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Hullabaloo


Friday, April 23, 2010

 
Updated below

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

by digby

Death threats of the day:

U.S. Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva is closing his Tucson and Yuma offices today at noon because of what he said were multiple death threats and threats of violence.

Police are stationed outside his Tucson office, according to a statement from spokesman Adam Sarvana.

Sarvana said the office received “some pretty scary calls,” including two from the same person, he said, “who threatened to go down there and blow everyone’s brains out then go to the border to shoot Mexicans.”

Grijalva staffer Ruben Reyes said the office has been flooded with calls all week about Senate Bill 1070. About 25 percent are "very racist" in nature, Reyes said, characterizing some as "telling that tortilla-eating wetback to go back to Mexico."

He said the staff feels "very intimidated" by the calls from this morning


Why, you ask?

Grijalva has been calling for a statewide boycott of conventions to pressure Gov. Jan Brewer into vetoing a controversial immigration bill that authorizes local law enforcement to check immigration status given reasonable suspicion.


It's all coming to the surface.

Update: the Governor signed the bill, making Arizona an official police state.

And lest all the racists congratulate themselves too much, they ought to keep in mind that because the cops are not going to want to be accused of racial profiling, they are likely going to be stopping non-latino looking people for no good reason just to prove they are color blind. I hope nobody protests this unAmerican activity or has anything to hide because they'll be tasered to within an inch of their life and locked up in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's concentration camp in the desert. I hope they look good in pink:



Here's a short excerpt of a great first person account of what it's like to be sentenced to Arpaio's tent city:


I've never served a sentence before, and I was relieved to go to a tent outdoors after all of those hours in cells.

"I can do this," I thought.

There were fences around me, but the sky is still infinite. That's about where the charm ends.

The tents are old, single-ply, canvas army surplus, most with holes in the sides and tops. Inmates stuff sheets and blankets into the holes against the cold November desert breezes. Side zippers are broken, doors are torn.

Because of age, faulty manufacture, and amateurish tent-raising, most don't reach the ground on the sides. Aside from the orderly arrangements of the slabs of concrete on which they are constructed, they are reminiscent of slums I've seen in Bombay with their multicolored rags stuffed against the weather. In mid-November, when airport lows were reported at freezing, early-morning temperatures were at least 5 degrees lower.

"Heat" is provided by one portable indoor space heater per tent, ankle-high and approximately 3 feet long. They must be seen and experienced to appreciate their ridiculous inadequacy.

Most, if not all, of the inmates are sick with a flulike malady we called "the Estrella crud." I am one of those fortunates who rarely get sick, but during the aforementioned weekend, I shivered with fever all of one Saturday, with another concerned inmate bringing me chicken soup and hot chocolate from a vending machine in the dorm - which, incidentally, is a breach of rules: No food or drink in the yard. Within a few years of operation, Estrella's pebble-and-sand yard should be effectively paved with the congealing expectorations from hacking residents.

The conditions of the "Porta-Johns" is repelling. I went into the dorm to urinate but decided to return to the portable toilets after looking at the conditions of the inside. I watched urine/fluid trickle from the overflowing seat of the plastic urinal.

It rained the second weekend - I luckily had no leaks directly above me, but others weren't so lucky - which left three portable toilets sitting in a large puddle of rainwater and who knows what else.

I was puzzled on my fourth weekend by the uncharacteristic early cleaning of the johns Saturday morning - i.e. before the were full. My confusion dissipated when I saw documentary cameras on the roof that afternoon. The word on the yard was that it was the BBC.



I wrote about this stuff a lot before the last election and it didn't end up materializing as a big issue. I was hopeful that because Latinos are now such a large demographic it wouldn't. But that's being too optimistic, especially in tough times. This is perhaps more relevant today than when I wrote it:

Illegal immigration has long been a political football in America and this time is no exception. There have been bracero guest worker programs and repatriation programs from the beginning of the last century. During the 1950's, Eisenhower had tens of thousands of Latinos deported under Operation Wetback more than a few of them citizens. (Read that link if you want to see just how similar the arguments then were to today's.) Migration across the border has been present since before there was a border and it's a "problem" that always exists and nobody cares about until they suddenly ... do.

The issue tends to get ginned up whenever the plutocrats need to misdirect the people from their corruption and malfeasance, so I would be very suspicious of their "support" for CIR in this environment. There is every reason to believe that they will get behind any punitive border enforcement atrocity with everything they have (if they aren't behind it already.) As much as the Wall Street Journal likes to tout open borders, their real mission at the moment is keeping the people from demanding regulations and laws that will contain their massive greed and reduce income inequality. If it means shutting the border for a little while to keep the rubes from blaming the real culprits, that's a small price to pay.

But like it or not, the way they do this (over and over again) is by playing to certain xenophobic and racist impulses that are always present among some Americans (or which can be drawn out in others who might not think they have such impulses, but, in fact, do.) It's one thing to say that we shouldn't go around willy nilly calling people racists, but it's quite another to actually believe that racism and xenophobia are not in play in a major way.

We political junkies talk a lot about "intensity" when trying to figure out what issues people vote on and which issues to emphasize in an election. It takes very little scratching beneath the surface of this argument to come up with usual "they live like pigs," "they're diseased" and worse among those who say this is the most important issue facing the nation.

But that's not the whole story either. On their side the intensity is with racists and xenophobes who are pushing their ideas into the mainstream with fervor and focus. On our side the intensity is in all those Latino citizens and legal residents who are living with the same loathing and suspicion as their family members and acquaintances who once were or currently are "illegal" and that's what our side should be concerned about...

The Latino community -- the fastest growing voting bloc in America -- is rightfully very concerned by these condemnations of "illegals" as being diseased, dirty and criminal, since those who say such things don't bother to make certain important distinctions.

Back at the Help Save Manassas booth, volunteers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "What part of illegal don't you understand?" displayed photographs of garbage-strewn houses and yards. One showed a tent next to an overturned wading pool propped up by a stick—overflow, Letiecq claimed, from a house full of illegals. An elderly woman in a Democratic Party T-shirt confronted a stocky ex-Marine named Steve, asking, "How do you know that the people living in these houses are illegal? Poor people would live like that, too."

"Ma'am, they're illegal. They are," Steve said. "You're in denial."


People like that have made sure that the Republicans have lost the Latino vote for the foreseeable future... Of course not everyone who is concerned about illegal immigration are racists. But it is clear that the ones who claim "illegals" are dirty, diseased and depraved, to make their argument are. I don't think the vast majority of Americans are comfortable with that kind of talk and if it's exposed, they might just wise up and realize they are being played -- and not want to be associated with such people. And it certainly would reassure our Latino brothers and sisters that the Democratic party is not a party that welcomes people who believe such things.

.