New York Invaded!
Much of the talk was nasty. "This is not the first time I have faced Satan," said Gilchrist. "Yes, we have names for them, too....Satan will once again back down under the rule of law."
"Monsters" was a word used frequently. Gilchrist claimed that 28,000 people have been murdered by undocumented immigrants in the USA since 9/11 -- and 95 percent of the killers have been Mexican. Speakers consistently said that immigrants killed the thousands of people who died on 9/11.
(While some of the known 9/11 terrorists had violated immigration laws, that does not a cause-and-effect link make. Timothy McVeigh could not have bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building if he didn't have the rental truck. So let's close all the rental businesses.)
One man, holding one end of a sign that read "STOP THE INVASION" barked at a Telemundo reporter: "You gonna broadcast this in English, so my family can hear it?" To which one of his comrades replied something about subtitling and Spanish-language TV causing his high cable bill.
Added another man, wearing a Border Patrol hat: "My mother came here legally.... She didn't bring any disease like half of these people."
All the while, a group of immigrants' rights protesters that surely outnumbered the Minutemen chanted and waved signs -- "MinuteKlan", etc. -- and chanted from their corral across Liberty Street.
Frankly, I didn't expect such harsh, violent, and paranoid language from a group that claims to be "not a call to arms, but a call to voices seeking a peaceful and respectable resolve", according their website. But they see this as a war against murderous hordes.
Minuteman speakers -- including a representative from a 9/11 families group who lost his son in the WTC -- constantly and fervently evoked the ghosts of the USA's founding fathers, all soldiers who have ever died for this country, and the victims of 9/11 to demand that politicians start "honoring their oaths of office" and enforce immigration laws -- or leave their posts. (That includes Pres. Bush.) And they bellowed often about law and order. (See my previous post.)
That ignores the facts that the Boston Tea Party was technically a terrorist act, but it was breaking of laws that served the interests of justice; many non-citizen immigrants have died in service to the USA; "Mexican" workers -- as MM supporters view all undocumented immigrants -- did not murder thousands on 9/11; and that many of those who died that day were foreign-born. Gilchrist also remarked that people in San Diego know that the USA is being colonized. That's an historically ignorant and hypocritical argument since the USA colonized that very same territory when it belonged to Mexico.
The Minutemen eventually hustled Gilchrist -- a former Marine -- out of the event when protesters left their corner and marched across the street towards (and past) the Minutemen. NYPD seemed to do a good job keeping the groups from clashing -- although at one point it looked like a small-in-stature Latino protester was about to go at it with a tall, muscular, union-brother Minuteman. The exchange went like this:
"Go back to Mexico!"
"I'm not from Mexico. I'm from [unintelligible]."
"Well go back there, then!"
Then they lunged towards each other from opposite sides of the metal barricade, and NYPD intervened.
Both sides called each other Nazis. And at least several aggressive, white men circled the MM group chanting things like "Racists go home" and "The Nazis lost in '45".
The small MM crowd had a variety of images, from button-up conservatives, to tourist-dressed middle-aged women, to biker-looking guys with do-rags and big mustaches, to a perky young woman in short shorts and a US-flag bandana (who cheerily referred to the protesters as "idiots and babies".)
As the crowds lessened somewhat and the microphone opened up to random MM speakers, the protesters chanted "Welcome to New York. Now learn Spanish."
Frankly, today revealed a culture of fear, scapegoating, and hatemongering that really disappointed me. (And a good bit of that goes for the protesters. How best to disprove the idea that immigrants are a wild, combative mob than to show up as a wild, combative mob?)