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The Minuteman's 15 Minutes of Fame (Minute 14.5) 

At the Arizona border, Infiltrator checks in with Americans who help the government look for illegal aliens

Wednesday, Jun 22 2005

Page 4 of 8

Again, there's mention of someone finding a copy of the Quran. (And what's with these lost Qurans? Why do these terrorists have so much trouble holding onto their holy books?!) One of the M-dudes offers his solution to illegal immigration: "I think you catch them, stick them on a chain gang. Give them six months, then send them home."

Overall, the M-dudes insist, they have enjoyed their tour of duty.

"There's a lot of really cool patriots out here," one says.

"There's some hot-ass ACLU chicks," adds the Minutedude in the Dead Kennedys T-shirt.


The ACLU chicks, though, gave them weird looks, because the two came fully armed. To demonstrate the extent of the arming, the Dead Kennedys T-shirt-wearing dude excitedly puts on his green Army flak vest and gun belt.

"See, we got the whole George Bush thing, we're going to be like, 'Yeah, we hate George Bush, too.' And everyone will be like, 'Oh, cool.'"

Awesome! I almost expect the two to start air-guitaring.

The Opposition

Venturing off the border for a much-needed break from the Minutemen, we enter a Mexican restaurant that is, by sheer coincidence, inhabited by a sea of ACLU volunteers -- all adorned in ACLU "Legal Observer" T-shirts. This is the feared opposition, as mentioned -- and feared, and despised -- by the elderly Minutemen? This ACLU is composed almost entirely of zitty-faced college girls. The Minutemen are letting themselves be picked on by a bunch of hairy-armpitted college girls who most likely scribe their own poetry?! These are the people chosen last in gym class.

It's a sheer battle of the titans.

For example, and I shit you not: Among the rare few males in the ACLU infestation of the Mexican restaurant are two over-the-top effeminate guys who are actually playing patty-cake. Together they chant in singsong voices, hitting each other's hands.


"We don't want no fucking war!"

I try to make eyes at one of the few cute ACLU girls, flashing a smile. (Cut me some slack, I've been around only Minutemen for the last couple of days.) I'm greeted with the reaction I'd get if I just did a bad smell. Several other ACLU-ers also give me dirty looks. Then it hits me -- I'm dressed exactly as a Minuteman (but even more so). I get the hell out of there before explanations are in order.

But as it turns out, it isn't just the way I'm dressed. The ACLU-ers, like the Minutemen, despise the press. Back on the border, I sense tension as we approach two frumpy girls who are sitting in lawn chairs and wearing "Legal Observer" T-shirts. To break the ice, I give a friendly smile and wave.

"What's your experience been like with the Minutemen?" I ask one of the frumpy ACLU girls, who's reading Pablo Neruda. I explain that I'm an esteemed journalist, mentioning several times that I'm from San Francisco. The girls tense up even further. The one with the huge cold sore on her lip remains utterly closed-mouthed.

"It's been ... kind of unremarkable," she mumbles, barely dignifying me with the effort of forming words. "We heard about the Minutemen, heard they were training people to be legal observers."

"What's your purpose out here?" I ask.

The girls look at each other hesitantly.

"If there was any violation of the law, we would observe it," the head frumpy one says.

"Have there been any violations?"

[Pause] "No ... we say a boring day is a good day."

I ask how they feel about the situation on the border. The one with the huge cold sore sharply cuts in: "We have a policy not to talk about politics, because we are here to observe!"

"We're here for the Minutemen!" adds her frumpy friend.

Strange. An organization focused intensely on the politics of human rights has a policy about not talking about politics?! At least the Minutemen shared deer sausage with us.

The head frumpy girl gets curt now, insisting, "Guys, you're going to have to talk to Ray [the head of the ACLU border operation] about that."

Before leaving, I ask what they do when not legally observing the border.

"Uh ... well ... having a life ... doing normal things ...."

I press further.

The head frumpy one finally confesses to being unemployed, noting, however, that she's taking a Spanish class. I mention, before departing, what we've been told about the rattlesnakes, gesturing to the girls' tennis shoes.

"They can bite through those you know."

Still No Illegal Aliens

The scrutiny of the press turns on me when I ask a lady wearing a homemade macramé bonnet the location of the Minuteman daily briefing. "There's a flier being distributed through Mexico by the Mexican government that says 'Danger: Vigilantes,'" the bonneted lady says, sarcastically waving her hands around. "Big, scary people here!" Then she says, "While here, I've taken pictures of 10 types of birds, 25 types of plants. I have a songbird tape. Yeah, you should be scared of me!"

I am!

Then I'm just awe-struck when the bonneted woman digresses into a rant that approaches sheer insanity: "We really need to work on the diversity out here, because we really haven't had the GLBT [i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] community well-represented. Neither has the African-Americans."

Yes, she's actually surprised the gay community hasn't come out in droves to support the Minuteman Project.

"There were three black gentlemen from Tennessee who stayed for a week," clarifies a man from Waco who's dressed as a cowboy. "No Hispanics volunteered. Maybe they didn't want to seem like race traitors." To explain what he means, he animatedly shares his philosophy on race and immigration: "You always hear 'African-American' or 'Mexican-American.' How about loving America first? 'American-American.' 'American-Mexican.' Why is that?"

About The Author

Harmon Leon


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