Hate Speech Archives
Hate crimes have been galvanizing the Latino community since before SB1070 as was the case with the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez. On July 12, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death when two white teenagers attacked him in the street, kicking and hitting him while members of the group yelled racial slurs. Ramirez died from the injuries he sustained in that hateful attack. A video detailing the brutal attack on Ramirez from the special program “Odio a Muerte” hosted by Maria Elena Salinas on Univision can be found here with subtitles in English.
Hate Group Numbers Up By 54% Since 2000
The number of hate groups operating in the United States continued to rise in 2008 and has grown by 54 percent since 2000 — an increase fueled last year by immigration fears, a failing economy and the successful campaign of Barack Obama, according to the "Year in Hate" issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report released today.
The SPLC identified 926 hate groups active in 2008, up more than 4 percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000. A list and interactive, state-by-state map of these groups can be viewed here.
As in recent years, hate groups were animated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise in hate groups has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics.
Two new factors were introduced to the volatile hate movement in 2008: the faltering economy and the Obama campaign.
"Barack Obama's election has inflamed racist extremists who see it as another sign that their country is under siege by non-whites," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right. "The idea of a black man in the White House, combined with the deepening economic crisis and continuing high levels of Latino immigration, has given white supremacists a real platform on which to recruit."
Several white supremacists have been arrested while allegedly plotting to kill Obama, and following the election he received more threats than any previous president-elect. Scores of racially charged incidents — beatings, effigy burnings, racist graffiti, threats and intimidation — were reported across the country after the election.
Extremists are also exploiting the economic crisis, spreading propaganda that blames minorities and immigrants for the subprime mortgage meltdown. Tough economic times historically provide fertile ground for extremist movements.
As this issue of the Intelligence Report points out, minority-bashing propaganda can spread rapidly through the media, even when it has no basis in fact. The issue examines the widespread media reporting of a false claim that undocumented immigrants held 5 million bad mortgages and were, therefore, responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis.
The hate groups listed in this issue include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other groups target gays or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.
Hate Crimes Against Latinos at New Record Levels
The annual Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Hate Crimes Statistics Report released yesterday documents the continued rise of crimes that police report are motivated by bias against Hispanics. In 2007, local police reported to the FBI that there were 830 victims of anti-Hispanic crimes in 595 incidents around the nation. Both of these numbers represent increases over the previous year and surpass previous highs dating back to when annual reports were first mandated by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.
According to the report, in 2007, Hispanics comprised 61.7 percent of victims of crimes motivated by a bias toward the victims’ ethnicity or national origin. In 2004, the comparable figure was 51.5 percent. Since 2003, the number of both victims of anti-Hispanic crimes and incidents increased by nearly 40 percent.
Earlier this year, Luis Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant who was engaged to be married to the U.S. citizen mother of his two small children, was beaten to death by a group of white teenagers in Shenandoah, PA. According to witnesses and local reports, he was accosted on the evening of July 12 and suffered fatal blows to the head and other parts of the body while the perpetrators shouted racial and ethnic epithets. MALDEF successfully requested the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the killing as a hate crime and the local District Attorney has filed murder and ethnic intimidation charges in the slaying. The trial will take place in the coming months.
“Hispanics are under assault in America’s neighborhoods,” stated MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña. “Heightened anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by cable and radio talk show hosts, coupled with local police efforts to enforce federal immigration law, leaves members of our communities more in danger with less protection than ever before. The FBI report makes the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform more critical to our community’s safety and the nation’s future. It must be a priority for the next President and Congress.”
The report goes on to demonstrate the steady growth of anti-Hispanic hate crimes after 2003.
2007: 595 anti-Hispanic crimes against 830 victims
2006: 576 anti-Hispanic crimes against 819 victims
2005: 522 anti-Hispanic crimes against 722 victims
2004: 475 anti-Hispanic crimes against 646 victims
2003: 426 anti-Hispanic crimes against 595 victims
2002: 480 anti-Hispanic crimes against 639 victims
For the full report, click here.
Letter From The Director - Fighting Hate Speech
The media in Philadelphia is salivating over a scandal involving a City Councilman and his aide. Media attention of the accusations, which involve wasting taxpayer dollars and verbal attacks on reporters, are newsworthy. But the hate-filled posts from readers on newspaper web sites about the pair, who are black, has me wondering: shouldn’t newspapers respond when racist or hateful speech is posted on their web sites by anonymous users?
