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"It's getting more surreal by the minute"
October 9, 2006 5:01 PM   Subscribe

"They say, 'get bent,' we say, 'let's fight!'" A protest at Columbia University and Minutemen (NYT link) are forced off stage.
posted by Smedleyman (192 comments total)

 
Rhetoric mighty thick all around.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:06 PM on October 9, 2006


"We believe in peace and tolerance, except when practiced towards white men exercising their constitutional rights." Also, that IndyMedia link reminds me why I don't read IndyMedia. Thanks.
posted by keswick at 5:07 PM on October 9, 2006


Here's Columbia's side of the story, as emailed to Alums.



Dear Columbian,

As you may have heard, last Wednesday night, disruption by student protestors resulted in the termination of an event organized by the Columbia College Republicans in Lerner Hall. The incident quickly received broad media attention.

In order to keep you and other University alumni informed, I have included below a letter President Bollinger sent to the campus community on October 6, 2006. As the letter notes, the administration is investigating the incident and those found responsible for any violations of campus norms of conduct will be held fully accountable. Most importantly, President Bollinger affirms an unwavering commitment to free speech across the political spectrum as one of our core values as a community.

We will be posting updated information as it becomes available at alumni.columbia.edu.

Regards,

Eric J. Furda
Vice President for Alumni Relations

PRESIDENT BOLLINGER'S LETTER:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

Columbia University has always been, and will always be, a place where students and faculty engage directly with important public issues. We are justifiably proud of the traditions here of intellectual inquiry and vigorous debate. The disruption on Wednesday night that resulted in the termination of an event organized by the Columbia College Republicans in Lerner Hall represents, in my judgment, one of the most serious breaches of academic faith that can occur in a university such as ours.

Of course, the University is thoroughly investigating the incident, and it is critically important not to prejudge the outcome of that inquiry with respect to individuals. But, as we made clear in our University statements on both Wednesday night and Thursday, we must speak out to deplore a disruption that threatens the central principle to which we are institutionally dedicated, namely to respect the rights of others to express their views.

This is not complicated: Students and faculty have rights to invite speakers to the campus. Others have rights to hear them. Those who wish to protest have rights to do so. No one, however, shall have the right or the power to use the cover of protest to silence speakers. This is a sacrosanct and inviolable principle.

It is unacceptable to seek to deprive another person of his or her right of expression through actions such as taking a stage and interrupting a speech. We rightly have a visceral rejection of this behavior, because we all sense how easy it is to slide from our collective commitment to the hard work of intellectual confrontation to the easy path of physical brutishness. When the latter happens, we know instinctively we are all threatened.

We have extensive University policies governing the actions of members of this community with respect to free speech and the conduct of campus events. Administrators began identifying those involved in the incident as it transpired and continue to investigate specific violations of University policies to ensure full accountability by those found to be responsible.

University personnel are also evaluating event management practices that are specifically intended to help event organizers, participants, and protestors maintain a safe environment in which to engage in meaningful and sometimes contentious debate across the spectrum of academic and political issues. These are some of the many steps we intend to take in the weeks ahead to address this matter in our community.

Let me reaffirm: In a society committed to free speech, there will inevitably be times when speakers use words that anger, provoke, and even cause pain. Then, more than ever, we are called on to maintain our courage to confront bad words with better words. That is the hallmark of a university and of our democratic society. It is also one of our central safeguards against the impulses of intolerance that always threaten to engulf our commitment to proper respect for every person.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger
posted by mds35 at 5:08 PM on October 9, 2006


Wow, mds35, I was just about to publish that exact letter. Beaten to the punch as it were...
posted by onalark at 5:09 PM on October 9, 2006


By the way, none of this is very interesting, imho.

Jack-ass racist crackers spark rabid outcry at from smart youth of color at liberal institution. Who could have possibly foreseen such a thing? What next, will parading Klansmen get hit by cream pies thrown by urban studies majors at Berkeley?
posted by mds35 at 5:12 PM on October 9, 2006


can't we just let racists be racists?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:13 PM on October 9, 2006


What class, onalark? I'm GS 2000.
posted by mds35 at 5:14 PM on October 9, 2006


As much as I dislike the Minutemen's message, these protestors are obnoxious, antidemocratic, and have no respect for the sacrosanct principle of free speech. I mean, listen to this ludicrous and moronic quote by one of the principal protestors:

"These are racist individuals heading a project that terrorizes immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border. They have no right to be able to speak here."

They do great harm to their message by engaging in such thuggish tactics and make the other side look like oppressed heroes. When will lefty protestors realize that protesting is not an end to itself and it is not a way of bringing attention to oneself and it is not there as an expression of an individual's vanity. It is to fight specific injustices, to convey a convincing message to others, and its ultimate goal should also be to alleviate whatever the problem is.
posted by Falconetti at 5:16 PM on October 9, 2006


You know what? Fuck you, mds35.
1.) Just because the Minutemen are for a strong border doesn't mean they're racist.
2.) You seem blase about the violence perpatrated by these "smart youth of color," but I bet you'd be up in arms if it were "smart youth of 'non-color'" attacking people of color.
posted by keswick at 5:16 PM on October 9, 2006


Oh horseshit, Keswick. They're a bunch of slack-jawed rednecks who don't like the idea of there being more native Spanish speakers than English speakers in "The Good Ol' US of A," being led by a bunch of amoral opportunists.
posted by stenseng at 5:26 PM on October 9, 2006


this, to me, is the most interesting thing said by anyone, by the minuteman -

"As soon as you graduate, you'll all be investment bankers. I've been where you're at. I know you hate yourselves"

i deplore the guy, but he's got a point
posted by pyramid termite at 5:27 PM on October 9, 2006


stenseng: right, and everyone who opposes the war in iraq is a weak-kneed, socialist, terrorist-lovin' hippie.
posted by keswick at 5:31 PM on October 9, 2006


It is unacceptable to seek to deprive another person of his or her right of expression through actions such as taking a stage and interrupting a speech.

I've watched Nazis have their say on a state capitol, allowing Nazis to have their say at a Columbia Republicans function seems appropriate.
posted by j-urb at 5:31 PM on October 9, 2006


The Minutemen are racists. They've also got the same right to free speech that the rest of us have. Part of the nice thing about living in America is that you get to hold beliefs (and talk about them in a public forum) that other people don't agree with. If this had been Young Republicans taking over the stage to shut down an event organized by, say, Planned Parenthood, we'd all be pissed off--and rightly so. Same deal here.
posted by EarBucket at 5:35 PM on October 9, 2006


Immigration is always about race.
When the lowered the amount of Irish who could come to this country it was because the Irish were sub human.
The purpose of immigration is to keep the composition of the country accectable to its elites.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:37 PM on October 9, 2006


you guys all molest puppies because you hate yourselves.

(hay guyz i, too, can make sweeping generalizations with no supporting evidence.)
posted by keswick at 5:40 PM on October 9, 2006


Yes, the Minutemen have free speech.

The protestors also have the right of free speech. In this case that meant they yelled louder than the other guy until they went away.

I don't see how anyone's free speech rights were violated.
posted by nyxxxx at 5:48 PM on October 9, 2006


"We believe in peace and tolerance, except when practiced towards white men exercising their constitutional rights." Also, that IndyMedia link reminds me why I don't read IndyMedia. Thanks.

Their constitutional right to be unpeaceful and intolerant?

Calling people hypocrites for being intolerant of a second group for being intolerant of a third group is idiotic and a long standing rhetorical argument made by all manner of sundry racists and bigots and generally bad people.
posted by delmoi at 5:55 PM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


The protestors also have the right of free speech. In this case that meant they yelled louder than the other guy until they went away.

I don't see how anyone's free speech rights were violated.


Well, they also stormed the stage. Free speech can mean more then simply being allowed to talk at any point; it also needs to be protected from mobs. For example, look at laws that prevent newspapers from being bought by people trying to prevent the paper from getting out.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 PM on October 9, 2006


I’m impressed that this isn’t simply considered “hate speech” and shuffled off.
posted by dreamsign at 5:59 PM on October 9, 2006


I don't see how anyone's free speech rights were violated.

Me neither. The First Ammendment prohibits governmental interference with free speech, not personal.
You have the right to say anything you want, but you don't necessarily have the right to be heard. Wasn't that the whole concept of "free speech zones"? We've had those for a while now. The government, in this case the school and the police, don't have the right to shut down the protesters any more than they have the right to shut down the minutemen.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 6:02 PM on October 9, 2006


nyxxxx:

If I talk and you duct tape my mouth shut, I don't have the ability to speak freely. You've violated that right.

The Minutemen are pricks, of course, but these protesters are pricks as well. Why not protest outside? Get their message to the media why they're protesting? If the lecture had a Q&A session, why not nail the speakers idealogically, rather than just duct tape their mouths? Seems to me that because they couldn't do any of these things, they took the easy and agressive route.

Then again, if they hadn't done this, all of us probably wouldn't have heard about the Minutemen, so I guess they did accomplish no-coverage-is-bad-coverage schtick.
posted by zardoz at 6:06 PM on October 9, 2006


Well, in all my years I ain't never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about.
--Stephen Hopkins 1776
posted by Captaintripps at 6:08 PM on October 9, 2006


1.) Just because the Minutemen are for a strong border doesn't mean they're racist.

You're right. However, the minutemen are definitely racists. Their ties to racist organizations is well documented.

I'm willing to bet that the majority of people who vociferously oppose illegal immigration are opposed to some sort of 'social change' that might be brought about by widespread Mexican immigration, at least a general xenophobia, rather then some vague economic cost issue. After all, there are lots of things that cost the government far more then the cost of providing social services to illegal immigrants. The Iraq war for example, mindless tax cuts. Tons and tons of things. And if the workforce disappeared the economic fallout would be catastrophic.

The government could get around this by special taxes on industries mostly staffed by immigrant workers in order to pay for their share of social services, allowing business that certify their employees are legal to avoid paying those taxes.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 PM on October 9, 2006


Free speech isn't always about the first amendment. While the protesters maybe weren't violating the constitutional rights of the speaker, they were being disruptive, disrespectful, and counterproductive. About par for the course for Columbia socialists. The same could generally be said for the College Republicans.

From what I remember, both groups were pretty marginal and largely ignored by most of the reasonable students. While I'm usually excited to see my alma mater in the news, it's too bad that it's for stupid shit like this. Especially when a nobel laureate was just announced. Oh well, Bollinger's response was fair and eloquent as usual.
posted by SBMike at 6:13 PM on October 9, 2006


mds35, I just earned a Master's Degree in Applied Physics from SEAS, I'll be getting a PhD in Applied Mathematics from GSAS somewhere around 2015.
posted by onalark at 6:15 PM on October 9, 2006


And back on-topic, President Bollinger said all there needed to be said, seriously. I should also point out that I walked through the group of protestors on my way home, and many of them were definitely, not, Columbia students.
posted by onalark at 6:17 PM on October 9, 2006


I agree with SBMike. Also, my recollections of both groups is about the same.
posted by mds35 at 6:17 PM on October 9, 2006


This is, I guess, a side-note, but one thing:

I can't stand the Minutemen, and I guess I'm glad they didn't get to talk there, but it really pisses me off when people chant/scream/yell in Spanish at protests like those people in the vid did. I'm sorry, but I'm willing to bet very few of them actually knew Spanish, which means it's not so much a language there as code-talk. It's kind of a taunt-- "heh heh, you don't understand what I'm saying, and anybody who doesn't know Spanish is a racist." Speak to them in fucking English. People like the Minutemen ought to understand every word of what you're saying against them, and screaming at somebody in a language they don't understand isn't a statement.

Spanish is a damned nice language. It's pretty shitty to see it reduced to dumb slogans.
posted by koeselitz at 6:17 PM on October 9, 2006


Mike Watt is not a racist. Oh wait, wrong Minutemen...
posted by turducken at 6:19 PM on October 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


The one point that is never brought up is that there is a categorical difference between The Minuteman and most neonazi or other racist groups. The Minutemen are a paramilitary group with their own helicopters and firing ranges. I support the right of Neonazis marching through Skokie despite my personal feelings, but it's unclear to me that we should allow The Minutemen to play any role in public life.

Other than the Black Panthers, I can't think of another American group in recent history that was this well-armed. It's worth noting that the Panthers were constantly harassed (and assassinated) by the police/FBI, where the Minutemen seem to have implicit (and sometimes explicit) support of police/border agents, changing the role an individual might have in protesting these entities.

If someone like Pat Robertson wants to give a talk about deporting immigrants and sealing borders, fine, let him have it. If he raises a private army, then I'm not so sure. I don't think this was a particularly effective demonstration, but that's a somewhat separate question.
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:30 PM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


In fact, the Minutemen--like them or not--are not like the KKK preaching death to this or that group. They ought to be able to deliver their message to those who want to listen, without having their right to free speech denied them by those who disagree with their point of view. It is as simple as that. Dislike their message? protest, demonstrate, but denying them the right to speak means they and others have the right to deny the protesters' rights.
posted by Postroad at 6:32 PM on October 9, 2006


The whole notion that the protesters were wrong to confront the Minutemen is fucked in the head. The Minutemen are not the first group of white nativists to take up arms against the latest "threat" in the American Southwest, be it the Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, or even the Industrial Workers of the World. Vigilantism is a very old, very violent affair, and does not deserve a "hearing" on its own. Essentially, these people are out to defend white privelege by force if need be. Why shouldn't people protest their messages of hate when it's quite clear that they mean business?
posted by graymouser at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2006


A side note: the mexican wrestling masks were a nice touch.
posted by isopraxis at 6:45 PM on October 9, 2006


"The slack-jawed rednecks?" Would you listen to yourself?!
posted by longsleeves at 6:47 PM on October 9, 2006


this is ridiculous. Postman, and others: the minutemen are, literally, in many cases, nazis. got that? LITERALLY: NAZIS.

the right of free speech needs to be separated from the responsiblity of human beings to confront fucking nazis, racists, and people who verbally or physically threaten you and your family.

sure, i'm all for free speech. if someone openly admits that his world view has me in an oven, if he comes to where i live to talk about it, and you better believe im going to do much more than just throw up a banner up in front of him on stage. its called self defense, and its about as fundamental a right as rights get.
posted by mano at 6:54 PM on October 9, 2006


Bill O'Rilem'up on Fox specializes in shouting down people with opposing points of view, But at least he doesn't dance around and chant while pumping his fist in the air after depriving invited guests of their chance to speak.

