Gilchrist: Don't fall for media's spin about the Minutemen
Jim Gilchrist / CNN | October 26 2006
Editor's note: Jim Gilchrist founded The Minuteman Project in 2004. He is a former newspaper reporter, a retired accountant and a Marine veteran.
ORANGE COUNTY, California (CNN) -- On October 12, Ruben Navarrette Jr. penned a pompous commentary for CNN.com ("Minutemen have a right to be idiotic"). His litany of name-calling and bogus accusations against The Minuteman Project membership places him solidly in the category of propagandist journalists who "spin" their stories to suit their bias -- valid facts and objectivity be damned.
Navarrette is a clever wordsmith. Under the penumbra of supporting free speech, he creates a wholly fictitious connection between The Minuteman Project and the Nazis who wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois, in the late 1970s, leading his uncritical readers to false assumptions and conclusions. Navarrette calls The Minuteman Project viewpoint "offensive speech" and says the project promotes inaccuracy, intolerance and idiocy.
Navarrette insults Minuteman Project volunteers by calling them a posse who "prowl the U.S.-Mexico border chasing Mexicans -- admittedly not an easy thing to do when you're carrying a lawn-chair and a cooler of beer." He claims minutemen and women are "hooligans," "yahoos" and "wannabes who play cop."
In fact, Minuteman volunteers only observe and report; they do not chase or confront and they do not drink on duty. There has never been a violent incident initiated by volunteers. By contrast, in the past 18 months, nonviolent Minuteman volunteers nationwide have been victims of more than 50 acts of violence against their property and persons by deviants opposed to freedom of speech. Much of this violence is encouraged by propagandist journalists like Navarrette, whose words inflame readers and foster hostility.
Navarrette implies racism, but never says exactly which of The Minuteman Project volunteers is racist. Could it be the African-American members? Or the Asians or Hispanics? Perhaps he refers to the Native American Indian members? Maybe Navarrette means the Jewish members of The Minuteman Project?
Of course, there are European-Caucasian members. Ah-hah! In the twisted perception of the propagandist journalist, any organization with at least one white person must be, ipso facto, a racist organization.
In fact, The Minuteman Project is a multiethnic, pro-legal immigration, law enforcement advocacy group. Minuteman volunteers are teachers, college professors, taxi drivers, truckers, construction laborers, lawyers, college students, CPAs, surgeons and physicians, retired police officers, veterans, homemakers, authors, PhDs, politicians, grandparents, and naturalized citizens -- Americans who simply want to help protect their country from the problems of illegal immigration.
One would be hard pressed to find another national fraternity with a more diverse membership of race, color, creed, age, or vocation. Membership is about 25 percent non-whites and 55 percent women. The board of directors includes women and a black American with a master's degree from the University of Southern California.
If Navarrette truly wants to expose obstructionist groups, he should focus on some of what I consider real threats to civility, like Columbia University's Chicano Caucus and the International Socialist Organization, the two extremist elements that conspired in an effort to stamp out freedom of speech at Columbia University during a speech The Minuteman Project was invited to give on October 4, 2006.
The hope and belief of Navarrette and his fellow propagandist journalists, along with anti-American groups like those that disrupted my speech, is that readers are so simple-minded they cannot distinguish between truth and fiction. One can only hope that CNN.com readers are not so easily fooled.
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