By Ruth Conniff
Mark Lewis, the mayor of El Cajon, California, announced his resignation this week following the publication of audio recorded by The Progressive contributor Arun Gupta.
Quotes from Gupta's interview with Lewis were featured in the May 2013 edition of The Progressive, revealing the mayor's negative attitudes to the town's growing community of Iraqi immigrants.
The remarks became a matter of public discussion in El Cajon after The Progressive's printed story went online this week. Gupta then provided the full-length Progressive interview with Lewis to The Raw Story, triggering a firestorm of local controversy.
In the audio, Lewis also slanders "black Africans" and the town's Latino community, suggests Latinos do not respect women and insists that Iraqi immigrants are moving in to take over the drug trade.
"When I sat down with now ex-Mayor Mark Lewis of El Cajon last spring, I was hoping to get insight into the plight of the estimated 10,000 Iraqi refugees, mainly Chaldean Catholics, who have settled there since 2008," Gupta told The Progressive. "It was insightful that the man who represents the city of 100,000 on the outskirts of San Diego was comfortable saying during a taped 68-minute interview that Chaldeans make their money selling drugs, which has 'intimated' the Mexican community, who traditionally control the drug, along with African-Americans."
"The entire interview is filled with Lewis disparaging everyone under the sun, particularly Iraqi immigrants," he added. "But the real scandal is not his remarks. It's the fact that thousands of people, who've fled their homeland as a result of the U.S. war, arrive here suffering trauma and with few resources, only to wind up in El Cajon where the economy is depressed, the culture alien, and local officials hostile to their pressing needs. Mark Lewis was thrown under the bus for remarks that are by definition racist, but El Cajon will not be able to move on until it squarely addresses the deep-seated prejudices that result in whole communities living on the edge of poverty."
Disclosure: Stephen C. Webster is the former senior editor of The Raw Story.