In Washington state, for instance, Minuteman organizers insist they're only concerned about border security. But that doesn't explain why one of their supporters is running an initiative that would strip illegal immigrants of the ability to obtain government benefits, including welfare and health care.
Down in Phoenix, an investigative TV crew from KPHO went undercover and discovered that, when the cameras go off, the Minutemen are talking a much different ball game than their preferred public image of upstanding, concerned citizens:
- These are anti-immigration vigilantes, taking action, mobilizing in the Arizona desert, driven by a conviction.
Pineapple 6 says, "These f___ing Mexicans. They will kill you. They don't give a f__k."
That Mexican immigrants are public enemy number one.
Fred Puckett says, "And once you shoot a couple of these son of a b@#$%es, they'll think twice."
Even worse are the spinoff groups that piggyback off the Minuteman propaganda and then draw the more radical actors into their ranks:
- Another vigilante group - expelled from this operation - was operating nearby.
Pineapple 6 says, "They're carrying automatic weapons and they're chasing guys down and tracking them.. then they tie them up."
The next day, we set out to find the so-called "Rogue Minutemen."
Fred Puckett says, "Hi guys. I'm Fred Puckett.. Minuteman of One."
Puckett calls his group "Minuteman of One."
Puckett says, "We don't have no by-laws.. we don't have nothin'. We go out in two-man teams and we hit them like we did 40-years ago in Vietnam."
Members of Minuteman of One have a controversial M-O. They carry assault rifles when they're out on patrol, they don't hesitate to follow migrants or smugglers and they've been known to "confiscate" food, water and the luggage they come across.
Puckett says, "We believe our country is being destroyed from the inside. Anything south of I-10 is a third world nation."
The KPHO team last year did the same thing and found similar results.
Of course, this is standard M.O. for all of the far right's attemps to mainstream itself. In the 1990s, when I attended militia-organizing meetings, the leaders were adamant that all they were interested in was civic-minded protection of citizens' rights, and that they were nothing more than a neighborhood watch group.
Two years later, I watched in a federal courtroom as those same men were revealed on FBI videotape building pipe bombs and talking about blowing up various targets, including a local railroad tunnel and the home of a local reporter.
Fortunately, not every TV reporter these days is content to just let them blow smoke, though most are (see, e.g., Lou Dobbs). They're fewer and farther between, but the KPHO team deserves a big round of applause.