The National Council of La Raza, a top Latino civil rights group, is taking a shot at RNC chair Michael Steele and several prominent GOP figures for skipping its ongoing annual conference while Democrats are basking in the contrast. Having nominated the first Latina to the Supreme Court and sending no end of speakers to the La Raza conference, they're in like Flynn with Latino voters, they hope.
But things are not so simple. The day after the La Raza affair there was another gathering in NY, to which Latinos came out. That was to protest at the Council on Foreign Relations -- where Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano was talking up the Administration's anti-terror policy.
A slew of human rights and immigrant-rights organizations, including many Latinos, called the protest because -- for all the nice talk -- the administration's immigration policy has actually put more, not less power in the hands of law enforcement and done little so far to stop abusive raids and deadly detention practises.
Armed federal immigration agents are still illegally pushing and shoving their way into homes and taking people away, breaking up families, on suspicion and Latinos are getting the lion's share of the grief. The Cardozo school of law reports there have been hundreds of predawn raids in just two states (New York and New Jersey) in violation of agency rules as well as the Constitution. And that's not just happening under the big bad Bush crackers-down. It's happening under Napolitano and Obama.
The demonstration by the immigration groups outside the Council in New York is a wake up call. Obama allies and voters, like many of those gathered outside Wednesday, aren't happy.
A Latina on the Supreme Court's great. And a love fest at La Raza's lovely. But just as in the case of the wrongful-arrest of Harvard Professor Skip Gates, a beer in the White House is no fix for what ails us.
There's still a problem of inequality and discrimination in America and it isn't solvable by improving our personal (or political) relations. At the end of the day policy -- like policy governing policing and immigration -- is where the action needs to be. If Obama and the Dems are going to applaud themselves for "being on the right side of history" they need to back up their words with real work.
Again, beer and a chat is nice. But ensuring equal protection is better. ICE and police who abuse power need to be reined in at once.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GritLaura on Twitter.com.