For years, the National Hispanic Media Coalition has called out broadcasters when pundits like Michael Savage, Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly spout hate speech designed to fuel anti-immigrant sentiment. NHMC and their allies have seen the impact these racist rants have on people’s lives. Hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise.
At a roundtable discussion hosted by NHMC last month, the ACLU, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center and many MDC member groups grappled with ways to stop hate speech without trampling on First Amendment rights. The groups are investigating if boycotts, educational campaigns, advertiser advocacy, and other tactics could lead to responsible broadcasting.
NHMC and its allies have their hands full with that effort, which is primarily focused on television and radio outlets. That’s a big job, and they can use your help.
Personally, I am going to track more closely how my local paper handles hateful posts on-line. By getting a better sense of how prevalent these posts are, advocates fighting hate speech in the media may be able to formulate a response. For example, this evidence could be used to ask newspaper editors to monitor content more closely, and ensure that civic discourse does not become clouded by hate-filled rants.
An Ugly Spinoff - Immigration Debate As Catalyst For Hate Crimes
The poison of hate has no place in the immigration debate. And yet, unfortunately, it has always found a home there.
It's common for human beings to fear the foreign or the different, and for fear to be supplanted by hatred. But what is not natural, and should never be shrugged off, is for people to resort to violence to show their displeasure with those who have a different skin color or practice a different religion or speak a different language.
There is something profoundly unnatural about what happened July 12 in the 5,000-population town of Shenandoah, Pa. That is where a 25-year-old illegal immigrant named Luís Ramírez was beaten by at least six teenagers who hurled racial slurs as they pounded and kicked him until he had convulsions and foamed at the mouth. These thugs stomped the father of two so hard that an imprint of the Jesus medallion he wore around his neck was imbedded on his chest. Ramírez died a few days later, leaving behind his kids and his American fiancee.
Trying to do damage control, town officials initially called it a fight that went too far. But it's obvious that this was more than that. It looks and smells like a hate crime, especially since the teens are said to have made a point of telling Ramírez to “go back to Mexico,” calling him a “dirty Mexican” and warning other Mexican residents to do likewise or wind up like Ramírez.
Authorities see a racial bias in this case, which is why they charged 16-year-old Brandon J. Piekarsky and 17-year-old Colin J. Walsh with homicide and 18-year-old Derrick M. Donchak with aggravated assault. All three are charged with ethnic intimidation and will be tried as adults.
The case has a familiar ring. In April 2006, a 16-year-old Mexican-American named David Ritcheson was viciously attacked in Houston by two racist skinheads, David Henry Tuck and Robert Turner, after he tried to kiss a white girl. According to news reports, Tuck broke Ritcheson's jaw, knocking him unconscious, while screaming “white power!” and calling Ritcheson a “spic” and a “wetback.” Turner joined in the attack, and the two young men burned Ritcheson with cigarettes, kicked him with steel-toed boots, poured bleach on him and tried to carve a swastika into his chest. They finally sodomized him with a patio umbrella pole.
Tuck was sentenced to life in prison. Turner got 90 years. Nearly a year and a half after the attack, Ritcheson committed suicide.
Back in Shenandoah, the local Hispanic community is outraged about what happened to Luís Ramírez, demanding an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. That may be warranted. If what happened there constitutes a federal hate crime, then it should be treated as such.
But let's not miss the big picture. It is no coincidence that this kind of ugliness coincides with an immigration debate that makes scapegoats out of those who come into the country illegally.
These people aren't innocent. But nor are they the villains in this drama. That title is reserved for those who prey on the weak and use violence to make their point.
Hate Crimes on the Rise: Report Links Increase to Anger...
With anti-immigrant sentiment at a steady boil across the nation, it’s not surprising that hate crimes targeting Latinos are on the rise. New FBI statistics suggest a 35 percent increase in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2006.
Nor is it surprising that hate groups are once again on the march. A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that 888 hate groups are operating in this country, including 11 in Oregon. That is 44 more than the center counted in 2006 and 286 more than in 2000.
Anger over immigration has been a feature of American life for years. That anger has intensified since last year’s congressional meltdown over immigration reform.
Thoughtful people can disagree about, and respectfully debate, immigration policy: What’s the best way to secure this country’s borders? How many foreigners should be admitted and for what purpose? What should be done with the 13 million illegal immigrants already in this country?
But extreme sentiments, once the exclusive province of white supremacists, have begun to seep into the mainstream. They’ve become the common verbal currency of nativist immigration-reform activists, talk radio hosts, cable TV commentators and even elected officials who smear immigrants as criminal aliens, invaders, terrorists and cockroaches — human detritus whose dangerous, lawless presence must be swept from this country.
