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Archive for the ‘Keith Olbermann’ Category

“From the mind-bending idea that four guys dressed as pizza delivery men were going to out-gun all the soldiers at Fort Dix…” –Keith Olbermann (MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, June 4, 2007)

There was a time when I watched Keith Olbermann with information-starved objectivity. Now, after having a several-years long change of personal and political belief systems (for the better I might add), I’ve discovered that Olbermann is just as iniquitous in his approach to “informing” the public as his nemesis, Bill O’Reilly whom he accuses almost daily of crimes against humanity (hyperbole) and general immorality. There have been moments when O’Reilly has been more than deserving of such public derision, and I have yet to see the degree of inaccuracies in Olbermann’s reporting as egregious and reckless as sometimes espoused by Bill in the “No Spin Zone.” But Keith is far from innocent, particularly when it comes to his ignorance of global jihadism and the serious threat that philosophy brings with it.

One only needs read the quote above from last nights’ Countdown program to fully appreciate Olbermann’s lack of understanding concerning Islamic extremism. The Fort Dix jihadist had no realistic interest in “out-gunning” the forces at Fort Dix army base in New Jersey. Islamic militants simply don’t think that way. But reference their efforts beginning with the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980’s and up through present day. In almost every case of suicide bombings specifically and Islamic terrorism generally, those directly involved on the frontlines of such operations do not attempt or even want to out-gun the larger force. They simply wish to hurt them. And they go on hurting them until they feel a change has been made as a result of their deeds. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan, also in the 80’s, is a fairly pertinent example of what jihadists hope to accomplish, and what they can actually achieve.

Simply, Olbermann prefers to downplay (much like The New York Times) many of the major terrorist threats against the west as hoaxes, and possible wag-the-dog style machinations, that only receives unjustifiable newsworthy exposure by the “right-wing” media. Those involved in said terrorist plots, usually of the home-grown variety, are usually characterized by Olbermann as ineffective dolts, isolated from any real jihadist organization (i.e. al Qaeda) and monetary support–they never would have succeeded anyway (though you can be sure if they did succeed, Keith would be one of the first on the airwaves to lambaste the administration for not doing enough to prevent said terrorist attack.)

Over at Hot Air, Michelle Malkin’s fiery blog, they have rightly called Olbermann out on his ineptitude and lack of logical thinking concerning this issue. For a man who derides Bill O’Reilly so often and so ferociously, Mr. Olbermann might be transforming into that which he hates the most.

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Video: Olby sneers at the JFK terror plot, questions the timing of everything

posted at 9:29 am on June 5, 2007 by Allahpundit

And to think, some people believe the left doesn’t take terrorism seriously.

You’ll note, I hope, that even Olby recognizes how dishonest he’s being. That’s why he feels obliged to mention not once but twice that coincidences do happen and, in his words, “we could probably construct a similar timeline of terror events and their relationship to the haircuts of popular politicians.” Why do it, then? Because, as the Truthers are wont to say, he’s “just asking questions.” Just “airing it,” Sullivan style. Make up your own mind.

What he doesn’t note is that 9 of the 13 terror alerts he cites were issued prior to Katrina’s assault on New Orleans, widely accepted as the beginning of the steep decline of the Bush presidency. It stands to reason that if terror warnings were deliberately timed to “distract,” we’d find them congregated around the administration’s true crisis moments. Instead, Olby’s forced to link the JFK plot to the U.S. Attorneys scandal, which had long since reached critical mass. Where were the terror alerts during the battle over Iraq funding? When Bush first announced the surge? After the Hamdan decision? Even by his own absurd non-logic, it makes more sense to claim that the JFK plot was timed to distract from the amnesty uproar. But Olby can’t claim that because Bush is on the left’s side on that one, so he’s forced to feebly tie it back to Gonzalesgate and the Democratic debate.

He also doesn’t seem to grasp that just because the pipeline plot wasn’t feasible doesn’t mean no attack would have occurred. You’ve got a group of men with homicidal intent willing to travel internationally to bring off their plan. If they’re game for that, they’re probably game for walking into a crowd of people and opening up with automatic weapons and grenades. It won’t take out an airport, but you might very well top the body count from the London bombings two years ago.

