The only thing worse than hearing a worn-out cliche is when reality proves that cliches are there to annoy us for a reason.
Like that one often used to explain societal screw-ups that started out harmless: sometimes the road to Hell is paved with the best intentions.
Here’s an example in the making: the current situation with the Minutemen Project, a civilian, volunteer-led organization that set itself up for a month-long vigil this month on our country’s borders with Mexico to watch for illegal immigrants.
The men are armed, according to Carin Zissis from the Fox News Web site, “with binoculars, cell phones, and, in some cases, side arms,” and “tipped off border patrol agents about illegal immigrants crossing into the United States.”
These volunteers claim that their sole purpose is to peacefully improve U.S. law enforcement along the borders and attract federal attention to immigration control. Chris Simcox, president of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, adds on their Web site at minutemenhq.com that they have strong convictions against accepting assistance from “separatists, racists, or supremacy groups or individuals.”
What these Don Quixotes don’t realize, though, is that the very attention they are drawing to themselves is adding to the fire of the anti-immigrant sentiment that has been building up since the 9/11 attacks.
Simcox boasts on his Web site that the men and women of the militia work to “muster for something much more important than acquiring more ‘toys’ to play with while their nation is devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens.”
This is the type of apocalyptic language that creates a popular scapegoat and encourages a racist and ignorant assumption that the undocumented workers are to blame for our nation’s problems.
The power of this ideology is already showing. So far, there are now more than 8,000 Minutemen across the country. The Minutemen have even expanded their efforts to tackle that “menace” to the north: Canada.
Please try not to laugh. Apparently these people are serious about our friendly tuque-wearing neighbors, who are “a threat to national security” according to Simcox.
Minutemen spokeswoman Connie Hair says that, since Canada allows more Middle Eastern immigrants into their country, it becomes more vulnerable to terrorists, like Ahmed Ressam who was arrested on the Canadian border in 1999.
Hair’s conclusion is that, “If you’re from the Middle East, it only makes sense that you might be in a Middle Eastern terror cell,” according to Zissis. This kind of generalization really scares me.
A mob mentality only needs a scapegoat, an irrational mindset and the power of ignorance in large numbers to turn what some call a heroic effort into violence.
Simcox may be able to control their own group, but there’s no telling what other renegade groups may form. For the sake of preventing a mob breakout, we should leave border control to the officials and the trained border control agents who have legal permission to carry out arrests.
Meanwhile, why not petition peacefully for legislation in the next election to employ more officials and stricter regulations at the border?
My final note to the Minutemen militia: do you really want your “peaceful” patriotism to breed a new generation of anti-immigrant attitudes? Please don’t turn Generation X into “Generation Xenophobic.”