Few go so far as to actually endorse violence against immigrants. But no one should be deceived — that’s the inevitable result of dehumanizing rhetoric, as white nationalist, racist skinhead and an array of other groups are agitated by the anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The presidential primaries have done distressingly little to address this problem, and, in some instances, have fanned the flames.
With the exception of Sen. John McCain, now the presumptive nominee, Republican presidential candidates seemed determined to out-tough each other on immigration. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who once supported financial aid for illegal immigrant students, offered up a “Secure America Plan” that required the expulsion of all illegal immigrants within 120 days. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who once supported a Senate bill that provided undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship, declared during the primaries that he despised amnesty.
Even McCain, who took heavy fire for his co-sponsorship of a bipartisan immigration bill that would have provided a means to grant legal status to illegal immigrants, distanced himself from talk of legalization, focusing instead on get-tough border enforcement.
Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have done better than the Republicans, with both committing to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But they have tiptoed around many of the difficult, complex issues that must be addressed by serious immigration reform.
Ultimately, the blame for the recent surge in anti-immigrant sentiment reflects back on Congress, which failed to pass a comprehensive reform bill that despite its flaws contained workable fixes for the border and workplace, and a coherent strategy for dealing with the illegal immigrants who are already here through a demanding path to earned citizenship.
When Congress failed to pass an immigration reform supported by President Bush last year, lawmakers understood it was their last chance to act — that the presidential race would make it impossible to address the issue until 2009 at the earliest, and perhaps later. They knew state and local governments would fill the void in federal leadership by approving their own mishmash of laws, most of them punitive and none capable of fixing a broken immigration system that’s becoming more dysfunctional by the day.
Because of Congress’ failure, this nation is increasingly divided over immigration, hate groups are proliferating, and bias crimes against Latinos are on the rise. In this year’s elections, Americans should choose candidates for both Congress and the White House who will help make true reform a reality and begin healing a nation that has been too long and too deeply torn over immigration.
Hate Radio's Bigotry Against Hispanics
On Monday, hate radio king Rush Limbaugh appeared on Fox News for five minutes to discuss the presidential race and managed to make an offensive comment. Limbaugh called Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who is Hispanic, a "shoe shine guy." Yesterday, Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, blasted Limbaugh for uttering "the same kind of nasty, bigoted, racist type comment that has become so prevalent in today's society, as practiced by Lou Dobbs, as practiced by [Sean] Hannity, [Bill] O'Reilly, [Michael] Savage." Racial slurs, particularly fueled against Hispanics, has found a home on right-wing radio, which claims 91 percent of radio airwaves. The nation's leading Hispanic advocacy group, National Council of La Raza, launched a campaign earlier this year decrying right-wing radio for its "rhetoric that demonizes immigrants and Hispanic Americans." "Talk like Savage's, or Limbaugh's or O'Reilly's, has become routine, even systematic, and certainly a big business. According to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the top five radio station owners that control 45 powerful, 50,000-watt or more radio stations broadcast 310 hours of nationally syndicated right-wing talk. But they broadcast only a total of five hours of countervailing talk," Salon reported. Yet these talkers are rarely held to account: For example, neither ABC, Time, nor Politico mentioned the offensive remarks when reporting on Limbaugh's TV commentary this week. Progressive radio host Mario Solis-Marich wrote Tuesday, "As a member of the largest minority ethnic group and a member of the media, I am continually puzzled and outraged by the idea that anyone can say anything about Latinos without fearing any consequence."
DEMAGOGUING IMMIGRATION: A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found, "Thanks to energetic opposition from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage, immigration was the biggest topic, at 16%, on conservative talk radio in the second quarter" of last year -- when conservative radio led the effort to defeat congressional comprehensive immigration reform, largely by resorting to fear and hatred. Radio host Neal Boortz urged listeners to help defeat "this illegal alien amnesty bill" and "yank out the welcome mat." Speaking of undocumented immigrants he said, "Give 'em all a little nuclear waste and let 'em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell 'em...it'll heat tortillas." Michael Savage repeatedly exhorted listeners to "burn a Mexican flag" and to "tell them to go back to where they came from." CNN's Glenn Beck, who also has a radio show, took particular issue with Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) support for the immigration bill (though McCain has since changed positions), deriding the senator as "Juan McCain." Beck called McCain's support for the bill and the fact that his national director of Hispanic outreach was of Mexican background "an audacious slap in the face."
