Reflections on the The March for America: a Movement Matures

As I waited in the bus for the rest of our riders to come trickling in, two middle-aged,  men, Ricardo and José,  slowly walked in, clearly fatigued after the pre-march rally, immigrant rights march, four-hour rally and long hike to the stadium where hundreds of buses were parked. As they stumbled in  José  asked “and now what do we tell Obama”? “Nothing more for now”, responded an exhausted Ricardo as he plopped on his bus seat. “We have already spoken with our bodies”.

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(Image from Messay Photography @Flickr – excellent slideshow here)

Four years ago when I started researching the immigrant rights movement in Chicago, a march of this magnitude in DC was barely imaginable.  I was one of a group of scholars at the University of Illinois at Chicago who were closely studying the megamarches in Chicago while observing from afar the multitude of marches in cities large and small throughout the country.  Spurred by  by a loose coalition of organizations,  churches, religious groups and unions in light of the collective fear  of a bill that would have criminalized immigrants and those who supported them, the megamarches were a sign of Latino political potential, albeit ones that relied primarily on the strengths of each home base. The kind of national organization and coordination of grassroots efforts that a megamarch on DC would have required still seemed quite distant. Moreover, after an immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate failed in the summer of 2007, some feared that perhaps the Latino muscle shown would be hard to revive. The marches continued, but dwindled significantly in numbers in 2008 and 2009.

However, interpreting this decline in the number of marchers as a decline of the immigrant rights movement would be a serious mistake.  Post-2006 activism and advocacy continued in many forms. Throughout the country new community organizations proliferated in many major cities but also were created for the first time in small cities, suburbs and villages that had great immigrant demographic growth but low preexisting levels of organization.  For example, last year, in the Chicago metro area, PASO,  the West Suburban Action project, was founded, bringing  together two large churches and several suburbs to organize for immigrant rights among other issues.  Barely four months ago,  a group of undocumented youth created the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) , born out of an arduous and ultimately successful campaign to prevent the deportation of a local college student. Eleven days before the DC march, the IYJL staged its first major action, a march and rally. Stating that they were undocumented and unafraid,  eight undocumented youth publicly came out of the shadows, telling their painful stories of what it means to grow up undocumented in the US, emphasizing their need to speak for themselves about their lack of freedom and opportunity in the only country they consider their home.

Meanwhile, older organizations continued their steady work. Centro Sin Fronteras continued to focus on the family separation issue, working  closely with Continue reading…

More on the Holocaust Museum Shooting

james_von_brunnIn the absence of real news and hard facts about James von Brunn, the cable news networks are making a great deal of the fact that this man was “born in 1920, making him 89 years old, so an elderly gentleman,” as one talking-head just now described him.  Longevity is no antidote for racism and antisemitism (shown here in an undated photo from his website, used without permission).

This sort of analysis does nothing to explain this man’s actions and place them in the broader context of antisemitism, white supremacy and systemic racism in the U.S.  The fact that Von Brunn, long known as a white supremacist and a convicted felon, would take this sort of action should not be surprising.   White supremacy in the U.S., rather than being an atavism, is a consistent feature of the political landscape.

While the news networks are going to prattle on about how it’s possible that an octogenarian could carry out such a shooting, what (I predict) they’ll miss is the ways that this shooting is connected to the one last week of Dr. Tiller.   As I wrote about then,  killing, abortion, antisemitism and racism are inextricably linked in the white supremacist imagination.   I’m hoping that some of the more thoughtful mainstream news people will connect these dots.

UPDATE (Joe):

The Associated Press just added this:

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled “Kill the Best Gentile.” In 1983, he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation’s economic difficulties.

The museum houses exhibits and records relating to the Holocaust more than a half century ago in which more than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. It is located across the street from the National Mall, and within sight of the Washington Monument. The museum, which draws about 1.7 million visitors each year, was closed for the day after the shooting, and nearby streets were cordoned off by police. Surrounding roads were closed at least temporarily and blocked off with yellow tape. Police cars and officers on horses surrounded the area.

CNN: White Supremacist Shooter at US Holocaust Museum



CNN is reporting a major shooting at the DC Holocaust Museum:

The suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland, two law enforcement officials told CNN.

According to TPM’s report he holds strong anti-Semitic views. They are reporting his own version of his biography like this:

James W. von Brunn holds a Bach-Sci Journalism degree from a mid-Western university where he was president of SAE and played varsity football. During WWII he served as PT-Boat captain, Lt. USNR, receiving a Commendation and four battle stars. For twenty years he was an advertising executive and film-producer in New York City. He is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society.

In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal. He served 6.5 years in federal prison. (Read about von Brunn’s “And so, on December 7, 1981, a bright, crisp morning James Wenneker von Brunn visited the Federal Reserve Building on Constitution Ave., across from the Washington Monument, Washington D.C. I had cased the building twice before, and talked at length with one of the guards, a retire U.S. Marine. I posed as a freelance newspaper reporter. I wore a trench-coat with a camera-case slung over my shoulder. . The Marine (“HARRY”)) guided me through the Board Room, and Paul Volcker’s office; there I met his secretary, a smartly dressed middle-aged lady with gray hair. My objective was to arrest Volcker and the FED Brd of Governors.

Greg Sargent adds this about the Holocaust shooter and others lately:

Remember the enormous controversy that erupted in April over a Department of Homeland Security report that assessed the threat of “right wing extremists”? The story provoked days of nonstop cable chatter, forcing DHS chief Janet Napolitano to ultimately apologize.

Today, a gunman entered the Holocaust Museum and exchanged fire with security guards, leaving one in grave condition. MSNBC reports that the suspected gunman is connected to anti-government and white supremacist groups. If that proves correct, perhaps it’ll be time to revisit all that criticism of the DHS report. Right?

This passage from the DHS report in particular sparked a huge outpouring of rage on the right:

“Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Given the white supremacist and extreme-right links of several other recent attackers in the US, does this signal once more the resurgence of the white supremacist and white nationalist groups we have warned about on this site?

Will major federal officials now be targets of these racist-right groups?