Friday, March 11, 2011

What state lends an official platform to hate groups? Why, Arizona, of course.

Normally, I'd save a discussion of an agenda item for a legislative committee agenda for a "coming week" post, but this one rates a quick post of its own.

On Thursday, the Arizona Senate's Border Security, Federalism, and States Sovereignty Committee will meet in SHR109 at 9 a.m.

The agenda for the meeting only contains two bills (thus far, anyway) -

HB2718, House Speaker Kirk Adams' $5 million gift to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, and HCM2002, a postcard to Congress asking that the gray wolf be removed from the Endangered Species List.

If those were the only two items on the agenda, while they are "colorful" and would rate individual mention in the weekly schedule post, that would be it.

However, this is Arizona, where the prevailing attitude at the legislature seems to be "why settle for 'colorful' when you can let your freak flag fly?"

Also on the agenda?  Two presentations to the committee.

One looks relatively innocuous ("relatively" based on this committee's admittedly skewed-toward-batsh_t-crazy standards) - "State of Texas: Border Security Update (powerpoint)".

Assuming the source of the powerpoint is the actual State of Texas, it probably won't be worse than simple propaganda masquerading as an "official" analysis (don't gasp at the impudence - like a significant portion of the Republican caucus of the Arizona legislature, Texas' governor has some strongly secessionist tendencies.)

The other presentation, however, is nothing more than giving a known hate group a taxpayer-funded pulpit from which to spew its bile.

"Glenn Spencer, President of American Border Patrol:  Arizona/Mexico Border -- An Assessment"

When I first glanced at the agenda, I figured "OK, Texas and the Border Patrol" - it'll be a dog-and-pony show, but nothing more than that.

Then I noticed a few discrepancies - *the* Border Patrol is referred to as the U.S. Border Patrol, or maybe "Customs and Border Protection" (its official name); it doesn't have a "President" - the head of the agency is called "Commissioner,"; and "Glenn Spencer" is NOT the Commissioner.


A quick, but very enlightening search turned up this report on the "American Border Patrol" from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From the report -
American Border Patrol/American Patrol (the first-listed group was essentially an Arizona extension of American Patrol, which is also known as Voice of Citizens Together) is one of the most virulent anti-immigrant groups around. On the American Patrol website and in self-produced videos, the group rails against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of bringing to the U.S. crime, drugs and squalor and of practicing “immigration via the birth canal.” Mexicans, in the words of group founder Glenn Spencer, are a “cultural cancer” following a secret plan, the Plan de Aztlán, to complete “la reconquista” (the reconquest, or takeover) of the American Southwest, which was once controlled by Spain and/or Mexico.

Glenn Spencer is so colorful in his own right, he rates his own profile from SPLC.

From his profile -
In 2008, Spencer expanded from his usual angry attacks on Latinos to furious, explicitly racist and anti-Semitic tirades. Just before Christmas, Spencer issued a nearly hysterical Web posting entitled "Obama Threatens Nation," in which he described the incoming Obama Administration as "prepared to make a frontal assault on the sovereignty of the United States." In fact, he said, "Barack Obama represents the greatest threat to the United States of America since the Civil War. Brainwashed Americans have just voted to commit national suicide." The same month, Spencer wrote an article on his website with another provocative title: "Is Jew-Controlled Hollywood Brainwashing Americans?" In it, he assured readers that he had Jewish friends but added: "I fear, however, that this small handful of patriotic Americans are far outnumbered by liberal Jews who now have total control over our media."
I know 9 a.m. is early for popcorn, but if you can't make it down to the Capitol Thursday morning, pop some popcorn, point your computer's browser at the lege's website for the streaming video, put your feet up, and enjoy the horror show.

I have to wonder how much the taxpayers of Arizona are paying for this shameful event.  Even if Spencer is travelling from Sierra Vista on his own dime (and there's no guarantee of that), there are costs associated with setting up and holding a legislative hearing.


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