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Friday, Aug. 15, 2003 at 7:14 PM
Arnold, before you get the keys to the gov'na's office, California voters of color and progressive Anglos may want an explaination of your alleged association with a group called "US English".
reprint of an e-mail to imc-la:
By Terry M. Neal
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 13, 2003; 12:49 PM
The picture of Arnold Schwarzeneger, an Austrian immigrant turned California= gubernatorial candidate, is beginning to come into focus, and it's a compli= cated one. Schwarzenegger, like many Americans, is difficult to define polit= ically. He is apparently not strictly beholden to any hardline rightist or l= eftist ideology.
While media reports in recent days have focused on Schwarzenegger's support=20= for Proposition 187, the controversial 1994 referendum that denied governmen= t benefits to illegal aliens, virtually nothing has been said about the mult= i-millionaire actor's 15-year association with U.S. English, an organization= that seeks to establish English as the official language of the United Stat= es and also has ties to right-wing nationalist movements that have stirred c= ontroversy for other politicians such as Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent L= ott.
It=E2=80=99s been less than a week since Schwarzenegger announced on "The To= night Show with Jay Leno" that he would seek to replace Gov. Gray Davis as C= alifornia's chief executive. Yet, in today's hyper-political atmosphere, he=20= >
Hispanic and Asian voters, who could make up a fifth or more of those going=20= to the ballot box on Oct. 7, would likely take a dim view of Schwarzenegger'= R>
At the same time, Schwarzeneger has come under attack from conservatives, le= d by Rush Limbaugh, who have argued that the actor's support for abortion ri= ghts and gay adoption make him unfit to carry the mantle of Ronald Reagan. A= lready there are movements on the right to push for more conservative candid= ates, such as Bill Simon.
Yet Schwarzenegger's position on some issues, particularly with regard to im= migration, appear to fall in line with conservative ideology and could leave= him vulnerable to attacks from the left.
Schwarzenegger, who enjoys a lead in the polls, has not been eager to clarif= y the complicated image of him that emerges from his public association with= groups such as U.S. English. Schwarzenegger campaign officials did not resp= ond to three phone calls made this week for this column.
2">U.S. English's Tortured History
U.S. English has a long, controversial history, and its goals are opposed by= some of the nation's most influential minority advocacy organizations. The=20= group supports legislation on the national and state level that would requir= va" FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" SIZE=3D"2">.
In 1988, U.S. English found itself embroiled in an embarrassing flap. Accord= ing to James Lubinskas, a spokesman for the group, Schwarzenegger joined the= advisory board the previous year. With U.S. English-sponsored referenda pen= ding in three states, opponents of the referenda obtained and publicly relea= sed a private memo written by the group's co-founder, John Tanton, which he=20= intended to share only among other leaders of the anti-immigration movement.=
Tanton, a Michigan eye surgeon, is considered the modern-day godfather of th= e anti-immigration movement. He has founded or helped fund at least 13 anti-= immigration groups, three of which are listed as "hate groups" by the= T COLOR=3D"#000000" FACE=3D"Geneva" FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" SIZE=3D"2">.
"In this society, will the present majority peaceably hand over its politica= l power to a group that is simply more fertile," Tanton wrote in his 1988 me= =3D"#000000" FACE=3D"Geneva" FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" SIZE=3D"2"> horno proge= " SIZE=3D"2"> if our borders aren=E2=80=99t controlled. . . .Perhaps this is= the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caug= ht by those with their pants down. As whites see their power and control ove= r their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will= there be an explosion."
U.S. English was co-founded by former Republican senator Samuel Ichiye Hayak= awa, the son of Japanese immigrants. Its advisory board has included several= mainstream celebrities, ethnic minorities and politicians. But Tanton's mem= o set the organization back significantly. Following its release, Linda Chav= ez, a prominent Hispanic conservative who served in the Reagan administratio= n, resigned as president of U.S. English, and Walter Cronkite left the group= 's advisory board.
Schwarzenegger's reaction to Tanton's comments are unclear at this point, be= cause the campaign isn't talking about it. Some media reports suggest Schwar= zenneger left the group. But it is unclear when he rejoined. What is clear i= s that Schwarzenegger is still on the advisory board and an active member, a= ccording to Lubinskas.
=3D"Geneva" FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" SIZE=3D"2">," Lubinskas said on Monday. "He= joined in 1987. He was invited to join. He supports official English and he= supports U.S. English as an organization."
Lubinskas also said Schwarzenegger has donated money to the organization ove= r the years, but could not say how much.
The group fell into obscurity for some years after the Tanton memo incident=20= before it re-emerged in the 1990s under the new leadership of Chilean-born b= usinessman Mauro E. Mujica. Mujica was traveling in Mexico and referred all=20= questions to Lubinskas.
