Politics & Law

Racialized nationalism in Arizona

Evelyn Nakano Glenn

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are 2.1 million U.S. citizens of Hispanic heritage in the State of Arizona. Under a new law passed by the Arizona legislature and signed by Governor Brewer, each and every single one of these persons — child, adult, elderly, male, female — is now subject to arrest by local police, should an individual officer have reason to believe that said individual is in any way “suspicious” (e.g. a dark complexion or black hair, or even what the policeman perceives to be an “accent”). If the arrested person is not carrying papers that can prove his or her U.S. citizenship, they are subject to immediate arrest, imprisonment, and deportation. (There are also an estimated 460,000 undocumented — i.e., “illegal” — persons in the state, some of whom have been there for 30 or more years, and have been working, paying taxes, and in some cases serving in the military).

This anti-immigrant law was introduced by a white supremacist and Holocaust-denying member of the Arizona legislature, Russell Pearce. Rachel Maddow reported on her MSNBC show that the legislation was written by Kris Kobach, who for many years was an attorney for the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization dedicated to maintaining a Euro-American majority in the U.S. FAIR was funded for many years by the Pioneer Fund. According to Maddow, the Pioneer Fund was founded 70 years ago to promote eugenics and has long supported research aimed at proving the genetic superiority of white people and efforts to promote the gene pool of pre-revolutionary white settlers. Notwithstanding the legislation’s neo-Nazi and white supremacists roots, Governor Jan Brewer claimed that the law would be implemented “in a fair way” without racial profiling. After signing the bill the Governor was asked if she knew what an illegal alien looked like (which is the basis for an arrest), and she stuttered, “I do not know,” but “I think there people in Arizona who assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like!!” In other words, she was unwilling to say the words, but she stated that others would “know one if they saw one.” Scary.

But, as we gaze across the Colorado River border between California and Arizona and snicker at those benighted and obviously racist people on the other side, should we really be so complacent and sure of ourselves? Are we so sure that the same racist sentiments don’t reside in our own state, indeed in our own legislature? Should we not recall the limp response of the University of California statewide office to the outrageously racist acts at UC Davis and UC San Diego just a few weeks ago? And where is the support from Californians for meaningful and effective immigration reform that could offer pathways to citizenship, or at least legal standing, for a large proportion of the estimated 12 million undocumented persons who reside in California and elsewhere in the U.S.?

It may be hard to imagine how Arizona could out-do itself in terms of oppressive racist legislation, but, just as this issue of Faultlines was going to press, that is exactly what happened. On May 11, Arizona Gov. Brewer signed a bill making it illegal to teach ethnic studies in any public schools in the state. The rationale for this gross intrusion by the legislature into school curricula is that ethnic studies courses promote “ethnic chauvisim,” and racial resentment of whites. The primary sponsor of the legislation is Arizona State Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne, who is running for Attorney General on a platform targeting Mexican Americans and other minorities. Mr. Horne told reporters on May 12 that his next target would be courses on Asian American as well as African American Studies.

The new Arizona law prohibits any educational activity that is “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.” The substantial Hopi and Navaho student population will be spared because the teaching of Native American history and culture is mandated by federal law. However, the teaching of Latino studies in heavily Hispanic parts of the state will be banned. Indeed, Mr. Horne has stated that if elected Attorney General his highest priority will be to “go after Mexican American studies.”

It is unclear how the legislation will effect the state’s major universities, but both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are state-supported schools, and could become targets after all secondary schools in the state are cle ansed of their ethnic studies classes and programs.

This terrible situation is not just Arizona’s. We have amongst us, right here on the UC Berkeley campus, undocumented students, who are trying to get a decent education while also in constant fear of arrest and deportation. Most are struggling to pay tuition because they are ineligible for financial aid and can’t get jobs in the formal labor market. I have some of these students in my own classes and have met others at conferences and workshops. I know them to be smart, hardworking students who bring rich experiences and insights to the classroom and to the university community. But as long as racism is so prevalent, and as long as anti-Latino hatred is so widespread, it is virtually impossible for these dedicated students to succeed and start on the road to legal recognition. In this climate of anti-immigrant fever, it is unlikely that the California Legislature will pass legislation to make state and university funded financial aid available to undocumented students or that the U.S. Congress will pass immigration reform legislation that would provide them with pathways to citizenship. Hopefully there will be sufficient revulsion against Arizona’s law to energize citizen action aimed at immigration reform.

