Miranda Blue's blog

Anti-Immigrant Protests A Bust: Five Things This Weekend's Rallies Tell Us About The Nativist Right

For weeks now, anti-immigrant groups have been hyping a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge,” meant to be two days of protests in cities across the country in reaction to the Central American children who are coming to the southern border to flee violence in their home countries.

The protests were a bust. Local news reports and pictures posted on social media show anemic turnout, from about 40 people in front of the United Nations in New York to just three at a McClellan, Texas, border control station who wondered if they had gotten the wrong address.

These small but vitriolic protests, although they didn’t meet the hype of their organizers, tell us everything we need to know about today’s anti-immigrant movement.

1. It’s driven by extremists.

This weekend’s protests were organized by three fringe groups: Make Them Listen, Overpasses for America, and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

Make Them Listen is run by activist Paul Arnold, who has close ties to the anti-immigrant front group behind last summer’s rally of extremists on the National Mall .

Overpasses for America is a group led by activist James Neighbors that organizes demonstrations over highway overpasses to call for President Obama’s impeachment. The group went a step further this year when it backed Operation American Spring, an effort meant to flood Washington with protesters and force Obama out of office , which also came up slightly short of expectations .

Overpasses frequently shares images like this on its Facebook page:

The group also uses the platform to share its views on immigrants, including this image and its accompanying caption.

Americans for Legal Immigration is a one-man anti-immigrant hate shop run by North Carolina-based activist William Gheen. Gheen has said that “illegal and violent” means might be necessary to remove President Obama from office and has a long record of virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric . Gheen’s last national action was encouraging his supporters to mail used underwear to undocumented immigrants.

Gheen also has ties to the right-wing militia movement: he personally invited the anti-government group Oath Keepers to join the weekend’s protests.

Other groups listed as “participating organizations” in the event included 2 Million Bikers To DC, whose leader wants to repeal all but the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and which deals in racist Facebook images, and Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, which is led by white supremacist Roan Garcia-Quintana .

The largest recent anti-immigrant protests — the attempts to turn back busses of migrant children in Murrieta, California, and Oracle, Arizona — were also populated by anti-government fringe groups. The Murrieta protest, which was organized by activists tied to the Minutemen and the John Birch Society, drew some of the same people who had recently set up shop at the anti-government standoff at the Bundy Ranch.

2. It relies on xenophobia.

Signs and chants at this weekend’s protests show that the movement draws its energy from Nativism and xenophobia.

A number of signs at the events drew from the ginned-up fears of migrant children carrying diseases. In New York, one protester parodied Emma Lazarus, shouting, “bring us your smallpox, bring us your malaria, your scabies.”

Another woman in New York held a sign calling “illegals” and President Obama “cockroaches.”

At the Raleigh event, attended by Gheen himself, protesters in front of the Mexican consulate held a large sign reading “No Way Jose.”

A protester in Texas held a sign saying, “We are a nation of immigrants, not a nation of welfare .”

Another protester in Florida wrote a sign that read, “Send Them Back with Birth Control.”

3. The fringe and the “mainstream” are closely knit.

The weekend’s protests were organized by fringe extremists, but they were promoted by large national groups that have access and influence in national politics.

The largest anti-immigrant organizing groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Numbers USA quietly promoted the events: Numbers sent a notice about the events to its email list and a number of FAIR’s state affiliates directed members to events in their areas.

Prominent GOP-tied activists also promoted the events. The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios urged listeners of her radio show to attend events in their area and advertised the protest on Facebook. The Right’s favorite "constitutional scholar" Mark Levin also advertised the rallies on Facebook.

Rep. Steve King, the leading anti-immigrant voice in Congress, was spoke at a sparsely attended protest in Nebraska, telling his audience that the migrant children at the border represent an “invasion” the size of “Santa Ana’s army.”

4. The movement’s running on fumes.

The small turnout at the weekend’s rallies highlights the truth that the anti-immigrant movement is desperately trying to hide: it just doesn’t have that much support.

Reports from cities across the country show just small handfuls of people showing up to yell about the child migrants to passing cars.

About 12 people turned up on an overpass in Milwaukee. A similar number gathered in Oklahoma City and Placentia, California. An event in Dover, Delaware, seems to have attracted about twenty. About eight appear to have made it out to hang an “Obama Sucks” banner on an overpass in Chattanooga. Three people turned up on an overpass in Oregon. San Diego mustered 25 people. A small group of protesters in Columbus, Ohio, were disappointed that so few people had showed up. About 15 people made it to the parking lot of the Mexican consulate in Little Rock; consulate officials and local police assured local news that they weren’t too concerned about needing additional security.

