Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Meeting a Minuteman

This was an interesting read I found on the NY Times website. It is the story of a group known as Minutemen, which is a group make up of civilians who have dedicated themselves to being vigilant around the borders to stop illegal immigration. Something that particularly struck me about the person interviewed was his belief that he is giving back to the "American people" through his service.
I think this comes to a very important issue as we talk about immigration: how welcoming is too welcoming, and where do we draw the line?

8 comments:

lex said...

It seems to me that these men see themselves as modern day cowboys. They have staked their own turf and don't even get along with each other. I don't know how effective they can be because the article mentions that people just go around these territories instead. I think these men just use it as an excuse to live the lifestyle the want to live and look useful.

Dr. D said...

The head of the Minuteman Project foundation -- Jim Gilchrist-- was actually booed off the stage at Columbia University in New York recently. I invited the Minutemen to come to F&M and participate in our Immigration Panel on March 28th but they were not interested.
I guess they're too busy guarding the borders....

MadMax said...

Why were the minutemen booed off stage at Columbia University Dr. D? Could it be that the ivory tower, a.k.a. the open borders crowd has deemed them as racist? Did I detect cynicism in your pen Dr. D when you suggested that they couldn’t make it to your gathering because “they were busy guarding the border” It’s my opinion that the academic world believes that anybody who supports tougher borders and enforcing our immigration laws are racist.

I’m for enforcing our borders. I support a tighter enforcement of our immigration laws. I oppose amnesty for illegal aliens in any form. I don’t believe in rewarding unlawful behavior. While I can understand the circumstances that drive them to come here, I do not concede that harsh economic conditions in Mexico, Honduras, or El Salvador, gives them the right to cross into our country illegally. I generally support the idea of citizen patrols on our borders, like the Minutemen. So am I a racist Dr. D?

I also support opening immigration restrictions to allow more unskilled workers to immigrate legally. I think that the immigration system should be revamped so that it doesn’t take years to bring a foreign spouse into the country.

My reasons for supporting strong borders have nothing to do with the race of the people on the other side, but everything to do with the idea that a nation has not just the right but the duty to secure its borders.

So am I a racist Dr. D?

Dr. D said...

Oh really Madmax! That's rubbish! Who is being a racist now? Aren't you being presumuptious about all of academia? I wanted the Minutemen to come to Franklin & Marshall College so that we could have a dialogue /debate on the issue of immigration reform. If I was a assuming that they were racist I wouldn't have invited them to F&M. Yes, I actually agree with you that it was inappropriate for the students to send the Minutemen packing at Columbia university -- that does make them look intolerant -- the very thing that they most likely are accusing the minutemen of.
Frankly, I think we should invest more money in our border patrol so that we don't have to rely on "modern day cowboys" who don't have a lot of training or necessary supervision in guarding our borders. As to whether you are a racist, Madmax -- only you can answer that...

John_Madden said...

As we remember from American history in 6th/7th grade, minutemen was a name given to members of an organized militia that spanned throughout the American Colonies. Their name suggesting that they could be ready for battle in a minute's notice. Their rationale was that the Colonists in the New World were under a constant threat of attack, and to defend the new American people they have to develop a fast response to any attack. Although today, Minutemen are thought synonomously with the revolutionary War, they existed in Massachusetts before hand during the mid 1600s. As we know the Minutemen lacked leadership and this consequently lead to their demise. The militia later morphed into the army. Why this is important is because minutemen were chosen for their reliability, unbias candor, physical strength and devotion to people.
These modern day minutemen seem like a disgrace. Disorganized vigilante just trying to create heroism out of ill will. Taking the law into your own hands is the first step to chaos. People thinking that they are some how 'above' others is an abomination. To be frank, these "minutemen" are a disgrace to the former men who helped define our nation.

MadMax said...