This article was orginally published by UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender’s Faultlines.

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Comments to "Racialized nationalism in Arizona":
    • Carl Williams

      I thank you all for wieghing in, this is one of the freedoms guaranteed to us by the visions of the founding fathers of this Noble experiment,Freedom of speech,claim your wright ,or abdicate freedom,freedom is not free.The price of freedom is eternal vigilance

      [Report abuse]

    • Carl Williams

      Some of the things I am reading in regard to Az.Bill 1070 is disturbing,
      many of the blogs that equate them self’s with white nationalism I find scary,young children in pictures with guns,extolling the virtues of the white Race,and how the time has come, fight back.Who are they fighting them self’s.White supremists,are they Mad? the last 65 years of history regarding the insanity of a hole Generation, of one of the most culturally advanced Nations of the twentieth century,was high jacked[Germany] by the
      bitterness of the hash realities of the resulting defeat in WW1.The Geneva
      convention went to far in retribution.Caused the huge back lash that brought Hitler to power.The murder 6000,000 Jews,600,000 Gypsy,s 3000,000 Pols,the total count may be a staggering 100,000,000 deaths from the madness of a belief Aryan supremacy,white might,justified by worst living conditions any country has suffered as a result of loosing a war in History,excluding the Roman Empire.All of you folks who are thinking of embracing the white Aryan supremest ideology should read,Mein Kampf
      which simply means my struggle written by Adolf Hitler,when he was in prison for treason.what would America look like if Nazi style concentration camps were laid through out the land.And later if we were found to be wrong,about the direction the Aryan cause took us, would we face the same shame as Germany,post WW11. it is my estimation it will take Germany 500 years to shed the guilt of Nazi atrocities.

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    • Carl Williams

      Mr St John I resinate with you in respect to your trepidations about the future and your grand children.I have a son born when I was 50 I had the temerity to think this boy could be the new future,of this place we call America.That I might use all the experience gathered,I read the boy the Harvard classics before gindergarten, he could read anything.He was identified as gate candidate, my aspirations ran away with me,wow what a
      fool I was to think he might have a better life than me,not shackled with the over whelming dept of the ineptituds we and the last 3 generation have heaped on our wonderful,talented,inspirational youths that do not deserve the mountain of gargantuan dept they will shoulder before maturity.I can only guess at the depression and emotion,these young will cope with, shame on us for not being more insightful politically.We were to willing to think that are elected representatives would serve ours,and the future of our children.

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    • Carl Williams

      I could not agree with you more Mr.St.john that homo sapiens are in a regressional spiral,science and anthropologist agree that brain size is
      is shrinking,by all estimates 20% less than 40,000 years ago when neanderthals roamed the earth,it is suggested that body mass may have played a roll in this devolving backwards to homo troglodytes.Arm yourself
      stone age tools,and weapons there still may be an outside chance,to return to a more compliant resident of planet earth,rather than the cancer we now represent.Humans don’t live in harmony with nature.It is our nature to dominate nature.a good planet is hard to find

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    • Carl Williams

      We have met the enemy and he is us.Maybe the UC system is the enemy think of all the money spent on the kind of education that the students can’t use
      just because you get a degree does not mean you can use it.The UC system is broken our young minds are giving what they think the educators want,from the text book usually written by the educator who is teaching the class,conflict of interest is the only word that comes to mind.Why is this not punishable.Walk about ask anyone you meet things like how many people live in America,how many votes does it take to make a majority in the house
      who is buried in Grans tomb.The direction education is leading the young is
      and abomination.The banking system has found a new way to burden the youth
      of America with on and average not 4 years graduating but,4 to 8 years.
      costing and astounding,hold on to your hats,226,000 per individual.On the average twenty years to pay back at a total cost with interest 500,000
      what a bum bang for the buck,and after all the work and all the gargantuan cost,you still may not be able to think critically,or find a job and put to use the things that you though would make you marketable,
      because you were not taught the things that are transferable.You were just absorbing the regurgitation of the blurb.Try not to be depressed stuff happens

