The Forgotten Victims of the California Wildfires: Undocumented Migrant Workers

Thousands of people are beginning to return home as the wildfires across Southern California slowly die out. But for the thousands of undocumented migrant workers in San Diego's lucrative agriculture industry, the process is fraught with the threat of harassment and deportation.


What Part of ‘Illegal’ Don’t You Understand?

America has a big problem with illegal immigration, but a big part of it stems from the word “illegal.” It pollutes the debate. It blocks solutions. Used dispassionately and technically, there is nothing wrong with it. Used as an irreducible modifier for a large and largely decent group of people, it is badly damaging. And as a code word for racial and ethnic hatred, it is detestable.


Racist Dr. James Watson Quits Cold Spring Lab Post

Great news from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory! The racist, sexist and homophobic Dr. James Watson has stepped down from the famed research institution's chancellorship.

Interestingly, accepting Dr. Watson's resignation was Cold Spring's Board Chair Eduardo Mestre, an investment banker--and a Cuban immigrant.

Related: Controversial DNA scientist retires

Hall of Shame: Ira Mehlman - FAIR's smooth-talking face of tribal hate

Ira Mehlman doesn’t publicly ridicule Mexican culture like many anti-immigrant radio hosts or patrol the border “locked and loaded” like the Minutemen. As the media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Mehlman is constantly giving interviews to the largest mainstream media outlets, so he needs to appear civilized, logical and even friendly. Although the ideology of FAIR hasn’t changed much since its days of being funded by white nationalist organizations, Mehlman’s savvy smooth-talking has helped make this vicious mentality sound much more benign.

For example, Mehlman’s demand that “(Americans) have to create conditions that encourage people to deport themselves” might not sound too inhumane at first glance, but Mehlman has proven willing to carry this argument to its deadly conclusion. In 2005, Mehlman strongly advocated a federal bill that would have made it a felony to offer support to undocumented immigrants - even if they were dying of thirst in the middle of the desert. Unfortunately, this isn’t a hypothetical scenario: two college students who were volunteering for the No More Deaths organization were prosecuted in Arizona under a similar law for rescuing three sun-stroked migrants from a brutal fate. Even after the prosecutions, Mehlman still denied that the law would be enforced in such cases.

Mehlman rarely lets facts get in the way of his analysis: He blames immigrants for the health care crisis, “destroying middle class jobs” and is always quick to claim that most Americans share his point of view. His sweeping, distorted accusations against immigrants serve FAIR’s agenda of demonizing immigrants and his widely publicized opinions are clearly meant to increase animosity.

Mehlman’s fear-mongering “expertise” still gets plenty of media coverage, but his deceitful attempts to help fabricate a diverse coalition of anti-immigrant front groups to follow FAIR’s monochromatic leadership have proven to be an embarrassing flop. Although Choose Black America, You Don’t Speak for Me! and Coalition for the Future of the American Worker posed as groups representing African-American, Latino and labor communities, respectively, their flimsy cover was blown when it was discovered that all shared the same spokesperson - Ira Mehlman. Undeterred, Mehlman continues to spread his message of intolerance.

Via Campaign for a United America and their Voices of Intolerance series.


Giving License to Minutemen: The GOP In the Driver's Seat by Michael O'Neill

The following is a letter of hope for those fighting the good fight during this ugly period of American nativism. Its author is Michael O'Neill of Long Island's Sag Harbor and a champion of immigrant rights. It is respectfully presented here with his permission.

License to Minutemen: The GOP In the Driver's Seat

In the noisome living room of the nativist hard right, for the GOP Militant today, there is only a cesspool darkness of the future of our nation. A darkness threatening to overtake the U.S. by a demographic ascendancy and territorial conquest; this darkness has replaced that traditional vanquished enemy, godless communism, by a far more subversive danger spreading over America's interior, throughout its breath and width. There is no longer any lip service to "Morning in America" given the future framed by a permanent Midnight in America where darkness descends upon our culture as a dark people of color rise to become the democratic majority.

