Black, Brown and White – From Border Closings to Boston Bombings (1 of 2)

I’m going to write two back-to-back posts regarding race, ethnicity, politics and profiling.  You’ve been warned.

So I’ve been trolling some of my Conservative friends on FB lately.  Not mean spirited, but presenting a counter argument.  Well, not always mean-spirited, but all in good fun.  Also I haven’t written a post in quite some time, but that’s because I’ve been at a loss for particular things to talk about.  This little bit of me being awful has, however, provided me with something to talk about.  So what got me today were two images.  The first we’ll discuss here, the second, in another post soon to follow.

378274_509507245771432_1384265332_n Now I am, generally speaking, pretty tolerant of other people’s political views.  Personal discussion of opposing opinions is informative and essential to an effective democracy.  Discussions regarding tax reform and a balanced budget are all well and dandy.  What I can’t stand is when someone’s logic (political or otherwise) is internally inconsistent.

There’s nothing wrong with being a Constitutionalist.  I believe that the United States Constitution can and should be interpreted as being very progressive in terms of social issues.  In my political view equal rights like marriage equality and access to social services, and anti-discrimination laws, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the ERA and ENDA should all be a no-brainer because of my favorite Amendment, the Fourteenth.  You know, that whole “equal protection” bit I tend to go on about quite a bit.

I also feel that, anyone who says that the laws of our country should be based around what their god or holy text tells them to do should, quite frankly, shut the fuck up about it.  That’s in the First Amendment.  If you have an objection to abortion, that should be because you believe in the sanctity of life.  If you don’t want gays to get married, let that be because you have you’re just a good old fashioned bigot.  Not because “Jesus Told You So.”  Hell, I could write a whole post about the cognitive dissonance created amongst Christian Conservatives and the word and intent of passages in the Bible.  Not to mention the mistranslated passages in the  KJV.  Anywho, yeah, I’m off on a tangent and I’ll save that discussion for another time.

Back to business.  I’ll let my FB comment speak for me:

You can’t say English-only and also try to be a hardcore Constitutionalist, since discriminating based on spoken language would violate both due process and equal protection. It’s a contradiction. Prohibiting all immigration would also violate Section 1 of the 14th Amendment. You can’t have it both ways.

I’m sure I could think of a hypothetical surrounding a non-English speaking resident or legal alien arrested or prosecuted and denied due process because of some failure of communication.  Yes it’s hyperbolic, but you get the idea.  This comment elicited a response.

Having our country’s language being English does not mean people can not speak other languages too, but should not force the country they move into to learn their language. What other country would you go to live and not only not learn their native language, but think its your right for them to adopt their signs and teach their young your language?’

First I’ll address the text, and then the subtext.  Nowhere in the US (that I’m aware of) is anyone being forced to learn a language other than English.  Now while you kid’s high school may require them to take a year/semester of a foreign language, it my HS I had a choice of languages, and I didn’t have to take more than 1 year.  I chose to take 4 years of Spanish because after the first year I was enjoying the language.  Which brings me to the subtext.  When we speak of establishing English as an official language, what arbitrary quality do we use to decide why English and not some other language?  If it’s because it’s the language of the majority, then that’s subject to the passage of time.  In 50 years, more people in the US might be able to speak, I don’t know, Mandarin, rather than any other language.  So that’s not a reliable guide to choose your language.  If we’re going by length of time spoken, then French and German are equally valid candidates.  The really important thing however is what language this person is talking about.  The non-English language is not mentioned at any point during my Facebook discussion, but the language in question clearly is Spanish.

When you really get down to it, sure you can be a Constitutionalist.  But when you spout off this “English only! Close the border!” bullshit it’s really just about anti-Hispanic discrimination and you trying deprive a person their “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” because they’re different.  Because they’re “other.”

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