Latinos Continue to Be Racial Targets — Hundreds of New Nativist Groups

         The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Spring 2008 newsletter has numerous articles on the growing attacks on Latinos in the United States. The lead story is about how anti-immigrant nativism has fueled the growth in racist groups targeting Americans of color. They estimate that there are now about 844 U.S. “hate groups,” with an additional 300 anti-immigrant groups that are not part of that total. Of the latter they estimate that about half are “nativist extremist” groups.

          A second frontpage story in this newsletter is about a SPLC lawsuit against one Klan group (IKA) for violent attacks on a teenager that the white Klan attackers thought was an “illegal immigrant”: 

The Southern Poverty Law Center today filed suit against the nation’s second-largest Klan group and five Klansmen, saying two members were on a recruiting mission for the group in July 2006 when they savagely beat a teenage boy at a county fair in Kentucky. The lawsuit claims that as part of an official recruiting drive organized by the leadership of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), several members went to the Meade County Fairgrounds in Brandenburg, Ky., to hand out business cards and flyers advertising a “white-only” IKA function. Unprovoked, two of the Klansmen at the fair began harassing a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent, calling him a “spic,” according to the lawsuit. The boy, who stands 5-foot-3 and weighs just 150 pounds, was beaten to the ground and kicked by the Klansmen, one of whom is 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. The beating left the boy with two cracked ribs, a broken left forearm, multiple cuts and bruises and jaw injuries requiring extensive dental repair. 

(The teenager is a US citizen.) These frontpage stories clearly show that anti-Latino oppression is very serious today, as it has been now for more than a century, and is finally getting some attention in the United States, although much of it still remains off the radar for the traditional news media and congressional policymakers.

        Latino demographic growth and voters do seem to be of more interest to those traditional media these days, but these media often pick up on nativist and white supremacist lines of argument about undocumented immigrants to the United States and about other Latino issues. There is also growing social science research on Latinos that these media almost always neglect to examine.

(Note too: This spring 2008 issue of the SPLC newsletter also deals with abused Asian-Indian workers brought to New Orleans for clean-up work and on continuing efforts to deal with brutal prison conditions for African Americans and others in Mississippi. It is a good source of information on racial matters these days.)

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