The political Right's focus on illegal immigration is often maligned as racist, extremist and intolerant. When Jim Gilchrist, co-founder and president of the Minuteman Project, spoke on Friday morning at the Minuteman Rally in the State House Rotunda, he tried to tackle these concerns head on. In his keynote address, Gilchrist said, “no one here, in my opinion, is using this platform as a means of engaging in what our critics call ‘racial supremacy.’” Later during the rally, Terry Gorman, the Executive Director of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement (RIILE), reiterated the sentiment: “we are a nation of immigrants... [RIILE is] not anti-immigrant; we are anti-illegal alien, anti-illegal immigrant.”
But further inquiry challenges the benign self-portrayals of RIILE and the Minuteman Project; both have close connections to extremist groups.
On Friday, most references to race, ethnicity, and racism were veiled. Representative Joseph Trillo (Republican- District 24, Warwick), co-sponsor of the Rhode Island replica to Arizona’s immigration bill, said during his speech on Friday that America’s melting pot is being “contaminated by a particular population and that is altering the makeup of the United States.” But midway through Friday’s rally, the link became much more explicit.
Terry Gorman introduced Tim Dionisopoulos, a speaker unanticipated by the event’s web-published schedule. Dionisopoulos, a Providence College senior, is the head of the Providence College Republicans and the official creator of RIILE’s Facebook page.
He is also the head of the Providence College branch of the Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), a group unrecognized by the college. Gorman told the Independent that YWC “believes in the same policies as RIILE does in term of illegal immigration.”
YWC, which has branches at eight other colleges, officially opposes “political correctness,” “racial preferences,” “mass immigration,” and “radical multiculturalism,” which it describes as a “cult of ignorance.” One member, Marcus Epstein—who claimed he was a co-founder of YWC in 2008, but recanted that statement in 2009—was arrested in DC after calling an African-American woman a “Nigger” and then karate chopping her on July 7, 2007. A Secret Service member who witnessed the event was told by one of Epstein’s friends that Epstein had been drinking at the time. YWC also has expressed support for radical-right politician Geert Wilder, who is best known for comparing the Quran to Mein Kampf.
“Immigration and Violence”
As Dionisopoulos began speaking on Friday, two younger men yelled, “fascist.” The white, older crowd—clownless by that point—cheered out the two men and Dionisopoulos continued speaking.
A minute later, Dionisopoulos said, “The British Labor Party openly admits that they allow mass-immigration into the UK as some type of social science experiment in order to increase the diversity so they can reap class warfare and win more votes. Our elites think in the exact same way.”
He continued, “immigration and immigrant rights rallies half the time…are organized by people who want to enact tyranny and anarchy within our streets. The concept that Sam Francis talked about, it’s called Anarcho-tyranny.”
At that point, Daryle Lamont Jenkins of the One People’s Project, a left-wing group dedicated “to research[ing] and report[ing] on who’s who and what’s what regarding right-wing groups,” interrupted, yelling, “Sam Francis, Council of Conservative Citizens (CoCC) Sam Francis?”
“Yeah, yeah that’s right, that’s right Daryle,” Dionisopoulos responded, clearly knowing whom Mr. Jenkins was—though Mr. Jenkins confirmed with the Indepedent that the two had never met.
“You’re quoting Sam Francis?” Jenkins demanded.
Dionisopoulos continued, “Anarcho-tyranny is enacted on our streets every single day,” to the crowd’s applause.
Francis, who served as the Editor of the CoCC’s quarterly publication until he died in 2005, also wrote the CoCC’s “Statement of Principles.” The second principle is, “we believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people, [and] should remain European in their composition and character.”
One of Francis’s last articles at VDARE, a radical right-wing publication, was titled “Why Immigrants Kill.” Francis’s answer:
“The link between immigration and violence is that the aliens lack roots in the society and civilization into which they import themselves. The people they see aren’t their people, and their moral and social norms aren’t theirs either. Being strangers in a strange land, they feel little obligation to it or its members.”
The Fruit Never Falls far...
The fact is, while Friday’s incident is disturbing, the connections between RIILE and extremist organizations such as the CoCC and YWC reach back to its inception. It was founded with the help of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a national organization whose goal is to “stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.” (Meanwhile, around 1 million people were legally naturalized in 2008, according to the Office of Immigration Statistics.) While Gorman says RIILE no longer has any association with FAIR, he himself is still a member. FAIR, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a “Hate Group,” has also been criticized the Anti-Defamation League for the hundreds of thousands of dollars FAIR has received from the Pioneer Fund, a group believes “there is a genetic component to between-group (sex, socioeconomic, and racial) IQ differences” and funds scientific research to back the claim.
Closer to home, RIILE member David C. Richardson demanded two men shopping in his refrigeration store, Rhode Island Refrigeration, show their Social Security cards in 2008 after they began speaking Spanish to each other in his store. Both men were U.S. citizens. When the Providence Journal asked Richardson why he suspected they were illegal, he responded: “What proof is there? I think the majority of people who don’t speak English in Rhode Island — at least 51 percent or more — are illegal aliens.”
In discussions with the Independent, Gorman reiterated his statements at the rally. “RIILE is just against illegal aliens,” Gorman said, explaining it did not matter what race or ethnicity the immigrants were from. He continued, “RIILE would totally disavow any realtion with [YWC and Tim Dionisopoulos] if, in fact, there was any inkling” of racist behaviour. Mr. Gorman, the ball is in your court.