Afterward, Schwarzenegger told reporters he was troubled by some of the comments and surprised by their tone.
"It was pretty much the first time I saw the intensity of prejudice," said Schwarzenegger, an immigrant himself. "This one woman came up to me and said, 'Stop the invasion.' It was that kind of dialogue, and not, 'Hey, is there something we can do about immigration?' And I think that's going into a dangerous area."
How troubled were you, Arnold? Troubled enough to retract your support of the Minutemen?
Although President Bush has criticized the group as vigilantes, Schwarzenegger said, "They've done a terrific job. And they have cut down the crossing of illegal immigrants by a huge percentage.''
... Members of the Minutemen were delighted at Schwarzenegger's comments, noting he was the first governor to support them.
"Gov. Schwarzenegger is the most responsible politician in the West,'' said Grey Deacon, speaking Thursday from the group's headquarters in Tombstone, Ariz. "He is willing to stand up for what is correct in America.''
All righty, then. The governor warmly praises the efforts of the Minutemen, who in turn praise him as "responsible" and "willing to stand up for what is correct in America." Just what do members of this group think is "correct in America?" Why - surprise! - it's exactly the kind of "dialogue" flirting with the "dangerous area" that the governor encountered in person in La Mesa this week, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and hate speech:
"The Minuteman Project is a grassroots effort to bring Americans to the defense of their homeland," reads a recruiting poster. "America is being devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens, drug dealers, and potential terrorists."....
"Immigration or Invasion?" the fliers read. "Non-Whites are turning America into a Third World slum. They come for welfare or to take our jobs. They bring crime. Let's send them home now!"
One Minuteman on the Stormfront forum made his preference clear: "Personally, I'd like to send 'em back in body bags!"
Funny how the Arnold specifically cites being troubled by the phrase, "Stop the invasion," as it dropped from the lips of a voter, but embraces a group that uses it for recruitment purposes. (For excellent extensive research into the Minutemen movement and its rhetoric, I cannot recommend Dave Niewert's series, The March of the Minutemen, highly enough.)
The governor really needs to get out more if this is the first time he's seen the "intensity of the prejudice" on display in California when immigration is brought up.
Schwarzenegger also needs to take some personal responsibility for unleashing the rhetoric of the Minutemen in this state. If Angelides were smart, instead of wasting time accusing the governor of flip-flopping and pandering to the Latino vote (what are campaigns, after all, but a splurging bonanza of non-stop pandering?), he'd force Arnold to disavow his previous endorsement of the vigilante group. Not only is this the right thing to do in terms of trying to tone down the hate speech so that a serious discussion of reforming immigration policy can ensue, it will create a wedge issue as the through-and-through whackjobs sit out the election, turning their hate and bile on their new betrayer, formerly known as "the most responsible politician in the West."