[News] A Nation of Colonists ... and Race Laws

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 5 12:50:05 EDT 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/santos04052006.html

April 5, 2006

A Nation of Colonists ... and Race Laws

The Politics of Immigration

By JUAN SANTOS

You hear it everywhere. Even from Congressman Jim 
Sensenbrenner, author of the vicious anti-migrant 
legislation that has polarized the US.

"We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws," he says.

And like almost everyone else, he's got it wrong.

The original Europeans in what is now the US were 
not immigrants, but colonists. And the US is not 
a nation of immigrants - it is a white colonial 
settler state, like South Africa under Apartheid, 
the former Rhodesia, Australia and Israel.

And like those states the US has always operated 
on a sometimes hidden, sometimes overt system of Apartheid.

Like those places, the US is a nation of colonists ­ and race laws.

It is a place where white colonists arrived, 
seized the land, and dispossessed, exterminated 
or attempted to exclude the original "non-white" peoples ­ all of them.

They did so at the point of a gun - by open 
terror and genocide, which was the precursor and 
the necessary pre-condition of European 
"immigration." And, of course, they didn't only 
use guns and overt terror. Where "necessary," they operated by "law."

Let me prove the point. It's simple. We all know the facts.

In the US, Native Americans were dispossessed, 
subjected to mass murder, and locked on separate, 
Apartheid-style "reservations." So it stands today.

Africans were enslaved, and once "freed," they 
were subjected first to Jim Crow, then, when that 
proved no longer advisable, Jim Crow was 
transformed into the mass terror of mass 
incarceration and permanent Apartheid-style ghetto-ization. So it stands today.

The Indian nation of Mexico was conquered in a 
racist war of aggression by the US in 1848. The 
only debate in the days of "Manifest Destiny" was 
not whether to seize Mexican / Indian land, only 
how much of it to seize, and what to do to keep 
the Mexicans out of what had been stolen.

Two choices were before them. These were the 
terms of the debate: take the whole nation and 
lock the people on reservations, or take as much 
land ­ with as few Mexicans ­ as possible. Thus 
the border was established through a race war, 
through brute and overtly racist violence. The 
border is an Apartheid Wall. So it stands today.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first 
significant law restricting immigration into the United States.

The Act claimed that "the coming of Chinese 
laborers to this country endangers the good order 
of certain localities within the territory" of 
the US ­ the same racist rhetoric used today 
against other Brown people. Like HR4377, the 
current notorious immigration bill, the Chinese 
Exclusion Act made it illegal for "any Chinese 
laborer to come, or to remain within the United 
States." So it stands today. Only the immediate target of the law has changed.

Every group the US has sought to eliminate or 
exclude has been a people of color.

The logic is simple. Allow entry or citizenship 
for those who can be "assimilated" into the 
colonists' culture ­ those who can become loyal 
colonists themselves ­ and exclude the "Other" - 
those who are the targets of colonialism ­ those 
whose land, cultures, bodies and souls must be 
sacrificed for the colonists to remain dominant 
and for their system to function.

Immigration law has always been race law in the US.

As far back as 1790 the Federal government ruled 
that the right to become a naturalized citizen 
was reserved to "free white persons."

So it remained until 1952. Until then the Supreme 
Court repeatedly determined exactly which 
migrants might be considered "free" and "white," 
as applicants of various ethnic backgrounds sought to become citizens.

Today, "The Nation of Immigrants" theme is struck 
to avoid the historical and cultural truth. 
Europeans ­ who could be assimilated to colonial 
culture ­ were allowed entrance en masse.

But there was a "stark division," as Haney Lopez 
reminds us, based on skin color.

"This stark division necessarily also carried 
important connotations regarding, for example, 
agency, moral authority, intelligence, and 
belonging," he writes. "To be unfit for 
naturalization--that is, to be non-White--implied 
a certain degeneracy of intellect, morals, 
self-restraint, and political values; to be 
suited for citizenship--to be White--suggested 
moral maturity, self assurance, personal 
independence, and political sophistication."

In other words, those "unfit" for citizenship 
were the colonized. The description Lopez offers 
for the "unfit" matches precisely the 
characteristics ascribed to colonized peoples by 
European imperialists and settlers for hundreds of years.

It also matches the racist stereotypes offered 
today of immigrants from areas south of the US 
border with Mexico, who Congressman Sensenbrenner 
has referred to as degenerate "alien gang members terrorizing communities."

