Mr. Minuteman, Jim Gilchrist, flees debate
with student protester on Democracy Now!
This morning, thousands listened in astonishment as Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, abruptly terminated a debate with Karina Garcia, student activist and Political Chair of Chicano Caucus at Columbia University. Last week on Wednesday, October 4, confronted with anti-racist protesters at Columbia University, the Minuteman violently attacked the protesters who were unfurling banners and Gilchrist terminated his speech and left the auditorium.
Gilchrist has spent much of the last week portraying himself as the champion of free speech and open debate, claiming that student protesters prevented any intelligent debate. Today, Mr. Minuteman had a chance to air his grievances and opinions on the events of last week, but after only a few minutes, he abruptly ended the debate. Sitting with his attorney in tow, he cited "legal advice," pulled off his microphone, and walked out of the studio.
Despite their posturing as free speech advocates, this incident makes it unmistakeably clear that the Minutemen, in the words of Ms. Garcia, "are not promoting free speech. What they want is a pristine environment where racists and fascists can promote their agenda and their propaganda without challenge. That's what they're asking for... These are people with guns. These are people with rifles, people that stand on the border in the middle of the desert, and they declare open hunting season on defenseless immigrant families."
Finally receiving air time to articulate the protesters' positions, Garcia clarified several issues:
On the question of free speech, Garcia responded, "What we actually saw was two groups exercising their right to freedom of speech. One group was promoting hatred and violence, and the other group was loudly opposing it. We never asked for the university or for anybody, for that matter, to ban this man from speaking."
Responding to a question about the decision to protest the Minutemen, Garcia elaborated: "We were speaking to a larger crowd, not just the people in the audience who had already -- who were already against them. We were speaking to the country, to other students and saying, "This organization is a racist organization. They commit violent acts against innocent people. Wherever they go, they should be challenged."
On Mayor Bloomberg's hypocritical denunciation of the protesters, Garcia remarked, "all of a sudden [Bloomberg] has become the advocate of free speech... Now, if you think back two years ago when the Republican National Convention was in New York City, he wasn't allowing people protest permits [in the Great Lawn of Central Park] so that they can protest against the war and against the Republican National Convention. This is coming from the same man."
Garcia also reiterated the fact that Minutemen had assaulted protesters -- and not visa versa.
You can still send a letter or fax to Columbia University demanding that the University take no reprisals against the students. Show your support and help defend the anti-racist protesters by clicking here, where A.N.S.W.E.R. (http://www.answercoalition.org/) has an easy-to-use mechanism to dispatch your message or fax right to Columbia.