Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oh, those merry Minutemen

To hear their mainstream defenders tell it, those poor Minutemen are being smeared as racists merely for demanding secure borders. And the Minutemen constantly repeat the refrain.

But they never seem able to explain why their cause seems to draw so many overt, unrepentant racists. Recently, one of the Minutemen offshoots, an outfit called Border Guardians, has been making common cause with the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, according to a new SPLC report:
A prominent anti-immigration leader has secretly urged the nation's largest neo-Nazi group to launch a campaign of violence and harassment against undocumented workers in the United States.

Laine Lawless, who started a group called Border Guardians last year, sent an April 3 e-mail to Mark Martin, "SS commander" of the Western Ohio unit of the National Socialist Movement, which has 59 chapters in 30 states. It was titled, "How to GET RID OF THEM!"

The e-mail from Lawless, who was also an original member of Chris Simcox's vigilante militia before it morphed into the Minuteman Project in early 2005, detailed 11 suggestions for ways to harass and terrorize undocumented immigrants, including robbery and "beating up illegals" as they leave their workplace.

"Maybe some of your warriors for the race would be the kind of people willing to implement some of these ideas," Lawless wrote. "I'm not ready to come out on this. ... Please don't use my name. THANKS."

At the request of Lawless, who declined to respond to questions from the Intelligence Report, Martin posted her suggestions to a number of neo-Nazi bulletin boards. Those suggestions included:

-- "Steal the money from any illegal walking into a bank or check cashing place."

-- "Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status. ... I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination."

-- "Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school. Be creative."

-- "Create an anonymous propaganda campaign warning that any further illegal immigrants will be shot, maimed or seriously messed-up upon crossing the border. This should be fairly easy to do, considering the hysteria of the Spanish language press, and how they view the Minutemen as 'racists & vigilantes.' "

The report makes clear that Lawless played an integral role in founding the Minuteman Project:
Lawless, the former high priestess of Sisterhood of the Moon, a lesbian pagan organization, has been heavily involved in anti-immigration extremism since 2004, when she joined Simcox's Civil Homeland Defense outfit, as it was then called. That same year, she invited "militiamen" nationwide to "crawl through the woods in a ghille [sic] suit with sniper rifle" on her private ranch in Cochise County, Ariz. "I coordinate with Chris [Simcox], so anyone who wants to come is welcome," she wrote in a post to an online user group, "A Well Regulated Militia."

Lawless was featured in numerous media reports on the first Minuteman Project campaign in April 2005, during which she patrolled side-by-side with Minuteman vice-president Carmen Mercer. Lawless also traveled to Texas to join the Texas Minutemen in October, when she was quoted in The Austin Chronicle saying she gets an "intellectual and political orgasm" from spying on pro-immigration groups. In that interview, she accused one pro-immigration activist of inserting chants of "White Power!" into an audiotape of Minuteman rallies to discredit the movement.

Meanwhile, according to USA Today, the Minutemen are expanding to a nationwide membership:
The Minuteman Project is authorizing state chapters for the first time, says executive director Stephen Eichler. The group, created in 2004, organizes armed patrols on the southern U.S. border and calls in the Border Patrol when members spot people trying to cross illegally. President Bush referred to them in March 2005 as "vigilantes."

Eichler won't release membership numbers but says about 200,000 people identify themselves as Minutemen. By the end of the year, Eichler says, the group expects to have 500 chapters in states across the country, including Minnesota and elsewhere in the Midwest. Members could help with border surveillance or focus on immigration enforcement in their own communities.

"Over 5,000 people have come forward and said, 'I'll do anything,' " he says. "Right now, about 200 people that we have contacted look pretty serious." Eichler says the group will do background checks to prevent white supremacists from forming chapters.

The Illinois Minuteman Project, which is patterned after the California-based group, has about 600 members and is growing rapidly, says Rosanna Pulido, who just returned from patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border.

"Our membership is going up every day," she says. "We're getting flooded. Nothing has generated interest like the pro-immigration protests." The group plans a May 4 debate with a proponent of citizenship for illegal immigrants in Chicago and a town hall meeting May 6 in Rockford, Ill.

Meanwhile, the white backlash to the recent pro-immigrant marches keeps building, with recent protests in Cullman, Alabama, and Kansas City, Missouri, each drawing several hundred participants. In the latter, the crowd cheered the call for "a 2,000-mile wall."

The nativist faction has just begun. Here are some of the counter-protests being organized in the next few weeks in response to the immigration marchers:
April 22: Saturday, 9 a.m. at the offices of the pro-migrant Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United), in Woodburn, Oregon. Protest planned by Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

April 23: Sunday, 2 p.m., The National Mall in Washington, D.C. A "Pro-America 'Secure Our Borders' Demonstration."

April 24: Monday, 10 a.m., Washington, D.C., at Lafayette Park opposite the White House. Protest arranged by 9/11 Families for Secure America.

April 24: Monday, nationwide state capitol protests. Protest arranged by Concerned American Citizens.

May 3-12: Protest Caravan each day across America. Protests arranged by the Minuteman Project.

If folks like Laine Lawless have their way, these marches will be thick with those very extremists the nativists claim not to be.

No comments: