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Who're worse, behavior-wise, the nativists or the neo-Nazis? Sure, neo-Nazis are nefarious and nuts. But the nativists make the neo-Nazis look urbane by comparison. And in some ways the nativists are more violent, despite the fact crazy old crones with canes and old dudes in mobility scooters are overrepresented in their ranks. Plus, the nativists are far more hypocritical.
Saturday's anti-amnesty tea party at the Arizona state Capitol was no exception to the rule. Around 80 lumpen losers turned up to bag on "anchor babies" (otherwise known as American citizens born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents), and to scapegoat Mexican immigrants for everything from the H1N1 virus and the financial crisis, to the collapse of the housing market and Arizona's budget mess.
Their big speaker? Minuteman and joke-of-a-Senate-candidate Chris Simcox, who is running as an asterisk in the GOP primary against U.S. Senator John McCain. Hobbled by multiple personal scandals, as well as charges of financial impropriety from former members of the Minutman Civil Defense Corps he founded, Simcox is as likely to beat McCain in a primary as Miley Cyrus is of winning an Oscar for Best Actress.
The other "big name" who had been promised for the hate-fest was state Senator Russell Pearce. Pearce, however, was a no-show. The word was he had a funeral attend. Although, you have to wonder if he knew his former pal and persistent political albatross, neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, was going to be present. The pair worked a larger, more significant crowd of nativists on the state House lawn back in 2007.
At that time, they were as tight as a pair of Sith. But Pearce was reluctantly forced to distance himself from Ready during Pearce's state Senate primary run against fellow Republican Kevin Gibbons. Ready still sounds hurt by Pearce's stab-in-the back, though Ready's gone on to become a hero of sorts in white supremacist circles.
"I don't think [I'm] mad," said Ready wistfully, as he held a large cloth portrait of Adolf Hitler, while standing on the sidewalk facing his former nativist buds."[I'm] disappointed that he didn't have more backbone. He likes to parade around the fact that he has a half-Hispanic [grandchild]. What about the other 99 percent of his family? But you know what, he was like a father figure to me, and I appreciate that. A lot of guidance and close family friends. I'll always cherish those memories."
Two years ago, many of the same anti-immigration types present cheered on Ready as he whipped them into a fervor with a practical blueprint for American fascism: Marine divisions on the four sides of the Lower 48, moving in toward the center to mop up the unwanted while securing the border. Saturday, these same people wouldn't allow him on the Capitol lawn with them. (Permit holders for the lawn can exclude folks from the area under their control, according to the Capitol police.)
This, of course, was highly ironic considering the fact that, aside from such symbols as swastikas, the nativists and the neo-Nazis share the same views on immigration. It's an irony not lost on the wannabe Ernst Roehm of the East Valley.
"They say they're for legal immigration," observed Ready. "It doesn't matter if they're Mexicans or anything. If they're for [everything being] legal -- you know what? -- when Obama passes amnesty, that is legal. That [will be] the law. What are they going to say then? They either have to acknowledge they want a European-American homeland or not...They're caught in a conundrum that I'm not. They're stuck with trying to say they're not racist. While at the same time trying to preserve European culture. They can't do both. At least I'm intellectually honest."
Ready has a point. The nativists are xenophobic, bigoted, and in many cases straight-up racists, yet, they don't want to be labeled as racists. Unlike the neo-Nazis, they are hypocrites. And they are more likely to become violent when confronted face-to-face with folks who don't buy the line they're selling.
During last week's tense neo-Nazi march to the Capitol, there were no real physical altercations, and even the threat of violence on the part of the Nazis seemed like posturing more than anything else. But at the nativist rally, there was a constant threat of violence coming from the nativists.
For instance, When videographer Dennis Gilman arrived on the scene, he walked up to the rally on the lawn, and was immediately encircled by a group of knuckledragging bikers with Riders Against Illegal Aliens. Had not a member of the Capitol police been present, they would probably have assaulted Gilman as a pack, like the cowardly thugs they are.
At another point, one nativist ran up to Ready and jerked the Hitler banner out of his hand. Ready proceeded to knock him on his ass. But it was the nativist who instigated it.
Along with Gilman, J.T. Ready, National Socialist Harry Hughes and a couple of Latino journalists, I too was relegated to the sidewalk after the anti-Hispanic Hispanic Hobbit lady Anna Gaines denounced me as a member of "la Raza," and asked a Capitol police cop to ask me to leave. I exited the grassy area, but I didn't leave.
Later, this old coot with the neo-Nazi National Alliance, a group founded by deceased white separatist William Pierce, kept blocking my camera with his sign, which read, "Multiculturalism: A Jewish Cancer. `We don't owe illegal parasites a damn thing'!" When I asked him about Timothy McVeigh, who was inspired by Pierce's Turner Diaries to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the geezer got ticked and kept advancing on me with his sign, like he wanted to smack me with it. Fun-ny.
Motorcycle thugs with R.A.I.A. and Riders USA hurled anti-gay epithets at everyone they didn't cotton to. I asked them repeatedly what they had against gays and what that had to do with immigration, but I ended up just getting the same vitriol directed at me. Chief among these pretend badasses was a nudnik who calls himself "Steele," a prime example of vicious redneck scum.
Oddly, I did have a couple of civil conversations with a few of the demonstrators, including Frank Baron, husband of plus-size erotic masseuse Brandy Baron. While his wife has expressed some extreme views, including her endorsement of shooting immigrants and their children as they come over the border, Frank Baron is a little more mellow and doesn't act quite as extreme, at least when I'm around.
Also, I had a long confab with a couple from Mesa, Aaron and Lisa. Lisa's Native American, and was carrying a sign that read on one side "Illegal Immigration Blows!" The other side had something about securing the border. I joked with her that if Native Americans had closed the border 400 years ago, we wouldn't be having the conversation we were having, me being of European stock.
As for Aaron, he denied that the nativist tea party types had anything in common with the Nazis.
"Look at the fascist leader they've got on their banner there," he said, indicating J.T. "That's contrary to the American constitution. That's the precise polar opposite of our movement. We believe in liberty. Not tyranny. We don't believe in racism in general. If we had a major illegal immigration onslaught from Canada, my proposal would be that we enact severe, stiff border security up there as well."
Sorry Aaron, but I think you're in denial. The Nazis and the nativists have identical rhetoric when it comes to immigration. As for Canadians, there are illegal Canadians, and Irish, and Chinese living and working amongst us, but they are not the focus of all the hatred and scapegoating. The Mexicans are.
Later, I got into it with this nimrod who would only give his name as Bob. He said he used to be a contractor. Anyway, Bob the Contractor couldn't handle a discussion of the issues, and soon started the name-calling, to which I reciprocated. He acted like he wanted to swing on me, but I didn't budge, and he eventually stomped off.
This Arizona shin-dig was one of numerous anti-amnesty tea parties held nationwide and sponsored by North Carolina-based William Gheen's nativist group ALIPAC. Locally, United for a Sovereign American had been pimping it hard, but it seems to have been put on by American Citizens United, the organization headed by Anna Gaines. You'll recall that Gaines' group was behind the failed effort to recall Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. The recall was a disaster, and ended without even one signature being submitted to the city clerk.
The good news is that if Saturday's pathetic turn-out is indicative of the state of opposition to amnesty, amnesty probably has a better shot than some might think. This angry passel of anti-Mexican fanatics is losing steam. And while they should be considered dangerous and monitored, the world has moved on, leaving them behind, while they've hardly noticed.