My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What’s the Matter with Arizona?

On Tuesday the Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that directly targets minority studies meant to show the ethnic differences in history. This is on the coattails of the new Arizona immigration law in that encourages the police to target people on the basis of ethnic origin. The TV heads immediately sprang into action by either asking why Arizona has become so insatiably jingoistic or wholeheartedly supporting any and all measures – but that is what they do on every topic.

The real story is that we never learn from history. Every time that a minority immigrates to the country en masse during a time of economic hardship, the native population sees them as the reason for their difficulty. In reality, the new group is the solution to the problem. The massive Irish immigration to New England resulted in Hibernophobia, or hatred of the Irish. They were labeled as lawless addicts who took all of the low paying jobs away from good Christians. They were demonized to the point where businesses openly displayed signs that said “No Irish Need Apply.” But in the end, the Irish workforce created more jobs and a higher quality of life by added a fresh jolt a working class of people into a much needed economically stagnant society. Our open system is built on a constant influx of foreign laborers to bolster the previous proletariat.

What we are now seeing in Arizona is the same unfounded fear of a new group. The Arizonian people incorrectly assume that if they were to rid the Latinos from their area, they would somehow rebound economically; but this thought process is not complete. There is no reason for an economy to rebound by simply throwing out the cheapest workers because there is no great supply of jobs that the native population could then take. The jobs that the Latinos are doing will never pay enough for the home-grown population to continue their current quality of life. Moreover, the resources being taken by that new group are barely more than an offset of any poor population. Ridding Arizona of “illegals,” a very thinly veiled code word for Latinos, would only move out one poor minority for another.

The reason for this ethnic blame game is nothing more than laziness. The majority does not wish to be forced to work as hard as someone with everything to gain. They believe that their lineage paid for their position within our class system and they are happy to spend just as much energy fighting against proving their place in society as they would if they had to directly compete for the jobs in question. But this is how our system works – think of it as an initiation. Put up with our xenophobic nationalism masquerading and poorly placed patriotism and we’ll let you stay. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and we’ll beat them up for about a decade and let them fin. So next time you see a talking head, say Irish descendant Bill O'Reilly, ranting about the scourge of the newest immigrants to land on our shores, try to remember that in 40 years it could just as easily be a Bill Ortega ranting about the invading immigrants from South Africa. The story is always the same, only the last names change.


Gabriel said...

Great writing.You are direct and to the point. Not to mention your historical facts being dead on.It's good to see someone take interest in these important matters.

Tirado Pilates Apparatus said...

Well said Brian. You help us remember what America can be and I love it. (But you have to admit that it is so refreshing to have Arizona be the totally embarrassing state for awhile and not us.)