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Nathan Imhoff: Fewer signs, more thoughts are needed

Posted: February 5, 2010 10:28 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2010 4:30 a.m.
“Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.” — John W. Gardner

There has been much discussion and sign-making in recent days on the issue of illegal immigration in our country.

One side sports a wardrobe that includes American flags, cowboy hats and an unusually high number of handlebar mustaches. The other side is full of disingenuous Hispanic hipster activists like Carlos Alvarez of, whose posse drove to little Santa Clarita from Los Angeles for the photo op, then left the second the video cameras stopped rolling.

I am not sure which group annoys me more. Neither side has demonstrated the willingness to deal with these immigration problems on all levels they occur. They both just seem content to shout emotional nonsense and do their best to fit the “South Park” stereotypes of their far-leaning points of view. Can I get a high-pitched, “They took our job,” anybody?

Let’s face it. The Minutemen are a scattered, unreasonable group of misfits who believe “might makes right” and the country’s problems are going to be solved with more handlebar mustaches and automatic rifles. Santa Clarita’s Minutemen are led by Roger Gitlin, a teacher who defends blatant plagiarism, claims anyone who questions his methods or madness must be a “left-wing radical” and then gets a little confused citing facts about the number of illegal immigrants when speaking to the good folks at The Signal, even though it is a topic of great interest to him.

Gitlin, however, sits in second class on the crazy train when Frank George comes on board. George put on the infamous Jan. 16 anti-immigration rally in Valencia. He also was the focus of the immigration episode of Morgan Spurlock’s documentary show “30 Days,” where he volunteered to live with an illegal immigrant family for 30 days and can be seen with his wife at the beginning of the show arming himself, Rambo-style, with multiple guns, including an automatic rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition and a walkie-talkie to chit-chat with the Border Patrol.

George, a Cuban legal immigrant who came to America in 1957, is a frequent inspirational speaker for anti-immigration rallies all over the country. But in September 2007, he sounded more like Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara when he said, while giving a speech in Pennsylvania: “Maybe one of those who have had one of theirs (family member) killed by an illegal alien will utilize their Second Amendment right to take out the killer and in addition take out a politician that made it possible for it to occur.”

Is George really advocating vigilantism and political assassination as a solution?

What I don’t understand is why Gitlin and George would let passion, emotion and extremism highjack this extremely important issue. They show their unwillingness to even find a middle ground when they lean on the crutch of calling people who don’t agree with their methods and philosophy “left-wing radicals.” Is George W. Bush a left-wing radical for calling the Minutemen vigilantes and stating he is for reasonable enforcement of the law?

I am sure there are many Americans on all sides of the political spectrum who feel very passionate about solving this issue and agree with much of what Gitlin and George say, but are repelled as soon as the good ol’ boy vigilante extremism talk begins.
I have yet to hear any group present a solution that fights the illegal immigration problem on all levels that it occurs.

I remember my biblical ethics professor asking the class, “Is it ever moral to break the law?” The students looked at him perplexed. Why would he ask a question that was so obvious to any future fire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher worth his salt?

One student sprung the trap and said, “No, it is never moral to break the law.” The professor then asked, “So you think it was immoral for people in the Southern states to help slaves escape to the North to gain their freedom?”

He went on to explain that legality and morality don’t always go hand-in-hand, and just because something was illegal didn’t always mean it was immoral, and vice versa.

The point? Yes, we have illegal immigrants in our country, and their presence is a fact of life. I can understand, as George did in the “30 Days” episode, why they came to this great country. But I also agree that America should not suffer so they can be here.

We need to find common ground, stop the “us vs. them” mentality and come up with real solutions that both allow us to stay true to our American principles and make America a stronger and greater country.

Nathan Imhoff is a Newhall resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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