Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lies, damned lies, and anything coming out of a Minuteman's mouth.

Mark Twain in his autobiography claimed that, "there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Obviously, Twain never had the misfortune of dealing with today's modern border ruffians, the Minutemen. If he had, he would have found that modern vigilantes have managed to create a forth category of untruth that far surpasses any he could have envisioned.

Never known for their strict adherence to the facts, the Minutemen appear to have thrown all caution to the wind and begun a campaign to propagate fabrications and falsehoods so heinous and divisive that even by their standards they border on the ridiculous.

Until reading some recent minuteman ramblings I was unaware of the "fact" that there were underground mosques along the Mexican border, presumably build for the thousands of "Other than Mexican" terrorists that cross the border each day. I was also ignorant to the fact that prominent Latino leaders, while meeting with congressional allies, discuss the possibility of armed civil unrest and the need to physically attack "white people"

One would hope that this kind of insane and hateful rhetoric would be largely ignored and written off by the American public for what it is; the ramblings of demented racists. Yet, it appears that the Minutemen have garnered an audience eager to hear they're tall-tails and fabrications about boogeymen, terrorists, and crazed murderers. Despite the fact that there isn't an iota for truth in the vast majority of the Minutemen's claims, they are invited by clubs and organizations around the country to enlighten them about the goings on along the southern border.

Perhaps Twain would have recognized the similarities between these charlatans and the patent medicine pitchmen, spirit-world guides, or Wild West showman of his era. Playing on people's ignorance and fear or presenting gross fabrications about people of color has always been part of the American landscape. But, this current crop of modern hucksters are far more insidious than any phony Victorian psychic or washed up gunslinger whose legend had long outpaced reality. They have managed to meld Goebbels advice "that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it" with Barnum's claim that "there's a sucker born every minute" to create a propaganda machine that would be the envy of both men.

While speaking to a Napa Valley Republican women's group this week, Minuteman spokesman, Steve Giraud, managed to spin a tale of fear and terror that was crafted to frighten and inflame his audience.

Giraud said his concerns about the 15,000 illegal immigrants who cross the border daily revolve around national security, economics, safety and sovereignty.

"These guys are heavily armed out there," said Giraud. "This isn't just about families coming across looking for a better way of life. It is about a massive drug-smuggling operation."

Terrorism is also a major concern, Giraud said. About 20 percent of those crossing the border illegally are from countries other than Mexico. Agents have even found an underground makeshift mosque near the border, he said.

About 20 percent of those crossing the border are felons, child predators, gang members or drug dealers, Giraud said. The criminal influence is clear in Los Angeles, where black and Hispanic gangs have prompted Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to call on international aid to stop the escalating violence, Giraud added.

…snip…

Minutemen have witnessed the brutality of the coyotes, who often smuggle drugs along with their human clientele. Giraud said that in one location, Minutemen witnessed young girls and women being raped by coyotes at gunpoint. Female undergarments are often draped over trees on the Mexican side of the desert to remind crossers of the price they will have to pay to cross into America, he said.

St Helena Star

Giraud's words represent a carefully crafted propaganda piece tailored for his targeted audience. The picture he paints of migrants for his mostly white, upper-middle-class, female audience is one ripe with images intended to evoke fear and anger. Rapists, child-molesters, terrorist, gun-toting criminals - these are images that have long been used to mobilize this segment of society against both people of color and foreigners.

In the rhetoric of the old south it was claimed that white women's virtue needed to be protected at any cost from Black men who were nothing more over-sexed savages. This "protection of white women" over time became not only codified law across most of the country, but allowed groups like the Klan and others to justify a reign of terror and murder for nearly a century. Giraud's story of a desert strewn with discarded female undergarments and daily rapes is intended to rekindle these same kind of fears, this time not of wild-eyed Black intruders but of "hot blooded" Latino savages.

The idea of foreigners as terrorists is also nothing new. Jews, Italians, Russians, Germans, Japanese and Chinese immigrants at one time or another were all accused of being, anarchists, communists, traitors, spies or terrorists. Yet, this time Giraud must resort to a little extra deception in order to make his case.

Even the most uninformed in Girauds audience would be cognizant of the fact that our current "terrorist threat" comes not from Mexico or Latin America but rather the Middle-East. So in order to make the linkage, Giraud resorts to one of the oldest tricks in the propagandist's book: he compares apples to oranges.

While his numbers on OTM's (Other than Mexicans) apprehended at the border are within reason, he infers through the reference to terrorism and an underground mosque that OTM is synonymous with Islamic terrorist. Upon even a cursory examination of the facts this is of course untrue.

There have been no reported cases of any Islamic terrorists being apprehended at the southern border. In fact the closest they've ever come was the case of a family of Iraqi Christian refugees caught in Mexico on their way to the US.

The overwhelming majority of OTM's are as the name implies - people from countries other than Mexico, meaning those from Central or South America. The fact that there are more Salvadorans in the US than El Salvador attests to that fact. Anyone with a passing familiarity of migration or immigration statistics would be aware of this fact. Giraud's omission of the facts is of course intentional.

As to the claim of the underground mosque … that's pure fabrication thrown in for effect.

Giraud's claim of migrant criminality also is based on misinformation. His claim that "20% of those crossing the border are felons, child predators, gang members or drug dealers," … again pure fabrication.