Newsbusters has the full transcript; the clip here is just a mishmash of lowlights, although I did include both times he went out of his way to note that one of the officials who announced the JFK plot was the father of a Fox News reporter. That official: Ray Kelly … commissioner of the NYPD. What would he be doing at a presser related to a major terror bust in New York City? We’ll have to wonder, I guess. Finally, pay attention to how Olby treats the biggest bust in his roundup, the UK airline plot from last year. Once again we’re treated to the dark nutroots insinuation that somehow it was sparked by Ned Lamont’s primary victory over Lieberman. If Olby’s genuinely curious as to why U.S. counterterrorist agents wanted to move faster than the Brits did, he need only look to his own network for answers:

Another U.S. official, however, acknowledges there was disagreement over timing. Analysts say that in recent years, American security officials have become edgier than the British in such cases because of missed opportunities leading up to 9/11.

Which is another way of saying that if they didn’t move quickly enough and the plot came off, people like Keith Olbermann would be on TV accusing them of having deliberately let it happen. That’s Murrow journalism, baby. Trutherism, the whole Trutherism, and nothing but the Trutherism.

 

Update: Just curious. Does the left even have a workable theory as to how, precisely, terror alerts “distract” the public? Has anyone forgotten about the amnesty bill or the Democratic debate since the JFK story broke? A truly enormous terror plot could be such a big story that it would push everything else off the front page for days, but this clearly wasn’t on that scale. (Not to mention the fact that it was announced on a Saturday.) So where does the distraction enter in?

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After my praise of Keith Olbermann in this previous post, this armchair quarterback of leftism on MSNBC has interminably and axiomatically persisted in his diligent effort to annoy me by making a molehill out of a fairly sizable mountain.

Yesterday saw the announcement of criminal charges brought against six men–all Muslims, all foreign born, three of whom were illegal-aliens–accused of plotting attacks against U.S. military personnel at Fort Dix army base in New Jersey. Almost immediately, the politically correct commonwealth, including CAIR, MPAC, and other Muslim American propaganda automatons, rose up in unison to warn the ignorant and infantile public not to jump to conclusions about Islam as a violence-based faith, while at the same time talking out of the other side of their mouths in praise of the police action.

Additionally, many in public office and the press, including Bush mouthpiece Tony Snow, who encompasses both as Press Secretary, made certain to alleviate any resulting fears within the trembling masses of American citizenry by clearly stating that these six men were not affiliated with any international terror organizations up to and including Al Qaeda.

And this matters because…? To the general public: It matters not one infinitesimal grain of sand that these men had no connection to “international terror organizations” or Al Qaeda. It doesn’t matter if they failed to receive an authentic fatwa ruling from an Islamic religious leader justifying (really, in their minds they needed little justification) their jihadist ambitions by attacking Fort Dix. Does the fact the media felt the overwhelming need to quickly rush forward and explicitly point out such an inanity somehow diminished the threat of murder and destruction planned by the six Muslims? Of course not. In fact, this is actually more disturbing because of the home-grown nature of their undertaking. They had no backing or operational support from any other establishment.

While their lack of tact (and apparent intelligence) was evidenced in their need to get a duplicate copy of their home-made jihadist video thereby alerting an employee at the local photomart who, understandably alarmed by the weaponry used in the video and the cries of “Allahu Akbar” by the very dolts who took the video in for duplication, the fact remains these men would have attempted to commit the acts they set out to do regardless of the outcome.

Training, affiliation, and monetary means do nothing to promote a lack of will in those guided by an ideology, and the ideologues who accompany it, that teaches war against the infidels until subjugation and sharia law persist throughout the land and eventually the world. This is what genuinely needs routing and exposure and a lot of good was done yesterday.

Of course, as stated above, there was some bad. Notably from Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s Countdown program. In it, Olbermann shamefully minimized the danger the accused would have instigated were they not stopped by law enforcement officials. Interestingly, Olbermann referred to the situation as “credulous” as in the American public is far too gullible in their readiness to accept the hazards these six men represented. Instead, he chose to label them simply as morons (thankfully they were) in a footnote piece just before he broke for commercial.

Keith Olbermann, you sir are today’s WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD!

