domingo, marzo 16, 2008

The Anti-Hispanic Hispanics

By Cesar Fernando Zapata

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a pro-civil rights organization that fights racism, issued weeks ago a report with a list of the "20 Most Influential Anti-Immigrant Leaders in the United States": People whose inflammatory rhetoric incite their followers to take action --sometimes violently-- against foreigners.

These hate promoters have demanded the U.S. Government to take extreme measures against immigrants, from forcibly sterilize Mexican women, to install mines at the southern border, according to the report.

Who are these anti-immigrants? They are several people, of course. But oddly, two of their main leaders are of... Hispanic origin.

They are Rosanna Pulido, 51, from Chicago, and Alberto Rodriguez, a retired colonel from Arizona.

Pulido, of Mexican descent, is a regional coordinator of the Federation for the American Immigration Reform (FAIR), while Rodriguez founded the Hispanic anti-immigration organization "You Don't Speak for Me".

FAIR is considered by the SPLC as one of the main hate-promoting organizations, and which possesses "strong ties with White supremacy ideology (...) anti-Latino and anti-Catholic prejudices", according to the 2008 Intelligence Report.

What caused these Hispanics to promote rejection against immigrants (most of whom are Hispanic too, by the way)?

In her own words, Pulido testified that her city, Chicago, is "under siege by illegal aliens who speak Spanish, use public services and take jobs away from citizens," before a congressional subcommittee in May 2007, according to the SPLC.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez said he was so infuriated after seeing the pro-legalization marches on April 2006, that he decided to found his own organization, "You Don't Speak for Me", to distinguish himself as a Hispanic who does not support a legalization.

"You've got to admit now that they (immigrants) are all felons," Rodriguez said, according to the SPLC. "We've got to accept them into our society? Not no, but hell no!"

Of course, these (and many other similar "activists") rush to clarify that they are by no means racists, have nothing against Hispanics, nor legal immigrants, and that their problem are undocumented immigrants --who, in their view, always equal to felons-- who "have no respect for the law".

But the SPLC won't buy this. Its report states that hate groups like FAIR "continue to successfully exploit the immigration debate to their advantage, even though the immigration issue has largely disappeared from the presidential debate," according to Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC's Intelligence Report.

Is it true that the anti-Hispanic atmosphere causes real effects? According to the report, hate groups have increased on 48 percent since 2000, incited by anti-immigrant speeches.

In total, there are 888 organizations considered as hate groups by the SPLC in the United States. In 2000, there were only 602.

At the same time, statistics by the FBI suggest that hate crimes against Hispanics have increased 35 percent between 2003 and 2006, according to the report.

Usually, those who commit such abuses do so believing they attack undocumented immigrants.

But often times their victims are not criminals. Their only sin is being Hispanic... Just like their attackers.

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