Ugly.
posted by longsleeves at 7:00 PM on October 9, 2006


mano: That's ridiculous. Columbia University and other institutions of learning are public forums for people to speak and have their ideas heard, even if it is something horrific to some (or even all) of the populace such as Holocaust-denial or racist border-guarding. There's no excuse for what happened during the protest.
posted by onalark at 7:01 PM on October 9, 2006


I can find no good rationale, even among the explanations given in this discussion on Metafilter, for the childish behavior of the protesters at Columbia. For all the screaming and shouting that left-wing groups do about the loss of free speech and how their voices are being quieted, they then go about and prevent a speaker of opposing viewpoints from even being able to present his case.

Nothing about this incident will help their cause. If anything, it will bolster the beliefs of those so-called "rednecks" (called so in these discussions on Metafilter) who will look to the East Coast 'intelligentia' and see them as nothing more than a bunch of wealthy, spoiled brats who get to protest under the protection of the ivory tower, while limited the freedom of speech of others.

Bravo, children, you've done a great service to the cause of the Minutemen. You've simultaneously reinforced their stereotypes of 'lib-ruls' and eliminated most of the support you may have garnered from the moderates on both sides. You've also managed to illustrate the fact that you don't understand a goddamned thing about what the Minutemen are protesting, nor do you understand the rationale behind Conservative thought on the issue. Instead of trying to understand your opponent, you've lashed out like brutish, childish brats.

I have family and friends who live along the border who dislike the Minutemen a lot, but they are damned sick of the torrent of illegal immigration a lot more. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the federal government does not help to secure the border, those people who live along the border and feel threatened will secure it.

These kids 'protesting' at Columbia don't understand this fundamental reason for the Minutemens' existence and support. Much like how the Bush Administration fails to understand groups such as Hizbollah, their support and their success - these kids today fail to understand the reasons why securing the border might not be such a bad idea.

I'd love to see the Metafilter reaction if this were a black, pro-choice female speaker being shouted down by College Republicans. My guess is that this discussion would be quite the opposite in tone.
posted by tgrundke at 7:02 PM on October 9, 2006 [5 favorites]


if someone openly admits that his world view has me in an oven

When did that happen here?
posted by longsleeves at 7:03 PM on October 9, 2006


this is ridiculous. pro-immigration people are, literally, in many cases, anti-american, got that? LITERALLY: ANTI-AMERICAN.

see how silly you sound?
posted by keswick at 7:06 PM on October 9, 2006


longsleeves: shortly after the thread was Godwinned.
posted by onalark at 7:06 PM on October 9, 2006


I'd love to see the Metafilter reaction if this were a black, pro-choice female speaker being shouted down by College Republicans. My guess is that this discussion would be quite the opposite in tone.

Would she be the leader of a paramilitary organization that marched around armed to the teeth?
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:11 PM on October 9, 2006


Hmmmm lets see accusing people of being nazis and KKK members.. that sounds damned hateful to me. Of course I'm still trying to figure out why so many people are protesting for criminals. Oh yeah and no matter how you slice it, if you are in a country that you are not a citizen of without permission, you are a criminal. There is no way to excuse it or explain it away. Attempting to do so is denial.
posted by MrLint at 7:15 PM on October 9, 2006


Allen - you're missing the point, as are a great number of people here in this discussion. The TYPE of organization doesn't matter. The fact that the man was shouted down and *not permitted to speak his mind* is the issue at hand.

Again: Were that a black pro-choice female speaker who was shouted down, the tone of this discussion would be the opposite.
posted by tgrundke at 7:20 PM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Would she be the leader of a paramilitary organization that marched around armed to the teeth?

As long as she weren't armed at the time why would it matter?

The students involved in the assault (on any speaker from any end of the spectrum) should be expelled and the others disrupting a lecture should be required to take a course called "Remedial Civility" that will appear on their transcripts.

The Volokh Conspiracy has a couple posts on the subject with a more content neutral approach to this.
posted by jaysus chris at 7:20 PM on October 9, 2006


tgrundke You are wrong. I perfectly understand the Minutemen's position: they hate brown people. That's really all there is to it, its not like its a nuanced, thoughtful, carefully reasoned philosophy. Their "philosophy" is childishly simple, brown people, Jews, and anyone different from them are evil, bad, and dirty, and they are the only real people on the planet.

The issue of border control is a completely separate issue, the Minutemen are simply latching onto it as a vehicle to promote their own racist, Nazi, views. There are real, non-photoshopped, pictures of the various Minuteman leaders standing beside Nazi flags and other Nazi paraphanalia, that's really all you need to know about the group.

As for the issue of illegal immegration, we could end all illegal immegration quite quickly, with one simple law. Simply fine the CEO, board members, and other management types, as well as the company itself, of any company with illegal workers, say, 1% of their annual income for every illegal they hire (and, yup, that means a company with 100 illegal workers winds up forfiting its entire income (not profit, income), as well as every corporate executive surrendering *their* entire income for the year). Then enforce that law, maybe give half the fine as a whistleblower reward to anyone who blows in their company for hiring illegals. Problem solved.

The reason illegals come to America is for work, the reason they get hired is because companies knowingly hire illegals. Eliminate the demand and the supply will dry up.
posted by sotonohito at 7:21 PM on October 9, 2006


I'm willing to bet that the majority of people who vociferously oppose illegal immigration are opposed to some sort of 'social change' that might be brought about by widespread Mexican immigration, at least a general xenophobia, rather then some vague economic cost issue. After all, there are lots of things that cost the government far more then the cost of providing social services to illegal immigrants

Delmol,

Firstly this is your opinion. Secondly, I find it marginally ironic that you talk about a 'vague economic cost issue', when at the same time you choose to pigeon hole people based on your perceived bias of them. You have said the cost does exist so then let's remit the bill to country of origin. Frankly I do get annoyed by the general idea of people who have no business being here mooching. If the illegal immigrants wish to stay, let them get permission from everyone else ahead of them on the line, thats what you do when you decide to cut. Otherwise.. to the end with you.
posted by MrLint at 7:24 PM on October 9, 2006


The TYPE of organization doesn't matter.

I disagree and think that's the only thing that matters. People don't shout down James Dobson or Pat Robertson, they just ignore them (if they do shout them down, I'd be disapproving). This group was recruiting on campus and I personally feel that vigilante paramilitary groups with significant firepower have no place in civil society.

How can you have reasonable debate with a group that threatens the underpinings of civil society? Until the Minutemen disarm, they have no place in any discussion. Were Al Qaeda recruiting on campus, I wouldn't care if the leader was armed or not. Such a group should not be permitted to have a seat at the table. Once you invite in the brownshirts, prepare to lose everyone else.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:26 PM on October 9, 2006


sotonohito: again, the issue at hand is that a speaker was shouted-down and not allowed to speak because a group of radicals disagreed with him. THAT is really all there is to it.

I've read the stories and seen the photos of the Minutemen and their nazi ties. That, to me, is irrelevant in the context of this action at Columbia that is being discussed.

I agree with you about not hiring illegals, yet that solution is not the whole answer, as witnessed by the large numbers of unemployed illegal immigrants along the border. An excellent start, I agree, but far from a comprehensive solution.
posted by tgrundke at 7:26 PM on October 9, 2006


I don't believe this. It's not spring yet.
posted by cytherea at 7:30 PM on October 9, 2006


Until the Minutemen disarm, they have no place in any discussion. Were Al Qaeda recruiting on campus, I wouldn't care if the leader was armed or not. Such a group should not be permitted to have a seat at the table. Once you invite in the brownshirts, prepare to lose everyone else.

Are you a conservative plant, placed here to make liberals look stupid?
posted by Kwantsar at 7:33 PM on October 9, 2006


...the Minutemen and their nazi ties.

Like this?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:34 PM on October 9, 2006


Oh, hay, don't get me wrong, I believe absolutely in the Minutemen's right to speech, and I think that what those college kids did, while fairly hilarious, was not right.


However, they are a bunch of Redneck fuckhead racist assholes, and if they all choked to death simultaneously on a hambone, I'd be hard pressed to muster a single tear.
posted by stenseng at 7:34 PM on October 9, 2006


How can you have reasonable debate with a group that threatens the underpinings of civil society?

Especially with them firing into the crowd and tossing all those molotov cocktails.

er, what?

Oh, they were attempting to have a debate.
Then I guess that's how.
posted by dreamsign at 7:35 PM on October 9, 2006


However, they are a bunch of Redneck fuckhead racist assholes, and if they all choked to death simultaneously on a hambone, I'd be hard pressed to muster a single tear.

Why Metafilter no longer matters.
posted by slatternus at 7:38 PM on October 9, 2006


I was also about to post that letter to Columbia alums mds35 included (I'm CC '04). What I find interesting is this is not the first time a speaker or event was interrupted/disrupted by a protest at the school (in recent memory, I'm not even talking about the late 60's) -- at my own graduation PETA protestors took the stage and commandeered the mic during Pres. Bollinger's speech to speak out against perceived animal abuses in CU labs. Of course, that protest didn't get any press. In my opinion, the minutemen are assholes, the protestors that shouted them off the campus are assholes, the PETA guy was a bit of an asshole (but commencement was pretty fucking boring, so he actually spiced things up a bit), and the real problem is the way this incident is becoming national news. The kids at columbia were looking for a way to affect some sort of change, with any luck they learned that this was not the best way to do it, and they'll figure out a better way next time.
posted by jrb223 at 7:39 PM on October 9, 2006


mano: I don't see a nazi flag "third from the right" or anywhere else. And those people don't appear to me to be minutemen.
posted by longsleeves at 7:39 PM on October 9, 2006


tgrundke And yet that *isn't* what you were discussing, you specifically claimed that we didn't understand the nuances of the Minutemen.

As a free speech fundamentalist, I'm naturally opposed to anyone, including the leader of a large, well armed, Nazi, organization, being shouted down. Much less the apparent physical violence that ensued. I'm of the opinion that the students screwed the pooch there because since it was the local branch of the College Republicans who had invited a known racist and Nazi sympathizer to speak at the university a sane and reasoned opposition could have easily asked "So, if you Republicans aren't racists and Nazi sympathizers why did you invite this guy here to speak?"

But you said: "These kids 'protesting' at Columbia don't understand this fundamental reason for the Minutemens' existence and support. Much like how the Bush Administration fails to understand groups such as Hizbollah, their support and their success - these kids today fail to understand the reasons why securing the border might not be such a bad idea."

and that's what I was addressing. I think the kids had a perfect understanding of the fundamental reason for the Minutemens' existence and support (to wit, racism and Nazism), and unfortunately allowed their natural horror at the idea of actual, genuine, Nazis talking at their school to overshadow their reason. But the operative word there is "kids". Most young people aren't all that nuanced yet themselves, they'll grow out of it I'm sure. Unlike the Minutemen who are full adults and still have attitudes unseemly in two year olds.

Again, let me emphisize that I'm opposed to anyone being silenced, even Nazi bastards like the Minutemen. I believe that the answer to speech you disagree with is to argue, not to silence.
posted by sotonohito at 7:42 PM on October 9, 2006


She was bred in Old Kentucky
but she's only a crumb up here
she's knot-kneed and double-jointed
with a cauliflower ear.
Some day we shall be married
and if vegetables get too dear
I'll cut myself
a nice big slice
of her cauliflower ear.



('Cause that ain't rationed!)

posted by mds35 at 7:43 PM on October 9, 2006


The purpose of protest is to change the minds of other people.

This is why the tactics of Ghandi and MLK were effective. It's hard to find fault with a person making salt or sitting on a bus calmly.

The protesters at Columbia did not act to change anyone's mind, they acted to make themselves feel good about their position. In doing that, they simply made people on the fence about the issue amazingly sympathize with the Minuteman speaker. This is the complete opposite of what they should be aiming for with a protest.

A simpler protest would be to stand and turn their backs to the speaker, silently standing for the entire speech. This would unnerve the speaker tremendously, make their point without being aggressive and seen as being "in the wrong".
posted by Argyle at 7:47 PM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


the minutemen are assholes, the protestors that shouted them off the campus are assholes

Right on.
posted by event at 7:53 PM on October 9, 2006


MrLint & tgrundke: While I certainly hear you, I think the problem is that discussion of immigration and immigration reform is hopelessly tainted by the fact that people like many of the Minutemen, Pat Buchanan and O'Reilly* do argue for Nativism based on racism and ethnic prejudice. This makes it difficult to discuss current attempts at immigration reform without also discussing racism.

* That a pair of people of claimed Irish-Catholic heritage would champion a Nativist movement focused aganist people of Spanish-Catholic heritage is one of the supreme ironies of history. That they would claim the U.S. and not Latin America as a "European" culture is one of the supreme stupidities of history.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:53 PM on October 9, 2006


Argyle Everything you say is true, except for the bit about the purpose of protest. The purpose of protest *should* be to change the minds of other people, but unfortunately it often is not. The urge to smite evil, directly and personally, often overcomes the urge to do something effective. Naturally the question "what is evil" come up, to the protesters at the university the answer was "The Minutemen", to Al Qaeda the answer was "America". I'm not saying that the protest at Columbia is equivilant to the attack on September 11. I am saying that the motives were very much the same, not a desire to take effective action but a desire to take emotionally satisfying action.

The article Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology is both excellent, and gives insight into the mindset of the various groups who throw paint, bombs, etc. The actions the groups take are all different, both in target and violence, but the drive is (I think) the same.

My mother once asked "would you rather be effective, or right?" (by "right" she meant "having taken emotionally satisfying action"). I think its an excellent question, and its one I try to ask myself before I start arguing with people. I chose effective, which is often hard because it would feel *soooo* good to just smash the bastards. But in the end all that does is convince people that you're as much of an idiot as the bastards you pounded.
posted by sotonohito at 8:01 PM on October 9, 2006


Argyle makes an excellent, excellent point: the protesters did this to make themselves feel better - about 'doing something', that in the end, diminished their position.

