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Muslim American community finds Arizona law “appalling”; LoonWatch agrees

The fight against illegals...

The fight against illegals...

An op-ed in The Washington Post reads:

Arizona’s draconian new immigration law is an abomination — racist, arbitrary, oppressive, mean-spirited, unjust.  About the only hopeful thing that can be said is that the legislation, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed Friday, goes so outrageously far that it may well be unconstitutional.

Brewer, who caved to xenophobic pressures that previous governors had the backbone to resist, should be ashamed of herself. The law requires police to question anyone they “reasonably suspect” of being an undocumented immigrant — a mandate for racial profiling on a massive scale. Legal immigrants will be required to carry papers proving that they have a right to be in the United States. Those without documentation can be charged with the crime of trespassing and jailed for up to six months…

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon — who wrote an op-ed in The Post calling proponents of the law “bitter, small-minded and full of hate” — hopes to file a lawsuit against the state…

How are police supposed to decide whom they “reasonably suspect” of being in the country illegally? Since the great majority of undocumented immigrants in Arizona are from Mexico, aggressive enforcement of the law would seem to require demanding identification from anybody who looks kind of Mexican. Or maybe just hassling those who look kind of Mexican and also kind of poor. Or maybe anyone who dares to visit the Mexican consulate.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued the following statement on behalf of Muslim Americans:

CAIR-AZ Condemns Signing of Anti-Immigrant Bill

(PHOENIX, AZ, 4/28/2010) — The Arizona chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today expressed disappointment at the signing into law of Senate Bill 1070. CAIR-AZ and other civil liberties groups say the law legitimizes suspicion based on appearance and will result in racial profiling and discrimination.

“It’s natural for the Muslim community to find this new law appalling” says CAIR-AZ Chairman Anas Hlayhel. “The Quran instructs Muslims to stand up against injustice and racism, which this bill seems to advocate. No matter what good this bill claims to bring, we see that its harm will outweigh its good. We see it as a desperate attempt to legitimize racial profiling in order to hide the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is a reminder of recent attempts to legitimize racial profiling at airports.”

Hlayhel said the new law is a major setback to civil rights accomplishments in America.

LoonWatch agrees.  By the passage of this discriminatory law, police are obligated to stop anyone whom they “reasonably suspect” of being an illegal immigrant.  Realistically, this means stopping anyone with brown skin, and Hispanics in particular.  The good people of Arizona have succumbed to the forces of intolerance, hatred, and xenophobia.  This law is quite simply un-American, and those who backed it don’t seem to believe in the ideals of this country.

Right-wingers in general and the anti-Islam camp in specific have pushed hard to legitimize racial profiling at airports, calling for all Arabs or Muslims to receive extra screening.  This campaign has met with considerable success, with very little uproar from the public.  Justifying racial profiling in one context legitimizes it in another; a bad precedent opens up pandora’s box.  Now we find the discussion moved from Arabs/Muslims to Hispanics, and who’s to say it will stop there?  Could police officers eventually be granted the right to randomly pull over black Americans driving through white neighborhoods?  Where do we stop?  If we tolerate discrimination against Arabs/Muslims and Hispanics, then it opens the door to discrimination against everyone that does not look exactly like the majoritorian group.

The right-wing fear factory has created this imaginary boogie man of so-called “stealth jihad”, claiming that “the other” is seconds away from overthrowing democratic rule and enacting a brutal interpretation of Sharia in North America and Europe.  Meanwhile, these right-wing fear-mongers are the ones hacking away at the roots of our democracy, pushing their hate-filled agenda in the shroud of rationalized legislation, justifying racial profiling, warrantless wiretapping, torture, the suspension of habeas corpus, secret prisons, targeted assassinations of citizens, and the pursuit of imperial conquest abroad.

Since the creation of our great nation-state, there has been an element in us that has said “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” and paradoxically another element that has called for some people to be considered only three-fifths human.  Throughout U.S. history, the country has wrestled between these two sides: the tolerance inherent in our nation’s ethos on the one hand, and the wretched flame of intolerance on the other.  It’s time for Americans of conscience everywhere to stand in solidarity for the ideal of tolerance, and against this repugnant law.  This nation was founded and built by immigrants (illegal ones at that).  While sensible immigration reform is something desirable, we cannot allow xenophobia to snuff out the country’s legacy of multiculturalism.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free…

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  • Sean

    My Palestinian girlfriend, when she was in Houston TX for half the year, told people that she was Mexican to avoid prejudice. Seems like that doesn’t work any more. Land of the free?

  • JinDogan

    Racial profiling is really funny.

    I’m a Rohilla Pathan. That means my ancestors came from Afghanistan and eventually settled in India. So I look a lot like the Pashtuns currently living in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. However, especially when I am clean shaven, most South Asians even think I’m some white guy. So basically many Afghans and Pakistanis would never be suspected if they keep themselves clean cut. Also I remember those plots in the UK, Spain, France and Germany did not feature any or many Brown Muslims. A lot of them were Black and White.

    How would profiling had helped?

  • Ustadh

    All brown people are a target. You never know terrorists can slip through the border and attack us, that is the pretext a lot use for racial profiling and discrimination against Latinos.

