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Monday, June 25, 2012

Scalia cites exclusion of free blacks

The SCOTUS decision re: Arizona's immigration restriction law is generating a lot of interest. Here's my two bits to the discussion: 1) Can anyone explain why, supposedly, the Dept. of Justice never mentioned "racial profiling" when presenting its case before the Court as to why the "show your papers" provision should be struck down. Because they didn't, the Court didn't take that consideration into account in reaching their decision. If anyone can explain how "determining someone might be here illegally" is done in any way other than visual observation of the features of a suspect, along the lines of what those here illegally are stereotyped to look like. They won't be questioning the status of Irish or German "visitors" who overstayed their visas. 2) Antonin Scalia, in his exuberance to prove the historical precedent for the state's prerogative to police their own borders cites this: " the first 100 years of the Republic, the States enacted numerous laws restricting the immigration of certain classes of aliens, including convicted criminals, indigents, persons with contagious diseases, and (in Southern States) freed blacks." (p. 4 of his dissent; see and click on "6/25/12 - Arizona v. United States" at right column to get a pdf of the ruling) One of our proud moments that we'll certainly want to cite as precedent for similar actions to be allowed today. What the Be-hell? Not to mention the dubious nature of his claims--non-slave states were probably more likely to prohibit the entry of blacks than were Southern states the entry of free blacks.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

African immigrants in Israel

And another item to post under "Nothing New Under the Sun." The recent riots and protests and violence against immigrants from Eritrea and (South?) Sudan are most likely a reaction of fear of the "other," as well as economic fear of the competition that these immigrant entrepreneurs are providing to the existing Israeli population in Tel Aviv. (See The nothing new under the sun" part is the old canard that these black men are animalistic rapists out to violate lighter-skinned women. Interior Minister Eli Yishai cited police findings that claimed that the Sudanese and Eritrean migrants were a high crime risk. Then he went on to say: "I cannot judge a man whose daughter is raped. I cannot judge a young woman who cannot walk home," said Yishai, who heads a party led by the rabbis in the coalition government. "I cannot judge people under any circumstances that are abused and harmed, and are then confronted by the state, which says: 'Why do they behave in this way to foreigners?" And, of course, the risk of rape goes a long way in explaining why "Yorusalem Mestun, a 22-year-old Eritrean asylum-seeker in hot-pants" experienced the following: "Five young Israelis smashed the glass door of her internet café and pulled a knife on her, while her Jewish neighbours looked on. The police came, checked her visa and left without, she said, offering help or sympathy" (see All for now. Your comments would be appreciated!
I agree with the right-wing critics that Elizabeth Warren's categorizing herself as a Native American at Harvard is problematic, but not for the reasons the right-wingers cite. Whereas their concern seems to be principally that Warren unfairfly benefitted by being an undeserved Affirmative Action hire (, I fear instead that her willingness after-the-hire to identify herself as such was part of a scheme that allowed Harvard to pad their numbers, look more diverse than they really were, and might have resulted in one fewer "real" minority candidate joining the faculty. A white person claiming unsubstantiated 1/32 (or whatever Warren claims) Native American blood looks just the same in the "total minority" and "percent minority" columns presented to the public and to diversity monitors as does the clearly African- or Asian-American, full- or nearly-full-blooded Native American, or Hispanic. And THAT is a big problem to me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trayvon Martin and a 1973 "Fable"

So, been over a year since I posted--naughty boy. With Trayvon Martin case in the news so much of late, thought it appropriate to republish an excerpt from and summary of "A Fable" by Larry Darby, originally appearing in the 1973 edition (vol. no. 3) of an annual called The Black Position, ed. by none other than Gwendolyn Brooks. Here it goes: "Once there was a black cat who ventured out of his part of the jungle. While gazing about the streets of the outer jungle, he was spotted by two pigs. Said one pig to the other,... 'What's he doing around here?' 'Must be looking for trouble' responded the other. 'Let's check him out.'" So far, a familiar scenario, played out thousands of times every day throughout the U.S. for decades on end. Even the dialogue fits George Zimmerman if you make it his interior dialogue (or his 911 call). The two pigs go on to ask the black cat "What you doing around here?" and accuse him of "looking for trouble." The black cat defends his freedom to travel where he chooses, and asks to be treated with respect. The pigs take this as confirmation that he's a troublemaker, and eventually attack the black cat with clubs. Though Darby's "fable" ends differently than the Martin saga, its reference to the survival instinct might well describe what caused Martin to act as he did when feeling understandably under immediate threat of bodily harm. Sadly, when it turned into a gunfight, he had none. The moral for today as I see it: 1) As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun." 2) When black people "stand their ground," their resulting death is viewed as justified and in a twisted logic, the nonblack who found the black person's presence suspect and went looking for trouble is granted the right to "stand his ground" when threatened. Go figure.