rizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently said, "I believe today ... that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels ... There's strong information to us that they come as illegal people wanting to come to work. Then they are accosted and they become subjects of the drug cartel." Brewer hedged her statement with phrases such as "I believe" and "There's strong information." However, she does not offer an iota of evidence - making it the most irresponsible statement that I have heard in my fifty-five years as a political activist.
The fact that Brewer equates an undocumented immigrant to organized criminals and members of the violent drug cartels is disturbing. With this type of misinformation by a public official, it is no wonder that over 70 percent of Americans support the repression of undocumented immigrants, believing that laws similar to those of Arizona will keep them safe.
History informs us that the Third Reich came to power as a consequence of half-truths and blatant lies that gradually made most Germans passively receptive to Nazi racial theories. The parallels between Germany in the 1920s and Arizona in 2010 are striking. Then, and now, intentional lies have that spread fear and hatred of the other.
Who is behind this mass hysteria in Arizona?
A connection exists between white supremacists and the proponents of SB 1070, targeting of immigrants, and the passing of HB 2281, the assault on ethnic studies. Support has been built for these measures based on big lies and money that have formed the Arizona paranoia - further nurtured by four decades of immigrant bashing. A leading protagonist is Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who has taken credit for SB 1070.
In 2004, under Pearce's stewardship, Proposition 200 passed with 56 percent of the vote. The campaign was spearheaded by "Protect Arizona Now" (PAN) and sought to limit undocumented immigrants' access to public benefits and voting - requiring proof of citizenship when voting and applying for public benefits. Public employees were ordered to deny services to undocumented immigrants and turn them over to authorities. A failure to comply with the law could result in jail terms and fines. Arizona successfully defended Proposition 200 in the courts.
Emboldened by its victory over a coalition of prominent Democrats and Republicans, the cabal moved to intimidate legislators. Then, in taking over the Republican Party PAN made overtures to extreme right groups, and in 2006 Pearce sent his associates an article on immigration published by the neo-Nazi National Alliance to its base. The article accused "the Jewish controlled media" of creating a bias against whites and favoring minorities and Israelis.
Meanwhile, the core group strengthened its ties with white-supremacist groups, among which was FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) - founded by John Tanton, a leader in the anti-immigration and "official English" movements. Tanton had close ties with the Pioneer Fund, a proponent of "improving the character of the American people" through selective breeding. PAN received $305,000 from FAIR and the American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF). In turn, the latter groups have received over $1.2 million dollars from the Pioneer Fund. In 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled FAIR a hate group.
According to Tanton: "To govern is to populate," prophetically asking, "Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night or will there be an explosion?"
The Arizona groups' allies include self-described "ethnic separatist" Virginia Abernethy, who serves on the advisory board of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), an organization with ties to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon David Duke, and white supremacist and anti-Semite writers.
Pearce is also associated with Jason "J.T." Ready, who fronts United for a Sovereign America (USA). Pearce and Ready are allies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In turn, Ready is a friend of neo-Nazi Ernst Rohm.
Ready openly invites militias, motorcycle clubs, the National Guard, constitutional groups and the National Socialist Movement (NSM) to his events. The NSM is the largest neo-Nazi hate organization in the United States with 61 chapters in 35 states. Pearce has acknowledged his relationship with Ready.
To round off the equation, FAIR's attorney Kris Kobach wrote SB 1070. As for Pearce, he openly consorts with neo-Nazis who he has been caught on film embracing.
Where is Brewer in this quagmire? Actually, she has gravitated rapidly to the right, attempting to fend off the challenge of state treasurer Dean Martin, an Arpaio friend and clone. The signing of 1070 and 2281 paid her dues to the extreme right of the Republican Party that since 2004 has controlled Republican Party primaries.
Similarly, Senator John McCain has returned to the fold of the far right. In the early 1980s, McCain served on the board of the US Council for World Freedom, which supported the Contras' efforts to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. McCain alleges that he resigned from the council, which he said in 1986 "got some good people involved." McCain had opposed Proposition 200 in 2004.
Enter the almost all white Tea Party movement. They have given a shot of adrenaline to the right, and ironically, respectability to the nativist movement through the creation of mass hysteria. A mob without a center, they are easily manipulated by the zealots who have been stoking these fires for four decades. Minute Men, vigilantes, Tea Partiers, all stem from the same root.
Yet another player is Tom Horne, the state superintendent for public instruction, who is running for attorney general. Facing the rabid right-wing Andy Thomas in the primary, he decided to Mexican bash and court neo-Nazis, which is surprising because Horne is of Jewish ancestry. Horne, in order to make himself viable, has aligned himself with Ready, Pearce and the cabal of neo-Nazis. In order to attract attention, he is given to wild accusations about the highly successful La Raza program in the Tucson Unified School District, seeking to abolish it and all ethnic studies programs. Horne advocates censorship of books that he deems as un-American.
Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (1925), "In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods."
While history does not repeat itself, situations and tactics do. Undocumented workers are not drug dealers, criminals or a drag on society. La Raza Studies is not about hate, it is about pride, learning, and staying in school. Brewer and Horne know better, but it is easier to sell a big lie.