I like Bill O'Reilly. I do. I have read two of the man's books, all his columns, and when I lived in the United States, I listened to the "O'Reilly Factor." I agree with him on many issues. I do so not because of his political worldview but because he makes sense, most of the time, and challenges me with the facts-he makes me think.
Nevertheless, I am afraid we have to part company regarding his stance and support of the Minuteman Project.
In O'Reilly's April 8th, Foxnews Talking Points, he says the following,
"And the concept is very simple - bringing attention to the chaotic border situation by launching a media attractive protest. And the Minutemen are getting a lot of attention."
I wish I could say Bill was right here: "The concept is very simple." Perhaps he is referring to the Minuteman's mantra to just "Observe and Report?" I think there is more to it.
A lot more.
I wonder if Mr. O'Reilly was aware that Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman project, is probably not the best candidate to be leading a group which claims to just "Observe and Report" at the Mexican-American border.
Miroslava Flores, reporting for the La Voz de Aztlan, writes in December 2002,
"Chris Simcox, the vigilante who recently called for an armed militia and an uprising against Mexican immigrants in Arizona, left Los Angeles two years ago because his life here had become intolerable. Ask anyone who knew him about the kind of person he is, including his former wife, and their faces cringe. His neighbors at 3855 Inglewood Boulevard did not like him and avoided him like "the plague." They expressed worry that Simcox could soon "crack" and go on a rampage. His colleagues at Wildwood School, where he worked as a kindergarten teacher, would rather not remember or speak of him."
She goes on to write,
"Simcox's life in Los Angeles started falling apart when he began exhibiting bizarre behavior about 3 year's ago. Apparently, he became a delusional paranoiac at the same time he started to talk loudly about a "Mexican conspiracy" to take over Los Angeles. His wife became concerned when he started taking their 13-year-old son to the shooting range in order to prepare him for an "upcoming race war." His wife eventually divorced him and fought a successful court battle to take custody of her son. At the same time, because of his increasingly irrational racist behavior, his private educational consulting business collapsed."
Simcox seems to be of the ilk, like Glenn Spencer and his gang, who believe,
"?that migrant workers are not coming to America to find a better life for themselves and their families, but rather to reclaim the Southwest for Mexico. Groups who work on behalf of migrant or immigrant workers, such as MECHA, La Raza Unida, and the Coalici?n de Derechos Humanos of Tucson, Az., he regards as "de facto agents of Mexico."
These men have used 911 as a renewed excuse to persecute Mexican migrant workers. Now let me make this point: Do anyone really think that a highly financed, professionally trained, sophisticated Arab terrorist is going to be sneaking into the U.S. by crossing the dirty and muddy Rio Grande or crawling on his belly through the Canadian woods? I mean, come on!
I wonder if Mr. O'Reilly knows that Chris Simcox, the co-founder of the group he adulates, was arrested in January 2003, by Federal Park rangers for possession of loaded and concealed weapons, disorderly conduct, and interfering with law enforcement on federal land, according to Ernesto Cienfuegos of La Voz de Aztlan.
This is the leader of the group of Mexican-hunters, of which O'Reilly said,
"So three cheers for the Minutemen. Like their ancestors in Concord and Lexington, they're making a statement. And we all should respect that."
I wonder if Mr. O'Reilly knows who he is cheering and asking us to respect a federal lawbreaker?
And should not any thinking individual be asking, "What is a man like Simcox doing leading a band of vigilantes?"
I really think there is more than just "Observe and Report" below the surface of this man. Why, if the Minuteman group is there to just "Observe and Report," has Simcox issued a "call to arms?"
Listen to what Los Angeles Times Magazine writer, Dan Baum, wrote on March 16, 2003:
"Chris Simcox won't stop fooling with his gun. He paces his tiny office, bouncing on the balls of his feet, and every 15 seconds his hands go to the gun on his belt--hiking it up, adjusting its angle, checking its safety. It's a big gun, a two-toned .45 in a hard plastic holster, and whenever he is photographed by the media--which is often these days--Simcox makes sure the pistol is in every frame.
Simcox speaks of sovereignty, the Pledge of Allegiance and the rule of law, but his body language is all about the gun. Sooner or later he's going to use it, he wants everybody to know, in a showdown with the illegal immigrants and Mexican drug dealers he believes are ruining the United States.
"These are enemies who are wrecking our economy," he says, his eyes shiny with emotion. "This is about national security."
If Simcox dies in a blaze of border gunfire, so be it, he says. "Damn them. That's how much I care about my country."
Simcox would be naught but an anonymous zealot with a death wish if, in October, he hadn't flamboyantly demonstrated the dictum that freedom of the press is best enjoyed by those who own one. At 42, he is owner, editor and publisher (and reporter, ad director and circulation manager) of the weekly Tombstone Tumbleweed, circulation 1,200. His Oct. 24 issue bore the headline: "Enough is Enough! A Public Call to Arms!" The paper invited readers to join a "Citizens Border Patrol Militia" whose function, Simcox says, will be to "shame the government into doing its job" of controlling the nation's border with Mexico. "We need some good old-fashioned discipline in this country," Simcox explains as he fitfully circles the one-room Tumbleweed office. "I invite someone to come up with a solution."
So what do we have going here? The co-founder of The Minuteman Project, Chris Simcox, has:
?A Felony Arrest Record
?Seems obsessed with his hand gun
?Wants everyone to know that sooner or later he will use his gun in a showdown with illegal immigrants
?He says that if he dies in a blaze of border gunfire then "so be it."
His Oct. 24 issue of his own newspaper bore the headline: "Enough is Enough! A Public Call to Arms!
Does it take being a rocket scientist to figure out that there is more-A LOT MORE-to this group being on just a "Observe and Report" mission?
Ok, O'Reilly. There you have it. What says you?
Doug Bower is a freelance writer and book author. His most recent writing credits include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Transitions Abroad. He lives with his wife in Guanajuato, Mexico.
His new book Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World Country can be seen at http://www.lulu.com/content/126241