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This photo obtained from the Cherry Hill, N.J., West High School 2003 yearbook shows Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer. Shnewer is one of the six men who were arrested Monday, May 7, 2007, on charges they planned to kill soldiers at the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Cherry Hill West High School Yearbook)

Store Clerk Helps Feds Bust 6 in Alleged ‘Jihad’ Plot to Kill U.S. Soldiers at Fort Dix

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Ever since Sept. 11, U.S. authorities have asked the public to be vigilant, urging, “If you see something, say something.”

In January 2006, a store clerk in New Jersey saw something.

A group of men had brought him a video showing them firing assault weapons and chanting, “God is Great!” in Arabic. They wanted him to transfer the footage onto a DVD.

So he said something, calling the Mount Laurel Police Department, who in turn contacted the FBI.

And thus began the downfall of one of the most thoroughly infiltrated and documented group of terrorism suspects in recent history — six men from Yugoslavia and the Middle East who were charged Tuesday with plotting to slaughter scores of American soldiers at Fort Dix and perhaps other military installations in the Northeast.

FBI agent J.P. Weis saluted the unidentified Mount Laurel store clerk as the “unsung hero” of the case.

“That’s why we’re here today — because of the courage and heroism of that individual,” the FBI agent said.

The suspects’ images and words were captured on more than 50 audio and video recordings. Their comings and goings were recorded by law enforcement agents who monitored the alleged plot for 16 months, hoping more terror ties would become apparent.

The defendants, all men in their 20s, include a pizza deliveryman suspected of using his job to scout out Fort Dix. Their goal was “to kill as many American soldiers as possible” in attacks with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and guns, prosecutors said.

“Today we dodged a bullet. In fact, when you look at the type of weapons that this group was trying to purchase, we may have dodged a lot of bullets,” Weis said. “We had a group that was forming a platoon to take on an army. They identified their target, they did their reconnaissance. They had maps. And they were in the process of buying weapons. Luckily, we were able to stop that.”

Authorities said there was no direct evidence connecting the men to any international terror organizations such as Al Qaeda. But several of them said they were ready to kill and die “in the name of Allah,” according to court papers.

The six men — five of whom lived in Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb about 20 miles from Fort Dix — were arrested Monday night while trying to buy AK-47 assault weapons, M-16s and other weapons from an FBI informant, authorities said.

“This is what law enforcement is supposed to do in the post-9/11 era — stay one step ahead of those who are attempting to cause harm to innocent American citizens,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said.

In addition to plotting the attack on Fort Dix, the defendants spoke of attacking a Navy installation in Philadelphia during the annual Army-Navy football game and conducted surveillance at other military installations in the region, prosecutors said.

One defendant, Eljvir Duka, was recorded as saying: “In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone … attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad.”

“It doesn’t matter to me whether I get locked up, arrested or get taken away,” another defendant, Serdar Tatar, was alleged to have said. “Or I die, it doesn’t matter. I’m doing it in the name of Allah.”

They appeared in federal court Tuesday in Camden and were ordered held without bail for a hearing Friday. Five were charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. military personnel; the sixth was charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigrants in obtaining weapons.

Four of the men were born in the former Yugoslavia, one was born in Jordan and one came from Turkey, authorities said. All had lived in the United States for years. Three were in the United States illegally; two had green cards allowing them to stay in this country permanently; and the sixth is a U.S. citizen.

One defendant, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, spoke of using rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons to kill at least 100 soldiers, according to court documents.

“My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers,” he was quoted as saying. “You hit four, five or six Humvees and light the whole place (up) and retreat completely without any losses.”

The men trained by playing paintball in the woods in New Jersey and taking target practice at a firing range in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, where they had rented a house, authorities said.

They often watched terror training videos, clips featuring Usama bin Laden, a tape containing the last will and testament of some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and tapes of armed attacks on U.S. military personnel, erupting in laughter when one plotter noted that a Marine’s arm was blown off in an ambush, authorities said.

Asked if those arrested had any links to Al Qaeda, White House spokesman Tony Snow said it appears “there is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie.”

The FBI’s Weis said the U.S. is seeing a “brand-new form of terrorism,” involving smaller, more loosely defined groups that may not be connected to Al Qaeda but are inspired by its ideology.

