Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I'm no reporter so I did not take any pictures or interview any attendees or protesters (the protesters outnumbered the attendees at least 4 to 1) and I am not unbiased. I do have some fading impressions about what I witnessed in GEO 2.324 on the UT Campus Tuesday night, from about 6:45 PM to 9:00 PM, so I better get this all down and posted before I forget. Please note that what I am relaying here is not an exhaustive account of what transpired, just some of my personal recollections and impressions.

Just who was I and the minority "friendly" crowd (sitting in what one of what the protesters termed the "lap dog seats up front") there to see? Mr. Chris Simcox—an evidently very personable, patient, gentle, articulate, meek (i.e. controlled strength), level headed, principled, law abiding man who has demonstrated through word and deed that he cares about the illegal immigration problem and the human beings who are being exploited by the status quo (both the illegal immigrants and legal residents of the US) much more than Congress and the President seem to, based on their own words and deeds.

I had heard Mr. Simcox speak before, at the Texas Republican Assemblies' Conservative Conference, held back in mid-February. At that time all I knew about him was what was in his bio in the Conference program:

Chris Simcox is founder and president of Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a citizen neighborhood watch and political action group that assists Border Patrol in better defending our border with Mexico. The Minutemen are preventing needless deaths in the desert and are demanding that the leaders of our country take care of an embarrassing and deadly problem – lawlessness and anarchy on a sovereign border of the United States. Drug dealers, gang bangers and other criminal foreign nationals are filtering through our porous borders creating havoc in communities and threatening public safety. What’s to keep the terrorists from similarly infiltrating our country? Minutemen are acting where government has abdicated its responsibility to ensure domestic tranquility in as much as it is endangered by the lack of enforcement of our borders.
Website (Simcox): http://minutemanhq.com/b2/index.php/simcox

I was too involved in the planning of that February conference to really get my mind around the things Mr. Simcox and his Minuteman Civil Defense Corps are doing along our borders to alleviate the suffering of all decent people who are caught in the middle of the porous border quagmire that the US is stuck in. But, Tuesday night the contrast between the man that showed up to speak and the straw man that the vitriolic, racist, anarchical protesters were there to knock down was obvious to all fair minded observers.

I was at this UT Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) sponsored event because I received a forwarded email from Liz Young, Chairman of the group, about 24 hrs prior. The email indicating that the event would be HEAVILY protested. Paul Gelencser sent the forwarded message and asked me to send an announcement to local Conservative clubs. All I could do under such short notice was to send one email to the CTRA elist. The reason for the expected turnout of the opposition was that the invitation for Chris to speak was on the same day of a pro-illegal immigration rally at the State Capitol. The leaders of the capitol rally heard about the Simcox speech and decided to take advantage of the opportunity. They hoped to bring 300-500 their own troops to stage a protest. Click here (the web domain is txcommie.wordpress.com) to read what the organizers of the protest were saying about Mr. Simcox. The majority of the protesters seem to be from an anarchist group and they demonstrated by their words and deeds that they were indeed anarchists. About 100 or so showed up in GEO 2.324.

My experience for the evening began as I drove up Congress Avenue around 5:45 PM and saw the pro-illegal immigration rally folks coming down the south bound lanes. I just looked at them wondering what the several small children (being citizens) would think when they grow up and learn about the illegal way their parents came to this country. I also made a mental note that there seemed to be no protesters squelching the free speech of the marchers. I wondered if that would be the same later at UT (NOT).

