Spokane Racism

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Spokane Republican Party invited racist extremist to town as “patriot”

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Members of the so-called Minuteman Project masquerade as many things. Primarily they wrap themselves in the U.S. flag and use the fascist rhetoric of homeland security.

However, they are armed — both with weapons and with words of hate.

At the least they are vigilante groups. At worst, they are death squads. In either case, the Minutemen contribute to the dehumanization of migrants and are part of a militarization of the Mexico-U.S. border.

An excellent description of the Minuteman Project and their use of violence, intimidation, and humiliation can be found in this statement from the Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (SIRR) . The Southern Poverty Law Center has also done reporting on the Minutemen and their racist links.

On March 31, 2007, the founder of the Minuteman Project, Jim Gilchrist, came to Spokane at the invitation of the Spokane Republican Party. That is the party of George Nethercutt, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ron Paul, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jim Huckabee.

And not suprisingly, as reported in the Spokesman-Review story by S-R reporter Kevin Graman:

(quote) Unlike Gilchrist’s engagements elsewhere, there were no protesters to be seen in Spokane. In October, he had to be escorted by police out of a Columbia University auditorium when protesters rushed the stage. (end quote)

No doubt Gilchrist felt right at home in Spokane, a town where a racist is considered a “patriot”.

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SpokesmanReview.com

Local GOP hosted Minuteman founder

Jim Gilchrist, an immigration activist, is shown in 2006. (File Associated Press)

The founder of the Minuteman Project was introduced to the Republican Party of Spokane County on Saturday night as “a patriot who stepped forward when America was in need.”

Jim Gilchrist, who first made a name for himself by patrolling the Mexico-Arizona border in 2005, speaks to a visceral fear in America. He conjures images of foreign invaders burdening U.S. resources, driving down wages and changing the political landscape.

“It’s OK to say ‘illegal alien,’ ” Gilchrist told nearly 400 people gathered for the annual Lincoln Day dinner at the Red Lion Inn at the Park. “It’s OK to say ‘rapist,’ ‘robber’ and ‘murder,’ and it’s OK to say ‘illegal alien’ – not ‘undocumented worker.’ ”

In his half-hour speech, he tried to create an image of America by 2030 in which Spanish will replace English as the dominant language, and Mexican history will replace American history in the schools. And he pointed a finger at those he says are trying to let this happen.

Employers are eager to pay workers less than half of what we now earn, he said, and churches are anxious for foreign hands to fill their collection baskets on Sunday.

Gilchrist went so far as to characterize the Washington fruit industry as willing to turn a profit by supporting a “21st-century slave trade” where workers are expendable and employers pay no payroll taxes, health insurance or worker’s compensation insurance.

 

His statement that he’d “rather pay 5 cents more for an apple than 50 cents more in taxes” was roundly applauded.

Unlike Gilchrist’s engagements elsewhere, there were no protesters to be seen in Spokane. In October, he had to be escorted by police out of a Columbia University auditorium when protesters rushed the stage.

“This is one of the first times my venue has not been pulled because of threats and riots,” he said.

When asked how Gilchrist, who represents an organization that President Bush has labeled “vigilante,” came to be invited to speak at this year’s Lincoln Day dinner, Curt Fackler, chairman of the Spokane County Republicans, said immigration is the No. 1 issue right now.

“He was willing to come, and the price was right,” Fackler said.

Though Fackler said he had received some criticism for his party’s choice of speakers, many members support Gilchrist’s views on immigration.

“It’s big up here,” Fackler said. “I heard there were 8,000 babies born in the state last year from illegals. Who knows how many are up here.”

Though Eastern Washington Republicans understand the need for agricultural workers, Fackler said, “We are mixed on how and when they should become citizens.”

Gilchrist, of Aliso, Calif., founded the Minuteman Project in 2004 with Chris Simcox, who has since split with Gilchrist to form the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists both groups among 144 “extremist nativist” groups that have sprung up in the last three years to protest what they consider to be lax U.S. immigration policy.

“These groups generally do not merely target immigration policies, but target and harass immigrants,” said Mark Potok, staff director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

In 2006, Gilchrist ran unsuccessfully for California’s 48th U.S. congressional seat as a candidate of the American Independent Party, the party founded by George Wallace of Alabama in 1967. On Saturday, he said he had rejoined the Republican Party last year.

Gilchrist is currently embroiled in a legal battle for control of the organization he founded after the Minuteman Project board of directors fired him amid allegations of embezzlement, mismanagement and fraud.

Board members Deborah Courtney and Marvin Stewart said Gilchrist had diverted Minuteman donations to his congressional campaign, a charge Gilchrist denies.

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See also “The Grand Old White Party Confronts Obama” (NY Times, February 17, 2008)

YouTube video of Virginia Republican US Senator George Allen’s infamous “Macaca” comment

Washington Post coverage of Allen’s racist comment

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Written by Arroyoribera

January 29, 2008 at 12:51 am

Posted in Immigration, Racism