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Columbus Go Home!

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 1:57 EDT
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This video should improve your day, even if you just got married or won the lottery. It’s that good. (Via.) A young man calling himself “Robert Erickson” stood up at a teabagger rally that was organized to protest immigration, and made an anti-immigration speech. He baited the audience with boilerplate nonsense about immigrants taking jobs and bringing crime, and then he started to tip his hand when he indicated that they also bring disease, namely small pox. Then he hit them with this:

I say it’s time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Let’s send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! It’s time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land!

I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let’s round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep. I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!

If we aren’t able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.

Then he led the crowd in a chant of “Columbus go home!” Of course, the people chanting at that point were plants from the group of anti-racists who organized the prank. Sally Jo Sorensen was tipped off about the prank ahead of time, and so she went, and she confirmed that the right wing audience did eventually catch on. (So score one for the “evil over stupid” category of why wingnuts are the way they are.)

Most of the MINN-SIR supporters were slow to catch the satire, and so the cheering from that side of the crowd took a while to subside. As they realized they’d been punked, they stood in a cold, stunned silence, while the 30 or so counter-protesters urged Columbus to go home.

At what point, the whipped out that famous conservative sense of humor we keep hearing they have, though proof remains elusive.

Unfortunately, some of the pro-MINN-SIR audience made up for what they lacked in humor through the use of violence. Both Danielson and I saw middle-aged men attack young protesters, knocking one off a bike before he started throwing punches at the young man.

Just as shocking was the reaction of the state police working the rally, who pushed back those being attacked, rather than those attacking the counter protesters.

What was caught on video doesn’t seem too severe, just a little pushing and doing dudely poses. The report is that someone attacked a counter-protester on a bicycle, probably because that was the only physical advantage they had. As usual with this teabagger shit, the teabagger group was primarily composed of older white people, and the counter-protesters were all young. This adds a note of near-melancholy to the speaker’s triumphant claims that the racists are winning, since the visuals you get is a group of aging racists that are simply going to lose the demographic war to younger people who have more open minds about living in a multi-cultural society.

There’s not much I can add to the content of the protests themselves. But what’s interesting about this is that a lot of anti-immigration fanatics justify their racism by hiding behind conspiracy theories about “La Reconquista”—a lurid wingnut conspiracy theory about how Mexico plans to “retake” land won in the Mexican-American war through immigration. What’s interesting is that the theory is built on the idea that white Americans dominate that land unfairly. Built into their hysteria is a note of guilt, a sense that what they own is stolen, and the people they fear are coming to take it back. Of course, the people “reconquering” it in their overwrought imaginations are also post-Columbus people, but we’re not talking about logic here. This protest managed to strike at the heart of what creates these frantic reactions, this uneasiness that wingnuts feel about their unearned privilege, their sense that it could be snatched away once the universe realizes that they didn’t earn it.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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