Monday, November 28, 2011

You Make It Really Hard To NOT Point Out Your Blatant Racism

After Alabama passed HB56, their own version of Arizona's SB1070 (the "show me your papers" bill), it was roundly criticized as racist by those opposing it (as was Arizona's). Yet defenders of the bill(s) were quick to point out there was nothing racist about the bill(s); after all, the bill(s) don't make it illegal to be hispanic, they say, they only increase the attention paid to people who are in this country without legal documentation. Now, if it happens to target Hispanics more than any other group, they claim, well then maybe those darn Hispanics should keep their noses clean and stay out of trouble.

This is a classic racist ploy -- as long as you dress your racism up in neutral language, you always have plausible deniability. After all, there's no way to prove either HB56 or SB1070 were designed to harass and intimidate Hispanics. But in practice, it seems Hispanics continue to bear the brunt of these measures -- remember, about half of all undocumented immigrants in American hail from Europe, and yet somehow very few Europeans are being arrested or harassed under these statutes.

But sometimes events happen that just really pull the curtain back on all of these shenanigans. Events like when a German executive of Mercedes-Benz in the states for a meeting at one of the company's manufacturing plants near Tuscaloosa is arrested. The officer at the scene did what was required of him and brought in the executive to be detained while his immigration status was investigated.

So here's a perfect example for the it's-not-racist crowd: a white person, nay, a rich white person, was subjected to detention and search under this apparently not racist law. What a chance to trumpet the law as color-blind and status-blind! You see critics? It's not a tool to harass and intimidate (largely poor) people of color, it's applied to everyone!

And yet, their reaction could not have been farther than that. Rather than see this as one of the many examples they love of their law in action, a group of Republican representatives has already called for rewriting portions of HB56. Presumably to include the direction that even though this is not a racist law, it's not supposed to apply to white people...

No comments: