This past weekend, famed guitarist Carlos Santana reacted to the Arizona copycat immigration bill that was recently signed into law in Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal (R). “The people of Arizona, the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Santana stated at Sunday’s MLB Civil Rights Game at Turner Field. Santana called the law “anti-American” and reasoned that its passage is “about fear, that people are going to steal my job.” Santana responded, “No we ain’t. You don’t clean toilets and clean sheets, stop shucking and jiving.”
Roy Beck, founder and CEO of the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA which fervently supports Arizona’s immigration law, believes Santana has “reached a new low in hate speech”:
Rock guitarist Carlos Santana may have reached a new low in hate speech against American workers when he took to a microphone on the field before the Atlanta Braves-Philadelphia Phillies game yesterday. […]
Santana is like most bigots who speak, not from knowledge or facts, but from the emotional hatred stuck in their guts. […] The people of Georgia who supported and pressed for the new mandatory E-Veriy law were operating in the best traditions of the Civil Rights movement and should have been given the civil rights award at the baseball ceremony.
Instead, the ceremony was dominated by Santana who shamed himself and tarnished the civil rights tradition with his hateful diatribe against the most vulnerable members of our national community.
You’d think Beck would choose his words more carefully given how sensitive he is about how people describe his own ideology. A year ago, NumbersUSA took issue with posts I wrote that included excerpts from troubling videos it was promoting on its website — one which made the case against Mexican migration and the “exportation of poverty” and another that included speakers who, in the past, have expressed concerns about an “illegal alien invasion” and the spread of bilingualism. Beck’s organization submitted a complaint to YouTube and had Think Progress’ entire YouTube account shut down.
In 2009, a NumbersUSA employee sent Think Progress a sharply worded email threatening to sue us for libel after I wrote a post which linked back to a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report that identified NumbersUSA as an anti-immigrant group and quoted a respected researcher who challenged several of the group’s questionable research findings.
And during the march for immigration reform in 2010, Beck accused three pro-immigrant female mimes of threatening him and his bodyguards with “constant efforts at crushing physical intimidation” instigated by “blowing hateful whistles” and waving balloons.
Yet, Beck isn’t nearly as touchy when it comes to the rhetoric coming from people who support his organization. During a public conference call hosted by NumbersUSA last year, one NumbersUSA supporter suggested portraying women from Mexico as the “new welfare queens.” Meanwhile, during the 1990’s, Beck was editor of The Social Contract, a journal started by John Tanton that “routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists.”
Santana’s comments were controversial, but they pale in comparison to some of the overtly racist diatribes that have been published by the Social Contract Press and they hardly qualify as hate speech. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Arizona’s approach to immigration would lead to rampant racial profiling and potential human rights violations. Two courts have already stated that it is likely unconstitutional. That’s pretty much the antithesis of what America stands for.