Yesterday, I spoke on a panel convened by Media Matters for America to discuss how hate rhetoric has infiltrated the traditional media and become acceptable talking points for conservative politicians.
Eric Boehlert, from Media Matters for America, moderated and I was joined by Heidi Beirich from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Nancy Keenan from NARAL Pro-Choice America, Clarissa Martinez from the National Council of La Raza and Nancy Zirkin from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
For those of us who cover immigration issues and deal with the extremists all the time, none of this is new. Nor is the fact that so-called "legitimate" spokespersons deliver hate-filled messages that show up in angry faxes to Congress, the Ku Klux Klan and even Minuteman leader Shawna Forde -- accused of gunning down a 9 year old Latina girl.
A who's who of well known racists and right wing strategists are gathering at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Saturday, June 20, 2009 in McLean, VA. Pat Buchanan and his sister, Bay, will host the American Cause National Conference, with the ironic theme: "Building the New Majority." All the folks who've been leading the race-based attacks on Judge Sotomayor will be there.
According to American Cause: "The conference features top conservative activists, intellectuals, and politicians, who will argue that principled conservative opposition to Barack Obama is key if the Republican Party is to become a majority party once again." In reality, the meeting provides a forum for white nationalists to strategize with members of the traditional media and "mainstream" conservative politicians.
To get the full picture, check out a new background report by my organization, America's Voice, which exposes the event.
Some of the guest list: Tony Blankley, Tom Tancredo, Ward Connerly (leader of the fight against Affirmative Action), John Hostettler, Ken Blackwell, Richard Scott (leader in the GOP campaign against healthcare reform), Peter Brimelow and more. Our new report highlights the conference speakers starting with Peter Brimelow.
Brimelow runs VDARE.com, an online journal that SPLC considers a "hate site" and describes Brimelow as a "racial nationalist." VDARE.com regularly features blatantly extreme authors including Jared Taylor who described African Americans as "incapable of sustaining" civilization after Hurricane Katrina.
Tom Tancredo will be there -- leader of the anti-immigrant crusade and frequent commentator on nearly every network as a legitimate voice in the immigration debate. But in the last couple of weeks Tancredo showed his true colors in a racial attacks in the wake of the Sotomayor nomination. He burst back onto the scene when he called the National Council of La Raza:
"the Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses."
Marcus Epstein works for both American Cause and the PAC of Tom Tancredo and is a frequent contributor to VDARE.com. In December of 2006, Epstein, in a VDARE.com post titled, "Tom Tancredo vs. Third World Miami, 'Capital Of Latin America,'" wrote:
Diversity can be good in moderation -- if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don't mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers -- as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.
And, in the same post, he added, "Even the Cuban immigrants, still preponderantly white, law-abiding, Republican-voting, affable people are not desirable if they don't assimilate."
Of late, Epstein has been in the news because of a hate crime assault on an African American woman, for which he is awaiting sentencing. Incidentally, Epstein admitted no wrong. From the U.S. Attorney's factual proffer:
On July 7, 2007, at approximately 7:15 p.m. at Jefferson and M Street, Northwest, in Washington, D.C., defendant was walking down the street making offensive remarks when he encountered the complainant, Ms. [REDACTED], who is African-American. The defendant uttered, "Nigger," as he delivered a karate chop to Ms. [REDACTED]'s head.
Finally, Pat Buchanan is arguably the most mainstreamed of all attendees, laughing it up with journalists who conveniently ignore his unvarnished anti-semitism and disturbing racial views against African Americans, Latinos and others. Just last week, in one of his many racially tinged attacks on Sotomayor, Buchanan longed for the days when bigotry was simple, stating, "One prefers the old bigotry. At least it was honest, and not, as Abraham Lincoln observed, adulterated "with the base alloy of hypocrisy." Media Matters noted:
"Keep in mind, Buchanan is writing about the early 1970s. The "old bigotry" he prefers is segregation, if not slavery."
There's an old saying: show me who you're friends are and I'll tell you who you are. Journalists should give gatherings like the American Cause conference extra scrutiny and take note of who their guests and "experts" pal around with. The connections aren't hard and it's past time that responsible journalists stop inviting the extreme into the mainstream.