HEATH SHULER JOINS TOM TANCREDO KNOW NOTHING COALITION
Recently I interviewed Joan Fitz-Gerald, the preferred candidate of the Democratic Establishment for the Colorado congressional seat being vacated by Mark Udall, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Joan had been president of the state Senate and has taken some flack for some tough immigration legilslation. Her opponent, Jared Polis, is hitting her hard for not standing up for Colorado's immigrant community strongly enough. When I asked her how she felt about the harsh enforcement-only/xenophobic Heath Shuler immigration bill, co-sponsored by so many Democrats in Rahm Emanuel's orbit, her reply was "I wouldn't. If Tom Tancredo's name is on it, I'm not co-sponsoring it. I know Tom Tancredo and I know where he is on immigration."
Thanks primarily to to Fox News and Lou Dobbs, CNN's self-righteous resident xenophobe, so does much of America. But not all Democrats are as wary of Tancredo's siren song of Know Nothing racism and xenophobia as is Joan Fitz-Gerald. Decent Americans shuddered this week when Tancredo admitted at the CNN/YouTube debate that it isn't only "illegal aliens" he is after but all immigrants. One of the top Democrats in the House, string-puller Rahm Emanuel has teamed up with Tancredo to demonize immigrants. And Emanuel's most pathetic puppet in the House, reactionary freshman Heath Shuler, is the chief sponsor of the harshest anti-immigration bill since the viciously anti-Irish Catholic hysteria of the mid-1850s. (In California the anti-Catholic hysteria morphed into hatred of Chilean and Chinese immigrants as well and teh Know Nothings actually elected a mayor of San Francisco and a state governor, J. Neely Johnson!) They also elected a mayor of Chicago, Levi Boone, who barred immigrants from all city jobs. Abe Lincoln took them on and kept them from gaining statewide power in Illinois. More recently both the mainstream New York Times and the extreme right Weekly Standard have warned, in the words of neocon William Kristol, that the detested "populist Republicans" didn't recognize the danger of "turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know-Nothing party." Neither had realized that Rahm Emanuel and Heath Shuler would soon come running to the GOP's rescue, echoing their ugly racist and nativist bromides.
The screen shot above is the front page of the website of the Team America PAC, founded by Tancredo and run by Bay Buchanan, to promote xenophobia and devisive and nativist racism. But that isn't Duncan Hunter or Brian Bilbray, two Republican racist maniacs on the front page... it's Rahm's boy Heath. Nor is Shuler the only House Democrat throwing in with the worst of the Republican Know Nothings to foolishly demonize immigrants. The long, sad list of reactionary Democrats on "the team" are names that should be familiar to most DWT readers-- Democrats who have backed Bush's agenda in Iraq and here at home, like Chris Carney (PA), Jim Marshall (GA), John Barrow (GA), Nick Lampson (TX), Baron Hill (IN), Joe Donnelly (IN), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Brian Baird (WA), Jason Altmire (PA), Mike Ross (AR), Gene Taylor (MS), Melissa Bean (IL), Jim Matheson (UT), Dan Boren (OK), Leonard Boswell (IA), Allen Boyd (FL), Jim Cooper (TN), Bud Cramer (AL), Lincoln Davis (TN), etc.
This morning Max Blumenthal paints an incisive portrait of hypocrisy and incipient fascism of the leader of this disgraceful bunch of self-serving and self-righteous demagogues. "When Republican Representative Tom Tancredo isn’t railing against the 'scourge' of illegal immigration on the presidential campaign trail," Blumenthal begins, "he relaxes in the 1053 square foot basement recreation room of his Littleton, Colorado McMansion." And, of course, Tancredo hired undocumented laborers to build it for him.
During the renovation process, two illegal workers hired by Tancredo were alerted to his reputation for immigrant bashing. They went straight to the Denver Post to complain. Tancredo “doesn't want us here, but he'll take advantage of our sweat and our labor,” one of
the workers complained to the Post on September 19, 2002. “It's just not right.”
The Post report momentarily threw Tancredo on the defensive. In a fiery speech soon after the story’s publication, Tancredo blamed his foibles on the INS. “I haven't the foggiest idea how many people I may have hired in the past as taxi drivers, as waiters, waitresses, home improvement people,” he boomed from the House floor. “I haven't the foggiest idea how many of those people may have been here illegally, and it is not my job to ask them.” Then defiance gave way
to vitriol as the congressman dubbed undocumented immigrants, “the face of murder.”
Only days before the Post’s story appeared, Tancredo had personally reported an honor student profiled in the Denver Post to the INS because the 14-year-old was not a legal resident of the United States. The stunt forced the boy’s family to go into hiding. Fortunately for Tancredo, the ensuing revelations of his hiring of illegal labor fell below the radar of the national media, allowing
his anti-immigrant crusade to proceed unabated.
Tancredo proceeded to organize over 90 anti-immigration House members into an informal but powerful caucus that has effectively prevented any non-enforcement related immigration legislation from reaching the President’s desk. His Team America PAC, which is chaired by right-wing pundit Bay Buchanan, has donated tens of thousands of dollars this election cycle to nativist candidates who hope to fill Tancredo’s caucus with new blood when he retires next year. Down on the border, Tancredo announced his support for the Minutemen, providing the anti-immigrant militia with a veneer of respectability while its pistol-packing members hunt for brown-skinned evildoers.
If you'd prefer to see Congress working on real solutions to the immigration problems, while eschewing vigilante activities and demonization of groups of people, please consider making a contribution to Blue America's Accountability Moment that seeks to keep Rahm Emanuel's constituents aware of his anti-immigrant activities. Those kinds of activities may make Heath Shuler a hero in the backwoods mountains of western North Carolina, but the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods of Chicago's northside aren't as likely to celebrate Emanuel's key role in enabling the Tancredo mentality. Oh, and in case you can't read the names (above) of the other folks Heath Shuler has associated himself with, please allow me to call your attention to Heath Shuler's allies: