Even before President Obama named Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, we knew that the rightwing noise machine would come after whoever was nominated. But what we didn't know was how much of an advantage they would have with the nomination of Sotomayor, because with their planned line of attack against her, they finally had an issue that they were intimately familiar with; racism. And who better than Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo to speak with authority about that?
But with their emergence as vocal critics of Sotomayor, almost lost among their shouts of racism, quotas and affirmative action, was their own Marcus Epstein. Almost. Who is he?
Epstein is the protege of Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo, serving as the executive director for both of their virulent anti-immigration groups. He's a "frequent contributor of racist essays to the white nationalist hate website VDARE.com," named for Virginia Dare, "the first white baby born in the English colonies." Subtle, eh? And here's Epstein's take on the proper degree of diversity in our country:
Diversity can be good in moderation — if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers — as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.
Now at this point you may be thinking that Epstein is criminally ignorant of the rich cultural history in our country ... and you'd be half right. Because Epstein isn't just criminally ignorant, he's a criminal:
... July 7, 2007, Epstein was walking near the intersection of Jefferson and M Street Northwest, in Washington, D.C., in a mild to severe state of intoxication. A friend of his later told the Secret Service that Epstein had been drinking. Apparently, Epstein was making offensive comments about non-whites, and decided to express himself more dramatically by calling an African-American woman passing by a "Nigger" and then attempted to karate chop her in the head.
Chances are, we never would have heard about this racist piece of flotsam if Tancredo hadn't been so intent on launching another vicious attack against Sotomayor:
TANCREDO: If you belong to an orginization, called La Raza in this case, which is from my point of view anyway, just nothing more than a Latino, it's a counterpart, it's a Latino KKK without the hoods ...
SCHUSTER: A Latino KKK -- would you like to take this opportunity to apologize?
TANCREDO: (Laughs) No.
SANCHEZ: It turns out that Tom Tancredo has some explaining to do on this very front, because the Executive Director of his political action committee, his political action committee, has admitted to a blatantly racist act. It's now revealed that in 2007, this man, Marcus Epstein, according to a Secret Service witness, came out of a bar in Washington, called a woman the "n" word, and then slapped her in the head. Slapped her in the head. He fled the scene, but he was eventually arrested. Epstein, who is due back in court next month, is blaming his behavior on too much alcohol. But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, it's more than that. They have described Epstein as a man with a network of racist connections. Back to Tancredo now -- who said on this show, people who associate with racist organizations are racists. Congressman, why is Mr. Epstein still in charge of your political organization? And what sir, does that say about you? We got in touch with Tancredo. He declined to answer our questions yesterday, repeatedly.
To date, Tancredo's only response has been to say:
I’m assuming that the only thing that makes (the incident) even newsworthy is the fact that it comes in the context of the Sotomayor thing.
And in a sense, he's right. Had Tancredo, Buchanan and their ilk not baselessly attacked Sotomayor, we never would have heard about this little pissant whose idea of cultural diversity is a Taco Bell. But in the sense that it highlights the absurd irony of these people decrying racism even as they embrace it, makes it an incredibly important story.