Friday, October 20, 2006

Tan Nguyen and the racist right.

Thirty-six hours ago Tan Nguyen was a little know Republican congressional candidate from Orange County CA with no chance of winning and no prospect of ever garnering national attention. That was before it came to light that he was most likely behind a failed effort to intimidate Hispanic voters in his district in hopes of deterring them from showing up at the polls. With that one move, he now becomes the newest poster boy in an election season ripe with disclosures of Republican racism and malfeasance.

The revelations of George Allen's bigotry and hidden past of racist activity shed new light on the undercurrent of racism that has run through Republican politics for years. Yet, Nguyen represents a new, and perhaps more toxic, kind of Republican; those drawn into politics by the volatile issue of immigration. With its ability divide people along the lines of race and ethnicity, the immigration "issue" has drawn a new breed of activists and politicians. These new "movement racists," with ties to organized hate groups, are bent on dragging both their party and the nation down a path of intolerance and bigotry not seen before.

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Earlier this week, in a mailing printed on the letterhead of the controversial Huntington Beach anti-immigration group, California Coalition for Immigration Reform, 14,000 Hispanic residents in central Orange County were warned that going to the polls could result in their possible deportation.

You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having a right to do so.

At the same time, you are advised that the government of the United States is installing a new computer system to verify the names of all new registered voters that vote in the October and November elections. Anti-immigration organizations can ask for information from this new computer system.

Link English
Original in Spanish

CCIR, founder, Barbara Coe who has referred to Mexican immigrants as "savages" and "illegal barbarians who are cutting off heads and appendages of blind, white, disabled gringos" denied orchestrating the letter and said she had no knowledge of it's alleged author "Sergio Ramirez,"

Upon further investigation, the letter, which contains grammatical errors that led investigators to believe it was not written by a native Spanish speaker, was found to have originated the offices of Tan Nguyen.
The bulk mail permit used to send out the letter was sent by a Huntington Beach-based company named Mailing Pros. Nguyen's campaign used the company for five different mailers this year, with several highlighting immigration issues, according to campaign finance disclosures.

Christopher West, who owns the company, said he was interviewed for two hours by investigators from the State Attorney General's office. He would not publicly disclose who hired him, although he gave the information to investigators. West said he had no idea any laws were being broken when the mailer was sent.

"I'm the one that processed it and I don't read Spanish, until the investigator read it to me, I didn't know the content," West said.

West said his company sends out many mailers in at least a dozen languages that he does not speak.

"The thing that steams me out about this is I know damn well I didn't do anything wrong," he said. "You're dependent on the integrity of the candidates."

According to campaign finance disclosures, Nguyen's campaign also has contracted with the Burbank-based Political Data Inc. for data sorts from the Registrar of Voters database. Records show the company purchased an Orange County voter database in September, which could show addresses of every foreign-born voter in the county, the target group of the mailer. Company officials couldn't be reached for comment.
Orange County Register

In a written statement, Nguyen denied personal responsibility for the letter claiming, "Evidently, an employee took it upon herself to allow our database to be used to send out the letter. It was disseminated without my authorization or approval. The employee has been discharged."

But Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh disputes Nguyen's claim and has called for his withdrawal from the race. "I've learned that Mr. Nguyen was involved in expediting that mailer," Baugh said. "I've had conversations with the attorney general and folks involved with the mail house. He called the mail house himself and told them to expedite the mailing."

This should come as no surprise given the people Nguyen has chosen to associate with.

His senior adviser, former Orange County Republican Party Chair, Tom Fuentes, has a long history of anti-immigrant advocacy and orchestrating dirty tricks designed to suppress the Latino vote. In addition to being a moving force behind California's failed proposition 187 (along with Barbara Coe), in 1988 he caused a major controversy when he ordered the stationing of Republican poll guards to stand outside polling places in Latino neighborhoods during a local Assembly race.
1988 - In California, the Orange County Republican Party hired uniformed security guards to be posted at polling places in heavily Latino precincts. The guards displayed bilingual signs warning non-citizens not to vote, and such signs were also posted in Latino neighborhoods days before the election. The guards, wearing blue uniforms and badges, were removed from the polling places after the chief deputy secretary of state said their presence was “unlawful intimidation of voters.”

