"Show me your papers."
Germany. Or Russia. Right? Repressive, abusive regimes that were the enemy of the shining democracy that was the U.S. of part of A.
"Your papers, please." Uttered in a snide tone, with an aggressive snarl, or with mock politeness. Jack-booted, emblem-capped men with hard features who made you want to punch them into fertilizer. Actors, really, but you knew--somewhere in the back of your mind--that men like that did exist, sometime, somewhere. Somewhere bad. Somewhere evil.
Like Arizona. The state has authorized its police force to stop and ask suspected immigrants for their papers. Mexicans, mainly. You know, "them". "People who don't look like us."
"I need to see your papers. Now." You don't look Mexican, I bet. You aren't living in Arizona or visiting it anytime soon, so why should you care? Right? Fascist right? Wrong.
I think a lot of Mexicans don't look like Mexicans, so what if the "standard" for stopping a person in the middle of the street moves from "profiling" to mere "suspicion." Do you look Puerto Rican? Foreign, in some way? You know, swarthy, olive-skinned, "tanned," darker-than-white? If you do, stamp it: you are next.
Still don't care? Are you white, blue-eyed, speak idiomatic English, know the culture because you grew up in it, can answer "trick" questions like who was the 16th President of the United States or what team Jackie Robinson played for? You know, the questions used in those movies where the bad guys were from some other country, not "ours"? Not worried? You should be, you idiot.
See, I am white. Blue-eyed. Speak idiomatic English. Grew up in the States, spent 20 years living in the South and Midwest, visited dozens of states, went to college there. I can tell you who the 16th President was (Abraham Lincoln) and who Jackie Robinson played for: the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Oh, you didn't know? Really... You didn't know the Dodgers were back in Brooklyn back then? No idea, huh? "What does it matter?" you say. I'm asking the questions here, not you. Here's the answer:
"Show me your papers."
The Jenius Has Spoken.
[Update: 28 April 2010: "Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik tells KGUN9 News that SB 1070, Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, is a 'racist law,' and says he has no intention of complying with it." What happens to and with Sheriff Dupnik--an honest man with integrity--will speak volumes about this issue.]
[Update: 2 May 2010: The first front-page editorial ever for The Arizona Central, calling for real immigration reform and not this political "pandering to fear." And they name names.]
[Update: 20 May 2010: Arizona cop says that "Anti-Latino law makes him feel like a Nazi." ]
[Update: 29 May 2010: One of Our Brethren, Eduardo Caraballo, is mistakenly arrested and when he presents his papers, he isn't believed and is threatened with deportation "back to Mexico." One of the "qualifying" criteria for not believing Eduardo? The police asked him questions about Puerto Rico, that he couldn't answer because he's only been here once since birth. Does any of this sound familiar? And was it in Arizona? No. Illinois. The jackboots are marching and you are not paying attention.]
[Update: 6 July 2010: The Department of Justice files suit against the Arizona law.]
[Update: 2 Sep 2010: Ohio rejecting Puerto Rican birth certificates.]