KirkJob - I do agree with you to an extent. At the core, though, this isn't about the old-school racism of "brown skin", or of Irish-Catholics. O'Reilly is just there for entertainment value, but Buchanan does make some good, reasoned arguments sometimes. I think that the debate on immigration has little to do with color of skin or ethnicity. It's about *illegal* immigration. There aren't so many complaints about Europeans coming to the United States or Asians coming to the United States. Most of those people get in line as they should and are processed accordingly. Down at the border, it's almost a free-for-all crossing over, hardly checked. There is a perception on the American side, valid or not, that this unchecked flow is leading to increased crime, lower incomes, over-extended taxpayer funded organizations and this is scaring a lot of people.
posted by tgrundke at 8:05 PM on October 9, 2006


Yet another reason to not read indymedia and yet another reason to read Metafilter less often.

Some of the crap in this thread is appalling, especially the smear campaign against the Minutemen. All of the mud slinging and trying to degrade them by calling them Nazis is going to solve absolutely nothing. And mano, we're supposed to believe that they're a Nazi group (wrong) because some idiot made a blog post about it? Those turkeys weren't even part of the Save Our State protest. They just showed up to cause trouble, and naturally, Indymedia tried to run with it. Fuck Indymedia.

These idiots at Columbia acted like ignorant, spoiled asshats. Same with the guy that got up and asked Ann Coulter some dumb question about buttsex. I'm sure they all ran off and patted themselves on the back and laughed about it, but they really just acted like stupid children.

Oh, and +1 for keswick.
posted by drstein at 8:05 PM on October 9, 2006


tgundke: I think that the debate on immigration has little to do with color of skin or ethnicity. It's about *illegal* immigration. There aren't so many complaints about Europeans coming to the United States or Asians coming to the United States.

Which is why we have all of the English-only initiatives, correct? Whenever I see the word "culture" dropped into one of these discussions, I know it's a code-phrase for ethnicity.

And yes, people do complain about other groups of immigrants living in the United States. If you really think it has little to do with color of skin or ethnicity, then you are not reading, not looking, and not listening.

There is a perception on the American side, valid or not, that this unchecked flow is leading to increased crime, lower incomes, over-extended taxpayer funded organizations and this is scaring a lot of people.

Certainly, and I think contributing to this fear, and making it difficult to talk about immigration reform, is the way one side tries to frame this issue as brown hordes flowing over the border to tear apart American culture. (Ignoring the fact that Hispanics have just as much a claim to American culture as those of us who grew up speaking English with a midwest accent.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:20 PM on October 9, 2006


Something that needs to be said here. I don't think socialism is The Answer, and neither do a lot of other people with half a brain. That being said, it's not the worst idea humans have ever come up with, and deserves to be heard. Of course, these are socialists at one of the nation's top schools. They are supposedly the great thinkers of the movement. The heirs of Marx and Che, et al, not to mention heirs to a school legacy of leftist activism.

You know, it's tough to put together an intellectual argument for socialism. If anyone can do it though, it should be these people. The fact that the best weapon they can put together against such an odious foe is to storm the stage and shout speaks volumes about the legitimacy of their agenda. It is an irrelevant agenda, and they know it, and they are desperate to stir up a lot of noise and think they have accomplished something.

If they had let the speaker speak, or at least protested outside the auditorium, the College Republicans would have been torn to shreds over the next few weeks in the op-ed pages of the Spectator. The College Republicans would still have a really, really tough time getting laid. This would be a non-event, instead of a free speech rallying cry for right wing assholes.
posted by SBMike at 8:21 PM on October 9, 2006


If the Southern Poverty Law Center says that there are white supremacists involved in the Minuteman movement, that's good enough for me.
posted by stenseng at 8:23 PM on October 9, 2006


Jack-ass racist crackers
You do realize the speaker before the guy who got interrupted was black? Hurray for black crackers?? Who was getting racial slurs yelled at him??? I'm so confused which racists to support in this situation.

The protestors also have the right of free speech. In this case that meant they yelled louder than the other guy until they went away.
Did you watch the incident? That had nothing whatsoever to do with "yelling." It had everything to do with the protesters physically getting involved with the speaker's presentation by going on stage and not allowing him to continue.
posted by jmd82 at 8:26 PM on October 9, 2006


"You know, it's tough to put together an intellectual argument for socialism. If anyone can do it though, it should be these people. The fact that the best weapon they can put together against such an odious foe is to storm the stage and shout speaks volumes about the legitimacy of their agenda. It is an irrelevant agenda, and they know it, and they are desperate to stir up a lot of noise and think they have accomplished something."


Right, because this thread and subsequent discussion are about socialism, not about intolerant racist assholes clashing with intolerant anti-racist students.

Nice try there, chief.
posted by stenseng at 8:26 PM on October 9, 2006


I'm somewhat confused and conflicted about this at the moment so I'm afraid I can't give an ex cathedra pronunciamento just yet -- though I'm sure I'll be inspired before too long.

By the way, what's Ann Coulter got to do with anal sex or any kind of sex? What kind of superhuman dude could apply his johnson to that one even with Viagra? No, I really don't want an animated gif of this please.

As for "illegal immigration", I'm against it: I want an open border to our neighbors from Central and South America. Most of these folks are mestizo or Native like our brown-skinned Mexican cousins, and some even speak an indigenous language as a mother tongue; as such they can help take the country back from Whitey.
posted by davy at 8:34 PM on October 9, 2006



If we are to ever understand each other, dialogue and debate must take place and as part of a learning center, dialogue and debate is eloquently protected by the President of Columbia. As someone has already pointed out, the speaker was an invited guest on the campus of Columbia. Because Columbia holds dialogue and debate as a valuable part of the community, such a display as this is deployable. It goes against the grain of what an institution of higher learning hopes to be.

(How many discussions take place in the blue where people are moaning about what type of society the US is becoming because of certain administration policies.) I have those same concerns, and this incident is more of the same but this time against a Republican invited guest. My only thought is no one understands the defining principals - each side is mangling it. Sure the speech is protected from government interference, but the larger principle is that individual speech was important – something that should be very much alive higher education.

If the speaker was in a mall or an open field, I might be more inclined to let them have their speech interrupting event. The speaker was instead an invited guest on the property of an institution that favors free speech for all - and he was shouted off. That is an injustice and is about as offensive to me as probably flag-burning is to the Minutemen.

Aside from some wasted comments in this thread, there has been some interesting points I need to ponder further. Thank you for posting the letter from the President of Columba, that and this event were something I did not know about.

The fact that a group is “armed to the teeth” and should not be given safe harbor in a legitimate fashion for a speech is not something I am willing to accept. I have to think further about this in the generic sense first, but I guess I also need to read up on the Minutemen specifically since their arms is not something I am aware of fully. I do have a problem with the local authorities in the areas in question turning a blind eye to their activities.

All I see is the Constitution took another hit. It’s been a bad century so far…

The Four Freedoms
The US Constitution
posted by fluffycreature at 8:37 PM on October 9, 2006


I was talking about Columbia socialists specifically. I've known people in the group, and they piss me off immensely. Anyway, I let a personal grudge turn into a ranting Mefi post, and for that I'm sorry. I second the motion not to turn this thread into a forum on the virtues or drawbacks of socialism.
posted by SBMike at 8:42 PM on October 9, 2006


I want an open border to our neighbors from Central and South America. Most of these folks are mestizo or Native like our brown-skinned Mexican cousins, and some even speak an indigenous language as a mother tongue; as such they can help take the country back from Whitey.

You are completely insane.
posted by keswick at 8:45 PM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hilarious. BRING IT ON!

I'd like open borders as well, fwiw. Shutting ourselves behind walls will only hurt in the long run. The problem is that people don't care about anything past the next 100 years. Think bigger.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 PM on October 9, 2006


another vote for having north america be an open borders area ... or even one country

in many ways, we're moving in that direction, anyway
posted by pyramid termite at 8:54 PM on October 9, 2006


the minute men are racist?
posted by obeygiant at 8:54 PM on October 9, 2006


Do the Minutemen also patrol the U.S./Canadian border?
posted by bstreep at 9:10 PM on October 9, 2006


hahahahah, that's a good one, bstreep.
posted by stenseng at 9:24 PM on October 9, 2006


"These kids 'protesting' at Columbia don't understand this fundamental reason for the Minutemens' existence and support. Much like how the Bush Administration fails to understand groups such as Hizbollah"

I wanted to highlight this comment because I thought it was a really good one.

The border policy in America, from any perspective, is totally fucked up. On the one side you have the poorest of the poor (immigrants coming for jobs which often amount to slave-like conditions), their allies the richest of the rich (factory owners, huge companies like Wal Mart that depend on illegal labor), farmers (often rich but not as connected as the huge corporations, but even more dependent on illegal labor even with their exisiting subsidies), and liberals and rights groups from across the left-wing spectrum.

On the other side you have the vast majority of people, who are confused by the government's conradictory policies, and the fact that there is no clear right/left division on the immigration issue. The minutemen may indeed be stocked with racists, who are naturally drawn to an issue that is both obviously "us versus them" but also reaches people across basic political lines. Racists are in the best position to exploit government confusion and inaction on the issue, and the genuine costs and problems that a terrible government policy creates.

These protestors have only served to enhance the minutemen's position as anti-government, anti-elite radicals, which broadens their appeal because of the very real problems that a terrible immigration policy creates. If they want to actually improve the lives of immigrants and make America a better place, they would work towards informing a mainstream audience why Americans and Mexicans are caught up in a system which exploits both sides.
posted by cell divide at 9:26 PM on October 9, 2006


Do the Minutemen also patrol the U.S./Canadian border?

Actually, they do. Whether this is simply to anwer critics or it comes out of genuine concern, I don't know. Even if you are still on the whole racism angle, remember that Al Qaeda rates even below Mexican in the racist cosmology currently, and many of the shrillest Minutemen are convinced Osama's about to walk over the border strapped to a nuke.
posted by cell divide at 9:28 PM on October 9, 2006


The Minutemen are a bunch of racist pigs. Anyone who says otherwise is PURPOSEFULLY distorting the issue.

Everyone in America has the right to speak freely, even racist pigs. Anyone who says otherwise is PURPOSEFULLY distorting the issue.

So, yes, the students were wrong to physically prevent the racist pigs from speaking.

This is not difficult, and I'm surprised first by the number of supporters the Minutemen have here (I had no idea... you people seriously know about them and still support them? I'm actually kind of shocked) but more surprised at the number of MeFites willing to sacrifice our greatest right just because the speech is unpleasant.

Who should be able to speak freely? Everyone. That means Minutemen, child molesters, Nazis, necrophiliacs, rapists, gun nuts, creationists, luddites, abortion protesters, sidewalk preachers, Seventh Day Adventists, Scientologists, Moonies, Hari Krishnas, UFO Believers, Ann Coulter, and even rabid Dylan fans.

Shame on you who would ever want to squelch free speech, for any reason, ever.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:29 PM on October 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


Is the illegal movement of millions of poor and illiterate people into America to be respected?
Should we just give green cards /drivers' licenses/ citizenship to anybody who can walk, fly, or swim to our boundaries?

If they're coming here illegally, they don't care about very many of our laws. They're using fake ID, probably not paying enough in taxes, driving illegally, and ruining other people's credit. I don't want them in California, or anywhere else in America.

Some racists are Minutemen, however, the Minutemen are doing a lot of good by reducing illegal entry. Most of the are smart enough to realize that they are only putting a small dent into the problem because the demand for very cheap labor is immense. The goverment has to put the screws to the private sector such that hiring a legal resident or alien is less expensive than hiring illegal aliens and getting fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.

(cell divide is pretty sharp, and better spoken to boot)
(Ynaxos, you make me laugh)
posted by Joybooth at 9:48 PM on October 9, 2006


self-defense is not a "cause" to win people to or a "debate" that you can win. this liberal freedom of speech bullshit does not supercede my right to defend myself from people that want to put me in a concentration camp. the time to act to defend yourself is before you have a gun pointed at your head or handcuffs on your hands, as too many victims of genocide have found out the hardway.

you know, the nazis (and longsleeves, it sure this looks like a nazi flag to me) in this pic number at least 12, most with their hands up in the familiar nazi salute. The organizers own estimate is that 60 people showed up for the LB rally, and that means a whopping 20% of these racists were willing to pose for the camera sieg heiling. Gilchrist himself was in attendance.



posted by mano at 9:54 PM on October 9, 2006


moreover, i should like to point out that rights are always a balancing act. every protest movement that has ever accomplished anything impinged in some way on peoples "rights" in society. strikes, blocades, protest, civil disobedience, all of this inherently impinges on peoples freedom of movement, commerce, the quality of life, all the basic "rights" that we take for granted.

and inevitably, whenever people organize to fight for their own interests, there is a chorus of opposition - usually in newspaper editorials, but also -- these days -- on the internet, that focuses on the tactics being used, and laments the fact that these tactics squelch some right inherent to the political norms of society.

but thats just how it works, when your society isnt doing enough to protect your interests, you have to work outside the system. Its how people won the 8 hour work day, the right to vote for women, civil rights, and basically every other major change to society. and its how immigration reform is going to be won.
posted by mano at 10:03 PM on October 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


Delmol,

Firstly this is your opinion.


Right, that's why I said "I'm willing to bet." Because it's what I believe to be true.

Secondly, I find it marginally ironic that you talk about a 'vague economic cost issue', when at the same time you choose to pigeon hole people based on your perceived bias of them.

if you say so. That doesn't seem "ironic" to me.

You have said the cost does exist so then let's remit the bill to country of origin.

I said the cost existed, I didn't say anything about the country of origin. i said the bill should go to people who employ illegals.

Frankly I do get annoyed by the general idea of people who have no business being here mooching.

Well, it's much better that people be thrown in jail or deported then that your pretty little head should be 'annoyed' by people that you will ever see or hear from in person.

If the illegal immigrants wish to stay, let them get permission from everyone else ahead of them on the line, thats what you do when you decide to cut. Otherwise.. to the end with you.

Hey, how about "Fuck you!"? much simpler.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on October 9, 2006


Do the Minutemen also patrol the U.S./Canadian border?

they tried in michigan, but they kept drowning
posted by pyramid termite at 10:17 PM on October 9, 2006


"but thats just how it works, when your society isnt doing enough to protect your interests, you have to work outside the system."

Because in places like Columbia, pro-immigrant viewpoints have absolutely no outlet. They must instead violently disrupt the people they disagree with.

Get over your romantic vision of these "protesters". They are thugs, plain and simple, and in this instance behaved no better than the people they oppose.
posted by jaysus chris at 10:23 PM on October 9, 2006


this liberal freedom of speech bullshit does not supercede my right to defend myself from people that want to put me in a concentration camp.

alright, i've had enough of this ... you're not going to defend yourself from armed militias by jumping onto a stage and yelling at them ... that's just drama queenesque bullshit

buy a gun, learn how to use it and form your own militia if you feel you really have to defend yourself against that, if you really feel that they are about to take their guns and make you go to a concentration camp

(and if you're for gun control, you may wish to ask yourself why, seeing as you don't trust the government to defend you against those people)

what's that? ... you're sure the government will defend you? ... you don't need a gun?

then you're not "defending yourself" against them, you're just yelling at them ... that's fine ... i'll yell at them too if you like, but quit deluding yourself that you're defending yourself against them

get a gun for that
posted by pyramid termite at 10:27 PM on October 9, 2006


1. The Minutemen are assholes. No one here seems to think otherwise.

2. The word "redneck" is a racial slur. Anybody who uses it is an asshole; perhaps not a malicious asshole, like the Minutemen, but an unintelligent asshole nonetheless.
posted by koeselitz at 10:40 PM on October 9, 2006


The word "redneck" is a racial slur.

it depends on how you say it ... just as with the word hillbilly, there are some who call themselves rednecks with pride and dare you to find something wrong with it ... and i'm not talking about racist people, either, or even people who vote republican

just sayin'
posted by pyramid termite at 11:08 PM on October 9, 2006


I must be getting old or something. I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the students once they stormed the stage. Standing with backs turned? Cool. Shutting down the sanctioned event? Not cool. What are you? Soccer hooligans?

Granted, I have zero sympathy for the Minutemen either, but even with zero sympathy there is plenty of room there to allow them to speak. Even if I believe they're totally racist fuckers. And if they're Nazis? Fuck 'em. It's orthogonal to the debate - because under the Constitution even the free speech of Nazis and Klansman is protected.

If I don't like their message (I most certainly don't) I don't have to listen. Or I could protest peaceably, or even loudly, and/or otherwise use the opportunity to do my own campaigning for the obverse side of the issue.

Or I could sit down, listen, observe and watch them paint themselves into rhetorical corners and learn from it, and how to better address the issue of The Fools.

Because you fight a Fool with your mind, not your fists. Home court advantage, and all.
posted by loquacious at 11:13 PM on October 9, 2006


Droz: "These, Tom, are the Causeheads. They find a world-threatening issue and stick with it for about a week."

There's no excuse for storming the stage. None whatsoever.
posted by mrbill at 11:40 PM on October 9, 2006


The word "redneck" is a racial slur. Anybody who uses it is an asshole

Um, what pyramid termite said. Jerk.

My dad (from an immigrant farm family) deplores the use of "redneck" -- to mean ignorant, racist hillbilly. It is a farmer's tan, he'll explain, angrily, that they're referring to. So anybody who does a day's work in the sun is a racist?!

He has a point, to.

"Just sayin'"
posted by dreamsign at 1:15 AM on October 10, 2006


"too", even.

Argh, typing when angry.
posted by dreamsign at 1:16 AM on October 10, 2006


Mike Watt is not a racist. Oh wait, wrong Minutemen...

Yeah, having no idea the Minutemen took their name from these Minutemen made reading this thread before reading the links rather confusing.
posted by jack_mo at 2:44 AM on October 10, 2006


They all get their name from these Minutemen. There are also Minutemen, of course.
posted by Grangousier at 2:48 AM on October 10, 2006


To all the "they should not have stormed the stage" folks: could you show me an example of when vigilantes (California "vigilance committees" and mobs, the Pinkertons, the Klan) were defeated by peaceful protest and open debate? Seriously, these are not just people with an idea we don't like; they are armed thugs with a racist agenda. If people shut up and sit on their thumbs, vigilantes get their way. They can only be stopped if people are willing to stand up to them. And that's what the protesters at Columbia were doing.
posted by graymouser at 3:43 AM on October 10, 2006


mano, thanks for your insightful comment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:52 AM on October 10, 2006


To all the "they should not have stormed the stage" folks: could you show me an example of when vigilantes (California "vigilance committees" and mobs, the Pinkertons, the Klan) were defeated by peaceful protest and open debate?

We shall overcome.
posted by EarBucket at 4:15 AM on October 10, 2006


"this liberal freedom of speech bullshit"
What on earth does that mean? Conservatives therefore don't care for freedom of speech? Seriously, what does it mean?

"Your" type of freedom of speech is okay, as you define it - is that what you mean?
posted by fluffycreature at 4:46 AM on October 10, 2006


Hey Graymouser:

Easy solution: Secure the border and enforce the laws of the United States. Problem solved.
posted by tgrundke at 4:54 AM on October 10, 2006


I don't care what your political affiliation is (my own is hard left and very much opposed to the Minutemen): it is utterly, hopelessly wrong to rationalize what these students have done here. Easy fodder for the right, and easy votes for Republicans, when the left permits adolescent shite like this to go down. All sincere liberals and leftists should be loudly and unequivocally denouncing this behaviour, not lamely diverting discussion to what a horrible threat the Minutemen are to the country.

Racists, nazis, baby-eaters, whatever - IT DOESN'T MATTER, period. They have a right to free speech like everyone else, and a minority on campus invited them to do so. That so many on both sides of the political spectrum no longer genuinely believe in that right to free speech is, well, scary. Those who are so lost in partisan politics that they can justify this need to take a good hard look in the mirror and wake the fuck up. You're no longer capable of reasoning.
posted by blackberet at 5:00 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


pro-immigration people are, literally, in many cases, anti-american, got that? LITERALLY: ANTI-AMERICAN.

see how silly you sound?


That was almost sarcasm. Too bad Mexico is in (North) America.

What I find great about that picture is how all these people who claim to support the United States are standing there waving the flags of two nations who went to war against the United States.
posted by eriko at 5:41 AM on October 10, 2006


To all the "they should not have stormed the stage" folks: could you show me an example of when vigilantes (California "vigilance committees" and mobs, the Pinkertons, the Klan) were defeated by peaceful protest and open debate?

can you show me one where they were defeated by storming a stage? ... actually, the only thing that has ever defeated them is government action with armed enforcement agents and public opinion (often expressed in peaceful protest and open debate) ... and in isolated incidents, armed citizens defending themesleves

the minutemen will continue to be able to "patrol" the border, intimitate illegal immigrants and spread their nasty message, no matter how many stages are occupied at columbia university

they have NOT been defeated ... as a matter of fact, the students handed them a propaganda victory
posted by pyramid termite at 6:04 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Minutemen get up and talk, so they can pretend that anyone takes them seriously.

Ivy Leaguers protest, so they can pretend they are making a difference.

Mefites type, so they can avoid working.

Life goes on.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 AM on October 10, 2006


I should elaborate on that second sentence. Being against the Minutemen is kind of like being against the Rosicrucians or Klan, in that they're so extreme that nobody takes them seriously and being 'against' them is an easy way to feel morally righteous. Meanwhile these students attend an exclusive institution that churns out the business and political leaders of tommorrow who actually make policy.

And jumping around and hollering on a stage is a lot of fun, but don't confuse it with actual activism. I'm willing to bet most of those kids were thinking "I'm so hardcore!" or "Wow, I'm on TV!" the whole time.
posted by jonmc at 6:12 AM on October 10, 2006


could you show me an example of when vigilantes (California "vigilance committees" and mobs, the Pinkertons, the Klan) were defeated by peaceful protest and open debate?

These days the best thing you could do at a Klan rally is ignore them and let them preach into the wind so they look like the irrelevant gasbags they are. Getting into a brawl with them may be emotionally satisfying and a way to earn your badass stripes, but it accomplishes noting and only feeds they're persecution complex and makes them more appealing to other embittered losers.
posted by jonmc at 6:14 AM on October 10, 2006


tgrundke:

Bullshit. The aim of nativists like this is not to "enforce the laws of the United States," it is to defend white privelege by force of arms, and to keep undocumented immigrants at heel by intimidation and, when necessary, violence. This is not a new phenomenon; we know exactly what the Minutemen are doing, because it has happened again and again throughout the history of the country.

"Securing the border" is a fever dream of nativists and national chauvinists; it is impossible, whatever your position happens to be, simply because the economic logic is against you. The problem is intractable: "free trade" has devastated the economy of Mexico, and the only safety valve for the country is immigration to the United States. Mexicans are not leaving their country to get rich; they're leaving to find some rational standard of living. If all the draconian measures of the Minutemen and all the tinpot chauvinists in Washington were implemented and you somehow did stop the flow, it'd blow back and Mexico would have a revolution.

As to the question of defeating the Minutemen; pyramid termite is dead wrong about it being the government that defeats vigilantism. In fact, vigilantes are usually protected by the government during their heyday, and it's only afterward that the government gets involved against them to some degree. The opposition to the Minutemen has to be as militant as possible without compromising principles; this liberal tripe about how they have to be allowed to spew their shit without an opposing voice is idiotic. That's what the students at Columbia did: provided an opposing voice, which drowned out these chauvinist, racist vigilante shits.
posted by graymouser at 6:16 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


this liberal tripe about how they have to be allowed to spew their shit without an opposing voice is idiotic

graymouser, I don't like the Minutemen either, but isn't 'drowning somebody out' pretty much the same as silencing them? And letting them say their piece then cutting them to shreds is hardly letting them off 'without an opposing voice.'
posted by jonmc at 6:24 AM on October 10, 2006


eriko, I don't think it's all the people - more like two of them in the picture, though I am not surprised that racists want to associate themselves with the project. I am also not surprised that the founders of the movement want to distance themselves from racists. Whether one group is more honest than another about its racial feelings is a matter of interpretation.

After reading this thread and doing a little research, here's what I learned:

1) The Minuteman Project has white, black and Hispanic members.

2) The Minuteman Project is accused of being "a racist, armed militia who have declared open hunting season on immigrants, causing countless hate crimes and over 3000 deaths on the border" by the people that stormed the stage.

3) The Minuteman Project say they have a "strict protocol" of noninteraction with suspected border crossers. They say their mission is to observe and report to border patrols only.

4) Not everyone in the project adheres to the strict protocol, as evidenced by what people call "the T-shirt incident."

5) I can't find anything that links the Minutemen to 3000 deaths on the border (wouldn't that be murder?) but I did find another site mentioning (or estimating) that from 1995 to 2005, 3,000 people died on the border. So that may be where the number comes from.

I can't say I sympathize much with the students that stormed the stage. I think storming the stage would be laudable if the Minutemen had actually murdered 3,000 people (or one person) but until such a time, it looks like their stated militia mission is tipping off the Border Patrol. And if they had killed 3,000 people, I think BATF, FBI, etc. would have gotten on them by now.

Would these people storm the stage if a Border Patrol officer were also speaking? Because in addition to watching, the Border Patrol actually apprehends people, detains them, etc.
posted by bugmuncher at 6:27 AM on October 10, 2006


graymouser, I don't like the Minutemen either, but isn't 'drowning somebody out' pretty much the same as silencing them? And letting them say their piece then cutting them to shreds is hardly letting them off 'without an opposing voice.'

I don't think it's the same as silencing them -- they are free to spew their racist, nativist vigilante propaganda, they just can't be heard over the voices opposing them. You might have a point if the Minutemen were merely a debating team about the need for border security, but these people have taken up arms in defense of white supremacy, and I think that goes beyond the pale where things can be settled by polite debate. The opposition to an armed vigilante group should and must be as militant as possible, and as loud as possible; to just let them be requires a profound ignorance of the actual history of vigilantism in the United States.
posted by graymouser at 6:43 AM on October 10, 2006


Graymouser:

You're trying to reframe the issue. I said nothing of nativists, racism or otherwise. I was referring to the act of enforcing the laws of the border, which means: if you are not an American citizen, then you are not allowed in unless you've been approved through the LEGAL CHANNELS available.

I honestly could give a damn about the reasons why you are trying to come here. If you want to come, come legally like the thousands of immigrants from other countries do. If you come illegally, I'm going to treat you as a criminal as you have broken the laws of my land. Let me repeat that: MY LAND. NOT YOURS IF YOU ARE ILLEGALLY HERE.

I find it unbelievable that anytime someone discusses enforcing the laws of immigration or providing for proper border security that there are those who jump up and scream racism! white privilege! hate mongers! Yet ironically, in poll after poll after poll the vast majority of people want the illegal flow of immigration halted. If you are calling the vast majority of America racist hate mongerers then perhaps you need to look more closely into why Americans feel threatened, other than the knee-jerk populist jargon spouted by a bunch of spoiled brats trying to make themselves feel better by rushing the stage at Columbia.
posted by tgrundke at 6:44 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


MY LAND. NOT YOURS IF YOU ARE ILLEGALLY HERE.

I don't know if it's that cut-and-dried.

As the old joke went: two Indians were sitting on a hill and they saw three ships approaching, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. One turned to the other and said "Oh, great. Boat people."
posted by jonmc at 6:47 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's the same as silencing them -- they are free to spew their racist, nativist vigilante propaganda, they just can't be heard over the voices opposing them.

End result is the same, they can't be heard. My opposition to them can beat them on it's merits. This isn't some kitchen table squabble where he who yells the loudest wins.

to just let them be requires a profound ignorance of the actual history of vigilantism in the United States.

I respectfully disagree, my friend. These groups recruit based on a pseudo-rebellious image nurtured by a persecution complex which is only fed by negative attention such as this. When they are shown to be what they truly are-defenders of the power structure-that image is lost and they can be dismissed as irrelevant. You could remove all the Minutemen types from the earth tommorrow and the issues surrounding immigration will still be there.
posted by jonmc at 6:52 AM on October 10, 2006


tgrundke:

MY LAND. NOT YOURS IF YOU ARE ILLEGALLY HERE.

