Being the abject pessimist that I am, I’ve always had the feeling that fascism would eventually rear its ugly head in the U.S., but now that it actually has, I’m just taken aback. There is no pleasure in these kinds of prophecies coming true.
SB1070 is now law in Arizona, and having brown skin or speaking Spanish is now enough probable cause to strip people of their constitutional rights, unless they can provide sufficient proof that they are deserving of these rights.
So now, if I want to visit the neighboring state to the east of here, I have to have a passport or carry my birth certificate. Even though I’m an American citizen, and I was born in the U.S.
Because, who are we kidding here? Can I really entrust my liberty to the hope that I won’t ever get pulled over or be considered “suspicious”? And if I do get stopped, can I really hope that a cop will really know the difference between a brown-skinned Filipino American citizen and a brown-skinned undocumented immigrant from south of the border?
As someone who has, at one time or another, been mistaken for Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Samoan, Guatemalan, Japanese, and Mexican, I can’t help but conclude that racial profiling is totally worthless as a crime-fighting tool. If you can’t properly identify the person you’re profiling, how can it be possibly be helpful? What this means is that if they’re looking for Islamic terrorists, I can be detained. If they’re looking undocumented immigrants and I don’t have my papers on me, they can lock me up. If they’re looking for yakuza, ninjas, or sumo wrestlers, I can be held for questioning. It’s abysmally stupid.
On the other hand, racial profiling is an excellent tool for oppressing people of color. Particularly people of color who are citizens of the United States with rights protected by the Constitution. All they need to do is assert that they’re looking for a person with brown-skin, and it’s a simple matter for them to handcuff you, put you in the back of a police car, and send you to the proper agency for processing.
It’s really hard not to think of all the science fiction novels I’ve read depicting dystopian crypto-fascist states. Orwell and Philip K Dick’s heads would implode. Or all the World War II movies I’ve watched that are set in Nazi-occupied territory. Ausweis, bitte! And you don’t even have to sew a colored shape into your clothing.
The extra-freaky thing is that there are plenty of people here in California who think this is an excellent law, and that we should enact one just like it.
But what’s done is done. What do we do now? What can I do to help free Arizona from fascist tyranny?