Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bigotry at Work: Tim Burns, R(acist)-Mandeville.

[UPDATE: Folks who come across this entry ought to know that I revisited what I wrote here in another posting some weeks after originally posting this. Please read the posting below with the knowledge of this additional commentary linked to in this update. Thanks. -- Huck]

I was listening to WWL 870 AM radio this morning, and heard this report:

Bills aimed at illegal immigration move forward in legislature
Jay Vice Reporting

The House has passed three measures intended to make a dent in illegal immigration in Louisiana.

One bill would make it a crime to harbor or shelter an illegal immigrant; another would criminalize the transport of illegals; and a third would require local police to check the citizenship status of anyone they pull over.

State Representative Tim Burns told WWL-TV that he supports the measures, in part, because constituents have told him, "They're frustrated by the inability to go to Wal-Mart at night, they're scared to go to Wal-Mart at night."
WTF?!?!?! Folks are "frustrated by the inability" and are "scared" to go to Wal-mart at night? And this is all because of illegal immigrants? Is this guy serious? I wonder, has anyone ever been harassed or bothered or assaulted by any Spanish-speaker at Wal-mart? Or are people just put out that folks who look different than they do and speak a different language than they do happen to frequent the same places they do? If that's not a bald-faced, racist, bigoted, profiling comment, I don't know what is. Wait, though, it gets worse ...
WWL-TV's Bigad Shaban then asked him exactly what he meant by that.

Burns responded that he took a trip to Wal-Mart himself to check it out, and said, "You weren't sure you were in this country. Not trying to profile people, but it just seemed like people were concerned, that they were... ah.. I'm not trying to say any people there were being rude, or disrespectful or anything, but I could see how somebody, a housewife, could be intimidated to go there."
Not sure he was in this country? Not trying to profile people?!?! What a nimrod! Burns, face it, racial and ethnic profiling is exactly what you're doing, and you know it, which is why you felt the need to try to say that you weren't doing what you knew you were actually doing. And the kicker is that Burns notes that the people in Wal-mart were just there. They weren't "being rude, or disrespectful or anything." Damn! I'm so flummoxed I can hardly continue to write this. ... So, Rep. Burns, if the only thing you noticed was brown people (perhaps even speaking Spanish) just minding their own business and shopping, what's the problem? There is absolutely no other explanation than that this legislator is a bigoted racist xenophobe. It doesn't even matter to him whether or not these brown, Spanish-speaking, well-behaved people he saw in his little night time jaunt to the Wal-mart are actually "illegal" migrants, does it? He just assumes it. I mean, really, if they're not white, English-speaking people, they certainly can't be peaceful Americans, can they? Here's how the report ends:
Local immigration activist Martin Gutierrez says it's inappropriate for Burns to assume that every Hispanic he sees at Wal-Mart is here illegally.

"Just because someone looks like me doesn't mean he's here undocumented," said Gutierrez.
It is clearly inappropriate, Martin. But Burns is a bigoted racist xenophobe, so what can you expect?

See, this is what we're facing in this state. And people elected this yahoo. And he also made it into a run-off for the Federal Congress to fill Bobby Jindal's old seat. He was out rightwing demagogued by Steve Scalise, but he still managed to get 41.92% of the GOP primary vote in his runoff against Scalise. Big surprise, then, that Tim Burns, who represents District 89 (Mandeville) in the Louisiana State House of Representatives, has authored another anti-illegal immigrant piece of trash legislation (HB 1365) that makes it a crime (except for hotels!) to rent to an undocumented migrant. This bill requires landlords to play immigration officer and verify legal status. This bill is scheduled to come up for debate and a vote on the House Floor this Tuesday, May 20. Write your Louisiana House legislators!

What motivated Burns to craft this legislation? Apparently, this:
Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, said his bill is needed because some residents do not feel safe in neighborhoods where the illegal immigrants have moved. "Nothing is being done and people are feeling frustrated," Burns said.
Are you surprised? Thought not. Well, how about this, Mr. Burns: I'm frustrated with and feeling threatened by you. Maybe I can get my Representative to file some legislation making it a crime to know and tolerate and be charitable to you.


bayoustjohndavid said...

Well, in Burns' defense, you could say that he's not a very good hater. You have to admit that Scalise wouldn't have sounded so pathetic defending the proposal -- some people might make housewives uncomfortable. Some politicians would have played that new twist on defending the honor of white southern ladies with a lot more gusto. You almost have to wonder who put him up to it, not that it matters one bit.

Seriously though, I never took the proposed ordinances very seriously because I didn't think that anything that put the onus on landlords would get very far. I'm still not worried about it. Nothing against landlords, but the Louisiana legislature has a lot more respect for property rights than human rights. Once somebody opposes it as an infringement on property rights, it will get sunk.

Don't know if you mentioned this before and I missed it, but the timing is obviously suspect. When North Shore residents needed their contractors to be able to find cheap or just readily available labor, there was nothing wrong with people loitering outside the Wal-Mart. Now that most of the repairs have been made and the new houses have been built on the north shore, people loitering outside the Wal-Mart are a menace.

Huck said...

Good comments, bayoustjohndavid. I hadn't thought about the timing of these bills. That's an excellent point. You know, I got a very curt email from Nick Lorusso, who represents the Lakeview district, in support of all these measures, but the same reality applies there. Undocumented workers basically rebuilt Lakeview at bargain basement prices. And now that the bulk of it is done or well along the way to being done, Nick Lorusso wants to find ways to kick them out.

I have to admit that the xenophobic racism of Burns actually caught me off guard. He doesn't even try to hide it, really.

I'm not so sure about this bill being killed because it threatens property rights. When you have someone like Burns who wants to run paying customers out of the Wal-mart, of all places, just because some racist constituent housewives are uncomfortable around brown, Spanish-speaking people, you have to wonder if xenophobia trumps both human AND property rights in their minds.

We shall see. But it never hurts to let our State Legislators know where we stand, just for good measure.

Thanks, again, for the thoughtful comment.

E said...

Wow, what an idiot. It's laughable until you remember that he's actually a sponsoring bills on the floor of the LA House.

Mark Folse said...

Well, I'm afraid to go shopping on the NorthShore myself. Those people scare the fuck out of me.

Anonymous said...

Burns may indeed be a xenophobic racist, but I'm afraid that he might well be a fitting representataive for a largely xenophobix and racist consituency. Whay other explanation is there for suburban "white flight"?

In fact, you don't even have to leave the city to encounter this attitude, as in the case of Lakeview's Larusso. An awful lot of demolition has been completed in Lakeview, but there's still plenty of rebuilding to do. Plenty of those Mexican/Honduran workers are skilled enough to continue their contributions to our rebuilding process, if only because of months of intense on-the-job raining ~ isn't it still a bit early to strt running these people off?