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The Anti-Immigrant Bigotry Smackdown - Round I

Imagine 2050 Staff • Jun 04, 2010

In light of the anti-immigrant movement’s pro-SB1070 rally this Saturday, June 5 in Phoenix, and all the nativist superstars who are coming out to represent, we got to thinking - who’s the biggest bigot of them all? It’s hard to tell, there are so many of them and they’re all skilled in the art of immigrant hating.

The only way to find out was to throw them in the ring and let them fight it out for the title of Biggest Bigot.

Welcome to the Anti-immigrant Bigotry Smackdown!

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Tom Tancredo vs. William Gheen


About the contenders: William Gheen is known as the loose cannon of the anti-immigrant movement. He is the founder and outgoing leader of ALIPAC, a North Carolina-based anti-immigrant group. ALIPAC came into its own when the tea party movement took off last year. Gheen capitalized big time when he formed a coalition with twenty-five other anti-immigrant groups in support of tea party events, most of which were already part of the John Tanton network. ALIPAC’s whole reason for existence stems from a local California billboard advertisement that showed L.A. crossed out with Mexico written over it – apparently Gheen found this troubling enough to warrant launching a national organization. Ever since, ALIPAC has been hobnobbing with vigilante minutemen groups and exacerbating racial tensions in American communities. From tea parties to stirring up swine flu fear to rallying against immigrants in Shenandoah, Gheen and ALIPAC seem to pop up everywhere that white supremacy needs a hand.

Former Representative Tom Tancredo, a Republican from Colorado, has also found a cushy home among tea partiers and has been the public face of the movement’s racist tendencies. At the first National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Tancredo started the event off with his overtly racist remarks, telling attendees that Barack Obama was elected President because of “people who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English.” Tancredo then suggested a literacy test be implemented to prevent similar Republican failures in the future. He went on to talk about the “cult of multiculturalism” which is “aided by leftists.” He issued a warning to the crowd that “our culture is at stake” and that our culture “is based on Judeo-Christian values whether people like it or not!” Near the end of his speech Tancredo announced to the crowd that he was working with Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA (an anti-immigrant group with strong ties to white nationalists.)

Winner: Tom Tancredo

This was hardly a nail-biter as Gheen was knocked out of the hatefest early when he made a stink about Tom Tancredo’s attendance and a few pesky white supremacist associations. Although Gheen is down for the count, this can hardly mark the end of the Tancredo/Gheen rivalry…

Joe Arpaio vs. Jeff Schwilk

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About the contenders: Joe Arpaio has been making life hell for Latinos in Phoenix for a very long time. And perhaps no one since Bull Connor of Birmingham has gotten away with as many flagrant civil and human rights violations. From “crime sweeps” of Latino communities to raids on social service agencies to his notorious mistreatment of detainees, Arpaio’s abuses are too numerous to list. The sheriff has made clear that he doesn’t care what anyone says about his rampant misuse of power, he is going to keep doing it anyway. This cockiness extends to his controversial brushes with neo-Nazis as well. At this time last year protesters in Phoenix held a ‘Walk for Respect’ to bring attention to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s civil rights abuses. A group of neo-Nazis showed up to taunt them with racial slurs, salutes to Hitler, and support for Sheriff Joe. But the truly shocking part was those same hard-core racists chatting up Sheriff Joe before the marchers arrived. They assured him that they “had his back.” Sheriff Joe didn’t seem to mind, he even posed for a few snapshots.

Jeff Schwilk is the long-time leader of the vile and violent San Diego Minutemen (SDMM). Schwilk’s history (and that of his vigilante group) is bizarre to say the least. In 2007, members of the SDMM, including Schwilk, were shown on a homemade video vandalizing a migrant camp, going through the residents’ possessions, and bragging about destroying their prayer items. It was a classy moment, but perhaps not as classy as the emails that were leaked in 2008. In them, SDMM members repeatedly referred to immigrants in derogatory terms, using words like “cockroaches” and “Third-World animals.” One email, dated June 2007, says that Minutemen members patrolling the border for immigrants should bring “a portable battery operated freezer … for storage of filets, hams and ribs of well-marbled border crossers.”

Winner - Joe Arpaio

Known as the clowns of the anti-immigrant movement, Schwilk and Arpaio are strangely alike in their need for attention. Both are eccentric and publicity-loving. Schwilk is dangerous, no doubt about it, but Joe Arpaio has reached new heights when it comes to oppressive power. With hundreds of deputies, local politicians, and national anti-immigrant groups behind him, Arpaio would wipe the floor with Schwilk any day.

This concludes Round I of the anti-immigrant bigotry smackdown. Check back tomorrow for Round II!

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