Friday, September 01, 2006

Minutemen

What follows is the latest book review that has been published at BookPleasures.com. Canadian readers will get a good laugh at one point - you'll know it when you see it.


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Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders

Authors: Jim Gilchrist & Jerome R. Corsi
Publisher: World Ahead Publishing, Inc.

ISBN: 0-9778984-1-5

The United States Census Bureau estimates that roughly 10-12 million illegal immigrants live in the USA today. Some researchers, believing it is necessary to account for the government’s inevitable under-sampling of the illegal immigrant population, believe that 20 million is a more realistic estimate. The vast majority of these immigrants are Hispanics who have entered the USA from Mexico.

Illegal immigration is an increasingly volatile issue in American politics. Many people want to decriminalize illegal immigration. Others want current immigration laws to be enforced more effectively, even if that necessitates the deportation of several million people. Gilchrist & Corsi belong to this latter group.

Jim Gilchrist conceived the Minuteman Project as a means to demonstrate that it is possible to guard the US-Mexican border effectively. In April 2006, approximately 1,000 Minuteman volunteers armed with lawn chairs and binoculars took up positions along the border between Arizona and Mexico. Their task was to observe and report their findings to the US Border Patrol. The Minutemen only interacted with immigrants to provide water and blankets as needed. During the period of the Minutemen’s surveillance, the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico into Arizona diminished substantially.

The Minutemen seem to have demonstrated that an increased physical presence along the border will go a long way toward stemming the northward flow of humanity. If that is so, why hasn’t the US government trained and hired more border guards? Gilchrist & Corsi believe the answers to that question are rooted in myriad political considerations.

According to Gilchrist & Corsi, most radical left wing, and less-radical Democratic, politicians hope to incorporate the newly arrived Hispanics into their voter base. The authors also believe that left wing American labor unions hope to regain political clout and new members (along with their dues) from among the new arrivals. Gilchrist & Corsi go on to assert that the Catholic Church hopes to increase its membership and income base by incorporating the illegal immigrants, many of whom are Catholic, into their ranks. As far as President Bush’s apparent disinterest in addressing the issue of illegal immigration, the authors claim that he is driven by a vision of a transnational economic (and, ultimately, political) union of the USA, Canada and Mexico.

By now you’ve probably figured out that the authors have an unambiguous right wing, Republican bias. This being the case, they take pains to carefully distinguish President Bush from the remainder of the Republican Party. Moreover, they repeatedly chastise Democrats, radical leftists, labor unions and – to a lesser degree but no less critically – the Catholic Church. And they present the radical Reconquista movement as if it is the prevailing Mexican viewpoint. (Even if it is, how does it differ from the USA’s 19th century Manifest Destiny doctrine, except in not being American?)

On the other hand, Gilchrist & Corsi studiously avoid acknowledging that many, if not most, of the businesspeople who employ illegal immigrants are conservatives and Republicans. They agree that those who employ illegal immigrants contribute to the problem, but, unlike their approach to left-wingers, when they talk about employers (which they don’t do often), they never name names or identify political leanings. Recurrent and obvious biases such as these severely undercut their arguments.

When Gilchrist & Corsi avoid political mud-slinging, extremist suppositions and slippery slope arguments, they present some cogent cases for their positions. They discuss – intelligently, in depth and with appropriate data – the economic, social, criminal, judicial, security and political consequences of illegal immigration. These arguments deserve careful scrutiny, but it’s difficult to give them their due when one has to rake through mounds of overtly biased verbiage to get to them. If the authors would have restrained themselves and avoided taking cheap political pot shots, the book would be much more persuasive.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American political and social documentary. Regardless of your stance vis-รก-vis the authors’ political agenda, the book provides some stimulating food for thought. Perhaps you will be swayed by Gilchrist & Corsi’s arguments, or perhaps you won’t. One thing I guarantee is that you will be challenged to think about them.

4 comments:

Stephen said...

A Canadian perspective:
Thanks for sharing this book report on Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders. I found it facinating and has sparked my interest. Jim Gilchrist and Jerome Corsi certainly appear to be writing for a specific and narrow political agenda - but this subject certainly garners and deserves attention for all Americans. To have as many as 20 million illegals - that are under pinning huge segments of the American economy has be be addressed.
Here in Canada, illegals have been rounded up in recent months and sent back to their country of origin. It has caused headlines here and national upsets such as in Portugal. With severe labour shortages being experienced across most of the country, illegals are being seen as a way to address shortages - like in construction. One has to keep in mind that the proportion of illegals here in Canada is nothing compared to what you have in the States.
I have been following this issue and what has been going on in the US closely over the past number of months. There is a huge dilemna when you consider the importance of these people to the US economy while at the time thwarting the law and potentially undermining the efforts of those who are wanting to enter the country through legal means.
Would I support a broad amnesty?? Probably not. would I suppport sending them back? I certainly would discuss it seriously.
With security issues so important on the national agenda and the role these people play in the American economy, this is an issue not to be taken lightly by the American people.

Stephen said...

Manifest Destiny will always be a dream - and that's where it will always remain. However in saying that, there are a number of Albertans who would like to see it become a reality. One Albertan Salvationist who has that opinion surprised me. You would think that such an opinion would come from one of the many thousands of American immigrants to Canada or one their descendants with close connections to relatives on the other side of the border. However, it comes from Ontario stalk - Loyalist at that! He is still smarting from the NEB from the early 80's.

Evie Sears said...

Illegal immigrants are not an important part of the US economy. They're cheap, easily exploited labor. The companies that employ them just don't want to pay fair wages. They want to exploit the workers and maximize profits for their boards and shareholders. Have you ever seen what American CEOs, etc., make compared to their employees? (For that matter, have you ever seen the severance packages provided for CEOs who drive their companies into the ground?) This income gap is much larger in the USA than it is in any other industrialized country in the world. The argument that illegals do jobs no one else will do is bull - it's simply a rationalization to cover up the true motivation for employing illegals - greed.

Every morning when I drive to work, there is a two-block area in which I see dozens of illegals hanging around in parking lots, waiting to be picked up for day jobs. Everyone knows what's going on, but I never see INS agents doing anything about it.

As for Manifest Destiny, I don't know of any Americans who give it any thought. I don't know whether or not President Bush takes it seriously. (The fact that Gilchrist and Corsi say he does doesn't mean anything.) For the sake of argument, even if he does, it's not going to happen just because he'd like it to happen. As you know, there would be a lot of political obstacles to overcome in Canada - and possibly the USA too.

Stephen said...

Talking in generalities:
You are right! It is all about greed!! This is what drives the free market economy - that keeps the poor poor and the helping the corporate elete to become obscenely richer.
As for the illegals - once again you can argue that the free market is the driving force behind what is happening in the the States on this issue. On the one hand there is outrage - on the other, quiet encouragement of those who depend on fattening their wallets and those of those of their share holders.
The American ecnomny is driven by this philosophy - thus upheld in large parts by the exploitation of a very desparate group of people.
- generally speaking - and likely speaking out of some ignorance