Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

American exceptionalism

The other day my wife asked me, "What are the Minutemen?" So I explained that they are a volunteer organization that watches the Mexican-American border and reports illegals entering the US to the Border Patrol. I added that the name of the organization is, perhaps unfortunately, the same as that of a proto-"militia" group that existed for a while in the 60s but that this bunch is going out of their way to avoid a vigilante image. They never go armed for example.

"So why do you ask?" Because she saw an news program about them which derided them as a bunch of racist nuts.

We also saw that an indignant Mexico is thinking about taking the case of the proposed border fence to the UN.

What I'm wondering about is, does anybody see how seriously nutty this fuss is? Every country in the world, without exception, regards their right to control their own borders as a given. Heck, it just about defines what a country is!

Mind you, this is entirely separate from the issue of what you think immigration policy ought to be. My wife is a Polish citizen and her best friends here are Mexican and Kenyan, who are in my humble opinion the kind of people who will make fine Americans.

America, it seems, has to be the exception. According to some, we have no right to ask anyone about their right to be here. Nor do we ask if the policy of their country of origin is reciprocal. Can I just waltz into Mexico, settle down, get a job etc without permission and documentation? (Do I really have to answer that one? OK, the answer is No Way! Furthermore, a foreigner cannot buy real estate outright but only 99 year leases last I looked.)

Reminds me of a conversation I had almost twenty years ago with an Anthro grad student. This fellow was looking for some previously unblamed White folks to indict and came up with the Swedes. "Everybody thinks they're so wonderful and tolerant, but look how they treat the Gypsies!"

"Well," said I, "in a country where people in small towns still habitually leave their doors and windows open to air the house when they go somewhere, they tend to get upset when bands of petty thieves come through."

"How can you say that! How can you call them thieves?"

"Uh, I don't know, give me a hint. Is it because they take things that don't belong to them?"

"Well that's just their culture."

"I realize that, and in our culture we lock people who do that up. The Gypsies understand that, why don't you? And do you know how Gypsies treat their own who steal from other Gypsies? They exile them for life. So why is it that every culture is allowed to defend their ways - except us?"

I thought that was a fair question. I'm still waiting for an answer.


  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger dissidenten said…

    Mr Browne,

    Superb blog!

    The web is a great thing, but not being American may I ask, if the information on this link is correct?


  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    To the best of my knowledge it's accurate. I was intereted to learn that the Minute Men had a continuity of tradition going back that far. And, if you like David Hackett Fischer's work, I recommend Historian's Fallacies. This was called the one academic book that historians are combing through to make sure they're NOT cited.

  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger Vanishing American said…

    Good post.
    About the predecessors of the Minutemen, to my knowledge the only others who went by that name were those in colonial New England. Some of my New England ancestors were among those original Minutemen.
    As far as the infamous group from the 1960s that you allude to, are you thinking of the Weathermen? They were a radical group in the 60s. There wasn't a Minuteman group in the 60s that I know of.
    It's sad that the Minutemen are being slandered as 'fascist' and racists; the protesters at Columbia University who attacked the Minutemen during their appearance last week claimed that the Minutemen had a history of violence against immigrants. Untrue, but those slanders continue.

  • At 8:18 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    No, not the Weathermen. The Minutemen were a right-wing group who organized and trained paramilitary style to fight against a communist takeover. They thought the last hope for America died when Barry Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson. I think they eventually got bored and disbanded. No actual criminal activity was ever attributed to them to my knowledge.

    Hoo-boy, this going to get me in trouble, but I think the "militia" movement has gotten a bit of a bad rap. I don't think they are the fascist crypto-terrorists they were made out to be. They are however, pretty nutty as concerns their training. I mean, who the heck thinks that a revolution/ civil war in America would be fought in the national parks?

  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger zee said…

    I actually thought about joining a state militia outfit here in Ohio and met with one of their representatives. No seething racists that I could discern. I didn't end up joining because I didn't have the time for the requisite training nor money for equipment. I simply was seeking a way to be useful in this fight that we are engaged in and wanted simply to learn how to defend what I love should I be forced to do so. But if you Google about for existing state militias I think you shall find that for the most part that they are simply patriots.

  • At 11:21 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    My strong impression is that most of them are strict constitutionalists and distressed with the way the constitution seems to have fallen out of use in America. Point remains though, if civil society in this country ever falls apart, people won't be heading off to the national parks to duke it out. Look at Baghdad for the future of warfare.

    In my more pessimistic moments I reflect that while our country has proved extraordinarily stable over the past few centuries, all predictions of social collapse come true - sooner or later.

  • At 11:57 AM, Blogger Cindi said…

    If society crumbles, people will be fleeing the cities for more rural encampments, it would seem to me, to escape the fighting.

    I suppose milita would be needed there to protect while others would remain in the city to do battle.

  • At 8:32 AM, Blogger dchamil said…

    My info is that some of the Minutemen do indeed wear weapons for self-defence, but no long guns. The drug dealers and people smugglers have certainly not taken a vow of going without weapons. The Minutemen are doing a specialized version of Neighborhood Watch.

    As for the gypsies, maybe they need a Roma version of Israel, their own country. Then they can steal from each other!

  • At 7:24 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    When I first went to Poland in the early 90s I remember that I heard about a proposal to turn Kaliningrad into a state for Gypsies. Nothing ever came of it though.

  • At 7:30 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Steve. I'm glad to see that many others do also. It is time to eliminate the double standard and the irresponsible use of the racist label when it comes to immigration. I will insert a link to your blog on mine.


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