So, like most everybody else on the liberal planet this week, I was hoping to write about this week's national news sensation, AZ's very own SB 1070 and its role as the flashpoint for the national showdown over immigration. Yep, AZ made it into the big-time this time. In one single pen stroke our governor has indeed stemmed the massive tide of the thousands who come to our state merely to exploit its resources. Oh wait, that was the tourists. Yeah, we won't have to worry about those pests anymore. In fact, the only way Brewer could've made AZ any less popular was if she'd banned air conditioning.
All kidding aside (for at least the next 35 characters), immigration issues are a priority with me. I would hate to have history repeat itself. Too bad we've been so slow getting around to fixing this problem that started way back when, when that one illegal alien, the Italian guy, slipped the border in a boat he borrowed from Spain back in 1492. Dude's been getting away with murder every since. If only we had checked his papers. And so on.
Yeah, I thought about writing something like that.
But first, I wanted to talk to you about something important, not just the disruptive noises made by some pesky minority that has only inhabited the land we call Ali Shonak, Arissona, Arizona, 'Air-ee-zone-y!" for the last 2000 years. What makes them think they have the right to be here in our country? How dare they not walk about with Obama-proof birth certificates stapled to their foreheads, or perhaps a simple yellow star on the jacket might do.
Yeah, I was going to write a bunch of stuff like that, like every other columnist on the liberal planet. But first, we need to talk about something that may be a bit uncomfortable. Call it this week's little public service announcement. There is no delicate way to get into this, so I'll just ask:
Are you addicted to the latest? Come on, admit it, if you can, are you 'hoarding"? They say the phenomena affects about 1 out of every 10 adults. So it could be you. No, not you 'you," that other 'you," the you with the armload of 10 year old newspapers you still aren't ready to recycle. You.
Hoarding. It is the most American of addictions. Spreading faster than crack and just as expensive. What starts off as merely 'innocently acquisitive" ends up with you burying yourself in useless stuff to the fill the hole in your soul until it swallows you whole. Never grows old. Grab all you can, keep all you grab. More, more, more, mine, mine, mine. Even if you have to ruin it to keep it. Even if it is life crippling, finance draining, generally quite smelly, and it makes every moment spent in your house a living nightmare. About as American as it gets, huh?
Small wonder hoarding is becoming our national current obsession, the American Dream come true. The one with the most toys wins, in a sleazy kind of, messy kind of, pathetic little way. I can trash it all I want; but make no mistake, hoarding is super popular. There are even two cable TV network shows about the subject, so in case you thought you could limit yourself to an 'over-crowded" or 'cluttered" decorating style, but find you can't turn back and wind up messing your life up super duper super messy way, you too can be a TV star simply through hoarding.
That's every hoarders dream come true. Imagine the revenge that moment would bring: 'See? I told you this stuff was important!" Where will you keep all the clippings? You could watch yourself on TV while you were watching yourself on TV in a room filled with your hoardings.
Here's all you have to do: watch a lot of TV and get the feeling that your life is meaningless except for the pleasure you can derive from the things you buy.
You start believing it's the things you own that are important, not the people you know.
(Say you got that one down too?)
You start buying into the ideas/behavior programming that you are continuingly inundated with thanks to our loving and benevolent media and their sponsors. Hoarders need their lives in crisis and chaos, that's why they need their things. You start to believe that you, as you are, are not good enough and can only achieve perfection through possessions. Having things would ease the pain. So, you get started collecting crap. Good crap, bad crap, doesn't matter, which way you went, pile enough of it up and soon your life will get crappy.
It can be bad crap like half the jokes in the 'You Might Be a Redneck If c' series. Imagine all the broken stuff you can't throw away or let someone else have because some day you might get around to it. Just keep piling it up and piling it up till you can't find the tools to fix any thing because you've buried your tools among your broken things. Or maybe, say, starting out thinking you're saving $20 a month on garbage collection and wind up filling room with trash bags stuffed with paper and plastic effluvia soaked in bacon grease and rotting coffee grounds.
Or it can even be good crap, like whole rooms of purchases never unwrapped, tags still a dangle. 'Doesn't look like we're going to be able to buy you that new ewhatchamacallit,' sweetie, mammy spent a little too much at the store again." You know, that kind of thing? Typically, though, left unchecked, future layers of hoarded materials and the difficulties the isolated hoarder's life pile up and destroy or devalue the older stuff and eventually the whole house collapses. All is lost equally--the treasures and the trash.
You can see how this ties to immigration, right?
That's right, hoarders need borders. 'You can't have my stuff. My stuff starts here and you've got to stay away. You stay on your side of the line. All the stuff over here is mine, mine, mine!" Not a terribly original sing and dance, more like the xenophobic chant Tea Party-types would like you to believe is our new national anthem.