Meanwhile, Think Progress reporters in McClellan, Texas, ran into a group of three anti-immigrant demonstrators who wondered if they had gotten the wrong address for the protest. They were drowned out by the more than 60 people rallying in support of the refugee children at the border.

The protests this weekend were an attempt to create the illusion of widespread outrage at the children coming to the southern border and at the concept of immigration reform. A number of the protest groups, however small, garnered local news coverage and were able to say that they were part of a large nationwide effort. A look at reports from across the country shows that that was not the case.

The anti-immigrant movement, for all its smoke and mirrors, consists of a small network of closely tied advocacy groups who rely on fringe extremists like Gheen and Neighbors to rally scant amounts of grassroots support.

5. The GOP is still listening.

The anti-immigrant movement may be smoke and mirrors, but it has some very influential people fooled. House Speaker John Boehner still refuses to bring immigration reform up for a vote in the House. Ted Cruz now says that deporting DREAMers is his “top priority.” Republicans in Congress, spooked by the victory of ALIPAC-supported David Brat in Virginia, say that immigration reform is dead — even though an overwhelming percentage of Republicans want Congress to take action to fix the immigration system and a majority of Republicans want that to include a path to citizenship or permanent residency for undocumented immigrants.

The child refugee crisis has brought out the true colors of the anti-immigrant movement. Even as some conservative groups are urging compassion and care for the children fleeing to the southern border, Republican leaders seem to be buying the narrative of the small, Nativist anti-immigrant fringe.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 7/16/14

• Right-wing leaders including Jenny Beth Martin, Tony Perkins, Richard Viguerie and Ken Blackwell are urging RNC chairman Reince Priebus to investigate the Mississippi runoff election.

• Hazelton, Pennsylvania, may be on the hook for millions more dollars for its failed anti-immigrant policy.

• The Pew Research Center is out with new findings on the “feelings that members of America’s religious groups have about one another.”

• Tony Perkins says “President Obama has put the demands of this 3% [of LGBT people] before the entire nation and its interests.”

• Finally, Laurie Higgins urges parents to “flee from public school pornogogues pronto.”

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming…

The Right Wing Watch team is heading to Detroit for Netroots Nation, so we’ll be blogging less frequently for the rest of the week.

If you’re at Netroots, come visit us at the People For the American Way booth in the exhibit hall or find us on Twitter:

We’ll be back on Monday with all of the weekend’s news from the Right.

See you in Detroit!

Klingenschmitt: 'Penalty' For Homosexuality Is ‘Spiritual Death’

Gordon Klingenschmitt, who is the GOP nominee for a state legislative seat in Colorado, is obviously not pleased with the Colorado county clerks who have started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On his “Pray In Jesus Name” program yesterday, Klingenschmitt reminded the clerks that “homosexuality is not only an abomination, not only worthy of death,” but comes with a “penalty” that amounts to “spiritual death.”

“They say, ‘Oh, it’s all about love.’ No, it’s about lust, it’s about selfishness,” he said. “They don’t care about the other person, they want self-gratification for themselves, contrary to their own nature, contrary to what God designed for them. And they receive in themselves the penalty for that error.”

“The penalty for that sin is not just STDS or some biological curse, not just AIDS, but they receive into themselves the demonic spirit that rules their hearts, and with that comes ultimately the consequence of spiritual death.”

Klingenschmitt adds that he is just the “messenger” when he tells gay people that “you’re going to hell.”

Sandy Rios Suggests Treating Refugee Kids Like Lepers, Warns They Will Cause Death 'In Huge Numbers'

On her American Family Radio program this morning, Sandy Rios joined fellow anti-immigrant activists in spreading overblown fears about diseases being carried by the Central American refugees at the southern border.

Rios suggested that the child refugees should be quarantined like lepers used to be. “I think of biblical times, the lepers were separated — right or wrong — they were separated,” she said. "It was understood that leprosy was so contagious. So there’s nothing wrong with wanting to separate your children. We used to quarantine people when they had diseases.”

“We’re such a healthy people that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be diseased and die from those diseases in huge numbers,” she said, “but we’re going to learn, I think, again.”

She went on to lament that the children are being transported in the “same planes that you and I fly in.”

“How do we know about lice and disease before they get on public transportation?” she added.

