Such draconian measures are what police states, totalitarian/authoritarian governments, and fascist regimes do, not democracies. Republican state Senator Russell Pearce, who authored the bill, said “We're going to take the handcuffs off of law enforcement, we're going to put them on the bad guy. Illegal is not a race, it's a crime.” Estimates are that between 400,000 and 500,000 undocumented workers are currently in Arizona. Does Mr. Pearce intend to arrest all of them? That is, after they strip the roughly 1.3 million Arizona citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin of their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution –- an 88% growth since the 2000 Census. As it is, the laws already on the books aren’t being enforced by companies that employ undocumented workers, the lettuce and fruit pickers, because it would devastate their economies. These economies, by the way, that are the vestiges and heirs of the slavery-based economy of the United States, in the South, West and territories, before it was outlawed. But not eradicated.
To listen to the Caucasian callers to hate radio as Noam Chomsky has, in his disturbing assessment that our country is going the way of the pre-Nazi Weimar Republic -- “I don’t want to hear Rush Limbaugh. I want to hear the people calling in. They are like [suicide pilot] Joe Stack. What is happening to me? I have done all the right things. I am a God-fearing Christian. I work hard for my family. I have a gun. I believe in the values of the country and my life is collapsing” -– is to get a flavor for the pervasive anger waiting for release, for lashing out, that these right wing white people who gravitate to militias and the Tea Party feel. It runs much deeper than illegal immigration. They look at Latinos –- whom they call “spicks” and “wetbacks” –- and they feel threatened and angry.
“What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”With demographic change comes uncertainty for whites who feel squeezed and threatened. With economic collapse comes despair and anger. With anger comes violence. Chomsky’s vision may be more lucid, but many commentators have said that the climate today is eerily similar to that preceding the domestic terrorist bombing of the Murrah Building at Oklahoma City. This nation may be at a crossroads. The time has come to push back. This means first, that Latino groups, not only in Arizona but throughout the country, must mobilize and unite to oppose Arizona’s assault on our basic freedoms and civil liberties. They must be joined by a nationwide coalition of progressive groups to speak with one voice against the institutional scapegoating of one class and race of people. At the same time, vigilanteism and violence-prone militia activity should be called out and discouraged. Mobilizing for a strong turnout in November is a must.
Finally, the fact is that today Latinos command substantial financial and political clout in this nation. It’s time to exercise it in creative ways. Year after year we see more and more Latino athletes fill the rosters of Major League Baseball. Where are their voices in all of this? I would rather see less piety by athletes, e.g., from evangelical members of ‘Athletes for Christ’, who stage proselytizing demonstrations for Jesus in front of the cameras, than to see all the Latino members of the Arizona Diamondbacks take the field and stand side-by-side in front of the camera box wearing headbands that say, “REPEAL AZ SB 1070 NOW!”
Noam Chomsky’s dystopian vision need not become reality. It is not too late to turn back the dark forces of right wing reaction and creeping fascism.