  • http://blog.yellow-stars.com eslaporte

    @Lena Rose

    The right wing – on both sides of the Atlantic – is absolutely hypocritical to be a tragic joke. We have the “freedom parties” in Europe that are actually far-right and want to take away other people’s freedom in the name of “freedom,” while at the same time screeching about “freedom of speech.”

    We of course have the “Freedom Party” of Geert Wilders, that wants to take away the freedom of Dutch Muslims and change the Dutch constitution to make Islam and its believer second class citizens — all based on the Islamification myth.

    But — here’s the funny one… We have a “Freedom Party” in Austria that is just as Islamophobic as other far-right parties — but has a aged, former Nazi SS officer as its “mentor.” Like Wilders, the Austrian “Freedom Party” complaints that it has no “freedom of speech” rights and would like to remove Austrian laws forbidding the displays of Nazi symbols.

    Beware of any party, out of Europe especially, calling itself a “freedom party!” Chances are good that its actually an anti-freedom party.

  • Lena Rose

    Thank you for another thoughtful and well-written article, Danios. You raised some crucial points about the fears and race-based agenda of the proponents of this legislation.

    We can’t underestimate the role race and xenophobia play in this and other similar issues.

    It is ironic that those who most loudly say they want to “protect our freedom” or that our offensive wars overseas are to “defend our freedom” tend to be the ones pushing laws that actually block or limit our freedom. I wonder if they understand the concept of freedom, or if they have ever studied the Constitution they claim to support.

  • Les

    @Fnord

    The strange alliances that form when attacking Islam. LOL

  • Biz

    Nice work Danios. This was another well written piece. You make excellent points and I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Keep them coming.

  • Fnord

    Oh, and I would direct your glance towards Bruce Bawer. He is acting like a civilized loon up here in Norway, with the gayfriendly buddhist anti-muslims. (How weird does it get?)

  • Fnord

    Off topic, but I would just like to note that Jerusalem Post just dropped Pamela Geller from their blogroll. Call them and ask why? Small victories and so on…

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  • Jack

    Ethnic studies are now considered treason under Arizona State Law.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/30/arizona-legislature-passes-banning-ethnic-studies-programs/

    Be sure to check out this funny piece on Arizona by the Daily Show showing the Law is clearly racist and xenophobic.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-april-26-2010/law—border

  • Truth Hurts

    Profiling = Euphemism for good old fashioned Stereotyping.

    The hysteriical Hollywood histrionics is really touching a nerve at this juncture in world history, as globalization results in a more balanced shift of power towards the historical norm.

    The post Cold War “Back to the Future” tribal racism as justified by Huntingdon is an excercise in tilting at windmills.

    “First they came for”…Well Done for the Islamic principle of catholicism or universality.

  • http://blog.yellow-stars.com eslaporte

    @George Carty

    First of all – “radicalized” people with mass murder on their minds have never brought down airplanes, or buildings and actually killed people. It is safe to say that no terrorist act has ever been committed without an instrument of destruction involved. It is destructive instrumentality that is used to bring down airplanes, buildings, and kill people. Karst Tates, who killed himself and seven others last year in an attempted attack on the Dutch Royal Family, used his car as a dangerous instrument to crash the Queen’s Day parade. Without his car- Tates would have been just an angry loner in Apeldoorn.

    Second – the watchlists and “no fly” lists have hurt far more innocent people than kept active terrorists from harming airplanes. There are, as I said above, not only profiling based on ethnic and religious background, but political as well. There have been mismatches of names. There are actually a lot of Irish names on the watchlists. People have been told that they are a “threat to aviation” for free speech and political activities. There was a CNN reporter that ended up on the list for doing a story about lack sky marshals!

    Another big problem with the air travel watch lists is that they require and enormous amount of global intelligence gathering to identify the “right people” that are actually terrorists.

    We should work toward doing away with the air travel “watchlists.” We do this by concentration on keeping dangerous instrumentality (liquids, bombs in shoes), off of airplanes and making airplanes secure. This method avoids the temptation to abuse the “no fly” list, hurt innocent people, limit extensive intelligence gathering – and have secure airplanes.

    The Christmas attempt to explode a bomb on an Detroit-bound airplane failed – the instrumentality failed – the plane landed safely. The radicalized terrorist also landed safely. Radical dangerous people – unarmed – are just radical dangerous people.

  • Hm

    Not only that but often Muslims, especially South Asians look ‘Hispanic’ so they could be stopped as well.

  • Justin

    We are not too far from total, all-out, full-blown religious holy war in the form of “interventions,” discrimination, and loss of rights. It would only take another major event like 9/11. I really think it will be a miracle and blessing from God (Allah) if humankind is to avoid such a disaster. So many evil minds on every side of the conflict intend to selfishly benefit from “Crusade vs. Jihad.” ™

  • George Carty

    @eslaporte

    Isn’t there a good argument for “no fly” lists though?

    (Namely that one of the few places where a small bomb can kill hundreds of people, is on board an aircraft.)