The most recent statistics on prison incarceration released by the government showed that non- citizens made up a little over 6% of the prison population in state and federal institutions. This is the same percentage they represent as a part of the overall population. Their incarceration rates are no higher than any other group in the country. This of course would be impossible if Giraud's assertions were true that 1 in 5 migrants are hardened criminal .

In fact studies have shown that newly arrived immigrants have a far lower rate of criminal activity than any other group studied.

When Giraud refers to the current sad situation in Los Angels he again engages in a lie of omission. He neglects to mention that those engaged in this activity are not newly arrived migrants, but rather native-born Hispanic-Americans, most of them 3rd generation Americans or more. The same societal factors such as poverty and discrimination that have fostered gang culture in the Black community have done so in the Latino community as well, leading to escalating violence and criminality. Giraud relies on his audience's inability to differentiate between the newly arrived migrants and a small percentage of the 47 million Hispanic-Americans exgaged in gang activity to paint a picture of lawlessness and violence that’s simply doesn't exists.

Giraud's carefully crafted mix of gross exaggerations, outright lies, and coded racist rhetoric is a masterful piece of propaganda. As Goebbels said, effective propaganda needn't be based in reality, it merely needs to be bigger than life and repeated frequently…. The propagandist creates his or her own reality.

But Giraud has nothing on Linda Muller, a former Pat Buchanan campaign aid and member of Tom Tancredo's Team American staff, who currently writes for the Minuteman Project.

Unlike Giraud, who specializes in winning over new converts, Muller preaches to the choir. This allows her to take on flights of fantasy that would be laughed at in the outside world.

In one recent column she recounts the tale of some brave minutemen who "infiltrated" a meeting of prominent Latino leaders whose goal was to instigate civil unrest, reclaim Atzlan, and engage in violence against "white people".

Minutemen Go Inside Latino Immigration Meeting - Racism Espoused, Calls for Violence Against "Whites"

by Linda Muller - Minuteman Project - ForTheCause.us

There are many radical Latino groups calling for the violent overthrow of their "white" oppressors and the return of the American west to the mythical Aztlan from which they believe their land was stolen. Many Americans do not believe these fringe groups have any power and influence, so they dismiss them as harmless. Yet these groups continually draw U.S. Congressmen and staff members to their meetings. Corporate benefactors and foundations contribute funds and other means of support that enable these groups to thrive and proliferate. Recently, two representatives from Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project attended a meeting of the National Alliance for Human Rights, whose coordinator is Armando Navarro, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Minuteman Project National Spokesman Raymond Herrera and National Rally Coordinator Robin Hvidston, two of Gilchrist's most street-savvy rally organizers, were alarmed by the racist rhetoric that permeated the meeting, punctuated by calls for violence against "white" people.

…snip…


After referring to the Minutemen as racists, Navarro gave opening remarks. He talked about the recent ICE raids. Then the floor was open for comments. "I was astounded by the nonstop hate talk about 'white' people," Hvidston said.

"There was talk of how poorly Latino children are doing in school. White people were blamed. Talk about raids at work sites by ICE. White people were blamed. Talk about not enough Hispanic school teachers. White people were blamed. Talk about imprisonment of Latinos. White people were blamed," Hvidston recounted.

"People stood up and gave testimonials about white people being the cause of poor education, prison sentences, police brutality… They used slang such as 'gavachos' to refer to white people."


…snip…

Navarro is planning a march for March 17th in San Bernardino. He said they will be calling on cities such as L.A. to join them. He said if civil disobedience is needed to stop any future ICE raids, so be it. One man stated that if guns and violence are needed, they should use violence to overwhelm the white people. He encouraged the community to take what they want by overwhelming and overpowering force.

…snip…


Also in attendance at this February 13 meeting in San Bernardino were three staff members from Congressman Joe Baca's office. Baca represents California's 43rd District and he is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Minuteman Project

Obviously the bar for factual, responsible reporting is set extremely low when dealing with the minutemen's own "press" efforts. But even by those low standards, Mullers article is extreme. It represents the lowest form of divisive race baiting, and can only be viewed as an attempt to further inflame and fuel the violent tendencies already prevalent in the group.

The obsession with race, and the projection of racist tendencies upon ones supposed adversaries in order to justify ones beliefs is a classic propaganda tool. We must never forget that the Nazis always portrayed themselves as victims of those they oppressed. This is also true of the Klan, and other current day white supremacists. Muller is only following in a long line of racist propagandists that goes back through history to the beginning of the written word.


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7 comments:

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Man oh man. Some anti-minuteman activist somewhere must have prayed Voltaire's prayer. 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.'

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Diana said...

The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is a volunteer group headed by Chris Simcox dedicated to preventing illegal crossings of the U.S. border arguing that the government is not sufficiently concerned with securing the U.S. border, they have organized several state chapters, with the intention of providing law enforcement agencies with evidence of immigration law violations.
Simcox states that the group merely reports incidents to law enforcement, sportsbook, and does not directly confront immigrants. There is a standard operating procedure (SOP) that must be followed by Minutemen volunteers. Rules include not speaking to, approaching, gesturing towards or having physical contact in any way with any suspected border crossers they may see. The organization has been criticized as being a right-wing militia. http://www.enterbet.com

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