Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Mixed Messages and Ironic Arrogance
As our city "leaders" keep kicking the can of immigration screening down the street, we are seeing some very interesting
approaches taken to address this issue.
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For example, on one hand, our police chief, John Hensley, is scheduling outreach meetings for himself and his staff, apparently
in an attempt to provide accurate information to the residents of this city to turn down the flames of discontent. At the
same time, our young jailer/mayor is heading in the other direction. Tonight he's scheduled to speak before the California
Coalition for Immigration Reform and will likely pour gasoline on those same flames as he echoes his vacuous mantra, dismayed
at how anyone could disagree with him, since he's only "trying to make our city safer". Of course, he will be preaching
to the choir tonight, since representatives from the CCIR practically grovel at his feet these days and will likely begin
building a shrine to him in the near future.
Then, a local rabble-rouser who defines himself as an activist - kind of like a wolf in sheep's clothing - found himself the
subject of controversy once again last Sunday, as the venerable Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion, did a cover story
on him and his activities in this town. La Opinion, second only to the Los Angeles Times in circulation in Southern California,
raised questions about the propriety of this man's participation on an official city committee, and quoted extensively from
some of his repugnant internet essays - at least, those that could be quoted in a family newspaper.
This man, who bears an amazing resemblance to my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, posted an ironically arrogant bit of
prose in a recent entry on his web log. Apparently to bolster his criticism of people who stepped forward to speak out against
the moves of our city council recently - people he refers to as "intolerant haters and bigots" - this man provided
a couple quotes to support his position, one of which was from Frederick Douglass. The irony here is that Douglass was an
escaped slave, born of mixed heritage - something this "activist" has railed against for years in his internet essays.
He's bemoaned the dilution of the white race through what he has repeatedly referred to as "blending" - the intermarriage
of whites with those of what he apparently perceives to be less-than-pure heritage. I found myself chuckling as I pondered
the possible reaction to the Douglass quote by his loyal readers on the white supremacist web sites for which he writes -
like the National Vanguard and the New Nation News. Will they think, because he chose to quote Douglass, that their "fair
haired boy" has begun to go soft? Will they confiscate his white sheet? Will he be forced to return his "Prussian
Blue" CDs? He's demonstrated for us once again that even people with prodigious intellects can do stupid things every
once in awhile. At least, that's the way it looks to us "lonely old men" who sit in our "rented rooms"
in our "dirty Fruit-of-the-Looms" with our "tuna-can antennae" taped to our ears. Those quotes are his,
from a previous entry in his "little newsletter". You have to give him credit - no one ever said he wasn't clever.
Misguided, articulate, racist and clever - a nasty, dangerous combination.
Another irony is the fact that those people he criticizes were not the ones who showed up at recent City Council meetings
with bullhorns to "out-shout" their opponents - his side was. Those he criticized were not the ones who screamed
the words to "God Bless America" to drown out the opposition in the council chambers - his side was. The thesis
of his blog posting was, theoretically, free speech, and the need to "use it" or "lose it", and yet he
rants and raves about those he criticized for doing precisely that. The depth of his hypocracy is almost unfathomable!
Based on recent blog entries, we're already getting a feel for his position regarding potential candidates for city council
next fall. It will be interesting to see who he supports as we move toward the elections. Those expecting his support better
be ready to be toe his line without question, because he's already shown us his wrath for those who don't. He's already stated
flat out that his failure to support Chris Steel for re-election cost Steel his seat. If that's true, I guess we should thank
him for that bit of civic service. He's already threatened his two anointed ones, Mayor Mansoor and Mayor Pro Tem Bever,
because they stepped out of line recently. Candidates who embrace him need to be aware that you can't snuggle up to a skunk
without coming away covered in stink, too. You are, indeed, known by the company you keep.
It certainly does look like it's going to be a very interesting year.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Sunday turned out to be a pretty interesting day. Not only did I watch two blow-out football games during the day and Kobe
Bryant scoring 81 points last night, but our fair city made the cover of La Opinion, the venerable Spanish language newspaper
that has circulation in Southern California second only to the Los Angeles Times. I found one web site that estimated the
circulation as of 2004 to be more than 125,000 copies, reaching nearly 500,000 individuals daily.
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The article, written by editor Pilar Marrero, dealt with the current turmoil in Costa Mesa and featured the perceived impact
of one particularly persistent activist in town - a man who has been at the forefront of the anti-Latino movement for several
years. In fact, the article provided links to several of this man's offensive, ultra-conservative internet essays and quoted
segments of them.
Since I was among those quoted in the article - although I don't know how accurately, because I have only a rudimentary knowledge
of Spanish - I made the rounds of our town, trying to find a news rack with a copy of La Opinion available for purchase.
I spent the best part of an hour and located many empty racks before finally finding a couple copies remaining at a local
convenience store. Ironically, this store is the closest one to my home and would have been the last place I touched down
on my search loop.
As I purchased the copies of the newspaper I asked the cashier - a young Latina woman - if she'd read it. I pointed to the
article entitled, "Ideas Radicales en Costa Mesa" (Radical ideas in Costa Mesa), which featured a photo of the activist
in question scowling up at us. She said she had not, but took a minute to glance through the first portion before expressing
disgust with the subject. She mentioned that the city has no idea of the amount of work Latinos do, and commented that they
were going to stage a boycott for a day so people would understand. That would be interesting, if they could actually pull
So, the beat goes on - although I'm beginning to hear a little latin rhythm in it now.