 10% said the same thing about housing. But the most stunning finding is that nearly one-in-ten Hispanic adults–native-born US citizens and immigrants alike–report that, in the past year, the police or other authorities have stopped them and asked them about their immigration status. One in ten Latinos were stopped and asked for “papers.” What can that statistic represent other than a gross abuse of power by federal and local authorities?
Vicious public denunciations of undocumented, brown-skinned immigrants — once limited to hard-core white supremacists and a handful of border-state extremists — are increasingly common among supposedly mainstream anti-immigration activists, media pundits, and politicians and are surely fueling the problems that Latinos are facing.
While their dehumanizing rhetoric typically stops short of openly sanctioning bloodshed, much of it implicitly encourages or even endorses violence by characterizing immigrants from Mexico and Central America as ‘invaders,’ ‘criminal aliens,’ and ‘cockroaches.’
The hate speech that is fueling the current anti-migrant fervor has somehow left the area of “hard core” or “extremist” thought and trickled into the mainstream, becoming pervasive on shows like Lou Dobbs Tonight or Bill O’Reilly and pushed by hate groups like FAIR.
We must stand up to the powers that want to dehumanize and entire portion of the population.
Living in fear of deportation and discrimination and worrying about your livelihood and safety is no way to live and it’s certainly not how Americans expect to live. In fact, it’s the sort of life that our forefathers sought to protect us from. Debate, discussion, and disagreement around the pressing immigration issue are natural, legitimate, and necessary. Hate, fear and vitriol rhetoric are not.
Posted in Hate groups, Immigrant Rights, immigration news
Tagged 1 in 10 latinos questioned, bill o'reilly, FAIR, Hate groups, hate speech, huffington post, immigrants, immigration, latino hate crimes, lou dobbs, pew hispanic center, racial profiling
Courtesy of ICIRR:
Chicago-Joined by leaders from the immigrant community, Aldermen George Cardenas of the 12th Ward and Manny Flores of the 1st Ward today introduced a resolution for the Chicago City Council that condemns the increasingly venomous tone of the national immigration debate and reaffirms the City’s support for sensible solution for the immigration issue.
“Throughout our history, Chicago has welcomed immigrants from around the world, including my own family,” said Alderman Cardenas at a City Hall press conference announcing the resolution. “Our city was built by immigrants, and has respected the contributions that immigrants have made and will continue to make. Unfortunately, the overall climate surrounding the immigration issue has turned more and more ugly, fed in particular by cable news. It’s time that our city took a stand against the hateful rhetoric.”
The media watchdog group Media Matters Action Network recently released “Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News,” a report documenting how Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck of CNN and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News use vitriol and myths to stoke anti-immigrant hysteria.
“The Media Matters report documents in great detail how Dobbs, O’Reilly, Beck, and others have used distortions and misrepresentations to portray immigrants in a negative light and push an anti-immigrant agenda,” said Fred Tsao of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “We applaud Aldermen Cardenas and Flores for standing with immigrants and against hate.”
While calling for an end to hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric, the resolution reaffirms the City’s support for humane, practical solutions to the immigration issue. “Our city has stood by immigrants, and has consistently supported legalization of hardworking undocumented immigrants and other reforms,” said Alderman Flores. “We hope that our federal government will hear our message and pass immigration reform soon.”