Border extremist Glenn Spencer was a no-show today at the state Senate Border Security Committee hearing where he was to give a presentation on immigration. Before the hearing started, Democratic Senator Steve Gallardo told me that he was informed last night that Spencer had been "uninvited."
Gallardo and others, including the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona, had raised a ruckus over Spencer, who has documented ties to white nationalists and anti-Semites, and who himself has made anti-Mexican and anti-Jewish statements both on his Web site and to the press.
ADL regional director Bill Straus was at the hearing to see if Spencer would appear as scheduled. He categorized Spencer's being booted from the agenda as a minor victory.
"Maybe we should go party like it's St. Paddy's Day," quipped Straus, sardonically.
For those who've somehow forgotten, today is, of course, St. Paddy's Day.
Committee chairwoman Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake), who had defended the decision to invite Spencer, made a brief remark about Spencer before beginning a power-point presentation about the border, reputedly from the Texas government.
"We had a presentation from Glenn Spencer," announced Allen. "But that presentation will not be given today."
Does that mean Allen will try to sneak Spencer in some other day? Wouldn't surprise me.
I called Spencer for comment, but he has yet to get back to me.
I regard this as one, tentative step in the un-whitewashing of Spencer. In 2009, I blasted Channel 3 News for doing a laudatory piece on Spencer without mentioning his extremist ties and statements.
Last year, I criticized a Tea Party rally held on Spencer's ranch near the border. The event drew speakers such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, state Senate President Russell Pearce, and others.
Spencer's affiliations aside, Spencer once played host to convicted kid-killer and minutewoman Shawna Forde. Spencer has admitted his contacts with Forde and the fact that she visited his home and used her laptop shortly before being arrested by FBI agents nearby his ranch.
So when I learned that Spencer was to give a presentation at the state Capitol, I quickly raised the alarm. The public would not countenance having a Klan leader or a neo-Nazi give such a lecture-by-invitation. So why should the Legislature give a platform with someone who has anti-Mexican and anti-Semitic views, and has ties to racist outlets such as American Renaissance?
I was heartened to see the Arizona Republic report on Spencer's scheduled appearance in today's paper. Asked about reports by the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center, concerning his activities he said, "They're lying."
However, his record pretty much speaks for itself.
How did Spencer get invited to begin with? Allen told the Republic it was "because his name was on a list of speakers who attended an anti-immigration rally last summer with Senate President Russell Pearce."
Straus is correct. It's a small win for the rational, anti-hate side. Though, later in committee, as Senator Al Melvin -- a Pearce loyalist -- talked up proposals to put a state-funded fence on the border and have prison inmates build it as a de facto form of slave labor, I realized just how small of a win it was.