Category Archives: Immigration

Son of Racism Is Bustin’ Out All Over

You think the deadly combo platter of two seemingly needless police killings of black men plus the Dallas killing of police officers by a black man has kinda lanced a boil on America’s psyche? Because everywhere there’s talk of racism — and the denial of same by white folks who are way too defensive about the whole thing.

Last week, I wrote about a bunch of racially-tinged incidents tainting the pure and blessed landscape of Vermont, and now we’ve got some more to share.

Coming up, signs that the authorities in Bennington Still Don’t Get It, even in the face of a potentially expensive lawsuit… and further evidence of cowardice in Vermont’s second city.

But first, the Burlington Free Press reports that some locals have their knickers in a knot because Ferrisburgh’s Rokeby Museum had the audacity to put up some “Black Lives Matter” placards.

The Rokeby is a small museum dedicated, in part, to Vermont’s role in the Underground Railroad. The Robinson family, who lived on the property, were Quaker abolitionists who sheltered runaway slaves. The signs were hung in May to honor “the legacy of the Robinsons as social justice activists.”

In the aftermath of the Dallas shootings, it’s gotten a little tense down Rokeby way.

A young man who came in to ask about the signs, became angry, thinking they supported violence against police and white people — himself included.

One person called and another posted a Facebook message on the museum’s page demanding the signs be taken down… By the end of the day on Friday there were at least five response that left staff feeling vulnerable.

(Note: yes, it’s incorrectly spelled “response” in the Free Press story. No proofreaders need apply.)

Funny, isn’t it, how a single incident of black-on-white violence can shatter the automatic assumption of safety that’s part of White Privilege in America?

Continue reading

Some world-class political cowardice down Rutland way

It wasn’t the most treacherous act in the history of politics. It wasn’t Brutus knifing Caesar in the back. It wasn’t Vidkun Quisling selling out Norway to the Nazis. But a majority of Rutland City aldermen gained a high place on that inglorious list with their non-decision on the proposed settlement of Syrian refugees in their fair city.

What did they do? Well, they weaseled their way around the issue from every available direction.

First, they voted narrowly not to hold a nonbinding referendum on the plan.

Then, they sent a letter to the state — a nonbinding letter with no legal force — refusing to support the settlement.

… we do not feel we are currently in a position to be able to provide a letter of support for the proposal to establish a new reception and placement program in Rutland.

Please note: they didn’t state their opposition. They withheld their support.

Good God in heaven, what a pack of schmoes.
Continue reading

In which I join the ranks of the Vermont Illuminati

Yeah, somebody forgot to invite me to the secret ceremony — or maybe The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy intercepted my invitation, hmmm? — but apparently I have joined the ranks of the secret elect. Yes, I’m in the Firmament of Evil alongside Peter “Capo di tutti capo” Shumlin, Mary “Whirling Blades” Powell, Paul “Carbon Tax” Burns, Shap “The Fixer” Smith, Crea “Moneybags” Linthilac, and whoever else.

I learned of my elevation in a curious way: via Twitter, from one of our staunchest conservatives.

Oooooh, “Orwellian”. Me likey!

Some explanation is needed, I’m sure, for the casual reader.

Continue reading

It’s summertime, and racism is bustin’ out all over

Perhaps in honor of our nation’s birthday, there’s quite a bit of sobering news for those who believe that Vermont is above all this racism stuff because, well, we’re Vermont!

Actually, I’d compare us to Scandinavian countries before the first waves of darker-skinned immigrants. They didn’t have racism because there wasn’t any reason for it to spring forth. But you add in some brown people — or even the idea of adding in some brown people — and boy howdy, turns out your attic is full of spiders.

We have, of course, the ongoing disgrace in Rutland, where opponents of setting 100 Syrian refugees might go so far as to eject the best damn mayor their city has ever had. And don’t try to sell me that the anti-refugee contingent are upset over process. That’s an excuse. No, they’re afraid of dark-skinned people wearing heebie-jabbies.

Exhibits B and C are separate reports detailing “stark racial disparities in Vermont policing and incarceration,” per VTDigger; Exhibit D is a series of truly disturbing incidents of racism in, of all places, Craftsbury — the summer home of Bill “Spaceman” Lee and an epicenter of Northeast Kingdom counterculture.

And the cherry on top of this shit sundae: Governor Shumlin urging federal authorities not to harass or “hassle” members of the Rainbow Family Gathering. I wonder if he’d express the same sentiment if it was, say, a Hip-Hop Nation event at Mount Tabor.

Call me cynical, but I doubt it.

