Fear Of A Brown Planet?

brownplanet“Unfortunate” and “chilling?”

How about insulting and xenophobic?

Local advocates may have held back a bit last week when they condemned Republican Albuquerque mayoral candidate Richard “R.J.” Berry and the New Mexico Republican Party for blaming a brutal murder on the city’s existing immigration policies.

Albuquerque police have charged suspected members of a hardcore El Salvadoran crime gang with murdering cook Stephanie Anderson on June 20 as they robbed a crowded Denny’s Restaurant on the city’s West Side.

In the aftermath of the crime, Berry and state Republican Party executive director Ryan Cangliosi blamed the city’s police policies regarding immigrants for the murder and called Albuquerque a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

Berry and Cangliosi said they were lamenting the fact that since 2007, city policy bars police from questioning a person about his or her immigration status unless the person is already under arrest or the officer feels their immigration status may be relevant to a criminal investigation.

The city adopted the policy in connection with a 2005 civil rights lawsuit brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund involving three Del Norte students who were detained at their school until immigration officials could question them.

In the days since the murder, Albuquerque police revealed that they had arrested one of the suspects, Pablo Ortiz, for DUI in 2008. He served time in jail and was then voluntarily deported to El Salvador. Police don’t know how Ortiz got back into the country and came to commit the murder. But city policies on immigration don’t appear to have anything to do with it.

Late last week, a coalition of advocacy groups expressed outrage that Berry and the Republican Party would attempt to use the murder as a pawn in their political chess game.

“Campaigns like this (against immigrants) have had a chilling impact on Hispanic/Latino communities across the country, resulting in increased discrimination, hate crimes, and racial profiling,” Adrian Pedroza, executive director of the Albuquerque Partnership, a Latino-led advocacy-based coalition, told the New Mexico Independent.

“At a time when we should be coming together to mourn the tragic death of a community member, it is unfortunate that there are those who would use this issue to further a political agenda,” Barbara Dua, executive director of the statewide New Mexico Conference of Churches, told NMI. “This is a time for us to unite, not be divided by fear mongering.”

Advocates say what Berry and the Republicans are claiming is unfortunate and chilling.

But let’s also call it what else it is – a xenophobic attempt to insult people’s common sense by confusing the facts and blurring the line between immigrants and the kind of ganged-up criminals who shoot a woman in cold blood.

Using the specter of crime and public safety to elicit knee-jerk reactions during political season is an old trick.

Did any of you fall for it?

Give Thanks VIDEO

On this Inauguration Day we give thanks that the tide is turning in our Nation. It is also a day to remember our ancestors and the leaders who paved the way for us.

A few months ago we produced a video that honored our leaders and today it makes sense to post it for all to view.

Two Roads to 2008: Miguel and the Boogie Man

Millions of words are being written about the significance of Barack Obama’s victory last week – the emergence of a new majority coalition, the fundamental redrawing of the electoral map, the transcending of America’s historic racial divide.

The 2008 election is one for the ages.

A look back always helps to put things in context. I see where PBS’s Frontline will broadcast “Boogie Man – The Lee Atwater Story.” Appropriate.

Twenty years ago – November 1988: Lee Atwater was the master of American politics, having just managed the successful presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush. That was the campaign that sharpened racial divisions, making “Willie Horton” and “wedge issues” household words. Lee pioneered the art of push polling and voter suppression. Continue reading

Giants Among Us

My mentor, Carolyn Goodman, lived a life that few would trade for. She lost two husbands to illness and her middle son to the Ku Klux Klan.

I met Carolyn in 1989 when I was a student in New York. She quickly became my friend and teacher through a relationship that lasted almost twenty years until her death in 2007 at the age of 91. Carolyn was a masterful storyteller, recounting her early activist years, organizing supplies with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to send to the Spaniards fighting Franco in the late thirties. She told me about, and often introduced me, to the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement (who often met in her living room), from Julian Bond to now-Congressman John Lewis to John Doar, a champion in the US Department of Justice during the tumultuous sixties. She and I traveled to Mississippi twice, to commemorate the murders of her son Andy and his two Freedom Summer colleagues, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, and the countless other women and men who literally sacrificed their lives to better our country. (link)
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Conservatism Heads for Fernando’s Hideway

We’ve all read about the controversy stemming from Fernando C. de Baca’s comments about Hispanics and African Americans, resulting in C. de Baca’s resignation on Thursday as head of the Republican Party of Bernalillo County.

While initial media stories focused on his original comment to the BBC, it’s his second comment that really caught my attention:

I feel strongly that Hispanics will not support, in my generation and the generation around my age, are not going to support the Democratic candidate for president primarily because there is a strong feeling that African-Americans during the civil rights movement took advantage, full advantage, of all the benefits and programs that the government offered, that were supposed to be offered to all minorities. But we were left behind, we were left sucking air, and we resented that ever since the 60s, and I don’t see how a black president is going to change that.

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