    Of course they should be applied only to people suspected of being actual terrorists, not just people with unsavoury political ideologies…

  • Rogain

    Excellent post Danios and superb analysis elsaporte

  • http://blog.yellow-stars.com eslaporte

    Yes – some of this rubbish is the ever-increasing expansion of what is called here in the US the “Terry Stop and Frisk” or “Terry stop” doctrine. The doctrine stems from the 1968 US Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_v._Ohio), where a Cleveland police detective noticed two men, including a fellow with the last name of Terry, walking in front of a store in a manner that suggested they were going to rob the place. Just watching this behavior from across a street was enough to allow for a “reasonable” policeman to come over and start asking people questions and searching pockets.

    Gee – the two men could have been looking in the store windows for a friend?

    Yep – it’s “reasonable” for a anyone, a police officer or other “reasonable person,” to assume that a black person might be driving a nice, pricey car not because of having a good job to pay for it — nope — but because the only way a black person gets to buy a nice car is through drug dealing! Yep – this is what “reasonable person,” including a “reasonable police officer” should conclude…

    It is also now “reasonable” for a “reasonable person” to conclude that a person that appears to be Hispanic and with dark skin, especially Mexican, walking down Arizona’s streets is an “illegal alien.” After all, all “illegal aliens” have dark skin, just like all drug dealers are of some racial minority. All people with dark skin are really not real Americans, as any “reasonable person” can conclude…

    Next – it will become “reasonable” from police to stop the rest of us, say, if the police do not like the t-shirts we are wearing. It is currently “reasonable” that people with Ron Paul stickers on their cars must surly be with a militia.

    This is a nice and “reasonable” way to bring about a racist, police state, where freedom of expression is chilled away. Just don’t wear t-shirt if a policeman will think that you are an illegal alien, terrorist, criminal. Reasonable suspicion is now benchmark for intrusive investigations, based on race, ethnic origins, and not actual conduct, which will bring us quietly to a police state.

  • Mr M

    In Britain, he police have this thing called “Stop and Search” which they purport to safe communities from knife carrying kids. Instead, it used to ostracise certain communities and majority of those stopped are overwhelmingly black.

    Funnily, Asians also joined blacks after 911. So these draconian laws have a way on suspecting people in a discriminatory ways.

  • http://blog.yellow-stars.com eslaporte

    The worst thing that was introduced to American culture was the phase from the military oath; “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” The right-wing has been carrying on this nonsense since their boy “Ronnie” was in the White House. Even before, we had the shrills of Joseph McCarthy that set into motion the American right-wing, paranoid mindset about “domestic enemies.” There were “reds under the beds.” Now there are “mooslims under the beds.”

    When one defines a “domestic enemy” – then there becomes a need to look for that “domestic enemy.” The “domestic enemy” was in relation to those that wanted to overthrow constitutional order in the US, but this has been expanded to include even peaceful dissenters and protesters.

    Another category of “domestic enemies” are the Democratic Party and the Left. Now – even President Obama is in this category, as his successes in life as an African American must surly mean that he “is not really an American and must have had help from our enemies.” To be this successful is only for for wealthy, white, protestant, Americans. So, even President Obama is “the Other.” To be an “American” to the right-wing, one must be white, economically well off, and politically conservative. Only Republicans are “real” Americans, but Democrats are “socialists,” and therefore “domestic enemies.”

    Now- what the right-wing defined “American” is can be juxtaposed against what a “European” is in Europe. We know the usual white, Christian and not the child of immigrants. The angle here is what an EU citizen is, and this definition is based on the extension of Fortress Europe that seeks to protect EU citizens from being “tainted” by the presence of non-EU nationals. This notion of exclusion of non-EU citizens and “others” is often based on race, religion and ethnic identity.

    There is an essay out there that describes EU citizenship definition based on Fortress Europe as the creation of an EU “gated community.” This attempt to extend Fortress Europe now includes active exclusion of non-EU citizens from internet forums, including those intended for academic discussion of EU policies. This I know first hand, I suffer such exclusion and as I feel Fortress Europe being extended to my mind!

    The actually worst thing that could happen is that they take to rounding people up on the basis of “security.” There are already travel bans and inconveniences imposed by the “no fly” and “selectee” lists upon persons who show up at an airport, and suddenly find that they are on one of these idiotic lists – and have to essentially prove that they are innocent and not a “threat to aviation.” When one takes a look at WHO is being treated this way at airports- they turn out to be pacifists, Catholic nuns, civil right attorneys, political organizers, journalists and authors who have written books critical of US administrations and policies, and even people who have publicly said “George Bush is an idiot” (a true statement). The “no fly” list and passenger data transfers- are absolutely advocated by the American right-wing and are the banner of what we can expect as far as religious/racial/political profiling of air travelers.

  • Unimpressed

    As I have said before, this is fear of an emerging non-white population. I have been racially profiled numerous times while traveling to America and Britain despite being a Hindu. The only times I was passed over when there was someone darker on the same flight.
    The US routinely violates the sovereignty of other nations(invasions, drone attacks etc) so I don’t see why anyone should respect their laws. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did not Uncle Sam start a war with Mexico and annex much of what is today the southwestern United States?

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