May 31, 2010

Arizona laws = clash of civilizations

Arizona:  A critical resistance boycott

By Roberto Dr. Cintli RodriguezRushing toward apartheid: Arizona is speeding towards being an apartheid state. Some of this rush has to do with repressive laws (including the legalization of racial profiling and the elimination of ethnic studies) that have been recently signed by the governor. Truthfully, however, this move pre-exists the recent legislation, and much of the repression against the Mexican community here is historical in nature and exists nationwide.

On the surface, it is about migration issues. Yet, if we probe a little deeper, it’s about the browning of Arizona. Probe some more and you will see that much of the hate has little to do with peoples’ legal status. That’s where English-only and the new anti-ethnic studies law comes in. It is not simply about our physical presence (red-brown), but about our culture–which is thousands of years old and indigenous to this continent. In this sense, it is beyond physical removal and even beyond thought-control; this is about our souls (they can’t have them).
And:These laws that clearly single people out for both their color/race and culture are in clear violation of international laws. At the moment, whom they are singling out are not simply Mexicans/Central Americans, but generally anyone with indigenous features (and our ways of thinking). That’s why many of us say that this is the culmination of a 518-year war. This is also why indigenous leaders from throughout the continent last year unanimously proclaimed that peoples from this continent cannot be illegal on this continent. Any boycott must affirm this principle.

A civilization clash: The theft of a continent is not a closed chapter in human history; nor has it become legal simply because of the passage of time). And yet, truly, no human being can be illegal on any continent. This truly is a civilizational clash–between those who believe, versus those who don’t believe, that all peoples deserve to be treated as full human beings with full corresponding human rights–regardless of where they/we live.
A message of empathy to ArizonaWhen I hear of the illegal immigrant crisis taking place in Arizona I can’t help but think of a similar situation in history where this happened before. Some time ago in a land not so far away the local population welcomed a seemingly endless group of illegal immigrants, most of whom were liars, murderers, and cheats, along with some religious refugees. Sadly, it ended with the local population being murdered and their land stolen.

As a Native American, I sympathize with you, Arizona, because you fear the same will happen to you as it did to the Native American population some time ago.

However, while I do empathize with your situation, the immigrants you are targeting are predominantly hardworking and law-abiding. In comparison, the illegal immigrants from my story (your ancestors) were guilty of committing mass genocide against the local population and two-faced land theft. These are the ones that should be sent back, not the ones in question.
Comment:  Pretty much everyone has made the obligatory "Europeans were the first illegal immigrants" point. Years ago I did it myself in my "Us" vs. "Them" story. That doesn't make the point invalid, but it's time to stop offering it as if it's a brilliant new insight. It isn't.

The larger point here is one worth reiterating. Namely, that most of our political, economic, and social battles represent a clash of cultures. It's not just Arizona's anti-indigenous laws, it's everything. Healthcare reform, financial regulation, civil rights, immigration, ethnic's all about who wields the power. Will it be the conservative minority or the more liberal and tolerant majority?

We're battling to determine which view of the world will prevail. Will it be the white/Christian/Western view, where we drill oil wells, invade countries, and kill species with impunity? Or the inclusive/multicultural/We Are the World view, where we put people and the planet before productivity and profits?

When I started working on PEACE PARTY and indigenous issues, I figured they'd allow me to write about the culture wars roiling our country. And that's proved to be the case. As Felix Cohen, the modern founder of federal Indian law, put it:The Indian plays much the same role in our American society that the Jews played in Germany. Like the miner's canary, the Indian marks the shift from fresh air to poison gas in our political atmosphere; and our treatment of Indians, even more than our treatment of other minorities, marks the rise and fall of our democratic faith.For more on the subject, see Native vs. Non-Native Americans:  A Summary and Why Write About Native Americans?

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