The GOP officials involved in the plan, working on the campaign of GOP state assembly candidate Curt Pringle, claimed they acted on rumors that there was illegal registration of voters. However, according to the Orange County Register, they admitted they had no evidence of such activity and were concerned because of a sudden surge in voter registration in some Latino neighborhoods. Many local Latino Republican officials were outraged. GOP Santa Ana councilman John Acosta said: “This has to be the most blatant method of intimidating that I have ever seen. ... It’s un-American and I would say it borders on Nazism.”

As the controversy grew, the county registrar of voters said that he had warned Republican officials four weeks before the election not to challenge voters at the polls.

In 1989, the Orange County GOP paid $400,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the program. The plaintiffs donated $150,000 of the settlement to nonpartisan Latino voter registration efforts in the area. They also released some evidence gathered during the trial, including a map given to a sign-making company by the GOP campaign that indicated intended sign placement. Signs reading “Thank You Curt Pringle” were to go in predominantly white areas and bilingual signs saying “Non Citizens Can’t Vote” were to be placed in largely Latino areas.

Even with Fuentes involvement, this could all perhaps be chalked up to an extreme case of "dirty politics as usual" if it were not for the fact that like many other "border security" Republicans, Nguyen's ties to his party are tenuous at best and his strongest allies and supporters come not from the mainstream Republican Party, but rather the extremist, anti-immigrant right.

Groups like Coe's CCIR, the Minutemen and Save Our State.

Save Our State, the Ventura California based anti-immigration group founded by Joe Turner has been called a "Trojan Horse" for Neo-Nazis and white supremacists by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Anti-immigration activist Joe Turner may be one of the best things to happen to the Southern California white power community in years — a man whose group is seen as a "Trojan horse" allowing radical infiltration of mainstream politics….

In rally after rally this year, Turner and other SOS officials have failed to turn away racist Skinheads and likeminded white supremacists who have joined their protests.

Swastikas and sieg heils aren't usually welcome on the streets of Southern California, but Turner's followers, including SOS spokesman Don Silva, have been photographed standing alongside Skinheads clad in high black boots with red laces. Most recently, swastika pennants and Confederate battle flags were hoisted alongside Turner's own picket signs during a July 30 protest outside a day laborer center in Laguna Beach. One group in the crowd sieg-heiled repeatedly….

And then there are Turner's own statements in his forum. "I am sick and tired of all the white bashing that goes on through the use of political correctness as an indoctrinating tool," he wrote on July 16.

"I am sick and tired of multiculturalism, meaning, let's celebrate every culture as long as it isn't a European/white culture." During the same exchange, Turner also wrote that "just because one believes in white separatism that does not make them a racist."
SPLC " Immigration protesters joined by neo-Nazis in California"

Despite SOS's ties to both white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups, Nguyen chose to court the radical group.

In July of this year Nguyen's campaign manager, Ryan S.Flynn sent a letter to SOS introducing his candidate and asked the group for their support. It was posted up on the SOS internet forum, where it received a warm reception

I'm writing to introduce Tan Nguyen and ask for your help. Tan is a candidate for Congress of California's 47th district. Tan, a LEGAL immigrant from Vietnam, believes in upholding our immigration laws and opposes anything which encourages illegal immigration.

We need your help in defeating the incumbent, Loretta Sanchez, a seasoned politician who is for Amnesty. Those who donate $20 or more to the campaign will receive one of our campaign signs, shown below. Please help Tan's efforts by forwarding this email to your friends & family.

Checks can be made payable to Tan Nguyen for Congress. Thank you for your support.

