Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Minutemen and Independence Day

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.


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.

You will r
ecall 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.

Subsequently, Gilchrist and his hooligans began picketing the Westside restaurant of activist and co
uncil candidate Mirna Burciaga, taunting patrons and blocking patrons from entering.


And, who could forget Gilchrist's pathetic performa
nce 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 mu
ch hoopla - a designation Mansoor readily acknowledged.

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.


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 d
ay 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.

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 p
rey on the most vulnerable among us.

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
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...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I welcome all legal immigrants. DO NOT wrap criminals blatantly disregarding the time-honored laws of our free and great society in flag of liberty and independence. Do NOT negate the sacrifice and price paid by those who choose to respect our society and nation and its laws by going through the process to immigrate legally.

7/02/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Apologies for any perceived harshness - I do know the point you are trying to make, and we have covered this ground before.

My point is simply that those immigrants welcomed by the spirit of the inscription and poem came here legally and MANY were turned away if not suitable (disease, etc.). Please don't blur the line when citing that sentiment - it still applies for those who make the sascrifice to come here legally.

I hope that you have a wonderful 4th of July. I have stocked up on the safe and sane fireworks and intend to join my neighbors in celebration!

Now, more so than ever, is a good time to reflect on the true meaning of liberty and freedom. I'll keep our troops abroad in my thoughts and prayers.

7/02/2008 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

I, too, love my neighborhood, my city, my state and my country! Born in Germany in 1942, I arrived on North American shores as a 7-year-old not understanding a word of English. Now, almost six decades later, I am thankful to live here and to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. God bless America!

7/02/2008 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with the idea that immigration is the fundamental idea on which the USA was founded. It was Liberty -- and the other Rights of Man -- that inspired the founding of our country. Immigration was simply a given, since none of the Founders was a Native American.

7/03/2008 03:53:00 PM  

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