How we might help in the upcoming primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire speaking out against the Republican anti-immigrant disinformation and mainstreaming extremist, racist rhetoric.All Republican candidates are running a sleazy one issue wedge campaign to scapegoat immigrants as the blame for conditions they in fact engendered by their own disastrous policies, resulting in decline of wages and deterioration of working conditions for a now angry middle class in economic distress or insecurity, just one paycheck away from sinking debt or one serious medical diagnosis away from economic calamity or one mortgage payment away from homelessness. As we hear from these nativist extremists, immigrants are the blame for the rising taxes, with the burden of their anchor babies filling our schools, welfare offices and hospitals and their parents, congenital "illegals," causing neighborhood deterioration and falling real estate values, filling our courthouses and prisons.
Worse, we are told, they are culturally incapable of becoming true Americans by the likes of Prof Samuel Huntington, because they obstinately cling to their language, refusing to speak English, preferring to live in barrios where they can become less visible, less traceable, hiding in a concentration of their own kind rather than integrate in the dominate culture. They are incapable of understanding democracy because of their long acceptance of Roman Catholicism and governance by dictatorships. That is why they read their own newspapers, have primitive toilet hygiene and primitive norms of publicly going when/wherever they want, play their own music, dance all night long, eat their own food, drink all day, and make anchor babies at the drop of a shillelagh. Unreliable, sneaky, thieves. papists.
Irresponsible, dirty, lazy louts of uncontrollable lust, with unruly numbers of children, given over to gangs, violence and crime, vectors of disease, mentally deficient, threatening and dangerous, drunks. These spurious charges made against the Irish might seem laughable today were they not the very same, precise accusations dredged up for alleged behavior of Latino immigrants. The same mindset that accompanied the evident cultural degradation inherent in the Irish invaders a 150 years ago is claimed for the immigrant invaders today, with the additional opprobrium of being intrinsically illegal beings, since the instance of their first step into the land of liberty and home of the free. This innate incapability to become civilized justified the hatred, bias, exploitation, vigilantism & legal discrimination used against the despised Irish.
It was in reaction to the profound economic change from the incipient industrial revolution moving the nation from an agricultural based economy on the one hand, while deteriorating structures of the traditional political parties' changing traditional alignments exerted upon the popular zeitgeist a great confusion, doubt, apprehension, anxiety and a sense of dislocation, easily manipulated by "patriotic" politicians in this time of antebellum national stress of perplexing division. Against this political turbulence, with so many parallels to our own times, a national campaign began taking off to allow the singling out an identifiable "criminality from a debased national character," making a scapegoat of the Irish immigrant as the other, the outsider, the alien, the papal agent of suspect loyalty, even conquest, as cause for the economic dislocations. Fashioning this scapegoat became the impetus to fashioning the Native American Party in 1843, Better known today as the Know Nothing Party, it would thrive in its toxic brew to become, even to this day, the most successful and largest 3rd party in American history.
Their electoral successes in the following years helped them take majority power based on a fevered nativist jingoism that promised exclusion, deportation and turning back the clock to a non-existent time before the arrival of immigrant invaders from Ireland, taking the jobs of natives, putting them in economic peril. Promises that could not be kept. They won office in many cities, including Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago; took over state legislatures, including Mass. Pennsylvania, Calif., and sent scores of their candidates or sympathizers to the House and Senate in Washington. Countless towns and hamlets passed anti-immigrant laws outlawing Irish from spending one night within their boundaries.
If we look back in astonishment at the popular charges against the Irish, we are baffled how this segment of the population, who dug by hand the Erie Canal, who would lay the trans-Continental RR from the East to Utah (& from the West by Chinese immigrant labor, who were to receive even harsher treatment than the Irish) & other feats of intensely menial labor, which laid the foundation for an expanding industrial revolution. This new economic order threatening the union of the states, would soon go on to enlarge our young country's economy enormously, bringing such prosperity to the U.S. that it would reach the pinnacle of world economic success and dominance in scant few decades.
