Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Racism in Arizona - Part Two

Continuing where we left off...

Kevin Reagan
Sorry it has been a few days, but I did want to respond to that.
Matt, your profound pessimism with regards to the current state of racial biases in America is disappointing but not surprising. In fact, it is one of the ideological pillars of liberalism (I believe Jim mentioned your ideology before). Liberals are, without fail, pessimistic and cynical about American progress and excellence. They downplay any progress America has made over the years in favor of pointing out all of the negatives of the past. This serves to inflame and prolong any racial conflict that might still exist.
The fact that the Arizona bill uses the term "reasonable suspicion" when referring to whether someone is an illegal alien or not is not racist. It really isn't that different from the idea of probable cause in other crimes. Remember, simply being in the United States illegally is after all, a crime. And to answer your (rhetorical) question, there are plenty of ways an officer may determine if an individual is an illegal alien. A few examples would be 1) if the person didn't speak English, 2) if the person did not have any government ID, 3) nervous or evasive behavior around law enforcement (which officers are trained to detect), etc. If you would like, I could think of more examples of how a law enforcement officer could have reasonable suspicion as to the legality of an individual's immigration status.
Also, I disagree with your categorical dismissal of the education bill's intentions as "unavoidable and obvious." Remember, the measure was supposed to promote a more racially equal atmosphere and discourage resentment of other racial groups. So was the bill targeted at Latinos to keep them from resenting white people?

Matthew Rozsa
Your first paragraph is a classic example of an ad hominem fallacy. It does not directly address the larger argument that I am making, instead attempting to discredit it by associating it with a larger belief system that you assume automatically weakens its validity. The fact that you are completely wrong in your description of what the liberal philosophy actually entails is an afterthought.
Your second paragraph is equally disingenuous. How exactly would a law enforcement official be able to tell if a driver doesn't speak English or doesn't have government ID simply by watching him or her drive by in a car? All of that information can only be gleaned AFTER someone has been pulled over; the initial identification must therefore be made based on some other criterion (namely, whether someone looks Latino). As for your third standard of "nervous or evasive behavior around law enforcement"... once again, you have chosen a category so vague that it can be used to encompass virtually any word or action that the police officers in question choose. It is dangerous to set a precedent in which police officers have the power to curtail other people's freedoms based on standards so inherently subjective that they leave interpretation and discretion almost entirely with the law enforcement officer.
As for the education bill... remember, racist legislation that has been passed in this country almost always presents itself in some innocuous package, so as to make its real motives harder to call out. Legislation supporting segregation after Brown v. Board of Education would very often use the prospect of interracial tension as an excuse for continuing the unjust status quo; likewise, legislation discriminating against homosexuals who wish to adopt children, visit loved ones in the hospital, and get married will claim that it wishes to protect "family values". So too with this measure. You claim that it is being passed to protect whites from potential discrimination, but since when do we pass bills making an activity illegal based not on crimes that HAVE been committed from that activity, but rather because crimes MIGHT HYPOTHETICALLY be committed from that activity? What's more, even if interracial tensions DID erupt due to these classes, isn't taking away the coursework that teaches Latino history essentially sending the message that one side (white people) are right and the other side (Latinos) are wrong? Wouldn't it be more impartial (to say nothing of effective) to simply have a zero tolerance policy toward peer hostility as an overarching rule of thumb?
By the way, much earlier in this conversation I repeatedly asked you: "How do you work out the logic of arguing that the discrimination endured by past groups somehow negates or mitigates the wrong being suffered by Latinos in the present?"
You still haven't answered this question, so I might as well explain why I asked it: I assumed you were making that comment as a snide way of alluding to the so-called discrimination that has been suffered by white people. Your latest comment about wanting to prevent Latinos from resenting white people more or less proves that this is where you were going with that line of logic. I will respond to this with a simple observation: It speaks volumes about your mindset that you would curb the freedoms of an entire ethnic group just to prevent them from possibly resenting your own race. The relationship between your fears and their causes has layers and layers of irony.

No comments: