Monday, September 21, 2009

This protest almost certainly can't help

From the Arizona Daily Star, a report of an upcoming anti-Minutemen demonstration by the Brown Berets.

The Brown Berets are coming from California due to the murders of Raul and Brisenia Flores by a group calling itself "Minutemen American Defense"; they allege official government collusion with the Minutemen but don't give any names or even hint at details, which gets me thinking that this is just, like, dippy '60s radicalism against The Man, man.

It's important to get details right, and the lack of attention to detail is part of what has me thinking this is a nostalgia show. The Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, the group commonly called the Minutemen (ask their wives...), has dozens of members, stirs up nativist paranoia and race bigotry, exaggerates whatever economic case exists for immigration restrictions, talks about defense and fights and such, and then sits in lawn chairs with binoculars, watches for suspected crossers, and and enly the facts right, too. (Roger Barnett they ain't.) Minutemen American Defense, according to its own narrative now coming out in the press, is a small handful of crazies who wanted to rob suspected drug dealers (and apparently kill their nine-year-old daughters) to get money to fund paramilitary activities. As San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Reuben Navarrete wrote, the mainstream Minutemen can't entirely disown Minutemen American Defense, however, it's sloppy to simply lump them together as the Brown Berets do.

But this isn't the worst error made by the Brown Berets. The mistake is made in their showing up in the first place. Like Ernest Hancock and Chris Broughton with the AR-15 at the health care demonstration, it would seem that they don't care what impression they make. The average fence-sitter, who isn't inclined to believe that there's a "Reconquista" or such a thing as Aztlan will be scared almost to the point of crapping his pants by the Brown Berets, who once engaged in Reconquista activities, including trying to claim California islands for Mexico, and vocally call for the establishment of Aztlan. Forget that they're flaky aging '60s radicals, in print they make MECHA (of Raul Grijalva fame) look like the Daughters of the American Revolution. More, not fewer, people will support Minutemen vigilantism due to the presence of the Brown Berets.

The intelligent thing to do: Get together at the bar, have a pint, and say to each other: "Man, those were the days. Weren't we stupid. What fun!" and then support education funds, MALDEF, or better still, the ACLU. But if they did that, then I couldn't call them "aging '60s radicals", right?

Speaking of aging '60s radicals, from the bottom of the Star's followup piece:
Tucsonan Roy Warden, a lightning rod in the local immigration debate due in part to his burning of Mexican flags and attending protests armed, is organizing a counterdemonstration.
Looks like Ol' Roy is back. Will he assault and threaten to murder anyone who trespasses in his spontaneously homesteaded circle of sidewalk? Is he still a prohibited possessor or will his nametag be back on? And will he bring Russ Dove (because we all need rants and tool belts) and Joe Sweeney (mumbles and unaccredited law schools complete the picture) along with? Now that I wrote this here, will he send another series of e-mails about me (supposedly I'm a lawyer with the ACLU, a child molester, and a male prostitute for the purpose of raising funds from old ladies) to every press contact in town? Should be interesting. Too bad I'll be in Chicago when it's taking place.

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