But the racial subtext around immigration is not 
a subtext. It is the text itself.

Before Europe could "immigrate," someone else had 
to be removed. Before there was land to settle it 
must be stolen. Before anyone could be "free and 
white" someone else had to be "non-white" ­ and 
enslaved. Before "Americans" could become 
"Americans," "Latin Americans" ­ who are 
overwhelmingly Original Americans ­ had to become 
something else ­ "Latinos," "Hispanic," the not-Native ­ the Alien.

The Illegal Alien.

In a stunning bit of triple think the Natives, 
who knew no borders, became "Aliens," while 
Europeans became "Americans," and "Americans" 
became "Natives," while the Original Americans 
became "foreign" infiltrators and lawbreakers 
bent on who-knows-what brand of "terrorism" 
against "innocent" colonists, or if you prefer, "Americans." Or "Settlers."

Or is it "Afrikaners."

Take your pick.

The Six Nations Confederation - the Iroquois, or 
Hau De No Sau Nee - wrote in their classic Basic 
Call to Consciousness that colonialism means "to 
be controlled from afar," that "colonialism is 
the process by which we are systematically 
confused," and that confusion is "an agent of control."

Like this.

"We are a nation of immigrants, and laws."

But sometimes someone slips, forgets the double 
talk, and makes the agenda clear. They don't mean 
for us to overhear, but they can't help themselves.

In his mercilessly racist article Are We Really a 
Nation of Immigrants?, Lawrence Auster slips. He 
writes, "throughout its history the United States 
has been a member of Western civilization-in 
religion overwhelmingly Christian in race 
overwhelmingly white, in language English. Why 
shouldn't those little historical facts be at 
least as important in determining our immigration 
policy as the pseudo-fact that we're all 
'descended from immigrants?'" (FrontPagemagazine.com).

Auster, and David Horowitz' Front Page Magazine, 
want one thing; they know what it is, and they're 
willing to tell you. They want a white nation. They slipped.

The many who write diatribes and hate mail on the 
theme of "What part of ILLEGAL don't you UNDERSTAND?!" also slip.

We understand "illegal" perfectly well.

Conquest of territory in wars of aggression is 
illegal under international law. The US 
occupation of most Native land and all of the 
occupied sections of Mexico is illegal. The 
presence of the conquering people, the usurpation 
of the land itself is illegal. The colonists themselves are illegal aliens.

But, for the Right, it's not really about some 
imaginary adherence to a just, neutral system of "law."

It's about race law and white privilege.

And race law, codified on paper or not, is deeply 
codified in white people's expectations about 
their place in society, and some of them are 
getting dangerously edgy about having "their" 
land ­ their turf ­ stepped on by Brown people.

On the web site of the anti-Mexican hate group 
Save Our State, a correspondent calling themselves "USA Today" writes:

"To be honest we are heading for a Balkinization and a racial cleansing

"I know its not politicly correct to say so but I 
think lots of folks see it coming and I'll bet 
the vast majority of Americans would have no 
problem with genocide as a last resort to save 
this country , Usually when you back somebody 
into a corner they will defend themselves by any means ........get it ?

"Does this sound like something you would hear 
the nazis say? sure it is but I spend lots of 
time scanning the forums and blogs and its coming 
from normal , everyday people that are just about fed up with the whole mess.

"I know a large number of Germans didn't agree 
with hitler but they didn't exactly act against him either.

"Just keep pushing and pretty soon you'll find the American people in a corner.

"On that day, Beware."

People who think like this are the social, 
cultural and political base of politicians like Jim Sensenbrenner.

They are classic colonists, with the colonizer's 
outlook. For them, mere "immigration" is 
impossible. Their "forefathers" conquered the 
land, so those coming here must be out to 
"re-conquer" the land ­ to take it back from them.

These are the true inheritors of the American 
Dream, a dream which, for the colonized, has been nothing but a nightmare.

They intend to defend that nightmare ­ no matter what it takes.

That's what "immigration reform" and "immigration 
control" are really all about.

Colonialism.

And the race laws that defend it.

Juan Santos is editor of Mexica Tlahtolli, a 
Chicana/o - Native American newspaper in Los 
Angeles. He can be reached at 
<mailto:JuanSantos at Mexica.com>JuanSantos at Mexica.com


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