Hoarders have simply bought into the propaganda American marketers consciously train us with to be weak emotionally, intellectually empty, violence prone perpetual children, under-educated and under enthused. Which is why we would have no sensitivity for refugees. Our entertainment trains us to be mindless, gutless, passive; but not endowed with actual concern for human suffering. In fact, the only thing you're left to do to be yourself is to purchase someone else's one size fits all. Now between commercials they half way hear some talking head say 'Immigrants = Bad" and they buy that message as well.--Hate the immigrants, stealing our jobs, teach eem a lesson. They've pounded out that tune since the 1830s. The ignorant and the easily angered among us like to kick the dog, but anything alien will do. Further more, hoarders don't mind the immigrants in the factories, so long as they can build a wall around themselves with their own refuse.
Hoarders always seem to prefer finding someone else to blame for their problems. They have a funny way of looking at life. Secret sub-minimum wages & filthy farm worker barracks aren't earned to hard workers who are easily exploited by greedy American bosses looking to save a buck at someone else's suffering. No, it's that those Mexicans are 'stealing our jobs!" Immigrants aren't paying excise taxes on everything they purchase, like the rest of us, and aren't contributing out of each paycheck to withholding and social security taxes into the names of their phony Ids, tax investments that they will never be able to collect on. No, it's that those lazy freeloaders are coming over just to get on our welfare. Undocumented immigrants aren't economic refugees, they're simply criminals. Or so some say.
But think about it: the ten million or so indigenous people who are here are merely migrating back over their own ancestral lands in the face of terrible hardship. Why do I use the words 'hardship"? Would you make that kind of move for any other lesser reason? Civil wars, globalization economies wiping out thousand year old subsistence farming communities, Latin American domestic drug wars (fueled almost exclusively by America's appetite for self-destruction) with their US backed warlords staking out their turf on the backs of their neighbors--hardships powerful enough to cause mothers with babes in arms to risk the scorching deserts and the vile coyotes in the hope of a better life. This is the story told ten million times across the American homeland. That is the desperation of the huddled masses who have come here.
The tired, the poor and free-breathing hungry stream to our shores from all around the world, but in particular, from our friends to the south. Any bill built to target undocumented immigrants in Arizona could not help but target Hispanics, which make up most, but not all, of the undocumented immigrants in boarding up with friends and family from border to border.
And that is why the liberals and various minorities are up in arms then US estimates in 2010 say, as Wikipedia explains for us, the US undocumented immigrant population is, 'about 11 million people, down from 12.5 million people in 2007. According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, in 2005, 57% of illegal immigrants were from Mexico; 24% were from other Latin American countries, primarily from Central America; 9% were from Asia; 6% were from Europe; and 4% were from the rest of the world."
So, since everyone in Arizona is subject to this law and everyone in Arizona looks like they could be from someplace else--this is after all Arizona, an immigrant state, a leader in the exodus from the rust belt to the sun belt where everybody's from some place else, where the white folks are migrants as well. How odd.
And so, then either the law is racist in its targeting of Hispanics and all brown skinned people in general, or life just got whole lot harder for everyone else too. You could be from Paradise Valley or Paraguay, from Fredonia or France, you could be from Iraq or Eloy and look the same: White, or Brown or Black. You could also be from just down the street and have a cop look askance and suddenly you're guilty until proven innocent.
And that's the way the hoarders want it. Luckily the redneck red state hoarse-throated hoarders aren't the only voices in America these days. The liberals and minorities across the country have risen up in arms in a fury that might quickly grow to match the Tea Partiers. Brewer's actions might be the outrage that can galvanize a movement. Tea Party is ripe for discreditation. This law will not hold up in court and not just because of its unfairness. It won't get off to a good start because it is unenforceable. It will be quickly challenged because it's unjust. It will be defeated because it is unsound. And that could turn a tide because we might remember to believe.
Right now however, it looks like it's going to be a terrible mess between the right against the left; and we may actually get ourselves into the state of crisis that the militia men have all trained their trigger fingers for. And if violence starts, they are more than ready to blame the immigrant. And you know which one I mean, 'Obama, the secret Kenyan." Of course, ask a birther and this mess is totally Obama's fault. But, of course, that's not true at all.
Bush openly defied calls for immigration reform, letting the problem get steadily worse. When folks complained about his inaction, he would pose for a pic or two with his Hispanic grandkids and America would forget.
Somehow not fixing a huge social problem was just another deal to be made so businesses could profit from the cheap labor. Scandal after scandal rang out over the last decade of big businesses using big numbers of undocumented immigrants: Swift, Tyson, McDonalds, to talk about the tip of the iceberg. The immigrants in question get deported, the businesses wait out our collective 15 minutes of operant memory and go right back to looking for staff that will work cheap and not ask questions.
Some say why pick on Bush, he didn't start the problem and I say you are right. You can pick your president and say he's the one that crossed the line on border issues and you would be right. Like all the other disgraces our politicians squander our time and money over, our government doesn't really want this problem fixed. They won't fix it because the problem gives them power. Our industry won't fix it because illegals keep down wages. As Massey Energy's Don Blankenship showed, no matter how much big business claims to love the red-white-and-blue, they are mostly interested in the green. And our media won't fix it because the perpetuating the hatred part sells more tickets than building the happy ending.
But rest assured this bill will go down in flames. I'm just hoping it doesn't take the rest of us down with it in the meantime. The sad part is the people who will get burned in the interim, the gap between passage and repeal. Those who have to wait for justice deferred generally have a longer wait when that injustice is profitable. Like the difference between 1619 when race slavery began in America and some time some tomorrow when, or do I mean, if its injustice ever actually ends.
No, this bill, like other cherished Tea Party concepts, will eventually crater under the weight of its outdated pomposity. The world's refugee future will, by sheer force of numbers, propel it. America's coming Hispanic dominance will, if necessary, at some point demand it. Eventually they will simply purchase their equality, so they can hoard like the rest of us. Instead of being forced to be the uneasy boarders in a country that suddenly sees every brown skin as the enemy.
The ugly part, for now, is that many Americans--particularly White Americans, particularly Tea Party types--love this bill. Supposedly as many as 75% of Arizonans are in that number; though I wonder if the pollster who came up with that number had asked his survey on the fairways of the country clubs or in their kitchens. Around the country even as opponents are lining up their boycotts (target #1: AZ Diamondbacks) and others are planning their lawsuits (two had already been filed in less than the first week), seven states are now psyched to introduce similar legislation in their states (including Utah, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, to name just a few). Stories tell of people wanting to draft Brewer for President. But before our fair governor gets too drunk with power and the Tea Partiers start trading in their mugs for Kristallnacht, here are a couple of facts we have to start with:
1) Barring an unforeseen seismic-scale change, Hispanics will become the dominant ethnic demographic around 2050. They are currently about 47 million people or about 15.4% of the population. The eleven million undocumented immigrants live with their documented families and friends in varying states of assimilation, sometimes creating rich communities of culture. All of that will have to be stomped out for it isn't just being an undocumented immigrant that is a crime anymore, now merely knowing or loving one will do to get you a free set of pink underwear and a cot in the tent city at Sheriff Joe's.
The law also clearly states that it is a crime to 'conceal, harbor or shield an alien from detection in any place in Arizona, including any building or means of transportation." So, if you know an undocumented immigrant, say perhaps your neighbor, your cousin, your grandfather or your spouse, your only hope is to turn them in. Can you say Fugitive Slave Law of 1850?
2) Short of a Hitlerian type final solution to the problem there is no practical way to deal with the Tea Partiers' cherished goal of removing the millions of folks who are already here. That is the scale of the misery and possible genocide a country would have to create to force a Diaspora of that magnitude. You almost have to see this in Hitler-ian imagery because only that dark a force would contemplate displacing twelve million current residents and untold future millions. Is that the America you'd love? Sure is a great way for the AZ GOP to show their value of families. The concept, rightly considered, is so ghastly it would make Andy Jackson wail a trail of tears.
When Sheriff Joe Arpaio was battling his way through the talk show circuit to defend his shiny new 'tool" as he calls SB1070, he acknowledged there were some people who had been detained erroneously and left the suggestion that it could be as much a 4000 mistaken detentions out of 38,000 detentions or arrests. And that was before probable cause meant the color of your skin.
This law makes all of AZ a no trespassing zone, 'in addition to any violation of federal law, a person is guilty of trespassing if the person is present on any public or private land in the state and is not carrying his or her alien registration card." We non-immigrants should think about this quite a bit. Because, you know who doesn't have an alien registration card? Us. That's right, the folks who were born citizen in the first place and never got immigration paperwork and so, every citizen under any type of encounter is subject to arrest and detention until proven to not be an undocumented immigrant. Can you say Nuremburg Laws of 1935?
Of course, the consolation for the mischief SB1070 is going to make is that as a law the law is a such a financial non-starter it won't be even partially implemented before it has to be dismantled as unworkable. Just look at the first paragraph from the official summary: 'Requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties."
'Requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws." Translation: every law enforcement jurisdiction throughout the state can be sued by private vigilante citizens if the citizen should contend that the law enforcement agency in question isn't performing up to crack ICE standards. That nightmare scenario is only part of the reason that the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police oppose the bill. Considering the level of animosity along the border will potentially destroy many smaller law enforcement agencies, tying up their time and resources with complaints of 'immigrants" from White folks just trying to be good Americans. While this scenario may seem outlandish to most of us, it is the very effort the AZ Minutemen militias have pressed for for years.
If that's the way the hoarders are thinking, it looks like tough times for the rest of us on either side of the borders. Nuremburg Laws of 1935? Fugitive Slave Act of 1850? I don't like the way either of those things ended.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.