On Saturday, several dozen anti-immigrant activists gathered on the steps of the Minnesota state capital for a Tea Bag rally. A smaller group of counter-protesters also appeared; one of them infiltrated the teabaggers and got up to deliver an apparently sincere anti-immigrant speech.
Identifying himself as "Robert Erickson," he began with the expected spiel about "a huge immigration problem where I'm from, Minneapolis." It wasn't long before he indicated the immigration menace he was protesting: "European immigrants." His coup de grâce -- getting the crowd to chant along with him near the end of his three-minute speech -- is comic gold.
Here's a transcript of the speech by (a person I'm guessing is not really named) "Robert Erickson":
Hi, my name is Robert Erickson and I’m really excited to be here. It's people like all of you and events like this that make our country great! Give yourselves a round of applause!
I just want to talk about a couple themes this afternoon because I love this country, and I want to see America be the best place it can be.
Mr. Gutierrez is getting ready to propose an immigration bill in just a few short days, and we have to make sure he knows that we want a bill that’s tough on immigration. Now is the time for us to stand up and make our voices heard!
In Minneapolis, where I’m from, we have a huge immigrant population that’s been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. It's just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for American’s to find jobs. Well I’m fed up, and its time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we’re not gonna take it any more!
We need to secure our borders to protect this country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that’s sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.
Its no secret that with an invasion of immigrants, comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren’t new problems though; they've been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.
I say its time for us to say "enough is enough!" Are you with me? Are you with me?
Let's send these European immigrants back where they came from!
I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinus crimes in the history of the world. We're talking about genocide and slavery! I want more workplace raids, starting with the big bankerss downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep, I don’t care if we separate families, because they came here illegally!
So, if we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.
Thank you very much, and we’ll see you in the streets!
Columbus go home! Columbus go home! Columbus go home!
[crowd picks up the chant]
Okay, I'll be honest: apparently, the anti-immigrant protesters didn't chant along with "Erickson"; the counter-protesters did. As Sally Jo Sorenson writes at Bluestem Prairie in her eyewitness account,
Most of the MINN-SIR supporters were slow to catch the satire, and so the cheering from that side of the crowd took a while to subside. As they realized they'd been punked, they stood in a cold, stunned silence, while the 30 or so counter-protesters urged Columbus to go home.
Sorenson goes on to describe their subsequent, violent reaction:
Unfortunately, some of the pro-MINN-SIR audience made up for what they lacked in humor through the use of violence. Both Danielson and I saw middle-aged men attack young protesters, knocking one off a bike before he started throwing punches at the young man.
Just as shocking was the reaction of the state police working the rally, who pushed back those being attacked, rather than those attacking the counter protesters.
With the Obama Administration promising to take on immigration reform soon, this Minnesota scuffle looks like a portent of things to come. As David Neiwert writes at Crooks and Liars, "If you thought the town-hall teabaggers went nuts over health-care reform, just wait."