Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Xenophobia Is Even Harder To Stomach Than It Is To Spell

 It seems the mayor of the town where I currently reside posted a YouTube video in which he questioned the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate. The letters column of our local paper has been buzzing about this for weeks. There are a few opportunists calling for the mayor's resignation and bringing to bear a recitation of his other dick moves. There are several people pointing out what I first thought when I heard the report- namely, that birthers are old meme now. So 2008. The man's already been president for two years, and the legitimacy of his citizenship has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the courts, making the birthers about as politically relevant as JFK assassination theorists and tinfoil-hat-wearers. I was surprised at how many letters the paper received howling that Obama should just produce the birth certificate. Hey, sounds reasona- WHOOPS HE HAS.

Now, I realize that most of these people don't actually believe that someone born on foreign soil is incapable of being a good public servant. They're just looking for any way to discredit Obama because they don't like him. This method, however, rubs me the wrong way in the same way it does when people make much of Obama's middle name being Hussein, and not just because by that same logic everyone named Ted is in league with the Unabomber. It shows the ugly face of American xenophobia.  Xenophobia is, broadly, the fear and hatred of anyone unlike you. (Which is different from Xenu-phobia. Fear of Scientology is, in my eyes, totally justified.)

This same prejudicial sentiment was demonstrated to a frightening and disgusting degree in Arizona this past week. The Arizona governor signed into law the most stringent immigration restrictions yet. The bill makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and mandates that all non-citizens carry their immigration papers on their person. It also states that without proof of legal residency, people may be arrested and detained on suspicion of violating this law.

Let me say that again. This law allows police to stop anyone without cause, ask to see their papers, and arrest them if they cannot immediately prove that their presence in the country is legal. To put this in perspective, think about all the times you've run to the grocery store or the post office and forgotten your driver's license. Now, imagine that any of those times, you could have been taken into police custody and threatened with deportation. If this doesn't bother you, it should. This isn't just an attack on immigration, it's an attack on personal privacy in the most repugnant way-- oppression masquerading as patriotism. Incredibly, proponents maintain that it won't lead to racial profiling, but I'm pretty damn sure the Arizona cops aren't going to be pulling over a carload of white men in suits and asking to see their passports. This law codifies racial profiling in its presumption that Hispanic people are guilty of illegal immigration until proven innocent.

The thing that perhaps troubles me most about American xenophobia is how it smacks of hypocrisy. With very few exceptions, we are all descended from immigrants, and we are all squatting on stolen land. Tea partiers and immigration reformers would do well to remember that. Time was, multiculturalism was considered one of America's strengths, even its cultural backbone. In this rich and various soil innovation, determination, open-mindedness, and compassion could thrive. I've said it before, about many other issues, and I'll say it again: We, as a country, are better than this. This sort of vindictive, hostile defense is beneath us.


Posted by Silent Five @ 9:32 PM

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What say we move to Canada and become foreigners ourselves, and socialists to boot? I share your disgust. Oh, and about yesterday's blog...the naked interview: gymnoinquest? Could be scary...

Posted by Anonymous scilla @ 10:13 AM #

Nice blog post. I agree with pretty much all of it LoL. Even the comment about moving to Canada! Let's all move there, eh ... clean air, fresh water, and vast wilderness still untouched. Woot!

I was shocked to hear about this new law in Arizona and can only hope that it does not catch on in other states. I am most definitely thankful to NOT be living in that state :)

Posted by Blogger AnnMarie @ 4:59 PM #
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Word of the Week

gymnosophy [jim-NAH-so-fee]

n. Philosophical, amusing, or nonsensical insights realized when naked, as in the shower or in bed. (recent coinage: att. S. Galasso, 2010)

Victoria and Albert enjoyed a spot of postprandial concupiscence culminating in a night of gymnosophy and coffee and crumpets at dawn.

The Silent Top Five: Bacon-Flavored Desserts

1) Bacon cheesecake.
2) Bacon gumballs.
3) Bacon ice cream.
4) Bacon-orange bars.
5) Bacon apple pie.

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This is all in no way meant to incur copyright-infringement-related wrath. I'm harmless. I promise. Oh, and if you're offended by anything I may post herein, I guarantee I didn't mean to do so (unless, of course, you are a humorless prig. In which case, go right on and be offended, with my blessings.)