Jury Rules Immigrant’s Murder a Hate Crime, Even as Vicious Ads Continue to Stoke Racial Tensions

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Guest Blogger: Jackie Mahendra from America's Voice.

While the mainstream media has been largely absent, Latina Lista has been busy covering the dramatic trial of the two men charged with the hate crime killing of immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa. It turns out the 2008 murder was, indeed, a hate crime. 

A federal grand jury has convicted the two Pennsylvania men, in a verdict that many argue was long overdue.

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of teenagers who yelled racial epithets throughout the killing.  A retired Philadelphia police officer said she heard one of the defendants yell to Mr. Ramirez’s friends, “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next to him.”  Defendants were reported to have yelled, “Go back to Mexico” as they beat him to death.

Despite the evidence, an all-white jury found two of the defendants “not guilty” of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation last year, to cheers in the courtroom and the astonishment of the Latino community.  The Federal government took up the case and finally justice was served.

Yet, two years after Ramirez' gruesome murder, we continue to see egregious examples of race-baiting and immigrant bashing for political gain. This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads that demonize immigrants. They use extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric instead of offering real solutions to our immigration crisis.  Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA) and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of "real" Americans.  

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose 32% between 2003 and 2008 (the last year for which data is available), and groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented a correlation between anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Latino violence.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

Hateful campaign ads and rhetoric that demonize immigrants have no place in America today.  It’s as if some politicians think there is no cost for immigrant-bashing.  Well they are wrong.  This type of rhetoric creates a climate where violent crimes are committed against human beings simply because of the color of their skin.  Yesterday’s verdict in the Luis Ramirez murder is just, but it’s not nearly enough.  Politicians and pundits must stop using immigrants as scapegoats and instead use their microphones to spread a message of tolerance, humanity, and the need for common sense immigration reform.

In light of this tragic case, we believe it’s time for politicians and pundits to end the hateful rhetoric and immigrant bashing that has created a hostile climate for Latinos and encouraged hate crimes like the murder of Mr. Ramirez. Luis Ramirez lost his life because of the unaccountable, incendiary, and out-of-control immigration debate in this country.

Politicians who stoke racial fears and hatred need to realize that their rhetoric has severe -- but not unforeseen-- consequences.

The ruling on Luis Ramirez' murder should serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to end the politics of division and fear.

Photo courtesy of americasvoiceonline.org

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Diluting The Tea Party Gene Pool

Originally posted at Cagle.

Say what you will about the tea party but it has been remarkably effective at pushing select fringe candidates to electoral victories.

In late 2009, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone in Washington who would have believed that a Republican would soon fill the Senate seat held for decades by the late Ted Kennedy.

Enter tea party-backed Scott Brown.

Brown -- a state senator at the time of his election -- was the first in what would become a long line of tea party endorsed candidates with rather colorful pasts.

There's more...

Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don't always agree with them. - President George Bush

The one thing you have to admit about the emergence of all of the teabagger candidates is that the political discourse in this country has gone from bad to worse. The intelligence quotient which has always been low in our political debates has certainly hit an all-time low. However, before I make that declaration I know that we still have two months remaining and anything is still possible. The recent performance of Arizona Governor Brewer and Republican Senatorial Candidate Angle in debates demonstrates what many of us have known to be true for a long time many voters select candidates not on perceived intelligence or merit but on identification with the candidate.

The one thing that has concerned me about the blanket assertion made towards blacks and President Obama (all black people voted for him because he was black) is that whites have been using identity politics forever. You don’t have to be a historian to realize that politics has rarely been a meritocracy. Can anyone argue that Bush II or Reagan were intellectual heavyweights? No group has used identity politics more than whites let’s not forget it has taken 44 white presidents to get to this one. So were all the whites who voted for whites racist? But I digress. Some have asserted that President Obama’s own educational achievements are fueling this wing-nut campaign against knowledge. I don’t believe this entirely because they had the same criticisms for any previous Democratic candidate who had similar achievements. Bill and Hillary were lambasted as cultural elitists out of touch with average Americans.

Let’s be honest stupid candidates are nothing new. What is troubling to me about the current trend of candidates especially the teabaggers is not that they are less than scholarly but the fact that their lack of knowledge is what makes them appealing to their constituents. There has been a steady assault on education by the wing-nuts for decades. We have been bombarded by the wing-nuts and their media outlets with the constant railing against the northeastern urban educated elite and their prejudice against the common folks. These are the folks who are leading the destruction of the family by promoting homosexuality. These are the folks who are destroying our social fabric by promoting affirmative action and giving away the country to lazy black folks. These are the folks who are destroying our education system by forcing integration. They are destroying “our America” with their social experiments.

There was a time in America when knowledge and education were valued and stressed as ways to overcome one’s humble beginnings. Many of our early presidents and statesmen were products of these opportunities. However, we also have an equally dark history of denying education to prevent groups from achieving success. We have been a country that has valued the pursuit of education not just for its material gains but also for the pursuit of knowledge. For many years we have led the world in educational achievement and have been the destination of the best and brightest of the world’s students. Over the last two decades our achievement scores have continued to drop and now we rank 18th among 36 nations. Now is not the time with a global economy for America to promote ignorance as a virtue. We need to promote education now more than ever for our young people. What message are we sending our young people with these simpletons vying for power and flaunting their lack of knowledge?

I mentioned the dark history of our nation denying education to blacks during slavery because of the belief that education made folks more difficult to control. My guess is that this is the underlying strategy of the rich and infamous who are funding these candidates and their agendas. There are those who want to dumb down our population to make us easier to control and what better way to do it than by implying that knowledge is somehow evil. Of course there is also their blatant desire to shutdown the Department of Education. We must resist this trend to devalue and demonize knowledge and education because it is putting our democracy at risk. What makes democracy work is an engaged and knowledgeable electorate and the more detached and uninformed the electorate the easier it will be to deconstruct social security, Medicare, and all of the other programs that have provided a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens. The same folks who are touting this knowledge is bad line are the same folks who are making sure their kids are attending all of the right schools. So are we to assume that knowledge is only bad for us?

With the lost of our manufacturing base we no longer have a path from high school to middle-class as we once did. What this has done is made education not only a luxury but a prerequisite for any decent job in our highly technical society. I am a firm believer that we have to reestablish our manufacturing base if we are to continue a viable middle-class. Let’s be honest not all of our kids are going to be engineers and neither should they have to be. Manufacturing in the 21st century will require some technical skills which will require knowledge and education. One of the benefits to the rich and infamous by dummying down the nation is that it reduces the competition for their kids for scholarships and employment.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that education and secular knowledge should be the only characteristics to base a decision on who is qualified to serve this nation. But to ridicule intellectual curiosity as some kind of satanic plot to brainwash our children is dangerous. Our political system must be open to all and all have the right to seek public office but with that right comes a responsibility to be as knowledgeable as you can be about the material and issues that you are asked to preside over. Unfortunately, what many politicians learn the hard way is that governing is a lot more difficult than campaigning. Not knowing anything may have appeal with some voters on the trail but as we have seen with the last administration it does not make for good governance.

"Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." - Elbert Hubbard

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