Continue reading

A little fearmongering from VT Watchdog

Scary headline earlier today:

More than one-third of refugees in Vermont test positive for tuberculosis

Immigrant Resettlement Program. )Not exactly as illustrated)

Refugee Resettlement Program. (Not exactly as illustrated)

That story comes to us courtesy of Vermont Watchdog, a conservative “news” site. But before you go investing your 401K in surgical mask manufacturers, there’s more you need to know.

The story is based entirely on a single fact: Of the 901 refugees admitted to Vermont since 2013, 318 tested positive for TB.

Those numbers were provided to Watchdog by the state Health Department. Scary, right? Aliens among us are bearing potentially fatal diseases, right? Rutland had better pull the plug on that Syrian refugee plan, lest it be overrun by plague-infested furriners, right?

Ehh, not so much.

Continue reading

Burlington needs to grow.

One of the things that always perplexes me about anti-development activists in Vermont is how fragile they believe our state’s character is. To hear them tell it, a single development here or there will forever alter Vermont for the worse, and trash our pristine image.

Myself, I believe our state’s character is built of stronger stuff, and can withstand a reasonable amount of development.

Ditto Burlington, a small town by most standards but our largest metropolis. There’s a kneejerk reaction to any growth or development proposal in the city, as if it will be forever shattered if it has a few tall buildings or more people, or if we were to mix some housing into the artists’ colony in the South End, or just about anything else that might add to the population. .

Well, as a person who lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, I can tell you that a city can accommodate a frightening amount of growth without losing its character. Ann Arbor remains a funky town full of interesting, creative people, even though it has a lot of tall buildings downtown and a lot of in-fill development.

Yeah, the traffic sucks, but it’s always more or less sucked.

Beyond that, I believe in a simple propostion: Burlington needs to get bigger. For the sake of its people and its economy — but more importantly, for the sake of Vermont’s future.

Continue reading

Lawmakers Lament Lost Opportunity to Grandstand

Full marks to Rutland Mayor Chris Louras for rolling out the welcome mat to 100 Syrian refugees — and for stoutly defending the decision against the inevitable backlash.

He drew the connection to America’s tradition of welcoming immigrants of all kinds — and he pointed out that immigrants, by and large, are a strong economic plus for struggling cities.

“Their arrival will signal a new wave in the ongoing economic growth of the region,” Louras added. “As our forefathers’ arrival added to the rich cultural melting pot of Rutland County, our newest residents will enrich and expand the tapestry we cherish today.”

Plus, Rutland will probably get some authentic Middle Eastern food out of the deal.

Continue reading

Did Bill Stenger make a deal with the devil?

Previously in this space, I questioned if it was possible that an experienced businessman like Bill Stenger could actually be clueless to the rampant looting of his own project, and remain that way for several years running.

My conclusion: No, he could not.

Which brings us to this: If he knew what was going on, why did he let Ariel Quiros (who had illegally used EB-5 investor money to become Stenger’s boss) pursue this crooked scheme? Why did he put his own finances and reputation on the line, even when the signs of trouble became impossible to miss?

Two possibilities. First, he was getting a cut. Could be.

Second, he was in severe financial straits and needed a Quiros to bail him out. Call Quiros a “devil investor,” if you will. Certanly not an angel.

Continue reading

How to reverse course without changing position

… The Phil Scott Way.

Congratulations to our Lieutenant Governor for arriving at the right answer on Syrian refugees. It only took him eight days to do it, which is kind of unseemly for a guy who wants to be our take-charge, New-Direction chief executive. A bit more clarity and alacrity would seem to be minimal qualifications for the corner office. But congratulations anyway: he may have taken the scenic route (unusual for a veteran race car driver), but he did manage to arrive at the right destination.

Scott now says it’s okay for Vermont to accept Syrian refugees. Also, he dubiously claims that his position hasn’t changed.

Which, hahaha. Let’s look at the record.

On November 17, Scott said the following to VPR’s Steve Zind:

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to [bar Syrian refugees] until such time as the federal government can prove it’s meeting its national security obligations,” said Scott.

Need I point out that “can prove” is an awfully high bar? Can the government absolutely prove it’s meeting its obligations? Especially without, say, revealing information best kept on the down-low?

Continue reading

Five thousand Syrians

Full marks to Governor Shumlin for refusing to succumb to the hysteria gripping so many of his fellows, and keeping the light on for Syrian refugees in Vermont.

“The refugees from Syria are no different than the refugees from anywhere else in the world,” Shumlin told reporters. “I would encourage us to do what Vermont has always done … It’s the spirit of all Vermonters to ensure that when you have folks who are drowning, who are dying in pursuit of freedom, that Vermont does its part.”

At last count, 16 governors had said they would refuse to accept refugees from Syria. Including, shamefully, New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Continue reading