You. Do. Not. Get. It.

People aren't coming here because they like the weather. Undocumented immigration into America is the main reason that Mexico's government is still around today. The country is falling apart; in Oaxaca, teachers have been at the barricades for months. Mexico's economy is dying, its political system just barely functions, and people are streaming out (often into something that resembles debt peonage) just to be able to send some money back to their families. The only viable solution is amnesty to all undocumented immigrants and a total overhaul to protect their rights; anything else is just repression of one kind or another. You can't remove millions of people from a country without severe repression and state terror, and increased border "security" measures (walls, militarizations, etc.) will just cause more people to die out in the deserts. So what you're calling for is reactionary and white supremacist in fact, if not necessarily in intention.

Am I reframing the debate? Hell yes. Because it is a debate about people's lives, as well as about their human rights. The "mainstream" frame for the debate is reprehensible.
posted by graymouser at 7:11 AM on October 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


The only viable solution is amnesty to all undocumented immigrants and a total overhaul to protect their rights; anything else is just repression of one kind or another.

Or, we could, you know, get together with the Mexican government and try to improve the situation there. Just a thought.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 AM on October 10, 2006


1) The Minuteman Project has white, black and Hispanic members.

"Some of my best friends are black!"

Your "research" seems to be looking up the minuteman website and reading their talking points. Not very interesting. One third generation Puerto Rican who can't speak Spanish and claims to be "Hispanic" to make the group look good and a bunch of racist black guys does not make you 'not racist'. I'm not saying that that is the demographic of the minutemen, but it is possible for black people to be racist, and for other Hispanics to dislike Mexicans or whatever

If you come illegally, I'm going to treat you as a criminal as you have broken the laws of my land. Let me repeat that: MY LAND. NOT YOURS IF YOU ARE ILLEGALLY HERE.

It's your land? I thought it belonged to the landowners. Are you some kind of commie? The people who own most of the land in this country (farmers) certainly seem to want 'em here.

The whole "it's illegal" debate is quite stupid. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a crime, it's a civil infraction. Like speeding or violating some building code. It's not a felony or misdemeanor.

When bush proposed his "don't call it amnesty" program people freaked out. Why? He wanted to change the law in order to make the people staying in the country legal. If you're so worried about following the law, then why would you be upset about changing it?

People who oppose immigration are motivated by a dislike of having so many Mexicans in the country, not by some legalistic bullshit.
posted by delmoi at 7:22 AM on October 10, 2006


pyramid termite is dead wrong about it being the government that defeats vigilantism. In fact, vigilantes are usually protected by the government during their heyday, and it's only afterward that the government gets involved against them to some degree.

contradict yourself much? ... a close parsing of these two sentences reveals that they don't make any sense ... first, you claim that vigilantes were protected by their government and then pretend that the withdrawal of such protection would not be a governmental act ... then you say that "afterward" the government gets "involved" but i guess that doesn't mean they're defeated by the government ... and i guess the fact that you can't walk into a jailhouse or a county courthouse these days without going through security checkpoints and metal detectors means nothing

no, it's all done by loud mouthed kids screaming at vigilantes

all you've done here is minimize the government's role by rhetorical tricks

The opposition to the Minutemen has to be as militant as possible without compromising principles;

and 2,000 miles away from where the minutemen are actually doing their business ... i had no idea ineffectiveness was a principle that could not be compromised

this liberal tripe about how they have to be allowed to spew their shit without an opposing voice is idiotic.

they don't just spew shit ... they DO things, and they DO them at the place where they're effective

you're talking as if bum rushing them off a stage in new york city prevents them from patrolling a border in arizona ... it doesn't

That's what the students at Columbia did

they did nothing except demonstrate their hotheadedness

and while we're at it, let's get something straight ... many of those students at columbia are children of privilege who grew up in neighborhoods that are not affected by illegal immigration, who are going to go on career paths that will not be affected by illegal immigration, and will be able to wall themselves off from any negative effects illegal immigration has ... they can pat themselves on the back, knowing that they bumrushed some "rednecks" off a stage and "did" the "right thing", while not risking any thing else than receiving a stern letter from the dean about the need to respect freedom of speech ... they're not going to go to arizona ... they're not going to deal with the consequences of the issue at hand ... and they will live their lives in a illegal-immigrant and redneck free manner as they can manage as they take their places in the social and corporate elite that actually controls such things while being isolated from the results

there's just a tinge of class hypocrisy going on here ...

truth is, the solution's not going to come from the minutemen or the protesting students ... but from those of us who will calmly work out a sane compromise that will make all parties happy, including the illegal immigrants
posted by pyramid termite at 7:36 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


there's just a tinge of class hypocrisy going on here ...

well, that's nothing new. There's long been the 'parlor liberal,' tradition of handwringing over 'the people,' whom they have no contact with and wouldn't like if they did. And obliviousness to that is often what cripples them.

But that's a side issue.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 AM on October 10, 2006


But that's a side issue.

it is ... but, as i noted way above, it's one that the minutemen's leader caught on to right away
posted by pyramid termite at 7:44 AM on October 10, 2006


jonmc: I agree with practically everything you've said except the part about nobody taking the Minutemen seriously. There are supporters in this very thread, and not just a couple.

But, under our Bill of Rights, which is the only thing in this discussion that I hold sacrosanct, they have as much a right to speak their opinion as you or I do.

They were invited guests of a sanctioned campus group. They have a right to speak.

Would the illustrious illuminati here feel differently if it had been an evolutionary biologist who was accosted by creationists? I think the discussion would be very different.

EVERYONE has the right to freedom of expression. You take the bad with the good. You beat them at their own game as jonmc said, not by turning into hoods.

Who has the right to freedom of expression? EVERYONE.

Period.

How anyone can call themselves a "liberal" and not support free speech in any and all forms is mind boggling to me.

That is the true litmus test. Do you think free speech should be protected in all forms? If you answer anything other than an unqualified "yes", you fail.

This has been a truly illuminating and deeply saddening thread. I had no idea so many people that have opinions I generally respect would be rushing to shut down free expression just because "they're racists!". Please.

To slightly paraphrase Bill Clinton, I want them to talk, because the more they talk, the worse they look, and the better "we" look by comparison.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:50 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


this liberal tripe...

That's what this is really about isn't it? The right-wing hatred of menudo?
posted by mds35 at 8:06 AM on October 10, 2006


"But the operative word there is "kids"."

What kids? There were no "kids" there.

"Their constitutional right to be unpeaceful and intolerant?"

I may have missed something but I don't see standing on a stage talking as "unpeaceful".

"If the Southern Poverty Law Center says that there are white supremacists involved in the Minuteman movement, that's good enough for me."

Then you have pretty low standards. The threat level of the Minutemen increases as the SPLC's coffers decrease. Morris Dees is very good at using FUD to raise funds.

"When will lefty protestors realize that protesting is not an end to itself and it is not a way of bringing attention to oneself and it is not there as an expression of an individual's vanity."

Never, it's the Trustifarian way. Isn't "The only intolerance we tolerate is the intolerance of intolerance." the Trustifarian creed?
posted by MikeMc at 8:08 AM on October 10, 2006


It's truly sad when half of the rhetoric on his page is indistinguishable from that of indymedia or DU.
posted by dios at 8:13 AM on October 10, 2006


You'd prefer Free Republic, dios? Seriously, despite what the internet would have you believe Freepers and IndyMedia are more alike than they are different, and both represent a miniscule minority of the popultion.
posted by jonmc at 8:30 AM on October 10, 2006


I may have missed something but I don't see standing on a stage talking as "unpeaceful".

Again, I ask, did people spouting this off actually watch the footage or hear interviews with the Minuteman and how they perceived the incident? "Peaceful" is about the last way I'd describe the incident.
posted by jmd82 at 8:36 AM on October 10, 2006


Of course not, jonmc. I'm surprised to see you engage in such a facile retort.

I'd prefer neither. I'd prefer a site with people who aren't partisan shitheads of either stripe. I'd prefer a site that ostracizes those who go to rhetorical excess and engage in behavior that is the message board-equivalent of what these students did at Columbia.

I find the behavior of those students indefensible, and I find it rather embarrassing when people defend those actions merely because they agree politically with them. Because as posters said above, it would be a completely different tune from them if the positions were reversed.

That's the problems with partisans: they are too caught up and emotionally invested in their stupid little politic power struggle that they sacrifice any appearance of intellectual integrity or moral consistency. The same shit-for-brains partisan nonsense that leads the morons on the far right to want to fight all Arabs and the terrorist-supporters who defend them is what leads to idiots here calling everyone interested in immigration white nativist nazi redneck slackjaws who hate brown people and want white power. I could not have more contempt for either side's behavior for the pernicious effect that such rhetoric has had on our civil discourse.

That is why I find it sad that half of the discussion here is indistinguishable from Indymedia or DU.
posted by dios at 8:42 AM on October 10, 2006


People, the first amendment prevents the government from making a law restricting your freedom of speech.
posted by beerbajay at 8:59 AM on October 10, 2006


and common law prevents assault upon people who are speaking, just because they are speaking ... it also prevents trespassing, disturbing the peace and destruction of property

in short, the people do not just hold rights under the constitution, but under common law as well and your argument is specious
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on October 10, 2006


here's one thing i don't understand: why is it some in this thread and some of the people who commented about the video on youtube get to use the actions of these students to tar the entire left side of the political spectrum, moaning and griping about how obviously these protestors represent mainstream liberal thoughts and actions; but if i were to view the actions and utterances of the minutemen and say they obviously represent mainstream right of center beliefs, claiming that their actions diminish everyone on the right, there'd be hue and cry?
posted by lord_wolf at 9:28 AM on October 10, 2006


beerbajay: that is a non-starter.

Free speech is a political concept. In a democracy (or a republic or representative democracy or whatever quibbling point anyone wants to make about the nature of our political system), the importance of free political speech is paramount. As a precondition to that society, there has to be a marketplace of ideas. There has to be free speech. As a political matter, free speech is a necessary element of a democratic or representative society since the people's will is determinative. Free speech is not necessary in a totalitarian, meritocracy, oligarchy, or theocratic state because the views of the people are irrelevant.

That is why it is an Amendment to the Constitution that free speech is protected. That Amendment turns free speech into a legal or constitutional issue, but it concurrently remains a political issue.

There is certainly a political component of free speech that is impacted here. Clearly the legal or constitutional component of free speech is not being implicated. But a person is not being permitted to participate in the marketplace of ideas, and therefore, the system suffers and the political issue of free speech is compromised.

This distinction is too often blurred and people end up trying to foolishly argue that some act violates their constitutional rights when there is no government action. But even when there is no government action, the principle of free speech can be limited by private action.

The biggest problem of discussing free speech is that people don't properly understand what the idea means. Free speech does not guarantee you the right to say whatever you want or whenever you want. You are not guaranteed a platform or audience. Nor are you guaranteed protection from the consequence of what you say. Rather, the principle merely stands for the proposition that political points can be articulated without legal consequence from the state. The ability to articulate your speech can be limited by time, place and manner. All that free speech guarantees you is the right to articulate it.
posted by dios at 9:29 AM on October 10, 2006


but if i were to view the actions and utterances of the minutemen and say they obviously represent mainstream right of center beliefs, claiming that their actions diminish everyone on the right, there'd be hue and cry?

I think there'd be hue and cry either way, just from different sources.
posted by jonmc at 9:40 AM on October 10, 2006


Here's a point I haven't really seen discussed before, and I'm curious what people think. Some people seem to be willing to accept illegal immigration because it makes the lives of needy people in Mexico better by allowing them to come into our country to make a slightly better living and help their families. My problem is that the benefits of illegal immigration go disproportionately to the poor residents of northern Mexico. There are needy people all over the world who would do anything for the chance to come to our country. They have a means to do so, namely legal immigration, but that process is largely undermined (via popular/political support, limited resources, etc.) by the situation on the border.

I too think that our country should use immigration to help people in this world who need help, but helping northern Mexicans (who are in fact quite needy) only can't be the best way to do this. I'm sure there are quite a few Sudanese refugees who would agree. Why should we look the other way w.r.t. our laws to help one population when it doesn't help anybody else? Discuss, debate, fire away.
posted by SBMike at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


In the Indymedia link, there's a "Statement from the stage-stormers" posted by a guy at the email address dkalkin@gmail.com. If you check out dkalkin's user page on Wikipedia, you'll see that the guy identifies as a Trotskyite. If I had to guess, I'd say "Kalkin" is probably affiliated with the Workers' World Party, based on his involvement in some Wikipedia conflict about the entry for the ANSWER Coalition. If he's not Workers' World Party, he might be a member of the International Socialist Organization, but I saw more ANSWER signs in the photos for the demonstration than ISO.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the folks who stormed the stage are not liberals, but illiberal members of the left who feel only a little less disdain toward liberals than they do toward the Minutemen. In fact, "Kalkin" once good-naturedly but mockingly referred to Todd Gitlin and Michael Berube as "squishy but harmless left-liberal types." (Whether Kalkin considers himself a non-squishy, non-harmless leftist, I don't know.) In fact, the BWOG post on the incident suggests that the Latino groups sponsoring the protest were at odds with ANSWER's decision to storm the stage. A press release from the Chicano Caucus stated, "While we were the chief organizers of the protest outside Roone Arledge, we were not responsible for any of the actions that led to the termination of the event." The Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University also declared that it "deplores any violent actions, inflammatory remarks, and other provocations that may have caused an escalation to violence."

It looks to me like you have a sectarian left group (WWP/ANSWER Coalition) trying to steal the thunder of a Latino civil rights groups. In my college and grad school days, I've seen this happen all too often. ANSWER or ISO claims solidarity with an oppressed minority group, but they act as if members of that group aren't capable of deciding their own tactics & message without input from some would-be vanguardists who think they know better.
posted by jonp72 at 10:00 AM on October 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


ANSWER. That bunch could fuck up a cup of coffee.
posted by jonmc at 10:04 AM on October 10, 2006


Oh, those kids.
Yeah, they're fun. Couldn't debate thier way out of a paper bag made of hemp.

