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An Invisible Border

The first question that comes to mind regarding the Minutemen movement is: “What do these people imagine they’re actually doing, sitting camped out down there on lawn chairs on the Southwest border?”

The second is: “What do they mean to accomplish by doing it?”

I imagine a representative Minuteman’s answer to the first question would be something like this: “Helping to repel the invasion of our country.”

And his answer to the second: “The preservation of the security, identity, integrity, and future of the USA as we know it.”

The first response is utterly straightforward, of course, but the second seems vague and ambivalent. What, for example, does a native-born American today understand by the phrase “our country”? The answer, naturally, is contingent on what he considers her “identity” to be. Both are determined by what region of America he inhabits, what city or town, his class and ethnic origins, family history, and so forth. Continental America, as my late friend the historian Francis Russell used to say, is really an empire by herself and has been for most of her history, including that time when America was herself part of another empire.

As we glean from news reports, the Minutemen have been drawn to the Southwest border (and, since last fall, the Northern one as well) from all over the United...

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