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    • Carl Williams

      Consider what it would take for Americans to contemplate the true realities
      of destitution.For a moment indulge me,A small banana Republic in central America was dominated by one family for two hundred years,the poverty and outrages perpetrated against those poor Indians,that had the crushing might of Spain,then the corporate empires i.e banana marketeers controlling every aspect of life,keeping them from any economic advancement two hundred years of grass shacks dirt floors,bad water no mobility,cast system like culture
      then someone said why doyou take this kind of treatment,here is the future to your babies not growing up like you,we offer you a way out of this sewer the growers have you swimming in.Now I am not a comme,or a revolutionary
      I served in one of the most unpopular wars America has to date fought i was demeaned,scorned,ridiculed.And all I wanted to feel was how my Dad felt when he returned from fighting the Japanese in WWII however that was not to be.depression and guilt were my companions,self loathing,I kept myself in drug induced state for five years,what a wast of life,what could I have been doing,well anything but drugs.Lets get back to the Indians in nicquragwa. The Santanistas saw an opportunity to exploit these pore Indians,their argument was what do you have to lose,dirt floor two hundred years of the same conditions,here we we offer you a chance
      a Russian made ak-47 what have you got to lose.Well America is not that far along for those solutions,however things are slipsliding away

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    • Car Williams

      Mr. St.John taking about what happened? FDR only months before he passed,made and Radio address to the American public that proposed a new
      Bill of wrights for the people of America,It was his contention to give the people of this Nation a fighting chance against Global elitism, which he was very aware the new Bill of wrights was to include the wright to live in good home, a wage that could elevate you out of poverty, health care for all but death intervened and the Military industrial complex, made sure these progressive and necessary and natural human needs were tabled because, the new Boggyman on the world block had to be stopped. or we would live under the yoke communism hence the speech Eisenhower made alluding to who we should fear. 30,000,000 million man march Wall street with Mikel More

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    • Anthony St. John

      Thanks you Carl, we have failed to take advantage of the legacy of opportunities produced for us by The Greatest Generation.

      One must wonder if we can correct the situation in time to prevent climate change disasters. social chaos due to the out of control politics of Us/Them hatreds, and the new greed based aristocracy regardless of consequences to humanity, from destroying quality of life in this century.

      There was a time in the 60s when I thought UC could produce a solution to any problem that threatened humanity, especially with the greatest legacy in history passed on to us by The Greatest Generation, but I now admit that I was a incredibly naive as evolutionary biologists like E.O. Wilson, Ehrlich et al. have proven.

      Pogo’s great 1970 Earth Day slogan “We have met the enemy and he is us” may well be our epitaph.

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    • Carl Williams

      I loved what Mr. St John said in regard to greatest generation,the one’s who suffered through the great depression, volunteered in mass to stop Japan and Germany from global domination,and their humility was astounding they didn’t complain about anything,they raised their families without complaint worked in factories, labored two jobs, came home each night to dinner played with their kids but did not bitch. While they were asleep elitist planed the new world order. Two tiered societies world wide. And America was so impressed with the Greatest Generation that our leaders did not find it prudent to put a memorial on the mall in appreciation of their sacrifices
      Until 2005 45,55,65,75,85,95,2005———-7 decades bla bla bla Americans are spoiled fools and now what we do may be to late? no one wants to do the heavy lifting for the makeover.

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    • Carl Williams

      There are many points of view here to be debated,It would seem not many visit this sight.Or perhaps no one want to tackle a real issue of which I have enter 7. divergent points of view can be the only way to solve these issues

      [Report abuse]

    • Carl Williams

      This forum is one that it would seen,not ready to deal with the true realities of a country that is full.42% of all inmates in the penal system
      are undocumented illegal in the state of California.thats 35000 dollars per
      year to house.Do the math on that and see how many teachers that would put back to work? another thing no one wants to talk about is the jobs that Americans would fill if many of the illegals would go home,and make the Rulers of there Countries find solutions to the employment problems at home
      novel idea? stop making America the solution to everyones bad leaders.
      yea I know all to well your lame idea that Americans will not do the work that illegals will do.Go home and see Americans do the work! There are by all estimations 15,000,000. Americans out of work,and thats not the real count.Because after you no longer drawing unemployment you are not counted
      as unemployed. Fix the place you come from,instead wrecking this place
      Our politicians are ever bit polluted as yours,they only care about there re’election campaign war chest they keep there money in,which is not to be given back in the event they are not re-elected,plus no taxes.Grow a pair FIX your own house,and stop telling us what we should do about your problem of not being able to find a job in your own place of berth.Grow up as a people make the changes at home that need to be made.Struggle fight back at those who will keep you down.Be more political vote,make sure itis a fair vote,and all are counted,polls are regulated.It is your house that needs to be fixed,jobs created,politicals held to a higher standard,money not going to mordida for the ones who don’t need it.

