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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
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Page 7 of 8

Our new friend came to the United States as an illegal immigrant. Now he has his residency card and feels the Minutemen are only creating division and tension in the U.S. "What it's doing is creating stereotypes of people thinking now that everyone can be a Border Patrol and reporting everybody," he says. "What it does is it creates this ideology of superiority, that they think they have the right to do this. They put themselves at a position where they think they are authorities at a place where they are not."

In the background, little kids gleefully swing at an M&M's piñata hanging from a tree with a large "M" across the front (or is it a Minuteman effigy?!).

"They're dangerous," he adds. "Not dangerous themselves, but dangerous in the ideologies that they are creating. Most of them are veterans of war, right, and supposedly they fought for this country. But at the same time they are people who don't have anything to do.

"If they can come for a month and sit around with binoculars and cameras, what does that tell you about them?"

Last Minutes of the Minutemen

The Minuteman Project's closing barbecue is a big clappity-clap fest, with a lot of patriotic American flag-waving and God blessing of America. The turnout is good, with a lot of large trucks in the parking lot with a lot of bumper stickers that make profound statements like: "CNN Lies; Don't Worry, the King of England Didn't Like the Minuteman Project Either" and "Hanoi Jane 1972, John Kerry 2004."

Like the last day of a militaristic summer camp for the elderly, there's a lot of handshaking, pats on shoulders, and thanks for coming outs. Television cameras from a variety of news agencies videotape.

A man with one of the group's bigger bellies proclaims to a guy wearing a "Tyranny Response Team" T-shirt, "I got an e-mail from some people in Australia who want to put together a Minuteman Project there, 'cause they got a big illegal problem. They want to secure the coast."

A rotund documentary filmmaker, who just had his camera pointed at someone, gets mad at me. "Don't film me without permission," he whines. Now even the media hate the media.

The closing starts with the Pledge of Allegiance. Then a pastor is brought up to give a valediction in the name of Jesus Christ. (But what about the Jewish Minutemen?!) Some Nuremberg-style cheerleading is kicked off by Minuteman founder Chris Simcox, who's wearing a red button-down shirt and looks like a thinner Jeff Foxworthy. But instead of uttering, "You might be a redneck," he proclaims, "We did this together. We the people. We all inspired millions of people to follow us, so you're all leaders."

If the American flag could smile, it would be grinning from ear to ear, as rows of lunch tables loudly applaud.

"I have almost 20,000 new volunteers that will follow our lead and that will make sure we lead the way," Simcox states firmly. "As I said, the only honorable thing to do at this point is to relieve us of duty by sending out Humvees filled with National Guards to protect our borders!"

Yah! screams the crowd.

There's more. Gilchrist, the bad cop to Simcox's good cop, sarcastically proclaims himself proud to be a vigilante. (Take that, George Bush!)

Yah!

The guy with the beard and Fidel Castro hat announces, "I have stood shoulder to shoulder with heroes of America -- you are it!"

Yah!

A mustachioed guy who works in the office, adorned in a jean vest with red sleeves popping out, feels Bush should hold a press conference and say, "We expect all other countries in the world to respect our borders. Those who do not respect our borders shall be repelled by force if it is necessary!

"If he would do that, it would begin the change. But I'm afraid the president is not a Minuteman."

I think he's expecting a Dead Poets Society-style, slow, building round of thunderous applause, with people eventually standing on the lunch tables, but it doesn't happen. Instead, the guy adds, woodenly, "People ask, 'Aren't you afraid of getting killed?' I tell them, 'Fear is for those who sit home and watch reality television. THE MINUTEMEN HAVE NO FEAR!'"

Yah!

"You ain't seen nothing yet, we've just started."

Yah!

"There's no telling how far this thing will go."

Yah!

After a speaker mentions the Minuteman plan to patrol the California-Mexico border in October, a video camera is shoved in my face.

"What do you think of the situation on the border?" asks a cameraman from the Minuteman Project's own news organization.

"What part of 'illegal' don't they understand!?" I reply, reading my response off the woman's shirt.

An Arizona grandmother goes to the podium, leans into the microphone, and starts screaming, "We want President Bush personally to come out and pick up every bit of illegal alien garbage!"

More yahs. ("Illegal alien garbage" could be taken two ways, the second being very racist. And what about all those aforementioned copies of the Quran?!)

"Mr. Bush, we got your garbage bags, come pick it up!" she says, raising her arms in triumph.

This is the part where it gets really ugly and, with patriotic-adrenaline pumping, the crowd turns on us, the media.

The oldest man here (so old he looks like he's about to fall over), a religious broadcaster since 1961 ("I've been battling the leftists ever since!"), who's wearing an ill-fitting baseball cap, grabs the microphone, sternly raising his voice to the point where I think he might wind up clutching his heart.

About The Author

Harmon Leon

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