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Redneck Touchdown

They're partyin' in the trailer parks. Pass out the free Skoal and Old Milwaukee. The knuckledragger Know Nothings, wing-nut nativists, white supremacists, and toothless beaner-bashers won the day as hopes for a Congressional compromise on comprehensive immigration reform were trounced in the U.S. Senate.

"Down in Flames! Amen and Halaluya!" (sic) huzzahs a header on immigration hater/Kia peddler Rusty Childress’ Web site for his organization, United for a Sovereign America. "Now the battle is to be waged at the border," reads a report on Chris Simcox's Minuteman Civil Defense Corps page.

Somewhere Satan, er, this tweeter means, State Representative Russell Pearce was rubbing his greasy hands in glee. (And this was before Governor Janet Napolitano signed his brown-bashing employer-sanction state legislation into law.)

This jaybird figures the racist swill has reason to be jubilant. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 52 percent of Americans support a program giving illegals the right to stay and work in the United States if they pay a fine and meet other requirements. Perhaps more importantly, there seemed finally to be a powerful coalition of Republicans and Democrats behind such legislation.

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake informed The Bird in April: "We've got the best shot we've had in a long time . . . [President George Bush is] committed to comprehensive reform. Then you have Democrat control in the House and the Senate that's more likely than Republican control to get this product through. You have a pretty decent partisan coalition here that wants comprehensive reform."

But a vocal and highly motivated minority, fueled by xenophobia and prejudice, inundated representatives with vicious threats of political payback. Flake, Senator John McCain (a veteran with a capital V, by the way), and especially Senator Jon Kyl, who bucked his far-right backers to support the Senate compromise, were denounced as traitors.

Speaking at the June 16 rally against the legislation at the state Capitol, Mesa white supremacist J.T. Ready told a cheering crowd, in reference to certain political leaders, "We're not going to ask anymore. We're going to start yanking people out by their collars."

The reactionary rabble numbered only 300 that day, compared with the 15,000 who jammed Wesley Bolin Plaza for a pro-immigrant May Day protest. But alter kocker anti-immigrants are often retired and have nothing else to do with their lives but spew vitriol day after day after day. Immigrants, illegal and otherwise, and their supporters generally have jobs. So guess who had the leisure time to tie up Congressional phone lines by calling Reps and Senators over and over?

Supporters of a humane and workable solution to the immigration problem did not screech as loud. And the reaction of immigrant-rights supporters to the blatant ties between nativist organizations, and skinhead, neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups was far too tepid.

At that June 16 bigot blowout, for instance, there should have been twice as many counterdemos encircling the prejudice pimps, hurling insults at them, much in the same way the Ku Klux Klan is greeted nowadays whenever its members have the gall to march down the main street of some Southern town.

This pro-immigrant penguin caught up with Elias Bermudez, executive director of Immigrants without Borders, for a postmortem on the failed federal immigration bill, which would have allowed the 12 to 20 million in this country illegally a chance to stabilize their status. Bermudez praised Kyl's efforts on behalf of the bill. He chided extremists on both the left and the right who refused to support the legislation. And he foresaw the situation becoming tenser as states step in where the Feds refuse to tread.

"The lack of a direct action by the federal government is going to give a blank check for state government and state legislatures to do bad law that will only make the problem worse," predicted Bermudez, who warned, "We're going to see a very drastic reaction from the Hispanic community. I'm fearful now to get 100,000 onto the streets, because anything could set them off. That would be devastating for what we're trying to do."

Bermudez's peeps should be pissed. This Monday, Governor Manet bent over for Russell Pearce like a $10 Van Buren crack whore jonesin' for a rock. Despite a laundry list of problems with Pearce's employer-sanction bill, Nappy gave it her John Hancock, ensuring nightmares aplenty for business owners who have to use a flawed database to check the status of employees.

If enacted as is, this Pearce-puke legislation will also discriminate against anyone with brown skin and strike fear into every Hispanic heart, just as the neo-Nazi-lovin' Pearce intends it to do.

A massive campaign of civil disobedience may be necessary, as it was during the struggle for African-American equality in the '60s: Confrontational, MLK and Gandhi-type protests. And if that doesn't work, perhaps an escalation to the Malcolm X school of action.

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