In a Thurssday column, Asheville Citizen-Times writer John Boyle examined a charge that Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower, in his crusade against illegal immigration, has been employing the same scare tactics as anti-communist Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.
Mumpower had a simple response: “McCarthy was right.”
Boyle’s column starts by noting that Mumpower continues to send e-mails to federal immigration officials, singling out local businesses and saying that he’s received direct information that current and former employees are illegal immigrants using false credentials. Mumpower copies his missives to his mailing list, which includes local news outlets and includes the disclaimer that “I have no idea as to the validity of these claims.” Mumpower, an Asheville psychologist, a Republican and a two-term City Council member who recently announced his run for a third term, ran an unsuccessful campaign for congress last year.
Boyle writes that there’s a problem with the tactic: “Mumpower does not validate the claims before making flimsy, anonymous assertions public.” Boyle goes on to quote Dwight Butner, owner of Vincenzo’s Ristorante, one of the restaurants Mumpower recently mentioned in one of his e-mails.
“I think Carl has become so strident and so dedicated to his cause that he’s employing the same tactics Joe McCarthy employed during the Red Scare of the 1950s,” Butner told Boyle. “He alludes to sources and information, basically saying this stuff is happening, without any evidence, which is exactly what Joe McCarthy did in the ‘50s.”
Boyle notes the lax enforcement of federal immigration laws, but argues that Mumpower’s mailings go too far. “I don’t think that means you can e-mail out serious, unsubstantiated allegations against business owners as if it’s casual conversation,” Boyle writes.
In the column, Boyle quotes Mumpower as standing by his actions. “As you know, (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is overwhelmed, minimally accountable, underfunded, and their ability to follow through is limited. So I want to create as much visibility as possible and get some people — and you guys in the media — stirred up,” Mumpower told Boyle.
Boyle ends by recalling the words of Joseph Welch, the man who stood up to McCarthy during a public hearing by asking, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Mumpower answers in his follow-up e-mail: “The answer is yes – McCarthy was right.”
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor