Tuesday, June 22, 2010
It didn't start with Barry Goldwater though his 1964 presidential campaign began the realignment of racists, Klansmen, and similar bigots to the Republican Party consolidating them with the fascists of the American First Movement, the neo-fascist McCarthyites, the John Birchers and the militia movement's progenitor, the Minutemen. No, Arizona grew its own species of racism, bigotry and fascism that, honestly, Goldwater was less a part of than he was a symbol for.
But now Arizona has followed Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the contemporary avatar of Birmingham, Alabama's Jim Clark, off a cliff with its immigration legislation. Despite much blather to the contrary, Arizona has adopted a racist law under the influence of fired con-man, Lou Dobbs, the looniest ultra-right wing members of the Republican Party and it's Frankenstein monster, the Tea Party Movement.
The right wingers object to "aliens" because they are "illegal" as if "illegal" were a quality that is genetically determined, like hair or eye color. As always we can divide those with this opinion into two groups: the sheep/fools/idiots who are too incapable of reflection to understand that they have been sold some snake oil and the scum who manufacture and sell the snake oil for fun and profit (e.g. Lou Dobbs). No person is born an "illegal" anything. Immigrants to America are those who have documents issued by the United States Government under a series of laws that favor wealth and power, white Europeans and suspect cronies of some dubious Americans and the corporate and governmental agencies who employ them. No one ever called Rupert Murdock an illegal alien even before he became a naturalized citizen in order to consolidate his media empire though he is certainly the most vile and destructive immigrant to American since Al Capone. Our laws make people, primarily black and brown people from neighboring countries, "illegal" and afford them little or no avenues to "legality". In fact, few of the parents and grandparents of those screaming about the threat of "illegal" immigration and none of their ancestors who came to America before 1879 would be "legal" under today's laws.
Plenty of people, governments and organizations are contemplating or have already instituted boycotts of Arizona on some level or other. The Arizona legislation has also energized the movement for immigrant rights while presenting President Obama with a dilemma that he doesn't need.
A poll released this week by the Northwest Health Foundation, public radio stations of the Northwest and the polling agency Davis , Hibbitts and Midghall finds that the citizens of Washington state, Oregon and Idaho finds that 61% of residents of those states support Arizona's immigration law. Another 58% would deny government benefits, including schooling, to the children of undocumented immigrants and think that those children should be deported "back where they came from" ignoring the fact that most "came from" right here and are citizens of the United States by birth. Those might seem significant majorities and lead one to cite the Federalists on the "tyranny of the majority" along with reminders that an even greater majority of residents in states from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas east through the rest of the old Confederacy supported segregation in 1954. But the poll contains its own analysis of those attitudes. You see some 73% of residents of the three states polled also state that immigrants of all sorts are honest, hard working people. Even more people state that they have no contact of any kind with immigrants, documented or otherwise. These people who have such clear and strong opinions on immigrants are utterly ignorant of the people who are the subject of those opinions.
What comes out of the survey and information from other polling is that people are insecure in an economy destroyed, not by immigrants or poor folks, not by Al Qaeda or some Islamic fanatics but by bankers and businessmen, by the greed of executives motivated solely by profit. Yet rather than focus on the true predators in our midst, we're out with torches and pitchforks in great numbers after the people who sneak across our borders to do unskilled day labor in building our homes or to empty the bed pans of our neglected and ill elders.
British Petroleum has destroyed the livelihood of thousands if not millions, besides the 11 they initially killed, along our Gulf and Atlantic coasts in the name of saving, relative to their income, a vanishingly small amount of money. And yet we have the spectacle of Republican Representative Joe Barton apologizing to BP executive Tony Hayward in a flirtatious wave to the man as he endured a day's grilling by angry Democrats before spending a weekend relaxing at yacht races off the Isle of Wight. There has not been a more perfect display of the Republicans' true allegiance. They care nothing for the nation that suffers from their greed and malfeasance. They have no patriotism for they have reduced that to wearing a flag lapel pin and given it no more thought. Their oft spouted concern for the intent of the "founding fathers" ends the moment that the express intent of those same men runs counter to corporate interests.
No the Republicans are true fascists in Mussolini's sense of the seamless marriage of corporatism and government. Their only allegiance is to the people who pay their bills. Send Sarah Palin to Bloomingdales and pick up her bills? She'll spout any nonsense the script writers can ink on her hands. Drop an acknowledged million on Joe Barton's campaign fund and probably much more in unacknowledged perks and he'll apologize to satan for Christianity if you want him to.
Yet we allow these frauds and the scum who thump for them on Fox News to misdirect popular ire toward immigrants and the poor. No one questions these con artists when they pontificate about the injustice of passing huge national debts down to our grandchildren when the obvious answer is that they should accept the "personal responsibility" they so often trumpet and decide that we will pay higher taxes now to relieve that burden on our dear grandchildren. That's too hard to do. Besides, the corporations have legions of flacks who will trot out to disparage any attempt to fairly tax the rich and corporations, confuse the ignorant already, like the people in the Northwest survey, fearful for their continued livelihoods and squelch the true solution to our debt: pay the bill ourselves.
We are left with fear for our abilities to provide for ourselves, ignorance of the cause, confusion and ridicule of anyone who points out the real villains in the piece. Confused and ignorant we gather to the loud screeching of a Tea Party rally that becomes a lynch mob looking for someone who might be an undocumented immigrant. Sheriff Arpaio will provide security for the lynching and several Tea Partiers will bring the rope. Full coverage on Fox.