[News] A Nation of Colonists ... and Race Laws
News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 5 12:50:05 EDT 2006
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."
"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.
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
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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