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."

ANSWER, from all my dealings with them and their fledgling memdership, is mostly uneducated/ignorant youth, buying into the "radical" protest movement thinking it will solve something more than making them feel better about themselves by surrounding themselves with "likeminded' (read; just as frustrated and ignorant) "individuals" (read; just like everyone else).

Of course, the same can be said for many of the fringe supporters of the Minutemen. They feel frustrated and misunderstood for their beliefs, and seek others who share their beliefs and kind of glom together in this big mass of bigotry (M.O.B. - patent pending). Then you put two masses of bigotry in an loosely regulated area and their polarities (being opposites) cause them to interact violently. The only thing that would have made this any better would have been tear-gas and moltovs.

But at least it's entertaining. In that scripted kind of way.
posted by daq at 10:22 AM on October 10, 2006


"The whole "it's illegal" debate is quite stupid. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a crime, it's a civil infraction. Like speeding or violating some building code. It's not a felony or misdemeanor. "

Actually, delmoi, I'm pretty sure that it is a crime. I'm almost certain that sneaking back across the border after you've been deported is a felony.

"People who oppose immigration are motivated by a dislike of having so many Mexicans in the country, not by some legalistic bullshit."

I think that it's illegal immigration they're opposed to, not legal immigration. You know, where they follow the legal process that's been in place?
posted by drstein at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2006


It looks to me like you have a sectarian left group (WWP/ANSWER Coalition) trying to steal the thunder of a Latino civil rights groups.

or make them look bad to conservatives ... it wouldn't be the first time that a radical group was infiltrated by government agent provacateurs to discredit a movement

in the 80s, i attended a planning meeting for a peace protest where one of the local socialist groups wanted to participate ... no one trusted them, no one liked them and people were quite insistent that they tone it down at the rally

and some of us wondered if they were government agents
posted by pyramid termite at 10:28 AM on October 10, 2006


When discussing the right to free speech, I find it amazing that so many natural-born citizens of the US are so willing to agree with any particular agenda that disallows others of that and many other rights — not to mention be so blatantly proud of their own willful acquiescence of said rights to the current reigning authority.

As a naturalized citizen I find this attitude astonishing, if not deeply troublesome, with respect to the fundamental principles upon which this country was founded.

I can't help but wonder if the country would be better off if a certain sect of its natural-born citizens were to be given the same test about the United States, its history, and its Constitution, that foreign nationals are given before being granted the privilege of citizenship.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:35 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


"It's your land? I thought it belonged to the landowners. Are you some kind of commie? The people who own most of the land in this country (farmers) certainly seem to want 'em here."

1) I am a landowner, a tax payer and a citizen of the United States of America. So yes, it is my land, as it is the land of everyone else in this country who is a United States citizen.

Farmers don't necessarily want illegals here, they want cheap labor. Large farm conglomerates want cheap labor as well, and they don't care where it comes from.

"The whole "it's illegal" debate is quite stupid. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a crime, it's a civil infraction. Like speeding or violating some building code. It's not a felony or misdemeanor."

So, we should just let people cross the borders unchecked? Per se, it's not illegal to speed or break the building code - but when you kill someone from speeding or your tenament house burns down killing dozens because you failed to build to code, then people get upset. This is a similar situation with illegal immigration - it's gotten to the point where enough law abiding citizens have been negatively affected that they are upset or negatively impacted (strained local resources, hospitals, schools, emergency forces, etc.).

I'd like you to try talking your way out of a traffic ticket by telling the cop "this isn't illegal, it's a civil infraction."

You're still going to be punished.

"When bush proposed his "don't call it amnesty" program people freaked out. Why? He wanted to change the law in order to make the people staying in the country legal. If you're so worried about following the law, then why would you be upset about changing it?"

People were upset because of two reasons:

1) Amnesty was done in the 1980s as a cover to 'solve' the problem and it ended up exascerbating it;

2) "Amnesty" isn't fair to all the thousands of people who have waited in line patiently to enter this country legally.

Amnesty doesn't change the future of the laws or increase protection at the border. It sets a poor precedent, as witnessed by the 'reform' in the 1980s that only kept people's hope alive for staying in this country longer in hopes of being declared part of the amnesty. It isn't fair.

"People who oppose immigration are motivated by a dislike of having so many Mexicans in the country, not by some legalistic bullshit."

Oh, for the love of God - again, why does it always have to come back to race, creed, color? Seriously. Can you not accept that there may be legitimate reasons for wanting to control the flow of immigration into the country without it being a racially or anti-this/anti-that motivation?
posted by tgrundke at 11:00 AM on October 10, 2006


you know, people, when my grandmother lived in czechoslovakia under the Nazi occupation, she and others engaged in stealing of food to survive. back then, the nazis (yes, the same nazi ideology currently represented among the minutemen) framed the debate as, gee, what she is doing is illegal. she is stealing, which is against the law, simple as that. and they sure cracked down on starving poor folks when they caught them.

but you know, we look back on those days, and most of us with any sense in our heads, we say, "illegal" doesnt mean shit when you are doing what you have to to survive. my grandmother didnt deserve to be shot, put in a prison camp, deported, or whatever other justice was planned for her by a fucked up law and a fucked up society that did not provide for her very survival. no, we look back on her as brave, and her actions as wholly legitimate.

the people coming over the border arent coming over because they hate america, or because they are opportunists, and they arent illegal anymore than my grandmother was in Czechoslovakia in the 1940's.

they are doing what they need to do to survive and feed their families, and so no "law" is going to stop them, and framing a debate up in such a way so that their very SURVIVAL or EXISTENCE itself becomes a problem, becomes a violation of our LEGAL SYSTEM that you feel so strongly about correcting, means that you are setting up the united states and its enforcement apparatus to do violence to people who arent really, in the grand scheme of things, doing anything wrong, doing anything that our ancestors didnt do to survive against adversity, doing anything that they should be ashamed of.

bottom line: when millions of peoples' survival is illegal, that theres a problem with the system. the right thing to do is reform the system and the law, rather than attack the poor and destitute.
posted by mano at 11:03 AM on October 10, 2006


you know, people, when my grandmother lived in czechoslovakia under the Nazi occupation, she and others engaged in stealing of food to survive. back then, the nazis (yes, the same nazi ideology currently represented among the minutemen) framed the debate as, gee, what she is doing is illegal. she is stealing, which is against the law, simple as that. and they sure cracked down on starving poor folks when they caught them.

but you know, we look back on those days, and most of us with any sense in our heads, we say, "illegal" doesnt mean shit when you are doing what you have to to survive. my grandmother didnt deserve to be shot, put in a prison camp, deported, or whatever other justice was planned for her by a fucked up law and a fucked up society that did not provide for her very survival. no, we look back on her as brave, and her actions as wholly legitimate.

the people coming over the border arent coming over because they hate america, or because they are opportunists, and they arent illegal anymore than my grandmother was in Czechoslovakia in the 1940's.

they are doing what they need to do to survive and feed their families, and so no "law" is going to stop them, and framing a debate up in such a way so that their very SURVIVAL or EXISTENCE itself becomes a problem, becomes a violation of our LEGAL SYSTEM that you feel so strongly about correcting, means that you are setting up the united states and its enforcement apparatus to do violence to people who arent really, in the grand scheme of things, doing anything wrong, doing anything that our ancestors didnt do to survive against adversity, doing anything that they should be ashamed of.

bottom line: when millions of peoples' survival is illegal, that theres a problem with the system. the right thing to do is reform the system and the law, rather than attack the poor and destitute.
posted by mano at 11:04 AM on October 10, 2006


"People aren't coming here because they like the weather. Undocumented immigration into America is the main reason that Mexico's government is still around today. The country is falling apart"

Graymouser - it's not that I have no heart and feel bad for these people (my Masters is in International Development and Relief), it's that the problem is Mexico's problem, not the United States'. We can get into debates around here for months about what role United States policy has had in shaping the current state of Mexico, but to me, that is beside the point right now. I empathize with their plight, but my moral sphere simply does not extend that far out. There was a time when it did, but I wish to focus my resources and abilities closer to home - as do many United States citizens.

"The only viable solution is amnesty to all undocumented immigrants and a total overhaul to protect their rights; anything else is just repression of one kind or another."

This is the responsibility of the Mexicans and the Mexican government. I realize that Mexico is a borderline failed state anymore. The responsibility of the United States government is to protect the rights of US citizens, it is not its responsibility to ensure the protection of Mexican citizens who are here illegally.

I understand where you are coming from, but I simply do not feel that it is our responsibility to protect these people, nor do I feel that we are 'repressing them' by blocking their entry into the United States.

"You can't remove millions of people from a country without severe repression and state terror, and increased border "security" measures (walls, militarizations, etc.) will just cause more people to die out in the deserts. So what you're calling for is reactionary and white supremacist in fact, if not necessarily in intention."

This is where I cannot agree with you less, and where we simply will not be able to see eye-to-eye. Were these people Asian, European, African or otherwise, I would not want them entering the country illegally. Race has nothing to do with it. It is the act of illegal immigration that is bothersome, regardless who is doing it. The United States is sovereign territory and deserves to be able to protect its citizens as the citizens demand.

In Mexico, immigration laws are significantly tighter than here in the United States, severely limiting free speech, land ownership, financial resources, state resources, etc. If you are there illegally, you are deported, no questions asked. This isn't reverse discrimination and racism against Americans or foreigners of other countries?
posted by tgrundke at 11:13 AM on October 10, 2006


mano -

Your grandmother lived in an occupied state, controlled by a foreign army during a time of war. While her actions for survival and resistence were indeed honorable and brave, they have little to do with the current situation involving immigration law.

The United States does not occupy Mexico or Mexican territory (can we refrain from the inevitable debate on this issue for the moment?). The citizens of Mexico are under the laws, economy and situation of their country; Mexico is responsible for them, not the United States of America.

Now, while I agree with your premise that people will do what they need to do to survive, that does not mean that the United States must open its doors or allow unchecked immigration across our borders. There is great poverty and anguish across the world and American immigration laws are far more lax than you'll find in many places.
posted by tgrundke at 11:17 AM on October 10, 2006


mano, I'm curious. Do you support any limits on the flow of illegal immigrants across the border, or is it the more the merrier? Should they pay taxes on the money they make, or would that be unjust somehow? Do you see any problem with them being undocumented and the inevitable legal problems this entails, or is this just part of the reality we have to accept in order not to be racists? And what about the Mexican government? Do you think it's good that they have zero incentive to create jobs or spur economic development in Mexico, since they know that they can just make unemployed, poor laborers America's problem?

If you don't see any problems with these arguments, then I guess you're being consistent. However, if you see any of these as potential problems, wouldn't you in fact be in favor of legal immigration? It's not an issue of being pro or anti immigration. It's an issue of being pro or anti legal immigration.

I live in southern California, and I like the Mexicans here. I have nothing against their culture or language. I just wish that they could come here through an official process rather than sneaking in in the dead of night. Every time a person crosses the border illegally, he helps his own family, but probably hurts the other families in Mexico by undermining their legal options. Our country has a rich tradition of accepting immigrants from all over the world, and I don't really see this latest wave as being consistent with our traditions. Let's guard the border and rally for a fair, legal immigration policy. We can do both, can't we?
posted by SBMike at 11:31 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thank you tgrundke for being so articulate when I cannot.
posted by keswick at 11:31 AM on October 10, 2006


dios: are you saying it is not possible for private individuals to impinge upon someone's civil rights? If someone keeps me away from a voting booth via a loaded gun, that since it wasn't the government, no breach of my civil rights has occurred?

I understand there is a distinction (of sorts, IANAL like you) between "civil rights" and "civil liberties" but let's not cause confusion where none exists. Surely noone denies your civil "rights" can be abridged by someone other than jackbooted thugs with badges.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:34 AM on October 10, 2006


"dios: are you saying it is not possible for private individuals to impinge upon someone's civil rights?"

I was thinking this same thing. You often hear of people being charged with conspiring to deny the civil rights of others (usually in the context of a hate crime where the feds want in on a high profile case and need to avoid double jeopardy) so couldn't that apply here? Of course IANAL.
posted by MikeMc at 11:41 AM on October 10, 2006


"...and American immigration laws are far more lax than you'll find in many places."

Certainly more lax than Mexico where entering illegally is a felony (of course with Mexican soldiers and police routinely beating,robbing,raping and killing "undocumented workers" a felony rap is the least of their worries).
posted by MikeMc at 11:57 AM on October 10, 2006


tgrundke:

Here's the thing. There are basically three things you can do with regard to undocumented immigration into the United States. One is to accept it, try to live with it as best as possible, and protect the human rights of the undocumented. Another is to keep ignoring it and periodically harrass undocumented immigrants, which is the status quo. The third is to try and close the borders and remove the current undocumented immigrants from the country. The third option, which is being called for by the likes of the Minutemen, is barbaric and borderline fascistic.

This is because you're talking about millions of people in the country already, who are integrated into communities that are "mixed" at the family level between documented and undocumented immigrants, who would need to be removed if you're not going to go for an amnesty. The legal immigrants have already stood up, and they are on the side of the undocumented immigrants in their millions. So you'd basically have to wage a campaign of constant checks, harrassment, and ultimately terror to get them out of the country. Anywhere Mexican-Americans live would have to be a functional police state.

And then there's the border. It's a couple thousand miles of harsh terrain. If you can't solve the internal problems of Mexico, people will still be trying to enter the United States, only it will be more difficult to do so. That will mean more deaths and more injuries, not to mention more debt to illegal "coyotes," for the border crossers. In essence, what is ostensibly a means of border control becomes a punitive measure because its effectiveness would be extremely low.

Finally, as to why it becomes a matter of race -- well, that's because U.S. history is inevitably colored with race. The country was founded on the genocide of its native population and its wealth was built on the backs of slaves. When we say that the Minutemen are vicious racists, it is because they are so clearly part of the long history of racist vigilantes in the American West, who have been instrumental in the oppression of minorities (and radicals, during the anti-IWW and anti-Communist eras) for well over a century.

