Nativist Extremist Appointed to Virginia County Task Force
Robert L. Duecaster helps lead a nativist extremist group and regularly makes defamatory comments about Catholics, Muslims and undocumented immigrants, calling the latter in an October 2007 blog post "an invasion of parasites set on reducing this country to the levels of their own." But all that didn't stop the Prince William (Va.) Board of County Supervisors from appointing him to a committee that will influence county decision making on human services policy and budget priorities. After a closed-door discussion, the board voted 5-3 on Sept. 16 to approve Duecaster's nomination to the Human Services Strategic Goals Task Force, which will develop a roadmap for the next four years of human services planning. Duecaster is secretary of Help Save Manassas, an anti-immigration group that has spawned other "Help Save" chapters in Virginia and Maryland. In 2007, he helped author a local ordinance aimed at denying county services to undocumented immigrants and empowering local police to enforce federal immigration law. County officials later softened the ordinance because of concerns that it could lead to racial profiling.
Duecaster is known for his inflammatory remarks. "This country is being invaded no less than if hordes of armed people came across its borders," he said during an October 2007 county supervisors meeting. "This invasion is not armed, but they've got weapons. The weapons that they use are their anchor babies. ... This invasion is being funded by foreign governments." He offered another dire warning to the supervisors in April 2008: "You're at an historic crossroad today. You can fund and continue to enforce the rule of law resolution or you can let it go by the wayside and watch this county and the rest of this region degenerate into a third world slum."
Duecaster, a 57-year-old lawyer, was nominated to the human services task force by County Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr., who said criticisms of Duecaster's appointment amounted to "character assassination." In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Duecaster didn't retract any of his controversial past statements. "At the time the comments were made, we were living in a threatening and inflammatory environment," he said, adding that he hoped to serve "the interest of legal residents of this county." Duecaster has been even more flagrant in his remarks under cover of a pseudonym, according to the Post, which reported that on Black Velvet Bruce Li, the blog of Help Save Manassas founder Greg Letiecq, Duecaster has posted blatantly bigoted comments using the screen name "Advocator."
In January 2008, Advocator called for an investigation into "whether or not illegal aliens have a preferred breeding season." In April, he responded to a comment someone had posted using the pseudonym "Truth" with this gem: "An' thass right, Trufe, I am bitching about ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] as classes. Those anchor babies be costing me money."
Undocumented immigrants aren't his only targets. "What's even more ironic is the fact that el Pape [the Pope] will be here bemoaning how some jurisdictions have 'treated' the illegals," he wrote in April. "He'll be pandering to them to gather members to replace those who left the Church due to the institutionalized approval of his priests' penchant for little boys' behinds." (In a subsequent post, Duecaster insisted that despite his words he wasn't smearing Catholics, just criticizing the Catholic Church as an institution for its cover-up of sexual abuse by priests.)
In a 2005 post on the Muslim-bashing website danielpipes.org, he claimed that having many children was a strategy of "Islamists. ... They have always emphasized overpopulation and irresponsible procreation as a weapon in the Culture War."
Duecaster's appointment prompted an outcry from some residents. An online petition now signed by some 80 people asked the five board members who supported his appointment to explain their vote. Only one board member did. Supervisor Wally Covington said Duecaster has a right to free speech.
But Alanna Almeda, a local pro-immigrant activist in Haymarket, Va., sees it differently. "I'm disappointed in the supervisors," she told Hatewatch. "I don't think it's an issue of free speech. I think it's holding people accountable for their speech. That's what it boils down to: There's no accountability."