On out-of-control border patrollers - Macleans.ca

On out-of-control border patrollers

Our review of David Neiwert’s ‘And Hell Followed with Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border’


There is a grim satire to the Minuteman movement, that cabal of self-appointed patrollers of America’s borders. They are a breed of what Hunter S. Thompson used to call “flag-suckers”: self-righteous, blindly patriotic and often heavily armed, Minutemen are convinced that most of what ails America sneaks, huddled and hungry, across its 3,000-km border with Mexico. In the overheated economy of the mid-2000s, these “illegals,” the least offensive Minuteman epithet, often did the work Americans themselves eschewed, but no matter. Dressed in their army-surplus best, their guns loaded and polished, the Minutemen sought out this apparent scourge. Even at this, as Neiwert convincingly argues, the Minutemen were rather hopeless, more likely to shoot one another than catch any border-crossers. And like many blindly self-righteous groups, they attracted strays—dangerous strays in their case: neo-Nazis, military cast-offs and other often criminal reprobates.

Chief among them was Shawna Forde. A petty criminal with a litany of criminal charges and failed marriages to her credit, in 2006, Forde latched onto Minuteman right-wing, nativist ideology like a drowning swimmer, becoming one of its luminaries. She arrived on the scene as the movement was splintering, becoming more radical, and Forde took full advantage, traipsing about the desert in high heels and a loaded gun for the hordes of media, and talking openly about robbing drug dealers to finance her own Minuteman chapter. Tragically, she followed up on her words: she and accomplices, posing as immigration officers, stormed the house of an Arizona drug smuggler, killing him and his nine-year-old daughter. And Hell Followed With Her draws a direct line between the dangerous, dehumanizing Minuteman rhetoric, the broadcasting of it by cheerleading media, and the senseless murder of a father and his daughter. The case, as well as the economic slump, drew much of the air out of the Minuteman movement. May it never come back.

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