Drunk at the CCIR Potluck

One thing about potluck lunches for the “California Coalition for Immigration Reform” – they sure have lotsa big jugs of low-budget wine.  Carlo Rossi to be precise.  But watch out – those cheese cubes are not the cheddar they appear to be – they’re that horrible concoction disrespectfully dubbed “American cheese.” But what did you expect when they name their annual celebration of fighting off the “illegal alien invasion” after a 70s McDonald’s catchphrase: You Deserve A Break Today?

So I sat there, sat there and walked around and mingled with these 40 pallid geezers, just to see if the invited politicos would show.  I kinda thought they might not – it is a shriveling and polarizing little constituency – but the grouplet was dearly hoping for a visit from Allan Mansoor and Van Tran.

My impression – Allan is trying hard to soften his image in these final months, as witness his inability to vote either for or against a fee waiver for soccer-playing Latino kids last week;  in fact he told me at the Chili Cook-off the next day “I bet you would have loved to get my picture there!”  And Van Tran I’ve never noticed to specialize in immigrant-bashing  (although when it was trendy he had himself filmed looking tough on the border like all the other Sacramento Reeps, and he likes to secretly tell Viets that they can only be represented by a Viet.)   I think the main reason they invited Van was because he’s running against the hated Latina usurper Loretta.

Dana Rohrabacher broke their heart, having responded that he’d definitely be there and then blowing them off.  I hear that freakish gubernatorial candidate Chelene Nightingale did show up very late, after I and half of the others had left.  Aside from that – totally jilted by politicos.

So we sat there at the picnic tables, forty miserable-looking old white men and women and one refreshingly dark Filipina wife named Angie, and I listened to them regale each other with the latest outrage or conspiracy story:  “You hear what Obama’s planning to do now?”  There were several Ron Paul shirts, which inspired me to say, “Yeah, I like how Ron is sticking up for the rights of Muslims to build that community center near Ground Zero.”  The jaws dropped, each person I said that to.  “No!  You can’t be right!  He’s all about the Constitution!”  And I’m, “Of course, exactly.  Ron Paul believes in freedom of speech, religion, and association.  That’s why he’s sticking up for the Muslims here.”  This was all too confusing for any of these folks, who talk about the Constitution all day but seem to think it’s some magical document affirming the superiority of White Christians and their ownership of America.  Here’s the ineffable Ron Paul’s great statement on the issue last week;  a few excerpts:

…The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque [sic]…

…The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars……The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer. Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish…

It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.

The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives’ aggressive wars.

Back to our CCIR friends.  Although to a man and woman they deny hating on Mexicans or any other minorities, they come together as a group in their common overriding obsession with halting immigration across our Southern border, presenting that as the source of all America’s domestic problems.  They had two banners up: one, a pathetic looking donkey with an Obama face on whose tail you were invited to pin money, and one of the California Bear chasing away an immigrant family. Not only is CCIR counted as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, even Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist says its “membership appears to be comprised of some of the world’s most incurable hate-mongering bigots.”  And having watched them in action at several council meetings and demonstrations, that sounds about right.

Barbara Coe is always nice to me though!  I guess she thinks I’m just a nice young man, she probably doesn’t read any blogs that aren’t racist, and doesn’t realize I’m the writer who called her a “trembling fireplug of malice” who is a “self-contained manufacturer of her own mad facts.”  Or maybe she thinks those are compliments.  NOW they probably like me more than ever (even though I kept saying things that confused them greatly) because I ended up having to lead them in patriotic songs.

How THAT happened:  One ancient geezer had brought a four-stringed guitar, a little mooncalf of an instrument missing its low E and A, and he was entertaining the bored troops with hits from the 20s and 30s like “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue,” which he would whistle as he strummed.  But then everyone wanted to sing along with “patriotic songs” and this guy didn’t know any.  So he handed me his guitarlet, and I led the CCIR in “God Bless America” (their choice) and “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” (my choice, written by a lesbian socialist.)  Yep, that was me, if any of you guys are reading this!  “Far Left Vern” led you in song.

Ted Hayes arrives

The one celebrity (besides Chelene) who didn’t stand them up was black LA huckster Ted Hayes, whom we have already sliced and diced in our Westminster story.  He showed up late, fresh from his Arizona tour, with an entourage of big beefy bouncer types, and gave a typically charismatic and twisted speech, this time barely mentioning the plague of Latino immigration (which disappointed a few folks I talked to) but mostly focusing on absolving the whole white race of racism, taking the Glenn Beck / Martin Luther King controversy as a jumping-off point.

As I paced about restlessly listening to Ted’s jive, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut, to the menacing annoyance of his bouncer posse.  When he pleased the crowd with tales of Latino-black conflict in LA, attempting to demonize the Latinos, I muttered “That’s what always happens with two oppressed minorities living together,” and the bouncers glared at me.  When he claimed that slavery only happened because Africans enslaved each other (half true) and that the Civil Rights movement was completely the work of nice good-hearted white people – specifically saying “Sojourner Truth had nothing to do with it” – I couldn’t help but remark “Dissing SOJOURNER now?” and the bouncers glared again.  Then he completed his obsequious, cringe-inducing absolution of the crowd:  Civil Rights was accomplished by YOU white people, for the benefit of WE black folks, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!   And in the pause for applause, I had to yell:  “It was for the benefit of ALL of us!” Ted was all “Sir, please…” and I knew it was about time for me to go, to hop on the bus to the Truman Dinner.  (Click for THAT report!)

But some time a little before that, I had to find the men’s room, and outside getting water were about a dozen high-school basketball players – Latino, white and black – and they asked me what was going on over there, since they could hear a little bit from the PA.  I explained to them what the group was, who Ted Hayes was, what they stood for, and how I wasn’t really part of them but just reporting on them for my blog.  And they looked over that way with an air of disgust, and one of them said “Fucking racist pricks.”  And, despite the Carlo Rossi, I felt clean again.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.