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July 1, 2015 2

Mainstream Figures Demonize Hispanic Immigrants with Bigoted Rhetoric

Donald Trump

Don­ald Trump

There has been a back­lash against Don­ald Trump’s big­oted com­ments about Mex­i­cans in his kick­off cam­paign for the pres­i­dency.* How­ever, Trump is just one fig­ure who has been demo­niz­ing Mex­i­can immi­grants in the last few weeks. Polit­i­cal pun­dit Ann Coul­ter has a new book on The New York Times best­seller list that attacks the Latino com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly Mex­i­cans. Pat Buchanan, another polit­i­cal pun­dit has also weighed in on the issue.

When Trump announced his run for pres­i­dent on June 16, he referred to Mex­i­cans as rapists and crim­i­nals and accused them of bring­ing drugs into the U.S. Almost two weeks later, when try­ing to clar­ify his com­ments on CNN, he actu­ally extended his vit­riol toward other immi­grants. He said that peo­ple com­ing over the bor­der were “really bad. “ He added, “You have peo­ple com­ing in, and I’m not just say­ing Mex­i­cans, I’m talk­ing about peo­ple that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re com­ing into this country.”

Net­work tele­vi­sion sta­tions NBC and Uni­vi­sion sev­ered their ties with Trump due to his com­ments. How­ever, he is just one main­stream fig­ure who has attacked immi­grants in recent weeks. Coul­ter, a syn­di­cated colum­nist, gave her book the provoca­tive title, Adios, Amer­ica! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Coun­try into a Third World Hell­hole. In the book, Coul­ter makes sim­i­lar com­ments to Trump.

Coul­ter attacks His­panic cul­ture and then says, “How can any immi­grant assim­i­late if Amer­i­cans refuse to men­tion their lit­tle cul­tural annoy­ances such as lit­ter­ing, drunk dri­ving, and child rape.” In an inter­view on the Fusion show, “Amer­ica with Jorge Ramos,” the host ques­tioned Coulter’s asser­tion that Amer­i­cans should fear Mex­i­cans more than the ter­ror­ist group ISIS.

In response, Coul­ter said, “I have a lit­tle tip. If you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria. If you don’t want to be killed by a Mex­i­can, there’s noth­ing I can tell you.”

Another polit­i­cal pun­dit and syn­di­cated colum­nist, Pat Buchanan, has also added his own view on the issue of immi­gra­tion. Buchanan wrote a recent col­umn titled “Is Third World Amer­ica Inevitable?” In it, he praises Coulter’s book and says that “if the next pres­i­dent embraces amnesty and a path to cit­i­zen­ship for ille­gal immi­grants, that will mean the end to Amer­ica as the West­ern nation we have been, and the begin­ning of America’s life as what Ann calls, unapolo­get­i­cally, a ‘Third World hellhole.’”

Taken together, these com­ments demon­strate that anti-immigrant rhetoric is not just an issue for white suprema­cists and other extrem­ists but is very much a part of the main­stream. While you have a Con­sti­tu­tional right to be a bigot in this coun­try, there are usu­ally social and eco­nomic con­se­quences.  Trump has paid a price for his bigotry.

* As a 501(c )(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

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June 30, 2015 3

Texas’ “Pastor Protection Act” Is Far From Innocuous

In antic­i­pa­tion of the U.S. Supreme Court sanc­tion­ing mar­riage equal­ity, Texas Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott recently signed into law “the Pas­tor Pro­tec­tion Act.”  At the sign­ing cer­e­mony, the Gov­er­nor stated “I am proud to sign into law SB 2065 … to ensure that clergy in Texas can­not be forced to vio­late their reli­gious beliefs.”   Based on the governor’s state­ments, the law appears to be noth­ing more than a mere cod­i­fi­ca­tion of exist­ing First Amend­ment rights.  But on closer exam­i­na­tion, this overly broad law likely sanc­tions dis­crim­i­na­tion in the mar­ket­place against les­bian, gay, bisex­ual, and trans­gen­der (LGBT) peo­ple, as well as other groups.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott

The new law applies to clergy, reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions and their employ­ees, and “… an orga­ni­za­tion super­vised or con­trolled by or in con­nec­tion with a reli­gious orga­ni­za­tion. “  It pro­hibits sanc­tions against any of these indi­vid­u­als or enti­ties that refuse to “sol­em­nize any mar­riage or pro­vide ser­vices, accom­mo­da­tions, facil­i­ties, goods, or priv­i­leges for a pur­pose related to the sol­em­niza­tion, for­ma­tion, cel­e­bra­tion of any mar­riage” based on a vio­la­tion of their “… sin­cerely held reli­gious beliefs.”

