We gathered in Claremont March 19, 2011 on awkward circumstances. Today is the 8th anniversary of the Iraq War and the day the Nazis came to Claremont, California. The announcement that they were coming evoked a series of emotions and reactions from friends, neighbors, coworkers and colleagues ranging from shock to anger to hurt to ambivalence and more. The Nazis have a knack for unifying us as they hate pretty much everybody. You have probably all looked at their website stating the requirements for membership, "those of pure White blood...not homosexual or Jew." Though the NSM is against so-called "homosexuals" and have targeted gay pride, a gay church, and gay marraige in Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina, we really have a different issue here in Southern California. And I say "different" knowing that no aspect of human identity is removed or separate from the others. For example, one can be both queer and a migrant. The NSM have stated that they chose to come to Claremont because the Claremont Colleges are pro-migrant. This is a compliment to many, as the colleges house scholar activists who encourage the humanization of migrants through their writing and by fostering student community engagement. And there is a DREAMer presence that cannot be forgotten as one Claremont College student presented at the 'Perspectives on Queer Undocumented Identity' forum in Rialto today. Today people from the immigrant's rights movement, the anti-sexist movement, the anti-war movement, queer, feminist, animal liberation, anti-racist, religious, environmental movements....were all represented. We are all affected by fascism and we are all affected by anti-immigrant sentiment and laws.
How do you know race is there? And is White really a race? Critical race theorists have drawn up maps of how race can be perceived, performed, represented and embodied. Though general consensus among racial theorists is that race is not biologically meaningful as a category, they have determined that social meanings are projected on race that are undeniably fraught with real-life consequences. Michael Omi and Howard Winant historically traced racial formation and racism in the US, arguing that race is cultural and historical, not biological. They problematize the immigrant assimilation narrative, pointing out that it requires white skin. They say that people of color cannot fully assimilate to hegemonic Americanness as Americanness is equated with Whiteness.
Sentiment about race and immigration fluctuate radically in popular opinion and culture in the US, usually based on economic factors, demographic changes, and media representation. Certain trends have emerged as to why outbreaks of anti-immigrant sentiment occur, the most prominent being a national crisis. The US is facing a huge economic crisis. Pair that with the fear of terrorism since 9-11 and the rhetorical conflation of immigrants with terrorists in politics, the news media, and popular culture, and what we end up with is a slippage in prioritizing the rights of immigrants.
According to law professor Kevin R. Johnson, "discrimination against immigrants often is legally acceptable." "The law" he said, "must police governmental conduct based on immigration status to ensure that it does not serve as a proxy for race." Since today's immigrants are overwhelmingly people of color, when immigrants are targeted, it is impossible to ignore the racial implications.
The first half of the video was the peaceful rally organized by Claremont College students intendedt to serve as a peaceful alternative to a confrontation with the NSM. The second half was the "protest" and "counter-protest," Nazis against people from various communities and movements. As you can see from the video, there was a lot of anger and shouting and the Nazis were clearly outnumbered. Though this is a good thing, it was also obvious that the scary ones were not the (approx 25) Nazis but the police, and this ended up dividing many activists between those that trusted the police to protect them and those that found the police to be worse than the Nazis because they had more power and criticized them for protecting the Nazis.