Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Peeling Back the Layers of History

Madman in the Marketplace has a phenomenal diary up at Liberal Street Fighter. I highly suggest you take the time to read the whole thing. He begins with an excerpt from a NYTimes article profiling one of the Minutemen who is "Poised Against Incursions, a Man on the Border, Armed and Philosophical."

Gag me with a rusted spoon. The so-called Liberal Paper of Record™ ends their in-depth profile with these words.

Mr. Craig came to be a Minuteman from St. Augustine, Fla., for what he called Second Amendment reasons. Namely; he wanted to know whether a man could still belong to a militia and carry a gun on federal land. He found he could.

“But what I really found out was how messed up the border situation really is,” he says. “I’m not saying we are at war. But in the course of human history, wars have always started because of one tribe pushing into the traditional boundaries of another.”

And in that spirit, he has parked himself in the middle of a drug smuggling route, at serious risk to his own life. Men on horseback have uprooted his camp. Border Patrol agents testify to that. Still, Mexicans rarely cross his way anymore. They go around.

Each morning he takes his 12-gauge and his 9-millimeter pistol and inspects the smuggling paths. He lets it be known that he has respect for the young coyote. Especially the one who wears size 7 soccer cleats. Mr. Craig has often noticed his tracks.

“I respect that man immensely,” he says. “I harbor no ill will against him. He’s very good. I would do the same thing in his position. Still, I’d like to see those cleats hanging from my mirror like baby shoes.” (all emphasis mine)

First of all, I have to say that I can't disagree with Mr. Craig the Vigilante's first observation on the recipe for war. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't point out that he is also a paragon of hypocrisy.

Campo, California, where he's positioned, has a long history of settlement, one that pre-dates the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that swindled Mexico ended the Mexican War and cut Mexico's territory in half.

Early history of the present San Diego County area records occupation solely by American Indians from the Central Division of the Yumans and identified as Dieguenos by their proximity to the Mission San Diego de Alcala. Their travels led westward from the Yuma River as far as the Pacific Ocean. As seasonal hunter/gatherer's, they are known to have occupied territory from Carlsbad south along the coastal strip, easterly along the southerly side of present Escondido and northeasterly to the Warner Ranch area. "Northern" Dieguenos now occupy the eastern part of present San Diego County and a somewhat indefinite portion of Baja California. "Southern" Dieguenos inhabit the present district of Campo, La Posta, Manzanita, Laguna, and some territory in Baja California. The Dieguenos have long been proud, independent people resisting intrusion into their lives. During winter they formed small groups living in upland valleys on the desert's edge. They migrated to the foothills in the spring seeking ripening plant food. Summer was a time for return to their small group life at higher elevations. 1, 2.

The Dieguenos called the Campo district "Milquatay" (Meel-ka tah-ee') translating to "Big Foot" which describes the general shape of the valley. Early settlers came to know the area as Campo Valley, a natural Spanish description of their campsite by itinerant Mexicans. At a later time, the Milquatay was also known as Ursery Valley.


I can't help but imagine the ghostly ancestors of the Dieguenos gathered around him as he sits in his lawn chair, shotgun in hand. He only acknowledges one narrative, handed to him by the powerbrokers in Washington that he and his ilk claim to despise because they are "failing to uphold their oath" to Secure the Homeland™. Peel back the layers of history, though, and all of a sudden the tables are turned. Mr. Craig and the Minutemen are simply minute players in the rich narrative of time that spans the area they are so hell-bent on "defending."

I'm reminded of the end of the movie Men in Black II where the screenshot pans out from the Earth to the stars, continuing to draw away until the galaxy fills the screen, then on and on until the universe is depicted as a small globe being used as a golf ball-like sphere in a game of alien croquet.

During this period of time with tension raging from San Diego to Brownsville, I have to remember that even though the national rags are swelling the egos of the vigilantes to galactic portions, they're just a bunch of pawns like the rest of us. Unfortunately for some of players, though, this game is just a gunshot away from being lethal.

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