Court Decision on Arizona
Law Marks Deterioration of U.S. Democracy (La Jornada,
“Abusing the human rights of foreigners and the ongoing domestic process of social exclusion are closely connnected. ... The legalization of torture at Guantanamo was, in that sense, a major defeat for the entire U.S. population, since support for such an extreme measure helped justify the loss of domestic guarantees.”
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States decided
that police in Arizona have the right to demand immigration papers from all
offenders of any law or regulation. Any infraction could be a pretext for a
demand to see papers. As migrants in Arizona are mostly from Mexico, police
will tend to more regularly bully Hispanic-looking people - undocumented or not.
The new law means that in all probability, tensions between “Mexicans” and
"Anglos" will worsen.
So what can we in Mexico do about it? Of course, the Mexican
government should pay attention to events and support lawsuits, complaints and
media campaigns as forms of pressure. But the general public will also have to
think about and discuss the current state of democracy in the United States, in
order in the best possible way to support progressive forces in that country.
Democracy in the United States is not in a very good state
Every democracy depends on maintaining a minimum level of
social welfare, and above all, one not so abysmal as
to inevitability lead to plutocracy. For much of its history, the U.S. has been
a nation with a strong middle class. Today, this is not as much the case. Its
level of inequality has risen consistently since 1980, and its fiscal policy
favors the speculator over the wage earner, particularly under reforms introduced
during the Bush presidency. Only in this way can one explain why Mitt Romney,
whose father was CEO of American Motors, paid a paltry 15 percent tax rate last
year, while the average wage earner paid around 25 percent.
Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph
Stiglitz recently wrote that the United States is
rapidly ceasing to be “the land of opportunity.” Increasingly, opportunity is inherited.
The system rewards financial speculation over work: on average, engineers,
inventors, designers, technologists, doctors, artists and scientists earn only
a fraction of what a brat from the financial sector receives, although his
contribution to the economy is to sink one company or another or embezzle the
funds of pensioners.
Politically, this rise in inequality is creating a system
that resembles a plutocracy. The right has a Supreme Court majority, and in electoral
terms, this has resulted in reforms of the electoral laws that allow corporations
to operate as if they were people. This gives huge advantages to candidates who
enjoy corporate support, as was seen during the recent Republican primaries, in
which a candidate, although more sane and presentable than his opponents, was
also much less popular.
Finally, we must understand that there is a close relationship
between abusing the human rights of foreigners and the ongoing domestic process
of social exclusion must be understood. The legalization of torture at
Guantanamo was, in that sense, a major defeat for the entire U.S. population,
since support for such an extreme measure helped justify the loss of domestic guarantees,
the hardening of criminalization and the proliferation of prisons and migrant
detention centers. To all this must be added this most recent decision, which means
that Arizona police now have a new tool with which to oppress the entire population
with a Latino appearance, whether they are citizens or not.
Traditionally, one way to hide facts like these has been to offer
citizens of Latino extraction police positions, so that they are the ones doing
the dirty work of discrimination. But such tactics work for only a limited time,
and statistics will soon reflect the increasing exclusion of Latinos in Arizona.
The hard line against migrants, including symbolic toughness
such as linking together the fences of border communities - legitimizes the
brutal prison policy within the country, which again, benefits the misleadingly-called
“security” industry. California spends almost twice as much on prisons as it
does on higher education. And a few days ago, when state senators from urban
areas of New York sought to pass a law easing penalties on possession of marijuana,
senators from suburban and wealthy areas blocked the law.
In short: U.S. democracy is passing through a delicate time.
It is interested in strengthening the democratic process, thus supporting migrants
and the resident Latino population. It is interested, tool, because its
policies on arms sales and battling drugs are today at the mercy of the plutocracy.
What can we do from Mexico? First of all, publicly discuss
the erosion of the U.S. democracy, with a strict adherence to the truth, without
exaggerations or lies, which are in the end counterproductive. Secondly, a Gandhian
strategy could be explored, preferably with a Latin twist: that is, a peaceful
but consistent protest, with the use of humor and ridiculous as a weapon. In
any case, it is vitally important that there be a public reaction to laws like
that in Arizona.
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