The GOP is now mainstreaming extremists into the body politic of the U.S. to drown out the fearful, the timid, the intimidated with the effluence of their wedge politics. With our country in the middle of a catastrophic military and diplomatic defeat of unforeseeable consequence; with the drums of war again reverberating through our land, in a seeming effort to plunge the world deeper in the mire of blood as a Hail Mary desperation pass to pull victory out of defeat. The economic prospect of the middle class looks even grimmer as a war with Iran will cost a staggering amount.

It has not been so difficult for the GOP to maneuver extremists into channeling anger into blaming terrorists—the swarthy invaders. If it was simple enough to convince the majority that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, there should not be any obstacle to faulting illegal immigrants for all our economic and social problems. There is little doubt the GOP now see very well how they can muster and use angry racist mobs to further enflame a citizenry, as we saw today in Albany, primed to blame and scapegoat the "illegal immigrant," the brown invader, for outsourcing jobs, falling wages, record foreclosures, rising homelessness, unaffordable health care and a bleaker future, with no retirement, working till you are dropped in a hospital to expire...

The GOP at every level of government, national, state and regional, has been flushed into this seemingly fixed midnight of darkness where shades of reality are masked by their blinding affiliation with white supremacist, anti-immigrant, neo-con hard right organizations. Fueled by enormous wealth coming out of the Bush Administration protection racket for the likes of Ari Fleischer, Richard Mellon Scaife, the Coors family's tax-free billions, the Eric Prince (head of Blackwater, the mercenary group that has put in a bid to patrol the Mexican border) extended family, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, Coulter, Roger Ailes, and all their other glum warriors who repeat clichés to each other that privilege must be controlled, just as the cream rises to the top. Just as they, themselves are rewarded, praise the Lord.

They astutely see the threat to Christian white Western Civilization by the non-white hordes from the south, the invaders who corrupt even our language, refusing to speak English, which the right claims with a straight face unites us as a people, as if they so highly value unity with those outside their own identity. This is the trajectory mapped by Samuel Huntington, who understood that the Roman Catholic Latino is culturally incapable of understanding the true nature of democracy, because their tradition of being ruled by an all powerful caudillo, an elite, a hierarchy of papists. This anti-Catholicism has been a significant, popular belief in the U.S. since colonial times when U.S. was surrounded by Catholic enemies, their economic rivals to the North and the South, with their French and Spanish rulers.

Today in the rotunda of the State Legislature in Albany, bands of Minimen, American Border Patrol, their gun-obsessed buddies, pious acolytes of Lou Dobbs, Tancredo & his grotesque clone Tedisco, bonded in the happy glue of despising Latino illegals, screamed in a tantrum of mob fury for the head of Spitzer, for the passage of a meaningless gesture that will reinforce their certainty they are riding the powerful steed of the headless horseman, to wreak terror in the hearts of legislators who ignore their Halloween cartoon of what our democracy means and what it looks like when we ship them back to Africa, Haiti, Mexico...

Yes, I know there are also Dems, like Levy, and there are a few progressive Republicans, like Chafee, Bloomberg, but they are anomalous, the exception. The grand ole party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, LaGuardia, Lindsay, Rockefeller, even Reagan, and Bush pere have been widened to include and welcome those in the resurfacings of this amalgam of anti-government and violent squads of posses militati, NRA John Birchers, Christian Identity, states' militias, neo-Nazi minutemen rallying around the red, white & blue of anti-immigrant patriotism. While they open wide their tent to this flotsam of lunatics, they demand we close entry to hard working immigrants. The lunatic fringe appears to be in the driver's seat, on their way to becoming the mainstream of Republicanism.

Don't be demoralized by their appearance of power that seems to leave so many Dems cowering, as in our Suffolk County legislature. Remember that the Know Nothing Party was the largest 3rd party in the history of American politics, holding a majority in several state legislatures, including Mass. & Penn. and a powerful force in others, with several senators elected to Congress and dozens in the House of Representatives. Yet, they were completely defeated in just 10 years by a nation undergoing unprecedented economic boom, finding pursuit of business, innovation and wealth to be more rewarding.

This nativism flares up periodically throughout our history in times of national stress; but has always been finally defeated by progressive forces building coalition, usually with a resulting expansion of a more inclusive definition of our democracy.

