Thursday, October 9, 2008

Elizabeth Dole's problem with racist ally

Back in June, Elizabeth Dole launched the first TV ad of her current re-election campaign. Believing that taking a hard line on immigration would insulate her from voter dissatisfaction with her party's performance over the last eight years, she touted her efforts to allow local law enforcement "access to the federal tools to identify, apprehend, and deport" undocumented immigrants through statewide participation in ICE's 287g program.

The ad opened with a statement from Johnston County Sheriff, Steve Bizzell, claiming that, "the Politicians talk and talk about Illegal Immigration, but Senator Dole actual did something about it" then proceeded thought a montage of accolades from numerous members of the North Carolina's law enforcement community.

But now Bizzell, who Dole portrayed as a simple sheriff trying to "deal with the criminal toll of illegal immigration," has revealed a much nastier side to his quest to deport North Carolina's estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants.

While Dole's ad stressed the value of the 287g program in "cracking down on criminal aliens" Bizzell recently revealed the true spirit behind his participation in the program.

In an article in Raleigh's The News & Observer, Bizzell had these choice words for his Latino constituents, who currently make up 11% of his counties population:

"Look at that," he says, pointing to tiendas that have cropped up amid the barbecue joints. "You can't even read the durned sign. Everywhere you look, it's like little Mexico around here."

...he condemns illegal immigrants for "breeding like rabbits" and spreading a culture of drunkenness and violence.

...illegal immigrants "rape, rob and murder" American citizens, fail to pay taxes and drain social services

..."Mexicans are trashy,"

...."All they do is work and make love, I think," he said. "Look at all those kids right there."

..."When people think about illegal Mexicans, you know the first thing they think of?" Bizzell says -- "driving drunk and shooting."

...In private conversations, Bizzell reveals that his deeper concerns, and those of his constituents, are as much about changing demographics as about crime.

"How long is it going to be until we're the minority?" he said one night in August, as he drove the darkened streets of Smithfield.

Tolerance wears thin: Johnston's sheriff says Hispanics spread crime and dodge taxes.

Bizzell, who Dole's chief of staff Brian Nick claimed is "just like the vast majority of sheriffs in North Carolina" went on to mirror a common thread heard from many of Johnson County's long-term residents .... A yearning to return to the past ...a past they perceive as better.

"They're not the same as they used to be; they were so polite," said Sarah Burns, a retired truck driver from Smithfield whose husband once used immigrant labor on his farm. "Now, they're the rudest people I've ever seen. Like at Wal-Mart, they stand right in the middle of the aisle and they won't move for anything."

Jenee Lee, a laid-off factory worker from Four Oaks who was eating barbecue with Burns, added a complaint. "They talk their Spanish so you can't understand a word they say," she said. "They get treated better than we do."

Bizzell spouts many of the same concerns that are voiced in barbecue joints and country stores about immigrants who take services to which they're not legally entitled, who have legions of children dependent on welfare. He insists that they pay no taxes, even though records show that many do pay income tax and all pay the state's sales and property taxes.

... He says without reservation that the Johnston County of his youth --where he left his door unlocked and never saw a taco stand -- was a better place.

Back then, most Hispanics in Johnston County were farmworkers passing with the harvest.

"They were all in a group, down a path somewhere in a camp," Bizzell says. "It was bad for them as human beings. But we didn't have the problems then that we got now."

Tolerance wears thin: Johnston's sheriff says Hispanics spread crime and dodge taxes.

For some, things in the old south never really change..... Like the yearning to return to a time when people of color knew their place.

A time when minorities could be found "down a path somewhere" where conditions were "bad for them" but they didn't dare mingle with the good folks of Johnson County....just the way Bizzell liked it.

Bizzell's blatantly racist comments have caused civil rights groups from the NAACP to NCLR to call for his resignation ... Dole's silence on the matter has been deafening.

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