“These homegrown terrorists can prove to be as dangerous as any known group, if not more so. They operate under the radar,” Weis said.

According to court documents, the video that the store clerk found disturbing depicted 10 young men in their early 20s “shooting assault weapons at a firing range … while calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is great).” The 10 included six of those arrested, authorities said.

Within months, the FBI had managed to infiltrate the group with two informants, according to court documents.

One of the suspects, Tatar, worked at his father’s pizzeria and made deliveries to Fort Dix, using the opportunity to scout out the base for an attack, authorities said.

“Clearly, one of the guys had an intimate knowledge of the base from having been there delivering pizzas,” Christie said.

The men also allegedly conducted surveillance at other area military installations, including Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and a Philadelphia Coast Guard station.

Besides Shnewer, Tatar and Duka, the other three men were identified in court papers as Dritan Duka, Shain Duka and Agron Abdullahu.

Fort Dix is used to train soldiers, particularly reservists. It also housed refugees from Kosovo in 1999.

The arrests stirred renewed worry among New Jersey’s Muslim community. Hundreds of Muslim men from New Jersey were rounded up and detained in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, but none were connected to that plot.

“If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the 2001 attacks. “But when the government says `Islamic militants,’ it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous.”

“Don’t equate actions with religion,” he said.

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This photo obtained from the Cherry Hill, N.J., West High School 1998 yearbook shows Eljvir ‘Elvis’ Duka. Duka, 23,is one of the six men who were arrested Monday, May 7, 2007, on charges they planned to kill soldiers at the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Cherry Hill West High School Yearbook)

 

 

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Aside from Keith Olbermann‘s ridiculous anointing of Geraldo Rivera as “The Best Person in the World” (as opposed to his regular segment, “The Worst Person in the World” where in Bill O’Reilly regularly manages that honor) for his “noble” defense of illegal-alien Alfredo Ramos of Virginia Beach due to his successful extermination of two teenage girls in a drunk driving incident, the simple fact remains that Ramos would not have killed those young women had he not been in the country illegally in the first place.

Rivera’s deluded perception the accident had nothing to do with illegal-immigration goes beyond the pale. It at least has as much to do with illegal-immigration as it does with drunk driving. In fact, I would say it is about illegal-immigration first and driving while intoxicated second. Had our border been far more secure than it is now in its current revolving door state, Ramos might have never been allowed to enter this country illegally. He might never have made his way to Virginia Beach. He might never had decided to get drunk the night of the fatal crash. He might never have recklessly bumbled his way behind the wheel of a vehicle, and he might never have killed two innocent people as a result. Had Alfredo Ramos not been allowed to enter this country illegally, those two girls would still be alive today. It’s a simple fact that no one, not ever Geraldo Rivera can, or should deny. To do so, as he did on The O’reilly Factor last week, is shameful and deserving of scorn.

Instead, Keith Olbermann praises Rivera and such insipid statements as “illegal immigrants commit less crime than American citizens.” To Keith and Geraldo: well duh! When you have a country whose population sits at around 300 million individuals with 12 to 20 million more illegal-immigrants, it is not difficult to understand that fewer crimes are committed by illegal-aliens than infractions by legal residents. Geraldo’s case is a hasty generalization bordering tu quoque. The obvious reigns supreme–there would be less crime in this country were our borders secure, meaning there would be fewer rapists, pedophiles, murders, gang bangers, drug dealers, thieves, and drunk drivers. How difficult is that to comprehend? Obviously, for Olbermann and Rivera (and this preposterous article at Salon.com), it’s beyond comprehension.

Also last week here in Los Angeles, another ugly drunk driving incident made headlines across the country with yet another illegal-alien drunk driver, Hector Velazquez-Nava who happened to snuff out the lives of another two American citizens–this time renowned film director, Bob Clark and his 22 year-old son Ariel Hanrath-Clark. Even though Velazquez-Nava has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, he still wished to express his condolences and sorrow for their deaths. Didn’t I just mention he pleaded not guilty?

