Minutemen and Independence Day
"MINUTEMEN" IN NAME ONLY
As we approach the Independence Day holiday I find it truly ironic that an organization called "The Minuteman Project" continues to generated so much negative press.
COSTA MESA KNOWS HIM WELL
We in Costa Mesa have more than a passing awareness of that organization. A couple years ago their founder, Jim Gilchrist, brought his band of rabble to town to lobby before our city council in support of then-mayor Allan Mansoor's plan to cross-designate every Costa Mesa police officer as an immigration screener.
GILCHRIST WAS FLASH POINT
You will recall that Gilchrist was the flash point that created the firestorm at a council meeting where activist Benito Acosta was dragged from the speaker's podium, horse-collared and wrestled from the auditorium and arrested. Acosta had protested being forbidden from having his friends stand to show support, and for being cut off short of his alloted 3 minutes speaking time. Gilchrist had earlier asked his five dozen supporters to stand.
GILCHRIST HOOLIGANS DEMONSTRATE
Subsequently, Gilchrist and his hooligans began picketing the Westside restaurant of activist and council candidate Mirna Burciaga, taunting patrons and blocking patrons from entering.
And, who could forget Gilchrist's pathetic performance before the City Council two years ago when, hypocrite "patriot" that he is, he forgot the words to the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag? As I said at the time, even those children of immigrants on our city's Westside can recite The Pledge without botching it. Gilchrist has become a pathetic caricature - a cartoon version of himself.
Oh, yes, and don't forget that Gilchrist anointed Mansoor as an honorary Minuteman amid much hoopla - a designation Mansoor readily acknowledged.
O.C. REGISTER CHRONICLES HIS FALL
Gilchrist has lost control of the organization he founded under a cloud of accusations of misuse of funds and mismanagement. The Orange County Register recently published an excellent account of Gilchrist's "fall from grace" in an article by Amy Taxin. You can read it HERE. The sidebar that chronicles the "Minuteman Project" time line is particularly interesting.
WHAT INDEPENDENCE DAY IS ALL ABOUT
As you approach our Independence Day holiday on Friday, a day on which we celebrate the establishment of this great country, please try to remember what the day stands for. It's not just a day for picnics, parties and fireworks. It's a day when we commemorate the grand idea that resulted in the founding of this country - a country of immigrants. This country has prospered and endured for more than 230 years by recognizing the value of immigrants and welcoming them with open arms.
NAME USURPERS AND FEAR MONGERS
Gilchrist and his group - which has more than 20 splinter organizations according to Taxin's report - usurped the patriotic name of the real Minutemen in an attempt to seduce you into believing they are patriots. They are not. They are fear-mongers who prey on the most vulnerable among us.
REMEMBER THE REASON
On Friday, as you broil your hamburgers and hot dogs, unfurl your red, white and blue bunting and shoot off your safe and sane fireworks, please remember what this country is really all about. Remember what the real Minutemen fought for more than two hundred years ago. Remember the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty - the poem written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, which says, in part...
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Remember the immigrants who founded this country and those subsequent immigrants who have made it the bright beacon for the rest of the world. Remember...