If nativists appear to be in the Republican driver's seat, you can be certain that with the putting of our shoulders to the wheel, the coming together as we speak, of progressive forces building a grassroots coalition, we will win out. We have history as our peloton* at our backs and the future in our reach. These minimen losers of GOP reaction are running on fumes. They are in the driver's seat for but a very short trip.

Michael O'Neill

Peloton is a fancy word, but useful. The peloton travels as an integrated unit, like geese flying in formation of a V, each rider making slight adjustments in response to the riders around them (particularly the one in front of each). When developed, riders at the front are exposed to higher loads, and will tend to slip off the front in order to rejoin the pack further back where there will be less aerodynamic resistance, thus able to conserve energy as they move, in turn up to the front. In some cases, with sufficient room to maneuver, this will develop into a fluid situation where the center of the peloton appears to be pushing through its own leading edge, exactly like the UFW tactic of the boycott..


The Manassas Anti-Immigrant War of 2007: A 13 Part YouTube Documentary (Unedited)

Hi everyone,

We need your help to share this YouTube video and go viral!

Two colleagues (Eric Byler and Annabel Parker) have created this Interactive Documentary on YouTube about the battle over immigration in Virginia. They have been on the ground in Northern Virginia and It really feels like a battle over the meaning of America.

I believe that Youtube can be an important tool for civic activism. Help us achieve the goal of raising our voices in this very important debate.

We hope that the YouTube video below can help promote greater understanding and alleviate the hostility in Northern Virginia.

Here is the link: www.youtube.com/9500Liberty

The format is experimental. We're inviting people to give Eric and Annabel feedback and suggestions for what you would like to see in the series.

Background Information:

In July, Prince William Co. Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the harshest local legislation in the nation aiming to remove "illegal immigrants" from their county. Supporters say that the Board is brave and it is necessary in order to preserve the law and quality of life. Critics say that it's racist and a cynical case of self-serving political grandstanding in an election year.

On November 6th, all local and state-level seats are up for election in Virginia including PW Co. Board Chairman Corey Stewart and Supervisor John Stirrup who introduced the controversial resolution.

Because of the timeliness of the subject, we felt compelled to create a real-time, interactive documentary YouTube channel--breaking with the usual documentary post-production method that delays public feedback for months and months.

We invite you to join the conversation on our YouTube channel and/or on one of the following blogs:


Thank you for your support! And feel free to contact Annabel about this project. Her email is parkinstein@ gmail.com

Carlos Soles

J.C.Watts to GOP: Quit Dissing African Americans or Else

J.C.Watts, former Oklahoma football star, Congressman, Republican Party evangelizer, and all around nice guy, is fed up. He's had enough of the GOP presidential contenders dissing African Americans, i.e., Republican African Americans.

J.C. has penned this column in which he puts his party on notice that there will be a price to pay come the fall of '08 if Republican candidates continue shunning African Americans in their run up to the nomination.

Good for J.C. Watts! He's worked probably harder than anyone in America to create room within the GOP for African Americans. If he says that people like him are being dissed by his party's honchos, I'm compelled to believe him. Of course, this is made all the easier to believe as a result of the clear and very public restrictionist illness which has engulfed that party.

Is it me or is the GOP starting to sound like an exclusive party for angry white men? For those of you not paying attention, here are the GOP's messages to various voter groups:

Moderate Republicans (aka RINOs): Moderate this!!
Moderates generally: Moderate this!!!
Women: Lebos for Hill, but real women vote love war.
Gays: Take your sodomite asses out of here! (And to stall 3 at 6, OK?)
Latinos: Round em up and dump em across the border. Who needs hard-working, god-fearing, family oriented, productive people, anyway? I mean....
Liberals: Rot in hell.
Independents: Reactionaries, yes. Free thinkers? No effing way.
Muslims: Die!!!
African Americans: NOT our kind!
Atheists: Hell no!
Mormons: Hell no!
Quakers: Definitely, Hell no!
Buddhists: Aren't they yellow people? Hell no!
Hindus: Gandhi and stuff? Hell no!
American Indians: American what?
Union workers: F#;% Off!
Americans w/o Health Care: Whiners!
Unemployed Americans: Get a job!!
Wounded veterans: What commitment?
Car drivers: Be glad it's not $5 a gallon.
Tax payers: Yes, we're wasting billions, but we stopped S-CHIP.
Homeowners at risk of foreclosure: Of course, we'll bail out our banking buddies.
Americans concerned about the environment: Dupes!!
Voters concerned about America's standing in the world: Commies!!!
Americans concerned about civil liberties: Islamo-facist sympathizers!
Senior Citizens: Didn't we give them prescription drugs? Enough already!
Single mothers: Serves you right.
Jews: What the hell do they want now?
Disenfranchised voters: Good!