Because two high profile incidents such as these occured in a relatively short time frame, by no means should this indicate that all or most illegal-aliens are as ignorant and careless as were Ramos and Velazquez-Nava, but their cases acutely bring to light, in the most tragic of circumstances, only one reason as to why we must gain control of our southern border. Drunk drivers, regardless of citizenship status, are ticking time bombs. But if we were to competently disallow entry to a group of people who accept driving while under the influence as simply a degenerate yet acceptable aspect of their peasant culture–their “manliness” is defined by how much they can drink and not fall down, or not kill people with a car apparently–then that would rightly reduce the amount of unnecessary deaths. Is that too difficult to accept? Of course not.

There are far too many reasons as to why the illegal-alien population is detrimental to the United States, and I’ve covered those many times before throughout this site. The problem that arises from the opposition, including activists, is their lack of reasons as to why we should allow them free access, other than the fact that the wealthy, whether they’re liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans simply want as much access to an easily exploitable labor base (i.e. modern slavery) as possible. Those who desire the unrestricted admittance of illegal-aliens only desire their exploitation without heeding the concrete consequences, even when those consequences end up killing American citizens.

If only Alfredo Ramos had been deported the first, or even the second time he’d been apprehended for DUI.

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Hispanic DWIs rooted in immigrants’ culture
Lifestyle, isolation figure in driving drunk

 

When Eliseo Hernandez came to the United States 30 years ago, he thought he drove better after a few beers. Driving drunk had been normal back in Mexico, he said. But Hernandez, 54, learned of its perils firsthand. He quit the practice after falling asleep at the wheel and hitting a tree 18 years ago.Then, last year, a young Hispanic man who authorities say was drunk nearly killed Hernandez’s only son, Diego, in a crash on a rural Johnston County road. Eliseo Hernandez’s daughter, who was nine months pregnant, lost her unborn child in the accident.

Hernandez has spent the past year following Diego through four hospitals and 14 brain surgeries. Diego only recently began to smile again and might never walk.

Hernandez said he hopes his painful journey will teach his friends and family a lesson. Car accidents are the top killer of Hispanics in North Carolina, and the disproportionate number of alcohol-related arrests and wrecks are an embarrassment to a minority already beleaguered by hard feelings over illegal immigration.

“It makes the Mexicans look bad, very bad,” Hernandez said. “The American people say ‘Oh, it’s just another Hispanic, the same as the others.’ ”

In 2005, there were 37 alcohol-related crashes caused by Hispanic drivers for every 10,000 Hispanics in the state, according to the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. That is more than three times the rate of alcohol-related crashes among non-Hispanics.

Hispanic leaders are struggling to stem a problem that they say is rooted in the waves of young men who leave the calming influences of church and family to labor alone in a new country.

“It’s difficult because you’re trying to compete with the loneliness,” said Tony Asion, public safety director for El Pueblo, an Hispanic advocacy group. “Then, as some learn, more come, and we start again.”

Carnage continues

Last month, a Johnston County father and son died in a fiery crash authorities say was caused by Luciano Tellez, 31, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Dwane Braswell, 35, and his son Jerry, 9, were riding in a tractor-trailer cab on N.C. 210 in the Cleveland community of Johnston County when Tellez struck the tractor and rolled it into a ditch, where it caught fire.

Empty beer cans were found in Tellez’ car, but authorities say it is impossible to know whether he was drunk.

It was the latest in a string of such accidents caused by Hispanic men. In February in Salisbury, a woman who was eight months pregnant and her unborn child were killed. In October, it was two college students and a high school boy. In January 2006, a man from El Salvador killed a Hillsborough woman in a head-on crash and fled, leaving an injured passenger in his own car.

Researchers say drunken driving among Hispanics is at least partially explained by demographics. As in many places where immigration is fairly recent, the Hispanic population in North Carolina is young and dominated by men — both factors that make them statistically more likely to drive drunk.

Men in their 20s and 30s made up more than half the people charged with DWI statewide in the year ending last July. Nearly 40 percent of North Carolina Hispanics were 21- to 39-year-old men in 2005, according to census estimates. This same age range accounted for only 18 percent of blacks and 16 percent of whites.

Bobby Dunn, who counsels Spanish-speaking DWI convicts in Johnston and Wilson counties, said his clients are often young men far from home with money in their pockets for the first time. Many were too poor to have cars in Mexico, so they have little experience behind the wheel.

They also see drinking as a way of showing their manhood.

