The Bush plan comes down squarely on the side of the corporatists -- unsurprisingly, since those interests throughout his administration have held sway in nearly every aspect of governance. That in turn has spurred the intense anger of the ideological right, who are hotly denouncing Bush's "betrayal of America."
Witness, for instance, the following diatribe from the Federation of American Immigration Reform:
- "The White House is pandering to ethnic lobbies in the hope of attracting a few more votes in November, and to an assortment of business interests seeking a massive labor subsidy at the public's expense. The only people whose interests are left out of this proposal are the overwhelming majority of Americans who work hard, obey the law, pay taxes, and seek a quality education for their kids," said Stein.
And then there's this response, from Peter Brimelow's VDare organization, which variously describes Bush's proposals as "treasonous," "idiotic," and the product of "moral arrogance, deceit, disinformation and disregard for the democratic process." VDare also carried this piece by noted racist Samuel Francis, who opined:
- It's Mr. Bush who is wrong, of course. America has no responsibility to foreigners, let alone to foreigners who have broken our laws to get here. It has a responsibility to its own people and its own identity and interests.
Note how closely these responses parallel the views of the extremist American Patrol (which, of course, also carries links to the VDare and FAIR material at its Web site). The group's Web site describes the Bush plan thus: "Insane Bush Amnesty will Sacrifice U.S."; "Mexicans Cheer Bush Surrender Plan; Bush Outlines Plan to Surrender Southwest U.S. to Mexico".
None of this should be a great surprise. As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a couple of years ago, most of these anti-immigration groups are at their core deeply racist, operated and promoted by people who are adept at appearing "reasonable" but whose bigotry lies just beneath the surface. More recent reports from the SPLC have further uncovered the cauldron of racial hatred that underlies groups like Brimelow's VDare and FAIR, which was prominently on display during recent counterdemonstrations involving the pro-immigrant Freedom Ride:
- [W]hat really got under JustPiper's skin seemed to be the Freedom Riders, not the neo-Nazis from White Revolution. "[T]hese banditos kept screaming obscenities and threats at us," she claimed. "Lemme tellya, they were just coming with signs like cockroaches!"
D.A. King of the Georgia Coalition for Immigration Reduction — a group that says it does not cater to "persons who believe their race to be superior to others" — had a similar reaction after protesting a Freedom Ride stop outside Atlanta.
"I got the sense that I had left the country of my birth and been transported to some Mexican village, completely taken over by an angry, barely restrained mob," King wrote on the hard-line anti-immigration Web site vdare.com (see Keeping America White). "My first act on a safe return home was to take a shower."
Groups like FAIR, VDare, and American English like to pose as mainstream organizations offering "thoughtful" proposals for reforming U.S. immigration policy, but in reality their core -- ideologically, financially and programmatically -- is the same bigoted, racist Nativism that has plagued the nation since the time of the Know-Nothings. They are, in essence, all about putting pearls on a pig.
The danger, however, is that the ideological element has been rapidly gaining in both influence and numbers within the larger conservative movement -- thereby representing one of the most significant incursions of right-wing extremism into the mainstream since the rise of the Clinton-hate nexus in the 1990s.
This should have been painfully evident a few weeks ago, when MSNBC's Joe Scarborough hosted the leader of one of the nation's most notorious "academic" hate organizations -- Jared Taylor of American Renaissance -- in an hourlong hatefest devoted primarily to bashing immigrants and stoking irrational fears about what Pat Buchanan calls "The Death of the West."
Outrageously enough, Scarborough repeated the performance again recently, hosting Taylor in a discussion of Bush's immigration reforms. [Transcript here.]
What was remarkable about both of these performances, of course, was the utter failure of MSNBC to inform its audience about Taylor's background, or the fact that American Renaissance has an appalling history of advocating the notion that blacks and other minorities are intrinsically inferior to whites in every regard. Instead, Scarborough treated Taylor as though he were some kind of respected authority and a bona fide intellectual. In the first appearance, efforts by the program's token "other side" to point out his naked racism were given the cable chloroform treatment -- at one point, Scarborough even ordered the mikes shut off for the two pro-immigrant spokesmen.
In the most recent appearance, the underlying bigotry of the anti-immigrant position was encapsulated in this response from Taylor:
- TAYLOR: We‘re just making it easier and more attractive for people who should stay home to come here. It will have no effect, other than encourage yet others to come and break the law to come in.
They will have the idea they, too, will get an amnesty. We are opening up a door that will result in a flood. Already, look, we have one-fifth of the population of Mexico living here. How much of Mexico do we wish to have, especially given that Mexicans are three times as likely as whites to commit violent crimes? There‘s not a single school district in the country where Mexicans perform at the level of whites and Asians.
There‘s not a single majority Mexican neighborhood that Mr. Griswold would probably want to live in. Why would we want to increase the proportion of Mexicans already here?
And then there was this charming exchange:
- GRISWOLD: You need to get out and see this country.
TAYLOR: Hey, then you name one yourself. Name one Mexican neighborhood you‘d like to live in.
This is typical. These are people who say, OK, this is great. I don‘t care if these Mexicans are going to live 20 or 30 in a house, because it‘s not my daughter who's going to look across the back fence and see them urinating in their yard. No, I'm happy to get a guy who can mow the lawn for $2 an hour and that‘s all I care about. This is a much bigger question.
Scarborough's only counter to this vile bigotry was that Taylor was offering "stereotypes that you may not agree with."
This exchange was similar to those on Taylor's previous Scarborough appearance. Buchanan's presence on that program was especially noteworthy, since his most recent book is entirely predicated on arguments from "academic" racists like Taylor and Glayde Whitney, who have been arguing for years that American culture is on the verge of being overwhelmed by nonwhites with no respect for "white America." Indeed, numerous footnotes in The Death of the West cite work by Taylor, Whitney and others of their ilk. And as I noted previously, this was the entire focus of David Duke, the nation's most prominent white supremacist, for most of the 1990s.
But then, this is an act Buchanan has been perfecting for years, transmitting ideas and agendas from the extremist right into the mainstream, ranging from welfare reform to Clinton hatred. Buchanan was even explicit about this once, writing in a 1989 column that, when Duke ran for the Louisiana state legislature and shared a phone with the Klan, national Republican leaders were overreacting to Duke and his Nazi "costume": "Take a hard look at Duke's portfolio of winning issues, and expropriate those not in conflict with GOP principles." Buchanan added that Duke was correct to attack "reverse discrimination against white folks" and crime committed by the "urban underclass." He praised Duke for walking "into the vacuum left when conservative Republicans in the Reagan years were intimidated into shucking off winning social issues." The column concluded: "The GOP is throwing away a winning hand, and David Duke is only the first fellow to pick up the discards."
That is not the case any longer. This strategy is reaching a real, and genuinely dangerous, fruition in the nexus of immigration reform. As the Scarborough episodes suggest, this nexus means a real empowerment of white supremacists, since not only are they gaining real influence within the mainstream, but they are being accorded treatment that makes their radical beliefs out to be ordinary, acceptable and even the best policy for America.
Fortunately, the Bush administration to date continues to align itself with the corporatist element that, for its own reasons, has long resisted the Nativist element in American society. But as the ideological anti-immigrant right gains in power, influence and real numbers, this bulwark -- not particularly great in the first place -- is in real danger of crumbling.