Just as the present day no-good-turn shall-go-unpunished phenomena of our showing strange national gratitude for valued work, so too is it just as bizarrely exhibited for the undeniable contributions of recent immigrants to our well-being by growing our economy over the past decade & a half. We are also baffled how elected officials could elicit such prejudice against the Irish in face of the very visible contributions of their near heroic labor--even then widely recognized, just as is today's by los journaleros. In some inexplicable psychological sleight of hand, demagogues were able to transfer with alacrity the deeply and widely ingrained racist assumptions towards African slaves, if without the same intensity & longevity, upon the Irish. (See the wonderful book, How the Irish Became White)
I have no idea how to stop or foil the Republican Party's heedless plunge into a divisive, intolerant, nativist, wedge campaign to hold immigrants responsible for the outcome of their own policies and ideology of enlarging the power, privilege and wealth to the powerful, privileged and wealthy, which has so adversely affected the vast majority of working people, dismantling our Constitutional promise to democracy. Only by soundly defeating them will they be stopped. None of us can do much but continue our limited, small efforts to change the media-fueled dialogue (where "illegal immigrant" becomes acceptably neutral, no matter how indisputably it conveys instant criminality) from one impassionedly informed by the most vile, racist and openly neo-Nazi militants and their seemingly less strident demagogic Republican mouthpieces.
It is clear, Republicans are all too willing to embrace, use and enfold anti-immigrant extremism into their primary races, in a leap-frogging, not to be out-positioned by a rival's anti-immigrant polemic and extremist proposals. I propose something each of us can do in the next two weeks before the Iowa caucuses & New Hampshire primary to lend our voices to naming this rightward Republican kow towing to the hard right, making common cause with the worst purveyors of racial bias, for what it is: the nativists' same old, tattered, irrational hatred and fear, waged under guise of the same implacable false patriotism (of true Americans) that will cause our nation inevitably greater economic and social harm.
One way we can help is to pass letters-to-the-editors (lte) to pro-immigrant advocates in Iowa and New Hampshire to give them to local people as aid to formulate their own letters to the editors to magnify influence and add their voices to the national conversation about immigration and stand up to the irrational fear and misinformed bigotry. Short, pithy letters on just one single aspect of immigration have the best chance of being selected, published and make the most effective reading.
There will be no single letter that will change minds and hearts, but the accumulated drip of letters, repeated over and over again could become a torrent of sanity to counter the screaming, in your face racism and disinformation of the most extreme out there who believe their hostility will threaten and intimidate into silence most ordinary people busy living their own lives, trying to keep their heads above water, without inclination or time to be consumed with hating immigrants they see as people not unlike themselves or their parents who arrived with only their suitcase or their immigrant great grandparents who worked hard to give their loved ones and their own grandkids they would never know or meet, a better life, a better chance than their lives at hard labor, with different cards in hand than the ones they were dealt,
Their literal and figurative backbreaking labor would elevate their hopes and ideals of democracy guaranteed in the dignity of their work that gives substance and meaning to our mythos of the U.S as a beacon of light, the shining city on the hill, a nation we proudly claim is a nation of immigrants. They believed their place at the table for their children and theirs would be obtained by an unbelievable ability to persevere and sacrifice for a future greater good. It is for that same greater good for which we must fight today, but from the comfort of our heated homes. We owe at least that in gratitude for our own privilege of keeping their memory vital, and being faithful to honor and carry on their hard won struggle to persevere against this once more renewed eruption of nativist anti-immigrant bigotry in our country.
Just one short letter a day or every other day from the hundred people or so on this listserv might have incalculable value in influencing what is happening on the ground in Iowa & New Hampshire for those of us without the resources or time or have responsibilities keeping us from going there ourselves to walk the walk. But enough of my preaching, here are some local progressives &/or groups that might agree to farm out your lte to friends they know and members of their orgs. Be sure to send only one letter to one addressee in one state, so 2 people would not send in the same letter to one paper or one paper in the same state. Under Tools in Outlook Express, click the "request read receipt" just to make sure it is not lost in cyberspace, but in fact arrived to an intended person's still current email.
Stoking the Immigration Fire - (one man's `anti-immigration'
efforts in New Hampshire)
"Only 5% of the New Hampshire population is foreign-born, but even here, illegal immigration is among the most volatile issues in the presidential primary campaign. Dennis Williams is one reason why.
Mr. Williams, a retired computer project manager, says he has faxed his senators, representative and the presidential candidates 217 times in the past 20 months about his opposition to illegal immigration. He has made dozens of phone calls to Washington. He emails immigration news to a circle of 100 friends
The nation's struggle over immigration may seem distant in states like Iowa, hundreds of miles from any border, but the debate is part of daily life here, more than ever now as residents prepare to pick a president. Nearly all of more than two dozen people interviewed here last week said they considered immigration policy at or near the top of their lists of concerns as they look to the presidential next month.