“The magic number is 12,” Dunn said, or “un doce” in Spanish. “If you can drink 12 beers, you’re a man.”

Others say heavy drinking is part of a lifestyle dominated by long work days building homes, painting or picking crops.

Walking down Buck Jones Road to his apartment in West Raleigh, Alberto Gonzalez figured he would drink most of the 12-pack he had just bought that night, even though it was a weeknight.

Gonzalez, 29, said he hadn’t given much thought to spending a night without a beer in hand. “I just sit and drink,” he said. “Maybe a friend will come by. Other than work, this is what I do.”

Hernandez was part of an early wave of young men who came to North Carolina to pick tobacco. There were so few Hispanics in North Carolina then, he said, he couldn’t find a store that sold hot peppers or corn tortillas.

He had been a drinker in Mexico, he said, but it got worse in the United States. He didn’t have a family to tend to, and he felt very alone in a place where no one understood him.

“When you are young, you don’t think anything will happen to you,” he said. “When you have a family, you care more about your life.”

In fact, the increasing number of Hispanic women and children in North Carolina may explain why the prevalence of drunken-driving accidents and arrests among Hispanics has not grown with the population.

By some measures, DWI accidents and citations among Hispanics are actually diminishing.

Hispanics made up 18 percent of the 75,000 DWI arrests last year, while they accounted for 6 percent of the population. The portion of DWI citations going to Hispanics has crept up slightly since 2000, even as the growth in the state’s Hispanic population has outpaced overall population growth by more than 500 percent.

Since 2000, alcohol-related crashes among Hispanics have dropped from 9 percent of all crashes that involve Hispanics to 7 percent.

The pressure to reverse the trend is intense. Each fatality brings calls for deportations and tighter immigration controls.

Luke Steele, 49, adds up the deaths and sees a growing problem that stems from immigration. He said his daughter lost her college roommate to a Hispanic drunken driver in October.

Steele, a longtime fire rescue worker, also remembers a 1991 wreck in which a teenage girl was killed by an illegal immigrant who “skipped town before the case ever went to trial.”

“We’ve still got plenty of stupid white, black, pink and purple people that drive drunk. That’s plenty to go around,” he said. “The reality is if they weren’t here, they could not kill people [while] driving drunk.”

After the March wreck in Johnston County, U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a Charlotte Republican, reintroduced a bill that would require the deportation of all immigrants convicted of drunken driving.

And anti-immigration groups have seized on the issue as an effective marketing strategy for their cause.

“The effect on the labor force is real, but it’s indirect,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter controls on immigration. “Whereas, an illegal alien who drives drunk and kills some newlywed couple is tangible.”

Asion, who leads El Pueblo’s effort to curb drunken driving, works to separate the DWI problem from the immigration debate.

Many Hispanics have not grown up with anti-drunken-driving messages, and it will take time for the ideas to take hold.

“It’s not something that you can do easily,” Asion said. “If it was, then the U.S. population would have already done it.”

News

Hispanics wary of fallout from deadly crash in Virginia Beach

Manuel Ayala, at right, has been in the United States nearly 20 years. He said many people automatically assume he's an illegal immigrant. Now,
Manuel Ayala, at right, has been in the United States nearly 20 years. He said many people automatically assume he’s an illegal immigrant. Now, “the discrimination, it’s going to show more,” said Ayala, owner of San Jose Mexican Mini Mart. STEPHEN M. KATZ/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

By GILLIAN GAYNAIR, The Virginian-Pilot
© April 7, 2007
VIRGINIA BEACH – Because one Hispanic person is accused of causing a tragic accident, Monica Restrepo said, she now frets that many will be judged and be the brunt of insults.

“We’re very worried about what’s going to happen to all of us in the community,” said Restrepo, who owns the decade-old La Tapatia, believed to be one of the first Latin American grocery stores in the city.

Restrepo and other local Hispanics this week expressed their sympathy for the families of two Virginia Beach girls killed in a car crash March 30. But they also couldn’t mask their concern over a possible backlash against both legal and illegal immigrants.

They fear that because of Alfredo Ramos, people will categorize all Hispanics as drunken drivers and unauthorized immigrants. Ramos, 22, is charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Alison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16. He had a record of three alcohol-related convictions in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake and had entered the country from Mexico illegally.

