Thursday, May 6, 2010

Keep Moving

Criticism of Arizona's immigration law shows that many Americans are not crude nativists, grumbling about "illegals" while cramming down Gordita Supremes. Reactionaries haven't completely erased civil rights from the national memory, which is a positive if tenuous condition. Living in a global communications era helps rid us of nationalist conceits, at least on a capitalist level. Socially, tribally, there remain deep, hard-wired feelings about territory and borders. Arizona is but the latest example.

Defenders of the law say that the Mexican drug war is spilling into their state, affecting the economy and public safety. No doubt. Of all the wars currently waged, the drug war is hottest in that region, violence and corruption on all sides, cartels making mega-profits while police units become more militarized. I sure as fuck wouldn't want to live there. But granting added power to the police state seems short-sighted at best, and certainly dangerous in the long run. We've surrendered too much to our owners as it is.

Short of an all-out fascist state, the flow of Latinos into the country will not ebb. And frankly, I'm not sure what we expected, given decades of imperialism and interference throughout Central and South America. We crushed regional social movements and turned vast areas into low-wage zones for global capital, a bi-partisan production of our ruling parties. Turn the region into an economic basket-case, create conditions that fuel the drug trade (while supplying countless consumers north of the border), and you better fucking believe that people are going to migrate, "legality" be damned.

But then, our invasions of their native turf are not seen as a problem. As with so much else, we tend to rail against the ends while overlooking or justifying the means. This was also seen in the supposed-Pakistani terror operation in Times Square. We're aghast at such cold-blooded plots as we blithely ignore the Pakistani civilians we've murdered in the name of "security." You might think the former has something to do with the latter, but that would be self-hating and unpatriotic. I mean, why would the sons of a Terror War ally want to kill Americans?

Boycotts loom in the wake of Arizona's action, which is why businesses connected to the state are anxious to show their concern. The Phoenix Suns' "Los Suns" uniform display is the NBA's bid in this regard. There's nothing like potential revenue loss to rouse humanitarian spirits. But the real answer, to the extent one still exists, lies in structural realities, not public relations. Social pressure from below can expose some of this, but it'll require a wider awareness to even remotely begin shifting perspectives, much less put critical ideas into action. In a sense, we're all migrants renting our daily lives from private power. To them, we're no more citizens than those crossing the southern border. I don't know what Arizona thinks it's protecting, but it sure as hell isn't democracy. You needn't wander the desert to see that.