On Monday a new group that claims to be a grass roots organization, the Black American Leadership Alliance, or BALA, will be holding a rally on the National Mall, known as the “DC March For Jobs.” In early June the group sent a letter to the Senate’s “Gang Of Eight” who were working on bipartisan immigration reform legislation, and also to the Congressional Black Caucus, calling for congress to abandon its efforts on immigration reform because of BALA’s concern that it will lead to “higher unemployment, more poverty, and a lower standard of living for many in the black community.”
BALA has assembled a long list of speakers for their rally, including
- Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
- Congressman Steve King (R-IA)
- Former Congressman Allen West
Some readers likely just became very confused. “Why are people like Jeff Sessions and Steve King speaking at a rally organized by a group representing black citizens?” you might be wondering. That is because BALA is not quite what it may seem at first glance.
According to Right Wing Watch BALA was unheard of until they created a Facebook page on May 13. The Anti-Defamation League reports that BALA is merely the latest front organization of the anti-immigration group known as FAIR (Federation For American Immigration Reform), and is the new name of a previous FAIR front group, the African American Leadership Council (AALC). FAIR was founded by John Tanton, who the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as the ”racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.” Tanton’s racist views were revealed in 1988, when memos he had written to the leaders at FAIR were leaked. The memos were filled with racist statements and predicted a coming “Latin onslaught.” Tanton also requested of FAIR employees that they make sure to receive mailings from American Renaissance, described by the SPLC as a “racist, pseudo-scientific magazine focusing on race, intelligence and eugenics.”
Among the leaders of BALA are two who have close ties to Tanton and FAIR:
- Frank Morris, who sits on the boards of FAIR and CIS (Center For Immigration Studies, also founded by Tanton), and is vice president of the misnamed Progressives For Immigration Reform (PFIR)
- Leah Durant, the executive director of PFIR. Durant is a former attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), which is the legal arm of FAIR
According to The Daily Beast’s Michelle Cottle, Tea Party leaders are “downright giddy” at the opportunity to have their members speak at the rally. One look at the DC March For Jobs website reveals why that may be: it will give politicians whose concern for minorities has been questioned in the past a chance to appear on stage at an event that will likely receive a decent amount of media coverage (at least from Fox News), surrounded by people of color who will be spouting the same anti-immigrant line that they like to advance to the audiences at their mostly white town halls and campaign rallies.
As a result of the many links between BALA’s leaders and the Tanton network, hate-group watchdogs have expressed concern that the organization is merely the latest in a series of minority front groups providing anti-immigration extremists cover from charges of racism.
Sure to be a hit with the fans of Ted Cruz and Steve King will be speakers such as Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, who has claimed that giving women the vote was “one of the greatest mistakes America ever made,” and has said that the NAACP is no different than the KKK.
Also scheduled to appear is Florida pastor O’Neal Dozier, who served as Rick Santorum’s Florida campaign co-chair last year. Dozier, who has a history of anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim rhetoric, also said last year that Mitt Romney’s nomination would “taint the Republican party,” due to his Mormonism.
Republicans have sought ways to drive a wedge between the black and Latino communities for several years now, and groups such as BALA provide cover for such efforts. Fortunately most Americans see through the pandering paternalism of white right-wing politicians who try to tell them that they know what’s best for minorities. Cruz, King, et al, will likely get some good photos and sound bites to use in their next campaign, but they’ll pick up few if any more votes from minorities. Black people are just smarter than Republicans think they are.