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Hullabaloo


Sunday, June 30, 2013

 
The Minuteman Dream

by digby

David Neiwert has an important piece in Salon on the recent history of the "border security" movement.  It's a fascinating look at how it's been growing in good times and bad, large influxes of migrants and zero immigration.  In fact,  the decades-long build-up toward a fully militarized border with Mexico remains the same no matter what the external circumstances are.  And much of it is a dark legacy of a criminal vigilante movement:

[A] national fetish about “border security” – which seems to entail building a massive fence that has “gigantic construction boondoggle” written over it, and a functional militarization of the border with one of our closest trading partners – will do nothing to address the real issues driving the immigration debate, and in fact will only put that secondary cart before the horse. The people who want “border security” will find it an endless mirage until they fix their messed-up immigration system. 
They’re still living out the nativist legacy of the Minutemen. And so it ought to be worthwhile for Americans to remember, or at least be made aware of, just what exactly became of those noble citizen vigilantes. 
The Minuteman movement, in fact, crumpled into a heap after 2009, when a leading Minuteman figure named Shawna Forde committed a horrifying home-invasion robbery at the residence of a small-time pot smuggler in Arivaca, Ariz., and shot and killed the man and his 9-year-old daughter and wounded the man’s wife. Forde and her Minuteman cohort are now on Death Row in Arizona, and her former close associates in the movement all denied any association with her – a line largely swallowed by media reporting on the case. 
But as I lay bare in my book And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border, not only was Forde closely associated with leading Minuteman figures right up to the day of her arrest, she was amply reflective of the kind of people the movement attracted and who rose to leadership positions within it. (This was borne out again by co-founder Chris Simcox’s arrest last week for three counts of molesting children under 10.) Yes, she was psychopathic, but then, this was a movement whose appeals were virtually tailored to attract dysfunctional and disturbed personalities (which it did in large numbers): profoundly unempathetic, predicated around scapegoating an easily identifiable Other, and inclined to anger and paranoia and ultimately violence. 
That is the path down which the Minutemen wanted to lead the country, the well-worn path of nativism, which has a long legacy of misery, suffering and death in this country. When we make a fetish out of “border security” at the expense of rationally fixing our immigration mess, that’s the road down which we’re headed. At some point, we need to get off.

Neiwert's book is a fascinating and extremely disturbing read. The Minuteman story is ground zero of the border security "movement" that seems to have become a bipartisan fetish even as it's tempered by the desire among some (not all) to legalize current immigrants. In fact, I wonder if we aren't looking at this backwards: the conventional wisdom is that the increase in border security is the price we must pay to get a path the citizenship. I think that for many people it's the other way around: the path to citizenship is the price they will pay to get the lucrative outside contracts and fully militarized border they've always desired. There's an awful lot of money in it --- and plenty of support from people who believe that shutting out "the other" will keep America pure.  Folks like those All American girls and boys of The Minutemen.

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