A 'RACE WAR': Right-wing radio's discussion of immigration often veers away from policy to focus on race. Savage once warned his listeners, "The European-American, or the white person, is being erased from America's future...There is a racial element to the immigration invasion, at least I see it that way." Discussing a pro-immigrant parade in L.A., O'Reilly said, "So now, it's becoming a race war." O'Reilly also accused supporters of immigration -- "who hate America...because it's run primarily by white, Christian men" -- of seeking "to change the complexion...of America." These hatemongers have made clear their primary concern: maintaining a white majority. Just this year, Fox News's John Gibson gave "a big round of applause" on his radio show to the "non-Hispanic white women" who were having babies, which he said vindicated his call on "the dominant, or largest population sector, which is Caucasians," to "make more babies." "And what happens to white people?" Savage wondered. "That's the real question here. Will our brown brethren, who are so nationalistic and so anti-gringo and anti-Anglo, be as enlightened as the European-American is? I don't think so."
HEALTH SCARE: Right-wing radio hosts have also -- wrongly -- claimed that illegal immigrants should be kept out of the United States because they bring strange diseases in. O'Reilly agreed with a caller into his radio show who said that illegal immigration "surpasses the impact of 9/11" because "each one of these people is a biological weapon." The caller claimed that that "illegals crossing the border" are bringing "tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy." O'Reilly agreed, and said there was "an absolutely airtight case" that more Americans "have either been killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here," than died on 9/11. (O'Reilly later insisted he "never said anything like that.") Last summer, CNN's Lou Dobbs repeatedly claimed that there were "7,000" cases of leprosy in the U.S. in the last three years, and suggested the cases were due to illegal immigrants. When confronted with a CBS analysis that found only 7,000 cases of leprosy in the last 30 years -- and an unknown number involving illegal immigrants -- Dobbs simply replied, "If we reported it, it's a fact."
Commentary: The Ugly Mexican-American Immigration Debate
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- In an episode of the television show "Seinfeld," Jerry Seinfeld worries that his dentist has converted to Judaism so he can tell jokes about Jewish people. Someone asks Seinfeld, "And this offends you as a Jewish person?" No, he says, "it offends me as a comedian."
As a Mexican-American, that's how I feel when someone takes note of my support for comprehensive immigration reform, or my opposition to absurd "solutions" to the immigration problem, and concludes that I'm more Mexican than American.
Anyone who thinks there is no racism in this debate should read my e-mail. You'd find that readers say things to me they'd probably never say to a columnist who wasn't Latino. Like this: "You want your people here and despite your convoluted attempts to justify your position, you clearly don't give a whit on how they get here." Or this: "You keep justifying the illegal immigrants because you are a Mexican." Or this: "It is soooo obvious that you are a racist who is ONLY looking out for "your" people!"
Others suggest that I wouldn't be so quick to defend illegal immigrants if so many of them hadn't come from Mexico, or suggest that U.S-born Latinos like me have a vested interest in "bringing in your relatives" or in using immigration to increase the size and power of the U.S. Hispanic population. Others accuse me of having a secret agenda.
They're half right. I do have an agenda, but it's no secret. I've written op-eds and columns for nearly 20 years, and I still write 15,000 words a month.
My views are well-known. As an opinion writer, my agenda is to expose shameful politicians who use immigration to scare up votes, to be skeptical of feel-good solutions that don't work, and -- consistent with the journalist creed -- to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
My agenda is to demand what this debate really needs: more honesty, an end to hypocrisy, a ban on simple solutions, to be purged of racism and nativism, and an understanding that our anger should be aimed not at people but at government.
My agenda is to make sure that illegal immigrants, whatever their ethnicity, not be treated as scapegoats, picked on, or unfairly blamed for all of society's ills while we turn ourselves inside out making excuses for their accomplices -- the employers who hire them.
As a Mexican-American, I needn't choose between being Mexican and American. I'm both. But, it's true: I am more one than the other. As an American, I care about the little guy; Mexico doesn't. As an American, I recognize the positive impact of legal immigration; Mexico doesn't. As an American, I care about fairness and stamping out racism and prejudice; Mexico doesn't. In the country that nearly 100 years ago cast afloat my Mexican grandfather, there are winners and losers; in mine, we take it as fact that with hard work and sacrifice, anyone can win.
Some assume that the ugly tone of the immigration debate offends me as a Mexican. No. It offends me as an American.
