It was billed as a "Stop the Invasion" rally, and it drew thousands of protesters to the steps of the State House on Saturday. Outraged by Governor Deval Patrick's proposal that Massachusetts shelter some of the unaccompanied minors from Central America who have been surging across the border, the crowd chanted: "Send them home! Send them home!"
Massachusetts may be a liberal Democratic stronghold, but these protesters were no fringe phenomenon. According to a new Boston Globe poll, 43 percent of Bay State voters, a plurality, say the children should be deported. Similarly, 43 percent oppose Gov. Patrick's offer to temporarily house 1,000 young migrants in a state air base. Asked whether any state funds should be spent to take care of the children, 57 percent answer no.
Much of the rhetoric at the Beacon Hill rally was unhinged. "Our government sees no difference between law-abiding, freedom-loving, taxpaying citizens and lawbreaking aliens," said Mark Fisher, a Tea Party conservative running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Radio talk host Jeff Kuhner inveighed against "these gangsters in the governor's office and the Oval Office" who want to "turn Massachusetts into Mexi-chusetts" and the United States into "a socialist Third World banana republic."
But even if the speeches were over the top, there is little reason to question the sincerity and patriotism of the protesters. They cheered as speakers invoked the sacrifices made by earlier American generations, and ended the rally by singing "God Bless America."