Ronald Reagan's dream of a Big Tent GOP is beginning to look more like a lean-two nightmare.


J.C. WATTS: Does GOP care about the black vote?
W's Priorities: War, Yes; Children's Health, No

Turning off Younger Voters, Too
The Political Perils of Targeting Immigrants


Ain’t That America

Ain’t That America (NYTimes Editorial - 10.22.07)

Think of America’s greatest historical shames. Most have involved the singling out of groups of people for abuse. Name a distinguishing feature — skin color, religion, nationality, language — and it’s likely that people here have suffered unjustly for it, either through the freelance hatred of citizens or as a matter of official government policy.

We are heading down this road again. The country needs to have a working immigration policy, one that corresponds to economic realities and is based on good sense and fairness. But it doesn’t. It has federal inertia and a rising immigrant tide, and a national mood of frustration and anxiety that is slipping, as it has so many times before, into hatred and fear. Hostility for illegal immigrants falls disproportionately on an entire population of people, documented or not, who speak Spanish and are working-class or poor. By blinding the country to solutions, it has harmed us all.

Hall of Shame: Dr. James Watson - Scientist

Exhibiting America's raw racism while speaking abroad, acclaimed scientist James Watson declared that Africans are genetically inferior.

A pioneer in DNA research and the head of the prestigious Cold Spring Research Laboratory, Watson delivered his findings minus any shred of evidence.

Hey, it's America 2007. Who needs evidence?

Of course, Watson is not alone in his beliefs. He's simply a trustee of an increasingly public--and even cocky--American racism.

Made acceptable by post 9/11 fear mongering, the terror of American racism was flashed at Americans perceived as Arabic and/or Muslim. Remember Abdo Ali Ahmed and Balbir Singh Sodhi? They were American shopkeepers killed in separate parts of the country simply because they were thought to be Arabic.

Uncontained racism is viral. It spreads quickly and multiplies as it seeks out new opportunities of attack.

Allowed to flood the public square via hate radio, cable and the Internet, it's now homing in on new and old targets. Bashing immigrant laborers have been the racists bread and butter. Immigrants--especially Mexican day laborers--have become the scapegoats for just about every problem facing Americans.

Encouraged by their unrestrained successes against Latino immigrants, American racists are circling back to historic targets: African Americans and Jews. For example, the dreaded noose has been re-introduced to terrorize African Americans from Jenna, Louisiana to Hempstead, New York. And the evil swastika has also found renewed interest as an instrument of terror against Jews.

Together with O'Reilly's surprise at Sylvia's, the histrionics of Lou Dobbs, the unfiltered anti-semitism of Ann Coulter and the anti-Arabic tone of most American reporting, Watson's comments are current with American imperial racism.

Of course, Watson is dead wrong. Casting historically oppressed people as imbeciles is an old racist canard. Africans are as bright and talented as any in the world--a trait readily demonstrated with even the slimmest of opportunities.

Really, Watson's believes says little about Africans and much about Watson and his fellow American racists of today.


Fury at DNA pioneer's theory: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners
African immigrants make the smartest Americans?
Home-made helicopters hit northern Nigeria


It's Bobby Jindal!!!! Son of Indian Immigrants Wins Louisiana Governorship


Proving that America's future truly is being shaped in its Southern tier, voters in Louisiana elected Bobby Jindal as the state's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction.

Representing the almost forgotten promise of America to today's immigrants, Jindal is the Oxford-educated son of Indian immigrants.

