It's not unusual for different factions of a political march to disagree on the issues, particularly in Seattle. But the participants in an anti-globalization march planned for Aug. 18 from Seattle Center to the Federal Building are so far apart that they talk like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The dividing line between them is illegal immigration and who's responsible. The "Jekels" say undocumented workers aren't the problem -- border-eroding treaties such as NAFTA are. But some of the "Hydes" they'll be marching with call brown-skinned border-crossers "drug dealers, terrorists and thugs" who will "do anything they can to the point of mayhem and murder."
That's a quote from a press release issued in April by the national Minuteman Civil Defense Corps., a self-appointed, armed border patrol with an active chapter in Washington state.
Members of Washington's Minuteman chapter, the John Birch Society, Grass Roots of Yakima Valley and California's Save Our State plan to march through downtown Saturday to protest the formation of a much larger NAFTA called the North American Union, which all of the event's participants say will throw open the borders between the U.S., Canada and Mexico and further erode wages and national sovereignty to the benefit of corporate elites.
It's there the agreement ends. Participants from the Canadian Action Party and Oregonians to Stop the North American Union even say they're dismayed to learn that some of their fellow participants tend to scapegoat Hispanics.
"I really hope some of these groups don't talk like that up there," says Todd Wurster with Oregonians to Stop the North American Union. "It's not about Mexicans versus Americans. It's here's what's going on and let's do something about it."
What's going is the final planning for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, a trade and security initiative with Canada and Mexico led by the Bush Administration. The activists say the talks are laying the groundwork for an eventual North American Union that would have open borders and a single currency like the European Union's -- something the U.S. Department of Commerce denies.
On Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, President Bush, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will hold their third summit on the Security and Prosperity Partnership in Montebello, Quebec, where thousands are expected to gather in a WTO-like protest.
The partnership "is a mechanism to kill three countries," says Connie Fogal, leader of the Vancouver, B.C.-based Canadian Action Party. "It's a mechanism to remove democracy in the free countries, to remove the rule of elected, accountable people" and put power "into the hands of the corporate, military and financial elite."
But pitting people against people, she says, "is being an instrument of the new world order" -- something that event organizer Jonnie Crivello, a Seattle high-worker and founder of March for America, says is not the case.
"We are not pointing our fingers at immigrants," Crivello says. "They're being used as a vehicle for the goals of a deep North American integration as well as a bountiful supply of human resources who are willing to work for a lot less than Americans are."
"I don't want to be mistaken for someone who doesn't like other people who aren't like me," Crivello says. "That's just not the case. This is something completely different."
With 500,000 to 1 million illegal immigrants coming into the country each year, she says, "When we look at a figure of 20 million, the American public is being asked to absorb a population equal to that of a whole other country."
"If you're against that," she says, "you're labeled a Nazi or racist" when the real issue is Americans losing jobs to those coming in.
Shankar Narayan of Hate Free Zone Washington calls that a myth -- one of the biggest perpetuated by groups like March for America.
"They're couching the march in the language of the struggle against globalization, which is unfortunate because there are real issues in that struggle where all workers are being disadvantaged," he says. "Pitting immigrant and native workers against each other is not the way to combat that." [Event] March for America's protest against the North American Union starts Sat., Aug. 18, 1 p.m., at the Space Needle. Marchers will proceed to the Federal Building for a 2 p.m. rally and return to Seattle Center's Fisher Pavillion around 3 p.m. For more information, go to www.mfawash.org.