Part of the plan
One leader who has morphed from militiaman to Minuteman is Mike Vanderboegh, 53, of Pinson, Ala. Once the "commander" of what he called the First Alabama Cavalry Regiment Constitutional Militia, which published antiterrorism screeds, Vanderboegh is the past Alabama state director of the Minutemen. He has advocated hurling bricks through the windows of Congress members who support giving illegal immigrants the same rights as U.S. citizens. Those bricks, he says, should be used to build a wall sealing the U.S. off from Mexico. He argues that the open borders facilitate drug trafficking and the sexual exploitation of immigrant women.
Vanderboegh says he is not a racist, and he has taken pains to distance himself from neo-Nazis. He acknowledges that anti-immigrant sentiment is giving the Klan "fertile ground for recruiting," whereas a few years ago "they could have held a convention in a phone booth." "Illegal immigration and the destruction of the rule of law is social napalm, and people are running around with matches," he warns. "One day it will go off."
This was predicted when the immigration "debate" first began to simmer. Anti-immigration is to racism as yeast is to dough. It's not a bug, it's a feature.
Initially, organizers of the Send-a-Brick Project encouraged people to send bricks on their own, and Ms. Heffron said things had gone relatively smoothly.
But many people, she said, preferred that the organization itself send the bricks and an accompanying letter to selected lawmakers.
The project will do it for an $11.95 fee. So when 2,000 individually boxed bricks showed up at once, Senate officials balked, threatening to force the group to pay postage to have each delivered to its intended recipient. The dispute left the bricks stacked up until an agreement to distribute them was worked out.
"We received them and we delivered them to all the addressees," said a spokeswoman for the office of the Senate sergeant-at-arms.
As the bricks landed in Congressional mailrooms and cramped offices, the effort was applauded in some offices but drew a bemused response elsewhere.
"Given the approval ratings of Congress these days, I guess we should all be grateful the bricks are coming through the mail, not the window," said Dan Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana.
The senders of the bricks were encouraged to add a letter telling lawmakers that the brick represented a start on building a border wall.
Many could not resist putting their own message on the bricks. "No Amnesty," said a typical one, referring to a contested Senate plan to allow some illegal immigrants to qualify eventually for citizenship. "Stop the Invasion, Build a Wall," said another brick painted like a flag and shown on the group's Web site at www.send-a-brick.com.
Sensenbrenner and his ilk have added the yeast, now we'll watch the whole thing rise to a point where it's completely out of control. And when the monsters they've created grow frustrated at the pace of arrest, deportation -- whatever it is they want -- then those bricks really will start flying.
I don't recall who said it recently, but it's beginning to feel a lot like Weimar these days, but without the fun of a Berlin to go and get numb in.