Friday, April 30, 2010

Arizona Immigration Mad-Libs

Perusing Wikipedia (like I do) in regards to the recent Arizona immigration flap, I looked up Gov. Jan Brewer and then her predecessor and current head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. I came across this section of her page:

Right-wing extremism memo controversy

Napolitano was the subject of controversy after a Department of Homeland Security threat assessment report initiated during the administration of George W. Bush, entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," was made public in April 2009. The report suggested several factors, including the election of the first black or mixed race President in the person of Barack Obama, perceived future gun control measures, illegal immigration, the economic downturn beginning in 2008, the abortion controversy, and disgruntled military veterans' possible vulnerability to recruitment efforts by extremist groups as potential risk factors regarding right-wing extremism recruitment.

On April 16, 2009, the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed suit against DHS on behalf of controversial radio talk show host and political commentator Michael Savage, executive director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform Gregg Cunningham, and Iraqi War Marine veteran Kevin Murray. Savage stated that the document "encourages law enforcement officers throughout the nation to target and report citizens to federal officials as suspicious right-wing extremists and potential terrorists because of their political beliefs."

(sources for those quotes can be found on the bottom of the Wiki page)

Savage's quote at the end of the passage got to me, and now I'd like to play Mad-Libs. Here's the original quote, taken from, 9/25/09:

"The lawsuit further claims DHS encouraged law enforcement officers throughout the nation to target and report citizens to federal officials as suspicious rightwing extremists and potential terrorists because of their political beliefs."

Now it's my turn:

"The [law] further [requires] law enforcement officers throughout [Arizona] to target and report [anyone] to federal officials as suspicious [immigrants] and potential terrorists because of their [ethnicity or country of origin]."

For a second, let's forget about the immigration "debate," and let's look at simple Logic 101 structure here: in this case, the dangers of suspicion are cited as unlawful and overreaching, but for some reason, one side has every right to be suspicious, and the other side is considered trampling on freedom. According to Michael Savage, you're not allowed to be suspicious of anyone being a right-wing extremist with a large arsenal; according to many on the right, you ARE allowed to be suspicious of anyone who looks different of being an illegal immigrant. I like consistency, but this ain't it.

Back to the issue itself, this game says something about the line of reasoning used by supporters who claim this law isn't based on race nor lead to racial profiling. However, the law is pretty clear that in order to arrest someone on these grounds, they can do as little as look like a certain type of people, which is the very definition of racial profiling. Should someone forget their passport or proof of status at home, should someone's accent be thick enough, should seem foreign enough, they are subject to arrest. To paraphrase Seth Meyers, since when has the phrase "WHERE ARE YOUR PAPERS?" ever been a heroic, patriotic call?

There are a number on the right who are not extremists by any means and look down upon this law and its constitutionality like the rest of the country. Reports are coming in of Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement personnel that are refusing to enforce this debacle. That sort of unity shows growing opinion, if not for immigrants, then at least with the idea that some actions go too far. It lends credence and validity to complaints around the country; you're likelier to listen to points made by those that are generally on your side, rather than the opposition. At least these conservatives are consistent. I’d like to think that they would like a much more peaceful resolution to the immigration debate. We’re a country of variety and diversity, not a country for the fringe, or one lone state.