Thursday, April 29, 2010

May I see your papers?

I'm going to try to write this without flinging world like Nazi around here.  I believe we need to step back from that level of rhetoric.  Save the Nazism allegations for genocide.

That being said...

The new Arizona immigration law which allows for anyone who is suspected of being an illegal alien to be asked for their papers at any time is clearly egregious.  We all know that as citizens in this free country we shouldn't have to carry proof of citizenship at all times.  And we all know that I won't be asked for my papers--I'm not a Latina, after all, and that's what this is really about.  It wouldn't matter if I was an illegal immigrant, I still wouldn't be asked for my papers.  But it won't matter if your family has been in this country for ten generations if you are Latino,  you can be asked to show proof of citizenship.

We need to stand on the side of love on this one.

And that's going to mean more than writing a letter of protest, or wearing a button that says, "I'm illegal."  The study/action issue "Immigration as a moral issue" is on the ballot for this year's General Assembly.  That's a start.  An action of immediate witness about this particular law might make sense, as well, in terms of our UU process.  We need to connect with the Standing on the Side of Love campaign and see what can be done through use of their resources.

Most importantly this means actually continuing to care and to connect on this issue.  It's an issue that, for me, as someone with northern European heritage, and living in the Midwest, would be easy to ignore.  It's not my problem; it's not in my face or in my backyard.

So, without devolving into Nazi analogies, let me still offer up this poem by Martin Niemöller as a way to remember that even when it's not my problem that I still need to care and get involved:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

11 comments:

Robin Edgar said...

They came for The Emerson Avenger again last Sunday. Arrested him for an unpaid ticket or two and threatened to jail him if he did not end his peaceful public protest against U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy in front of the self-described Unitarian Church of Montreal.

When are U*Us going to speak up about injustices and abuses being perpetrated by Totalitarian* Unitarians *within* the U*U World?


* see I didn't use the 'N' word.

Bill Baar said...

Oh Cynthia, get a grip... what AZ is doing has nothing to do with what Jews, Gypsys, Gays, and others experienced in Nazi Germany. It's a offensive to even suggest it.

Illegal Aliesn are illegal... they've committed a crime and it's hard to get around that simple fact.

Heather said...

Have you seen the thing on Facebook about moving GA out of Arizona?

Cynthia Landrum said...

@Bill,
Which is why I DIDN'T. Read what I wrote again. I specifically said I was using this NOT as an allegation that this was Nazism, but as a reminder of why one moves beyond apathy when one isn't personally affected.

@Heather, no I've missed that one! I'll go check it out.

@Robyn,
Nice show of restraint. ;)

Cynthia Landrum said...

Oops, sorry -- Robin, not Robyn! My apologies.

Robin Edgar said...

No worries Cynthia.

It's not the first time that mistake has been made.

Are you suggesting that my arrest was a nice show of restraint? To be honest I wasn't all *that* restrained with the cops because they were being a bit too aggressive. I snarked at them for doing nothing to catch the thief who stole my computer but having the time to harass a peaceful public protester. Well at least they didn't handcuff me. . .

But yes, when I use the 'N' word I generally use it when I am talking about actual, or at least credibly alleged Nazis. Apparently James Luther Adams had a thing or two to say about how German Unitarians fell into goose-step with the Nazis prior to WWII.

Robin Edgar said...

Oh and I hereby formally accept your apology.

See how easy that was U*Us.

It is high time U*Us learned the fine art of apologizing in a timely and sincere manner. . .

Cynthia Landrum said...

@Robin - Oh, I didn't even think of that use of the word "restraint." Funny how what I wrote has that double meaning.

adelev said...

bill Baar said, "Illegal Aliesn are illegal... they've committed a crime and it's hard to get around that simple fact."

This law says anyone who is suspected of being an illegal alien can be asked for her papers at anytime. So, someone who is not illegal and has not committed a crime can be harrassed by the cops at anytime. And anyone who might possibly be suspected of being an illegal alien, in other words anyone living in Arizona with brown skin, has to carry identification papers that are not required to be carried by others. The law is racist. I find it hard to get around that simple fact.

Bill Baar said...

Police can ask for identification with or without this law.

Harassment is illegal with or without this law.

I'd favor open borders to anyone able to find a job in America, especially if they are citizens of CAFTA / NAFTA signatory countries. (Find me a liberal who supports that.)

At the moment, Mexico is falling apart and into civil war. (Read Antonio Weiss in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/apr/26/mexico-drugs-war )

Few Americans care or pay much attention to it. This law is a reflection of States reacting to the chaos down there.

Nothing racist about it. Our indifference to the disaster in Mexico perhaps more a reflection of racism than anything else... although I'm more inclined to think we're just hoping Mexico and it's problems somehow go away.

Joel Monka said...

adelev- ALL non-citizens are required to carry papers at all times by federal law; it's been that way since the 40s. No citizen, of whatever color, is- been that way since 1792. There are quite a few Hispanics in Arizona who support this law- I find it hard to get around that simple fact. It's hard to blame racism when support for the law is 12% higher than the total number of non-Hispanic Whites living in Arizona!

The law is unconstitutional, and not a good solution even if it were constitutional- but it's not the result of racism. It reflects the kind of anger against government impotence that caused then Arizona governor Janet Napolitano to declare a state of emergency in the border counties five years ago.