"Show me your papers, are your papers in order?" This phrase was made famous, or rather infamous, by the Gestapo, and will soon be heard throughout the state of Arizona, (updated 4/23) Now that their Governor has signed into law SB1070, a vague and broad law giving law enforcement the unprecedented power to stop and check the documentation of any individual where "reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.."
There are no guidelines as to what "reasonable suspicion" is, but knowing the reality on the ground, it is obvious to all that "reasonable suspicion" means those looking like, sounding like, or acting like general stereotypes of undocumented immigrants coming from Latin America. In short -- this is a bill that allows police to suspect all Latinos of being undocumented, and gives them the right to question their status at any time, for any reason.
The legality of this will of course be challenged as the rest of the nation and the world reacts in horror at what many who support immigration reform have long warned would be the consequence of allowing far right politicians to control the debate around immigration, and write enforcement-only laws which drip of xenophobia and racism.
This law also uncovers the unbelievable hypocrisy of the right -- those who have threatened to take up arms to "take their country back" from the brink of socialism, to defend freedom against tyranny. Where are you Tea Party, to decry this obvious encroachment on the individual liberties of the citizens of Arizona? Where are you, conservatives, decrying the use of government funds and resources to form a "police state" where the populace can be stopped for no other reason than for moving about freely in public?
While the right have been busy chasing socialist unicorns and barricading themselves against gun controlling Yeti, a real world example of everything they claim to be defending this country against has been grown like a prickly bush in their own lawn-chaired backyards.
But I forget. They support this measure, because it's against "the other." This doesn't effect "real Americans," but only outsiders who look different from them and who shouldn't be here anyway.
What of fellow citizens? What of the millions of US born and naturalized persons, or those who are in the process of becoming so, who might share the physical characteristics of these "outsiders?" Shall we pin our papers to our coats when walking on the street to avoid harassment? Perhaps we should stitch patches to our sleeves so the police can easily tell who we are and what our status is? If you can ask for papers of any one on the street, why not at their homes? Better yet, why not relocate us to a central part of town, so that the authorities can have an easier time monitoring our movements, all in the name of keeping out the undesirables.
Where are your documents? In a safe deposit box? Our bad, sorry we kept you locked up over the weekend and sent your husband on a plane to the middle of Guatemala, but we got a tip from your neighbor that aliens might be living in this apartment.
We see now where the right plans to take this country. We see that their cries of liberty are not about liberty at all, but the simple wailings of an angry mob longing to be rid of "the other."
And what of "The Maverick" that never was? What of the Senator from Arizona, the one who claimed to have the temperament to lead our country? What of the man who just years ago, supported comprehensive immigration reform? He now supports his wayward statesmen, saying this legislation is necessary because these people "were causing accidents on the freeway." My god man. Are you so desperate to continue your senatorial ride that you'd hitch your cart to any ass in front of you? And by ass, I mean mule, of course.
The farce that we are witnessing before us cannot be ignored or defended as an isolated occurrence. Already we see an unprecedented raise of violence against those suspected of being so-called aliens across the country. From "beaner hopping" in Long Island, NY to the deportation of lawful Immigrants, this wave of anti immigrant and by extension, anti-Latino hate crime is up and has very real, very tragic consequences. Families live in fear for their children, and even multi-generation Americans like myself feel the stress when a society has decided to place Sarah Palin's crosshairs on our backs.
So show us, oh self proclaimed "defenders of liberty," that you are not just a band of angry White men still bitter from the last election, and defend us. What better example of government overreach than one that would force your fellow countrymen to walk under a cloud of suspicion, fearful that if one day we leave our wallets at home, we can be arrested, incarcerated, and shipped off to another country? You should be descending upon the Arizona legislature like you have on Congress, who merely wanted to reform healthcare for its citizens. Where is your tears for a country in crisis, Mr. Beck?
But we already know what the answer to all this is -- those rallies about freedom aren't about freedom at all. It's not about liberty of the universal kind. It is hypocritical posturing to intimidate the rest of the country to allow the right back in the driver's seat, so that they can pass legislation like Arizona's SB1070.
I fear for an America where liberty can be so fickle and discriminate.