Last week I submitted another of my on-going series of Letters to the Editor of our local newspaper “The Potomac News.” This time, I took on a local wing-nut who is key in whipping up anti-immigration hysteria in this area. It seems that after a few years of diligently and successfully working to build his reputation as a local racist, this individual was unhappy about being labeled a “nativist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and local newspapers.
Greg Letiecq is a real piece of work. He runs a local blog titled “Black Velvet Bruce Li” (I will not link to it) which he uses as his platform to spout racist comments against Hispanics and pretty much anyone he disagrees with. He’s been one of the key figures in getting local “anti-illegal-immigration” laws passed which is actually legislated discrimination. He’s also helped to start several local organizations which are thinly veiled covers for discriminatory efforts against Hispanic in particular and brown-skinned people in general.
Recently the Southern Poverty Law Center listed this Greg Letiecq as a “nativist.” To the great credit of our local news organizations, they picked right up on this and published several stories and opinion pieces pretty negative against Letiecq.
After all his hard work one would think Letiecq would wear the title of “Nativist” with pride, or at most, annoyed that he didn’t earn a stronger racist label. But some people just can’t handle success. Letiecq published an angry rebuttal column “Letiecq Fights Back” on March 18. In his column he complained about the unfairness of being accused of not liking brown-skinned people, slammed brown-skinned people, and then threatened lawsuits against anyone who continued to claim he didn’t actually like brown-skinned people. Great column, actually.
As I have a dog in this fight (that’s a southern term for you Yankees), I dropped in my $.02 worth of opinion. My letter “Little Sympathy For Letiecq From Reader” was published March 24 as follows:
As the husband of an immigrant (Chinese) wife, living in Prince William County, I read Greg Letiecq’s column “Letiecq fights back” of March 18 with great interest but little sympathy.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “nativism” as: “A sociopolitical policy, especially in the United States in the 19th century, favoring the interests of established inhabitants over those of immigrants.”
A search on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Web site (http://www.splcenter.org) reveals what they actually published about Mr. Letiecq.
The SPLC’s 410 word entry credits Mr. Letiecq as operator of one of the most popular local anti-immigration blogs “Black Velvet Bruce Li.”
The SPLC states that on his blog, Mr. Letiecq refers to day-labor centers as “open-air toilets” and describes Latino pro-immigrant activists as “mobs of machete-wielding radicals wearing ski masks” who are part of a global “Zapatista” conspiracy that also includes “burning cars in the suburbs of Paris.”
The SPLC entry states Mr. Letiecq formed “Help Save Manassas” in April 2007, and credits Mr. Letiecq as co-author of the Prince William County ordinance which severely limits the access of immigrants to public benefits. The SPLC also credits Mr. Letiecq for branding the “Help Save” moniker and helping to establish six spin-off groups in Virginia (“Help Save” Fairfax, Hampton Roads, Herndon, Loudon, Stafford and Old Dominion) and one in Maryland.
I guess it is to Mr. Letiecq’s credit that he is unhappy with being listed as a nativist by a group internationally recognized for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and it’s tracking of hate groups.
Perhaps, instead of threatening lawsuits against those who publish the facts about him, Mr. Letiecq should use his influence to promote the Christian values of tolerance and American values of equal opportunity for all. Then the SPLC would not have a reason to list him.
So there it is. My foray into the immigration hysteria that I consider to be the background environment of the problems Winnie and I had with the local DMV and the visiting home nurse incident last spring.
After living 13 years in southern Mississippi, I really thought I’d be getting away from the ignorance and subtle racism of the south by moving north. I actually did, sort of. Instead of the subtle racism of Mississippi, I’m now dealing with the open racism of a state that in 1967 fought all the way to the US Supreme Court to defend states rights in prohibiting interracial marriages (Loving v. Virginia). This is also the state where in 1954, when the activist liberal Supreme Court judges struck down segregated schools (Brown v Board of Education) some counties actually closed all public schools rather than integrate.
Oh well. Just another day in the trenches.
Follow-up: I seem to have gathered a lot of attention with my letter. The online edition of the Potomac News now offers moderated comments, and my letter has gathered several interesting ones.
Follow-up: On March 26, the Potomac News published a letter “Do Some Research on the SPLC” in which the writer, one Cynthia Higgenbottom, questioned me by name as to Winnie’s legal immigration status, questioned whether I understood that Letiecq was only opposed to “illegal immigration,” and then went on to slam the SPLC. If I understand her position on the SPLC correctly, she was slamming them for taking a hard line stand against discriminatory behavior. I thought that was the whole purpose of the SPLC, but, whatever.
I did write another LTE in response, not challenging Ms Higgenbottom, but using her letter to really step up my position on the local hysteria against “illegals.” I’ll wait a week or so before publishing this letter, to give the Potomac News a chance to publish first (if they do).
Eighty Percent OK With Discrimination : After reading a news story that eighty percent of the residents of Prince William County were satisfied with the way immigration policy is being enforced in our county, I penned my thoughts.
On Being Inspired : After a semester as volunteer English Second Language (ESL) instructor, we held a potluck graduation party.
In Honor of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr : Doing my small part in honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.