FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Good, the Bad and the … "Misguided"?

by JAYNE LYN STAHL

In what may be easily called the understatement of the decade so far, President Obama has characterized an Arizona measure that criminalizes undocumented immigration, just signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, as “misguided.” Frankly, higher octane words come to mind. How about unconstitutional?

In these days of gosh, darn, and heck how better euphemize than with a word like “misguided?” Too bad we don’t fire off more “misguided” missiles. And, if language is any indication of purpose, the benign appellation can only spell defeat at the polls for Democrats in November, and beyond

After more than eight years of listening to the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld using terms like “bad guys,” it’s reassuring to know that the commander-in-chief can master polysyllables, but words with higher testasterone levels are needed to describe a law that just passed in a state that nearly produced our 44th president.

Lest there be some surprise about this latest move by Arizona’s Republican governor, keep in mind that Brewer also signed legislation that allows people to carry guns into bars, and a measure that lets Arizona citizens possess concealed weapons without a permit.

Okay, but forget Brewer. What do we know about Russell Pearce, the Arizona state senator who sponsored the bill? Apart from being a conservative Republican who served in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, Pearce’s Web site boasts of being a fifth generation Arizonan. But, where did the previous generations of Pearces come from, and could they provide legal documentation that meets citizenship requirements now if called upon to do so?

More importantly, could John Adams provide proof of citizenship that might satisfy the new Arizona state law? If Mahatma Gandhi were to find himself in Tucson on a dark street, would he find himself the target of the kind of reasonable suspicion clause of this new law?

A quick visit to Mr. Pearce’s Web site will also show how much he values the Declaration of Independence, and entitlement of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What his Web site neglects to mention is that evidently Pearce also believes the pursuit of happiness must come only with a green card.

What about “maverick” John McCain? Even the incumbent Arizona senator has been outspoken in his support for this law that now enables law enforcement to target anyone suspected of being in the country illegally; whatever “reasonable suspicion” may be.

But, is there a difference between being undocumented, and being illegal? Let’s be clear here. You are now a criminal in the state of Arizona if you are stopped by police, and you are unable to produce documents establishing an acceptable citizenship status. It would seem only logical that if the U.S. wants to find its way out of its financial maestrom that it go after crimes like fraud, and prosecute the heads of Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers, but without campaign contributions from the likes of Goldman Sachs, there would be no Obama presidency. One doesn’t bite the hand that feeds one indeed, and given that most of the fruit and vegetables on America’s plates come from the hands of migrant workers, many of whom are undocumented, the same logic should apply.

The irony is inescapable considering all the fuss about illegality when it comes to immigrants given that there isn’t a peep when it comes to thousands of illegal wiretaps, or substantial evidence that a practice, waterboarding, which has long been considered torture was variously used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, and elsewhere.

For a country that was founded with what can only now be called the misguided belief in egalitarianism, it is abundantly clear that it isn’t breaking the law that is at stake here, but who’s breaking it.

True, this isn’t the first draconian immigration legislation passed by a state that is also moving to demand future presidential candidates provide documentation that they were born in the U.S., but it is certainly the most hateful in that, if passed, it will put police officers in the position of immigration officials, a concept that has legal precedent thanks to the USA Patriot Act.

For the better part of two and half centuries, immigration policies have been regulated by the federal government, and not by the states. Surely, the president can find more potent language with which to denounce legalizing profiling by skin color, and under the guise of “questioning,” one that enables authorities to harass with the objective of deporting those who lack requisite documentation.

Consider that from 1769 through 1882 according to a Smithsonian Institution exhibit, the U.S. excluded only convicts, prostitutes, idiots, and lunatics. From 1882-1943, Chinese were not allowed to immigrate. It wasn’t until 1885 that U.S. immigration mandated that there be “no gangs of cheap laborers,” according to a Smithsonian Institution exhibit, and this latest Arizona law seems to reflect a mindset we haven’t seen since 1885.

Moreover, from the vantage point of Native Americans, those who came here on the Mayflower were illegals who did more than shoot one Arizona rancher. But, this isn’t about crime. This is about jobs, and the Democrats better stand up and stand up fast to show that the furthest thing from the minds of people like John McCain, and Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, is helping working people. All they care about is saving their own jobs.

For the president, and Democratic leadership, not to speak out now in the strongest possible terms, but instead to pussyfoot around, will be not only a missed opportunity, but professional misconduct.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail