Feathered Bastard

John McCain Doubles Down on Racist Scapegoating of Latino Migrants

When white nationalist websites and racist minutemen with erstwhile ties to child killers are championing your cause, you know you've made a serious error. Particularly when you're a failed presidential candidate still desperate for the world to take you seriously.

Such is the case with U.S. Senator from Arizona John McCain, who recently blamed Sand Land's current rash of wildfires on illegal immigrants, and refuses to apologize for his obscene, racist blunder.

Instead, the cranky septuagenarian plays the fool by defending his remarks on the lamest of talk-radio shows, that of Don Imus. (Yeah, I didn't know he was still on the air, either.)

Meanwhile, McCain earns the praise of the racist website VDARE.com, which draws its handle from the name of Virginia Dare, the first European (read: "white") baby born in the new world. 

"Good for Senator John McCain for stating out loud that many of Arizona's destructive wildfires have been started by illegal aliens," reads the website.

Similarly, McCain is earning kudos from Cactus Country bigot-boy Glenn Spencer, head of the one-man American Border Patrol, whose soft noggin is plagued by anti-Mexican conspiracy theories and nightmares of Mau-Mau-like uprisings led by Latinos.

Spencer's former fellow Minuteperson Shawna Forde, arrested shortly after leaving Spencer's property in 2009, was recently convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the home-invasion murders of a 9-year old girl and her father in Arivaca.

Nice company you've earned yourself, Senator.

Yesterday, McCain's top flack, Brooke Buchanan, rode to her master's aid with clips she'd mined off Nexis and some dusty testimony dated 2006 from the then-forest supervisor for the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California.

Keep in mind that Senator McCain was asked generally about Arizona's current wildfire epidemic, and he generally answered that these argued for a "secure border" due to all of these illegal border crossers setting fires. 

Right. As if building the "dang fence" would somehow stay Sand Land's triple-digit heat, low humidity and the wind itself, leaving the yearly plague of forest fires a bitter memory.

In any case, here are the clips Buchanan coughed up as proof that her employer isn't some senile ol' bigot:

"[T]he great majority, if not all the fires, on the Coronado National Forest (this year) have been human-caused. Causes of fires include ricocheting bullets, campfires, welding equipment and possibly ignition by smugglers or illegal immigrants." -- Jim Upchurch, Forest Supervisor, Coronado National Forest-- Arizona Daily Star, June 7, 2011.

"Lightning cannot be blamed for the fires this year, Coronado National Forest acting fire management officer Kristy Lund said. Fires can be caused by careless campers and hikers, by ricocheting bullets, trailer chains that drag on the ground and send up sparks or driving on a flat tire and the rim lights sparks as it hits the road. And some can be caused by illegal border crossers." -- Sierra Vista Herald, June 7, 2011.

"Large numbers of warming and cooking fires built and abandoned by cross-border violators have caused wildfires that have destroyed valuable natural and cultural resources.The wildfires also pose a threat to visitors, residents and firefighters as well as to the cross-border violators in the area. Agencies have documented that some cross-border violators also will intentionally set diversion or rescue fires, using uncontrolled wildfires to divert law enforcement from their illegal activities." -- U.S. Forest Service Testimony to Congress, June 15, 2006.

"A fire that blackened nearly 900 acres in San Diego was caused by illegal immigrants who were apparently lost and set off a signal fire." -- Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2010. 

You'll note that this information is hardly conclusive, and the clips indicate myriad causes of wildfires such as "careless campers and hikers, by ricocheting bullets, trailer chains that drag on the ground and send up sparks or driving on a flat tire and the rim lights sparks as it hits the road."

But, hey, white people can do all that. Much easier to blame the brown folk, which is what the senator did.

Operating in the here and now, the spokesman for the feds overseeing the Wallow fire, when asked if there was any evidence to indicate that McCain's comments were accurate in relation to Wallow, said, "Absolutely not."

McCain had just finished touring damage related to Wallow when he inserted hoof into mouth. His gal Friday's attempts to bolster McCain's bigoted contention are ineffectual.

Which is likely why Buchanan was so peeved with my correct labeling of McCain's statements as "racist."

Sending her lame clip file to me, she kvetched of my recent blog on McCain's blunder,

"But honestly, the racist headline was a little out of line. Do you truly believe that Senator McCain is a racist? And if so, please provide some evidence to validate your slanderous headline."

To which, I replied,

"The statement IS racist. And he should apologize or resign. Nothing in what you've sent me backs up his statement. As far as 'slanderous' goes, when you slander an entire ethnicity, you're hardly the one to talk."


"I didn't realize that illegal immigrants constituted an ethnicity. And if you bothered to read the below the first sentence, you would see that federal, state, and local officials stated essentially the same thing. So perhaps you should apologize to the senator and consider resigning??"

My response:

"Who do you think's coming across the southern border, Irishmen? Canadians? They're Latinos, and the senator knows that. Moreover, he made his statement in the context of the current conflagration.

"[T]he great majority, if not all the fires, on the Coronado National Forest (this year) have been human-caused. Causes of fires include ricocheting bullets, campfires, welding equipment and possibly ignition by smugglers or illegal immigrants."

"Possibly? Why didn't the senator blame 'ignition' or 'ricocheting bullets'? He knows what he said. If this results in further ethnic violence in this state, he bears full responsibility."

Of the clips, I said in another e-mail,

"Lame. He was discussing the wildfires currently raging. His statement was that of a bigot. He needs to apologize or resign. Nothing in these press clippings backs up his stupidity."


"Wow, the craziest e-mail I've ever received from a so-called reporter."


"Wow. Craziest e-mail I've ever received from a so-called PIO who works for a bigot."


"Creative. As a reporter I thought you would come up with something a little more original."


"Yeah, but at least I don't send out rationalizations for bigoted comments. What's next, will the senator blame illegal aliens for the heat and humidity, too? The price of gas? The next earthquake in California?

"Did you know that hate crimes have increased 125% in Phoenix alone over the past few years? If McCain's comments inspire some racist to kill a Latino, which they could given the climate of hate in this state, he's on the hook. 

"Not that you or he care. You don't live here."

At one point, she asked if I was at the presser where McCain made his asinine statement. Of course, I was not. Didn't need to be, as CNN caught it on video.

"We all saw the question and his response," I e-mailed her. "If McCain had an ounce of honor, he would realize the harmfulness of what he said and apologize. But no, the Pavlovian response is to defend the indefensible. The lack of originality is on your part."

Is McCain himself a racist? Probably not, despite his recent racist pronouncements. 

Given his age, McCain's likely more of an Archie Bunker-type bigot. Still, throwing logs on the pyre of racism remains an odious act. More so when you are a U.S. senator.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons