Thursday, June 24, 2010

Language, immigration and racism

A year and a half ago, we first got to know Arizona politician Russell Pearce when he accused one of our contributors and a co-author of having "fabricated" the results of a study showing that 19th c. immigrants did not instantly learn English, while evidence suggests that new immigrants learn English very quickly. Yup, he did that in print, in the Arizona Republic.

Pearce is now nationally famous as one of the people behind Arizona's anti-immigration law. Now the summer issue of the SPLC Report (that's the Southern Poverty Law Center, here) lays out some background on Pearce and the law. Turns out, old Russell is tight with Nazis. I don't mean 'soup nazi' nazis, but Nazi Nazis — like the National Alliance and the National Socialist Movement. (And when you're photographed hugging one of them, the word 'tight' can be taken pretty literally.) More directly, they report that a lawyer who helped draft the law is ultimately tied to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, another group closely associated with racists.

The language tie here is pretty indirect and this isn't exactly breaking news at this point, but it's important to peek at what's behind the very thin veil of legitimacy and respectability these people try to project. This is of course a small example of a much broader pattern, and this piece underscores from a different perspective.

Image from here, where you can read more about Pearce, if you'd like.

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