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W.E. Gutman: Arizona, patriotism and democracy

Posted: May 7, 2010 7:28 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Trapdoor spiders are formidable and cunning predators. They lie in wait, the tip of their fangs glistening with venom, poised to strike at anything that moves.

Some readers remind me of that abominable arachnid. Shielded by anonymity, they pounce on anything that conflicts with their vision of reality. They hold their own doctrinaire court of public opinion. They orate with professorial smugness. When exasperated, they resort to ad hominem attacks. They are the dissenters, the posse of “No.” They disagree with everything.

If they only knew how I thrive on their pontifications.

Let’s take a break from the “gloom and doom” of previous columns, and reflect on three timely topics — the Arizona immigration law, patriotism and democracy. I expect to be promptly ambushed.

The Arizona law takes “states’ rights” to unconstitutional extremes. It is racist and likely to be reversed. This should not prevent cops from engaging in racial profiling; they’ve been doing that anyway. I don’t think blue-eyed Scandinavians — even if they’re here illegally — or green-eyed Jews sporting a Hollywood tan have anything to fear.

The history of capitalism is rife with xenophobic and racist convulsions, especially in times of economic crisis. “Nationalists” always blame minorities for the woes that afflict a nation.

Early immigrants — Irish, Italian and Jewish — were conveniently singled out and paid the high price of “assimilation.” Now, it’s the turn of America’s Spanish-speaking people to suffer the ire of white America for such self-inflicted financial calamities as two long, illegal, immoral, unwinnable wars; corruption in high places; and the scandalous exoneration of felonious lending institutions. All this while the bankers and money lenders — the true architects of the global crisis — continue to defraud the public.

By Republican decree, and with the consent of 70 percent of its inhabitants, Arizona was turned into the first police state, when Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law. The statute criminalizes some 460,000 undocumented residents. It allows the police to use racial profiling to detain anyone they deem “reasonably suspicions.”

It also turns Arizona into the first laboratory for the new political and socioeconomic order that globalizers are intent on spreading.

Arizona is bankrupt, with a budget deficit of almost $3 billion, and an unemployment index of about 20 percent. State parks are closed, several government buildings are for sale and businesses are teetering on the brink of insolvency.

With the new law, lauded by neo-Nazi organizations and the 540 white supremacist “militias,” houses are being emptied and immigrants, both undocumented and legal, embark on a new exodus for fear of police persecution and racial discrimination. Bill Davis, an organizer of local militias, is recruiting war veterans with “experience” in killing “to hunt illegals.”

A third of Arizona’s population is Hispanic, many of them immigrants who produce $44 billion in revenue, of which $29 billion is generated by 280,000 full-time and 80,000 part-time undocumented workers, who pay $1.5 billion in taxes. Should this depraved piece of legislation endure, Arizona will become a phantom state.

The first rule of patriotism is to recognize the imperfections and errors of one’s homeland. A good mother loves her children, but she’s aware of their flaws and weaknesses.

For the record, I acknowledge and salute America’s virtues. America gave me more than I had the right to expect; perhaps more than I deserved. But that shouldn’t prevent me from deploring the mythical image it has of itself, censuring its foreign policy and vilifying the hypocrisy of its Puritanical facade, the larceny of its plutocratic elite and the rapacious nature of the kleptocracy.

Previous columns didn’t spare Israel, where I spent the very best years of my childhood. I published vitriolic commentaries against Benjamin Netanyahu (with whom I worked when he was Israel’s ambassador to the U.N.) and repeatedly protested the construction of settlements on occupied lands. I have great affection for my native France but, when warranted, I criticize it with as much vehemence as I do Israel, the United States, Central America (where I was on assignment for 12 years), Russia and other locales. I am an equal-opportunity polemicist. Sometimes the truth must overshadow sentimentality. There is nothing personal in my diatribes.

Democracy’s greatest weakness is that it tolerates the existence of undemocratic, albeit, evil doctrines espoused by men who would promptly deny others the very rights that democracy grants them. These are the same men behind the Arizona law, the chauvinists who disfigure the very essence of America under the pretext that the Constitution grants them these democratic rights. They are to be feared more than pitied or ridiculed.

W. E. Gutman is a veteran journalist and author. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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