And yet, nearly everyone interviewed said that none of the political candidates had arrived at a position on immigration that fully satisfied them. In real life, they said, the issues surrounding immigration, both legal and illegal, were far more complicated than bumper sticker slogans or jabs on a debate stage or even the carefully picked language of campaign policy papers.
The subject went largely unaddressed in Wednesday's Republican debate in Des Moines after the moderator discouraged discussion of immigration, suggesting that Iowans already were familiar with the candidates' positions."
Iowa Immigration Rights Network
Nueva Esperanza Siouxland UMC
Vicki Pratt, PSD Social Justice Program Coordinator
Nancy Hernandez deRiehl
Names of Democratic Committeepeople, opponents of Republican immigrant bashing
429 S. Temple St
Osceola, IA 50213
3715 Cheyenne Blvd.
Sioux City, IA 51104
2884 Hwy 30
Denison, IA 51442
H: pm 712-263-4037
306 E Main St
Panora, IA 50216
305 E 21st St
Atlantic, IA 50022
H: 712-243-1137; Wk: 712-243-1663
112 W. 5th St, #109
Storm Lake, IA 50588
head of the IA Dem Media Alert
Iowa State University Dems
Prof. Jose Amaya
Prof. Hector Avalos
University of Iowa Dems
University of Northern Iowa
Southwest Iowa Latino Resource Center
If you prefer to send directly to local Iowa media, click here for a list.
In New Hampshire:
NH Immigrant Rights Network
County Dem Committeepeople:
Belknap: Lynn Chong
Carroll: Mike Cauble
Cheshire: Dan Eaton
Coos: Paul Robitaille
Grafton: John Chamberlin
Hillsborough: Chris Pappas
Merrimack: Rob Werner
Rockingham: Lenore Patton
Strafford: Joan Ashwell
Sullivan: John Cloutier
University of Southern New Hampshire
Jolan C. Rivera
Cynthia Hernandez Kolski
Nancy Anne McArdle
Tia Juana Malone
Adjibodou, Expedit Michel - email@example.com
Aricanli, Tosun - firstname.lastname@example.org
Barongereje, William - email@example.com
Brace, Susan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Camayd-Freixas, Yoel - email@example.com
Chalu, Henry - firstname.lastname@example.org
Clamp, Christina - email@example.com
Furany, Kadry - firstname.lastname@example.org
Gonzalez, Juan - email@example.com
Hack, Nadine - firstname.lastname@example.org
Harper, Malcolm - email@example.com
Hotchkiss, Charles - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hutchins, Shannon - email@example.com
Jackson, Deborah - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacobs, Eric - email@example.com
Kaiza-Boshe, Theonestina - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayandabila, Yamugu - email@example.com
Kazungu, Khatibu - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kisoza, Lwekaza - email@example.com
Lejter, Nelly - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lett, Woullard - email@example.com
Maddocks, William - firstname.lastname@example.org
Maher, Patricia - email@example.com
Malone, H. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Manyanda, Julius - email@example.com
Marealle, Maria - firstname.lastname@example.org
Masasi, Rukia Saleh - email@example.com
Mburu, Chris - firstname.lastname@example.org
Milton, August - email@example.com
Mutasa, Felician - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ngaruko, Deus - email@example.com
Ngatuni, Proches - .firstname.lastname@example.org
O'Reilly, Martin - email@example.com
Onyango, Monica - firstname.lastname@example.org
Palakurthi, Puneetha - email@example.com
Paris, Paula - firstname.lastname@example.org
Reese, T David - email@example.com
Richmond, Anne Elizabeth - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rielly, Catherine - email@example.com
Rivera, Jolan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Seib, Rebecca - email@example.com
Shulman, Steven - firstname.lastname@example.org
Shungu, Hamidu - email@example.com
Sinda, Sinda - firstname.lastname@example.org
Swack, Michael - email@example.com
Walcott, Derrick - firstname.lastname@example.org
Werema, Samwel - email@example.com
Wilkinson, Alan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilson, Kimberley - email@example.com
Click here for a list of New Hampshire media.