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Bigot’ an unfairly applied term

Letter to the Editor | Monday, January 29, 2007

As exemplified by Liz Coffey’s column (“Save it for the toilet,” Jan. 25), it’s politically correct these days to label someone who is opposed to illegal immigration as “anti-immigrant” and thus a bigot. I personally believe that bigotry is a terrible thing. As such, I consider it a serious charge to call someone a bigot.

Anyone who makes the charge should have a good basis for it. In making the leap to calling those in the Minuteman Project bigots, Coffey fails to establish such a basis. Why are they bigots? If it’s because most of those coming across the Mexico-Arizona border are Mexicans, then why aren’t the “Minutemen” doing anything to stop Mexicans who enter our country legally? Why didn’t they do this before 9/11? She fails to even address the possibility that the modern-day “Minutemen” are motivated by a sincere desire to prevent illegal immigration and the dangers of terrorism and various other problems that come along with it. In fact, the only rationale she even entertains is that they are just bigots. I doubt that Coffey has been to the border or met any of the “Minutemen,” yet she knows they are bigots?

Coffey’s making assumptions about people without really knowing about them sounds more like bigotry than anything about the “Minutemen.” Is it bigoted to try and prevent people from coming into this country illegally? If that’s the case, then I guess all of our border security measures are bigoted. The fact that we even have checkpoints where people must stop to come across the border legally must be bigotry too. U.S. Border Patrol Agents? Bigots, I guess. They are trying to stop illegal entry in to the U.S., after all.

I am not sure I agree with the approach taken by the Minuteman Project. Anything that resembles vigilantism has the potential to degenerate into something dangerous, and generally it is better to let law enforcement do its job. But that does not make the Minuteman Project a group of bigots. If she is opposed to the Minuteman Project, is Coffey also opposed to adding more Border Patrol Agents to stop, or at least reduce, illegal immigration? If so, what is her solution to the problem? Or does she even think there is a problem?

I happen to think one of the biggest problems our country faces is border security, particularly in light of 9/11. Even with all the partisanship in Washington right now, you would be hard-pressed to find many in Congress on either side of the aisle who disagree with that. Given the seriousness of what is at stake with respect to terrorism, if I have to, I am willing to endure being called (unfairly and inaccurately) a bigot for opposing illegal immigration. But it’s too bad if that’s the case. Maybe the hate finger is pointed in the wrong direction, Ms. Coffey.

Geoff Spiess

grad student

off campus

Jan. 25