June 16, 2009

Remember how all those right-wing pundits proclaimed the Minutemen as being just like a neighborhood watch? Michelle Malkin called it "the mother of all neighborhood watches." Lou Dobbs labeled it "this country's biggest neighborhood watch program". Bill O'Reilly declared: "Talking Points applauds the Minutemen. They are in the great tradition of neighborhood watch groups."

Boy, that sure is some neighborhood watch:

Accused ringleader Shawna Forde told her family in recent months that she had begun recruiting members of the Aryan Nations and that she planned to begin robbing drug-cartel leaders, her brother Merrill Metzger said Monday in a telephone interview from Redding, Calif.

"She was talking about starting a revolution against the United States government," he said.

Here is a recording of the 911 call made by the victim who survived -- the mother of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores, who was shot "two or three times" while her mother lay nearby. As she's on the phone, you can hear the killers return and open fire on her again, and hear her return fire:

[Courtesy Arizona Star]

The accused shooter, Jason Eugene Bush, was charged Friday in the 1997 murder of a sleeping, homeless Hispanic man in Wenatchee, Wash.

"Bush has had long-standing ties to the Aryan Nations," Sgt. John Kruse of the Wenatchee police wrote in a statement filed in Chelan County Superior Court.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department arrested Forde, Bush and Arivaca resident Albert Robert Gaxiola on Friday and accused them of killing Raul Flores, 29, and his daughter Brisenia, 9, during a home invasion. Flores' wife was injured during the attack and returned fire, wounding Bush, investigators said.

Forde, 41, who has lived primarily in Everett, Wash., was the executive director of Minutemen American Defense, and she had named Bush the "operations director" for the group's border-watch activities along the Arizona-Mexico border.

... Forde's brother, Metzger, worked for the organization at its inception years ago, but he quit, he said, "when it started to get too deep."

He and other family members grew suspicious of Forde and started talking to police about her after her husband was shot in their Everett home in December.

That's why, Metzger said, he had an audio recorder running when she visited his Northern California home in early May.

"She sat right here on my couch and told me that she was going to start an underground militia. This militia was going to start robbing drug-cartel dealers — rob them and steal their money or drugs," Metzger said.

... Investigators think the May 30 robbery was intended to be the first in a series of such attacks intended to fund the border-watch group and a new venture, O'Connor said. Forde planned on starting a business of helping free kidnap victims in other countries, he said.

She also spoke of the venture to her brother, he said.

"She was telling me that they were going to start some sort of militia that was going to go overseas and aid and abet those who are kidnapped. She said she was going to go to Syria," he said.

I warned some time back that this was precisely the arc of flight that the Minuteman movement was taking:

This is, after all, an organization that has indicated it intends to expand its purview. And the concept of the Minutemen as a right-wing citizen vigilante force has uses well beyond even border patrols. These endorsements may wind up giving the Minutemen more than their 15 seconds of fame -- and that could be a problem for many years to come.

The problem, as always, is its inherent vigilantism:

The reality-based picture of the Minutemen that's emerging is not of a friendly "neighborhood watch" for the border, but of a chaotic collection of hatemongers who seem intent on a kind of populist mob rule fueled by angry paranoia. It becomes a cover not for law and order, but for the ugliest kind of brutal authoritarianism.

That, in fact, is the face that vigilantism has always revealed eventually, even in Montana. As the history of the vigilantes revealed later, their early "victories" over predators like Henry Plummer soon gave way to a vicious lawlessness in which people were summarily hanged not just for horse theft but for drunken misbehavior or breaking out of a jail.

... You see, vigilantism always claims to be about law and order and preserving "traditional values." It is always, in the end, about the brutal imposition of mob rule without regard to the humanity of its targets. The proof, in the end, lies in the strange fruit it inevitably produces.

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