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    • Carl Williams

      A wasp types should bow to the haters of our life style.WE should open the borders to all who want to come here,we should make available to anyone
      the social welfare net that was created to help the ones who paid into it.
      to any and all who want to us it.because we are a nation of immigrants all
      should be allowed to migrate here,they should be allowed to bring there families,in the event the immigrants do not have the means to support them selfs, the social welfare net will be there safety net.If the immigrants can’t find work they should join with the unemployed who are collecting unemployment also, the unemployment should be extended,when it is past the
      13 weeks,to go on as long as the needer is not able to find a job,that they will be competing with, the local legal people who are also on unemployment,that can only be the fairest way for all

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    • Jose Martin

      I truly believe that this law of the state of Arizona has proven to be very good for the integration of Hispanics in the United States. I mean, soon after the enactment of the law, it has raised a debate and most people reject it (especially in other states).

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    • Carl Williams

      I hear all these coments about how this nation was made by all , the differant nationalities. I have no proplem with that.hower; the main reason this country evolved was rational self interest. all the other stuff takes a back seat
      It is not very clear to the greater population that this country was disscovered by and Eurapean,when there were allready eighty million indidguous population of the real Americans. Kind of not relavent to the suposition of disscovery.We all Europeans took this place from someone else,so,it would appear that the migration issue is sort of convoluted,
      manafest destony,Monro doctoran,etc opportunests
      stole this place that is now home to all but the real owners.

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    • Carl Williams

      Immigration.The people who come here today,legal
      or illegal,come here at someone’s expense.In all
      likelihood becase the countries they migrate from are incapable of offering them and opportunity to prosper.A weakness that they are not prepared to acknowledge.This tide of migration is world wide spawning new realities,that face us all down.we as a nation
      are not prepared to deal with this tide. our
      infrastructure is straining at the seems to meet
      the obligations that are law.the tax base is shrinking do in some part to so many low paying law jobs,outsourcing,loss of manufacturing,global competition. There house is in a shambles,and they want to bring it here,
      we are not the panascia,but maybe the failure.We did lead the world down the road to where we are?

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    • Carl Williams

      Mr St. John you are on to root failure of our educator- they deseminate information to studens
      but, they do not teach them how to think critically,because they are affraid to arouse critacisum,which is nessessary to spark debate
      dare to be contraversial- the words of the late
      Great actor Charlton Heston. Carl Williams

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    • Carl Williams

      Anthony St. John for spoks person of the human race,this man could educate,all of the nukle dragers.the real and most important part of what Mr.ST. John is saying,is that we are,to includ everyone still very focused on the wrong picture.A very few proably 1% of the population
      on the planit are on the bigest power trip,money can buy,however;It is nothing in comparison to power[the last afradesia]Henny Kissinger

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    • Anthony St. John

      Thanks for your feedback Carl and Karl.

      The saddest fact is that UCOP has allowed racism to get out of control on too many campuses in the UC system.

      This proves once again that our system of education is failing because professors, scholars and administrators throughout America are not making a difference to improve mankind. They basically observe and report in their classrooms and books, but fail to produce and influence institutional leaders to make life better for the human race, so morality continues to get worse.

      The latest incident was last week at UCSD:
      “Noose found at UCSD may be latest racial prank”
      http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jul/29/noose-found-at-ucsd-may-be-latest-racial-prank/

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    • Carl Williams

      For your information,anyone not carrying ID. in any state is usually detain or scutinized. dha.You it would seem would have it so that people could walk around without any form of ID.
      lets consider the ramifications of that post 9/11,maybe the only thing people should be required to carry is Guns,or plastic explosives

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    • Anthony St. John '63

      Evelyn and Rosemary, this post and far too many events in this new century so far have raised a very interesting point, that homo sapiens are devolving into homo troglodytes, where our actions are controlled more and more by our amygdala and less and less by our prefrontal cortex.

