It’s an age old question; if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? We ask this question in regards to the Minuteman Project taking place in Arizona starting today, April 1, which coincidently is ‘April fools day’.
The Minuteman Project is a group of right wing fanatics, acting as vigilantes, who will be at the Arizona border looking for “illegal aliens”. From what I have seen on television accounts this will be a group primarily made up of white male middle age/senior citizens who fear Mexicans. Fear is the best word I can think of when it comes to describing why these vigilantes are now patrolling the border. They are afraid that these Mexicans will become a part of the American fabric and over time have a defining voice in America.
If it is not fear then why are they not lined up along the Canadian border to prevent the hundreds of thousands who illegally cross that border? In reality more illegal Chinese, Filipinos, and Europeans cross into the United States at the Canadian border than the total number of so called illegal Latinos, Spanish speakers that come across the U.S./Mexican Border!
No, these vigilantes are trying to make a political statement and the Mexican American community is helping them by feeding into the media frenzy, by protesting their actions and by showing up at the border to confront the vigilantes. This goes back to the question of the tree falling. What if we as Mexican Americans ignored these whackos, view them for what they are: vigilantes, and go about our business of addressing the real issues that are affecting our community?
If we ignore them do you think there would be as much media coverage, least we forget it takes two to make a fight. What if we sat out this fight and let the authorities deal with this issue, let them do their job? Mexicans are not stupid they read the newspapers, they watch the news, they know what is going on in Arizona, and they are not going to travel those trails anytime soon. So what you will be left with is a bunch of white guys walking around in the desert, under the hot sun with nothing to do. After a day or two they will all head for home and a few more days after that, this whole ugly episode of America right wing politics will be a distant memory!
Ignoring this whole episode would have been the best way to deal with it, but that is not what has happened. Mexican Americans/Chicanos will converge at the Arizona border and they will confront the vigilantes and what happens next will be televised around the world, hopefully our worst fears will not be realized where someone gets hurt or killed. And the vigilantes will have achieved their goal of gaining media exposure and galvanizing like minded right wing fanatics.
As Mexican Americans/Chicanos we have to be smarter than this and not allow ourselves to be drawn into these sorts of quagmires. We have to deal with these types of issues on a more intellectual level and we have to allow the system, the law enforcement to work in our interest. We will also get a chance to see how the first Hispanic American Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, deals with this issue. To get into the gutter with these vigilantes just gets us dirty!