In an interview with the Atlantic's Conor Freidersdorf, Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist explains his "side of the river" moment.
In the mid-2000's Gilchrist made headlines for leading people down to the Mexican border to "assist" the Border Patrol in guarding against illegal immigrants. Then some really "interesting" people started showing up.
In 2007, a similar group created a "parody" video portraying a Minutemen killing an an illegal alien and burying him the desert. Gilchrist rightly condemned the horrid thing and that's where, for him, things went sideways.
I got down there on the border and started to lecture them. And they literally threw me off their mountaintop and declared me an enemy of America. At that point I realized it was becoming not about racism, but about outright fascism. You goosestep with me and my ideas or we're going to trash you just like we're going to trash the illegal aliens. And that's when I realized -- that was about 2007 -- that's when I realized that I had opened up a can of worms, somewhat. Part of this issue had opened up a can of worms and brought forth some of the ugliest people you can ever imagine.Subsequent events even caused him to praise former adversaries the ACLU and soften his stance towards the Southern Poverty and Law Center,
He still holds to fairly hard line views on immigration, but he deserves credit for looking around and realizing, this ain't the place I'm supposed to be.