Recently, U.S. English has come under the scrutiny of watchdog groups such a= s the Southern Poverty Law Center for its hiring of Lubinskas in March. Lubi= nskas was listed as a contributing editor of the August 2003 issue of Americ= an Renaissance magazine, which SPLC lists as a hate group. The magazine is p= ublished by Jared Taylor, a leader of the white-supremacist group Council of= Conservative Citizens, which is also listed by SPLC as a hate group. Lubins= p://www.bnp.org.uk/policies.html"> American Friends of the British Nationali= IF" SIZE=3D"2">. The Summer 2000 edition of the AFBNP newsletter describes a= meeting in which Lubinskas shared a stage with former Louisiana Klansman Da= vid Duke.
Asked about his connection to AFBNP on Monday, Lubinskas declined to comment= .
SPLC lists neither U.S. English nor the Federation of American Immigration R= eform (FAIR)=E2=80=94a Tanton organization that played a central role in sup= port of California=E2=80=99s Proposition 187=E2=80=94as hate groups. While S= chwarzenegger remains quiet, his supporters point out that after discovering= years ago that his father had been a member of the Nazi party in Austria, h= e became active in Jewish causes and has donated more than million to the= Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He also has been active in health a= nd educational causes, lending his time and money to improving the lives of=20= inner-city children.
2">Guilt By Association?
Should Schwarzenegger be considered guilty by association? No. He deserves a= chance to answer questions about his involvement with U.S. English=E2=80= =94not because he doesn=E2=80=99t have a right to belong to whatever organiz= ations he wants to belong to, but because politicians are rightly judged by=20= the company they keep.
Conservative activist David Horowitz, who is also on the advisory board of U= .S. English, described the board as essentially a symbolic entity of like-mi= nded people. He said he could not recall the last time there was a board mee= ting. Horowitz, who has denounced Taylor and the CCC in print, said he did n= ot know about Lubinskas's association with American Renaissance and that suc= h ties were "not good."
Sitting with Schwarzenegger on the board of U.S. English are other Hollywood= names =E2=80=93 such as game show host Alex Trebek and Lee Majors, star of=20= the 1980s television series "The Fall Guy" =E2=80=93 as well as Nobel laurea= te Saul Bellow and 1968 anti-war Democratic presidential candidate Eugene J.= McCarthy.
Schwarzenegger should also talk about his association with Tanton. He should= be asked, as an advisory board member, if he knew anything about Lubinskas= =E2=80=99s hiring by U.S. English. He should be asked if he played any behin= d-the-scenes role with FAIR in the Proposition 187 fight.
Schwarzenegger, as well as all the other major candidates, should also be as= ked to explain whether they support or oppose Ward Connerly=E2=80=99s Racial= Privacy Initiative, a ballot measure on which Californians will cast votes=20= the same day as the recall election. Connerly's initiative would ban governm= ent from collecting most kinds of racial and ethnic information.
Opponents of U.S. English's goals said Schwarzenegger's involvement with U.S= . English would likely hurt his chances among Asian and Hispanic voters.
"We are all for helping immigrants learn English," said Celia Munoz, vice pr= esident of policy for the National Council of La Raza, one of the nation's l= argest and most influential Hispanic advocacy organizations. "Having said th= at, it doesn't make any sense to be making English the official language of=20= the United States. It doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't help people le= arn English, but it does hurt people. It's ugly and punitive and very harmfu= l."
Karen K. Narasaki of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium ex= pressed a similar thought.
"While we certainly promote immigrants learning English, we also understand=20= that it takes some time," she said. "We think it makes sense for government=20= to communicate with people in the language they best understand. To not do s= o can result in health and safety issues. If it=E2=80=99s not sharing with t= hem basic health information for their children or regulations for business,= its=E2=80=99 not good for an immigrant who is struggling to learn English."=
=3D"SANSSERIF" SIZE=3D"2"> that Schwarzenegger's positions on Proposition 18= 7 and U.S. English would help him with the electorate. He characterized Schw= arzenegger=E2=80=99s decision to hire as his campaign chairman Pete Wilson,=20= the former Republican governor who led the charge for 187, as a great idea t= hat can help him win conservatives and moderates and revive a moribund party= .
Wilson has defended himself and Schwarzenegger in recent interviews, accusin= g Democrats of playing "the race card."
The success of Proposition 187, Wilson said Sunday on ABC=E2=80=99s "This We= ek", "was directed against Washington's failure both to control the borders=20= and then their sticking California state taxpayers with the cost of federall= y mandated services, that was note a vote against Latinos. It was a vote aga= inst illegal immigration and what President Clinton even admitted was federa= l failure which he said was, quote, =E2=80=98unfair to California.=E2=80=99"=
But Wilson misses several points:
1) The demographics of the state have changed significantly in the last deca= de.
2) The level of political activism of that changing demographic can be direc= tly attributed to his actions.
These are not points Schwarzenegger can afford to miss =E2=80=93- or refuse=20= to address =E2=80=93- if he hopes to be elected governor.
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