Thursday, May 13, 2010

Never-ending Nightmare Never Ends

Ever had a nasty 24-hour stomach bug? The kind where you feel increasingly miserable and then puke and feel much better, but then have your blissful, blessed relief cut short by another wave of nausea, and then another, until you are certain that you will be vomiting every 20 minutes for the rest of your life?

Welcome to Arizona, where the legislature and governor have just heaved our collective shoes into the bucket with a prohibition against ethnic-studies curricula that don't meet Tom "the most fun chant for me was 'drill, baby, drill' used by three separate speakers" Horne's approval.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill limiting what kind of courses schools can offer in the name of cultural diversity Tuesday.

Without comment, Brewer signed the controversial legislation, which declares students "should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.''

The law, aimed specifically at the ethnic studies program at Tucson Unified School District, is far more complex than that goal.

It makes it illegal for public schools to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people. It also bars any programs "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group."

My 7th grade social studies teacher would be in deep shit on this one, given how his World War II lectures made me resent the hell out of the Nazis. And my son's Native American Literature teacher made the class read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee this semester, which left him feeling not that great about--gasp--the United States government! Well. That's a bit of hyperbole. Tom Horne isn't going to march in and string up teachers who might give white students a moment of pause when they consider the atrocities perpetuated by governments on this continent and in Europe, but if you get the Mexicans riled up, you're toast. Oh, and by the way, if you're trying to teach the Mexicans to speak English, make sure your accent isn't too thick. Because Arizona doesn't like that either.

You'd be perfectly justified, at this point, to ask who the fuck thinks all this is a good idea. There's an obvious and troubling answer, and now, this morning, a less obvious and possibly more troubling answer. First, the no-brainer: the white supremacists, of course, think this is all kinds of awesome. But it's more than just them, and that keeps me from my rest. Large chunks of the country are going nativist now, or at least large chunks of slightly more than a thousand registered voters with landlines who happened to answer their phones and take part in a poll are, and that should give us all pause.

A strong majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found.

A separate Pew Research Center poll on the Arizona law released Wednesday found similar sentiments.

In the McClatchy-Ipsos poll, 61 percent of Americans - and 64 percent of registered voters - said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9.

Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats like the law, under which local law enforcement officers are tasked with verifying people's immigration status if they suspect them of being in the country illegally.

Swell. And here's the best part:

In addition, about 69 percent of Americans said they wouldn't mind if police officers stopped them to ask for proof of their citizenship or legal rights to be in the country; about 29 percent would mind, considering it a violation of their rights, and about 3 percent were unsure.

Hell no, I wouldn't mind if a nice police officer stopped me and asked me for proof of citizenship! People who say this are people who have never been hassled by a cop in their entire lives for having the wrong skin color or wrong kind of clothes for the neighborhood they're walking in or the car they're driving. It's very, very easy to hit play and blast out the title track from Unexamined Privilege's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: If You're Not Doing Anything Wrong (You Don't Have Anything To Worry About), until the day comes when you really aren't doing anything wrong and get busted anyway. If you're white enough and not screaming in Farsi at the top of your lungs, no, you probably don't have to worry about it, and if for some unfathomable reason you were stopped and questioned and didn't have your ID or birth certificate (long form, please) on you, you could talk your way out of it. And hey, if you don't have to worry about it on a personal level, you get a pass from having to worry about it on a conceptual level. It's not just the Arizona way any more. It's the American way, bucko, and don't you forget it.

Pass the pepto, if you please. Every time I think it's got to be over, another wave comes.

1 comment:

Homer said...

These are the same people who scream and holler about "National ID cards." When it is explained to them that ordinary ID cards (e.g., driver's licenses) are not adequate to demonstrate citizenship, I expect people will start to wonder. Of course, I could be completely wrong.