June 16, 2009

Those upstanding nativists and xenophobes employed by the John Tanton Network -- and particularly the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which was designated a hate group by the SPLC awhile back -- have been complaining vigorously about how unfairly they are being treated. Why, they have nothing to do with the manifest racism swirling around the immigration debate -- so they claim.

But the recent arrest of Minuteman offshoot leader Shawna Forde for the murder of an Arizona man and his 9-year-old daughter -- part of a broader plan to rob drug dealers and use the money to finance their Minuteman operations -- has ripped the veneer off the fake walls these nativists use to pretend that they have nothing to do with the racists who seem to swell their ranks as though they belonged there naturally. (Funny thing, that.)

Back in 2006, you see, Forde appeared at a public "town hall" forum on immigration in Yakima, Wash., a central-Washington city whose main economy is agricultural, particularly apple orchards. As Jackie Mahendra at America's Voice notes, she was presented as a "spokesperson for FAIR" as well as the Minutemen.

As you can see from the video above, Forde was outrageously incendiary, accusing immigrants of bringing crime and disease to the state and costing taxpayers in health-care costs, particularly for their "anchor babies."

At one point, host Enrique Cerna asked Forde:

Cerna: Shawna, let me ask you about the issue of economics. You've heard constraints from growers, you know, that the apple harvest is very important in this state, particularly in this region. What do you say to the growers?

Forde: We've got a prison system. Let's utilize it.

She later wrapped up with this:

Forde: I'd like to see two things on there. Not just about the people who came here legally, and are here legally, but how about the Americans who have been affected and died because of the illegal invasion in our country? How about our sovereignty?

And securing our borders and protecting our nation is extremely important. And I know the Minutemen and many organizations will not stop -- we will start at the local level and work our way up -- we will not stop until we get the results that we need to have.

However, it was unclear to me if Forde really was a FAIR representative or whether she had just lied about that, as seems to be her pattern in many instances.

But in untangling the puzzle, what emerged was a clear portrait of FAIR officials commingling freely with Minutemen and the many seedy characters who occupy their ranks -- so much so that what they become is a "respectable" front organization for a ragtag bunch of thuggish nativists.

I first contacted FAIR's national spokesman, Ira Mehlman, who happens to live in Seattle also. He absolutely denied that Forde had anything to do with his organization. When I told him that Shawna was represented as having been a spokesperson for FAIR, he said: "No, she wasn't."

Mehlman: I don't know who she is, I never heard of her, and she certainly wasn't speaking for FAIR. ... I have never heard of her name, never met her, never spoken to her.

So I then contacted Enrique Cerna, and asked if he could remember how it was that Forde came to be on the program, and how she was identified as a "spokesperson" for FAIR.

Cerna: She actually wasn't going to be on that show. They put her in there at the last minute. The fellow who originally was supposed to be on [Bob Baker, the state's FAIR representative]. What happened was that he wasn't able to make it ... and then they had to scramble on that day to find somebody, and then, I don't know how they picked her but they ended up picking her. And so, the day that we did it, it was kind of a last-minute thing. There were a lot of phone calls. So they put her in there, and we didn't really know a lot about her. And it was very quickly apparent that she was very, um, right-wing.

So I contacted Baker, who in 2006 was heading up an (ultimately unsuccessful) effort to pass a statewide anti-immigrant initiative. He similarly couldn't remember how Forde got picked for that show, but he said he was dismayed by her performance:

Baker: She did not represent FAIR. I am the state representative for FAIR. If that's how she represented herself, then she misrepresented who she was.

I called them -- at the time I was a reserve pilot. I was going to be on the panel, and I got called, so I couldn't be on it. I certainly didn't recommend her, I don't know how she got put on the panel.

Baker described his own experience with Forde, which included her being booted from the Minutemen. I asked Baker why Forde was removed, and he answered vaguely that she had tried to claim being spokesman for the Washington state Minutemen too, as well as other unspecified interpersonal issues the Minuteman leadership had with her. But he also spoke warmly about her:

Baker: She's very zealous towards the rule of law. You know, illegal immigration is systematically destroying our country. And she was just, like many of us -- you know, maybe she was a little too zealous, perhaps.

I then described to him the details of the crime she's charged with: Ordering a home-invasion robbery in which the victims, including two children, were to be gunned down so that there would be not witnesses. The result: a 9-year-old girl and her father dead, their mother wounded -- and a wounded member of the gang, shot when the mother fired back.

He said: "Ah, that's not her. She wouldn't do something like that. That's what a common criminal would do, right?"

Yes, well, it is. As I remarked to Baker: that's one helluva way for someone to show her zealousness for "the rule of law."

But then, that's something I've noticed about the anti-immigrant nativist Right in general. Seems the only "rule of law" they care about enforcing is the law that keeps out brown people.

The ADL has good backgrounder on Forde. Meanwhile, it appears her gunman, Jason Eugene "Gunny" Bush, is being charged with an old murder in eastern Washington. And it appears he may have been involved in the old Aryan Nations organization in northern Idaho, too. Swell:

Bush spent time in prison after the homicide for a variety of crimes, including auto theft, assault and weapons violations. After release he moved to Northern Idaho, and the Hayden Lake, where he lived until 2007, the affidavit said.

Wenatchee police "learned Bush has had long standing ties to Aryan Nations groups that commonly believe in white superiority over other races and have been known to be violent towards non-white races. He espoused these beliefs to associates in Wenatchee in 1997," the affidavit said.

You see, it isn't just an accident that the Minutemen have to constantly try to chase out their neo-Nazis. They draw them like flies for a reason. And we can all smell what it is.

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