Many Hispanics said the public response to the incident has been incorrectly centered on Ramos’ immigration status instead of on drunken-driving laws and penalties.

“When someone has committed a crime, it doesn’t matter what legal status they have, what ethnic group – you’ve committed a crime,” said Mavel Velasco Muñoz, chairwoman of the Hispanic Leadership Forum of Hampton Roads. “We are not condoning it,” but, she said, the public is wrongly lumping together immigration issues and DUI laws.

Beatriz Amberman, a Virginia Beach resident and vice chairwoman of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, agreed.

“I wonder how many people are driving under the influence of alcohol and have been let go with a slap on the hand… and whether the system is actually working in that regard,” she said. “Rather than that… because of this one individual, we’re judging all undocumented workers.”

The tragedy gained national attention Wednesday through Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” when host Bill O’Reilly blamed the city of Virginia Beach and accused local officials of providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants. O’Reilly and TV personality Geraldo Rivera traded verbal punches on Thursday (video).

Locally, rumors swirled Friday among some Hispanics that federal immigration authorities were coming to Virginia Beach to raid establishments that employ illegal immigrants.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington said that such rumors are no t surprising, given the amount of attention the Ramos case has received.

“I can’t tell you that no investigation is going on, because that’s something we do on a daily basis,” Ernestine Fobbs said. “I can’t confirm or deny whether we have an active investigation going on at this time. It’s not something that we’d reveal.”

Ramos had worked briefly at Mi Casita restaurant on Bonney Road, according to Gary C. Byler, an attorney representing El Toro Loco Inc., the corporation that owns Mi Casita. Byler said Ramos was told not to come back to work when his documents appeared to be invalid. He was not working at the restaurant at the time of the car crash, Byler said.

It wasn’t unusual to see Ramos and other employees walking along Bonney Road and visiting establishments in Thalia Village Shoppes, business owners there said.

In the week after the car crash, there has been less foot traffic overall, said Junior Garcia, who owns La Tienda International Foods and Mi Tierra Restaurant.

Garcia said that since the incident, he has also noticed more police in the area and suspected that “we’ll probably have more police officers stopping Latinos on looks.”

Like others, Garcia was concerned about the response to the tragedy.

“I haven’t heard once that it was an accident,” he said. “White people also drink. I feel people have blown out of proportion his status and where he’s from. It could have been anybody.”

While he and his friends talked about the Ramos case at Mi Orgullo Latin Accessories in the same plaza, Jonathan Rodriguez wondered whether there would be such a public outcry had an intoxicated white citizen been accused in the girls’ deaths.

“Now they want to punish every Latin person out there,” he said. “Now it’s going to be harder for us…. You could be a citizen, but they’re still going to hate you.”

Local Hispanic leaders say they hope to turn the tragedy into an opportunity to educate more people about the dangers of drunken driving, push for tougher penalties for it and work for immigration laws that can be respected as fair.

Amberman, of the Coalition of Latino Organizations, said she is worried that “people want to look at only one side of the picture.”

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted the below Youtube video on his blog (sorry, you’ll need an account to Myspace, which is interestingly owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox News which, as we all know, runs The O’Reilly Factor.) It concerns a grave distortion (and huge error of judgment) on the part of the perpetually-out-of-touch-with-humanity Bill O’Reilly with an egregious historical inacuracy concerning the Malmedy massacre 62 years ago when roughly 80 American soldiers were ruthlessly executed by their Nazi captors during the Battle of the Bulge.

From my friend’s blog

Bill O’Reilly, commentator for the F-Word Network, has chosen to reverse history, and use Malmady as a historical excuse, if not justification, for atrocities committed by U.S. military forces in Iraq. He’s reversed history in order to further his own propaganda.

To make matters worse, he not only hasn’t apologized, but the F-Word Network has seen fit to go back and alter their transcripts for both broadcasts.

I used to watch Keith Olbermann quite frequently, but somehow grew adrift of the habit. Seeing this video (which is actually quite old) compels me to offer Mr. Olbermann my strict attention once again via his nightly program, Countdown.

Thanks to my friend, John for the reminder.

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