Gabrielle Giffords' Husband Urges Lawmakers To Reject Support From Gun Owners Of America

Earlier this year, we reported on Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt’s response to hearing that Rep. Carolyn Maloney was afraid of getting shot by a member of his group.

“That’s probably a healthy fear for them to have,” Pratt said of members of Congress who fear assassination, in an interview with radio host Bill Cunningham. “You know, I’m kind of glad that’s in the back of their minds. Hopefully they’ll behave.”

This week, the quote made it into Rolling Stone’s great profile of Pratt’s career of extremism and caught the eye of Mark Kelly, whose wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured in an assassination attempt in 2011.

Understandably upset by Pratt’s comfort with threats of gun violence to members of Congress, Kelly issued statement yesterday urging lawmakers to reject contributions from GOA.

“No matter where you stand on policies that reduce gun violence, Larry Pratt’s view that our leaders should live in fear of gun violence is an affront to all responsible gun owners, Gabby and me included,” Kelly wrote.

“No candidate for office should accept the support of Larry Pratt’s organization again.”

UPDATE: Rep. Maloney has called for an investigation into Pratt's comments, which, of course, GOA has responded to by accusing her of being "foolish" and lacking an "understanding...regarding key historical documents."

Pat Robertson: 'This Business About Safe Abortion Is Just Nonsense'

On today’s broadcast of the “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson weighed in on a proposed Democratic measure in the Senate to rein in unnecessary regulation of abortion clinics, an anti-choice legislative tactic that has succeeded in shutting down abortion providers across the country.

Robertson, apparently under the impression that abortion providers don’t have to be licensed medical technicians, said, “These clinics should be licensed. The people performing these procedures should be skilled medical technicians. This is carving up the most intimate part of a woman. And botched abortions lead to death."

He claimed that pro-choice people don’t actually want abortion to be safe: “This business about ‘safe abortion’ is just nonsense. They’re not talking about safe abortion, they’re talking about a full abortion for anybody, anytime, anywhere, and the American people don’t want that.”

Rep. Stockman: 'There Are More People Coming Across The Border Than We Sent In Invasion Of France'

Calling the influx of Central American child refugees at the southern border an “invasion of our nation,” Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) told WorldNetDaily yesterday that “there are more people coming across the border than those we sent in invasion of France” in World War II.

“There are more people coming across the border than invaded France in World War II,” he said. “That is an invasion of our nation.”

Stockman denied that the situation was a refugee crisis because “there are many U.S. cities that have a higher murder rate than Guatemala.”

WND Still Clinging To Last Birther Hope

Having utterly failed in years of attempts to prove that President Obama was born overseas, WorldNetDaily is now turning to a backup plan, claiming that it doesn’t matter where Obama was born because his father wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

Media Matters noted in 2011 that while years of legal precedence rejects the argument that Obama’s noncitizen father disqualifies him from being a “natural born citizen,” birthers are “ clinging… like grim death” to the theory.”

WND reporter Aaron Klein writes today in an article titled, “ Impeach Obama? Presidency Likely Illegal,” that “[t]he nation’s failure to explore the constitutional problems inherent in Obama’s candidacy coupled with the failure of the legislative and judicial branches to conduct an investigation into the matter may have set the stage for the president’s future disregard for the supreme law of the United States.”

One central point seems to be missing from the national conversation about impeaching President Obama for alleged violations of the Constitution.

When Obama was first proposed as a presidential candidate in 2007, the nation failed to have a meaningful debate concerning the serious constitutional issue of electing someone whose father was not a U.S. citizen.

According to correspondence from the original framers of the Constitution as well as Supreme Court rulings, the legal writings that helped establish the principles of the Constitution and even a Senate resolution affirmed by Obama himself, Obama likely does not qualify for the constitutional requirement that stipulates only a “natural born” citizen can serve as U.S. president.

In other words, Obama’s very presidency could itself be unconstitutional. And the matter has nothing to do with where the president was born.

The nation’s failure to explore the constitutional problems inherent in Obama’s candidacy coupled with the failure of the legislative and judicial branches to conduct an investigation into the matter may have set the stage for the president’s future disregard for the supreme law of the United States.

Janet Mefferd: Border Crisis, Voting Rights All Part Of Effort To 'Collapse The System'

On her radio show yesterday, Janet Mefferd read extensively from a recent article on the conservative site Western Journalism, which argues that the crisis of refugee children on the border and the landmark “Motor Voter” law are both parts of a concerted liberal plot to “collapse the system” in America.

“Is this what’s going on?” Mefferd asked. “Of course this is what’s going on. This is what they wanted.”

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