This map of California with symbols representing different kinds of hate groups was published recently by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) together with a listing of the location and names of groups they have identified as hate groups. The article this comes from is entitled “Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2005: California: 52 Hate Groups Found.”
A quick review will show that the list is not limited to groups of any particular race. The Center defines hate groups as “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
Unfortunately this kind of thinking is not far below the surface of much of the discussion about immigration in our state, as the SPCL has pointed out in “Immigration Protesters Joined by Neo-Nazis in California”. The SPCL is not alone in noting this. The New York Times main editorial yesterday, “They Are America”, is a must read about the current immigration debate and references the rise of hate. It begins:
“Almost a year ago, hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and their families slipped out from the shadows of American life and walked boldly in daylight through Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, New York and other cities. “We Are America,” their banners cried. The crowds, determined but peaceful, swelled into an immense sea. The nation was momentarily stunned.
A lot has happened since then. The country has summoned great energy to confront the immigration problem, but most of it has been misplaced, crudely and unevenly applied. It seeks not to solve the conundrum of a broken immigration system, but to subdue, in a million ways, the vulnerable men and women who are part of it. Government at all levels is working to keep unwanted immigrants in their place — on the other side of the border, in detention or in fear, toiling silently in the underground economy without recourse to the laws and protections the native-born expect.”
After discussing border enforcement, federal raids, local crackdowns, gutted due process, the web of suspicion, bureaucratic traps, and the rise of hate, the Times concludes: “Hopelessly fixated on toughness, the immigration debate has lost its balance, overlooking the humanity of the immigrant.”
The Times calls for sensible immigration reform in Washington, D.C. In California, we can have a debate and disagree, but we must never forget the humanity of immigrants in our state, regardless of their legal status.
We wrote about Save Our State when President Fox of Mexico spoke to a joint session of the California Legislature and was introduced by Governor Schwarzenegger in May of last year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. It is located in Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond.
In 1981, they created the Intelligence Report, which was originally known as Klanwatch. It is recognized as a comprehensive and reliable source of information on the extreme right, and its leaders have been called to testify before Congress and the United Nations. The Intelligence Report, which they publish, is an award-winning quarterly magazine reaching over 300,000 subscribers, including more than 60,000 law enforcement personnel.
You can read more about the SPCL and this project. Much of the material for this article is copyrighted by them and is published with their permission.
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