Intelligence Report: Hate Group Numbers Up by 48% Since 2000
March 10, 2008 – Led by three states on the southern border, the number of hate groups operating in America has swelled by 48 percent since 2000, a staggering increase mainly attributable to the anti-immigrant fervor sweeping the country, according to the "Year in Hate" issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report released today.
The latest annual count by the SPLC found the number of hate groups operating in America rose to 888 last year, up 5 percent from the 844 groups in 2006 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000. At the same time, new FBI statistics suggest a 35 percent rise in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2006. Experts believe that such crimes are typically carried out by people who think they are attacking immigrants. "Hate groups continue to successfully exploit the immigration debate to their advantage, even though the immigration issue has largely disappeared from the presidential debate," said Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC's Intelligence Report, an investigative journal that monitors the radical right. "The fact is that they've been aided and abetted by mainstream pundits and politicians who give these haters a platform for their propaganda."
The greatest growth in hate groups came in California, Arizona and Texas, which had jumps of 27 percent, 70 percent, and 22 percent, respectively. This issue of the Intelligence Report also includes profiles of 20 of the country's most influential anti-immigrant activists — the latest wave to join the movement (another set of nativist profiles was published in the Report's Winter 2005 issue).
These hardliners, ranging in age from 25 to 81, have advocated everything from forcibly sterilizing Mexican women to mining the U.S.-Mexican border. In the past three years, there have been some 300 anti-immigration groups founded; about half of that number are listed by the SPLC as "nativist extremist" groups. Some of these organizations are also listed as hate groups.
The most prominent name added to the hate group list this year is that of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a group that has become one of the leading anti-immigration voices in the country but has for years had strong ties to white supremacists and white supremacist ideology.
The new issue of the Report lists each of the 888 groups operating in the United States and includes a U.S. map showing their locations. The groups include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other groups target gays or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.
The Year in Hate - Active U.S. Hate Groups Rise to 888 in 2007
Sheriff's deputies gunned down by "Aryan" gangsters in Bastrop, La. Tax protesters with bombs arrested in New Hampshire. Gun-toting white supremacists marching in Jena, La. A police officer murdered in Salt Lake City. Nativist leaders demanding sniper teams and mines along the Mexican border. Calls for assassinating politicians, immigrants and Jews. Rapidly spreading racist conspiracy theories.
The end of 2007 brought to a close another year marked by staggering levels of racist hate in America. Even as several major hate groups struggled to survive, other new groups appeared, and the radical right as a whole appeared to grow.
The latest annual count by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found that the number of hate groups operating in America rose to 888 last year, up 5% from 844 groups in 2006. That capped an increase of 48% since 2000 — a hike from 602 groups attributable to the exploitation by hate groups of the continuing debate about immigration. And it comes on top of some 300 other anti-immigration groups, about half listed by SPLC as "nativist extremist,"
At the same time, FBI statistics suggested that there was a 35% rise in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2006. Experts believe that such crimes are typically carried out by people who think they are attacking immigrants.
Click here to read the full report.
More Advertisers Pull Out of Savage Show
Another five radio advertisers have joined a growing list of companies that do not want their ads associated with Michael Savage's national radio show, Savage Nation, syndicated by Talk Radio Network. The advertisers denounced any support of the show as a result of a coordinated campaign aimed at Savage's remarks against Muslims and other groups by organizations such as Hate Hurts America Community, and Interfaith Coalition, which made the announcement Friday.
The five advertisers, ITT Technical Institute, Chattem, Inc. (Gold Bond, Icy Hot and Selsun Blue); Union Bank of California, Intuit (TurboTax and QuickBooks); and GEICO Insurance, said they dropped the spots after they were contacted by visitors to the Web site http://nosavage.org. The site has audio clips from Savage's radio show as well as printed excerpts. Other advertisers that have that have directed their spots not air adjacent Savage's program include Citrix, US Cellular, Sprint Nextel, Sears, Universal Orlando Resorts, AutoZone, JCPenney, OfficeMax, Wal-Mart and AT&T.
Bill Crawford, executive vp of Talk Radio Network, said none of those national advertisers took spots in Savage's national show in the first place. "We're sold out. Savage's ratings are through the roof," he said.
Savage, who is the third largest Talk show personality in America, has been under attack since last fall for his comments, which were made available on the Internet by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Savage responded by filing a lawsuit against the Council for violating his copyright. He's reportedly lost at least $1 million in revenue because of the advertiser boycott.