The right of clergy, houses of wor­ship and their employ­ees to only sol­em­nize, par­tic­i­pate in or rec­og­nize mar­riages that adhere to their faith has always been the law of the land.  Just as the First Amend­ment allows a rabbi to refuse mar­riage of an inter­faith cou­ple or a priest to sim­i­larly refuse the mar­riage of a divorced per­son, noth­ing in Supreme Court’s mar­riage deci­sion abridges that right in the con­text of mar­riage equal­ity.   Indeed, those rights were explic­itly acknowl­edged in the Court’s opin­ion and at the oral argu­ment in Oberge­fell v. Hodges.

How­ever, the Pas­tor Pro­tec­tion Act goes well beyond these sacro­sanct First Amend­ment rights.  The new law likely applies to religiously-affiliated orga­ni­za­tions and schools.  Fur­ther­more, it makes no dis­tinc­tion among enti­ties that are run for-profit or open them­selves to the pub­lic.  So under the law a religiously-affiliated uni­ver­sity  that rents a ban­quet hall to the pub­lic for wed­dings could legally refuse a same-sex cou­ple or other reli­gious minori­ties.  The same would be true for a com­mer­cial wed­ding chapel.   That’s not reli­gious free­dom, but rather government-sanctioned dis­crim­i­na­tion.  And unlike reli­gious or racial minori­ties, same-sex cou­ples in Texas have no fed­eral recourse against such discrimination.

The mar­riage equal­ity deci­sion strictly con­cerned the right to civil mar­riage.  But cloaked in slo­gans such as “free­dom to wor­ship,” “sacred rights” or “pas­tor pro­tec­tion,” oppo­nents of civil mar­riage equal­ity are using the Supreme Court’s deci­sion as an oppor­tu­nity to impose their reli­gious views about mar­riage on our nation’s plu­ral­is­tic mar­ket­place.   Regret­tably the Pas­tor Pro­tec­tion Act is only the begin­ning of a tor­rent of state leg­is­la­tion that is sure to come.

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June 24, 2015 0

It is Time to End Confederate Flag License Plates

Flickr photo credit:  J. Stephen Conn

Flickr photo credit: J. Stephen Conn

At least eight states have spe­cialty license plates bear­ing the Con­fed­er­ate flag.  In the wake of the sav­age hate crime against mem­bers of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, how­ever, Gov­er­nors from four of these states (MD, NC, TN and VA) have pub­licly stated they want to dis­con­tinue these plates or remove images of the flag from them.  End­ing Con­fed­er­ate flag plates is not only the right thing to do, but in light of a June 18th U.S. Supreme Court deci­sion — Walker v. Texas Divi­sion, Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans – it poses no legal issues.

The Con­fed­er­ate flag  is a potent sym­bol of slav­ery and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very pop­u­lar among white suprema­cists in the 20th and 21st cen­turies.  State license plates bear­ing the flag only serve to endorse it and implic­itly con­vey accep­tance of racism and hatred. In the 21st Cen­tury, no gov­ern­ment entity should dis­play or be asso­ci­ated with any sym­bol of hate.  And they have no First Amend­ment oblig­a­tion to dis­play such symbols.

In the Walker deci­sion, the Supreme Court ruled that spe­cialty license plates are solely gov­ern­ment speech.  As a result, the State of Texas was not required to accept a spe­cialty plate bear­ing the Con­fed­er­ate flag.

In reach­ing this con­clu­sion, the Court wisely stated:

[A] per­son who dis­plays a mes­sage on a Texas license plate likely intends to con­vey to the pub­lic that the State has endorsed that mes­sage.  If not, the indi­vid­ual could sim­ply dis­play the mes­sage in ques­tion in larger let­ters on a bumper sticker right next to the plate.

 Every Amer­i­can cer­tainly has the First Amend­ment right to dis­play vir­tu­ally any sym­bol on his or her car – even hate­ful ones.  But hate sym­bols, such as the Con­fed­er­ate flag, have no place on any offi­cial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or doc­u­ment no mat­ter how seem­ingly innocu­ous.   The Gov­er­nors and leg­is­la­tors of all states with Con­fed­er­ate flag license plates should expe­di­tiously work to dis­con­tinue them.

 

 

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