10.24.2007

Giving License to Minutemen: The GOP In the Driver's Seat by Michael O'Neill

The following is a letter of hope for those fighting the good fight during this ugly period of American nativism. Its author is Michael O'Neill of Long Island's Sag Harbor and a champion of immigrant rights. It is respectfully presented here with his permission.

License to Minutemen: The GOP In the Driver's Seat

In the noisome living room of the nativist hard right, for the GOP Militant today, there is only a cesspool darkness of the future of our nation. A darkness threatening to overtake the U.S. by a demographic ascendancy and territorial conquest; this darkness has replaced that traditional vanquished enemy, godless communism, by a far more subversive danger spreading over America's interior, throughout its breath and width. There is no longer any lip service to "Morning in America" given the future framed by a permanent Midnight in America where darkness descends upon our culture as a dark people of color rise to become the democratic majority.

The GOP is now mainstreaming extremists into the body politic of the U.S. to drown out the fearful, the timid, the intimidated with the effluence of their wedge politics. With our country in the middle of a catastrophic military and diplomatic defeat of unforeseeable consequence; with the drums of war again reverberating through our land, in a seeming effort to plunge the world deeper in the mire of blood as a Hail Mary desperation pass to pull victory out of defeat. The economic prospect of the middle class looks even grimmer as a war with Iran will cost a staggering amount.

It has not been so difficult for the GOP to maneuver extremists into channeling anger into blaming terrorists—the swarthy invaders. If it was simple enough to convince the majority that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, there should not be any obstacle to faulting illegal immigrants for all our economic and social problems. There is little doubt the GOP now see very well how they can muster and use angry racist mobs to further enflame a citizenry, as we saw today in Albany, primed to blame and scapegoat the "illegal immigrant," the brown invader, for outsourcing jobs, falling wages, record foreclosures, rising homelessness, unaffordable health care and a bleaker future, with no retirement, working till you are dropped in a hospital to expire...

The GOP at every level of government, national, state and regional, has been flushed into this seemingly fixed midnight of darkness where shades of reality are masked by their blinding affiliation with white supremacist, anti-immigrant, neo-con hard right organizations. Fueled by enormous wealth coming out of the Bush Administration protection racket for the likes of Ari Fleischer, Richard Mellon Scaife, the Coors family's tax-free billions, the Eric Prince (head of Blackwater, the mercenary group that has put in a bid to patrol the Mexican border) extended family, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, Coulter, Roger Ailes, and all their other glum warriors who repeat clichés to each other that privilege must be controlled, just as the cream rises to the top. Just as they, themselves are rewarded, praise the Lord.

They astutely see the threat to Christian white Western Civilization by the non-white hordes from the south, the invaders who corrupt even our language, refusing to speak English, which the right claims with a straight face unites us as a people, as if they so highly value unity with those outside their own identity. This is the trajectory mapped by Samuel Huntington, who understood that the Roman Catholic Latino is culturally incapable of understanding the true nature of democracy, because their tradition of being ruled by an all powerful caudillo, an elite, a hierarchy of papists. This anti-Catholicism has been a significant, popular belief in the U.S. since colonial times when U.S. was surrounded by Catholic enemies, their economic rivals to the North and the South, with their French and Spanish rulers.

Today in the rotunda of the State Legislature in Albany, bands of Minimen, American Border Patrol, their gun-obsessed buddies, pious acolytes of Lou Dobbs, Tank-credo & his grotesque clone Tedisco, bonded in the happy glue of despising Latino illegals, screamed in a tantrum of mob fury for the head of Spitzer, for the passage of a meaningless gesture that will reinforce their certainty they are riding the powerful steed of the headless horseman, to wreak terror in the hearts of legislators who ignore their Halloween cartoon of what our democracy means and what it looks like when we ship them back to Africa, Haiti, Mexico...

Yes, I know there are also Dems, like Levy, and there are a few progressive Republicans, like Chafee, Bloomberg, but they are anomalous, the exception. The grand ole party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, LaGuardia, Lindsay, Rockefeller, even Reagan, and Bush pere have been widened to include and welcome those in the resurfacings of this amalgam of anti-government and violent squads of posses militati, NRA John Birchers, Christian Identity, states' militias, neo-Nazi minutemen rallying around the red, white & blue of anti-immigrant patriotism. While they open wide their tent to this flotsam of lunatics, they demand we close entry to hard working immigrants. The lunatic fringe appears to be in the driver's seat, on their way to becoming the mainstream of Republicanism.

Don't be demoralized by their appearance of power that seems to leave so many Dems cowering, as in our Suffolk County legislature. Remember that the Know Nothing Party was the largest 3rd party in the history of American politics, holding a majority in several state legislatures, including Mass. & Penn. and a powerful force in others, with several senators elected to Congress and dozens in the House of Representatives. Yet, they were completely defeated in just 10 years by a nation undergoing unprecedented economic boom, finding pursuit of business, innovation and wealth to be more rewarding.

This nativism flares up periodically throughout our history in times of national stress; but has always been finally defeated by progressive forces building coalition, usually with a resulting expansion of a more inclusive definition of our democracy.

If nativists appear to be in the Republican driver's seat, you can be certain that with the putting of our shoulders to the wheel, the coming together as we speak, of progressive forces building a grassroots coalition, we will win out. We have history as our peloton* at our backs and the future in our reach. These minimen losers of GOP reaction are running on fumes. They are in the driver's seat for but a very short trip.

Michael O'Neill

Peloton is a fancy word, but useful. The peloton travels as an integrated unit, like geese flying in formation of a V, each rider making slight adjustments in response to the riders around them (particularly the one in front of each). When developed, riders at the front are exposed to higher loads, and will tend to slip off the front in order to rejoin the pack further back where there will be less aerodynamic resistance, thus able to conserve energy as they move, in turn up to the front. In some cases, with sufficient room to maneuver, this will develop into a fluid situation where the center of the peloton appears to be pushing through its own leading edge, exactly like the UFW tactic of the boycott.