Dear John Madden, the only disgrace that I see is your blog entry. You are obviously uneducated about this particular subject, but enough of your shortcomings. I turn now to the Minutemen. They are a grassroots group that have gotten together and put a lot of volunteers on the border. They do this with a great display of organization. They have been successful in cutting down the numbers of illegal immigrants very dramatically, despite the Bush Administration’s attempt to finagle the numbers by telling the Border Patrol not to pick people up afterwards, calling them vigilantes and things like that.
So I regard the Minutemen as part of the solution to the problem of illegal immigration. They show that enforcement works.

Your reaction to the Minutemen tells us much about the politics of the immigration issue. Research has shown that illegal immigration is one of the issues where the public and the elite disagree most profoundly — ordinary Americans think it's a huge problem, while members of the elite, which by the way would include academics, members of the press, and those of a higher social economic group care little about it. This helps explain why Mr. Bush assumed that the Minutemen were vigilantes, and it also explains the deluge of negative media coverage and disparaging editorials. But even in the face of this elite assault on the Minutemen, public-opinion polls generally showed support for what they were doing.

In general Americans are frustrated that our government refuses to seal our southern border. If the American government wants to seal the border, it can do it. Good God, the Great Wall of China was built over 2000 years ago and is 2150 miles long. Surly we can protect our southern 3000 miles.

The Minutemen (and Minutewomen) are exactly what they claimed to be — responsible patriots simply reporting illegal crossers to the Border Patrol. These ordinary people showed themselves to be sober and disciplined. They have managed to do what our government has thus far refused to do. We should be proud to live in a country that produces such citizens.

zain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zain said...

A lot of is debate going on about this controversial topic. I agree with both sides to a given extent. The claim of minutemen being patriotic American citizens is as convincing as is the concern of power exploitation and jingoism. It is absolutely true that minutemen are filling in the vaccuum that should have been filled by government authorities, and they are trying to hamper the movement of smugglers across the border, but it is not true either that not everyone who crosses the U.S. border is a smuggler. How about a poor Mexican farmer who wants to earn some dollars so that his kids can have a better meal, or they can go to school. How about a woman from Central America who is fleeing prostitution at home and she intends to enter the States somehow to make a living. How about a tennager from China who undertakes a perilous journey to fulfill his dream of a better life, where he can enjoy his basic rights and freedoms. Yes, minutemen have not used violence as a tool, but what are the ideas that they are promoting? Should we indiscriminatingly use the label of 'smuggler' or 'criminal' to define every Fauziya Kissinga or Bernard Lukwago who enters U.S. with the hope of a better life.

No body can deny that every country has the right to protect its borders and ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens. But, if I am not wrong, we are not talking about anyother third world country that committs flagrant human rights violations. We are talking about United States, we are talking about 'the American dream.' We are talking about the superior values that prevalied over godless and ruthless Soviets, and enabled the Americans to 'win' the Cold War. We are talking about the noble values upheld by the American Consitution, and preached by Americans themselves. Yes, for anyone who lives under poverty, America is the land of opportunities. For anyone who is restricted to voice his opinion, America is the land of freedom. For anyone who suffers from persecution and torture, America is the land of relief. The 'American values' make the U.S. a unique country in the world. The entire idea of 'diplomatic diplomacy' that has been adopted by the State Department has been designed to promote the image of U.S. as the preacher of human liberties. My question is that arent minutemen sending the opposite message?

By the way did anyone pay attention to the line in the article that says that Mr. Craig (the minuteman) did not get the reception after Vietnam what he had gotten if had lived in 1945. Does any one remember Ron Kovic from 'Born on the forth of July.' Is that sentence insinuating something about the existence of minutemen?

Again, we are not in a position to judge anyone. We are just looking at the issue from outside. Our opinions are very limited, as no one really understands what goes inside the circles of minutemen. Let us not become narrow-minded and judge only one dimension of the issue. Only tolerance and compromise can lead to an agreeable solution to the immigration problem and minutemen dilemma in the U.S.