Saturday, August 25, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #70 - Part 4

Update on: Arizona's "papers please" law

It was sometime back that I spoke about Arizona's notorious law targeting undocumented workers, a law which had the effect of targeting for harassment anyone who looked Hispanic, even if they were born in the US and had lived all their life here. Even before it passed, the bill, numbered SB1070, became known as the "papers please" law.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down most of the law, leaving intact only the provision that police may check the immigration status of someone during the course of a lawful arrest. And that part is now the subject of a separate constitutional challenge.

I bring this up because in the course of the debate over SB1070, accusations were made that the law was driven less by concern over immigration and more by concern over the skin color of those immigrants. Supporters of the law of course vociferously denied this, although their repeated references to "protecting" and "sealing" the "border" didn't do much to dispel that notion. Now, however, we have proof that this law was - the polite form is "racially motivated," the more accurate form is racist.

The main sponsor and main force behind the bill was former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, a right-winger (no surprise there) who later got kicked out of office in a recall election, partly as a result of his efforts on this law. The ACLU of Arizona recently obtained thousands of emails Pearce sent during his time as Senate president and they make it absolutely clear the attitude driving it.

Here’s a sample of what the emails showed, and remember, these are quotes from Pearce's own emails:

"Last week, Denver’s illegal aliens sang our national anthem in Spanish and bastardized the words of OUR country’s most sacred song."

"Battles commence as Mexican nationalists struggle to infuse their men into American government and strengthen control over their strongholds. One look at Los Angeles with its Mexican-American mayor shows you Vincente Fox’s general Varigossa commanding an American city."

"They create enclaves of separate groups that shall balkanize our nation into fractured nightmares of social unrest and poverty."

"Corruption is the mechanism by which Mexico operates. Its people spawn more corruption wherever they go because it is their only known way of life."

"Tough, nasty illegals and their advocates grow in such numbers that law and order will not subdue them. They run us out of our cities and states. They conquer our language and our schools. They render havoc and chaos in our schools."

"We are much like the Titanic as we inbreed millions of Mexico’s poor, the world’s poor and we watch our country sink."

And finally,

"The new definition of racist is anyone winning an argument with a liberal, minority, pacifist, bible banger, or moron."

That is the man who pushed this bill.

When are we going to admit to ourselves that racism and bigotry is alive and - well, I don't want to say well because it's a sickness - but alive and thriving in our society and have been since the beginning? And not only against blacks. Hispanics are just the latest target of our isolationist xenophobia. We can trace it back generation by generation, group by group, target by target. Asians, Poles, Italians, Irish, Jews, Catholics: Any wave of immigrants that was in any way "different" - to be blunt, that wasn't a WASP - any time there was a wave of "different" people, we heard the same things: It's going to destroy the country, undermine it, these foreigners, they're dirty, they're filthy, they're all the rest of this nonsense. We can trace this right back to Native Americans, who weren't even immigrants.

Our record on this is a shameful one. It may not be the worst, it may not even be all that bad compared to other nations, that doesn't change the fact that it is shameful.


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