Sunday, May 07, 2006


Jim Crow Minutemen

The racism that runs through American history and culture has, as I’ve mentioned, bubbled up once again. It isn’t all that different than back when pick handles were handed out to use on civil rights demonstrators in the ‘Sixties. At least not in intent: the technology has improved, what with night-scopes and two-way radios...and the powers-that-be are happily exploiting the situation... Remember how Nixon played to the southern whites?

As Rahkonen mentions in this essay, the good old boys have migrated west. But they haven’t gained any tolerance in the move. It's been a long process: first the White Citizens Councils, the Posse Commitatus, the Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Patriots, now the Minutemen. The threads are consistent: racial hatred, anti-semetism, rage at government, fanatical Americanism. Only the names change to confuse the public.

Dennis Rahkonen: 'Jim Crow rides again'
Date: Friday, May 05 @ 09:58:20 EDT
Topic: Conservatives And The Right

Dennis Rahkonen

Remember the grainy TV coverage of Civil Rights marches in Alabama and Mississippi during the Sixties?

As descendants of slaves called for equal opportunity and accommodations -- and the simple chance to vote -- hooting "good old boys" on the sidelines made obscene gestures.

That was when they were feeling charitable. At other times, they lunged into demonstrators with flailing police batons and snarling dogs.

Or their night-riding shock troops torched homes of protest participants, dragging terrified souls to their deaths in awful lynchings.

Frequently, they set wooden crosses aflame as a "Christian" warning that discriminated-against locals should keep away from "Communist and Jew outside agitators" who'd come from the North to help make America's freedom promise complete.

Where did those benighted souls go when decency, justice, and tolerance finally prevailed in Dixie?

Some seem to have made a westward migration, trading their Klan affiliation for Minuteman membership, while shifting their visceral antipathy for dark skin from Blacks to Latinos.

Jim Crow is riding again, with binoculars and a scoped rifle, along the borderlands by Mexico.

Make no mistake about it. It's the same, crude racism, with identically sensationalized accusations, and barbaric would-be solutions.

Let's send tears down the cheeks of both Lady Liberty and the gentle Nazarene carpenter by building a U.S. super version of the Berlin Wall from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California.

Let's repeat that harrowing scene from The Pawnbroker, where Nazis suddenly arrive to break up a Jewish family's idyllic picnic, separating parents from children forever. Only with Chicanos this time.

Let's engage in ethnic cleansing Amerikkkan style by forcing millions "out of here" at gunpoint.

Revisiting the Mexican wars

What's now called the American Southwest was once Mexico, the ancestral home of those who are absurdly accused of having no business being there today.

Opportunistic Anglos stole that territory. They weren't the heroic figures that our history books claim. They were Indian killers and slave owners, seizing new land for fresh plantations, seeking additional states for the emerging Confederacy. Beyond the glorified Alamo myth lies a sordid record of avarice and conquest.

Mexico, however, had outlawed slavery, granted freedom to escaped slaves, and favored a multi-racial democracy.

Mexicans and Central Americans flock to the United States because their native economies, dominated largely by exploitative foreign profiteers, are mired in devastating poverty.

While some correctly state that NAFTA-like "free trade" agreements totally devoid of labor protection or fair standards are the culprit, the deepest roots run back through many decades.

In a very real sense, today's immigration "crisis" was caused by what former Marine Corps Commandant Smedley Butler acknowledged, well before most of us were born:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903..."

Relentless exploitation achieved by forcefully thwarting genuinely independent, broadly beneficial, native development has come home to roost.

It underscores why we shouldn't blame the impoverished, intergenerational victims, but the greedy capitalists who are plainly at fault.

Unite, and win justice

Undocumented Latino immigrants are being slandered.

Juan and Juanita "destroy good jobs" and "wreck the economy" much less than we ourselves do whenever we accept employment at Wal-Mart or other companies that aggressively bust unions and thwart meaningful pay hikes, in Everytown, USA. In fact, our patronage of such firms is profoundly destructive.

African Americans, teenagers, women, and unorganized white workers in general comprise low-wage labor pools that exert down-pulling influence on our living standards. But we're asked to blame undocumented immigrants, whose uniquely segregated status in the overall economy is actually least affective as a societal wage and benefit depressant.

The film Gangs of New York shows us that all the charges currently being directed against Latinos were also viciously aimed at each new wave of European migrants in the 19th Century, with equally as devastating results for all concerned.

Jim Crow, in his current incarnation, dishonors the proud legacy of the original Minutemen by joining a vigilante group that displays anti-immigrant hatred identical to what its own members' foreign-born grandparents once endured.

How can anyone rationally assail labor unions out of one side of their mouth while lamenting immigrants' low-wage jobs from the other?

It was immigrants in the Robber Baron era, fighting to unionize and better all workers' lives, that won prosperity for America's wage-earning majority. It was Reaganomics, with its attacks on organized labor to facilitate corporate plunder, that began our reversal, taking us ever closer to the bottom.

May Day made clear that immigrant militancy will again play a crucial role in getting back what was taken from us.

We have to seamlessly unite across race and gender lines, embracing the solidarity that generates sufficient power needed to win economic justice for everyone.

Even Jim Crow, if only he'd get past his chronic, misdirected bitterness and get on board the people's engine for enlightened change.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary for various outlets since the Sixties. He can be reached at

The URL for this story is:

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?