Less than a month after Russell Pearce crowed at a Gilbert, Ariz., Tea Party meeting that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “immigration policy is identical to mine” — a brash claim that Republican operatives scrambled to explain — the self-proclaimed Tea Party president and architect of Arizona’s punitive immigration law might now be scrambling himself. Pearce has previously praised J.T. Ready, the alleged gunman in Wednesday’s tragic killing of five people in the same Phoenix suburb.
In 2006, Pearce told an interviewer on a video that emerged last year that he also considered Ready to be a “true patriot, to the real purpose, the limited purpose, to the Republican platform that we have.”
According to news reports, Wednesday’s victims included Ready’s apparent girlfriend, two others adults and a child, along with Ready’s apparent suicide, and was most likely connected to a domestic dispute.
While Ready, a neo-Nazi activist, might have made more headlines for his “U.S. Border Guard” and defiantly white supremacist tirades against immigrants from Mexico, his shadowy connections to Pearce and others in Arizona’s extremist political circles remain troubling. [Salon]
I’ve said it before: the old survivalist and white supremacist militias of the 90s are alive and well and in the Tea Parties. Let’s read a bit more about Russell Pearce:
In October 2006, Pearce included the text of an article by National Alliance, a white separatist group, in an email to a group of supporters. The article, titled “Who Rules America” contained allegations of Jewish control of the media and of multiculturalism being a Jewish anti-White conspiracy, as well as Holocaust denialism. He quickly apologized to supporters in an email, stating: “Ugly the words contained in it really are. They are not mine and I disavow them completely. Worse still, the website links to a group whose politics are the ugliest imaginable.” Pearce told reporters he did not agree with the antisemitic and racist statements in the article, and that he had copied it from an email forwarded to him by someone else after “the title and the first paragraphs about media bias appealed to him”.
Pearce was also criticized for his association with white supremacist J. T. Ready. Pearce endorsed Ready for Mesa City Council in 2006 and appeared with him at several rallies. In 2004 Pearce was photographed attending Ready’s baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Church documents reveal that Pearce ordained Ready into the LDS priesthood. Pearce has since claimed he was unaware of Ready’s neo-Nazi affiliations at the time he made the endorsement.
In April 2008, Pearce sponsored a measure, Senate Bill 1108, that would bar Arizonan public schools from teaching that “denigrate[s] American values and the teachings of Western civilization”, and prohibit the formation of groups at public tertiary institutions “based in whole or part on the race of their membership”. Pearce said he didn’t want students indoctrinated with progressive ideologies. The Arizona Republic noted the measure could ban groups such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Critics of the bill called it vague and predicted its implementation would have chilling effects.
As lead sponsor of Arizona SB 1070, Pearce received assistance from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in drafting the text for the legislation. In December 2007, FAIR was identified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In the early 1990s FAIR received funding from the Pioneer Fund, a eugenics society established in 1937 “to advance the scientific study of heredity and human differences” that the SPLC has described as a neo-Nazi organization.
In October 2010, the SB 1070 bill, which Pearce sponsored in the legislature, came under criticism for benefiting private prison companies. Most of the language of the bill had been written as model legislation at a December 2009 meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where Pearce was joined as an attendee by officials of the company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). CCA “executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market” according to NPR.
In November 2010, Pearce launched a push to reject US$7 billion in federal funding for Arizona’s Medicaid program, which serves more than one million people. When asked what those who rely upon this program for health care would do if it no longer has the funds to operate, Pearce said “they’ll probably be okay.” [Wikipedia]
I swear, the most odious people end up in “public service.”