Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Where Did These Guy's Come From?

This Is The Free Speech
Bill Morrow Wants to Encourage

The North County Times reports today that State Senator Bill Morrow is suing the Carlsbad Unified School District over the district superintendent's decision to not allow Morrow to conduct a public forum on illegal immigration at one of the school district's facilities.

"Carlsbad schools Superintendent John Roach announced last week that he would cancel the immigration forum planned by Morrow, citing past violence and threats of violence at other immigration events throughout the state.

Roach referred specifically to clashes that occurred in May in Garden Grove and Baldwin Park and in July in Campo.

Roach cited a school board policy that allows the superintendent to deny use of school grounds "if an event poses an unreasonable risk of damage to the facility, equipment, or furnishings, and that might jeopardize the security, health, and well-being of an audience or of the community."

"Based on my understanding of the recent events in Garden Grove, Baldwin Park, and Campo, it is my belief that the event you had planned poses exactly such a risk," Roach said last week, reading from a letter he had faxed to Morrow's office."

The event Morrow had planned for the Carlsbad school facility was called a "public forum," but the crew that Morrow had recruited to speak at the event was decidely one sided. The make-up of this group made it clear that this "public forum" was going to focus only on the evils of illegal immigration.

Morrow, who is in the running for Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's seat in the Congress, obviously intended his "public forum" to be a mechanism to position himself relative to the rest of what will be a crowded field in next year's Republican primary. His reaction to having his public stage pulled out from under him has been to go after the school superintendent, while crying about "free speech".

"I am a public official," Morrow said. "I want to hold a public town forum, and I am unable to do so because of the threats, coercion and intimidation of those who disagree with the message."

Superintendent Roach had a good idea of the type of people that would be attracted to Morrow's one sided "forum". His citation of events in May in Baldwin Park is a good illustration of the type of confrontation that can occur over the subject of immigration.

“Most of this nuance was absent at the rally, which quickly descended into a heated face-off for over two hours at Pacific and Downing avenues. Protesters on both sides hurled obscenities and taunts, and at times argued face-to-face before police arrived.

[…] By
1:20 p.m., police in riot helmets formed a line in front of the Save Our State group, whose 40 supporters seemed outnumbered 10-to-1 from all sides.”

Save Our State is not a formal part of Morrow's "public forum," but it is an organization that is closely associated with the MinuteMan Project, whose founder, James Gilchrist was to be a featured speaker at Morrow's event. And, despite efforts by the MinuteMan Project to disassociate themselves from more extreme racist organizations, these groups have a presence in the organization and individuals from the two groups certainly seem comfortable with each other.

Nowhere was this synergy more apparent than two weeks ago in Laguna Beach (where the photo at the top of this story was taken). At a protest against a city funded work center in that town, members of the MinuteMen, Save Our State and neo-nazi/racist organizations all showed up to protest the city's efforts to provide day workers and those who employ them with a safe, clean facility where they can conduct their business.

Accounts of responsibility for organizing the protest are varied. The role of MinuteMan Project founder, Gilchrist is described in one source as the "event organizer". Although the following from an on-line report seems to be a more accurate representation of Gilchrist's role.

"Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, an Aliso Viejo resident, dropped by for awhile to pay his respects. Barbara Coe, the venerable Chairwoman of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) and co-author of Proposition 187, was also there. And Don Silva (aka "OldPreach"), one of Joe Turner's [founder of Save Our State] close allies, was running around dressed in camouflage again, waving around an American flag (for matter of record, the rally itself was not officially endorsed by S.O.S.)."

None of the individuals involved with Bill Morrow's public forum are racists. They have sincere and passionate feeling regarding the subject of illegal immigration. But, the people standing next to them, the supporters they are loath to acknowledge, those people are racists.

It would be great to see Bill Morrow organize a real "public forum" to discuss immigration reform. But, the idea that Bill Morrow thinks that he has the right to use public property to organize an event that is designed to inflame not enlighten is irresponsible.

The fact that he is doing it to aid his political career is morally repugnant.