      There are just too many things going very badly wrong in the 21st century that are destroying the legacy of the Greatest Generation. In addition to “Racialized nationalism in Arizona” that you document there has been the Bush-Cheney Autocracy that made every effort to overthrow American Democracy and the Rule of Law to produce Neocon rule, worldwide terrorism rising out of the Middle East due to our failed hopes and dreams for a UN that could have produced worldwide peace and prosperity for humanity at last, Congressional political hatreds that are destroying humanitarian efforts to make America the greatest nation in history, increasingly frequent stock market threats against the world economy, religious leaders that enable immorality, even intellectual institutions like UC with our continuing LLNL NIF dedication to H(olocaust)-Bombs for profit instead of achieving Teller’s half century old promise of controlled fusion that could have prevented out of control climate change consequences we are already experiencing, and BP’s control over UC research as well as perpetuation of domination by the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower gravely warned us about half a century ago.

      Events keep proving that we may study history but we sure don’t learn enough from it to achieve worldwide peace and prosperity, thus we must be devolving.

      And I really doubt if any ape would want anything to do with us, especially if the evolution of their prefrontal cortex achieves the devolving state of our PFC.

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    • Anthony St. John '63

      Evelyn, one of the worst tragedies today in 2010 is the fact that attacks against race and gender are as bad as they have ever been throughout the world in spite of the fact that WWII victories provided the best opportunities in history to produce universal peace and prosperity.

      The saddest example is that fact that California provides the best opportunities in the world to overcome racial, religious, elitist and political hatreds that have destroyed far too many civilizations. But even the University of California has produced reality checks that tend to prove there may be no way to save humanity from out of control cultural failures produced by greed, elitism and immorality that dominate all of our institutions.

      I have a brand new grandchild who is a descendant of Asian, Latin American and European peoples and I fear for her future as well as the future for all generations because every single one of our institutions have failed to take advantage of humanity’s greatest opportunities provided to us as a legacy by the Greatest Generation.

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    • Nlyffe

      I dont believe in Ethnic Studies programs funded by the state, because having taken those classes I do agree with the “racial chauvinism” that it fosters. I took that class with some friends and while they jokingly started referring to me as “the man” because of “my” heritage, other students growing resentment in that class was NOT so playful.
      There is no right to publicly funded ethnic studies just as their is no right to publicly funded religious studies. If the state feels that it is having a negative impact why shouldn’t they be able to say, that it will not fund this program? I should think that soon enough there will be enough privately funded programs to take advantage of to replace public ones that will be lost.
      I for one am glad my tax dollar will be going else where.

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    • Nlyffe, you are confusing things enormously here. “There is no right to publicly funded ethnic studies just as their is no right to publicly funded religious studies”: in fact, the relationship between religion and government is one that is based on the constitutional separation of church and state. So your argument makes no sense. In fact, what is happening here is that the legislature is telling school districts that they cannot teach materials that are part of history, American history. The legislature is trying to censor historical and cultural knowledge. Public funding of education in this country is intended to ensure equal access to education. Now, your argument will only allow those who go to schools with private funding to learn about aspects of this country’s history and culture.

      The second problem with your argument is that you are arguing from anecdote. Your own experience does not actually prove that the effects of Ethnic Studies instruction are what you feel you experienced. Nor does the state legislator who is using divisive policies to gain political support have any evidence for his claim that teaching about diverse cultures is destructive. Both you and he are arguing in a vacuum– and denying other students the opportunity to learn more about the real history of this country and the real nature of its present-day population.

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      • Anthony St. John '63

        Rosemary, you are absolutely correct in your criticism.

        KKK racial hatreds of the past have been replaced by radical right wing hate groups v.21C, especially southern based that started rising again faster than ever during the Bush Autocracy, and they appear to be overwhelming the GOP via the Tea Party, Fox and talk radio.

        Hate is out of control again throughout the world, and is overwhelming many social, religious, political and intellectual groups, but elitists who subscribe to Greed Is Good cultural values regardless of negative consequences against democracy and humanity are out of control also and that just produces more hate and immorality.

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    • Benito

      I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

      I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

      Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

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    • Juarez

      Is every nation-state entitled to uphold of the rule of laws (as each has seen fit) and also protect its borders? Prior to stating no, I would ask that you just wait a second and think of any country that gladly allows for such disorder. While some people cross into this particular country undocumented other people around the world follow protocol and await being granted permission to enter. Why do those that respect the rule of law have to sit back and watch as those that break laws are given documentation?

      Also, it has been stated that a majority of undocumented immigrants are from Mexico, yet has the question been asked how the Mexican government treats undocumented immigrants? In fact, how has the nation-state attempted to help its own citizens?

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