To the editor:
After the printing of my letter in which I stated that Martin Luther King, Jr., if still alive on April 4, would have stood with striking fast food workers in New York City who are, in real economic terms, worse off financially today than the Memphis sanitation workers were in 1968 when Dr. King stood with them, I was taken aback by the number of people who stopped me around town, after church, and at work to tell me how much they appreciated that letter.
The owner of one Main Street shop told me it was one of the best letters I’d ever written and that he looks forward to my letters in a paper he views as otherwise biased in an overwhelmingly conservative direction.
Yet, those conversations caused me to question whether I have fallen into the trap of too quickly labeling those with whom I disagree as “bigots.” That questioning made me realize that, on occasion, I have fallen into that trap.
But after my letter about the Foundation for American Immigration Reform was printed, and after reading the anonymous online posts in response to it, I realized that there are times when using words like “bigotry” and “bigot” is not just appropriate, it is necessary.
One anonymous poster took great umbrage at my having singled out FAIR. That was not at all surprising, given this poster has, on many occasions, cited FAIR as a source for his or her views on immigration.
In my initial “FAIR” letter, one piece of information was edited out in the interest of space. That information involved details about the long standing links between FAIR and the Pioneer Fund, an organization founded by U.S. Nazi sympathizers in 1937. From 1985 to 1995, a full decade, FAIR received more than one million dollars in grants from the Pioneer Fund to advance its anti-immigrant, xenophobic, agenda and its leader’s belief that the U.S. is a nation descended from white European immigrants whose future depends on preserving the majority status the descendants of those early immigrants long enjoyed.
When those links were revealed, Linda Chavez, a highly respected, mainstream conservative Republican, Latina policy maker and columnist, who served in the Reagan administration, resigned in protest from FAIR’s board of directors.
There are times when the use of the terms “bigotry” and “bigot” may seem overly harsh. There are also times when using such terms is, indeed, fair and justified.
When it comes to the important issues of immigration and immigration reform, it is neither harsh nor uncalled for to call attention to the true nature of groups like FAIR and its longtime funder and collaborator, the Pioneer Fund — or to those who embrace what such groups espouse.