After dinner I located the Geology building and easily identified the meeting room from the UT Police and a few protesters hanging around outside. I went in, spoke briefly with Chris, and Liz and then chatted with a few of the members of the YCT (great kids—these are the same guys that brought us the ACLU Nativity Scene last Fall). Then, we all waited for the anarchists to arrive. Needless to say, we heard them coming before we saw them. When they entered the room it was obvious that there were a lot more of them than of us. They chanted such things as "out with the Racist" and we replied "out with the Racists" (the feeling was mutual). Two of them came down to the front, with one in sort of a defensive end stance, and tried to intimidate some of us "lap dogs" or perhaps Mr Simcox. I thought I recognized the guy in front (I later heard him tell a reporter his name was Jerry..). I thought I knew the guy so I laid my hand gently on his arm and said "Do I know you, I think I have seen you before?" He said "don't touch me" and then the guy behind him said, "[you saw him] coming out of your mama's room." I knew then not to worry for we seemed to be dealing with teenage brains (in much older bodies).

The protesters shouted "bring him out" and we pointed to Chris, who was standing in the middle of the room the whole time, and said "there he is, that is Chris Simcox." Chris tried to talk and the protesters shouted all manner of falsehoods, misrepresentations, and names, and otherwise verbally assaulted him. Chris stood calmly and tried to make a few points. The UT officials gave at least three verbal warnings to the protesters stating that this was a time for free speech and that if they would not let Mr. Simcox speak they would be removed from the auditorium and possibly arrested by UT police. Chris could hardly say anything for the first 20 minutes. The police began escorting and/or arresting people. Some of the first two to be removed were the defensive end (Jerry) and his teenybopper-brained sidekick (actually rearkick). As more folk got escorted out (some arrested) it got quieter and Chris had more opportunity to say something. Unfortunately he had to spend practically all his time dialoggingdialogue with the protesters. Needless to say, he did not get to give the speech he planned. He was not afforded the free speech that earlier the people at the rally and the march had been afforded.

Chris was accused by the protesters of being a racist, an immigrant hater, another Hitler, a White supremacists, a European, a vigilante, a Mexican hater, etc. He was accused of being in league with groups such as Ranch Rescue and the Minuteman Project (and maybe even El Diablo). He was accused of hate speech when someone quoted his own words from a press report out of context. He was accused of being a law breaker (by anarchists, no less). He was accused of talking out of both sides of his mouth when he criticized Bush (whom he termed the Emperor with no cloths on, vis-à-vis the immigration issue) and Congress for their failure regarding immigration, while at the same time saying he believed in the rule of law.

In response Chris Simcox never fliched, lost his temper, or mistreated any halfway reasonable person. He used reason and logic to expose the lack of the same in the diatribes of the protesters. He used facts to show that the arguments of his opponents were steeped in ignorance. He use peoples own words against them, very effectively I might add. More frequently he made note of points of agreement. When he heard things said by the protesters that he agreed with he told them so, not effecting what agreement normally effects, the establishment of common ground—the protesters did not seem to be interest in common ground, because it tended to negate the purpose of their protest. One example of this unclaimed common ground was the blaming of the whole border/immigration mess on the government. Simcox said, absolutely, he couldn't agree more—Congress and Bush are AWOL on the immigration problem as is the government of Mexico. Mr. Simcox urged everyone to come down to the border with him and see the problems in person. He also urged everyone to visit the borderlinks.org web site.

In summary the Chris Simcox that showed up in GEO 2.324 on the UT Campus Tuesday night was not the Chis Simcox that the anarchist protesters characterized. I think the whole thing is a case of mistaking identity (conscience or unconscious) on their part. I'm glad the protesters were wrong about Mr. Simcox' identity, but I'm a bit concerned about the protesters' collective identity. They seemed to BE who they were coming to protest—hate filled racists who don't care about the human trafficking, forced servitude, sex slavery, gang bangers, drug cartels, terrorist infiltration, and, perhaps, WMDs moving in, around, and through our porous borders.

There were a number of protesters who stayed to the very end and if fair minded probably came away with a more accurate understanding of who Chris Simcox and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps are and fond common ground between them. If that is the case, it is a very good thing and worth all the harassment and persecution Chris and the attendees went through Tuesday night in GEO 2.324 on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin.

Hook 'em!

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