Last week some disturbing news broke in my neck of the woods. The long and short is that a school in Prescott, Arizona was painting a rather joyous and exuberant mural that included some of the school’s students.
Certain individuals drove past the school and shouted racist comments. A local demagogue got on the radio and fomented action. The artists were instructed to “lighten” the skin of some of the kids’ faces.
Then there was an about-face, and the radio commentator got fired. (In this economy, I hope that means he’ll starve to death under a freeway underpass in six months.) The artists were called back in to re-darken the kids’ faces.
And if you think this is unrelated to SB 1070, you’re simply not in the room. This overt bigotry is a direct consequence of that filth-encrusted excrescence of a “law”.
What he had to say is something you’ll want to read, but I also posted a reply to his site. It’ll get there eventually — he actually self-moderates, reading every comment before approving or rejecting it — but I thought I’d put it here as well.
After all, I live in this goddamned state.
‘Racism was ingrained in daily life. It wasn’t the overt racism of the South, but more like the pervading background against which which we lived. We were here and they were there and, well, we wished them well, but that was how it was.’
It’s still that way here. I’m writing from behind the entrenchments in Arizona, and I can assure you that it’s about as bad as you might believe.
SB 1070 — the “Ihre Papieren, bitte” law — has given troglodytes of every hue and stripe a sense of empowerment that they should never again have possessed. Even people whom I regard as functionally intelligent say things such as, “They should all go back home” and “My ancestors came here legally; they can do the same.”
Never mind the fact, of course, that the US is entirely and solely a nation of illegal immigrants. It was our ancestors who forcibly took the land from its original inhabitants.
The irony, however, seems lost on many. Illegal immigration is happening, sure, but the ills associated with it do not correlate. Crime rates have been steadily dropping for the last decade, not increasing. Illegal immigrants do not represent a fraction of the drain on the medical and social system that indigent, lazy, ignorant US citizens do. (Many of those vociferously opposed to “Mexicans” somehow getting “free health care” are themselves living off the public dole.)
So even fairly bright people are getting swept up in the wave of overreaction to a nonexistent problem. The only response they seem to be able to manage any more is one that is fear-based. Full of worry — manufactured by demagogues and spread by misinformation — and full of quiet xenophobia.
So they support laws that make Arizona look a hell of a lot more like Germany ca. 1934 than anyone really wants to admit. They say it’s to “get Washington’s attention”, but we all know about the wink and the nod that goes along with it.
They want to build an honest-to-godless wall between the US and Mexico. They don’t seem to be able to process the fact that no border wall, ever in human history, has succeeded in its intent — and has never said anything favorable about the country that built the wall in the first place.
And some of them feel it’s all right to use words that are crafted and intended solely to harm others, based on the shallowest of all conceivable “reasons” — pigmentation, culture, language.
There have been times in the past when Arizona’s politics have frustrated me, embarrassed me, annoyed me.
Now, they’re making me ashamed.
And they’re worrying me. Apparently some 20 other states are considering adopting measures like Arizona’s. 20 other states believe they’ve got sufficient support from sufficient crypto-bigots to pull a stunt like this one again.
And if those laws should pass in those states, you can be sure that the racists (and probably the homophobes and misogynists) will be driving down your streets as well, shouting inexcusable things to schoolchildren.
Shame them, when you can, when you hear them. Shame them back into the respectful silence they should maintain when in the presence of their betters.
Shame them in order to let them know that their bigotry and hate will not be tolerated in a civilized society.
Shame them until they crawl back under their wretched little stones.
For the love of decency and humanity, shame them.
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