White extremists are awfully sneaky

The Orlando Sentinel (Florida) reports a police officer in Fruitland Park resigned last month after information connecting him to the Ku Klux Klan became public, leading to an internal investigation.  James Elkins, who had been doing some after-work recruiting work for the KKK, also serves as the local “district Kleagle” of his National Aryan Knights chapter.  Investigators released the below picture of Elkins, dressed in green hood and robe.

Not too far away, in Jacksonville (North Carolina), the Daily News reports a man named Kody Brittingham is in jail awaiting trial on armed robbery and breaking and entering charges stemming from his arrest last December.  His arrest upset his employer–the United States Marines–who searched the young man’s barracks and found a journal which “contained plans on how to kill the president, as well as white supremacist material.”  The Secret Serivce is now, apparently, investigating him as a “credible threat.”

The issue of violence-promoting, white supremacists infiltrating law enforcement has a long tradition to it.  The same groups have also initiated efforts to enter the military as well.  A few years back, the Southern Poverty Law Center frightened more than a few government officials in their intelligence report “A Few Bad Men.”  Despite the military’s “zero tolerance” policy for these racial organizations, the same hate groups encourage military participation in order to get free training for their members.  (By the way, the Rumsfeld Defense Department dismissed the report back in 2006.)

These stories both entered my inbox via the SPLC’s blog, Hate Watch.  It is a thorough and sad source, but one I rarely fail to miss.

The “Border Beat” (September 22, 2008)

If you had asked me last spring, I would have predicted that by now both major party nominees for president would be making the news on a weekly basis touting their stances on immigration and ripping apart those of their opponent.  By summer, the issue of immigration had started to fade away in the presidential contest, less a result of its “hot potato” status than the way more tabloid-like issues began to take prominence.  Now, with the economic downturn looking more like a kind of collapse, I don’t expect this diminished status will change.

The Bush administration’s ICE raids, however, continue to unleash an assortment of passions on either end of the political spectrum.  In addition, the impact of Latinos within U.S. society continues to grow.  So between ICE, the race for the White House, and the return of Ugly Betty, I’m sure there will be enough news for this weekly post.

Here is a round-up of some of the more interesting news and opinion pieces relating to Latinos in the United States this past week.

• “Displaced People: NAFTA’s Most Important Product” (No Sweat)
People are always asking me to explain why people are leaving specific parts of Latin America in such large numbers.  Here’s the biggest answer.

• “Bishops call for end to ICE Raids” (Rhode Island Catholic)
Before WWII, the history of the Catholic church and the Latino population in the United States was less than favorable.  They had been huge supporters of “Americanization” programs (highly racialized endeavors based upon white superiority and colored inferiority) and reflected the same kinds of institutional ignorance exhibited by government at large.  After WWII, though the formal hierarchy was slow to change, grassroots endeavors by priests and lay leadership began to write a different story.  Today, they remain near the forefront of the immigrants’ rights movement.

• “Edward Roybal is a big name around town” (LA Times)
Roybal was a serious Mexican American legend in politics and deserves all the posthumus accolades coming his way.  There will come a day when textbooks will do the same.

• “Dual citizenship growing-its pros, cons” (SF Chronicle)
This is a far more complicated issue than this article can address but you clearly get an idea of it from some of their informants.  The thing that kept echoing in my mind as I read it, however, was how many people in this country would see this as part of the growing problem of Latino immigrants coming to the U.S. to take jobs and not become “Americans.”

• “McCain-Palin ticket appeals to Hispanic American voters” (Pueblo Chieftain)
Former Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla is working hard to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.  He’s even written an opinion piece explaining how the Republican ticket is the right one for Latinos to buy.  Or does he mean only those who identify as “Hispanic American”?

• “Klansman’s Conviction In 1964 Case Overturned” (NPR)
This is a sad story as well as an example of a difficult dilemma in American jurisprudence.  The 2007 conviction of James Ford Seale for the 1964 murder of two black teenagers in Mississippi (Charles Moore and Henry Dee) has been overturned on grounds that the statute of limitations has expired.  It is a limiting, not to mention disrespectful, belief to imagine the legal system as the equivalent of justice.

Historical Photograph of the Week

Cesar Chavez, May 6, 1966. [Source.]

September 16 marked the 43rd anniversary of the start of the legendary strike which gave birth to the UFW, the union of agricultural workers Chavez made famous.  This is a beautiful shot, making the almost mythical labor leader into something of a normal man, human, young, and yet still somehow special.