Is amnesty "fair" to people who immigrate in the lawful manner? Well, honestly, no; many of them have gone through hardship because their situations require them to follow the laws. But fairness to documented immigrants can't be your only criterion; fundamentally, you've got to choose between repression and accepting, one way or another, a much larger influx of immigrants from Mexico than the current legal framework provides. The only humanitarian choice is to make a settlement that gives immigrants the full protection of the law, and that would require a general amnesty.
posted by graymouser at 11:58 AM on October 10, 2006


Metafilter: That bunch could fuck up a cup of coffee.

(seriously, with certain exceptions, I’ve been consistently impressed with the cogency of ideas and the depth and variety of thinking here whether I agree with the perspective or not)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:00 PM on October 10, 2006


dios: are you saying it is not possible for private individuals to impinge upon someone's civil rights? If someone keeps me away from a voting booth via a loaded gun, that since it wasn't the government, no breach of my civil rights has occurred?
posted by Ynoxas at 1:34 PM CST on October 10


I didn't mention the word civil rights. I spoke of constitutional rights. Constitutional rights can only be violated by the state as a matter of law: the Constitution only creates limitations on the power of the Federal Government, which were (arguably) subsequently incorporated though the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amended to limit state governments.

Civil rights is a concept distinct from the Constitution or constitutional rights. For the most part, the term is used to describe racially-motivated discrimination or actions.

As a legal matter, a cognizable claim of violation of free speech rights exist only when the violator is the government.
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on October 10, 2006


mano, I'm curious. Do you support any limits on the flow of illegal immigrants across the border, or is it the more the merrier?

I don't believe in limiting immigration anywhere. I'm not a fan of borders. More importantly, though I believe that law enforcement as a general tool is not what determines large scale human behavior. It punishes, it leads to violence, but peoples behaviors are not determined by laws. Rather, laws are determined by peoples behaviors, and when the two are out of sync, there is misery and violence until (usually) the law (rather than peoples behavior), changes.

Thus, here, the important point is that the primary thing spuring "illegal" immigration is the economic realities of mexico and the US. If you want to change something, you have to work there. The only other possibility, which is what the minutemen are pushing, is a lot of gratuitous violence, criminalization, prison camps (literally, they are buildign these now), and misery.

Should they pay taxes on the money they make, or would that be unjust somehow?

This is a very contentious point, you realize. I believe that the US benefits from "illegal" immigrants, not just from their labor, but from their taxes, etc. The US and its capitalists and its citizens have always seen HUGE benefits provided off the backs of the new generations of immigrants that pour in , legal or not.

Do you see any problem with them being undocumented and the inevitable legal problems this entails, or is this just part of the reality we have to accept in order not to be racists?

Apparently, you didnt read what I wrote about my grandmother. A person who steals a loaf of bread because they are starving is breaking the law. Now, I dont care if that person is an american citizen in LA, and undocumented immigrant in san diego, or my grandmother in nazi occupied czechoslovakia. The fact that they are "breaking the law" just isnt such a big damn deal.

Anyway, the legal problems you talk about are pretexts that have been dug up to justify a new "war on illegal immigration". They are as illegitimate and ad hoc as Bush's case for war in Iraq, or the retarded arguments levied in favor of prohibition. What is the big "legal" problem, really? Not enough paperwork being filed? Govt agencies too small? What an overwhelming problem, I cant believe we didnt notice it, like, earlier...

And what about the Mexican government? Do you think it's good that they have zero incentive to create jobs or spur economic development in Mexico, since they know that they can just make unemployed, poor laborers America's problem?

Vincente Fox? Calderon? Anyway, their line is that what they are doing IS creating jobs and spurring growth. But if so, we have to ask why are all these mexicans coming north? Because that line "creating jobs and spurring growth" is BS. They are creating growth but capital is running north of the border, because capital flows are encouraged, whereas human flows are "prohibited". Mexicos govt, for all practical purposes, is basically run by americans. They sure exploit mexicans as much as we do. Everyone knows mexicans are following the capital when they come north.

Me, I'm totally interested in seeing a real revolution in Mexico (and i dont think its far off). But while it may "solve" some of the immigration problem, its going to be hurtful to the business and economic interests of this country.
posted by mano at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2006


The country was founded on the genocide of its native population and its wealth was built on the backs of slaves.

So was Mexico, what's your point?
posted by keswick at 12:04 PM on October 10, 2006


pyramid termite: "[redneck = racial slur?] it depends on how you say it ... just as with the word hillbilly, there are some who call themselves rednecks with pride and dare you to find something wrong with it ... and i'm not talking about racist people, either, or even people who vote republican."

It means "poor, ignorant white person." The proliferation of a word that conjoins those is a display of ignorance.

To compare: yeah, I've had long discussions about this with people who tell me that the word "nigger" is fine to use, and use often, because there are plenty of bad black people, in addition to the good ones. So, they tell me, why not? I mean, it's not like they're saying all black people are bad, just some of them.

This is specious because the common conjunction of the traits implies that, if not all, then at least a large chunk of the people in question are, say, "ignorant, poor, white people." Whereas my impression has generally been that wealthy, Northern white people are more ignorant than poor southerners, and that people who deride 'rednecks' have generally never met a poor southern white in their lives.

Compare, also, the phrases: "dirty jew;" "stinking arab;" "stupid polack;" et cetera. Are any of these phrases correct because they don't really imply that all of the people in the group they apply to are that way? Or do they rather imply guilt by association?
posted by koeselitz at 12:04 PM on October 10, 2006


tgrundke: So, we should just let people cross the borders unchecked?

I don't know many people who advocate that. However, there are certainly many different perspectives on how people should be permitted to reside in the country legally. The current movement of making it more difficult to live and work in the United States, including laws which would place a burden on legal immigrants and residents through excessive documentation reqirements and English-only laws, appear to many to be an especially mean-spirited method of checking immigration.

Can you not accept that there may be legitimate reasons for wanting to control the flow of immigration into the country without it being a racially or anti-this/anti-that motivation?

Can you not accept that much of the current policy suggestions on how to control the flow of immigration is grounded in racial and ethnic bias?

Here is my objection to some of this. As an educator and volunteer, I don't want laws that make me a criminal if I offer documentation in a non-English language, or if I don't ask clients to document citizenship before I provide them services on a volunteer basis. I don't want the government to interfere in the ability of charitable organizations to serve people in need. And yet, some of the current laws would open up broad legal liability to charitable organizations that offer services on a "no questions asked" basis.

And as a citizen, I don't want to take steps towards a culture where proof of legal residency is a requirement for many transactions.

The responsibility of the United States government is to protect the rights of US citizens, it is not its responsibility to ensure the protection of Mexican citizens who are here illegally.

Have you read the Declaration of Independence? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The basic foundation of the U.S. government is that it has a responsibility to protect universal human rights. Some rights: the right to speech, free practice of religion, and due process before incarceration, are blanket prohibitions on government action, not rights given on the basis of citizenship.

In addition, the current basis of our criminal justice system is that crimes are not committed against persons, but against the state. An assault is an assault, murder is murder, rape is rape, theft is theft, regardless of the citizenship status of the victim. So yes, governments in the United States do have an obligation to "protect" other people, even if those people have committed an illegal act.

And as I've said before, I object to any law which imposes legal liability or restrictions on individuals, organizations, or local governments.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on October 10, 2006


Some days it seems like the whole world's gone asshole.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:07 PM on October 10, 2006


what you mean "gone," kemosabe? 'Twas ever thus.
posted by jonmc at 12:10 PM on October 10, 2006


KirkJobSluder: You do realize that our government is not founded on the Declaration of Independence, but rather the Constitution, right? And even if Joe Sanchez's idea of pursuing happiness to illegally come to America, there are laws that make that illegal, right? Just like there are laws against me shooting people like mano, even though that would make me so happy.
posted by keswick at 12:12 PM on October 10, 2006


tgrundke:

The United States does not occupy Mexico or Mexican territory (can we refrain from the inevitable debate on this issue for the moment?). The citizens of Mexico are under the laws, economy and situation of their country; Mexico is responsible for them, not the United States of America.


"we didnt cross the border, the border crossed us" rings true with me.

maybe invisible lines in the sand and books full of reactionary legislation are what counts to you, but to me borders and nations and laws are the result of human behavior, and in that means that you have to evaluate our history, which includes violence and injustice, in evaluating whether a law is just and needs to be respected, or is unjust and should be changed.

and no the US (mostly) isnt run by nazis, but that is irrelevant from the perspective of a hungry human being. the law that says you cant steal bread is the same here as it was in nazi germany, and it is just as reasonable for a hungry person to do what they have to to survive in a democracy as it is in a facist state.

Now, while I agree with your premise that people will do what they need to do to survive, that does not mean that the United States must open its doors or allow unchecked immigration across our borders.

nothing is forcing us to ignore reality, and spend billions of dollars in futile attempts to assert our "will" that only produce violence and misery. eg:

the war on drugs.
the occupation of iraq.
militant illegal immigration policy.

all of these are doomed to fail, but for some reason retarded americans just have to learn the hard way. why? because wed rather spend the money on fences than schools? have you been in a public school recently?

There is great poverty and anguish across the world and American immigration laws are far more lax than you'll find in many places.

quite true. america is quite lax and welcoming, a beacon for immigration. it is wealthy and productive and offers... (not so much these days) a great deal of freedom relative to other societies. so why ruin a great thing by wasting a bunch of money doing the equivalent of beating up homeless people, and making the world hate us? thats the question you need to ask yourself
posted by mano at 12:18 PM on October 10, 2006


So was Mexico, what's your point?

It's the reason race always comes up in discussions about America: I was making the point that race is a portion of any debate in America that crosses racial lines, by default, because the country has a record of atrocity and shame on the subject. It figures directly into the history of vigilantes in the American West, who got their start in the genocide of Native Americans in California.
posted by graymouser at 12:19 PM on October 10, 2006


More importantly, though I believe that law enforcement as a general tool is not what determines large scale human behavior. It punishes, it leads to violence, but peoples behaviors are not determined by laws. Rather, laws are determined by peoples behaviors, and when the two are out of sync, there is misery and violence until (usually) the law (rather than peoples behavior), changes.

Wow, think of the implications of this. I mean, I understand that some laws are unjust and unfairly hinder people's otherwise harmless behavior, but you just said that the cornerstone of human civilization isn't really all that important. People's natural behavior is to kill and maim each other over the smallest disagreement. Don't you think it's good that we have laws to protect our societies from this darker side of human nature?

I too would like to see a world without borders, where you would have the same basic human rights anywhere you stand on the globe. Such a world is a long way off, though, and how to implement it is a topic worthy of decades of debate and thought. It's not so simple as "I don't believe there should be borders in an ideal world, so I'm going to ignore the problem of illegal immigration". I'd like to live in a world where I didn't have to lock my car when I park on the street, but knowing what an idealistic fantasy this is, I still do.
posted by SBMike at 12:21 PM on October 10, 2006


I was making the point that race is a portion of any debate in America that crosses racial lines, by default, because the country has a record of atrocity and shame on the subject.

Protip: Most countries do.
posted by keswick at 12:23 PM on October 10, 2006


keswick: You do realize that our government is not founded on the Declaration of Independence, but rather the Constitution, right?

The Declaration of Independence is a critical document because it details the fundamental ideology that went into the founding of the United States which didn't start with the Constitution as anybody with a basic Middle School education in the United States should recognize. The current Constitution is actually the second such document created. The Declaration of Independence lays out a number of principles which would be embodied in the the development of the Constitution. The prior existence of rights "retained by the people" which the government is obligated to defend, or at least not ristrict is one of the essential ones.

This is made clear in the preamble to the Bill of Rights:
"THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added:" (emphasis added)

Many of the amendments that make up the bill of rights prohibit the government from taking certain kinds of action:

Amendment I: "Congress shall make no law..."
Amendment III: "No Soldier shall, in time of peace..."
Amendment V: "No person shall be held to answer..."
Amendment IX: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

So by all means, a basic principle of our Government must include the recognition that some rights are not contingent on citizenship status.

And even if Joe Sanchez's idea of pursuing happiness to illegally come to America, there are laws that make that illegal, right?

Certainly, and I'm pointing out that even though his actions are illegal there are a number of "rights" that still apply to him regardless of citizenship status. The prior claim that the U.S. Government only exists to protect the rights of U.S. citizens is false.

And isn't it a bit hypocritical to complain about "redneck" and use "Joe Sanchez"?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:36 PM on October 10, 2006


"it is just as reasonable for a hungry person to do what they have to to survive in a democracy as it is in a facist state. "

WWJVD?*

Seriously, I don't think most people fault immigrants for coming here. If I were in a similiar position I would do the same thing but there are issues beyond the personal. The thing that gets me is that everyone in power pays lip service to immigration reform but nobody really wants to change the status quo, there's just too much money involved. Now, you have groups like the Minutemen trying to do something that the government says it wants to do (secure the border), but won't, and everybody is up in arms.

*What Would Jean Valjean Do?
posted by MikeMc at 12:38 PM on October 10, 2006


By the way, Chris Kulawik, the College Republican who brought Gilchrist to the Columbia campus, is a piece of work in his own right. He once wrote a defense of Senator Joseph McCarthy, which makes it extremely difficult to uphold Kulawik as a defender of free speech.
posted by jonp72 at 12:47 PM on October 10, 2006


SBMike:

Wow, think of the implications of this. I mean, I understand that some laws are unjust and unfairly hinder people's otherwise harmless behavior, but you just said that the cornerstone of human civilization isn't really all that important. People's natural behavior is to kill and maim each other over the smallest disagreement. Don't you think it's good that we have laws to protect our societies from this darker side of human nature?

You need to read more carefully. I said large scale behaviors, as things that are done by millions of people in a society (for example - oral sex - expressing critical political opinions - smoking pot - owing money that you cant pay back - stealing food when you are hungry - drinking alcohol - speeding - religious observation - "illegal" immigration).

Also, FYI, people do not, in the absence of law, "kill and maim each other over the smallest disagreement." That is wholly false, a total myth. I'm not trying to peddle some hippy bullshit about how people get along, and Im not saying that there arent plenty of nifty little anecdotes you can dig up about some road rage case that popped a cap in someones ass.

