July 30th, 2010 09:59 EST
Legalese Won't Dress Up The Fact That Arizona's Immigration Law is Racist
Today is Ethnic Cleansing Day in America. Or it would have been if a federal judge had not temporarily barred Arizona from enforcing parts of its Draconian immigration law. It would have been illegal today to be an undocumented alien in Arizona, and other states plan to follow suit. If Arizona has its way it will remain to be seen whether police will enforce an inhumane law humanely.
If the law stands the United States will forfeit any credibility it ever had to complain of ethnic cleansing in any part of the world. Critics of this view will say that Arizona does not plan to kill illegals but merely to deport them. But ethnic cleansing begins somewhere, often with a spectrum of restrictive laws, as in Nazi Germany, and then progresses to much worse. Evil usually wears a revaltively innocuous face and only gradually reveals itself when emboldened by apathy.
Hispanic businesses and businesses catering to Hispanics are already closing. Arizona is already losing income. Proponents of the law say it cures what the federal government refuses to cure, but many of these proponents are also critics of big government and government intervention.
Slice the law thin or slice it fat, it is remains a racist law, ethnocentric at heart, and ethnocentrism remains the scourge of the world. The idea that any race of humankind can be inferior to another is an abomination, but it underlies a great deal of rhetoric that seems on the surface to be about something else.
The Republican Southern Strategy of the 1960s was racist at heart, but it was called by other cleaned-up names. And the Arizona law is racist. It would not have aimed at a great influx of illegal Irish or German immigrants, and its supporters know that even if they lie to themselves about it.
The Hispanics, like the Arabs and the Jews, are being perceived through the lens of such laws as less desirable than the perceived majority of whites. Yes whites, because they are not perceived as whites, even though they are Caucasians or part Indian and part Hispanic. And if it is possible to lower such a mean-spirited law on them it will be possible to lower such a law on others, make no mistake. We have never treated the Native Americans within our borders with anything like justice and now we are targeting others.
In recent years I have often seen the Arabs referred to as blacks, a label no one would stick on the Jews, their fellow Semites. What is this but racism indulged simply because in the post-9/11 era it seems permissible? And where has the NAACP been on this issue? They certainly know the word black is being used pejoratively. Is it okay for Arabs and not for them? Where has B`nai B`rith been? They know perfectly well the Arabs are Caucasian Semites, like themselves. Do they remain silent because if it lays on the Arabs it`s okay?
Hispanics should remember this when they next go to the polls, and I think they will. This is not a blow against Hispanics alone, it is a nativist resurgence, fed in part by an unjust and punitive economy that threatens to instutionalize the gap between the rich and the poor, not as raw and brutish as the Aryan militants but even more dangerous for being cloaked in legality. The vociferous advocates of laissez-faire economics will never cop to the truth, playing out before our eyes in Arizona, that one of the prices to be paid for their ideology is ethnic unrest.
Nor will they ask themselves who are the natives? And why has the question not been discussed? Are they the Anglos or the Native Americans? Surely the latter can lay claim to being called native. How do they feel about this law? And why hasn`t the national press asked them? My question is for effect only. We all know the answer is that the peddlers of this law regard the natives as people of north European descent.
If we had a white president in the White House I doubt that this law would have been enacted. I think it is part and parcel of a nativist reaction to an America whose demographics increasingly scare certain reactionary whites whose ideas are not far from Nazi eugenics.
Once again our hypocrisy is showing. We are arguing in the international courts that the Serbs committed ethnic cleansing while we ourselves are instituting the kind of laws that encourage ethnocentrism.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com