My old buddy Varjak, to whose excellent piece on the Massey Energy mining accident I linked exactly one month ago, has written another commentary for his website, this one about the recently passed Arizona law that compels law enforcement to stop suspected illegal immigrants and ask to see proof they are lawfully in the country.
Check out the piece in its entirety here, or be a lazy fuck-ass and just check out the selections excerpted below.
A number of people I'm friended with on Facebook are joining a group called "It's not racism stupid! You are here ILLEGALLY!" As with so many other things involved with the debate over Arizona's new illegal immigrant law, this group demonstrates many of the failings of the law in question just through its own name. It's emotional, abusive, misguided, and a gross oversimplification of an immensely complicated issue. Let's take this a piece at a time.
First, "It's not racism, stupid." (I'll correct their punctuation.) Well, let's take a look at that, shall we? Is the law racist? There's a couple of things to consider here. The law does not allow police to approach suspected illegal immigrants and require documentation of legal status. It requires it, with penalties for failing to do so of one to five thousand dollars.
[. . .]
Why else might the law be considered racist? Perhaps because it was written by racists. Russell Pierce is an Arizona State Senator with ties to neo-Nazis, just like another local anti-immigrant hero, Joe Arpaio. Personally, I'm leaning toward Nazi sympathizers being racist, but perhaps someone can make an argument to the contrary.
[. . .]
And then the final part. "You are here ILLEGALLY." I see. And who, exactly, is "you"? Is it me? (Obviously not; I'm white.) Is it Abdon, from the link above? (Apparently not, because he provided his birth certificate.) Is it President Obama? (Oh, don't even start with that shit again.) Is it the woman who has lived in Arizona for fifty years but still has ties to family in Mexico? (Probably, unless she carries her papers with her at all times.) Is it the white man who has been living here illegally for fifty years? (No.) The problem is that the "you" that the law refers to encompasses millions of people, most of whom are not illegal immigrants, but all of whom will be affected by it, and none of whom are white.
[. . .]
There are some people in the world, not solely conservatives, but primarily conservatives, who perpetually feel the need to believe that they're being persecuted. People who claim that Christians are the most persecuted group in this country are high on the list. And these people also need to have a bad guy to blame, some group or class of people who all that is bad in the world can be blamed on, so everyone will be too worked up over that to notice what is actually going on. It used to be various groups of immigrants, legal or otherwise. For a long time, it was communists. Muslims are still popular for blame. And now, Hispanics are the target. Make a broad law about immigration that impacts everyone of a certain ethnic descent, and you're another step down the road to criminalizing being born the wrong ethnicity. Chip away the stone, a piece at a time.
A mutual Facebook friend of Varjak and myself has started a group of his own devoted to a more reasoned discussion of the Arizona law, and the immigration issue in general. If you find yourself interested, and you have a Facebook profile, please join us at It IS racism, stupid, whether you're here illegally or not.