Ryan S. Flynn
Campaign Manager/Fundraising Chair

Tan Nguyen for Congress
12955 Main Street
Garden Grove, CA 92840
(714) 530-1612

A month earlier on that same forum a member called "minutemanIII" stated that he/she was "helping out Tan Nguyen in Orange County run for Congress in the 47th district." and requested information about an anti-immigration rally SOS was planning.

Nguyen also courted CCIR

Although Barbara Coe denies any knowledge of Nguyen's letter, she, like her friends at SOS, is well aware of the man, having had him speak to her group a year ago… long before he was his parties candidate for the 47th Congresional District. The press release for the October 2005 event called Nguyen a "man who believes in America as a "nation of law", has made a commitment to uphold and defend our Constitutional rights and freedoms, has courageously publicly praised the Minuteman Project and publicly opposed any illegal alien "guest-worker" program or amnesty..."

Nguyen is not the fist "Border Security" Republican to court organized racists.

Godfather of the "Border Security" Republicans, Tom Tancredo, has had long standing ties with both the Minutemen and their more radical allies. Back in September, while feeling out a run for the White House, he stood on a stage draped in confederate flags, in South Carolina, with the members of the League of the South, and sang "Dixie" after delivering a speech to the hate group about the need to stop illegal immigration.

In Arizona's 8th congressional district Minuteman, Randy Graf, is running for congress on the Republican ticket having been endorsed by none other than former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, David Duke.

Also in Arizona, State Legislator, Russell Pearce, that states leading Border Security Republican and author of numerous pieces of anti-immigrant legislation including Proposition 200, sent out a piece of campaign literature to his constituents that contained an article from the white supremacist group the National Alliance.
Titled "Who Rules America? The Alien Grip on Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken," the article criticized the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, for portraying "any racially conscious White Person" as a bigot and for presenting the Jewish Holocaust as fact.

The media presents a "single view of the world - a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish 'Holocaust' tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders, the danger of permitting citizens to keep and bear arms, the moral equivalence of all sexual orientations, and the desirability of a 'pluralistic,' cosmopolitan society rather than a homogeneous, White one," the article says.
Nguyen and the other "movement racists" within the Republican Party who have allied themselves with the likes of Barbara Coe, Joe Turner and Jim Gilchrist represent an insidious and frightening new trend in politics. Never before have such extreme fringes of society been sought out as political allies and patrons. Yet under the leadership of Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan, these new "movement racists" are willing to consort with the anyone who is willing to take up their cause … even those who only do so as a stepping stone to gain legitimacy and acceptance of their extreme and dangerous beliefs.

Using the Trojan Horse of "border security" and the "immigration crisis" as their means to enter the body politic, these "movement racists" and their radical allies can only take this nation further down a path of division and hate.

The New York Times reports that: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the letter racist and urged Bill Lockyer, the California attorney general, to prosecute those responsible with a hate crime. A collection of other civil rights groups also called on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to investigate the letter as a violation of federal voting laws." Let's hope they follow through with their prosecution. The time to stop this movement is now.... before it's too late


sappho said...

I KNEW that this was the same Ngyuen that I've been watching comment over at the SOS website forum!!!!!! I KNEW IT!!!
How appropriate!!!
Great post!
Great find!

Anonymous said...

Is this guy for real? Does he real think hovering over people at a polling booth on November 7, will real help his cause? I think it might have worked in back in elementary school, I guess he does what has worked for him as an adult. He real should have step aside as he was asked by the party (he must think he is bigger than the party), but instead he will continue to disgrace himself, his family, the Vietnamese community, the GOP and Orange County. This guy was always way over his head; a) He never was a serious contender, b) He sent out a letter that he did not comprehend (on letterhead that was not his by a couple who happen to be his friend and staff member), c) He first denies his campaign sent the letter, d) He accuses and fires his staff member for the letter, e) He does an about face and tries to re-hire his staff member, f) He has a tissy fit and blames the whole thing on his opponent, which brings me to his campaign theme which is “I Blame other for my shortcomings, I do not take full responsibility for my mistakes and do not show grace under pressure”. Well, yesterday “Joe Public” “Told Him It Like It Is". How appropriate!