What I am saying is that you have zero understanding of human psychology (and nature and animal behavior in general) if you think that it is in our "nature" to tear each other apart and the only thing keeping us from doing that is courts and the cops. In fact, statistically you are most likely to be killed by an acquaintance or a family member, and neither the prospective penalties for the crime, nor the prospect of the perpetrators getting caught are preventive factors in that kind of pathological behavior. Reality check.
posted by mano at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2006


“that is irrelevant from the perspective of a hungry human being. the law that says you cant steal bread is the same here as it was in nazi germany, and it is just as reasonable for a hungry person to do what they have to to survive in a democracy as it is in a facist state.”

All other arguments aside (I’m not addressing them at all), I think that metaphor fails here. Laws must be respected if they are justly enforced and determined by the will of the people. (Again, perhaps the law or its enforcement needs to change, but I’m not getting into that)
Disobedience to the law under a fascist state is not the same as disobedience to the law in a republic. Certainly a starving individual will do anything they can to put food on their family, and as morally right as that is, it becomes problematic for society on a larger scale. If I’m a grocer and starving people keep stealing my bread, at some point, I’m out of business whether I sympathize or not.
One can debate the morality of prospering under a fascist state (Schindler’s List comes to mind) but the grocer on the corner cannot be held responsible for the theft of capital on a grand scale past or present.
I’m speaking only about small businesses and bread, not a redress of grievances against entities holding wealth from and responsible for the inequitable state of affairs.
Which, I think, your metaphor is more appropriate to. No one would think twice about someone ripping off I.G. Farben back in the 40’s.
More of a point of clarification than a disagreement, really.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2006


It means "poor, ignorant white person."

it means something else to others who actually identify themselves as "redneck"

ever hear of the bellamy bros?

this is not some obscure band, it was a big country hit

here's some woman who proudly calls herself "redneck girl"

more recently, gretchen wilson had a hit with "redneck woman"

The song is the fastest debut song to hit the Top 10 in Radio & Record's country history!

hell, last year, i heard some teenager singing it at the karaoke tent at the county fair and she got quite a round of applause for it

in short, you just don't get it ... maybe it means "poor ignorant white person" to you, but then you don't know these people, you don't live around them and you don't hear themselves calling themselves redneck with pride or singing along with it on tnn or the radio

like i said ... it really does depend on who's saying it and how they say it
posted by pyramid termite at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2006


smedley:

On a small scale, I think you are right about the distinction. But I dont think we are talking about a small scale. On a large scale, on either end of this metaphor, such theft is symptomatic of the problems in society, and not causal. Thats a very important distinction, and in my opinion you are somewhat fetishizing "laws of a republic" just because you think they can be justly enforced or determined. If a large number of peoples basic rights or physical needs are being violated, driving them to break laws, then society has already failed, and its laws with it, however they have been determined (in general, law is inseparable from the structure of a society).
posted by mano at 1:09 PM on October 10, 2006


... maybe it means "poor ignorant white black person" to you, but then you don't know these people, you don't live around them and you don't hear themselves calling themselves redneck nigga with pride or singing along with it on tnn BET or the radio

Hmmm....
posted by MikeMc at 1:13 PM on October 10, 2006


It'll be a great day when I can get together with all my rednekz and my niggaz and appreciate some honkytonk badonkadonk.
posted by jonmc at 1:18 PM on October 10, 2006


MikeMc:

That analogy fails because "redneck" is not a relic of an era where white people were discriminated against in the law, persecuted by fascist thugs and brutally murdered by lynch mobs. Black people can use the N-word as they choose; that's their right. But white people have no right to it, and using it marks one as a racist.
posted by graymouser at 1:21 PM on October 10, 2006


That analogy fails because "redneck" is not a relic of an era where white people were discriminated against in the law, persecuted by fascist thugs and brutally murdered by lynch mobs.

my slur is better than your slur!

greymouser, that's the kind of flyshit out of pepper sorting that makes all arguments look specious. And 'redneck' has it's origins in the sunburnt necks of white field workers who did experience discrimination and persecution, and like many slurs it's been appropriated into a term of pride. But, it's often used by wealthy, educated white liberals who, to be blunt, ahev made the rednecks their niggers, since they need a scapegoat for the worlds ills.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Declaration of Independence is a critical document because it details the fundamental ideology that went into the founding of the United States which didn't start with the Constitution as anybody with a basic Middle School education in the United States should recognize. The current Constitution is actually the second such document created. The Declaration of Independence lays out a number of principles which would be embodied in the the development of the Constitution. The prior existence of rights "retained by the people" which the government is obligated to defend, or at least not ristrict is one of the essential ones.

Huh?
posted by dios at 1:27 PM on October 10, 2006


maybe gretchen wilson should play a concert at columbia u so the right thinking students can storm the stage and save her from herself
posted by pyramid termite at 1:33 PM on October 10, 2006


“Thats a very important distinction, and in my opinion you are somewhat fetishizing "laws of a republic" just because you think they can be justly enforced or determined.”

Yeah, just thinking of the Sam Adams quote. Trying not to carry it as far.
I agree that society is a crucial component in governance. I know (or rather, I assume with the best intentions) you’re not asserting that individuals have no right to property when society is under duress.
But I suspect you’re taking my comment a bit futher afield than I intended. Certainly it’s symptomatic. I suspect the Minutemen are a reaction to that (and justified or not, certainly no cure for it). And any shopkeeper getting the worst of it should work towards fixing it on the large scale (since obviously the “I got mine” attitude isn’t doing anyone - other than the elite - any good).
And perhaps I took a less than pragmatic perspective on the law in a Republic - but I can’t concieve of any other system better able to determine just laws than one derived from the will of the governed. That, and for the sake of brevity, bit of fetishism.
(I can sometimes overdo the length of my comments)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:09 PM on October 10, 2006


Let me see if I get this:

Laws shouldn't apply to any poor people in the world because they are oppressed and the "republic of laws" is a fantasy of white male oppressors that doesn’t apply to the freedom loving working people of Central America. We should all be living in a world with no laws, no borders, and no armed civilians.

Do you people actually think about the things you write or do you just vomit gibberish into a voice recognition program and hope a blueprint for a Utopian Socialist/Anarchist paradise results?
posted by Megafly at 2:12 PM on October 10, 2006


Redneck is sometimes used as a perjorative, but anyone who grew up in the South (as I did) has surely heard a LOT of people who proudly consider themselves rednecks. They don't really fit the stereotype (they are generally of average education, not racist, or at least not overtly racist). It is an expression of belonging more than of hatred. Unlike some of the other racial terms you mention, its use as a positive or negative term is divided largely by geography... most Southerners wouldn't really be offended by the term, while Northerners do tend to use it to mean something negative.

It's about one's community, and the meaning is usually dependent on what the listener/speaker thinks about that group, not directly related to the word itself (one who has a negative view of the South thinks of redneck as a slur, those who are proud Southerners claim the label as their own). It most definitely can be used as a slur, but I'd say that is only half the meaning, at least as used in the South.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:15 PM on October 10, 2006


I think it's funny that so many Americans who claim to stand for the working class so obviously loathe most working-class Americans. These people think that the kind of music that people who live in the country listen to isn't really country music.

If you wonder why the working class whites of America vote Republican, maybe it's because the Republicans at least pretend to respect them.

On preview: Wildcrdj is right, but I think it's important to note that people who apply the word "redneck" to themselves know that other people use it as a slur, and that's part of the reason for embracing it.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:25 PM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Man. There are some unprincipled fucked-up comments in this thread. I can't believe I'm reading it.

These people are opposed to the true notion of tolerance and freedom on the broad scale— applying to everybody equally.
All because of OMFG! RACISM! The worst thing in the WORLD! So we can justify ANYTHING if fight OMFG! The worst thing in the WORLD! And if you don't agree than you must be a OMFG! RACIST! The worst thing in the WORLD!

So. I guess those students at Columbia want to start a war? A war on racism.

Some of you are comparing this to the holocaust or war-zone occupations and shit. That's the argument I hear some of you making to rationalize shutting down other peoples rights.

And none of you see the similarity to Bush's argument on curbing peoples rights because of OMFG! TERROR! The worst thing in the WORLD!

"Shutting out free speech is a necessary, but desperate, act of self-defense." Are you people fucking serious?

If you think that then I don't want you to bitch when it is done to YOU.

If those of you are arguing that this is just one step in an on-going war of SELF-DEFENSE then there is no room for compromise or debate. You are out gunned. You will be crushed if you start a war and not take it seriously. you must act preemptively.

If you believe you are RIGHT then you better arm yourselves and start killing your oppressors immediately and do this shit right. Or you are fucked. Learn some lessons from Bush. Use enough troops. Keep your torture waay out of sight.

Or MAAAAYBE you might want re-think your retarded argument and maybe let people talk and hang themselves with their OWN ropes.
posted by tkchrist at 2:44 PM on October 10, 2006


Dios: I'm not certain what is difficult to understand.
1: U.S. Government begins with the Second Continental Congress. From this you have The Declaration of Independence which lays out the ideology or "mission statement" of the Confederation, and the Articles of Confederation which provided a loose working structure.

2: The principle that rights are vested in men, and protected by the government is one of the foundations of the United States. It is explicitly stated in the Declaration of Independence (1776), The Virginia Constitution (1776), the Pennsylvania Constitution (1776), the Massachusetts Constitution, (1780), and the New Hampshire Constitution (1783). Similar language doubtless exists in other early State documents. The U.S. Bill of Rights is derivative of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which is more explicit about the vestment of rights.

3: The Bill of Rights explicitly does not grant rights. Rights are inherent to people or reserved by the states. The Bill of Rights restricts certain forms of government action in regards to speech, religious practice, housing of soldiers in peacetime, searches, due process, etc..

The point being, there wasn't a radical change in the political landscape between the Declaration of Independence and Virgina Bill of Rights in 1776 and the U.S. Bill of Rights in 1789. The U.S. Bill of Rights was grounded in the political philosophy of the Declaration of Independence, and was derived from the Virginia Bill of Rights, by an author who participated in the creation of both.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:32 PM on October 10, 2006


What were we talking about, anyway? All I remember is that someone said "fuck you" to me...

Oh, well Gimore Girls is on. Check y'all later!
posted by mds35 at 4:43 PM on October 10, 2006


Delmoi writes:
The whole "it's illegal" debate is quite stupid. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a crime, it's a civil infraction. Like speeding or violating some building code. It's not a felony or misdemeanor.

I used to believe that "popular belief" was incorrect after an immigrant rights activist told me so. Then I looked at the U.S. code.

I would refer you to 8USC1304
While it doesn't appear to be a misdemeanor to sneak in, it appears to be a misdemeanor to not carry alien registration on your person if you're 18 or older.
posted by bugmuncher at 7:59 PM on October 10, 2006


delmoi also writes:
it is possible for black people to be racist, and for other Hispanics to dislike Mexicans or whatever

I concur; my dad is Asian and he's got racist opinions.

However, assigning motive to the nonwhite members of Minuteman Project would be unfair. Labeling them all racist without asking them for their motivation doesn't help. I would not be surprised if some of them are there because they despise Mexicans (because they are racists). But I would also not be surprised if some of them really just want to help the border patrol.
posted by bugmuncher at 9:20 PM on October 10, 2006


pyramid termite: "like i said ... it really does depend on who's saying it and how they say it"

Agreed. If it's used as a term of derision, as in "the Minutemen are just a bunch of rednecks," then it's a racial slur. If it's used with some pride/affection, as in "I'm just an old redneck," then it's not a racial slur.

The MCs up there have it right, and MikeMC's mention of the word "nigga" in this context makes sense. It's not really a racial slur when it's a term of pride.

But the intent of the use of the word "redneck" in this thread has generally been a racial slur. And sitting around saying "whatever, it means a lot of things" smells discomfitingly like fuzzing over racism. Like I said, plenty of people have said "nigger" or "spic" can "mean a lot of things." That doesn't change the fact that it means a particular thing in any given context. Words do have meanings, you know.
posted by koeselitz at 9:35 PM on October 10, 2006


I'm really struggling with "redneck" being a racial slur. It's more of a socio-economic slur.

I mean, the people that use "redneck" insultingly in general don't say it because the target is white, they say it because the target is perceived to be slow and narrow minded, and often because they are poor and uncultured, and almost exclusively rural.

In other words, a lawyer who enjoys duck hunting and takes his partners out in his Land Rover would hardly be called a "redneck". A factory worker taking his buddies dove hunting in his pickup would quite likely be called a "redneck".

Noone is going to call a white investment banker in NYC a "redneck". They might call an auto mechanic in Valdosta a "redneck" though.

So can it be a slur? Absolutely. Racial slur? Not so much.

I suggest the slightly more utilitarian and infinitley more colorful "cracker".
posted by Ynoxas at 10:20 AM on October 11, 2006


I did like the Daily Show take on this.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:06 AM on October 11, 2006


I'm really struggling with "redneck" being a racial slur.

Would you call a black or Latino guy who liked duck hunting, worked in a factory, drank cheap beer and lived a trailer a 'redneck?'

There's your answer.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 AM on October 12, 2006


jonmc: well, probably, yeah. But you have to remember, I live in the Redneck Belt. And for whatever reason, non-whites and "redneck behavior" are as rare as hen's teeth.

I mean, I've lived in TN all my life, and I've never seen a black man driving a beat up pickup with a gunrack in the window and a deer strapped to the hood. I've seen it with white people quite literally hundreds of times.

I've never seen a black guy driving a vehicle painted UT orange with a horn that honks "Rocky Top" and not wearing a shirt, hanging out the window screaming "GO VOLS!" while driving. Again, daily occurence during football season with white guys.

But, yes, if I DID see a black guy with a camo-painted truck with a Bocephus license plate and "A Country Boy Can Survive" bumper sticker, parked in front of a trailer with a '74 El Camino up on blocks, yes, he would be a redneck.

For whatever reason, black kids out in the country still act urban. As do most of the white kids. I'll ride my motorcycle through a town of 5,000 and still see teenagers (of all races) wearing NBA jerseys and listening to Chamillionaire at 160db and wearing colors.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:58 AM on October 12, 2006


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