Interrupted by riotous applause, and watched over by the solemn, unblinking head of a stuffed elk, Jim Gilchrist warned supporters that a "tsunami" of mostly Mexicans threatens their very existence as Americans.
Gilchrist is the founder of the Minuteman Project, the controversial corps of vigilant Flomax-generation warriors who have called upon themselves to watch the southern U.S. border for illegal immigration.
There was a sense of urgency in Gilchrist's speech at the 2007 Illegal Immigration Summit at the Everett Elks Lodge Saturday, June 30, an event that was cosponsored by a local group headed by Everett City Council candidate Shawna Forde.
Forde, 39, a peppy, blond, former Seattle grunge-rock promoter with her very own Minuteperson group (Minutemen American Defense), told the audience that in two years illegals would "outnumber real Americans." Fluency in Spanish would be rewarded, if not required, in the workplace. Forde said, "I was in my mall one day and, hey—nobody's speaking English. I realized we had a serious problem. I just got tired of pushing '1 for English.' I decided to do something about it."
Forde is running her Everett City Council campaign on an anti-immigration platform: She hopes to pass local ordinances against hiring and renting to illegals. "I'm through with people who don't belong in my country and who tax my system."
"The Great Gringo awakens from siesta..." the event's promos read, but the number of gringos wasn't all that great—about 100 newly awakened patriots were gathered while a dozen chanting protesters (whom Gilchrist called "anarchists") paraded outside on Rucker Avenue.
The destruction of our peace and civil order, according to Gilchrist, will be accomplished via the same lawless chaos and "soft immigration laws," that brought down the Roman Empire. He predicted the national U.S. language will be Spanish by 2030.
"What's the solution?" he shouted. "Deportation!" roared the crowd. Disparate statistics were thrown around: Gilchrist alternately said 12 million and 20 million illegals are in the country, but at one point, he claimed there are "over 33 million" hiding in the shadows, propagating so-called "anchor babies," kids born in the U.S. of illegal parents who get automatic citizenship as granted by the 14th Amendment. (The Pew Hispanic Center estimates a current total of 11.5 million to 12 million illegal immigrants.)
A bipartisan Bush bill defeated last week would have called for a program to grant temporary-worker status to illegal immigrants already here. That was "shamnesty," to the Minutemen conferees. Gilchrist said he's baffled by Bush's role. "I think he wants to go down in history as the father of the North American Union, the George Washington of the United States of North America."
Gilchrist was referring to a conspiracy theory bouncing around on talk radio and right-wing websites that says Bush and globalists have secretly negotiated creation of the North American Union, a megastate created by erasing the borders between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Say goodbye to U.S. sovereignty, as well as the greenback currency soon to be replaced by the "Amero," modeled after the Euro, or so goes the theory.
Gilchrist attempted to guard the Arizona-Mexico border in April 2005 along with 200 other Minutemen volunteers, using private vehicles, small planes, two-way radios, and night-vision goggles, making the Border Patrol nervous, and generating plenty of headlines.
The movement attracted not only over-50 white guys with Vietnam memories, but white supremacists, militia types, neo-Nazis, and skinheads. When Gilchrist ran for Congress in 2005, the Southern Poverty Center , a respected nonprofit watchdog of hate groups, reported that he allowed the neo-Nazi National Alliance to help his campaign.
Tanned, and dressed in a dark suit and conservative tie, Gilchrist doesn't look like a Klanster, and he denies he is one. "Charging racism is the refuge of cowards." Besides, he said, "My son-in-law is a Mexican, he loves me, and he's on my side."
Gilchrist's Minuteman Project splintered acrimoniously after three board members "fired" him in February, charging fraud, mismanagement, and missing money, though they provided no evidence of misappropriations. There were dueling lawsuits; Gilchrist dropped his in April, but he still claims he's president.
In the long evening sun outside the Elks Lodge, protestors chanted, "No minutemen, no KKK, no racist U.S.A." Mora Moru, a demonstrator from Everett, said, "What they are really against are brown people with accents."
Michael Hood blogs at Blatherwatch.blogspot.com