By Andrew Skerritt
Can someone give Sen. Marco Rubio some love? He certainly wasn’t getting much at the recent gathering of conservatives in the Washington suburbs despite his tough rhetoric.
Rubio placed a dismal seventh at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in a straw poll of likely GOP presidential hopefuls. And he definitely wasn’t getting it from League of the South protesters in Tallahassee on Saturday.
Turns out the junior senator from Florida knew why he didn’t mention immigration reform in his hard-hitting CPAC speech last week. That kind of talk doesn’t sit well with the GOP fringe, political or lunatic. League of the South president Michael Hill and his foot soldiers for secession wanted passing motorists to know how they felt about Rubio, illegal immigration and amnesty.
“Marco Rubio wants to replace us,” the red-lettered signs shouted.
By us, they meant white southerners, the aggrieved, the belittled, the misunderstood, the endangered, the discriminated against, the disrespected.
In Hill’s melanin-fueled nightmares, his beloved South comes to resemble Rubio’s South Florida. He sees Latin hordes instead of God-fearing Southerners, Pollo Tropical instead of Waffle House.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the League of the South as a hate group, but Hill isn’t fazed by name-calling. So what, he said.
“I’m standing up for my people – white Southern people – no one else,” he said in a professorial style he must have perfected during almost two decades at the historically black Stillman College in Alabama.
As Hill spoke, passing motorists blew their horns at the protesters, mostly dressed in what I’d call Dixie preppy — blue jeans, denim long-sleeved shirts, cowboy boots and fedoras. A genteel, civilized, in-your-face group of narrow-minded folks exercising their First Amendment rights. Anyone expecting an unruly bunch of rednecks waving Johnny Reb flags in front of the Old Capitol Building was sorely disappointed. The only Confederate flag in sight was worn on a lapel pin.
Protesters waved two flags — the state of Florida colors and the Bonnie Blue, the flag of the short-lived Republic of West Florida of 1810. The same flag, five-point white star against a navy blue background, was flown by the Confederate States of America at the start of the Civil War.
Clever, very clever. The Bonnie Blue Flag doesn’t carry the same hateful symbolism as the Confederate “Southern Cross,” but the underlying message is the same. Hill, of course, will politely tell you that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.
At the event, one protester looked at me. He saw a black man, an African American who should be sympathetic to the idea that immigration, legal and illegal, is inherently bad because immigrants take jobs black folks want.
However, if he had listened carefully to me, he would have heard a Caribbean immigrant who believes immigrants enrich rather than impoverish our adopted country. Successful immigrants of color are the best answer to the question of America’s racism. Immigration is integral to our American heritage. And that should be Rubio’s unapologetic message to Republican conservatives and moderates alike. But of course, he won’t get any love for saying that.
Andrew J. Skerritt is author of “Ashamed to Die: Silence, Denial and the AIDS Epidemic in the South.” He lives and works in Tallahassee.
Remember, two years ago I called it. 2016 Presidential winner, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio. Because just how many families do we need to rule this country?
“By us, they meant white southerners”…those proudly prejudiced (m)asses that have yet to get over having lost the Civil War but love to shout about what good Christian Americans they are without understanding one iota of Jesus’s message. I wish they would stop cleaning their guns and waving their flags long enough to pick up their bibles to (re)read what is actually written in there. In doing everything they can to demean immigrants to this country, they make us look like mean hypocrites and hicks to the rest of the civilized world.
Jackie Mulligan says
I just have to weigh in on this one, this is for A.S. F. and Andrew the author of this article.
I think they both missed the most important part of this amnesty issue, It has nothing to do with where you
were born,I happen to be a southern transplant,and 2nd generation American, all grandparents born in Italy.
So the issue is the difference between the word LEGAL AND ILLEGAL !
All my grandparents were legal, and hard working people, proud to become Americans.
I will stand with all legal immigrants,who want to be Americans and respect this countries laws.
BUT I do not and will not abide any illegal sneaking into this country and breaking our laws.
Now if you think lawbreakers are fine, that is your right, but this in no way is demeaning them, its calling it like it is.Try sneaking into any other country and see where it gets you.This has nothing to do with north or south, black or white Christian or non-Christian .ITS THE LAWS that they break.If you like lawbreakers you can have them, the jails are full of our own American law breakers why not let them out???Take a few home.
When states cannot control illegals crossing borders and placing undue burdens on law abiding
citizens and taxpayers its time to say no more.
I stand against law breakers.
Your right jackie so many on the left lump together immagration with those already here ILLEGALY two diferent things!! Do we really need immagration reform or do we need to deal with the illegal way some do it??
@ Jackie Mulligan: Well said. We are a nation of immigrants and proud of it. And to Norton, we don’t need any families to “rule” this country, we need representation and that is the problem here. Mr. Rubio lied to his supporters and I don’t think they will soon forget that.
If the Lunatic Fringe are those who expect our laws to be enforced, then consider me a member.
Dear Jackie Mulligan–My grandparents came through Ellis Island into this country. They did not magically become American citizens once they stepped onto American soil. But they, at least, got the opportunity to work towards becoming American citizens and realizing the American Dream, if not for themselves then for their children and their children’s progeny. And, by the way, those evil illegal hordes invading our borders would not be crossing those borders to begin with if someone wasn’t giving them jobs–usually incredibly low-paying jobs doing back-breaking labor working for employers only too happy to take advantage of their desperation in order to increase profits. I mean, why not hire an illegal for some paltry sum without benefits instead of hiring Americans who are already here but who might demand a decent living wage? How come none of you fine patriotic Conservatives who are so outraged about the alien hordes have nothing to say about the poor benighted “job creators” who make THAT side of the illegal alien equation possible?
Sherry Epley says
And, that is exactly why our immigration laws need to be changed to deal fairly and reasonably with those already here, and those that want to come legally in the future. Then those laws need to be very strictly enforced 24/7!
@ Sherry Epley: I don’t think people will have any problem with that, just as soon as the government can prove they will secure the borders, so this will not continue to happen.
I wonder how many employers giving these evil illegals the work that encourages them to keep crossing the borders are even fined for doing so, let alone being made to face any other legal consequences for THEIR actions…It’s always so much easier to kick the most vulnerable target than to cut off the head of the snake (and I DO mean snake.)
Sherry Epley says
Here’s the thing. . . too many wealthy people and greedy employers WANT the illegals! They want nannies, house keepers, gardeners and employees they can pay in cash at below minimum wages and without paying an employer’s share of payroll taxes. THAT is the dirty little secret that is stopping immigration reform!
Note to Marco Rubio: You pander to the crazies, they’ll turn on you the minute you try to do or say something sane.