Here is our conversation earlier today discussing the Minutemen and the "border security" scam, featuring:
- Juanita Molina from the Border Action Network in Tucson, Arizona, will discuss how these groups and personalities shaped the debate over immigration reform in her state.
- Julieta Garibay from United We DREAM will explain how that discussion led to a growing push to militarize the border.
- Frank Sharry from America's Voice, who moderated.
Along the same lines, be sure to check out the interview I did with David Kortava at The Mantle in which some of the same issues are raised:
I think a lot of people really underestimate the influence and power and impact of these kinds of groups on the mainstream right. They tend to have a gravitational effect on conservatives, pulling them farther towards the right. A lot of the positions we’re seeing bandied about now as normative—particularly within the Tea Party—were the views of radical militia types back in the 1990s.
Rightwing extremism has broader impacts on society. It’s true that only something like 8 or 9 percent of hate crimes are committed by members of hate groups; the vast majority are committed by people who are otherwise considered mainstream normal kids, usually young men. But something like seventy percent of these crimes are accompanied by verbiage associated with hate groups. In other words, you have people picking up on cultural cues from the extremist right and incorporating them into their worldview, even if they aren’t necessarily adopting the broader ideology.
Anti-immigration organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) hand out these pseudo-academic studies suggesting that immigrants are using up taxpayer money, bringing in disease, and committing crime. While none of this true, it does produce a toxic effect on the conversation about immigration. Instead of focusing on the problem—antiquated laws—we focus on the supposed criminality of people who are themselves victims, victims both of those laws and of the economic forces compelling them to make these death-defying crossings through the desert.
Finally, you should check out my interview with Matthew Filipowicz, who as always manages to find the humorous vein in all this.