Sunday, December 24, 2006

Political Cover for the Minutemen

Today's North County Times profiles the anti-immigrant group, the San Diego Minutemen. In it the group's virulent racial bias is clearly exposed, as are the local politicians who give hate groups like the Minutemen a veneer of respectability.
"My view is that the minutemen are the 21st century's Ku Klux Klan," said Bill Flores, an Escondido activist and retired San Diego County assistant sheriff. "They will dress up their racist attitudes as an immigration issue and act as if they are the victims and not the day laborers."


Flores and other critics say the fact that several prominent elected officials have participated in similar demonstrations is troubling. Former state Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside, last year attended California Minuteman vigils at the border and Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Escondido, recently shared the stage with Schwilk at a rally organized by another group in Escondido.

"What's disturbing is that certain elected officials would give their ear to extremists and give these groups an air of legitimacy," said Flores, spokesman for El Grupo, a coalition of civil rights and Latino activist groups from around the county. "I think it's very shortsighted of politicians to align themselves with these groups."

Bilbray could not be reached for comment. His spokesman said he was unsure if the congressman knew Schwilk.

Escondido Councilwoman Marie Waldron was among a slate of candidates endorsed by the group in this year's primary elections. At a news conference accepting their endorsement, Waldron called the minutemen "fine Americans and patriots who are working to secure our borders because our government has failed to do so."

Waldron later proposed an ordinance passed by the Escondido council to punish landlords who rent to illegal immigrants. Civil rights activists successfully sued to block the city from enforcing the law.

The San Diego Minutemen are a loose affiliation of concerned citizens, misguided nativists and outright racists. As this website notes, it is the racists who drive the agenda and ultimately it will be the violent haters who will define the Minuteman movement. The organization can't survive without catering to the most extreme elements in our society. And, without the political cover provided by politicians like Representative Brian Bilbray, the Minutemen would just be a bunch of disgruntled racists meeting in someone's trailer out in the boondocks of San Diego County.