My mom and dad came to this country in pursuit of the American dream. And guess what happened. They found the American dream to be alive and well right here in Louisiana.
At 36 years of age, Jindal is also the youngest serving governor of an American state.

Jindal's election is also a dramatic break from Louisiana's past of corrupt, incompetent and single party rule--a legacy fully on displayed for the nation and the world in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Congratulations to Bobby Jindal and the Jindal family. But more importantly, congratulations to the courageous people of Louisiana who voted for change, and in so doing put down a clear marker in the emergence of the New America.


Indian immigrants' son new La. governor
Go, Bobby, Go! II
Go, Bobby, Go!
Latinos & African Americans Gain in the New America
Obama Rises: Is A New America Close Behind?


Vicente Fox: U.S. Racists Stop Immigration

In an interview promoting his new English language book, Revolution of Hope, former Mexican president Vicente Fox believes he knows why immigration reform has not happened the United States:

"The xenophobics, the racists, those who feel they are a superior race ... they are deciding the future of this nation," he said, without naming names, in an interview with The Associated Press.
He's right.

Still, Fox' words will set-off the xenophobes and racists. Expect the radio/cable screechers to spend countless hours denouncing Fox for the audacity of telling the truth.

It's a funny thing but racists don't like being called racist. Why is that?

But Fox' questioning the United States' commitment to democratic values will cause many here to become unglued.

"To be so repressive isn't democratic or free ... to be putting up fences, chasing Mexicans, that isn't right. The U.S. needs better answers than repression, weapons and violence."
The tendency will be to dismiss Fox because he's Mexican, a foreigner and Mexico's democracy credentials are at best shaky. But still, aren't we in trouble when the former leader of a neighboring nation feels compelled to go public with his denouncements? And it's not as though he's saying anything that hasn't been said by a growing number of Americans and allies around the world.


Ex-Mexico Prez: Racists Stop Immigration


Jena: Take your nooses down

Jena, a small town in Central Louisiana, exploded onto the headlines as the latest example of an undiminished American racism.

In the case of Jena--as in the many other Jenas of America--a virulent racism, suffered mostly quietly by its victims of color for eons, appears to be a prominent aspect of life. So much so that the local high school had a Tree for Whites Only on its grounds.

Yes, in this 21st Century there are still places in America reserved just for Whites--and the Whites Only Tree in Jena is just one of many such White preserves. It's American Apartheid.

The Tree Whites Only of Jena bore 3 nooses a year ago--and it was probably not the first time the lynching ropes hung there. They were a warning to Blacks to stay in their place, that is, the same place they've been put since they were owned.

The three nooses led to a fight, and in keeping with Jena's heritage, six Blacks teenagers were arrested and charged with attempted murder--a crime punishable in Louisiana with life in prison for Blacks.

Of course, the first of the six was found guilty of aggravated assault against a young white man by an all white jury despite conflicting testimony from witnesses.

White America can't figure out what all the fuss is about--Hannity and O'Reilly empathize, but only for the white dud who was made to pay for a tiny fraction of the sins committed by the good people of Jena.

Outrage broke out--but only in Black America. A march was called and instantly 20,000 young Blacks from across the nation turned out. The White response? Al Sharpton is to blame.

And rightwingers rush to uphold the law: The noose hanging was just boys being boys. The Black boys? They should all get life--'cause they broke the law.

Ya braak duh law, ya doo duh tyme, rot? Dat ders 'Merica!
Seems that the Jena racists and their co-conspirators don't take kindly to people calling them on their backwards ways.


Good Ole Boys around Jena and elsewhere have been spotted dragging nooses from their pick-ups.

And this week the mayor of Jena denounced John Mellencamp. Why? Because Mellencamp--a prominent white songwriter and performer--had the audacity of siding with justice for the Jena 6. He does so movingly in a song titled Jena .

The good thing is that finally many in America are now watching. No longer can Jena just be Jena--and that's a good thing.


Mellencamp song about Jena, La. upsets mayor; calls song's video inflammatory
The Case of the Jena Six: Black High School Students Charged with Attempted Murder for Schoolyard Fight After Nooses Are Hung from Tree
In La., a missed opportunity ignites a racial uproar
Two arrested in noose incident near Jena, Louisiana