By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
Soon, we learn of a couple of guys from San Jose who caught a rattlesnake and paraded it around on a forked stick. They are considered to be "overzealous" types who might have slipped by the project's weeding-out process. Bypassing a much-anticipated Minuteman ice cream run, we search for and find the Minutedudes, sitting by their car.
"I said I want to touch a rattlesnake's tail. I never touched one before," the dude with glasses remarks, looking at his buddy, who's wearing a Dead Kennedys T-shirt; both are a good 40 years younger than your average Minuteman. "It feels like fingernails."
Taking time off from not exactly pressing commitments -- one is unemployed, the other in the National Guard -- the Minutedudes came here because of what they read in the press. "The newspaper said it was like a war zone down here, that there were militiamen running around, there's firing squads and shit like that," the Minutedude with glasses elaborates. "That's not what these people are about down here."
"Yeah," pipes in his Dead Kennedys T-shirt-wearing buddy. "It's an armed rebellion down here, and no one knows it. George Bush is fucking over everyone, dude." He wildly gestures with his hands, suddenly becoming especially animated. "Some people just see this as old people with guns and shit on the border. But that's not it. If you read the little pamphlet, it's all protesting George Bush. If people knew that, I'm sure you'd have hippies out here. Hippies!"
"I don't want fuckers like Osama bin Laden, and fucking Mohammed Atta, the guy who crashed the plane into the World Trade Center, being smuggled across the border here," the one with glasses elaborates, claiming that he and his friend could get a guided tour of terrorists into America for 20 grand.
Again, there's mention of someone finding a copy of the Quran. (And what's with these lost Qurans? Why do these terrorists have so much trouble holding onto their holy books?!) One of the M-dudes offers his solution to illegal immigration: "I think you catch them, stick them on a chain gang. Give them six months, then send them home."
Overall, the M-dudes insist, they have enjoyed their tour of duty.
"There's a lot of really cool patriots out here," one says.
"There's some hot-ass ACLU chicks," adds the Minutedude in the Dead Kennedys T-shirt.
The ACLU chicks, though, gave them weird looks, because the two came fully armed. To demonstrate the extent of the arming, the Dead Kennedys T-shirt-wearing dude excitedly puts on his green Army flak vest and gun belt.
"See, we got the whole George Bush thing, we're going to be like, 'Yeah, we hate George Bush, too.' And everyone will be like, 'Oh, cool.'"
Awesome! I almost expect the two to start air-guitaring.
Venturing off the border for a much-needed break from the Minutemen, we enter a Mexican restaurant that is, by sheer coincidence, inhabited by a sea of ACLU volunteers -- all adorned in ACLU "Legal Observer" T-shirts. This is the feared opposition, as mentioned -- and feared, and despised -- by the elderly Minutemen? This ACLU is composed almost entirely of zitty-faced college girls. The Minutemen are letting themselves be picked on by a bunch of hairy-armpitted college girls who most likely scribe their own poetry?! These are the people chosen last in gym class.
It's a sheer battle of the titans.
For example, and I shit you not: Among the rare few males in the ACLU infestation of the Mexican restaurant are two over-the-top effeminate guys who are actually playing patty-cake. Together they chant in singsong voices, hitting each other's hands.
"We don't want no fucking war!"
I try to make eyes at one of the few cute ACLU girls, flashing a smile. (Cut me some slack, I've been around only Minutemen for the last couple of days.) I'm greeted with the reaction I'd get if I just did a bad smell. Several other ACLU-ers also give me dirty looks. Then it hits me -- I'm dressed exactly as a Minuteman (but even more so). I get the hell out of there before explanations are in order.
But as it turns out, it isn't just the way I'm dressed. The ACLU-ers, like the Minutemen, despise the press. Back on the border, I sense tension as we approach two frumpy girls who are sitting in lawn chairs and wearing "Legal Observer" T-shirts. To break the ice, I give a friendly smile and wave.
"What's your experience been like with the Minutemen?" I ask one of the frumpy ACLU girls, who's reading Pablo Neruda. I explain that I'm an esteemed journalist, mentioning several times that I'm from San Francisco. The girls tense up even further. The one with the huge cold sore on her lip remains utterly closed-mouthed.
"It's been ... kind of unremarkable," she mumbles, barely dignifying me with the effort of forming words. "We heard about the Minutemen, heard they were training people to be legal observers."
"What's your purpose out here?" I ask.
The girls look at each other hesitantly.