I debated whether or not to cover Obama’s speech. A put up a full copy of his remarks here. Eventually I decided that with hundreds of press people here, and more “influential” bloggers than myself covering this, that it would be best to do something a little different.
I knew Barack Obama wouldn’t reveal anything new about his positions on comprehensive immigration reform. As anyone who knows anything about the U.S. migration debate will tell you, the devil is in the details when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. That’s why leading members of the SanctuarySphere have been trying to get the presidential candidates to answer a very specific questionnaire on migration. I will reserve my endorsement of a presidential candidate until those questions are answered. We need more than soundbites when it comes to immigration. See what my blogmig@s have to say on the subject:
Kai at Zuky
Marisa at Latina Lista
Manny at Latino Politico
Sylvia at Problem Chylde
Maegan at Vivirlatino
Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican
Kety at CrossLeft
Symsess at Citizen Orange
XP at ¡Para Justicia y Libertad!
So rather than attend Barack Obama’s speech, I thought it would be best to cover what was happening around Barack Obama’s speech. I went outside where a crowd of a few hundred was gathered. There was a sizeable group of Obama supporters, a few people holding signs for 9/11 Truth (Noam Chomsky says all that needs to be said on that), as well as a loud and bosterous group that identified themselves as the San Diego Minutemen.
Supporters of the San Diego Minutemen held signs that said things like:
“Support Americans Not La Raza”,
“La Raza Means ‘The Race'”,
“La Raza Stop the Hate Against Americans”,
“La Raza, Neo-Nazi, KKK, Racist Groups”,
“Obama: 50% White, 43.75% Arabic, 6.25% Black, 100% Brown RACIST”
Just as I was about to turn away from filming a man holding a sign of a boy urinating on the phrase “La Raza”, I heard him begin to chant, “Fuck You Brown Boy. Fuck You Brown Boy. Fuck You Brown Boy.” The San Diego Minuteman supporter was walking up a ramp to the convention center and was speaking to another full-grown man that looked to be of latino descent to me.
In all fairness, I have no idea what the latino man was saying to the San Diego Minutemenn supporter. It could have been just as hateful. I followed them until they parted ways and just as I was about to stop filming again, a group of people walked through chanting, “Viva La Raza. Viva La Raza.” The Minuteman supporter then went at it again, “Fuck La Raza. Fuck La Raza. Fuck La Raza.”
It was heated out there. I tried to interview supporters of the San Diego Minutemen, but most walked away when I asked them. I was able to interview one woman, and they’ll be back tomorrow when I will try to interview them again. It’s not fair of me to call them out like this without getting an official comment from them.
Still, I find it ironic that the San Diego Minutemen were holding signs calling out the National Council of La Raza for their supposed racism at the same time that this man was engaging what was clearly blatant racism to me. How can you call a grown latino man a “boy” and condemn an entire race without being racist?
Why talk about this specific incident, today? Here’s a phrase from Obama’s speech that’s relevent:
The 12 million people in the shadows, the communities taking immigration enforcement into their own hands, the neighborhoods seeing rising tensions as citizens are pitted against new immigrants…they’re counting on us to stop the hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves – rhetoric that poisons our political discourse, degrades our democracy, and has no place in this great nation. They’re counting on us to rise above the fear and demagoguery, the pettiness and partisanship, and finally enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Some will see the above incident as the fault of a fringe lunatic, who supports a fringe organization, but as anyone who blogs about migration can attest, hateful rhetoric like this has poisoned almost every online forum that takes up the subject. Any newspaper article that dares even suggest that unauthorized migrants are human quickly fills up with hate like this in the comment section. Even the mainstream progressive blogosphere is filled with hate like this. Look no further than Alternet’s special immigration section for evidence of that.
This hate is degrading the U.S.’s democracy, and preventing the U.S. from arriving at a meaningful solution to the issues associated with migration. I live and breathe the U.S. migration debate. And even for someone like myself, who is very familiar with the U.S.’s history oppression, I find myself living in disbelief over the suffering of that millions of authorized and unauthorized migrants have to live through every day in the United States.
The latest outrage comes from Tim Chavez over at Political Salsa, who describes how Abu Ghraib and Guantamo have come to Nashville, Tennesee, where a pregnant mother was shackled as she tried to give birth to her baby. Her child was then denied the milk from her breast, and suffered from jaundice as a result of it. I highly recommend you read the full post to get a sense of the sorts of things I read about every day.
Is this the sort of country you want to live in?